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  1. 300,000 Pending Deportation Cases to Be Reviewed for Dismissal

    by , 08-18-2011 at 01:20 PM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    The Obama Administration plans to review 300,000 pending deportation cases with the intention of filing motions to dismiss proceedings in favor of individuals who do not have criminal convictions.  This determination will allegedly be made on a case-by-case basis.  
    Politico reports that people who were brought to the U.S. as children, military veterans and spouses of military personnel will be the first to benefit from this policy.  
    Here is the announcement that was posted on the White House blog:

    President Obama is deeply committed to fixing our immigration laws and has been aggressively searching for partners in Congress who are willing to work with him to pass a new law. As he focuses on building a new 21st century immigration system that meets our nation's economic and security needs, the President has a responsibility to enforce the existing laws in a smart and effective manner. This means making decisions that best focus the resources that Congress gives the Executive Branch to do this work. There are more than 10 million people who are in the U.S. illegally; it's clear that we can't deport such a large number. So the Administration has developed a strategy to make sure we use those resources in a way that puts public safety and national security first. If you were running a law enforcement agency anywhere in the world, you would target those who pose the greatest harm before those who do not. Our immigration enforcement work is focused the same way.  
    Under the President's direction, for the first time ever the Department of Homeland Security has prioritized the removal of people who have been convicted of crimes in the United States.  And they have succeeded; in 2010 DHS removed 79,000 more people who had been convicted of a crime compared to 2008.  Today, they announced that they are strengthening their ability to target criminals even further by making sure they are not focusing our resources on deporting people who are low priorities for deportation. This includes individuals such as young people who were brought to this country as small children, and who know no other home. It also includes individuals such as military veterans and the spouses of active-duty military personnel. It makes no sense to spend our enforcement resources on these low-priority cases when they could be used with more impact on others, including individuals who have been convicted of serious crimes.
    So DHS, along with the Department of Justice, will be reviewing the current deportation caseload to clear out low-priority cases on a case-by-case basis and make more room to deport people who have been convicted of crimes or pose a security risk. And they will take steps to keep low-priority cases out of the deportation pipeline in the first place. They will be applying common sense guidelines to make these decisions, like a person's ties and contributions to the community, their family relationships and military service record. In the end, this means more immigration enforcement pressure where it counts the most, and less where it doesn't - that's the smartest way to follow the law while we stay focused on working with the Congress to fix it.
    Cecilia MuŮoz is White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs

    I'm confident that this is little more than lip service, and that it will remain business as usual for the Obama adminsitration's deportation machine.  Hopefully I'm wrong.
  2. Listen and Ignore

    by , 08-18-2011 at 01:10 PM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    The White House and USCIS deserve credit for launching a number of initiatives to get feedback from the public on immigration. The White House has held a number of gatherings on immigration and in recent months has been holding listening sessions around the country. USCIS has been holding regular stakeholders meetings allowing people to let the agency know what they like and don't like about immigration processing. And just today, USCIS announced that it is soliciting amicus curiae briefs to get feedback on cases being handled by the Administrative Appeals Office.
    But is any of all this feedback being acted on? Regretably, there is little evidence that the expressed concerns are being addressed. A few months back, The White House issued an executive order requiring each government agency to get feedback from the public on ways to act more efficiently and effectively. Only a few weeks were offered to submit ideas - something that skeptics of the effort pointed to as proof that this initiative was largely for show. Not surprisingly, many were received regarding immigration processing. But we've heard almost nothing since the exercise to indicate which ideas are being adapted and why others are being rejected.
    Yesterday, the National Foundation for American Policy released its own document enumerating various excellent administrative fixes that could be enacted (including several applying to the Department of State). The ideas come from a variety of sources including US Chamber of Commerce, ImmigrationWorksUSA, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and even my J-1 Visa Guidebook co-author Steve Yale-Loehr. Some of my favorites ideas are

    - sharply cutting requests for evidence
    - stop wasting taxpayer funds by holding redundant audits and instead used focused enforcement
    - add STEM workers graduating with advanced degrees from US institutions to the Department of Labor's Schedule A thus avoiding much of the green card labor certification process.
    - Simplify the H-2A and H-2B visa processes to make it easier for employers to comply with the requirements to legally hire guest worker; changes include expanding the program to include dairy farmers, 
    - Start a trusted employer program to allow employers with a track record for complying with immigration law to avoid redundant submissions to prove their ability to comply with the rules of the various visa programs.
    - create a system for supervisory review of denials of visa applications at US consulates
    - allow the use of online advertising rather than print advertising to satisfy Department of Labor labor certification requirements
    - add E-3 visas to the premium processing list
    - allow for 240 days of continued work authorization for those who timely file for extensions of their employment authorization documents
    - allow individuals with TN, O and E visas with pending adjustment of status applications to re-enter on their visas rather than having to use an advance parole document (just like H and L visa holders currently can)
    - resume DOS visa revalidation in the US
    - allow adjustment of status applications to be filed even if a visa number is not available
    - require federal agencies to release immigration paperwork to the beneficiary and not just the sponsoring employer

    All great ideas, but how many will actually happen? And for those that are ignored, will USCIS and DOS provide a non-weasley answer for why not? I'm not optimistic, but would love to be proven wrong.
  3. Data Shows Birth Tourism is Rare

    by , 08-18-2011 at 10:51 AM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    The Tea Party - those lovers of the Constitution - have been ready to trash the 14th Amendment's right to birthright citizenship lest they think it might have the impact of increasing immigration. But the data shows birth tourism, one of the key concerns opponents of the 14th Amendment tout, is quite rare. According to a report in USA Today:

    While birth tourism is real, there is little proof the practice is widespread, even in border states such as Arizona, where last year less than 2 percent of babies were born to non-resident mothers.
    In 2008, slightly more than 7,400 children were born in the U.S. to non-citizens who said they lived outside the country, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The figure was the most recent available. The number includes children born to women studying at U.S. universities, international visitors as well as so-called birth tourists.

    While births to illegally present immigrants is significant, let's at least put aside the canard that people are coming over in droves to have their children in US hospitals.
  4. Class-Action suit seeks to limit shackling of immigration detainees in court

    by , 08-18-2011 at 07:33 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    The LA Times has reported that the ACLU and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights have filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security are violating the constitutional rights of immigrant detainees by failing to make case-by-case determinations of the need for shackling. The lawsuit focuses on conduct in San Francisco, but it has been alleged that "across-the-board" shackling also occurs in Boston, Baltimore, and Chicago.  
    I can speak to what occurs before the Immigration Court in Buffalo.  Female detained immigrants are always shackled when appearing in Court.  I can recall one recent instance where I  represented an elderly woman with a significant physical disability that was shackled while in Court.  She posed to threat to anyone, including herself, and my request to have her shackles removed was denied.
    As for the Immigration Court at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia, New York, detainees are rarely, if ever shackled.
    I am curious to see if this suit results in a change in policy nationwide.  We shall wait and see.
    Click here for more of the LA Times article.
  5. Washington State Candidate Wants to Kill Illegally Present Immigrants

    by , 08-18-2011 at 07:08 AM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    My friend Tom Roach passed on the news that Loren Nichols, a candidate for the  city council in Kennewick, WA is campaigning on a platform that even Joe Arpaio would find "out there." He wants to shoot anyone who is illegally in Kennewick or trying to cross the border. Lest you think he's just an extreme candidate going nowhere, he just came in second in a three way primary race and now moves on to the next round in the election. 
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