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Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal

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  1. Rep. Gutierrez Advises Individuals to visit his office for Immigration Advice

    by , 02-13-2014 at 12:13 PM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    Yesterday, Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill) appeared on C-SPAN radio talking about immigration reform, and took calls from listeners. One listener asked about her son-in-law's Temporary Protect Status (TPS) remarking that they had to hire an attorney to assist with the process. The Congressman responded by making the following offer to provide immigration counsel to individuals with questions about TPS (see 9:40 mark). He stated, "Let me just say that if you're down in Chicago area you can just visit our Congressional office instead of visiting an attorney so that we can explain to you about Temporary Protected Status. There should be no reason you need an attorney."

    Attorney Annaluisa Padilla, Treasurer of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, responded strongly to Rep. Gutierrez's statement remarking that "to say that you do not need an attorney for immigration matters such as TPS is simply irresponsible. A disservice to constituents, which may lead to families being separated for the wrong advice."

    Isabel Guzman of the Barbarin Law Group in Durham, North Carolina also responded remarking that "At least twice a week, I see a potential client who has lost their TPS status because the client did the re-registration themselves, or sought a notario to re-register. TPS is a precious commodity that can easily be lost by a simple careless mistake. It is a tragedy when there are qualified immigration lawyers available to ensure you comply with all of the re-registration requirements." Ms. Guzman relates that just this past weekend she appeared on a pro bono basis at a Church outreach where she spoke to a woman that lost her TPS because a notario sent her application to the wrong address.

    Ms. Guzman further explains that "a big piece of this is educating TPS holders that TPS is of paramount importance. Re-registration is not like being one day late paying your cable TV bill. Your cable probably won't be shut off but you CAN lose TPS just by making a simple misstep." She also commented that because of recent developments in the law some individuals eligible for TPS may also be eligible for other permanent forms of relief.

    It should be noted that this is not the first time that the Congressman has dissuaded individuals from seeking the advice of an attorney. Back when Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was introduced in the summer of 2012 Congressman Gutierrez and Senator Durbin released a video on Youtube telling DREAMers they don't need a lawyer to avail themselves of the process. The video was subsequently removed after it was pointed out that it is patently irresponsible to forgo the advice of an attorney prior to applying for immigration benefits. See: Do DREAMers really need a lawyer?, DREAMers Do Need a Lawyer, Do You Need an Attorney to Apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?

    There will be many who say that an immigration lawyer has a self-serving interest opposing the Congressman's recent statement. A distinction must be drawn, however, between experienced immigration lawyers that have dedicated their careers to helping immigrants, and notarios that routinely victimize members of immigration communities.

    It is fairly obvious that Congressman Gutierrez's heart is in the right place, but respectfully Congressman, immigration lawyers are not the problem here. In many/most instances we are the ones finding the solution, and like Ms. Guzman, oftentimes offer counsel to deserving individuals at no or low cost.

    If in the Chicago area you may contact Congressman Gutierrez's office to schedule a conference to speak to him about your immigration matter at (773) 342-0774. His office is located at 3210 West North Ave Chicago, IL 60647. Hours of operation are M-F, 9AM - 5PM CT.

    If you have been a victim of notario fraud or suspect an individual is engaging in the unauthorized practice of law please contact the Illinois State Bar Association to request an investigation. Other resources are available through the American Bar Association.

    Updated 02-13-2014 at 05:24 PM by MKolken

  2. A Special Path To Citizenship Is Not Necessary

    by , 02-06-2014 at 09:36 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    The following op-ed was originally published on Fox News Latino.

    The Republican immigration reform principles are finally out. They focus on border security and interior enforcement, including an entry-exit visa tracking system, employment verification and workplace enforcement, followed by a shift to a system that spurs economic growth creating jobs for Americans as well as immigrants. No surprises there.

    What is surprising is both Republicans and Democrats agree DREAMers, individuals brought here as children, should be given legal status and a path to citizenship. The other major shift recognizes that the estimated 11 million undocumented people in this country must be provided a way out of the shadows that doesn't end in deportation. There will be flaming hoops to jump through: the admission of culpability, rigorous background checks, significant fines, payment of back taxes, proficiency in English and American civics, and proving the ability to support yourself and your family without receiving public benefits. Individuals with serious criminal convictions, gang members, and sex offenders need not apply. Most significantly, no "special" path to citizenship will be created except for DREAMers. Period.

    Predictably, some Democrats have gone on offense. Nancy Pelosi has drawn a hard line in the sand, reportedly calling for citizenship or nothing. Other resistance comes from AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka, who dismissed Republican principles as 'fool's gold' and a "nonstarter" because they lack a new special path to citizenship. However, noted immigration lawyer Greg Siskind pushed back, commenting on his blog that "the AFL-CIO's biggest problem with immigration reform is opposition to guest workers," and not the GOP's failure to forge a new special path to citizenship for all. Mr. Siskind, a self-described loyal Democrat, is right.

    The talking point that the Republican solution creates a permanent underclass is a non sequitur. While their principles don't forge a new special path to citizenship for all, it does not appear that they will permanently block the undocumented population from citizenship either. They simply believe that it is inadvisable to reward past immigration law violations with the creation of a new special path. It's a fair point.

    Stuart Anderson of the National Foundation for American Policy explains that the term "path to citizenship" is a "misnomer" that needs to be retired from the immigration reform lexicon. What matters, he observes, is whether undocumented immigrants may ultimately qualify to apply for lawful permanent residency, commonly referred to as "getting a green card," because becoming a lawful resident is the path to citizenship. There is no need to create a new "special" path, because the process already exists, and may be expanded during negotiations.

    For example, if you marry a United States citizen your spouse is required to sponsor you for lawful permanent residency. After getting your green card, you must then wait a period of years before becoming eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. It doesn't happen automatically, and you can't skip the first step.

    The Republicans suggest a willingness to permit individuals to take advantage of the existing process, while also providing them with legal status and the ability to work and travel while they wait for a family member or employer to sponsor them. It is a reasonable compromise, and is the first real progress I've seen since we started this stab at immigration reform, representing movement toward the middle.

    I'm not the only one that thinks so. President Obama commented that "if the Speaker proposes something that says right away, 'folks aren't being deported, families aren't being separated, we're able to attract top young students to provide the skills or start businesses here, and then there's a regular process of citizenship,' I'm not sure how wide the divide ends up being."

    Leading immigration reform Congressman Luis Gutierrez is also "delighted," stating his willingness to work with House Republicans to forge a viable compromise that stops the record deportations in their tracks. These words are encouraging and leave room for cautious optimism. The biggest threat to immigration reform, however, is those in both parties taking an all or nothing approach, as a compromise is the only way a deal gets done.

    So here is to the first steps down the immigration path less traveled: the one in the middle.
  3. Caught Between a Deportation Impasse and a Hard Place

    by , 02-05-2014 at 12:30 PM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    The National Day Laborer Organizing Network released a petition yesterday pressuring President Obama to expand protections from deportation to members of the undocumented community that could potentially benefit should there be a change in the immigration law. They successfully argue that the Obama administration maintains “extremely broad and virtually unreviewable discretion” over the enforcement of U.S. immigration law. In sum, they are asking for deferred action for all.

    Republicans have already pushed back warning that if deportations are stopped so will immigration reform. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham commented that "If [President Obama] stopped deporting people who are clearly here illegally, then I think any chance of immigration reform is dead."

    So there are two issues here: 1. is it legally permissible for the President to expand deferred action; and 2. is it politically expedient.

    I have previously addressed the first question. There clearly is constitutional authority for the President to exercise prosecutorial discretion on behalf of deserving groups of immigrants. He already has. See: The Morton Memo, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers, and the most recent memorandum providing Parole in Place for Military Families.

    The second question is the tricky one, because there will be political fallout if the President temporarily suspends deportations by expanding deferred action to the majority of people currently in the country without status. I do not believe that the GOP is bluffing, as there are people in the party that are looking for any excuse to stop immigration reform in its tracks. That said, there may be a happy medium.

    The President could utilize existing law and procedures to provide permanent solutions to many immigration problems without jeopardizing immigration reform. Specifically, the President could expand parole in place to immediate relatives of United States citizens who are currently ineligible to apply for a Green Card because they entered the United States without inspection. This would provide an immediate bridge to a Green Card, and ultimately citizenship while also stopping the destruction of families.

    Thinking outside the box, parents of citizen children under 21 that have lived continuously inside the country for ten years could have immigration court proceedings instituted against them to enable them to apply for cancellation of removal, which application provides a basis for the issuance of employment authorization, and if granted results in a Green Card.

    The President could also create a new provisional nonimmigrant unlawful presence waiver process for individuals currently inside the United States without status. This would allow people to apply for a waiver before they depart the country, as their departure triggers a bar from return. If the waiver is granted individuals would be able to avoid deportation by departing the country without penalty, and potentially return legally with a work visa if one is available.

    The administration could also be more proactive educating people of the availability of humanitarian relief, such as the protections available to victims of abuse, human trafficking, and other crimes. A memorandum on the clarification of the grounds for humanitarian asylum could be issued to permit individuals that have suffered other serious harm unrelated to the grounds for asylum to feel more comfortable affirmatively applying for protection. President Obama could also expand this list of countries designated for eligibility for Temporary Protected Status due to conditions that temporarily prevent the country's nationals from returning safely, or if the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. The President could also ensure that the previous prosecutorial discretion and detention memorandums are actually enforced, and enforced uniformly.

    Point being, there are options available to the President to provide a way for the undocumented population to use the existing law to their advantage, and more importantly, achieve more than merely kicking the can down the road by simply deferring deportation. The question becomes, will Republicans abandon immigration reform if any of these options are employed by the President.

    The bottom line is that the President's deportation record has resulted in him being stuck between the current immigration impasse, and a hard place of his own creation.

    Updated 03-27-2014 at 02:38 PM by MKolken

  4. Petition Filers Seek Rule Change from DHS to Suspend Deportations, Agency Required to

    by , 02-04-2014 at 03:47 PM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    I received the following for immediate release from the National Day Laborers Organizing Network:


    The “Si Se Puede” Filing Provides Authoritative Legal Evidence of Obama Administration’s Ability to Expand Deferred Action, Grant Relief to Future Beneficiaries of Immigration Reform

    The National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) and a group of undocumented people facing the threat of deportation are using a little known provision of the Administrative Procedure Act to formally request the Department of Homeland Security expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to the fullest extent permissible by law and to suspend deportations for immigrant workers and families who are likely future beneficiaries of immigration reform.

    Under the law, agencies are required to allow members of the public to petition for the issuance of new rules or changes to or repeal of existing rules. DHS must provide a response to the petition and explain its decision to grant or deny petitioners’ request.

    Referring to the significance of the petition drafted by the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic at Cardozo School of Law, NDLON Staff Attorney Jessica Karp explained, “After reading this document, there is no question whether the President can stop deportations. It shows that he can and he should. The only question left is, why hasn’t he? This petition presents the dilemma to DHS formally. It gives them to opportunity to correct years of reckless enforcement and also grant relief to immigrant workers and families who the President and leaders on both sides of the aisle all agree belong here.”

    For Jose Luis Piscil of New Haven, CT who is scheduled to appear in immigration court on March 16th, the petition is part of his urgent attempt to remain with his family after a wrongful arrest on charges that were quickly dismissed led to his placement in deportation proceedings under the federal Secure Communities deportation quota program. “The way they are currently enforcing their laws is creating nightmares in immigrants’ lives. I want to be here for my wife and two children, to provide for them and to see them grow up. DHS uses discretion in its enforcement. I hope it will use it in my case and change their rules so that no one else faces what my family is going through.”

    Many cite the “Sí se puede (Yes You Can)” rulemaking petition as the authoritative document on the President’s executive authority related to immigration enforcement. It cites extensive precedent to demonstrate the historic use of discretion and the constitutional authority of the executive branch to determine how laws are implemented.

    Thomas Chew of Cardozo Immigration Justice Clinic says, ““The Constitution gives the President unilateral power to determine when it is, and when it is not, in the national interest to initiate deportation proceedings. The only question that remains is whether this President will exercise his power to protect our nation’s immigrants and our nation’s economy from the devastation his immigration policies have wrought.”

    The “Sí se puede (Yes You Can)” rulemaking petition is available at http://www.notonemoredeportation.com/resources/rulemaking/
  5. Immigrant Rights Supporters Chain Themselves Together to Protest Deportation Policy

    by , 02-03-2014 at 09:37 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    I just received the following email from the National Day Laborer Organization Network:

    Matthew,

    It's 2014 and President Obama hasn't stopped deportations yet so communities across the country are doing whatever we have to in order to stop them ourselves.




    Live streaming video by Ustream

    Right now, people in Austin, TX have locked themselves together to block the entrance of the Travis County jail
    that turns over an average of 19 people each week to ICE to be deported.

    They've launched a campaign for the Sheriff to follow the example of Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco and other places that have passed policies refusing to submit to ICE's hold requests.

    Last week the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition met with the Sheriff to ask for a review of and a halt to deportations in the County that he rejected. Now they're back to demand it.

    Watch the action live here

    With the President admitting that stopping deportations is an option and with multiple local examples of how rejecting ICE's hold makes for better policy and stronger communities, actions like this shouldn't still be necessary. But until they get the message, it will only get louder.

    Not. One. More!
    NDLON
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