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This advisory provides detailed analysis about deferred action for young immigrants.

Backlog of Immigration Cases Continues to Grow

Published on Wed, Jun 08, 2011

The number of pending cases in federal immigration courts is at an all-time high, and those cases are remaining open for longer, according to new data that underscores the backlog facing the nation's immigration system.

There were 275,316 cases awaiting resolution before the immigration courts as of May 4, setting a new record after an increase of 2.8 percent in four months. The information comes from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, which compiles the information regularly from public records. The clearinghouse released its latest report on June 7.

According to the data, the cases have been pending an average of 482 days, up from 467 days four months ago.

The report noted that the increases came despite the hiring of 44 immigration judges during the previous 12 months and the opening of a new immigration court in Pearsall, Texas.

Melissa Crow, director of the American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center, says the backlog is due to two factors: the need for yet more judges and staff at the U.S. Department of Justice, which administers the courts through its Executive Office for Immigration Review, and the decision by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pursue more cases.

"It means that cases take forever to finish. It means, where clients do have cases where there's relief, it may take a long time for them to get the relief that they deserve," Crow says.

Crow's group and other advocates for immigrants are pushing the Obama administration to be more selective about the people targeted for deportation proceedings, while other critics of the administration, including conservative members of Congress, accuse the administration of being improperly selective in the enforcement of removal orders.Read more...

Published in the National Law Review

American Immigration Council v. DHS and CBP

Cover letter dated 10/12/12 from Shari Suzuki, Chief, FOIA Appeals, Policy and Litigation Branch, CBP, describing renewed searches by Office of Border Patrol and Office of Field Operations, which were asked to search “every division, port, sector and station,” and indicating that 60 pages of responsive records were being released.

Key Documents:

Pages 1-2:  CBP memo (7/30/03) re: attorney representation during the inspection process.  8 CFR 292.5(b) governs primary and secondary inspections at ports of entry, as well as deferred inspections, “which are the continuation of a secondary inspection conducted at an onward office.”  Supervisory inspector may allow an attorney to attend a deferred inspection interview if he or she acts as “an observer and consultant to the applicant.”

Pages 8-9:  Memo re: access to counsel in St. Albans Area Port in response to AIC/AILA letter alleging denial of access to counsel (at pages 10-18).  Confirms that 7/30/03 CBP memo (at pages 1-2) is still in effect.  No official policy to bar counsel from L and TN adjudications or from deferred inspection.  Sets forth guidelines for legal professionals at ports of entry.Read more...

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...

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

Court Rejects Application of “Aggravated Felony” Label to Some State Law Marijuana Distribution Convictions

Moncrieffe v. Holder, No. 11-702, 569 U.S. ___, 2013 U.S. LEXIS 3313 (Apr. 23, 2013)

In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court held that a state conviction for a marijuana distribution is not a drug trafficking aggravated felony where the state statute upon which it was based covers social sharing of a small amount of marijuana. Thus, noncitizens facing deportation based upon such convictions are not barred from pursuing discretionary relief.

In an opinion written by Justice Sotomayor, the Court unequivocally affirmed the applicability of the categorical approach.  The Court explained that the Georgia drug offense at issue would only qualify as an aggravated felony if it necessarily prescribes felony punishment under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The CSA treats distribution of small amounts of marijuana for no remuneration as misdemeanors.  See 21 USC §§ 841(a), (b)(4). As a result, a conviction under a state statute that encompasses such distribution offenses is not necessarily punishable as a felony under the CSA and thus is not an aggravated felony.  The Court rejected the government’s arguments that immigration courts should re-litigate criminal cases to determine whether convictions involved only a small amount of marijuana for no remuneration. 

Justices Thomas and Alito issued dissents.

Practice AdvisoryMoncrieffe v. Holder:  Implications for Drug Changes and Other Issues Involving the Categorical Approach (May 2, 2013)

Immigrant advocates protest deportation of young student, call for prosecutorial discretion

Published on Tue, Oct 25, 2011

South Florida immigrant advocates will be at the Broward Transistional Center today to take part in a national day of action to protest the deportation of Shamir Ali.

...

ICE recently announced that it had deported 396,000 people during fiscal year 2011. The agency’s own numbers indicate that, “of these, nearly 55 percent or 216,698 of the people removed were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors” and “this includes 1,119 aliens convicted of homicide; 5,848 aliens convicted of sexual offenses; 44,653 aliens convicted of drug related crimes; and 35,927 aliens convicted of driving under the influence.”

However the Immigration Policy Center argues that, “while the raw number is not in doubt, its meaning is far from clear,” adding that, according to ICE, 55 percent of those deported (approximately 218,000) were “criminal aliens,” but the definition of ‘criminal’ is overly broad.”

The Policy Center adds that ICE numbers show that “40% of criminal deportations were convicted under the four categories of homicide, sexual offenses, drug-related offenses, or driving under the influence (DUI). The other 60% of ‘convicted criminals’ fall into other categories including immigration crimes and traffic crimes.”

According to the Policy Center, “the real dilemma” for the Department of Homeland Security “is how it plans to reconcile its criminal deportation statistics with its new initiatives on prosecutorial discretion.”

Published in the The Florida Independent

News Room

Media Contact: Wendy Sefsaf at 202-507-7524 or wsefsaf@immcouncil.org