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USCIS Takes Steps to Improve Noncitizens’ Access to Legal Counsel

Released on Thu, Jan 19, 2012

Washington D.C. – During its nine-year history, issues have arisen with respect to restrictions on counsel by the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration agencies. Tuesday, in response to calls from the American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued immediate, comprehensive changes to their policies to ensure an appropriate role for attorneys in the immigration process.

Many noncitizens are forced to navigate the immigration process without representation because they cannot afford an attorney.  But even persons who can afford one, or are represented by a pro bono attorney, have at times faced severe restrictions on their representation.  This is particularly troublesome given the significant power USCIS officers wield.  For example, they decide whether a noncitizen is entitled to stay in the U.S. or not.  The assistance of an attorney well versed in the complexities of immigration law can help safeguard the rights of these noncitizens and ensure just outcomes.   

By revising its guidance, USCIS has responded to some of the most serious access concerns.  For example, the new guidance provides that an attorney generally may sit next to his or her client during an interview, may be permitted to submit relevant documents to the USCIS officer, and may raise objections to inappropriate lines of questioning. Read more...

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IPC: health care debate is jamming a stick into the wheels of immigration reform

Published on Tue, Aug 11, 2009

The Immigration Policy Center (IPC), based in Washington, D.C., considered today, as the current debate on health care rages in town halls across the nation, immigration is being used as a way to jam a stick into the wheels of impending reform.

Published in the Examiner

Thankful for a New Conversation on Immigration Reform

Released on Fri, Nov 23, 2012

Dear Friend:

Two weeks ago, many national leaders awoke to a new political and demographic reality—one that they had long suspected and been warned about, but couldn’t quite believe until the election results were in. The unmistakable lessons of this political season are that national elections are won by uniting a diverse coalition of American voters and promoting positive solutions to the challenges that face our nation. 

The good news for our political system is that neither party has a monopoly on the ability to meet this new demand. These lessons reflect a need and an opportunity to break through the partisan gridlock that has crippled the nation and to build broad coalitions in support of real solutions that are driven by messages that unite us rather than divide us.   Nowhere is this clearer than in the immigration debate.   Misguided and mean-spirited ideas like “self-deportation” no longer have credibility on the national stage. The strategy of ignoring the human and economic toll of “enforcement only” policies and refusing to reform an outdated and dysfunctional immigration system must be put to rest once and for all.   The shrill voices of the nativist fringe must give way to the chorus of conservative and progressive voices that have long called for a path towards citizenship for the 11 million undocumented (including the courageous DREAMers who helped to shape this new political reality) and the creation of a 21st century immigration system that allows families and businesses to flourish and succeed.Read more...

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IPC Reports Highlight Gains Made From Legalization Programs Past

Published on Sun, Nov 08, 2009

The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) released three publications today discussing proposals for and gains made from a broad legalization program for those in the country without legal status.

Published in the The World Sentinel

Court Says ICE Failed to Satisfy FOIA Requirements in Council’s Suit to Compel Disclosure of Records on Access to Counsel

Released on Fri, Jul 12, 2013

Court Says ICE Failed to Satisfy FOIA Requirements in Council’s Suit to Compel
Disclosure of Records on Access to Counsel

A federal district court recently issued an opinion addressing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) failure to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  According to the court, ICE did not show that it had conducted an adequate search for records in response to the American Immigration Council’s (Council) FOIA request regarding noncitizens’ access to counsel in interactions with the agency.  The court also rejected ICE’s justifications for withholding numerous records. 

Under the U.S. immigration system, many decisions impacting the lives of noncitizens are made by ICE officers at field offices, detention centers and arrest sites nationwide.  Reports from immigration lawyers across the country indicate that the actions of ICE officers routinely impact attorneys’ efforts to represent their clients.  Yet, ICE’s policies about access to counsel have not always been easy to ascertain and appear to vary by location.  Through its FOIA request, the Council hopes to shed light on these policies.

After waiting more than a year for ICE to respond to the request, the Council’s Legal Action Center and co-counsel Dorsey & Whitney LLP filed a FOIA suit on behalf of the Council, alleging that ICE had failed to turn over records responsive to the FOIA request.  After filing suit, ICE released 1084 pages, many of which were heavily redacted or withheld entirely.  It subsequently released several thousand records related to detention facilities, which the Council is not challenging. Read more...

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Benjamin Johnson Makes Economic Case for Immigration Reform

Published on Mon, Jan 11, 2010

Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council, makes the economic case for comprehensive immigration reform.

Published in the Fox News

The U.S. Must Not Lower the Bar on Protecting Children Fleeing Violence

Released on Wed, Jul 30, 2014

Washington D.C. - The humanitarian challenge posed by the arrival of thousands of unaccompanied children and young families at our southern border has once again ignited passions over the role immigration plays in our country. Rather than respond to the arrival of children and young families as refugees fleeing violence and crime, and appropriately fund our ability to prioritize the health and well-being of these individuals, Washington has yet again become mired in anti-immigration rhetoric. As the Senate and House take up supplemental funding bills, this debate is likely to involve numerous attacks on existing protections for children, including rolling back the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), accelerating court proceedings to limit the due process available to children, and other measures that will in essence blame the children for needing protection. Read more...

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Report: Immigration cases at record levels in 2009

Published on Thu, Mar 25, 2010

Immigration prosecutions rose to record levels in 2009 as the Obama administration kept up aggressive enforcement that began under President George W. Bush.

Immigration cases increased by about a fifth over the previous year and made up a third of all new criminal filings in U.S. district courts in the government spending year that ended Sept. 30. The statistics were compiled by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.


Published in the Associated Press

The American Immigration Council Unveils a New Logo and More

Released on Wed, Jul 15, 2015

Washington, D.C. – The American Immigration Council (Council) announces the official debut of its redesigned logo. A reinterpretation of the organization’s familiar brand, it is the first offering in a series of significant updates the Council’s audiences will see in the year to come.

The Council has spent the first half of this year in research and discovery to effect a strategic unification of its four main programs—Immigration Policy Center, Legal Action Center, International Exchange Center, and Community Education Center. The Council will continue to provide the same broad-based scholarship, policy expertise, legal analysis, international exchange, and education work to its core audiences, including attorneys, academics, advocates, policymakers, and educators, but continue doing so under a single banner identity—the American Immigration Council.

The Logo

The Council worked with D.C.-based designer Anastasia Miller to conceptualize and render the new design. The new logo plays on the "I" and "C" in the old motif and introduces a “road” element to emphasize the Council’s mission and vision. The road connotes a journey with purpose, with a nod to our motto "honoring our immigrant past and shaping our future," which distills the essence of the Council's work.

Coming Soon: A Content-Rich, Easy-to-Use, Responsive Web Presence

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More undocumented workers are filing returns, advocates say

Published on Mon, Apr 26, 2010

Americans angry about the current immigration morass utter a common complaint: “Illegal aliens don’t pay taxes.”

But many undocumented workers have taxes taken out of their checks and an increasing number are filing tax returns, according to IRS statistics, local undocumented workers and immigrant advocates.

President Obama’s promise of an immigration overhaul is a major reason for the increase in returns. That change could open a path to legal status for about 12 million people currently illegal.

Published in the The Palm Beach Post