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Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

For years, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the component of the Department of Homeland Security tasked with preventing illegal entries into the United States, has employed unlawful tactics that violate the rights of U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike.  The public knows relatively little about CBP’s activities, and this lack of transparency has made it difficult to hold CBP officers, including Border Patrol agents, accountable for misconduct.  The LAC is engaged in administrative advocacy and litigation intended to expose CBP’s unlawful practices and promote policies that safeguard the civil liberties of all persons who cross our borders.

CASES

Class Action Lawsuit Challenges CBP Delays in Responding to FOIA Requests

Brown v. CBP, No. 15-cv-01181 (N.D. Cal. filed March 13, 2015)

In March, 2015, the American Immigration Council, in collaboration with the Law Office of Stacy Tolchin, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, filed a class action lawsuit against CBP over its nationwide pattern and practice of failing to timely respond to requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The plaintiffs included both immigration attorneys and individuals, all of whom had FOIA requests pending for over 20 business days.Read more...

Alumni of the Month: Ignacio De Solminihac Sierralta

February, 2013
Map of Chile

 In the winter of 2010, Ignacio De Solminihac Sierralta arrived in New York City to start a law internship. He was only in the US for two months, but on the day before his scheduled flight back to Chile, February 27, 2010, the sixth largest earthquake ever recorded hit Chile. The magnitude 8.8 earthquake also set off a devastating tsunami that reached all the way across the Pacific Ocean to Japan. Here’s his story. Read more...

Supreme Court tosses challenge to Calif. tuition law

Published on Mon, Jun 06, 2011

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge to a California law that allows illegal immigrants to pay in-state college tuition rates, a decision that gave a boost to supporters of a similar law approved this year in Maryland.

California’s 2001 law, which grants in-state college rates to students who attended a California high school for three years and graduate, was challenged by a conservative immigration group that argued the provision conflicted with federal law. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case and did not comment on that decision.

A California court had previously upheld the law.

The law is similar to one signed in May by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. Opponents of Maryland’s law are attempting to gather 56,000 signatures to suspend its provisions and put it on the ballot so that voters can decide its fate next year. Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin have comparable tuition laws.

Opponents said last week they had cleared an early hurdle in the petition drive, securing more than the 18,500 signatures initially needed to keep the effort alive. Del. Patrick L. McDonough, has said he expects opponents will also file a lawsuit to stop the law. McDonough, a Baltimore County Republican, was not immediately available for comment.

Those in favor of the law cheered the court’s decision.

The state law "is absolutely lawful under federal law and the California decision is just one more in a litany of court finding making that declaration," said Kim Propeack with the immigration advocacy group CASA de Maryland.Read more...

Published in the Baltimore Sun

Supreme Court Holds that Courts Have Jurisdiction to Review Motions to Reopen

Kucana v. Holder, 558 U.S. 233 (2010)

 

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court held that the courts of appeals have jurisdiction to review a BIA decision denying a motion to reopen. Read more...

Obama administration cracks open door to gay immigrant couples, DREAMers

Published on Thu, Aug 18, 2011

Gay and lesbian married bi-national couples like San Francisco’s Bradford Wells and Anthony John Makk may get some relief from the threat of deportation under the Defense of Marriage Act, thanks to action by the Obama administration today.

In a letter to Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said a new working group will be established to identify low-priority cases for immigrant deportation. The administration will exercise prosecutorial discretion, widely practiced by all law enforcement officers, to identify which low-priority deportation cases to ignore. The policy is also posted on the White House website.

Napolitano cited a memorandum issued last June by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, which contains a long list of mitigating factors to weigh in deciding whether to pursue deportation. These include whether the immigrant is married to a U.S. citizen, as Makk is, as well as whether the immigrant is the primary caregiver of a citizen, which Makk also is. Other factors include such things as length of lawful stay in the United States, criminal record and the like.

Sexual orientation is not specifically mentioned, but Mary Kenney, a senior staff attorney with the Legal Action Center arm of the Immigration Policy Center said the administration has indicated that same-sex marriages are included in the definition of family for the purposes of the enforcement memo. She called the move “very encouraging.”

Napolitano said President Obama asked her to respond on his behalf, having said that “it makes no sense to expend our enforcement resources on low-priority cases.” She said the June memo is now “being implemented.”

Wells and Makk have gotten huge media attention, including a spot on CNN, since the Chronicle’s second story on their case this month. You read about their case first in the Chronicle last June.Read more...

Published in the San Francisco Chronicle

LAC Wins Release of H-1B Fraud Documents for AILA

For Immediate Release

LAC Wins Release of H-1B Fraud Documents for AILA

November 9, 2012

Washington, D.C.—USCIS released in full the four remaining contested documents in a FOIA lawsuit brought by the American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC) and Steptoe & Johnson LLP on behalf of AILA. The documents plainly describe - in more detail than documents previously released in this lawsuit - “fraud indicators” that result in greater scrutiny of certain H-1B applications. These documents are troubling evidence of a near presumption of fraud in H-1B applications submitted by small and emerging businesses and for certain types of positions at these businesses.  The following documents were released:

Background of the LawsuitRead more...

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.

Gov. Perry and Those DREAM Act Kids

Published on Tue, Oct 11, 2011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been beaten up in recent GOP presidential primary debates over his signing of a bill in 2001 giving in-state tuition to illegal immigrant kids in Texas. Look for the issue to come up again at tonight’s debate in New Hampshire.

In a free society, so-called DREAM Act legislation would be unnecessary. Opportunities for legal immigration would be open wide enough that illegal immigration would decline dramatically. And higher education would be provided in a competitive market without state and federal subsidies. But that is not yet the world we live in.

On the federal level, the proposed Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act would offer permanent legal status to illegal immigrant children who graduate from high school and then complete at least two years of college or serve in the U.S. military. Legal status would allow them to qualify for in-state tuition in the states where they reside, and would eventually lead to citizenship.

Those who respond that such a law would amount to “amnesty” for illegal immigrants should keep a couple of points in mind.

First, kids eligible under the DREAM Act came to the United States when they were still minors, many of them at a very young age. They were only obeying their parents, something we should generally encourage young children to do.

Second, these kids are a low-risk, high-return bet for legalization. Because they came of age in the United States, they are almost all fluent in English and identify with America as their home (for many the only one they have ever known). “Assimilation” will not be an issue.Read more...

Published in the The Cato Institute

Programs

Community Education CenterCommunity Education Center (CEC) »

The Community Education Center (CEC) strives to promote a better understanding of immigrants and immigration by providing educational resources that inspire thoughtful dialogue, creative teaching and critical thinking. Dedicated to the American values of fairness, social justice and respect for all people, the center is committed to making immigration an “everybody issue.” The CEC also highlights the positive contributions immigrants have made and continue to make to American society through its programmatic work.

International Exchange CenterInternational Exchange Center (IEC) »

The International Exchange Center (IEC) is designated by the U.S. Department of State to sponsor trainees and interns on the J-1 visa. The IEC assumes a number of duties and responsibilities in the visa process and they are committed to the success of every intern and training program. Participating in international training is people-to-people diplomacy that creates positives ties with other parts of the world.Read more...