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Federal Court Upholds Immigrants' Right To Reopen Cases From Outside the U.S.

Released on Thu, Feb 03, 2011

Washington, D.C. - Today, a federal appellate court chastised the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) for preventing noncitizens from reopening their cases from outside the United States. This important ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit repudiates the government's view that immigration judges and the BIA lack "jurisdiction" over such cases.

The American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, which filed a joint amicus brief in the case, applaud the Sixth Circuit's ruling. The Legal Action Center and National Immigration Project have coordinated litigation on this issue nationwide and call on the BIA to abandon its misguided regulation barring review of motions filed by noncitizens outside the United States.

"The Sixth Circuit recognized that the regulation deprives noncitizens of their statutory right to present new evidence in their cases. The decision corrects the government's unlawful attempt to separate families and opens the door for them to return to the United States," said attorney Trina Realmuto of the National Immigration Project. Beth Werlin of the Legal Action Center said, "A motion may be a person's only chance to present his case to the immigration judge. The government should take immediate steps to withdraw this unfair and outdated regulation rather than proceed with continued, unnecessary and costly litigation."Read more...

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Christopher Lasch, Esq.

Christopher Lasch is Assistant Professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Professor Lasch’s scholarship focuses generally on the intersection of immigration and criminal law, and particularly on the legal validity of immigration detainer practices.

LAC Issues Updated Practice Advisory on Prosecutorial Discretion Discussing June 17, 2011 Morton Memoranda

Released on Tue, Jun 28, 2011

Washington, D.C.— The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC) is pleased to announce the release of an updated practice advisory: Prosecutorial Discretion: How to Advocate for Your Client.

On June 17, 2011, John Morton, Director of ICE, issued two new memoranda encouraging the expanded use of prosecutorial discretion by ICE officers, agents, and attorneys in all phases of civil immigration enforcement. The first outlines in detail how ICE employees should approach a wide range of opportunities to apply prosecutorial discretion in line with ICE enforcement priorities; the second describes specific protections for certain crime victims, witnesses, and plaintiffs.

This practice advisory discusses these memoranda in detail. It also explains what prosecutorial discretion is, who has authority to exercise it, and how it is exercised most often in immigration cases. In addition, the advisory suggests ways that attorneys can advocate for the favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion by DHS officers, whether from ICE, USCIS or CBP.

For a complete list of all LAC Practice Advisories, please visit our website.

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DHS Wants Your Input (Sort of)

Published on Mon, Sep 07, 2009

It sounded like a good idea. In this interactive age, the Department of Homeland Security wanted to take advantage of an easy way to get public feedback on its policies by implementing a Web-based system where users can share their opinions and ideas with the agency.

Published in the Washington Independent

En Banc Court Reverses Adverse Holding, Says Immigrants Can Pursue Cases from Outside U.S.

Released on Mon, Jan 30, 2012

Washington, D.C.- Today, an en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit rejected the government’s attempt to bar noncitizens from seeking to reopen their cases from outside the United States. This is the seventh appellate court to find the “departure bar”—a regulation barring noncitizens from pursuing their cases after departure or deportation—unlawful and is a step forward in protecting the right to a fair immigration hearing. The decision is particularly significant because the Tenth Circuit had been the only court at odds with the majority. The court had granted rehearing en banc to reconsider its prior decision.

Despite the overwhelming rejection of the departure bar, the government continues to defend the regulation and apply it to cases outside the circuits that have invalidated the bar. The American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center (LAC) and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG), which filed amicus briefs in the Tenth Circuit and argued before the court, renew their call for the agency to strike this unlawful regulation.

Read more about the LAC and NIPNLG’s challenges to the departure bar on our website, Motions to Reopen from Outside the Country.

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For more information contact clearinghouse@immcouncil.org.

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Hispanic Voters Gain Import in Fla

Published on Sat, Aug 15, 2009

Florida's more than 1.2 million Hispanic voters will play an increasingly critical role in state politics, an immigration-reform group said last week in a new analysis of recent U.S. Census data.

Published in the The Ledger

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