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Ohio Creative Writing Contest Highlighted at Naturalization Ceremony

Published on Thu, Apr 21, 2011

Fifty people from 30 countries are celebrating their citizenship after a naturalization ceremony.  As part of the ceremony a Westerville, Ohio student won a statewide essay contest.  The state of Ohio submitted over 1,600 entries to the American Immigration Council's 14th Annual "Celebrate America"  Creative Writing Contest.

Published in the Columbus NBC | View PDF

Immigrants Held for Days in Freezing, Unsanitary Cells

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Immigrant rights groups file class-action lawsuit challenging short-term detention conditions in Customs and Border Protection facilities. 

Jo Oyanagi Pedals Toward Success

December, 2009
Jo

Jo Oyanagi, 23, of Tokyo, Japan is a J-1 trainee at Trek Bicycle Corporation in Waterloo, Wisconsin. Jo works for Trek in Japan and is taking part in a J-1 exchange program in order to learn an American perspective on customer service and sales techniques that he will bring back to the Japanese side of the company when his training in the US is complete. Read more...

Study details taxes paid by undocumented immigrants

Published on Tue, Apr 19, 2011

A study, the first of its kind, shows that undocumented immigrants pay sales taxes and property taxes, and at least half pay an income tax.

According to an Immigration Policy Center report released yesterday, tax day, the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy has estimated the state and local taxes paid in 2010 by households that are headed by unauthorized immigrants.

The report indicates:

These households may include members who are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants. Collectively, these households paid $11.2 billion in state and local taxes. That included $1.2 billion in personal income taxes, $1.6 billion in property taxes, and $8.4 billion in sales taxes.

The report shows that Florida collects $806.8 million, the third highest in the nation, in property and sales tax revenue from households headed by unauthorized immigrants. Florida does not have a state income tax.

Wendy Sefsaf, communications director for the American Immigration Council, tells The Florida Independent that the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy runs scenarios about what impacts states tax revenue. Sefsaf adds that the institute is able to take their models, databases and assumptions on different groups and come up with tax contributions and that is what they did for the undocumented.

Sefsaf adds these number have never been examined, because the unauthorized population is hard to track and “we make a lot of guesses of their contribution.”

“The restrictionist movement in the U.S. spends all their time letting everyone know how much [undocumented immigrants] cost us, and they try to ignore the fact that they contribute, Sefsaf says. “We are not trying to say there are not costs associated with people, there are costs associated with everyone, but we are trying to balance out the debate. We can have a debate about who can stay and who has to go, but we have to do that with a full plate of information.”Read more...

Published in the American Independent

Video Hearings in Immigration Court

Beginning in the mid-1990s, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) began using video hearing equipment in immigration courts across the country.  As a result, frequently a noncitizen facing removal is deprived of the opportunity to appear in person before an immigration judge.  Video hearings are more common where a noncitizen is detained, though many non-detained individuals are subjected to video hearings as well.  EOIR uses video hearings for both preliminary hearings (“master calendar hearings”) and merits hearings (“individual hearings”).

FOIA l Advocacy l Resources

FOIA

In February 2012, the American Immigration Council submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to EOIR asking for records related to video teleconferencing (VTC).  EOIR produced two sets of records.

First Production (November 23, 2012)

            Index of First Production

Second Production (January 30, 2013)Read more...

Backlog of Immigration Cases Continues to Grow

Published on Wed, Jun 08, 2011

The number of pending cases in federal immigration courts is at an all-time high, and those cases are remaining open for longer, according to new data that underscores the backlog facing the nation's immigration system.

There were 275,316 cases awaiting resolution before the immigration courts as of May 4, setting a new record after an increase of 2.8 percent in four months. The information comes from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, which compiles the information regularly from public records. The clearinghouse released its latest report on June 7.

According to the data, the cases have been pending an average of 482 days, up from 467 days four months ago.

The report noted that the increases came despite the hiring of 44 immigration judges during the previous 12 months and the opening of a new immigration court in Pearsall, Texas.

Melissa Crow, director of the American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center, says the backlog is due to two factors: the need for yet more judges and staff at the U.S. Department of Justice, which administers the courts through its Executive Office for Immigration Review, and the decision by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pursue more cases.

"It means that cases take forever to finish. It means, where clients do have cases where there's relief, it may take a long time for them to get the relief that they deserve," Crow says.

Crow's group and other advocates for immigrants are pushing the Obama administration to be more selective about the people targeted for deportation proceedings, while other critics of the administration, including conservative members of Congress, accuse the administration of being improperly selective in the enforcement of removal orders.Read more...

Published in the National Law Review

Court Affirms Right of Certain LPRs to Travel Abroad

Vartelas v. Holder, 565 U.S. __, 132 S. Ct. 1479 (2012)

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that INA § 101(a)(13)(C)(v) -- which states that lawful permanent residents (LPRs) are regarded as seeking "admission" to the United States if they previously committed certain criminal offenses -- does not apply retroactively to guilty pleas that were entered before the law took effect. In so doing, the Court overturned a lower court decision holding the law applied to convictions occurring prior to the law's 1997 effective date, when LPRs possessed the right to take temporary trips abroad without fear of being denied rentry upon return. The Legal Action Center has issued a Practice Advisory offering strategies for LPRs affected by the decision.

Read more...

Process to review 300,000 deportation proceedings leaves room for doubts

Published on Tue, Aug 23, 2011

The implementation of a case by case review of at least 300,000 deportation proceedings, announced by the Department of Homeland Security last week, has left room for questions among immigrant advocate groups.

With this announcement, Homeland Security said it will implement prosecutorial discretion measures laid out in a June 2011 memo issued by John Morton, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (aka ICE).

Melissa Crowe, director of the Legal Action Center at the American Immigration Council, said on a conference call Monday, ”We are not sure how” Homeland Security’s commitment “will play out in practice” and what recourse individuals will have “if they believe their cases have been mischaracterized as high priority.”

Crowe added that in an ideal world, Homeland Security “officers throughout the country would stop issuing charging documents on low priority cases so they never enter the system to begin with.”

Mohammad Abdollahi of DREAM Activist writes in an email that “the decision from [Homeland Security] and Obama was nothing new, it pretty much just spelled out what they already had on the books.”

Last week’s announcement, based on the June 2011 memo issued by Morton, lays out a path to implement immigration law enforcement priorities put forward in a 2010 memo also issued by Morton that prioritized the detention and deportation of three groups: “aliens who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety,” “recent illegal entrants” and “aliens who are fugitives or otherwise obstruct immigration controls.”Read more...

Published in the Florida Independent