Immigration prosecutions rose to record levels in 2009 as the Obama administration kept up aggressive enforcement that began under President George W. Bush.
Immigration cases increased by about a fifth over the previous year and made up a third of all new criminal filings in U.S. district courts in the government spending year that ended Sept. 30. The statistics were compiled by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
Here we go again. It seems like an eternity since immigration reform was part of the national dialogue: Back in 2006-2007, George W. Bush was president, and Senator Ted Kennedy was leading the push for a bipartisan immigration reform package in the Senate with the collaboration of Senator John McCain of Arizona. Their proposal ultimately failed, and the 2008 presidential campaign halted all forward movement to reform our outdated immigration system.
Benjamin Johnson, a researcher with the American Immigration Institute, said the immigration debate in the United States has become entirely fixed on the issue of “securing the border.” He cited the recently signed Arizona state law that gave police greater power to enforce federal immigration laws. Fear and uncertainty about the border led to the passage of that law, Johnson insisted.
“This appetite for enforcement at the border seems almost insatiable,” he said. “The focus of legislative efforts and debate seem to always come back to this question of border enforcement.”
"Immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born citizens," said Ben Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Council.
Johnson said the share of immigrants in federal prisons may seem alarming but that only 8 percent of all U.S. prisoners are in such facilities. Most are in state and local prisons, where incarceration rates for immigrants are lower than average.
He also pointed out that many immigrants in the federal system may simply be there because they lack legal immigration status -- not for having committed flagrant criminal offenses.
"No community is immune from the ravages of drugs and sexual violence. But the overwhelming majority of those crimes are not done by immigrants," Johnson said. "We don't ask criminals about their political affiliation or their religion. So why should we focus on their immigration status?"
This Practice Advisory discusses the types of Affirmance Without Option (AWO) challenges that have failed and those that remain available. The advisory also includes a chart identifying the primary cases in each circuit and how they have decided various AWO issues.
The American Immigration Council’s Practice Advisory, Employment Authorization and Asylum: Strategies to Avoid Stopping the Asylum Clock, has been updated to reflect extensive changes to the manner in which the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) determine an asylum applicant’s eligibility for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
For more information, please visit our asylum clock litigation page and read the updated FAQ on the benefits provided under the settlement agreement of the nationwide class action, ABT. v. USCIS, which challenged policies related to employment authorization for asylum applicants.
Stories of Immigration teaches secondary grade students about the value of immigration through selected literature. The lesson also increases student awareness of the important historical periods of immigration and the effects of these events on America.