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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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In light of recent ICE memo, a primer on ‘prosecutorial discretion’

Published on Wed, Jul 20, 2011

Last month, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement director John Morton issued a memo to the agency’s employees urging the use of prosecutorial discretion in the cases of certain immigrants, among them people who grew up in the United States after arriving here as children, and those who have served the military and their families.

It’s a directive that will be put to the test, as U.S.-raised young people continue to land in deportation proceedings. And just how it changes things remains a bit of a mystery.

For those who are unfamiliar with what prosecutorial discretion is and how it’s exercised, the Immigration Policy Center recently updated its guide to understanding how it works in immigration law. Among the basics that are covered:

What is Prosecutorial Discretion?

“Prosecutorial discretion” is the authority of an agency or officer charged with enforcing a law to decide whether to enforce the law in a particular case. A law-enforcement officer who declines to pursue a case against a person has favorably exercised prosecutorial discretion.

The authority to exercise discretion in deciding when to prosecute and when not to prosecute has long been recognized as a critical part of U.S. law. The concept of prosecutorial discretion applies in civil, administrative, and criminal contexts. The Supreme Court has made it clear that “an agency’s decision not to prosecute or enforce, whether through civil or criminal process, is a decision generally committed to an agency’s absolute discretion.” Heckler v. Chaney 470 U.S. 821, 831 (1985).

When is Prosecutorial Discretion Used in Immigration Enforcement?Read more...

Published in the Southern California Public Radio

Court Rejects Application of “Aggravated Felony” Label to Some State Law Marijuana Distribution Convictions

Moncrieffe v. Holder, 569 U.S. ___, 133 S. Ct. 1678 (2013)

In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court held that a state conviction for a marijuana distribution is not a drug trafficking aggravated felony where the state statute upon which it was based covers social sharing of a small amount of marijuana. Thus, noncitizens facing deportation based upon such convictions are not barred from pursuing discretionary relief.

In an opinion written by Justice Sotomayor, the Court unequivocally affirmed the applicability of the categorical approach.  The Court explained that the Georgia drug offense at issue would only qualify as an aggravated felony if it necessarily prescribes felony punishment under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The CSA treats distribution of small amounts of marijuana for no remuneration as misdemeanors.  See 21 USC §§ 841(a), (b)(4). As a result, a conviction under a state statute that encompasses such distribution offenses is not necessarily punishable as a felony under the CSA and thus is not an aggravated felony.  The Court rejected the government’s arguments that immigration courts should re-litigate criminal cases to determine whether convictions involved only a small amount of marijuana for no remuneration. 

Justices Thomas and Alito issued dissents.

Practice AdvisoryMoncrieffe v. Holder:  Implications for Drug Changes and Other Issues Involving the Categorical Approach (May 2, 2013)

After 10 years, does hope exist?

Published on Mon, Sep 12, 2011

On 9-11, three sixth-graders along with their teachers were among the passengers killed on American Flight 77 when terrorists crashed the plane into the Pentagon.

I remember later that month dropping in on a class of sixth-graders at May Street Elementary School here in Worcester to get a sense of how they saw themselves and their lives.

That trek ended up being a heartening experience, because in those students, during what was a bleak moment in this country’s history, I found hope, optimism and a hunger to be neighborly.

“What I have learned from this is that we should help each other,” Suzanna, one of the students, told me.

I can only hope now, 10 years after, that Suzanna and her classmates of that year are hanging on to their hopeful and neighborly sixth-grade badges.

Yet, if some of them have lost faith, I wouldn’t be surprised because the billowing dark clouds of that horrific day are still chasing the good in us, still stirring in us a growing hardness, and a crassness in behavior that is threatening to be the norm.

Although many think it is a good and even a righteous battle, there is hardness in the never-ending and costly war we have launched on terror.

We know of the 3,000 innocent lives that perished in those 9-11 attacks, but how many of us have reflected on, according to some estimates, the almost 1 million U.S., Afghan, Iraqi and coalition troops and civilians who have been killed over the course of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars?

We talked about ending these wars, but primarily the debate seems to be over the amount of money we will save, and not the number of lives.

Although many think it is necessary, there is hardness in how we engage one another.Read more...

Published in the Telegram: Worcester MA

Research & Publications

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.

Revised Definition of 'Anchor Baby' Part of Leftist Agenda, Critics Say

Published on Thu, Dec 08, 2011

A decision by the American Heritage Dictionary to revise its definition of "anchor baby" -- labeling it an offensive and disparaging term -- is an attempt to manipulate the "linguistic landscape" and push a leftist agenda, some opponents of illegal immigration say.

"Anchor baby" was among roughly 10,000 words -- including "hoodie" and "babydaddy" -- added to the dictionary's fifth edition last month. The hot-button term, a noun, was initially defined as: "A child born to a noncitizen mother in a country that grants automatic citizenship to children born on its soil, especially such a child born to parents seeking to secure eventual citizenship for themselves and often other members of their family."

That definition caught the attention of Mary Giovagnoli, director of the Washington-based Immigration Policy Center, who heard American Heritage Dictionary executive editor Steve Kleinedler read it during a radio interview last month. Giovagnoli blasted the definition on the organization's blog last Friday, saying it masked the "poisonous and derogatory" nature of the term.

By Monday, the term had been changed. It is now defined as such: "Offensive  Used as a disparaging term for a child born to a noncitizen mother in a country that grants automatic citizenship to children born on its soil, especially when the child's birthplace is thought to have been chosen in order to improve the mother's or other relatives' chances of securing eventual citizenship."

The revision is now a "well-crafted" definition of how the term is used, Giovagnoli said.

But not everyone agrees.

"That's a political statement and it's not even accurate," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. "[An anchor baby] is a child born to an illegal immigrant."

Krikorian said the revised definition makes a political statement and is much more than neutral, "just the facts" reference material.Read more...

Published in the Fox News

IEC is Atwitter about Social Networking

You can now find the International Exchange Center on Facebook and Twitter!  Look us up:

We’d love to have you as a fan on Facebook.  If you’re already a member of Facebook, it’s simple to find us: just search for International Exchange Center.  If you don’t yet have an account, it’s easy and free to join at http://www.facebook.com.  As a fan of the International Exchange Center, you’ll be able to interact with other participants by sharing stories, photos, and video of your experience as a J-1 trainee or intern in the United States.

We’ve also been busily tweeting the latest updates and information from the International Exchange Center on Twitter.  Put us in your timeline by looking up and following “j1exchange” to find out what we’re doing.  If you’re curious about J-1 program participation, send us a direct message with your questions or give us a mention and we’ll get back to you.  New to Twitter?  Sign up for a free account at http://www.twitter.com.

To halt cartels, block cash flow

Published on Thu, Feb 09, 2012

 

If you want to stop a monster, cut off its head. Simple logic.

If you want a secure the border, go after the crime syndicates that routinely penetrate our southern border for their own nefarious purposes. Go after the leaders of the Mexican cartels. Go after their money.

The minions of these sophisticated international criminal organizations smuggle in drugs and people at will. They take back tens of billions of dollars in dirty profits. We put manpower and technology on the border. They find ways around it.

They take their profits out in shrink-wrapped bundles of hundred-dollar bills. Electronic transfers. Money schemes. Prepaid value cards that can store and transport money.

Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman, leader of the Sinaloa cartel, regularly appears on Forbes list of the world's wealthiest people.

"If U.S. forces can find Osama bin Laden, I am sure, with Mexican help, they can find and arrest Chapo," former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard wrote in an article for the Immigration Policy Center. "That arrest would do more to stop the flow of contraband into the U.S. and the slaughter in Mexico than all the billions spent so far."

Through the Merida Initiative, the U.S. has provided money and expertise to Mexico to fight the cartels, but time is not on our side if we hope to engage in a more vigorous assault on these criminal gangs that breach our borders. Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who runs an aggressive campaign against the cartels, will leave office in December. He cannot run in Mexico's July presidential election. His successor may take a more conciliatory approach to the cartels. Mexico is weary of a drug war that has cost more than 47,000 lives in the past five years.

Instead of discussing the cartel threat, the U.S. has been focusing on fences, immigration sweeps and deportations. These are politically popular responses that do not weaken criminal organizations in Mexico.Read more...

Published in the The Arizona Republic