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Immigrant organizations call for action on immigration reform

Published on Thu, May 12, 2011

The reaction from different pro-immigrant organizations to President Obama’s speech this week on immigration was mixed, but all tend to agree the administration needs to lead with action.

In his speech President Obama spelled out on his administrations increases on border security, adding that they have gone above and beyond what was requested by the people supported broader reform as long as there was more enforcement, but now are calling even more enforcement to ensure the border is secure before talking about comprehensive immigration reform. At the same time, immigrant advocacy groups are calling on the president to put a stop to detentions and deportations – other words, to scale back enforcement until lawmakers can fix the system as a whole.

Jonathan Fried of Homestead-based We Count said that president Obama made this speech to boost his ratings with Latino and other immigrant voters, adding that Obama has failed to move immigration reform while his enforcement policies have separated immigrant families.

“It is fine for him to say he’s starting another dialog in immigration but their isn’t anything new,” Fried said, “I think it is an effort to save face and get votes.”

“It is not accompanied by a legislative proposal, if he really wants to send a message he needs to look at what his administration is doing,”Fried added.

The National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities press release said that despite Democratic Party majorities in the House and Senate over the last two years no immigration policy reform was enacted, and called on the Obama Administration to change its current enforcement approach.Read more...

Published in the Florida Independent

Freedom of Information Act

ARCHIVED ISSUE PAGE (LAST UPDATED JUNE 2012)

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides that "any person" may request agency documents, see 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(3), and agencies may only withhold information from a FOIA requester under certain exceptions outlined in 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(1)-(9). These exceptions are to be narrowly construed, and the burden is on the agency to show why non-compliance with a FOIA request clearly falls under one of these exceptions. 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B). FOIA also requires that an agency determine whether it will comply with an initial FOIA request within 20 days of receiving the request. 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i). If the agency withholds information or is nonresponsive, the requestor may file an administrative appeal and then file suit in district court.

This Litigation Issue Page summarizes and discusses recent developments in immigration-related FOIA lawsuits. The page also provides information about attorneys' fees, non-litigation related FOIA developments, and links to FOIA resources.

Active Cases|Closed Cases|Non-Litigation Related Developments|Attorney Fees|Additional Resources

Active Cases

FOIA Suit Seeks Release of Prosecutorial Discretion Directives and Guidelines for Removal Proceedings

National Immigrant Justice Center v. DHS, et al., No. 12-04825 (N.D. Ill. filed June 18, 2012)Read more...

Tania Calvao Celebrates the J-1 AND J-2 Experience

November, 2008
Tania Calvao

Contrary to the visa title, the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program isn't all about the J1, but the J2s, too!

The Exchange Visitor Program is pleased to announce Tania Alves Calvao AND her son, Olivio, as November's Exchange Visitors of the Month. Each month, we select an exchange visitor who has made an effort to get involved in his/her community and explore American Culture. Read more...

Guest commentary: Michigan should avoid divisive immigration laws

Published on Thu, Jul 14, 2011

Gov. Rick Snyder on Monday will make his first major policy speech on immigration. Snyder already has signaled his opposition to an Arizona-style immigration bill, saying any such measure would further divide our state. Here's why that's a wise position.

Our immigration system has no capacity to deal with some 12 million undocumented people already in this country. Deportation is tearing families apart, and a backlog in processing applications creates agonizingly long wait times. Reports of overzealous immigration enforcement -- including stakeouts at a Detroit elementary school -- are only the most recent examples of why we must overhaul this system. But fair, humane legislation demands a comprehensive approach from the White House, not the statehouse.

Immigration bills were introduced in 23 states last year. At least five states have enacted "show me your papers" laws. Arizona blazed the path in 2010 with a sweeping measure that makes it a crime for people to fail to carry immigration documents, and gives police broad powers to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally.

A blatantly unconstitutional Alabama law goes even further, requiring school officials to verify the immigration status of children and their parents, authorizing police to demand papers during traffic stops, and even criminalizing Alabama residents for day-to-day interactions with undocumented individuals.

Such patchwork, state-by-state measures virtually guarantee the proliferation of racial profiling -- an issue with which the Arab-American community is all too familiar.Read more...

Published in the Detroit Free Press

Second or Subsequent Possession Conviction is Not an Aggravated Felony

Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder, 560 U.S. ___, 130 S. Ct. 2577 (2010)

The Supreme Court held that a second or subsequent simple drug possession conviction does not qualify as an aggravated felony under INA § 101(a)(43)(B) (“drug trafficking crimes”) and therefore does not preclude a lawful permanent resident from applying for cancellation of removal. Read more...

Photography by Sharon Panackal

January, 2013
Sharon Panackal, IEC Exchange Visitor of the Month, 2013

In November of last year, the International Exchange Center began publicizing our Annual Photo Contest. We received an email from Sharon Panackal:

“I am attaching the photograph with this email, and below is the caption I have written about the photograph...
Read more...

Going Beyond The Politics Of Discretion In The American Immigration System

Published on Fri, Sep 02, 2011

The ability of whether the President can use discretion in the immigration arena has become the flavor of the month. The announcement by the DHS on August 18, 2001 under which 300,000 individuals who are low priority can hope to have their cases closed and obtain work authorization was welcomed. The details about how this policy will play out are nicely explained in a Legal Action Center advisory. Although many were pleasantly surprised by this policy, within days of the announcement even advocates for immigration reform have become skeptical about whether this policy will have a dramatic and far reaching impact. Obama supporters have even gone so far to accuse the Obama administration for mere window dressing in order to keep certain voters on his side in the next elections. Commentators such as Dan Kowalski also justifiably feel that ICE personnel will continue to ignore this policy, and choose not to exercise their discretion favorably.

While the President has his critics within the pro-immigration camp regarding his new announcement on discretion, the attempt by immigration restrictionists in Congress to blunt the June 17, 2011 Morton Memo on prosecutorial discretion when viewed in a larger context repeats an old pattern. For instance, Congressmen Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Senator Vitter have proposed a most unusual piece of legislation suitably called the HALT Act (Hinder the Administration’s Legalization Temptation Act) that will suspend all of the Administration’s discretionary relief until January 21, 2013, which is the day after the next Presidential inauguration.Read more...

Published in the Immigration Daily

2012 Winter Holiday Closing Announcement: December 24th - January 1st

November 28, 2012-- The American Immigration Council's offices will be closed from 12/24/12 - 1/1/13

The International Exchange Center will be closed during the week from Christmas Eve through New Years Day.

All applications that we receive in our office after December 18th will not be reviewed until January 2nd at the earliest. Applications received on or before December 18th will be reviewed by December 21st, but our staff will not be conducting webcam interviews or issuing DS 2019 forms during the period of December 24th - January 1st. Read more...

American Heritage Editor on ‘Anchor Baby’ Definition: ‘We Were Wrong’

Published on Wed, Dec 07, 2011

Recently, controversy erupted over the American Heritage dictionary’s definition of “anchor baby” as a neutral term. Jorge Rivas gave us an overview earlier this week. The act prompted immigrant rights advocates to reach out for institutional change. Here’s how the dictionary’s new edition originally defined “anchor baby:”

Anchor Baby, n. 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.”

Mary Giovagnoli, the Director of the Immigration Policy Center pushed back on the term’s definition, acknowledging that it’s politically loaded language and not neutral. She’s right. The term is racially charged and hurtful, much like the term “illegal immigrant,” which Giovagnoli ironically did use in her piece. It’s no surprise that dehumanizing and criminalizing people by describing them as “illegal immigrants” has paved the way for “anchor baby,” which suggests that supposedly “illicit” people who have families and settle down are conniving and dangerous. Read more...

Published in the Colorlines