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Federal Judge Orders USCIS to Release Records on Access to Counsel

Released on Thu, Nov 29, 2012

This week, a federal district court issued an opinion highly critical of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) handling of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted by the American Immigration Council (AIC) for records relating to noncitizens’ access to counsel. The Court ordered USCIS to turn over records that it previously had refused to produce. 

Most decisions about immigration status—including whether to grant lawful permanent residence, asylum or citizenship—are made by government officials outside the courtroom. Given the significant impact such decisions have on the lives of noncitizens and their families, it is critical that they be allowed to have their private attorneys with them during complex administrative proceedings.  

Historically, USCIS has imposed unwarranted restrictions on access to counsel, though in recent months the agency has made significant progress toward addressing these problems. Through its FOIA request, the AIC hopes to shed light on USCIS policies about counsel. 

After waiting almost a year for USCIS to respond to the request, the AIC’s Legal Action Center and co-counsel Dorsey & Whitney LLP filed a FOIA suit on behalf of the AIC, alleging that USCIS had failed to turn over records responsive to the FOIA request. After filing suit, USCIS determined that it had over 2042 pages of documents responsive to the request.  However, it withheld 1169 pages and released 418 pages with redactions, claiming FOIA exemptions protected the records from disclosure. In response to the government’s motion for summary judgment, the AIC argued that USCIS had not demonstrated the adequacy of its search and had improperly withheld numerous documents not protected under the FOIA exemptions.  Read more...

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Scripture’s Role in the Immigration Debate

Published on Fri, Oct 16, 2009

For many years now, religious leaders and diverse faith groups have contributed much to the ongoing immigration debate. Grounded in faith and good works, the faith community has been and continues to be steadfast in their outreach to immigrants through a myriad of support and service programs, faith rallies, and support of those in need. That being said, there are restrictionist groups who would rather sully the debate by co-opting faith-based terminology and tease anti-immigrant agendas out of scripture.

Published in the Sojourners

LAC Releases Updated Practice Advisory on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Released on Mon, Jul 29, 2013

For Immediate Release

LAC Releases Updated Practice Advisory on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Washington, DC-The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC) is pleased to announce the release of an updated practice advisory, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.  This advisory includes the latest information about DACA adjudication trends and agency policies contained in the DACA Standard Operating Procedures Manual. It also offers strategic advice for attorneys representing potential DACA requesters whose cases involve potential gang-related issues and certain drinking and driving offenses. The LAC issued this advisory jointly with the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.

All Legal Action Center practice advisories can be found on the LAC website.

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For more information, contact clearinghouse@immcouncil.org or call 202-507-7516.

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Legalization would bring economic benefits

Published on Fri, Jan 08, 2010

Based on the experience of immigration reform in 1986, a change in the law to legalize the undocumented would bring great benefits to the U.S. economy, adding to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) around 1.5 trillion dollars over the next 10 years.

Published in the La Opinión

Groups Ask Court to Block Deportation Hearings for Children Without Legal Representation

Move Comes as Immigration Courts are Speeding Up Deportation Hearings Against Children, Raising Serious Concerns

Released on Fri, Aug 01, 2014

Washington D.C. – The American Immigration Council, American Civil Liberties Union, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public Counsel, and K&L Gates LLP have asked a federal court to immediately block the government from pursuing deportation proceedings against several children unless it ensures those youth have legal representation. The move comes as immigration courts are speeding up deportation hearings against children in an expedited process sometimes referred to as a "rocket docket."
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Local business leaders call on Sen. Durbin to lead immigration reform

Published on Thu, Mar 11, 2010

A group of business owners from the Northwest suburbs has called on Sen. Dick Durbin to lead Congress in reforming the country's immigration system, which they said could be the "recipe" needed to stimulate the country's struggling economy.

About half dozen business people spoke during a news conference Thursday at the La Quebrada Banquet Hall in Elgin, sponsored by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

"We thank Sen. Durbin for being a supporter of immigration reform, but we want him to be a leader," said Jose Figueroa of Vista Insurance Agency in Rolling Meadows.

 

Published in the The Daily Herald

Will Solis Step Into the Immigration Spotlight?

Published on Wed, Apr 21, 2010

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is the first Latina to sit in the Presidential cabinet. She is the daughter of immigrants. As a four-term Congresswoman, she pushed for a law that would make it easier for non-U.S. citizens serving in the U.S. military to get American citizenship.

But when it comes to the Obama administration’s messaging on immigration, Solis has been strangely sidelined, and advocates who focus on the issue are beginning to ask why.

Published in the The Cabinet Room

Immigration reform needed for U.S. economy and for Haiti

Published on Sun, May 09, 2010

Marie, a Haitian mother, couldn't have been more grateful. "Thank you God for TPS," she recently told an attorney helping her fill out forms that will protect her from deportation. She was referring to temporary protected status, which will allow her to work legally, help Haiti and support her two young children. It's the sentiment that we hear most these days.

As longtime advocates, we at Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center were gratified when the Department of Homeland Security granted temporary protected status to unauthorized Haitian immigrants after the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti. Temporary protected status will allow perhaps 100,000 Haitians to legalize their status for the next 18 months.

Published in the CNN

Health Care System Relies on Immigrants as Providers at All Levels

Published on Mon, Jun 07, 2010

Walter Ewing, a senior researcher at the Immigration Policy Center in Washington, D.C., had read the headlines, listened to the television commentators, and witnessed the ongoing, thorny and evolving health care debate that polarized elected officials and much of America over the last years.

Published in the Hispanic Outlook Magazine

Obama on Immigration: Faking Right?

Published on Tue, Jul 27, 2010

You don't have to be an evangelical Christian to realize that immigration reform is in the U.S.'s self-interest. According to a report earlier this year from the Campaign for American Progress and the American Immigration Council, an amnesty program affecting the more than 11 million undocumented people in the United States would add $1.5 trillion to the GDP over a decade. That's a lot more folks generating government revenue and keeping U.S. businesses afloat.

Published in the Huffington Post