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  1. OCAHO Finds No Document Abuse

    By Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    An individual’s claim of document abuse by a company was dismissed by Office of Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) because the company was abiding by E-Verify laws in declining a List B document without a photograph. See Johnson v. Progressive Roofing, 12 OCAHO no. 1295 (Jan. 2017).

    Michael Johnson was hired by Progressive Roofing and thereafter presented his documents in the process of completing his I-9 form – voter registration card (List B document) and two List C documents- a birth certificate and a social security card. Progressive Roofing told Johnson that the documentation was insufficient because the voter registration card did not contain a photograph. Although unclear whether Progressive Roofing explained the insufficiency, the company was enrolled in E-Verify which requires a List B document, if presented, to contain a photograph. (Alternatively, an employee may present a List A document.)

    Johnson filed a charge with the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) (since renamed the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section) alleging document abuse for the company’s failure to accept his List B and C documents. OSC dismissed the charge for insufficient evidence of a violation but advised him of the right to file his own complaint with OCAHO. Johnson did so, alleging the same violation. Thereafter, Progressive Roofing filed an Answer and Motion for Summary Decision asserting it did not violate the law because it was following E-Verify practices and procedures by requiring a List B document containing a photograph or List A be presented. Johnson did not respond to the company’s motion.

    OCAHO explained document abuse occurs when an employer requests more or different documents than necessary or rejects valid documents and does so for the purpose of discriminating on the basis of citizenship status or national origin. Thus, document abuse takes two elements, an act and intent. It has not been a strict liability offense since the amendments to 8 U.S.C. §1324b(a)(b) in 1996.

    OCAHO found Johnson did not establish a prime facie case of discrimination because Progressive Roofing was an enrolled participant in E-Verify, which requires any List B document presented to contain a photograph, and did not request more or different documents than required by law. Assuming arguendo, Johnson established a prime facie case, Progressive Roofing met its burden by showing it had a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for requesting a List B document with a photograph – to be in compliance with federal law. Finally, Johnson did not allege this defense was pretextual. Therefore, OCAHO dismissed Johnson’s complaint.

    This decision reminds employers that the use of E-Verify requires following certain rules, including only accepting List B documents with a photograph. In rejecting Johnson’s List B document, Progressive Roofing was merely following the applicable law.
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  2. Immigration Court Priority Family Case Backlog Surpasses 100,000

    by , 01-24-2017 at 08:15 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    Via Syracuse University's TRAC Immigration:

    (17 Jan 2017) The number of judges is still insufficient to handle the growing backlog in the Immigration Court. The court's crushing workload reached a record-breaking 533,909 pending cases as the court closed out calendar year 2016, up 4.2 percent in just the last four months.

    The problem is particularly acute for priority cases involving women with children according to the latest court data updated through the end of December 2016 and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. Pending priority cases for these families jumped by more than 20 percent (21.9%) in just the last four months. The backlog of these family cases alone totaled 102,342 last month, surpassing 100,000 cases for the first time.

    The number of pending priority cases involving unaccompanied children also has continued to climb, reaching 75,582 at the December 2016. Together with family cases, this priority workload now accounts for fully one third (33%) of the court's overall record backlog.

    For more details, including the top ten states with the largest overall Immigration Court backlog, see this month's snapshot report at: http://trac.syr.edu/imm/snap_backlog/

    For cumulative details through December 2016 of priority cases since July 2014 involving women with children see: http://trac.syr.edu/imm/mwc/
  3. EOIR Responds to Release of Judge Misconduct Identities and Lawyer Responds Back

    by , 01-24-2017 at 07:53 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    EOIR has issued a response to immigration lawyer Bryan Johnson's release of the identities of immigration judges subject to complaints of misconduct.

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Monday, January 23, 2017

    EOIR Statement on Erroneous Public Release of Immigration Judge Information

    FALLS CHURCH, Va. – The Executive Office for Immigration Review is a party to litigation related to the release of information regarding its immigration judge conduct and professionalism program. EOIR is committed to ensuring that any allegation of an immigration judge’s misconduct is investigated and resolved in a fair and expeditious manner, consistent with federal personnel and privacy laws and regulations that apply to non-supervisory, career civil servants.

    During this still-active litigation, the plaintiff, the American Immigration Lawyers' Association, posted to the Internet the 16,000 documents that EOIR provided. These documents were released pursuant to a court order. A private attorney then took the time to manipulate some of the documents in order to uncover data not accessible on the face of the documents themselves, and post his personal assessment of the metadata contained therein.

    EOIR believes the attorney, upon finding information was inadvertently provided, should have promptly notified the sender (EOIR) rather than taking steps to publish guesses. This unfortunate incident resulted in the attorney publishing a "key" to the documents. EOIR has determined that the “key” is inaccurate and does not correctly present the actual details associated with the documents. It is instead a representation of one person’s assumptions based on his own manipulations of the text, which resulted in the errors.

    Individuals who file complaints about immigration judges are not bound to keep private the details of their complaint. EOIR will continue to defend its case in the referenced FOIA litigation, and remains committed to protecting the identities of the immigration judges against whom complaints, some substantiated and some unsubstantiated, have been filed.

    It is unfortunate that some members of the agency’s highly talented and professional immigration judge corps have been negatively and falsely named in the private attorney’s action, and that he chose to publish his erroneous findings without any way of verifying his information.

    Here is Bryan Johnson's response to EOIR's response:

    My “key” was not based on “assumptions based on his own manipulations of the text.” It was based on using EOIR’s own index to match to the un-redacted documents. In the interests of transparency, I am releasing caches of the documents as I used them in identifying particular immigration judges in my “key”.

    This is not “guesswork.” Any errors in identifying judges are attributable to the inaccuracy of EOIR’s own inability to accurately identify what documents correspond with which particular complaint and particular immigration judge.
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