Skip to Content



Video Hearings in Immigration Court


In 1995, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) introduced the use of video hearing equipment in immigration courts across the country.  As a result, noncitizens facing removal are frequently 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


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)

            Index of Second Production

Ishwinder Kaur Explores the United States

January, 2010
Ishwinder Kaur

Ishwinder Kaur, 23, hails from New Delhi, India. She is currently training in Chicago in the field of business research and administration. She feels welcome in the US, and affectionately refers to Chicago as “a city of cold winds and warm hearts." Read more...

Georgia immigration reform bill stresses growers

Published on Tue, May 31, 2011

Atlanta (CNN) -- It's as dependable as the turning of the seasons itself. Every spring, migrant workers -- many of them by all accounts illegal immigrants -- work their way north picking fruits and vegetables, first in Florida, then in Georgia, then farther north.

But this year, growers say, many of those workers are bypassing Georgia, concerned about provisions in a new state law that imposes tough penalties for using fake work documents and allows police broader latitude to check immigration status. The bill is modeled on similar, and controversial, legislation in Arizona.

The result, the growers say, is a scramble to get fruits and vegetables off the ground before they rot.

"The reports we're getting back from our growers is that they are getting between 30 and 50 percent of the work crews that they need to get the crops in," said Charles Hall, executive director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, which represents mostly medium- and large-size operations in the state's $1.1 billion fruit and vegetable business.

Growers say that the improving economy and a consequent slight rebound in construction could be siphoning some of the mostly Hispanic workforce they usually depend on. Some workers likely went home as the long recession dragged on, they say.

But the primary reason workers aren't coming to Georgia, growers say, is the legislation.

"I know a lot of crew leaders," said Jason Clark Berry of Blueberry Farms of Georgia. "Everyone I've talked to from Vidalia to Baxley, where my farm is, down through Homerville has said the exact same thing. People are afraid to come."Read more...

Published in the CNN

Supreme Court Holds that Fifth Circuit Misapplied Fedorenko v. United States

Negusie v. Holder, 555 U.S. 511 (2009)

In an 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court held that the Fifth Circuit misapplied the Supreme Court case, Fedorenko v. United States, 449 U.S. 490 (1981), to find that the persecutor bar at INA § 208(b)(2)(A)(i) applies even if a person's assistance in persecution was coerced or the product of duress. Read more...

Arizona’s State-Owned Mexico Border Fence Attracts Donors From Across U.S.

Published on Tue, Aug 02, 2011

Arizona, whose immigration law sparked a lawsuit by the Obama administration and national boycotts, aims to collect tens of millions of dollars in private donations to build a border fence with inmate labor.

The plan, created by lawmakers and signed into law by Republican Governor Jan Brewer in April, would turn donations over to a group of Republican legislators, political appointees and four county sheriffs who have criticized U.S. efforts to combat illegal immigration. They say the fence is needed to stop an “invasion” that may include violent criminals and Middle Eastern terrorists disguised as Mexicans.

“Arizona once more has to step in and do a job the federal government won’t do,” Republican state Senator Steve Smith, who sponsored the bill, said in a telephone interview. He said he believes the Obama administration has failed to secure the border and has now given up. “It is a massive invasion on our social and economic systems. Nobody can deny that.”

The campaign is ratcheting up rhetoric between the state and the federal government over border security. It is modeled after a similar effort by Brewer that taps into the same nationwide discontent over U.S. policy to pay for the defense of Arizona’s immigration law. The campaign, Keep Arizona Safe, has raised more than $3.8 million from about 45,000 donations since June 2010, said Matthew Benson, a spokesman for Brewer.

$50 Million Goal

For the border fence, more than $146,000 has been collected from about 3,000 private donors in 50 states since fundraising began July 20. At least 568 were from Arizona, 329 from California, 182 from Texas, 173 from Florida, 88 from New York and 42 from New Jersey. The goal is to raise a minimum of $50 million, said Smith.Read more...

Published in the Bloomberg

Court to Consider Jurisdiction over Requests for Equitable Tolling of Motion to Reopen Deadline

Mata v. Lynch, No. 14-185 (cert. granted Jan. 16, 2015)

On April 29, 2015, the Court heard oral arguments in Mata v. Lynch, a case addressing federal court jurisdiction over BIA denials of requests for equitable tolling of the motion to reopen filing deadline. By statute, individuals who have been ordered removed have the right to file one motion to reopen which, in most cases, is subject to strict filing deadlines. See 8 U.S.C. §§ 1229a(c)(7), (b)(5)(C). Nine Courts of Appeals recognize that the deadlines are subject to equitable tolling, a long-recognized principle through which courts can waive the application of certain non-jurisdictional statutes of limitations where a plaintiff was diligent but nonetheless unable to comply with the filing deadline. The Fifth Circuit, however, has failed to address the applicability of equitable tolling to motion to reopen deadlines in a published decision. Instead, the court has found that it lacks jurisdiction over denials of requests for equitable tolling, because the court believes that they are essentially requests that the BIA reopen a case sua sponte, see Ramos-Bonilla v. Mukasey, 543 F.3d 216 (5th Cir. 2008). The Fifth Circuit precedent on this issue does not address distinctions between requests for equitable tolling of the filing deadline for statutory motions to reopen and requests for sua sponte reopening—a separate, regulatory procedure that allows the BIA or an immigration judge to reopen a case at any time. See 8 C.F.R. §§ 1003.23(b)(1), 1003.2(a).

Petitioner Noel Mata sought equitable tolling of the deadline to file a motion to reopen based upon ineffective assistance of counsel. After the BIA denied his request, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that it lacked jurisdiction to review the decision. The Petitioner argues that the Fifth Circuit erred in holding that it has no jurisdiction. The government agrees with the Petitioner, and the Supreme Court appointed amicus to argue in support of the Fifth Circuit’s judgment.

Amicus Brief: The American Immigration Council, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, represented by the law firm of Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger, Tetzeli & Pratt, P.A., submitted an amicus brief in the case, explaining the time-consuming process that noncitizens facing removal must go through to make an ineffective assistance of counsel claim and presenting the stories of several immigrants whose requests for tolling of reopening deadlines originally were denied by the BIA.


LGBT Couples Facing Increased Immigration Tensions

Published on Mon, Oct 10, 2011

CHICAGO—According to the Immigration Policy Center, there are approximately 36,000 same sex, bi-national couples living in the United States. These couples have to reach out to alternative methods such as student visas or other legal resources in order to remain together.

 Kevin Goodman is associate dean at St. James Cathedral, in Chicago. He met Anton Pulung-Hartanto, who is originally from Indonesia, at Disney world in 2000.

“I went to Disney with a youth group, to try to show them that one could have a religious experience in a place like that, and that’s where I met my partner”, said Goodman at a forum on LGBT Immigrant Rights held at the Adler School of Professional Psychology on September 27th.

Pulung-Hartanto worked at Disney, in Florida, as a cultural host with a Q-1 visa, which is provided specifically for cultural exchange programs.

They have been together for 12 years and plan on marrying next spring in Vermont, said Goodman.

The Final Option

Goodman is from New Orleans and grew up tied to the All Saints’ River Ridge Episcopal church. He studied communication and worked as a television producer. But he’s always been interested in Asian cultures, which is why he traveled to Xi’an in the Republic of China and has taken Asian Studies courses. He also studied in the theological seminary in New York, where his work with indigent youth and people with HIV began.

When he arrived in Chicago he worked with The Night Ministry program, specifically with indigent youth in the Lakeview neighborhood. He was also working with the St. Matthew church in Evanston through the Ravenswood Community Services agency and now with St. James Cathedral.

When Pulung-Hartanto’s Q-1 Visa expired, he applied for a Student I-20 visa which allowed him another 10 years in this country. He studied culinary arts at Saint Augustine College.Read more...

Published in the New American Media

International Exchange Center Programs


International Exchange Interns

Are you a University student or recent graduate interested in a J-1 intern program related to your studies?  If you have identified a host company, the International Exchange Center can assist in making your internship a reality. Read more...