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The LAC Docket | Volume II Issue 4

The Newsletter of the American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center

October 25, 2012
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   Access to Courts


Post-departure Litigation: Victory in Fifth Circuit, AIC File Amicus Briefs in Asylum Cases

Lari v. Holder
, No. 11-60706 (5th Cir. Sept. 27, 2012)
Taylor v. AG
of the US, No. 12-2599 (3d Cir. amicus brief submitted Aug. 30, 2012)
Izquierdo v. AG
of the US, No. 12-2499 (3d Cir. amicus brief submitted Aug. 23, 2012)Read more...

This Land Is Your Land

Published on Thu, Aug 25, 2011

Jose Antonio Vargas came out of his first closet in high school when he told his classmates and family he was gay.

He came out of his second closet this summer, when he told the world he is an undocumented immigrant.

In his surprising, touching and much talked about New York Times essay, Vargas tells his story of being sent to America from the Philippines by his mother to live with his grandparents. Twelve-years-old when he arrived, it wasn't until he was 16 that he discovered he'd entered the country illegally.

Now 30, Vargas has built the kind of career a young reporter dreams of, much of it during his time at The Washington Post — covering the intersection of politics and technology in the 2008 presidential campaign; crafting a year-long series on AIDS in D.C. that was later adapted into the documentary The Other City; sharing a Pulitzer Prize with the Post team that covered the Virginia Tech massacre. During all that time, he was living with a secret that had the potential to end his career.

Reporting on himself — sifting through the history of his family and journey — hasn't been easy.

''I had to get it right,'' says Vargas. ''I only had one shot to tell this story and I had to tell it right, I had to be really accurate, or else people were just going to start picking holes in it.''

The story itself became a story when the news broke that The Washington Post had spiked the essay at the last minute. While the Times immediately picked up the piece, Washington's media class chewed over the question of why the Post had backed off. Slate media critic Jack Shafer dismissed Vargas's time in the immigration closet as a ''con.'' Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton wrote that Vargas had a reputation as ''a relentless self-promoter.'' Many others leapt to Vargas's defense, hailing his coming-out story as a watershed moment in the debate over immigration in America.Read more...

Published in the Metro Weekly

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

Moncrieffe v. Holder, No. 11-702, 569 U.S. ___, 2013 U.S. LEXIS 3313 (Apr. 23, 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)

Bronwyn's American Dream

December, 2010

The International Exchange Center is proud to announce Bronwyn Cambridge as this month’s Exchange Visitor 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...

New Numbers from U.S. Sentencing Commission Reveal Dysfunction of U.S. Immigration System

Published on Thu, Dec 01, 2011

By Walter Ewing

The broken U.S. immigration system is flooding federal courts with low-level cases involving non-violent defendants, and inundating federal prisons with individuals whose only crime was to enter or remain in the country without permission. Thanks to this ever-widening immigration dragnet, a disproportionateshare of the Latinos and non-U.S. citizens who wind up in federal courts and prisons are there solely because of immigration violations. In other words, the federal government is wasting its limited law-enforcement and criminal-justice resources on immigrants who do not pose a threat to public safety or national security.

These are the inescapable conclusions to emerge from a statistical report released in September by the U.S. Sentencing Commission. The statistics, which cover the first nine months of Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, illustrate the degree to which immigration cases are being channeled into federal court rooms. Immigration offenses accounted for more than one third (35.1 percent) of all federal sentences handed down during this period.1 In comparison, immigration offenses comprised one in five (19.6 percent) of all sentences in FY 2000.Read more...

Published in the Cornerstone: A National Legal Aid and Defender Association Publication

News Room

Media Contact: Wendy Sefsaf at 202-507-7524 or wsefsaf@immcouncil.org

Eased Immigration Laws May Spur Growth, U.S. Chamber Report Says

Published on Wed, Jan 25, 2012

The U.S. needs to ease restrictions on immigrants who plan to open businesses, and create a separate visa for potential entrepreneurs, according to a report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

Current immigration laws make it difficult for people to enter the U.S. and start a business, according to the report, released today by the Chamber and the Immigration Policy Center of the American Immigration Council. Expansion of the visa program would also aid companies’ access to foreign-born graduates of U.S. universities, helping economic growth, the authors of the report said. 

Immigrant entrepreneurs established 18 percent of the Fortune 500 companies, according to a June 2011 report from the Partnership for a New American Economy, a group of business leaders and mayors that advocates for immigration reform. Those companies, such as Google Inc. (GOOG), Big Lots Inc. (BIG) and Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) generated $1.7 trillion in revenue in 2010 and had 3.7 million employees worldwide, the report said. 

“They are going to contribute and succeed somewhere -- why shouldn’t it be the United States?” Thomas Donohue, the Chamber’s chief executive officer, said in a Jan. 12 speech in Washington. 

Immigrants are more likely than native-born U.S. workers to start their own business or be self-employed, according to the Chamber of Commerce study. Of naturalized citizens, 5.1 percent were employed by their own business, compared with 3.7 percent of the native-born citizens, the report found. In Massachusetts, immigrants were 14 percent of the population in 2008 and started 61 percent of the businesses, the report found. 

Legislation Stymied Read more...

Published in the Bloomberg

IEC is Atwitter about Social Networking

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