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Federal Judge Orders USCIS to Release Records on Access to Counsel

Released on Thu, Nov 29, 2012

This week, a federal district court issued an opinion highly critical of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) handling of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted by the American Immigration Council (AIC) for records relating to noncitizens’ access to counsel. The Court ordered USCIS to turn over records that it previously had refused to produce. 

Most decisions about immigration status—including whether to grant lawful permanent residence, asylum or citizenship—are made by government officials outside the courtroom. Given the significant impact such decisions have on the lives of noncitizens and their families, it is critical that they be allowed to have their private attorneys with them during complex administrative proceedings.  

Historically, USCIS has imposed unwarranted restrictions on access to counsel, though in recent months the agency has made significant progress toward addressing these problems. Through its FOIA request, the AIC hopes to shed light on USCIS policies about counsel. 

After waiting almost a year for USCIS to respond to the request, the AIC’s Legal Action Center and co-counsel Dorsey & Whitney LLP filed a FOIA suit on behalf of the AIC, alleging that USCIS had failed to turn over records responsive to the FOIA request. After filing suit, USCIS determined that it had over 2042 pages of documents responsive to the request.  However, it withheld 1169 pages and released 418 pages with redactions, claiming FOIA exemptions protected the records from disclosure. In response to the government’s motion for summary judgment, the AIC argued that USCIS had not demonstrated the adequacy of its search and had improperly withheld numerous documents not protected under the FOIA exemptions.  Read more...

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Hawaii Sen. Inouye co-sponsors bill to aid children of World War II vets

Published on Tue, Nov 10, 2009

Sen. Daniel Inouye is co-sponsoring legislation that would allow the children of Filipino World War II veterans living in the United States to become permanent U.S. residents.

Published in the The Hawaii Advisor

LAC Releases Updated Practice Advisory on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Released on Mon, Jul 29, 2013

For Immediate Release

LAC Releases Updated Practice Advisory on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Washington, DC-The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC) is pleased to announce the release of an updated practice advisory, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.  This advisory includes the latest information about DACA adjudication trends and agency policies contained in the DACA Standard Operating Procedures Manual. It also offers strategic advice for attorneys representing potential DACA requesters whose cases involve potential gang-related issues and certain drinking and driving offenses. The LAC issued this advisory jointly with the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.

All Legal Action Center practice advisories can be found on the LAC website.


For more information, contact or call 202-507-7516.

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Immigration reform needs addressing

Published on Sun, Jan 10, 2010

Here's yet another argument supporting the need for comprehensive immigration reform, an issue that the Obama administration has thankfully targeted as a priority in 2010.

A study released last week concluded that legalizing the status of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in our country would create jobs, increase consumption, boost wages, add to tax revenues and, in sum, "yield at least $1.5 trillion in added U.S. gross domestic product over 10 years."

Published in the Arizona Star

Groups Ask Court to Block Deportation Hearings for Children Without Legal Representation

Move Comes as Immigration Courts are Speeding Up Deportation Hearings Against Children, Raising Serious Concerns

Released on Fri, Aug 01, 2014

Washington D.C. – The American Immigration Council, American Civil Liberties Union, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public Counsel, and K&L Gates LLP have asked a federal court to immediately block the government from pursuing deportation proceedings against several children unless it ensures those youth have legal representation. The move comes as immigration courts are speeding up deportation hearings against children in an expedited process sometimes referred to as a "rocket docket."

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Ben Johnson on Fox and Friends

Published on Mon, May 24, 2010

Ben Johnson Discusses the Economics of Immigration

Published in the Fox News

Judge Stands Up for Refugee Families, Castigates Government for Policies That Traumatize Children

Released on Sat, Jul 25, 2015

Washington, DC – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Immigration Council (Council) welcomed a ruling by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee that should signal the end of the mass incarceration of children and mothers seeking asylum in the U.S. 

“After months of negotiations between the plaintiffs and the government stalled, Judge Gee again evaluated whether the government was meeting the terms of the original Flores settlement and ensuring the proper care of children in its custody. The final word on that is no, it most certainly is not. The government is not living up to its obligations,” said Victor Nieblas Pradis, AILA President. He continued, “While the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) scrambled over the past few weeks to implement plans to potentially help them fend off this decision, the judge felt strongly that those plans were not sufficient. The judge noted that, even assuming the new policy complies with the Flores agreement, there is no guarantee that DHS and ICE won’t abruptly change the policy again. From everything being reported by attorneys volunteering for the CARA* project at the Dilley detention center, the new policies are in fact depriving mothers of due process and causing confusion and outright fear.”

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How immigration crackdowns backfire

Published on Thu, Apr 22, 2010

Arizona legislators are fed up with being terrorized by illegal immigrants, and they have passed a law to get tough. Under the measure, passed this week and sent to the governor, police would have to stop and question anyone they suspect of being in this country without legal authorization.

Published in the Chicago Tribune

Leader of Latin American group blasts immigration proposal

Published on Tue, May 11, 2010

While officials, state and national lawmakers and citizens line up on either side the immigration reform debate, the leader League of United Latin American Citizens of Ohio has sent a strong message to Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones who is vowing to take a Arizona-like immigration law to the ballot.

A week after Jones gathered national media attention stating he and state Rep. Courtney Combs, R-Hamilton, called for legislation that “mirrors” the controversial Arizona law that makes being in the country illegally a state violation, Jason Riveiro, state director of the LULAC, sent a letter to the sheriff stating his support of the Arizona law “can only be described as a cynical and self-serving political ploy. Such actions are inappropriate. You take advantage of not merely immigrant populations, but also of the trust granted you by the very people who elected you into office.

Published in the Oxford Press

Immigrants & Community

Immigrants & Community teaches middle grade students through literacy-based activities about various types of community and about how immigrants contribute to the communities of which they are a part.

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