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LAC News Room (page 2)

More migrants facing deportation are getting reprieves

November 28, 2010: LAC attorney Mary Kenney is quoted in this Arizona Daily Star article on deferred action, wich is a discretionary tool ICE officials can use to help people in special circumstances. Read more . . .

H-1B Employees Should Not Face Arrest While Extension Pending

November 8, 2010: Late last week, the Legal Action Center of the American Immigration Council (LAC), together with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), filed an amicus brief arguing that an H-1B employee should not face arrest, detention or deportation after his initial period of admission expires if a pending extension request remains under review. The brief, filed in federal district court in Connecticut, maintains that H-1B employers who follow the law should not lose valuable employees because of widespread delays at immigration processing centers."Both existing law and common sense dictate that the government cannot sit on an employer's H-1B extension request and then arrest the employee due to its own processing delays," said Melissa Crow, director of the Legal Action Center. Read more . . .

AIC joins other groups in seeking government audits of Secure Communities and the Criminal Alien Program

October 6, 2010: The American Immigration Council has joined more than a dozen other immigrants rights organizations in seeking government audits of Secure Communities and the Criminal Alien Program, two initiatives designed to increase cooperation between federal immigration officers and local law enforcement agencies. In a letter to Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner, AIC and other organizations note that the programs give local police officers an incentive to take suspected noncitizens into custody regardless of the severity of their alleged offenses, and argue that independent oversight is long overdue. The letter also notes widespread confusion--created by conflicting information from DHS officials--over the ability of local communities to "opt-out" of Secure Communities. "Absent audits and resulting recommendations," the letter says, "the programs will continue to be implemented without oversight and the violations, misinformation, and human costs will continue to accumulate." Read more . . .

LAC Argues for Greater Federal Court Oversight of Immigration Decisions

October 7, 2010: In a continuing effort to promote greater federal court oversight of immigration decision-making, the American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center (LAC) recently submitted amicus (friend of the court) briefs in two cases involving motions to reopen. For noncitizens facing removal from the United States, a motion to reopen (an opportunity to present new evidence in a case) may be the last and only way to pursue their claims for lawful residency in the United States. Read more . . .

American Immigration Council Addresses Problems with Draft Immigration Detainer Policy

October 5, 2010: The American Immigration Council has joined a number of organizations in formally commenting on a proposed detainer policy issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Detainers are requests from ICE to local law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to hold people - whom they suspect may be in the country illegally or who may be deportable for other reasons - so they can be transferred into ICE's custody. There has been much criticism about how ICE uses detainers, and the use of detainers has expanded over time with enforcement programs like 287(g), Secure Communities, and the Criminal Alien Program. To address the criticisms, ICE developed new draft guidelines on the issuance of detainers. Read more . . .

LAC Seeks Greater Safeguards in Removal Proceedings for Immigrants with Mental Disabilities

September 16, 2010: Earlier this week, the American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center (LAC), the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center filed an amicus brief with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) urging the government to protect the rights of immigrants whose mental disabilities prevent them from participating meaningfully in their own removal hearings.  "This is particularly disturbing given that these immigrants are not granted court-appointed counsel in removal proceedings" said Melissa Crow, Director of the Legal Action Center. Read more . . .

American Immigration Council Announces New Leadership of its Legal Action Center

September 7, 2010: The American Immigration Council (AIC) is pleased to announce a new leadership team at our Legal Action Center (LAC). Melissa Crow has joined our staff as the new Director and Beth Werlin has been promoted to Deputy Director of the LAC. These two incredibly talented lawyers bring a diverse set of skills and experiences that will strengthen and expand the important work of the Center. Read more . . .

Lawsuit Filed Against DHS and USCIS Seeks Transparency Promised by Obama Administration

July 20, 2010: The American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) seeking the public release of records concerning agency policies and procedures for the "H-1B" visa program - a program which allows U.S. businesses to temporarily employ highly-skilled foreign workers. Read more . . .

Supreme Court Injects Reason into Immigration Felony Definition

June 14, 2010: The U.S. Supreme Court voted unanimously in Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder that a lawful permanent resident who is convicted of minor drug possession offenses does not warrant classification as having been convicted of an "aggravated felony." As a result, the Court held that Mr. Carachuri-Rosendo cannot be deported without an opportunity to make a case for why he should be allowed to remain in the United States. Please view the press release, and you can also read about this case on our Supreme Court Update page.

Class Action Challenging Arizona Law Reveals Depth of Constitutional Rights at Stake

May 17, 2010: A diverse group of individuals and organizations filed a class action challenging Arizona’s harsh immigration enforcement law SB 1070, which is scheduled to go into effect on July 28, 2010. This law, among other things requires state and local law enforcement to check the immigration status of individuals it encounters, and makes it a state crime to be without proper immigration documentation. The lawsuit offers a compelling look at the egregiousness of the law, the variety of constitutional rights at stake, and the diverse group of individuals and organizations who will be adversely affected if the law goes into effect. Read more . . .

DHS Reverses Decision on Deportation Time Frame

April 29, 2010: In a sudden about-face last week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reversed its position on an interpretation of law which drastically increased immigrants’ vulnerability to deportation. In a brief filed on April 21, DHS urged the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to modify an existing precedent decision in a pending BIA case, Matter of Alyazji. The modification, suggested by respondent’s attorney, Wayne Sachs and amicus curiae, the American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center, limits when an immigrant could be ordered deported for certain past crimes. Read more . . .

Supreme Court Decision Protects Right to Immigration Advice

The American Immigration Council applauds today's Supreme Court decision on the right to counsel for noncitizens charged with committing a crime. The Court held that criminal defense lawyers must advise their noncitizen clients about the risk of deportation if they accept a guilty plea. The Court recognized that current immigration laws impose harsh and mandatory deportation consequences onto criminal convictions, and that Congress eliminated from these laws the Attorney General's discretionary authority to cancel removal in meritorious cases. The Court said, "These changes to our immigration law have dramatically raised the stakes of a noncitizen's criminal conviction. The importance of accurate legal advice for noncitizens accused of crimes has never been more important." Read our press release and our Immigration Impact blog post on this topic.

BIA Round Up: Looking Ahead, Cases to Watch

In this post, the Immigration Slip Opinion blog concentrates on issues presently before the BIA that could be resolved by precedent decisions. The BIA has been very busy of late. In addition to an increase in precedent decisions (7 already in 2010; 34 in 2009), it is hearing oral arguments in more cases now than in the past. Recently, it also requested supplemental briefing on specific issues in a number of cases, providing insight into some of its concerns. Read more . . .

Court of Appeals Agrees with the Legal Action Center that USCIS Imposed Arbitrary Requirements for Workers

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals adopted the arguments of the Legal Action Center (LAC), of the American Immigration Council, that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) unlawfully imposed extra-regulatory requirements on a petition for a worker of "extraordinary ability" (EB-1). Read our press release and our Immigration Impact blog post on this topic.

New Report on Asylum Work Authorization “Clock” Released

Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights and the American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center released a new study, "Up Against the Clock: Fixing the Broken Employment Authorization Asylum Clock." The report examines the laws, policy, and practice of the “Employment Authorization Document (EAD) asylum clock”— a clock which measures the number of days after an applicant files an asylum application before the applicant is eligible for work authorization. Read "Up Against the Clock", our press release about the report's release on February 12, 2010, and our Immigration Impact blog post on this topic.

Immigration Judges Given Needed Discretion in Deportation of Employment-Based Visa Holders

The American Immigration Council (AIC) applauds a decision issued today by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) in Matter of Neto, which empowers immigration judges who are considering deportation of individuals with approved work-related visa petitions and pending permanent residence applications. The issue at stake is whether an immigration judge has the authority to decide whether the approved visa petition - issued for one job - remains valid when the individual changes jobs. Without a valid visa petition, the individual will not be eligible for permanent residence. Read more . . .

New ABA Study Documents Serious System-Wide Problems in the Removal Process, February 9, 2010

For over a year, the American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration and the law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP engaged in a comprehensive review of the current removal process. The law firm poured over hundreds of articles, reports, legislative materials, and other documents, and interviewed scores of participants in the system, including lawyers, judges, advocacy groups, and academics. Read more . . .

Supreme Court Protects Immigrants' Access to Court Review, January 21, 2010 (blog post)

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision ensuring that immigrants facing deportation have fair process in the review of their cases. The Court ruled that individuals who seek to reopen their deportation orders have the right to appeal to the federal courts if the immigration court refuses to reopen the case. The Court’s decision protects immigrants’ access to federal court review and affirms the role of the courts in our system of checks and balances on government power. Read more . . .

Supreme Court Protects Immigrants' Access to Court Review (press release)

The American Immigration Council applauds today's U.S. Supreme Court decision ensuring that immigrants facing deportation have fair process in the review of their cases. The Court ruled that individuals who seek to reopen their deportation orders have the right to appeal to the federal courts if the immigration court refuses to hear the appeal. The Court's decision protects immigrants' access to federal court review and affirms the role of the courts in our system of checks and balances on government power. Read more . . .

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Long Term Resident Can Be Deported Based on Possession of Anxiety Drug, December 21, 2009

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would decide whether a permanent resident who was convicted of a second drug possession offense can be deported without an opportunity to make a case for why he should be allowed to remain in the United States. This case, which will resolve a split in the federal courts, will affect hundreds of immigrants who face deportation each year. It also serves as an unfortunate reminder that we still struggle with the adverse effects of the overbroad and unforgiving immigration laws passed by Congress in 1996. Read more . . .

The BIA Has the Chance to Prevent the Wrongful Deportation of Immigrant Children, December 17, 2009

While there is no question that Congress needs to step up to the plate and repair our broken immigration system through legislative reform, there are some fixes that can be made now without waiting for Congressional action. If the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) would stop narrowly interpreting existing immigration law, many noncitizens would be eligible to complete applications for legal status in the manner Congress intended. Read more . . .

ICE Transferring Detainees Impedes Their Access to Counsel and Limits Their Right to Present a Defense to Deportation, December 8, 2009

Two recent reports draw attention to yet another defect in the government’s problem-ridden detention system: ICE’s practice of regularly transferring immigration detainees from one jail to another, often far from where ICE initially arrested them. Transfers have a devastating effect on a person’s ability to retain counsel and maintain an attorney-client relationship; present a defense to deportation; and obtain release from detention. The government should take immediate steps to eliminate these effects and ensure that people who are detained are afforded a fair hearing. Read more . . .

DHS Interprets Law to Detain Refugees Across the Country, November 24, 2009

Last month, President Obama authorized the admission of 80,000 refugees into the U.S. in fiscal year 2010, something every President has done annually since passage of the Refugee Act of 1980. The United States has long recognized the importance of providing a safe haven for refugees. Beginning with laws granting refugee status to displaced persons after World War II and culminating with the comprehensive Refugee Act of 1980, the U.S. has sought to safeguard those who are unwilling or unable to return to their homeland based on a “well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” Read more . . .

The Right to a Remedy for Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, November 23, 2009

Immigrants reasonably rely on their lawyers’ advice, and they expect their lawyers to be knowledgeable about immigration law and procedure. They count on their lawyers to be their voice in immigration court when facing removal and help ensure that they have a meaningful opportunity to be heard. In the great majority of cases, lawyers competently represent their clients’ interests. But what happens in those occasional situations where the immigrant is defrauded by an unscrupulous lawyer, or an otherwise competent lawyer makes an inadvertent mistake that results in the person being ordered removed from the United States? Certainly, a person should not be deprived of the opportunity to present a defense in removal proceedings because of his or her lawyer’s conduct. Read more . . .

Supreme Court Hears Case about Immigrants’ Access to Federal Court Review, November 16, 2009

Last week, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that involves an important safeguard for immigrants facing removal from the United States—access to federal court review. The case, Kucana v. Holder, was brought by an asylum seeker from Albania. Mr. Kucana is seeking court review of a government decision depriving him of the opportunity to present his asylum claim. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (based in Chicago) refused to review the government’s decision. Instead, the Seventh Circuit found that in his case, the government has unfettered discretion over a potentially life and death decision. The Supreme Court now is considering whether the Seventh Circuit was right. Read more . . .

American Immigration Council and American Immigration Lawyers Association Submit Recommendations for Protecting The Right to Effective Assistance of Counsel

November 12, 2009

Today, the American Immigration Council (formerly the American Immigration Law Foundation, AILF) and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) send a letter to the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) recommending steps the immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) can take to protect the right to effective assistance of counsel and help ensure that noncitizens in removal proceedings are afforded a fair hearing. Read more . . .

Report Highlights Need for Appointed Counsel for Detainees Facing Removal, November 5, 2009

A report issued this week by the City Bar Justice Center highlights one of the most serious flaws of the removal process: noncitizens are not appointed a lawyer to represent them. The report focuses on the efforts of the City Bar Justice Center and other nonprofit organizations to increase access to legal counsel at the Varick Federal Detention Facility in Manhattan. According to the report, a significant portion of the detainees housed at Varick had possible meritorious claims to relief from removal, such as asylum or an avenue for obtaining a green card. Read more . . .

Board of Immigration Appeals Rules Not to Reopen Old Deportation Cases, November 3, 2009

A decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) last week provides yet more evidence that broken laws create broken government. By refusing to protect eligible applicants for adjustment of status from deportation, the Board eased the way for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to deport someone whose legitimate green card application is pending with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Read more . . .

U.S. Supreme Court Considers “Collateral Consequences” for Immigrants in Criminal Cases, October 13, 2009

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case posing the question: “If a criminal defense lawyer tells his or her client not to worry about the immigration consequences of pleading guilty, but that advice is wrong and in fact the client will be deported as a result of pleading guilty, can the client withdraw the plea?” Read more . . .

Supreme Court to Hear Two Cases Affecting Fair Process for Immigrants, October 5, 2009

Today, the United States Supreme Court opens its October session. Among the cases it will hear this term, two may have a significant effect on immigrants. The first case involves the intersection of the criminal justice system and immigration and the important role that lawyers play in safeguarding the rights of immigrants. The second case deals with immigrants’ access to federal court review—review which provides necessary oversight of government decision-making in immigration cases. These cases present the Supreme Court with opportunities to reaffirm that immigrants must be afforded fair process and a meaningful opportunity to be heard. Read more . . .

Immigrants with Mental Disabilities Are Deprived Their Day in Court, September 11, 2009

The U.S. legal system is premised on the idea that every party in a case is afforded his or her day in court and a meaningful opportunity to be heard. Yet, for individuals with mental disabilities facing deportation from the United States—including those whose removal will mean being permanently barred from ever returning—that day may never arrive. Read more . . .