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Cecilia Chouhy Balbi Gets Out There and Wins!

June, 2008
Cecilia Chouhy Balbi

The Exchange Visitor Program is pleased to announce Cecilia Chouhy Balbi as June's Exchange Visitor of the Month. Each month, we select an exchange visitor who has made an effort to get involved in his/her community and explore American Culture. Read more...

Study details taxes paid by undocumented immigrants

Published on Tue, Apr 19, 2011

A study, the first of its kind, shows that undocumented immigrants pay sales taxes and property taxes, and at least half pay an income tax.

According to an Immigration Policy Center report released yesterday, tax day, the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy has estimated the state and local taxes paid in 2010 by households that are headed by unauthorized immigrants.

The report indicates:

These households may include members who are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants. Collectively, these households paid $11.2 billion in state and local taxes. That included $1.2 billion in personal income taxes, $1.6 billion in property taxes, and $8.4 billion in sales taxes.

The report shows that Florida collects $806.8 million, the third highest in the nation, in property and sales tax revenue from households headed by unauthorized immigrants. Florida does not have a state income tax.

Wendy Sefsaf, communications director for the American Immigration Council, tells The Florida Independent that the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy runs scenarios about what impacts states tax revenue. Sefsaf adds that the institute is able to take their models, databases and assumptions on different groups and come up with tax contributions and that is what they did for the undocumented.

Sefsaf adds these number have never been examined, because the unauthorized population is hard to track and “we make a lot of guesses of their contribution.”

“The restrictionist movement in the U.S. spends all their time letting everyone know how much [undocumented immigrants] cost us, and they try to ignore the fact that they contribute, Sefsaf says. “We are not trying to say there are not costs associated with people, there are costs associated with everyone, but we are trying to balance out the debate. We can have a debate about who can stay and who has to go, but we have to do that with a full plate of information.”Read more...

Published in the American Independent

Criminal Alien Program (CAP)

The Criminal Alien Program (“CAP”) is one of the federal government’s largest and least understood immigration enforcement programs. Through CAP, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) agents screen detainees in jails and prisons across the country and place those deemed removable into immigration proceedings. Between 2005 and 2010, CAP led to the arrest of more than a million people, and the program was implicated in approximately half of all removal proceedings in FY 2009. As a result of CAP, ICE often deports individuals before they have been convicted of a crime or have had the opportunity to speak with an immigration attorney. CAP’s operations vary widely. In some jurisdictions, ICE agents work in jails to routinely interview and process prisoners. At other facilities, ICE agents interview detainees either during regular or ad hoc visits, or by telephone or video conference. Some counties give ICE full access to jails, while other localities limit agents’ access to certain hours or days of the week. Despite CAP’s role in removing hundreds of thousands of individuals each year, very little information about CAP is available to the public. What little is known about the program suggests that CAP targets individuals with little or no criminal history and incentivizes pretextual stops and racial profiling. The LAC and its partners are engaged in litigation intended to enhance public understanding and oversight of one the federal government’s most ubiquitous enforcement programs.

CASES

Lawsuit Against ICE for Failure to Disclose CAP Records

AIC v. DHS, No. 12- 00355 (D. Conn. filed March 8, 2010)Read more...

Top 25 Things Every Practitioner Should Know About International Students and Scholars

An AILA practice advisory with helpful advice concerning the representation of J-1 clients.

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Backlog of Immigration Cases Continues to Grow

Published on Wed, Jun 08, 2011

The number of pending cases in federal immigration courts is at an all-time high, and those cases are remaining open for longer, according to new data that underscores the backlog facing the nation's immigration system.

There were 275,316 cases awaiting resolution before the immigration courts as of May 4, setting a new record after an increase of 2.8 percent in four months. The information comes from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, which compiles the information regularly from public records. The clearinghouse released its latest report on June 7.

According to the data, the cases have been pending an average of 482 days, up from 467 days four months ago.

The report noted that the increases came despite the hiring of 44 immigration judges during the previous 12 months and the opening of a new immigration court in Pearsall, Texas.

Melissa Crow, director of the American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center, says the backlog is due to two factors: the need for yet more judges and staff at the U.S. Department of Justice, which administers the courts through its Executive Office for Immigration Review, and the decision by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pursue more cases.

"It means that cases take forever to finish. It means, where clients do have cases where there's relief, it may take a long time for them to get the relief that they deserve," Crow says.

Crow's group and other advocates for immigrants are pushing the Obama administration to be more selective about the people targeted for deportation proceedings, while other critics of the administration, including conservative members of Congress, accuse the administration of being improperly selective in the enforcement of removal orders.Read more...

Published in the National Law Review

Court Upholds Arizona Law Mandating E-Verify, Creating Employer Sanctions

Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, 563 U. S. __, 131 S. Ct. 1968 (2011)

In a 5-3 decision written by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court held that the Legal Arizona Workers Act of 2007 is not preempted by federal law. The Arizona law mandates the use of E-Verify by all employers within the state and allows Arizona courts to suspend or revoke the business license of any employer who “knowingly or intentionally” violates federal employment verification requirements. Read more...

Process to review 300,000 deportation proceedings leaves room for doubts

Published on Tue, Aug 23, 2011

The implementation of a case by case review of at least 300,000 deportation proceedings, announced by the Department of Homeland Security last week, has left room for questions among immigrant advocate groups.

With this announcement, Homeland Security said it will implement prosecutorial discretion measures laid out in a June 2011 memo issued by John Morton, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (aka ICE).

Melissa Crowe, director of the Legal Action Center at the American Immigration Council, said on a conference call Monday, ”We are not sure how” Homeland Security’s commitment “will play out in practice” and what recourse individuals will have “if they believe their cases have been mischaracterized as high priority.”

Crowe added that in an ideal world, Homeland Security “officers throughout the country would stop issuing charging documents on low priority cases so they never enter the system to begin with.”

Mohammad Abdollahi of DREAM Activist writes in an email that “the decision from [Homeland Security] and Obama was nothing new, it pretty much just spelled out what they already had on the books.”

Last week’s announcement, based on the June 2011 memo issued by Morton, lays out a path to implement immigration law enforcement priorities put forward in a 2010 memo also issued by Morton that prioritized the detention and deportation of three groups: “aliens who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety,” “recent illegal entrants” and “aliens who are fugitives or otherwise obstruct immigration controls.”Read more...

Published in the Florida Independent

Annual Allotment Tip Sheet – July 13, 2012 Update

July 13, 2012-- Annual Allotment/Sponsorship Priority Policy

Every J-1 sponsor designated by the US Department of State is given an allotment of DS-2019 forms for the calendar year.  This Certificate of Eligibility form is the required document for the J-1 visa applicant.

In January 2012, the US Department of State announced that the annual allotments for each designated sponsor would be based on the number of J-1 participants who entered the United States on the respective program in 2011.  Sponsors would be able to request program expansions in addition to this base number.

Read more...

Quick Fact: Millions of students could be eligible for legal status under DREAM Act

There are an estimated 2.1 million undocumented children and young adults in the United States who might be eligible for legal status under the DREAM Act.