Funding for the Office of Citizenship, particularly its programs to support and encourage immigrant integration, was one of the many casualties of the drastic spending cuts passed by the House before leaving for President's Day recess. As the Senate prepares to take up the Continuing Resolution, restoring the relatively tiny 11 million dollar budget of the Office of Citizenship should be something that both parties can agree on, as this is the office that works with legal permanent residents to help them prepare for the naturalization exam and overcome other obstacles to becoming U.S. citizens.
The importance of immigrant integration cannot be overstated, as a new study released this week, ranking U.S. performance in this area against European countries and Canada, makes clear. The Migration Integration Policy Index III (MIPEX) www.MIPEX.eu, a rigorous analysis of laws and policies that further immigrant integration in Europe and North America, finds that the United States is ninth among 31 countries in promoting full integration of legal residents. As the MIPEX authors note, "Our ever changing societies are also becoming ever more diverse. Whatever our individual backgrounds, we all have a stake in the shared future of the communities and countries we live in, where each, in his or her own way, contributes to its economic, social, and civic life."Read more...
This issue covers continuous physical presence, Ninth Circuit I-212, Perez-Gonzalez cases, stays of voluntary departure in the court of appeals, and legal resources for attorneys representing noncitizens with criminal charges.
While a mandatory federal deportation program headed to Montgomery County takes a more balanced approach to illegal immigration than other measures, its presence could make day-to-day law enforcement more difficult for Montgomery's police.
In September, the county is expected to begin participating in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Secure Communities program, which scans and stores the fingerprints of anyone brought to the county jail. The database is sent to the FBI and ICE, which check to see if the person is wanted for a federal crime or listed as an illegal immigrant. If he or she is found to be in the country illegally, he or she can be turned over to ICE officials and deported.
Montgomery County and Baltimore city are the only remaining Maryland jurisdictions not participating and ICE hopes to expand the program nationwide by 2013.
The program has multiple problems, not the least of which is an undetermined impact on county policing.
According to data from ICE, the Secure Communities program in Maryland has been responsible for the deportation of 293 illegal immigrants as of March 31. The bulk of those — 223 — came from Prince George's County; however, 145 people, or 65 percent, had no criminal record, and the reasons they were brought to jail were too minor for prosecutors to pursue. Nationwide, of the 248,000 database hits in fiscal 2010, 15 percent were for those accused of felonies.
The county already engages in a similar practice to Secure Communities, where police report all those arrested for serious crimes, such as murder and rape, to ICE. It is then ICE's responsibility to check the immigration status of the submitted names.
With Secure Communities' track record of deporting minor offenders or non-offenders, who might otherwise be valuable resources to police, it's difficult to see how the program is worthwhile.Read more...
Adjustment of Status for Asylees (Ngwanyia Class Action)
Ngwanyia v. Gonzales was a national class action challenging the legacy Immigration and Nationalization Services’ (INS) failure to properly – and in a timely manner – grant lawful permanent statuts to individuals who had been granted asylum. When the suit was filed, more than 100,000 asylees had applied to adjust their status to lawful permanent residence but remained on a waiting list for an “asylee adjustment number” to become available. Many had been on the waiting list for years. The lawsuit alleged that, over the course of ten years, the immigration agency failed to use the full ten thousand asylee adjustment numbers made available each year and that, as a result, approximately 30,000 asylee adjustment numbers remained available to adjust the status of those on the waiting list.
CASE HIGHLIGHTS AND COURT DOCUMENTS
Proceedings in District Court
On March 4, 2002, plaintiffs filed a complaint asking the District Court for the District of Minnesota to find that all asylee adjustment numbers that had been made available in past years but had not been used remained available and to order the agency to use these numbers to adjust asylees on the waiting list. After denying the government’s motion to transfer the case to the District Court for the District of Columbia, the court granted plaintiffs’ motion for class certification and subsequently granted plaintiffs motion for summary judgment. The government appealed this decision to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. While the appeal was pending, the parties settled the suit and, following notice to the class, the district court approved the settlement.Read more...
In addition to recommendations of cities to visit during the holidays and a guide to office gift exchanges, this holiday issue includes an alum's memories of a road trip in Texas and the exchange visitor of the month's encounter with a friendly bus driver in Chicago.
Last week, Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) John Morton reminded ICE officials of their duty and obligation to use good judgment in the prosecution of immigration cases in a new memo. In a culture where many people still believe that "enforcing the law" and "removing people" are exactly the same, Morton's new memo is likely to shake some things up. While Morton's memo doesn't change the law in any way or end controversial programs like Secure Communities, it does serve as a much-needed guide for ICE officials on how, when and why to exercise prosecutorial discretion in immigration cases.
In the memo, Morton reminds ICE officers and attorneys that they should never assume that they are powerless to affect the outcome of a case -- instead, that authority rests with individual officers and attorneys to determine whether or not the positive factors in a given case outweigh the value of prosecuting that case. In fact, ICE officials need to do this regardless of whether or not immigrants or their attorney have asked for an exercise of prosecutorial discretion. The memo reiterates the need to triage cases based on ICE priorities, emphasizing the goal of putting limited resources into cases and activities that protect the country by going after those who seek to do it harm.Read more...
Richlin Security Service Co. v. Chertoff, 553 U.S. 571 (2008)
The Court held that under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) a prevailing party may recover its paralegal fees from the government at the prevailing market rates. The government had argued that paralegal services are recoverable only at “reasonable cost” and that such costs should be measured from the perspective of the attorney rather than the client. The Court rejected the government’s arguments. In so doing, it reversed an underlying Federal Circuit decision and reached a decision that is consistent with the majority of circuits to have addressed the issue. The decision is available on the Supreme Court’s website. Read more...
The International Exchange Center is proud to announce Yves Thiers as this month’s Exchange Visitor of the Month. Yves came to the United States from Belgium soon after graduating with a Master of Industrial Science degree. He hoped to be able to gain hands on knowledge of the engineering projects he studied at university. His host company, Dal-Tile Corporation, was just the place for this. Dal-Tile Corporation is a tile manufacturer and distributor based out of Dallas, TX. Read more...