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Appointed Counsel for Children


For children facing deportation, appointed counsel helps ensure a fair and just immigration process.

Cecilia Chouhy Balbi Gets Out There and Wins!

June, 2008
Cecilia Chouhy Balbi

The Exchange Visitor Program is pleased to announce Cecilia Chouhy Balbi as June'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...

Enforcement remains biggest chunk of federal immigration spending

Published on Tue, Apr 26, 2011

The budget recently approved by Congress to keep the federal government running through the 2011 fiscal year includes a series of cuts to major federal immigration agencies that will impact immigrants and immigration programs over the next year.

According to the American Immigration Council:

The bar on spending for immigrant integration programs, present in the initial budget passed by the House (H.R. 1), was not present in the final 2011 budget (H.R. 1473) signed by the President. Immigrant integration funding is a great investment for the U.S.—the costs are minimal, and the benefits can be huge. If well-integrated, immigrants are entrepreneurs and innovators who can help revitalize communities.

The council adds that “the 2011 budget cuts U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by more than a third ($87.7 million) from 2010 funding, whereas the initial budget would have increased USCIS funding by $41.2 million.”

Citizenship and Immigration Services is the government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States.

The Council also states that “immigration enforcement remains the biggest part of the budget, despite what restrictionists might have you think. The 2011 budget appropriates $8.2 billion for Customs and Border Protection salaries and expenses, $574.2 million for border fencing, infrastructure, and technology, and $5.4 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement salaries and expenses.”

Earlier this year, the National Immigration Forum and the Immigration Policy Center — the research and policy arm of the American Immigration Council — released reports that state that as part of broad immigration reform, border security and enforcement spending has to be shifted to avoid the ineffective use of billions of taxpayer dollars.

Published in the Florida Independent

Excerpts from Artesia Declarations

Highlights from Declarations and Links to PDF's are below:

When [my client] discussed her fear of gangs in El Salvador, the asylum officer seemed impatient and began to rush through the interview.

Every woman I met was forced to care for her children and discuss her case simultaneously.… Mothers were forced to recount very traumatic and upsetting details of rape, violence and kidnapping in the presence of their young children. Women were forced to attend court hearings in front of immigration judges with their children running around the room.

Each and every applicant that I met with or represented during an official proceeding with an Immigration Judge or asylum officer had a child or children with them at the time, often in their laps. Many of the children were sick, and the mothers were often required to recount gruesome acts of violence, sometimes rape, while holding or trying to care for their children. There was no one to care for the children or any place that they could be left while these proceedings were taking place.

In every case I reviewed where the detainee requested to speak with an attorney, the asylum officer merely asked, "Do you want to continue or not?" In none of the interview summaries I reviewed did the asylum officer state that the person could postpone the interview in order to obtain legal representation.Read more...

Top 25 Things Every Practitioner Should Know About International Students and Scholars

An AILA practice advisory with helpful advice concerning the representation of J-1 clients.

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America's red-blue divide widens on illegal immigrants

Published on Tue, Jun 21, 2011

America's red and blue states are increasingly going in exactly opposite directions on the issue of illegal immigration – a testament to how difficult finding middle ground has become on the federal level.

Earlier this month, Alabama followed Georgia and, most famously, Arizona in passing sweeping anti-illegal-immigration legislation. In many respects, Alabama's is the most comprehensive bill of the three, forcing schools to report how much they're spending to educate kids of illegal immigrants, for example.

That same week, however, New York State followed the lead of Illinois and opted out of the federal Secure Communities program, which is designed to identify and deport illegal immigrants in US jails who are convicted of certain felonies. They have criticized the program as casting too broad a net, deporting even "busboys and nannies." Several days later, Massachusetts also opted out, and California could be next.

As Washington has punted on federal immigration reform, states have become the laboratories to test new approaches. The picture that is emerging, though, is one of a nation divided against itself on the issue.

In the broadest terms, states with a long history of assimilating foreign-born migrants are largely defending the ideal of the United States as a "nation of immigrants," legal or illegal. Meanwhile, states that have before been largely isolated from immigration patterns are now taking a "the law is the law" approach.

The result is a pattern that roughly fits the red-blue divide with the South and inner West opposed by the Northeast and West Coast. But the patchwork of immigration policy could have a silver lining: As states struggle with the issue, their efforts could provide starting points for more meaningful federal reform.Read more...

Published in the Christian Science Monitor

Court Finds Parent's Residence and Status is Not Imputed to Child for Cancellation of Removal

Holder v. Martinez Gutierrez, 566 U.S. ___, 132 S. Ct. 2011 (2012)

The Supreme Court unanimously affirmed a Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) decision barring lawful permanent resident (“LPR”) children seeking cancellation of removal from using their parents’ years of U.S. residence or LPR status to satisfy the seven-year continuous residency or five-year LPR status requirements under INA § 240A(a). In so doing, the Court reversed the Ninth Circuit, see Mercado-Zazueta v. Holder, 580 F.3d 1102 (9th Cir. 2009).

The Supreme Court held that the BIA’s construction of the cancellation of removal statute was permissible under Chevron. Justice Kagan, writing for the Court, began the analysis by noting that the statute’s plain text did not mandate imputation. The Court then went on to reject arguments that (1) the legislative history demonstrates that Congress intended a parent’s residency and status to be imputed to a child for purposes of cancellation of removal and (2) the statute’s goals of family unity demand imputation.

The Court also explained that the regulation is not arbitrary and capricious despite the BIA’s acceptance of imputation in other contexts. The Court found that the BIA consistently “imputes matters involving an alien’s [subjective] state of mind, while declining to impute objective conditions or characteristics” such as duration of residence.

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

How to Write a J-1 Training Plan

The IEC video,  "How to Write a J-1 Training Plan"  provides tips and explainations about how to write a DS-7002 Training Plan for J-1 Trainee/Intern programs.


Quick Fact: U.S. naturalization fees extremely high

U.S. naturalization fees are now higher than in 25 of the 30 other MIPEX countries.