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Dear Mr. Smith, Our Broken Immigration System Requires Solutions That Embrace Discretion, Not Eliminate It

Published on Fri, Jul 15, 2011

Over the last six months, Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), along with other members of the House Judiciary Committee, have engaged in an all-out effort to turn back the clock on our immigration laws through a series of bills that may tackle one issue at a time, but equal a comprehensive overhaul. This week, the restrictionists' Comprehensive Immigration Reform package (RCIR, as we call it) became complete with the introduction of the "Hinder the Administration's Legalization Temptation Act" (HALT Act), a bill that would suspend discretionary forms of immigration relief until January 21, 2013. Yes, until the day after the next inauguration.

Just yesterday, Congressman Smith inched a bit closer to RCIR when the full Judiciary Committee voted to advance the "Keep Our Communities Safe Act of 2011" (H.R. 1932) -- a bill that authorizes indefinite detention for immigrants. Apparently Smith is not content with the current mandatory detention laws because they include some provisions for release of immigrants, such as asylum seekers and others who have committed no crimes. His bill, however, would create a penal system for immigrants far more restrictive than the current detention system, which has generally been under fire from all sides.

And it doesn't stop there. Other bills in the RCIR package include mandatory E-verify with no provisions for current undocumented workers to become legal, elimination of the diversity visa, expanded authority for the Secretary of Homeland Security to revoke visas issued by the Department of State, the elimination of review for those visas, suspension of waivers for the 3 and 10 year bars, suspension of cancellation of removal, suspension of Temporary Protective Status (TPS), suspension of virtually all parole authority, deferral powers, and work authorization, and a revocation of any such benefits that are awarded between the date of introduction of the HALT Act and its enactment.Read more...

Published in the Huffington Post

Going to the AILA Annual Conference in San Diego?

The International Exchange Center will be running three special sessions in the Exhibit Hall on understanding the J Visa.

Practical Tips for the J Visa
June 16 (3:00 pm–3:45 pm)

Including the J-1 Client in Your Practice
June 17 (10:15 am–11:00 am)

J-1 Visa—The Advanced Class
June 18 (9:25 am–10:10 am)

For more informations on the sessions, please click here.

Quick Fact: The cost of detention

It costs roughly $166 per day for ICE to detain one person. ICE spends $5.5 million per day to detain 33,400 people in over 250 facilities. Furthermore, over half of detainees did not have criminal records and traffic offenses accounted for roughly 20 percent of those who did have criminal records.

What Would Your Immigrant Ancestors Think of the I-Word?

Published on Sat, Sep 10, 2011

Ready to talk about immigration and the i-word?

In the days leading up to the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I walked around New York City with Nayana Sen and Leigh Thompson, asking people what they thought about immigration and the slurs too often used to describe immigrants today. We started out at Battery Park, where people take ferries out to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The site is part of the Immigration and Civil Rights Sites of Conscience Network, committed to use historical perspective in order to stimulate ongoing local and national conversations on immigration and its related issues, promote humanitarian and democratic values, and treat all audiences as stakeholders in the immigration dialogue.

Inspired by the Sites of Conscience’s work, we asked people what they knew about their families’ roots in the U.S., what they thought about how immigrants are treated now and whether or not they agree with use of the i-word to describe people.

In most of our pre-interviews, people wanted to be on camera—but as soon as we said “immigration,” we got confused looks, artful turn-downs and fast walkers. It was a reality check about how unprepared and uncomfortable a lot of people feel when faced with this urgent topic.Read more...

Published in the Colorlines

Legal Action Center Staff

Melissa Crow, Director
202-507-7500 ext. 7523 (mcrow@immcouncil.org)

Melissa Crow is the Legal Director of the American Immigration Council. She oversees the Council’s impact litigation, legal advocacy and legal education work. She has practiced immigration law for more than twelve years, including litigation in the federal courts, immigration courts, and Board of Immigration Appeals.  Prior to joining the Council, Melissa served as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Policy at the Department of Homeland Security. She was previously a partner with Brown, Goldstein & Levy in Baltimore, Maryland, where she developed a thriving immigration practice and undertook litigation to protect immigrants' rights in the workplace. Before entering private practice, Ms. Crow served as Counsel to Senator Edward M. Kennedy during the 2007 debates on the U.S. Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill. She also spent a year as the Gulf Coast Policy Attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. Ms. Crow has taught in the Safe Harbor Clinic at Brooklyn Law School and the International Human Rights Clinic at Washington College of Law.  She holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law and a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Leslie Dellon, Business Litigation Fellow
202-507-7500 ext. 7530 (ldellon@immcouncil.org)Read more...

American Heritage Dictionary adds 'offensive' to 'anchor baby'

Published on Tue, Dec 06, 2011

The American Heritage Dictionary has added "offensive" to the definition of "anchor baby" in the dictionary after criticism from Latino groups.

Immigrationimpact.com, a project of the nonprofit American Immigration Council, questioned the inclusion of the "anchor baby" definition. On their website, they describe the new definition as "one that was crafted to reflect more accurately just how artificial a term it really is."

The online version of the American Heritage Dictionary now defines "anchor baby" as:

"Offensive Used as a disparaging term for a child born to a noncitizen mother in a country that grants automatic citizenship to children born on its soil, especially when the child's birthplace is thought to have been chosen in order to improve the mother's or other relatives' chances of securing eventual citizenship..."

In January, lawmakers in Washington pushed to change the law so babies born to illegal immigrants could no longer be given automatic citizenship.

Former Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce paved the way for Arizona's controversial immigration enforcement law supported the legislation in a bill he proposed in 2010.

In May, when CBS 5 Investigates showed Pearce an email referring to "anchor babies" that he forwarded, he said he didn't find anything wrong with the language.

"It's somebody's opinion … What they're trying to say is it's wrong, and I agree with them. It's wrong," said Pearce.

Published in the KPHO Phoenix

March 2010 Snapshot

This March the International Exchange Center staff approved trainees and interns who will soon begin unique and interesting J-1 training and internship programs in marketing, industrial design, communications, and many other fields. Training and internship plans continue to reflect a shift in the US economy toward greater efficiency and changes in communications technology.


Our new J-1 exchange visitors are from every corner of the globe: Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, China, Russia, India, Iran, South Africa, Morocco, Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, and the United Kingdom.



 


 

Immigrant advocates: ‘Attrition through enforcement’ immigration policy already a reality

Published on Tue, Feb 07, 2012

 

Immigration advocates said Monday that an “attrition through enforcement” immigration strategy is nothing new, and already interferes with the daily lives of undocumented and their families, including U.S.-born children.

The term “attrition through enforcement” was first used by immigration restrictionists in 2003 and implemented in 2005, Michelle Waslin of the Immigration Policy Center said on a conference call Monday. Waslin added that immigration restrictionist organizations like the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the Center for Immigration Studies and Numbers USA have sought to market the strategy by arguing it would prove less expensive and more reasonable than mass deportation.

Waslin said the strategy would force undocumented immigrants to leave, regardless of how long they have been in the U.S. and how this impacts U.S.-born children. She added that citizens will pay more in taxes to implement the strategy, which also impacts businesses.

Jonathan Blazer of the American Civil Liberties Union said during the call that “states have served as major laboratories of experimentation for [immigration] restrictionists who seek to push the bills farther and farther.”

He added that because language in state bills is copied word for word and introduced simultaneously, the movement is “a nationally coordinated effort through” groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform, known as FAIR, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, State Legislators for Legal Immigration and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Three Florida state representatives are current members of State Legislators for Legal Immigration, including Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Port St. Lucie, who filed a bill in the current legislative session that would mandate the use of an employment authorization program known as E-Verify.Read more...

Published in the The Florida Independent

Access to Courts

Access to Courts Federal court review is an important check on agency decision making because of the high stakes involved in immigration cases and the potential for error that accompanies the growing volume of cases. Through targeted litigation, the LAC has consistently advocated that statutory limits on judicial review must be narrowly construed. We also provide practice advisories, mentoring and other support to attorneys seeking review of unfavorable decisions impacting the rights of noncitizens. In addition, we advocate for the adoption of policies that help ensure all noncitizens a meaningful opportunity to be heard in the immigration court system.

Federal Courts | Immigration Courts and the BIA | Practice AdvisoriesRead more...