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CLINIC's Advocacy Guide

CLINIC wants to remind members of how its Advocacy Section can provide support and assistance.  This document outlines the advocacy related services CLINIC can provide as well as the channels through which CLINIC works with officials at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to resolve individual case and systemic problems. 

 
 
 

Have you ever had trouble contacting consular posts or the visa office? Learn what you need and get tips. 

 
 

In just over a year, Dana Davenport has emerged as a standout immigration advocate in Maryland. Driven pointedly by her faith and her genuine desire to help others, Davenport reflects on the 2016 legislative session, specifically highlighting which strategies worked best and how support from CLINIC led to many successes.

 
 
 

With only 12 states in regular session, positive legislative trends related to education and professional licensing have emerged in recent months. North Carolina proposed the Tuition Fairness Act (HB 1081) that would offer in-state tuition rates to students that have either completed three years of high school or obtained high school diploma in the state.

 
 
 

The National Visa Center (NVC) recently offered a preview of the NVC’s new Online IV Module to CLINIC affiliates. In a special session at Convening, participants had the opportunity preview the pages of the online module, learn how an applicant may establish an account, pay fees, and see how civil documents may be uploaded, tracked and submitted to NVC.

 
 
 

In late May- early June, the CARA Pro Bono Project assisted 21 families who were picked up by DHS in the latest round of enforcement actions targeting Central American women the children. The stories of the 21 families and the due process obstacles they have encountered were captured in a report produced by the CARA project.

 
 
 

On June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its tie (4-4) decision in the United States v. Texas litigation.  The Court’s split decision means that the preliminary injunction issued by the U.S. District Court in Texas remains in effect and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) remain on hold while the case is returned to the lower court.

 
 
 

What is the National Visa Center? The National Visa Center (NVC) functions as the centralized processing agent before an immigrant visa application is processed by a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Specifically, NVC handles the following petitions: I-130; I-140; I-730; I-129F; I-600/A; I-800; I-360; and I-526.

 

 
 
Infographic about fee changes

Fees for more than three dozen immigration and naturalization applications or related services are proposed to increase by as little as $15 to as much as hundreds of dollars for some common categories.

 
 
 

New USCIS field offices coming soon in the southeast region

After more than 15 years of lobbying by CLINIC and its affiliates, USCIS has announced plans to open additional field offices in the Southeast. Currently, there are only a couple of USCIS offices in the Southeast: Memphis, Tennessee; Atlanta and Jacksonville, Florida.

 
 
 
Nearly 200 immigration reform advocates from 27 states gathered outside of Washington Feb. 3-5 for the Committee for Immigration Reform Implementation (CIRI)’s second Ready America Conference. The advocates came from 27 states, representing immigration legal service providers, labor unions, community organizers, consulates, philanthropy and social service providers. CLINIC co-chaired the five-track conference, which included a plenary session with USCIS Director Leon Rodriguez and six open forum sessions organized by CIRI’s Advocacy Working Group.
 
 
 

March marked the one year anniversary of the CARA Pro Bono Representation Family Detention Project, which focuses on ending family detention and ensuring representation for immigrant families who are processed through the family detention facilities. Nearly 8,000 families had a CARA volunteer attorney help them start the process of seeking asylum. More than 700 volunteers from all over the country -- lawyers, paralegals, translators, social workers, medical professionals, teachers and more -- put their lives on hold for a week or more and traveled to Texas to help protect families. Combined, they contributed more than $6.75 million in volunteer hours.

 
 
 

In early January, the Department of Homeland Security began targeting for removal Central American families and unaccompanied children who had turned 18. CLINIC engaged in extensive national and local advocacy, with staff from the Advocacy and TLS offices participating in national webinars about the actions. The CLINIC advocacy team conducted webinars for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, and provided advocacy support for communities in Arkansas, California, Ohio and Virginia. DHS continues to target immigrant families and unaccompanied children who have turned 18 while in the United States.

 
 
 

Leading up to the Supreme Court’s April 18 oral argument in U.S. v. Texas, CLINIC was one of more than 325 immigrant-serving agencies joining an amicus (friend of the court) brief. Selected stories highlighting the benefits of permitting implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA were featured in the brief filed March 8 by CLINIC and civil rights, labor and social service organizations. The brief urged the court to uphold the Obama administration’s executive actions.

 
 
 

CLINIC continues to fight against the government’s practice of detaining immigrant mothers and their children. CLINIC, through its work in the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project has been especially active in the national fight to eliminate large scale family detention centers. CLINIC and CARA have been leading advocacy efforts to challenge unlawful asylum, detention, and deportation policies of DHS. Such advocacy activities have included submitting a complaint to the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) regarding inadequate language access for indigenous language speakers and filing a letter to high-level DHS officials about glaring due process violations that have occurred since the court order of October 23rd.

 
 
 

The Obama Administration appealed the 5th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruling from Texas v. U.S. to the Supreme Court on November 20, 2015. The Supreme Court announced on January 19th, that it will take up the case which will likely be argued in April and decided by the last week in June. While the outcome of the case is pending, CLINIC recommends that qualified legal immigration practitioners continue client screenings to assist those eligible for other immigration benefits. Please see CLINIC’s useful timeline on the President’s Executive Action on Immigration

 
 
 

From January 2- 4, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) conducted enforcement actions targeting immigrants who arrived to the United States after January 1, 2014, and had final orders of removal. DHS picked up 121 individuals in local communities in Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas. CLINIC responded to these action by writing a a letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, condemning the targeting of Central American women and children and urging an end to the practice, putting together a a backgrounder explaining the recent actions and what to do in your community, and, through its partnership with the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project, help receive stays of deportation from the Board of Immigration Appeals in twelve cases, affecting thirty-three women and children. CLINIC continues to monitor this issue and will appreciate hearing what is occurring in your community.

 
 
 

On September 30th, 2015, Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR), a stop-gap measure which continues funding the government at current levels and keeps the government open until December 11, 2015. The CR reauthorized the Special Immigrant Non-Minister Religious Worker Program as well as three other immigration-related programs, the Conrad 30 Program, the EB-5 Program, and the E-Verify Program until December 11, 2015. Finding a more permanent extension for the Special Immigrant Non-Minister Religious Worker Program remains an ongoing issue for CLINIC Advocacy.

 
 
 

Read updates on: Fee Waivers (Form I-912), Expansion of the Provisional Waiver Program, Board of Immigration Appeals Recognition & Accreditation, USCIS Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, Draft Extreme Hardship Policy Guidance for Waiver Applications.

 
 
 

In connection with the State of Texas v. U.S. litigation, USCIS began recalling over 2,600 grants of Deferred Action Childhood Arrival (DACA) and work authorization in May 2015. USCIS increased its recall efforts dramatically following a Court Order issued on July 7. CLINIC officially registered its opposition to the recall and any resulting terminations. CLINIC worked closely with affiliates to support, advise, and assist them and their clients to understand and take necessary actions as well as to responsibly spread the word in the community. CLINIC and its affiliate efforts helped result in 99.2 percent compliance with the recall. Of the 22 terminations of status issued, 12 were reinstated.

 
 
 

Despite continued efforts by advocates, the government’s practice of detaining immigrant mothers and their children continues. CLINIC has been especially active in the national fight to eliminate large scale family detention centers. In late March 2015, CLINIC partnered with four other networks to form the CARA Pro Bono Project.Through this project CLINIC has been providing legal services for detained families while leading advocacy and litigation efforts to challenge unlawful asylum, detention, and deportation policies.

 
 
 

As a response to the humanitarian crisis of children arriving at our Southern border, Congress considered legislation that would strip the protections created by the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2008. These changes would allow the United States to return Central American children to their home countries without meaningful screening to determine whether they are victims of trafficking or fear persecution.

 
 
 

By Kelly Kidwell Hughes, Advocacy Intern

 
 
 

This webinar is for current and aspiring immigrant advocates on a grassroots level. This webinar provides an overview of the role each level of government plays in regulating the lives and livelihoods of immigrants.

 
 
 

Taking the opportunity to submit further comments to USCIS about the DACA application and renewal process, CLINIC commended the agency for the changes it did make, including extending the DACA renewal application window to 150 days, simplifying the education-related questions, and streamlining the application requirement for renewal applicants.  CLINIC also encouraged USCIS to make additional changes to the form and instructions to help both initial and renewal applicants better navigate the application process.  Among the chief concerns for CLINIC and its affiliates is ensuring that DACA r

 
 
 

S1696 would establish driving privilege cards for New Jersey residents who cannot prove lawful presence in the United States. It was introduced in the New Jersey Senate on March 17, 2014 by Senators Joseph Vitale and Teresa Ruiz and referred to the Senate Transportation Committee. It is identical to A2135, introduced in the New Jersey Assembly on January 16, 2014.  

 
 
 

Dear affiliates,

 

USCIS recently revised its form N-400, Application for Naturalization.  The agency will now only accept the newest version of Form N-400, dated 09/13/13.

 
 
 

Supreme Court Leaves Lower Court Decisions on Anti-Immigrant Housing Regulations Intact

 
 
 

Offering in-state tuition rates to all residents benefits the state’s economy.

 
 
 

By Allison Posner

On January 16, 2014, USCIS’s Nebraska Service Center (NSC) held a stakeholder engagement on issues related to processing of refugee and asylee petitions. Select questions and answers from the teleconference are below.  Please note that this teleconference was part of a series of informal monthly stakeholder calls held by the NSC.  If you wish to participate in the monthly calls, email CEO.NSC2@USCIS.DHS.GOV  with your contact information, and you will be added to the center’s mailing list.

 

 
 
 

By Allison Posner

The following are the unofficial minutes from a teleconference with the Nebraska Service center on February 13, 2014. Please note that this teleconference was part of a series of informal monthly stakeholder calls held by the NSC.  If you wish to participate in the monthly calls, email CEO.NSC2@USCIS.DHS.GOV  with your contact information, and you will be added to the center’s mailing list.

 

I-131 RP/RTD

 
 
 

Why States Should Provide Access to Driver’s Licenses to All Residents

 

Granting driver’s licenses to all residents improves public safety on our roads.

 
 
 

Bill/Statute: Wash. Rev. Code § 46.20

Year Law Enacted: 2004

Effective Date: June 10, 2004

Name of Document Issued: Driver’s License

 

 
 
 

Bill/Statute: 23 V.S.A. § 603

Year Law Enacted: 2013

Effective Date: January 1, 2014

Name of Document Issued: Operator's Privilege Card

 

 
 
 

Bill/Statute: UT ST § 53-3-207

Year Law Enacted: 2005

Effective Date: July 1, 2005

Name of Document Issued: Driving Privilege Card (DPC)

 

 
 
 

Bill/Statute: P C0900

Year Law Enacted: 2013

Effective Date: August 7, 2014

Name of Document Issued: Licencia de conducir provisional (Provisional Driver's License)

 

 
 
 

Bill/Statute: SB 833

Year Law Enacted: 2013

Effective Date: December 4, 2014 (assuming that Oregon voters decide to uphold the law in the November 2014 ballot measure seeking to repeal the law)

Name of Document Issued: Driver Card

 

 
 
 

Bill/Statute: NM ST § 66-5-9

Year Law Enacted: 2003

Effective Date: 2003

Name of Document Issued: Driver's License

 

What are the eligibility requirements?

 
 
 

Bill/Statute: SB 303

Year Law Enacted: 2013

Effective Date: January 1, 2014

Name of Document Issued: Driver Authorization Card (DAC)

 

 
 
 

Bill/Statute: MD TRANS § 16–122

Year Law Enacted: 2013

Effective Date: January 1, 2014

Name of Document Issued: Driver's License

 

 
 
 

     Driver’s licenses play a critical role in American society and enable us to participate more fully and productively in our communities. Most of us rely on cars to get ourselves and our families to work, school, the hospital, the grocery store, and church.  In addition to facilitating transportation, driver’s licenses enhance public safety by ensuring that all drivers are trained, tested, and qualify for automobile insurance.

 
 
 

Bill/Statute: SB 957

Year Law Enacted: 2013

Effective Date: November 28, 2013

Name of Document Issued: Temporary Visitor Driver’s License (TVDL)

 

 
 
 

Bill/Statute: B 20-275

Year Law Enacted: 2013

Effective Date: May 1, 2014

Name of Document Issued: Driver's License

 

What are the eligibility requirements?

 
 
 

Bill/Statute: Public Act No. 13-89

Year Law Enacted: 2013

Effective Date: January 1, 2015

Name of Document Issued: Motor Vehicle Operator's License

 

 
 
 

Bill/Statute: SB 13-251

Year Law Enacted: 2013

Effective Date: August 1, 2014

Name of Document Issued: Driver’s License

 

 
 
 

Bill/Statute: AB 60

Year Law Enacted: 2013

Effective Date: January 1, 2015 (Possibly sooner if DMV is ready)

Name of Document Issued: Driver’s License

 

 
 
 

January 16, 2014

 

The Honorable Jeh Johnson

Secretary

Department of Homeland Security

 

The Honorable Alejandro Mayorkas

Deputy Secretary

Department of Homeland Security

 

Dear Secretary Johnson and Deputy Secretary Mayorkas:

 
 
 

By Bradley Jenkins*

On December 31, 2013, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) released guidance to the nation’s immigration judges entitled “Phase I of Plan to Provide Enhanced Procedural Protection to Unrepresented Detained Respondents with Mental Disorders.”  This guidance is the latest chapter in EOIR’s ongoing effort to reform how the agency handles the cases of persons with mental disorders who are placed into removal proceedings.

 
 
 

By Allison Posner

 

On November 6, 2013, USCIS held a stakeholder engagement on its new 2D barcode technology.  The new technology is part of the agency’s Forms Improvement Initiative, intended to enhance the agency’s ability to conduct intake at the lockboxes quickly and accurately.

 
 

With the support of the Four Freedoms Fund, and in conjunction with other immigrant right organizations,[1] CLINIC is tracking trends in immigration enforcement abuse in order to form a litigation strategy.  To support this goal, CLINIC is asking affiliates to share information about cases that may be in need of litigation before state, local, and federal court systems. 

 

CLINIC's Legislative Priorities

CLINIC supports the legislative advocacy efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office of Migration and Refugee Services, including the priorities outlined below. 

 

1. Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Broad reform, including an earned legalization program, remains the best way to achieve meaningful reform for the greatest number.  The manner in which this reform is implemented will be vital to its success.   CLINIC recommends that the following elements be included in immigration reform legislation to ensure that the program is implemented effectively:

  • Confidentiality.   Applicants for legalization should be extended confidentiality and not be subject to arrest and deportation if they fail to qualify for the program after making themselves known to the government.   This would ensure maximum participation in the program and that those who do qualify are not discouraged or intimidated from applying.
  • Reasonable Implementation Period.  Sufficient time should be given between passage and implementation so that regulations, procedures, and infrastructure are in place.   Deportations of prospective applicants should be suspended between these two dates.
  • Derivative Benefits.    Immediate family members should receive the same immigration benefits under legalization as the primary beneficiary.
  • A Simple and Broad Registration Process.  Such a process would bring forward eligible applicants for preliminary security screening.
  • Generous Eligibility.  The cut-off date (date by which eligible individuals must have entered the United States) should be as close to the date of implementation as possible.  Additionally, individuals who achieve Registered Provisional Immigrant status should not be prohibited from applying for other forms of immigration relief.
  • Generous Evidentiary Standards.   For purposes of verifying an applicant’s eligibility for legalization, evidentiary standards should be based upon “preponderance of the evidence” and should include a wide range of proof, including attestation.
  • Broad Humanitarian Waiver.   A broad waiver of bars to admissibility, such as unlawful presence, fraud, and offenses related to unauthorized status, should be included in the legislation.
  • Increased Resources for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). In order to meet the need for qualified, competent legal services, rapid adjudication of applications for Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Recognition and Accreditation will be necessary.  Funding for EOIR should be generously appropriated ahead of the program’s implementation.
  • Funding for Legal Services.Funding for BIA recognized agencies should be authorized prior to implementation, to conduct public outreach and to build the capacity of legal services agencies.
  • Funding to Assist Service Providers and Potential Applicants to Meet Program Requirements.  Funds should be allocated to organizations that will assist immigrants to become eligible for the legalization program, including for providing civics and ESL instruction.

In addition, comprehensive immigration reform legislation must include changes to the Special Immigrant Religious Worker program.  The program is set to expire on September 30, 2015.  Eliminating the sunset provision and making it a permanent program would alleviate the need for USCIS to suspend processing of these religious worker cases between expiration of the current program and enactment of an extension, as has been done in the past, resulting in delays and confusion that harm Catholic dioceses and religious communities and those they serve. 

Further, amending the statute to permit portability of religious worker employment authorization would allow religious workers more flexibility in seeking and beginning new employment.  Religious workers should be permitted to begin working for a new employer upon the filing of a petition to change employer filed on the worker’s behalf.  Under the current law, a religious worker can only begin working for the new employer after the petition has been approved.  The time between filing and approval of the petition can be significant and often delays the employment start date.  Portability would allow diocesesan and religious community sponsors to accept new hires/members without delay.  It would save time and money (premium processing fees) for sponsors and religious workers and give them the flexibility that other foreign-born employees already have.  Individuals in the H-1B specialty occupation status have the benefit of employment portability. 

 

2. Extend Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Section 245(i) and Repeal Bars to Admission After Unlawful Presence

Some relief for people who have no immigration status would also come from extending section 245(i) of the INA, which allows individuals who entered the United States without inspection, and who had a petition filed on their behalf on or before April 30, 2001, with an opportunity to complete their applications for permanent residence in this country instead of having to be separated from their families completing the process abroad.   Additionally, CLINIC recommends repealing the bars to admission to the United States established in INA § 212(a)(9)(B) and (C).  These sections of law bar individuals who depart the United States after accruing 180 days or more of unlawful presence in the United States or who have previous removal orders from re-entering this country for a period of three or ten years.

 

3. Separate Federal Civil Immigration Enforcement from State and Local Criminal Law Enforcement

Through Secure Communities, the Criminal Alien Program, and the 287(g) Program, (named for the section of the Immigration and Nationality Act entitled “Performance of immigration officer functions by state officers and employees” that authorizes the program) local law enforcement agencies assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with duties that can range from helping to identify potentially removable non-citizens to issuing immigration detainers (or “holds”) and Notices to Appear (NTAs).  Given the complexity of immigration law and the limited federal supervision of local law enforcement agencies, these programs can lead to the deprivation of individuals’ constitutional and civil rights.  They also undermine community policing efforts by eroding trust between local law enforcement and immigrant communities. Immigration is a federal responsibility and the civil enforcement of immigration laws should be left to the federal government and not transferred to local law enforcement authorities whose critical role must be to maintain public safety in their communities.  Congress should not penalize states or localities for limiting their engagement in civil immigration enforcement, which is a federal responsibility. 

Congress also should protect funding for the U.S. Department of Justice to continue to investigate and challenge state- and local-level immigration-related policies and practices that violate federal laws and the Constitution.  Legislation should be enacted that requires

transparent data collection and monitoring of the ICE ACCESS Programs and requiring that they be used solely as a post-conviction enforcement tool, in contrast to the Program’s current approach of investigating individuals at the time of arrest or booking.   The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has an Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.  However, that office does not have the authority to investigate these programs.  Congress should grant this authority and continue to call for investigations of problematic enforcement programs by the DHS Office of the Inspector General and by the Government Accountability Office. 

Finally, Congress should institute safeguards for families from the moment a detainer is issued, establishing protections for the children of individuals who are detained through these enforcement programs. 

 

4.  Reforms in the Immigration Detention System

Under current law, Immigration Judges lack jurisdiction to conduct bond hearings for a large number of individuals who have been placed in removal proceedings on criminal grounds.  INA § 236(c) mandates the detention of long-time lawful permanent residents with minor misdemeanors and individuals who were never sentenced to serve a single day in jail.  Immigration Judges must be permitted to use their discretion to make individualized assessments of the danger or flight risk of each and every individual detained by ICE.  Providing bond hearings will ensure that only the most dangerous and high priority criminals are detained.  Congress should restore the authority of Immigration Judges to exercise discretion to release people from detention based on the equities of each individual case.

ICE currently releases individuals from detention centers through its Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP), which requires individuals to wear an ankle monitor.  This program should be recognized as an alternative form of detention which should be used solely for those who are mandatorily detained due to prior criminal history.  For individuals who are not required to be detained, Congress should mandate funds to establish non-penal community-based release programs, such as the pilot program established by the USCCB.

There is currently no federal legislation that requires compliance with ICE’s standards for treatment of individuals in detention. To ensure that these standards are enforceable, Congress should enact legislation to require compliance with certain critical sections such as those relating to medical and mental health care, telephone and law library access, visitation, mail, legal orientation presentations, and transfers by statute.

 

5.  Expand Funding for EOIR and Include the Recognition and Accreditation Program in Statute 

CLINIC has advocated with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) for years regarding federally-funded Legal Orientation Program (LOP) presentations and pro bono representation for detained immigrants.  CLINIC piloted the federal LOP program and in the past has received LOP funding for its work in California and Texas, and has worked with Catholic partner agencies to secure funding in locations throughout the country.  In 2010, CLINIC worked with EOIR to launch a program to provide legal orientation presentations to custodians of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC), to inform them of their responsibilities in ensuring the child's appearance at all immigration proceedings, and to protect children from mistreatment, exploitation, and trafficking.

The LOP program has been extremely successful; however, it covers programs at only 24 detention facilities  nationwide, and it educates detainees but does not fund any legal representation of detainees.  CLINIC and its member agencies strongly support increased Congressional appropriations and report language specifically related to funding legal orientation presentations for custodians of children released from detention all across the country and at all facilities used by ICE to hold detainees for more than 72 hours.  An EOIR evaluation of legal orientation presentations found that they increase the efficiency of the detention and court systems, saving both time and money for the government. 

In addition, Congress should appropriate funds for a pro bono coordinator in each immigration court to coordinate pro bono representation.  Similarly, Congress should appropriate funds for the coordination of pro bono representation before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and for vulnerable groups, including children. 

By increasing funding for LOPs and pro bono coordination, Congress would increase the number of individuals who receive legal orientation, as well as saving the government resources.  Pro bono coordination enhances efficiency, helps to protect the integrity of our justice system, and leads to increased representation in particularly meritorious cases. 

The number of cases awaiting resolution before the Immigration Courts climbed to over 344,000 by the end of fiscal year 2013, according to data obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. The case backlog, which has risen 5.9% since September 2012, is now 85% higher than it was five years ago.  Wait times have also lengthened. The average time these pending cases have been waiting in the Immigration Courts is now 562 days.  Additional federal funding is required to increase the number of immigration court judges, courtrooms, and staff and reduce the unacceptable and still increasing backlogs in immigration courts.

Finally, BIA recognition and accreditation is the Department of Justice’s certification of charitable immigration agencies and staff.  Such certification allows non-attorneys to practice immigration law before the Department of Homeland Security and the immigration courts. Regulations governing recognition and accreditation can be found at 8 CFR Section 292.2, but the program is vulnerable because it is not established by statute.  The recognition and accreditation program will be vital to establishing the capacity to serve millions of individuals in need of charitable legal services.  Congress should pass a law codifying the program, preserving and protecting it.  

 

6.  Require appointed counsel for particularly vulnerable individuals in removal proceedings

Under federal law, persons in removal proceedings have a right to counsel at their own expense.    Government-appointed counsel throughout the removal process would serve the government’s interest by promoting better prepared cases, more efficient proceedings, shorter detention periods, and correct legal decisions. At least one federal court has recognized that in certain cases government-funded representation should be required and the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have established a nationwide policy for unrepresented immigration detainees who have serious mental disorders or conditions that render them incompetent to represent themselves in immigration proceedings.  The INA’s “at no expense to the government” statute (§ 292) should be amended to include an exception for particularly vulnerable groups, including indigent minors and individuals who are mentally ill, impaired, or otherwise incompetent. In addition, legislation should create a government-funded program to coordinate pro bono representation for all indigent, unrepresented individuals.

 

7Provide Asylees With Information About Services and Restore Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Eligibility

The National Asylee Information and Referral Line was a toll-free hotline initiated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in 2000 as a way to bring asylees into ORR programs and ensure access to resettlement services by this vulnerable population.  The hotline served to link newly granted asylees with key benefits and services for which they are statutorily eligible, such as temporary cash and medical assistance, job placement assistance, and English language classes. Since asylees are not sponsored by refugee resettlement agencies, they typically are unaware of these time-limited benefits and services that help to facilitate early self-sufficiency and integration.  The referral line provided a single, centralized, and multi-lingual source of accurate information and prompt referrals to local resettlement service providers.  The same conditions that necessitated the creation of the asylee referral line 13 years ago still exist today.  Over 11 years, the hotline served over 39,000 asylees (typically about 300 callers per month) in 18 languages, and provided tens of thousands of referrals to local service providers.  Congress should appropriate funding for ORR to reinstate the hotline by contracting out its day-to-day operations.

The 2008 Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Extension for Elderly and Disabled Refugees Act expired in 2011, leaving an estimated 5,600 elderly and disabled asylees and refugees without crucial benefits.  The law provided a temporary extension of the seven-year limit on SSI benefits imposed by welfare reform laws for elderly and disabled non-citizen asylees and refugees who are pursuing naturalization.  Once they are citizens, they are no longer subject to the time limit on SSI.  However, many vulnerable individuals are unable to meet the English language requirements for naturalization and do not qualify for a disability waiver.  The loss of SSI is a major hardship for these individuals, who are unable to work due to advanced age or disability.  They fled persecution, violence, or even torture and were offered protection by the U.S. government.  A permanent extension of the program would fulfill the United States’ promise of protection to this group of asylees and refugees, and prevent them from falling into extreme poverty. 

 

8.  Waive the English Language Requirement for Naturalization Applicants Aged Sixty and Over

Congress should extend the waiver of the English language requirement for naturalization applicants (8 CFR 312.1(b)) to cover all elderly citizenship applicants who are aged 60 and over (regardless of the number of years of lawful permanent residence). This change would allow most elderly or disabled refugees who are losing SSI, as well as other vulnerable elders, to meet the naturalization testing requirements by taking the history/civics test in their native language. Further, it would provide the elderly with an option to learn U.S. history and civics in their native language, improving their ability to become informed and engaged U.S. citizens.

 

9.  Expand the Mandate of and Increase Funding to USCIS’s Office of Citizenship

Citizenship and immigrant integration is a high priority for CLINIC’s network.  In particular, Congress should expand the Office of Citizenship’s mandate to allow it to actively promote naturalization, rather than just provide information about the test and the process.  Congress must also continue to fund the Office to direct its national citizenship program. This program should continue to provide free citizenship information and educational materials.  Funding should continue to be appropriated that would allow the Office of Citizenship the flexibility to provide grants to charitable networks and immigration programs as part of a coordinated national citizenship program.  The national citizenship program supports ESL and citizenship classes; outreach regarding citizenship services, the naturalization process, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship; naturalization application assistance; and training and technical assistance to charitable organizations that provide ESL-citizenship classes and naturalization legal assistance.

 

10. Advocate for a Technical Amendment to the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA)

The CSPA does much to protect children to prevent them from aging out of eligibility to adjust status to permanent resident by adjusting their age based on a calculation of how long the petition on their behalf has been pending.  However, a Board of Immigration Appeals decision states that the Act does not protect the children of permanent residents who naturalize and become U.S. citizens.  The children are automatically converted to the first family-based (F1) preference category – whether or not that category has a longer backlog than the category they were part of before their parents naturalized.  These children are, in effect, being punished as an unintended consequence of their parents achieving U.S. citizenship.  For example, the backlog for individuals from Mexico is mere months for the F2A category, and 10 years for the F1 category.  A technical correction to the CSPA can alleviate this burden.  In fact, the CSPA already includes a provision to ensure that children from the Philippines are not penalized when their parents naturalize.  They are permitted to opt out of the automatic conversion to the first family-based preference category and permitted to choose the preference category which results in the shortest waiting time for a current priority date.  Congress should act to extend this opt-out provision to anyone whose conversion to the F1 category would result in a longer wait for adjustment of status.

 

11.  Identify and Advocate for Legislative Solutions That Will Lead to Greater Federal Funding For USCIS

CLINIC’s member agencies have identified USCIS processing times and repeated fee increases as systemic problems in need of reform.  Two issues worthy of additional exploration are outlined here.  USCIS does not have automatic access to revenue that exceeds its annual budget.  Instead, Congress and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) are required to approve USCIS’s access to such revenue.  By eliminating this requirement, USCIS could more readily access revenue (from unanticipated filing surges) that exceeds its budget.

In addition, impending fee increases often lead to surges in application filings, which ultimately result in processing delays.  Congress should authorize regular, annual appropriations for USCIS to support application processing costs, including the costs of processing of humanitarian applications/petitions for which the agency charges no fees (asylum and refugee services, U-visa applications, military naturalization applications, etc.).  Such an appropriation would eliminate the need for the surcharge on all other USCIS applications/petitions and help to offset the cost of application/petition filings when the agency raises fees.  It would also allow USCIS to decrease the cost of filing the N-400 Application for Naturalization, which would encourage more individuals to apply.

 

CLINIC Administrative Advocacy Priorities: 2014

Each year CLINIC presents its Administrative Advocacy Priorities for the coming year to the board of directors for review and approval. These priorities serve as a guide for the work of CLINIC’s Advocacy section and the Executive Office in its dealings with USCCB, the federal government, and nongovernmental partners. The full list of Administrative Advocacy Priorities follows.

 

For 2014, many of the priorities remain the same in substance as in previous years. These include items related to immigration reform, benefits, and federal immigration enforcement and detention practices. 

 

Items of particular importance to CLINIC for 2014 include:

  • Advocating for broad and fair adjudication of applications for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers;
  • Active participation in the Administration’s efforts to inform immigrants about and mitigate the harm caused by the unauthorized practice of immigration law;
  • Improvements to immigration detainees’ access to telephones, particularly to contact legal counsel;
  • Continued advocacy for legal protections for the most vulnerable among us, including the mentally incapacitated and children;
  • Support for CLINIC programs assisting individuals released from detention through the pilot project conducted by USCCB and ICE; and
  • Assisting state-level advocates to promote legislation that would assist immigrants and support their integration into our communities. 

 

 

The activities below are categorized according to the following criteria:

Category 1:     Very important issue to CLINIC and its network, and policymakers will likely be open to our efforts this year.  Proactive approach needed, involving research, documentation, active advocacy, and public education, including use of media as appropriate, to effect change.

Category 2:     Very important issue but administrative advocacy at this time will not likely result in positive change, due to the current political climate.  We will continue to document the issue and conduct advocacy as appropriate.

Category 3:     Important issue, to CLINIC and its network, and policymakers will likely be open to our efforts this year.  A proactive advocacy approach is needed.

Category 4:     Important issue but administrative advocacy at this time will not likely result in positive change, due to the current political climate.  We will continue to document the issue and advocate as appropriate.

Category 5:     Indicates an issue of great importance to CLINIC but which needs to be solved primarily through legislation. CLINIC does not work on federal legislation but will continue to stress this as a priority issue with MRS.

 

Immigration Reform

  • Advocate for immigration reform through collaboration with the Justice for Immigrants (JFI)Campaign. Share legal expertise and the experiences of CLINIC’s network at meetings and through webinars and conferences to educate grassroots advocates.  (1)

  • Work with MRS in providing feedback and analysis on pending legislation, and raising the concerns of member agencies on issues that need to be included in any immigration bill to advocate that any proposed reform include simple and broad eligibility requirements, provisions for maintaining the confidentiality of information shared with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and funding for nonprofit legal services and legal orientation programs. (5)

Immigration Benefits

  • Work with CLINIC affiliates to identify individual and systemic problems with application processing and adjudication at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) service centers and district offices.  Recommend solutions to resolve issues such as: petitioners that go for years with no communication from the agency; notices not received by petitioners or their representatives; overly burdensome or repetitive Requests for Evidence; inappropriately long delays in adjudication; and erroneous case decisions. (1)

  • Urge DHS to revisit USCIS’s interpretation of the section of its Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver regulation that prohibits eligibility if USCIS has "reason to believe" that the applicant may be subject to a ground of inadmissibility other than inadmissibility based on unlawful presence.  Seek re-training for adjudicators and re-opening of cases improperly denied based on the “reason to believe” standard.   (1)

  • Advocate for expansion of USCIS’s Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver to include individuals in the family preference categories, individuals with grounds of inadmissibility other than unlawful presence, and individuals whose Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) spouse or parent will suffer extreme hardship due to separation. (2)

  • Urge USCIS to adjudicate waiver requests consistently, quickly, and fairly, to reduce the time that families are separated.  Urge USCIS to meet or exceed a goal of adjudication within 3 months.  (1)

  • Monitor the application of the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) and litigation arising related to its application. Advocate that USCIS extend benefits under the CSPA (automatic conversion and retention of priority dates) to aged-out derivative beneficiaries to ensure that children and families are treated consistently throughout the country. (3)

  • Monitor the implementation of INA 204(l), related to survivor benefits, and work with USCIS to ensure transparency in adjudications.  Urge the agency to interpret the statute generously, adjudicating applications for adjustment of status filed after the death of the petitioner.  (3)

  • Advocate for TPS, Parole in Place, and other forms of relief for specific populations whenever there is a humanitarian need that prevents a country’s residents from returning there safely. (3)

  • Monitor the adjudication of applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to ensure that requests are handled in a timely manner, and consistently throughout service processing centers.  Continue to advise USCIS on eligibility criteria.  (1)

  • Monitor the quality and consistency of services provided to naturalization applicants both nationally and in district offices. Ensure that fee waiver applications are consistently adjudicated according to agency policy and that the process – from application to oath – is completed within 3 months across the country.  (1)

  • Collaborate with the Administration on its Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law (UPIL) initiative so that immigrants and their families understand the dangers of unauthorized or unscrupulous practitioners, know where to find quality representation, and are able to file complaints if they have been taken advantage of. (1) 

  • Monitor the conduct and results of USCIS investigations related to the Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law.  Ensure that cases appropriately handled by representatives found to be engaged in UPIL are not required to be re-investigated or their cases re-adjudicated.  (3)

  • Document problems with and advocate for continued improvements to be made to USCIS’s customer service systems.  Ensure that representatives can reach competent assistance every time they contact the National Customer Service Center and that information on the agency’s website is accurate and up-to-date.  (1)

  • Monitor USCIS’s implementation of electronic filing to ensure that it is simple and safe to use.  Throughout the transition, advocate that applications filed by mail are adjudicated as quickly and consistently as those filed electronically.  (3)

  • Support federal appropriation of funds for USCIS in amounts that support application processing without fee increases.  Ensure that any increases in USCIS filing fees are necessary and fair.  (5)

  • Support appropriation to the USCIS Office of Citizenship to continue to direct a national citizenship program.  (5)

Asylee and Refugee Issues

  • Monitor the effects of the material support bar on asylum seekers to ensure that as groups and activities are exempted, the agency is reviewing its “on hold” list and identifying cases that are eligible for adjudication.    (2)

  • Monitor USCIS’s efforts to correct the backlogs in Reasonable Fear and Credible Fear Interviews and advocate for additional remedies as necessary, including prioritizing the cases of detained asylum seekers. (3) 

  • Advocate for effective dissemination of information regarding benefits and social services available to asylees and refugees.  (4)

  • Advocate that funds be appropriated to support a national hotline for this purpose.  (5)

  • Advocate for USCIS and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to increase outreach to inform individuals when they are eligible to file for permanent residence as soon as eligible. USCIS can send notices at the time of granting status or employment authorization.  ORR can require resettlement agencies to provide education and provide funds for legal assistance.  (4) 

Enforcement and Detention

  • Advocate against DHS’s encouraging local communities to engage in immigration enforcement, through measures such as pre-conviction detainers and the 287(g) program.  Document cases that illustrate problems with these enforcement mechanisms – especially violations of humanitarian guidelines and civil rights.  Present problematic cases and proposed solutions to DHS officials.  Potential solutions may include: returning to a system in which localities choose whether to opt in to cooperation with the federal government through Secure Communities, issuing detainers only upon conviction, and ending the 287(g) program.  (2)

  • Advocate that all DHS agencies implement Prosecutorial Discretion consistently nationwide and according to its guidelines.  Present problematic cases and proposed solutions to DHS.  (1)

  • Gather data from network on aggressive policing, difficulties with the courts, detention standards violations, and other potential human and civil rights violations.  Empower affiliates by sharing information on how they can file civil rights complaints.  (1)

  • Engage DHS’s oversight agencies, including the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and the Office of the Inspector General to encourage investigation and reporting.  (2) 

  • Encourage DHS to investigate and share data on whether changes in ICE’s detainer form and guidance have affected the number of individuals held over for ICE. Advocate that DHS clarify that detainers be treated as requests and not mandates with which local law enforcement must comply.  (2)

  • Provide technical support to MRS for its legislative activities opposing anti-immigrant enforcement legislation and state/federal partnerships forced on local law enforcement agencies.  Provide legislative analysis, talking points, and alternative legislative language. (5)

  • Advocate that ICE continue to amend/apply its detention standards to correspond with the goal of a civil, not penal, system.  ICE should finalize and codify its detention standards into regulations, comply fully with them, and apply the standards to all facilities.  (2)

  • Advocate that detention facilities improve detainees’ access to telephones, especially for the purpose of contacting legal representation, and that ICE monitor the issue to ensure compliance with the detention standards.  (1) 

  • Advocate that DHS take additional steps to identify and protect vulnerable populations, including indigent minors; individuals who are physically or mentally ill, impaired, or otherwise incompetent; and those who have suffered extreme trauma.  Absent the individual presenting a flight risk or risk to public safety, ICE should refrain from detaining these vulnerable groups. (2)

  • Advocate for alternative to detention (ATD) programs that are true alternatives to detention, and that do not effectively extend detention to people who would otherwise be released. Advocate that restrictive ATDs constitute custody for purposes of satisfying mandatory detention rules.  Advocate for the release of vulnerable individuals, especially minors and the mentally incompetent, as well as for government-funded legal services throughout the duration of proceedings. (4)

  • Support CLINIC’s affiliate programs as they serve released detainees under the USCCB/ICE Memorandum of Understanding, by engaging with ICE senior advisors as necessary and helping to foster relationships with agency staff in the field.  (1)

  • Continue to monitor DHS’s implementation of parole guidance.  Advocate that all facilities be required to make parole determinations based on DHS’s policy guidance.  (3)

  • Engage partner agencies in assessing issues related to immigration enforcement and detention that are ripe for litigation. (3)

  • Support efforts to secure additional appropriations for Legal Orientation Programs (LOP) expansion as well as federal funding (to CLINIC) for management of the BIA Pro Bono Project. (5)  

  • Support advocacy for a Congressional appropriation for non-profit organizations to develop ATD programs.  (5)

State and Local Measures

  • Provide legal analysis of immigration-related proposals on the state/local level to State Catholic Conference Directors and other local advocates. (1)

  • Strengthen advocates' capacity to respond to rapidly changing local legal environments by helping them to devise state-wide and regional advocacy, communication, networking, and coalition-building strategies.  (1)

  • Document and share successful advocacy strategies. (1)

  • Track litigation regarding state/local measures, and provide legal analysis of decisions to advocates. (1)

  • Support the efforts of state/local advocates regarding positive, pro-immigrant measures that focus on integration, such as drivers’ licenses, tuition equity, funding for civics and English classes, and other integration-related activities.  Support the implementation of state measures to protect immigrants from fraudulent legal service providers.  (1)

  • Track the negative impact of anti-immigrant measures that have been implemented.  Share this information with advocates working to combat similar laws.  (1)

  • Oppose state and local enforcement legislation designed to force unauthorized immigrants and their families to “self-deport” or to promote attrition through enforcement.  (2)

  • Oppose initiatives that mandate that state and local law enforcement officials enforce federal civil immigration laws and support anti-detainer measures. (2)

  • Oppose measures that would inhibit religious freedom by limiting the ways individuals and organizations can provide charity and services to those who are undocumented. (2)

Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)

  • Lead liaison meetings with EOIR on issues of importance to the network, including recognition and accreditation.  Document examples of decisions based on incorrect legal interpretations and bring them to the Board’s attention. (1)

  • Support advocacy for additional federal funding to increase the number of immigration court judges, courtrooms, and staff and reduce the unacceptable and still increasing backlogs in immigration courts. (5)

  • Provide input, both formally and informally, on the anticipated final regulations regarding BIA Recognition and Accreditation. Advocate that evidentiary requirements for agency recognition be limited to evidence of the organization’s nonprofit mission and accountability to the community it serves, rather than the amount of fees charged; that required documentation for recognition and accreditation not be a burden on individuals or agencies; that agency action or inaction that would lead to withdrawal of recognition be clearly delineated; and that self-policing and reporting of unscrupulous actors by trial attorneys, the private bar, judges and court clerks be encouraged. (1)

  • Encourage EOIR to develop an online database for organizations and representatives to use to update their information annually so that EOIR will have the most up-to-date information and defunct organizations will no longer be listed on the recognition roster.  (3)

  • Advocate that EOIR require training in substantive immigration law as well as ethics and professionalism for accreditation.  (1)

  • Ensure that immigration judges take special care in adjudicating cases of vulnerable individuals, especially minors and the mentally incompetent.  Monitor the implementation of EOIR’s Qualified Representative program for incompetent detainees.  Advocate that the program be expanded to provide representation to all incompetent individuals, regardless of their detention status.  (1)

Religious Workers

  • Advocate that site visits be conducted within one month of the filing of an application, and that USCIS notify petitioners upon completion of a site visit.  (2) 

  • Encourage USCIS to establish a Religious Workers-In-Residence program, similar to its Entrepreneurs-In-Residence program.  A multi-faith group of religious leaders would be of great assistance in advising the agency on the traditions and procedures of different faiths.  The group should be tasked with helping to revise training materials so that adjudicators have a better understanding of the training and work of religious workers and can make better-informed decisions related to applications.  (3)

  • Engage with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to obtain information about the process of entry to the U.S. related to the issuance and recording of electronic I-94 Arrival/Departure Records.  Advocate for improved customer information on these practices, such as Frequently Asked Questions and ways to resolve common problems associated with this newly implemented program.  (3)

 
 

Webinar held on 11/1/13 This webinar will look at the legislation and politics which will shape the debate on immigration reform in the House of Representatives, explaining the Church’s position on individual bills and the strategy for winning final legislation the Church can support.

 
 
 

 

On Thursday, October 10, 2013, the Nebraska Service Center held a teleconference.  Please see CLINIC’s notes from the call that touched on the following topics:

I-765:

1.  Can you please cover reinstatement and STEM OPT?  The specific scenario is this – Student on OPT forgot to mail the application for STEM OPT extension in a timely manner (the application was one week late).  USCS denied the STEM OPT extension.  Is there such a thing as reinstatement of OPT status?

 

The Supreme Court's Decision in Arizona v. U.S.: Community Education

In 2010, Arizona passed a law called “SB 1070.”  But Arizona’s police officers were not allowed to enforce some sections of this law because courts prevented them from doing so.  This week, the U.S. Supreme Court decided whether those sections of SB 1070 should stay blocked.

The U.S. Supreme Court BLOCKED the following parts of SB 1070:

  • Making it a state crime to ask for or accept unauthorized work;
  • Making it a state crime to fail to complete and carry registration papers if you are undocumented; and
  • Permitting police officers to arrest someone without a warrant if the officers believe that the person committed a deportable offense.

That means that Arizona CANNOT ENFORCE these sections of SB 1070. 

The U.S. Supreme Court DID NOT BLOCK the following part of SB 1070 (“show me your papers” provision):

  • Requiring police to check the immigration status of anyone they lawfully stop for some other violation – no matter how trivial – if the police suspect that the person is undocumented; and
  • Requiring officers to determine every arrested person’s immigration status before s/he is released.

What do you need to know today?

  • The Supreme Court’s decision hasn’t actually changed the law in Arizona yet.  There are still more steps in the legal process.   There may be other developments.  Stay informed, and do not do anything before consulting a legal representative to see how it might impact your immigration case. 

 

  • Racial profiling is unlawful, and the Supreme Court’s decision did not change that.  The Supreme Court did not block the “show me your papers” provision, but it emphasized that Arizona must enforce the provision in a way that does not violate civil rights.  While Arizona is not technically permitted to start enforcing the “show me your papers” part of SB 1070 at this time, we have heard many reports that Arizona police are already checking immigration status whenever they stop someone (and have been doing so for a while).  Remember: whatever your immigration status, you have rights when police officers stop, question, search or arrest you – see this helpful pamphlet from the ACLU in English and Spanish.  Report any police abuses to your representative.  The U.S. Department of Justice has created a toll-free hotline and an email address where you can bring questions or complaints about civil rights violations by police in Arizona: 855-353-1010 and Sb1070@usdoj.gov.  To find a CLINIC Affiliate legal service provider in Arizona to help you, see our website.
  • The Supreme Court only ruled on Arizona’s law, but the decision sets a precedent for other states as well.   The Supreme Court’s decision is only about one state’s law.  It does not give federal immigration enforcement agents (ICE or CBP agents) any new powers.   In addition to Arizona, five other states (South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Utah, and Indiana) have passed similar laws, and courts in those states are waiting to see what the U.S. Supreme Court decides about SB 1070.  But as with SB 1070, these “copycat” laws in other states laws do not automatically go into effect because of the Supreme Court’s decision.  There are still more steps in the legal processes in these states as well.  If you have questions about your obligations under state law or federal immigration law, consult your representative.
  • Protect yourself from immigration fraud – beware of notarios!  Beware of notarios or so-called immigration “consultants” who claim to be able to protect you and your family from deportation, offer advice on how to apply for an immigration benefit, or ask to prepare any applications or documents for filing with federal immigration authorities.  Notarios and consultants are not authorized to practice federal immigration law.  Only Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Accredited representatives and licensed attorneys may do so.  If you want to verify whether someone is licensed to be an attorney in your state, call your state’s bar association.  If you want to verify whether someone is accredited by the BIA, call the BIA (703-305-9029) or visit the BIA web site at: http://www.usdoj.gov/eoir/statspub/raroster.htm.  For additional information and assistance, please see U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ website www.uscis.gov/avoidscams or contact CLINIC at 202-635-2556.

 

What can you do now?

 

  • Record in detail every one of your encounters with state and local police. 
  • Make formal complaints to the attorney general or to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • Share your stories with your parishes and the media.
  • Share this document with people you know.
  • Make sure people have accurate information.

 

The Supreme Court Considers Arizona v. U.S.

On April 25, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Arizona v. United States, a case involving the legal challenge to Arizona's restrictive state immigration enforcement law "SB 1070."  The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops submitted a "friend of the court" brief in the case, supporting the United States in challenging the law.  What did the Bishops say in their brief?  What are the interests of the Catholic Church when states choose to enforce federal immigration law on their own terms?  What is wrong with a policy of "attrition through enforcement"?  
 
This webinar - held just two days after oral arguments - discusses all of these issues and more.  How did the Justices react to arguments by both sides?  What is really at stake?  The webinar places the legal arguments over SB 1070 in the context of new ways that states and localities are proposing to get more active on immigration.

Arizona's SB 1070 at the U.S. Supreme Court

On Monday, June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its 5-3 ruling on Arizona's state immigration enforcement law, SB 1070.   What did the Court hold? What does it mean? What are the potential ramifications for "copycat" laws in other states? What's next for advocacy?    

Featured Panelists:

  • Andre Segura, Staff Attorney, Immigrants' Rights Project, American Civil Liberties Union
  • Shuya Ohno, National Field Organizer, National Immigration Forum

Moderator:

  • Karen Siciliano Lucas, State & Local Advocacy Attorney, CLINIC
 
 

Welcoming the Stranger through Immigrant Integration discusses five state-level legislative initiatives that promote the integration of immigrants into our states and communities.  The integration measures discussed include legislation that creates tuition equity for all; strengthens human trafficking laws; invests in English language instruction; uses the budget process to integrate immigrants; and enhances access to financial aid and protection against immigration consultant fraud.

 
 
 

As members of Congress prepare to return to Washington, D.C. from the summer recess, the future of U.S.

 
 
 

Overview:  HB 1175 creates state-level penalties (suspending and revoking business licenses) for state employers who knowingly or intentionally hire undocumented workers; it also requires employers in the state to use E-Verify starting July 1, 2013.

 

Section 1

 
 
 

On August 5, CLINIC sent a letter to Director Mayorkas regarding what we believe to be the improper implementation of USCIS's regulations governing the provisional waiver for unlawful presence.

Click Here to read the letter.

 
 
 

Circuit Court Split on Constitutionality of Local Anti-Immigrant Housing Ordinances (August 2013)                                                         

 
 
 

More than eight months after hearing testimony in the civil trial, a U.S.

 
 
 

Last August, the Obama Administration began implementing its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – a policy through which certain undocumented individuals receive temporary permission to stay in the U.S. for two years as well as the right to apply for employment authorization. After some initial resistance to issuing driver’s licenses to DACA grantees, most states eventually decided to do so. At this time, only two states – Arizona and Nebraska – continue to deny state driver’s licenses or identification cards to DACA recipients.   

 
 
 

Advocacy Day is Tuesday, May 21, 2013.

Get ready for your day on Capitol Hill!  Kevin Appleby, Director of USCCB's Office of Migration Policy and Public Affairs and Allison Posner, CLINIC's Director of Advocacy will speak about the Church's position on immigration reform and how to frame your "asks" when speaking with your representatives.  We will also review the agenda for Advocacy Day and provide practical tips about getting around the Hill and what to expect from the day.   

Held on May 7, 2013.

 
 
 

On January 10, 2013, CLINIC shared comments on USCIS’s policy memo, “Age-Out Protection for Derivative U Nonimmigrant Status Holders: Pending Petitions, Initial Approvals, and Extension of Status.”  CLINIC welcomes the issuance of the guidance, as this policy will provide much needed security for the immigrant crime victims and their families that CLINIC members serve.  We are encouraged by USCIS’ statement that the preservation of family unity is a benefit to law enforcement.  The policy provides important protections for U visa derivatives who age out after the approval of the principal’s

 
 
 

On January 10, 2013, CLINIC shared comments with USCIS on its guidance entitled “Eligibility for Employment Authorization upon Approval of a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Self- Petition; and, Eligibility for Employment Authorization for Battered Spouses of Certain Nonimmigrants.”  CLINIC’s comments addressed concerns regarding the employment authorization process for approved VAWA beneficiaries, as well as the eligibility for employment authorization for battered spouses of A, E (iii), G, and H nonimmigrants.  To read the full comments,

 
 
 

On October 23, 2012, CLINIC and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops submitted comments to the Department of Health and Human Services in response to the Department’s amendment of the definition of the term “lawfully present.”  The amendment will prevent those granted deferred action under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program from accessing affordable health insurance coverage options.  Excluding DACA recipients from this program is inequitable and undercuts the spirit of the Administration’s DACA policy.

 

Juvenile Records: State by State

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Information and Resources

 

A criminal record may disqualify you for DACA. Start with the resources on this chart to get a copy of yours. Know your criminal history before applying.

State
How to request
Alabama
  • In AL, Circuit Courts and District Courts have divisions for Juvenile Court and share jurisdiction over juvenile cases. When Circuit Courts or District Courts handle juvenile cases, these judges sit as a Juvenile Court and a separate docket is maintained. Contact your local court.
 
Alaska
  • Submit requests in writing to the records department or clerk of the court where the case took place.
  • Use request form TF-311 ANCH to make a request for copies of Anchorage case files.
  • Most court records are available for public inspection.
  • Copies are 25¢ per page. A certified copy of a document is $5.00.
 
Arizona
  • Delinquency records are open to the public for those juveniles who turned 18 after 1/1/1995. All other requests for information from delinquency files must be approved by the County Court before any can be viewed.
  • Ex: Maricopa County Juvenile Section.
 
Arkansas
  • FAQ about records.
 
California
  • Declaration For Access to Juvenile Case File In Possession of Juvenile Court.
 
Colorado
  • See the Colorado Bureau of Investigations website. The CBI is a division of the Colorado Department of Public Safety and is the repository for criminal records for Colorado citizens.
  • A $6.85 charge for each records search will be assessed to your credit or debit card.
  • Colorado State Judicial Branch or the Colorado Supreme Court, depending upon where the case was originally tried, can grant juvenile record release to eligible persons upon request if these records were not found at the Colorado Bureau of Investigations.
 
Connecticut
 
  • For access to juvenile records, contact the clerk’s office in the juvenile matters court where the case was filed.
 
Delaware
 
D.C.
 
Florida
 
Georgia
  • General background check.
  • Case records of youth will only be disclosed to the youth (if 18 years of age or older) or parent/guardian, with a signed Authorization for Release of Information. Find relevant form as Attachment D.
 
Hawaii
  • Juvenile records are stored in the Juvenile Justice Information System (JJIS), which is maintained by the Attorney General and the Juvenile Justice Information Committee. In order to obtain juvenile records, a written request for disclosure must be made by the party concerned.
  • Contact the state’s Family Court at (808) 954-8144.
 
Idaho
  • If formal charges have been filed, a juvenile’s file and court hearings are open to the public if the youth is 14 years of age or older, unless the Judge deems special circumstances exist to keep a certain case closed to the public.
  • For information on criminal background checks.
 
Illinois
 
Indiana
  • In order to obtain a Juvenile History Record, Mail the fingerprints and a money order for $10 (Payable to the Indiana State Police) to: Indiana State Police, PO Box 6188, Indianapolis, IN 46204. Do not fold or crease the fingerprints. The juvenile criminal history documents will be mailed to the requestor.
  • For additional information, contact the Indiana State Police at (317) 234-2631.
 
Iowa
  • Records may be available online.
  • Any records unavailable through the online records database may be viewed in person at the juvenile court of the county where the action occurred.
 
Kansas
  • Juvenile records are strictly protected in Kansas. The only means to obtain your own juvenile history is to positively identify yourself by fingerprint submission to the Central Repository at the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
  • To review an entire criminal record, to include all arrests, non-convictions, diversions, expungements, and juvenile offender data, mail a letter requesting your record to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. You must also include a Personal Identification fingerprint card with your fingerprints recorded. The fingerprint card establishes your identity to the Kansas Central Repository, so that someone else can't obtain your record by pretending to be you
  • Instructions for submitting a request can be found here.
 
Kentucky
  • An adult’s criminal record report is public information. Juveniles may access their records by requesting the records in person with the county clerk.
 
Louisiana
  • Juvenile Courts of Caddo, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, and Orleans Parishes have exclusive jurisdiction over certain types of cases. There is an exception for serious felonies committed by persons over 15 years of age, who may be tried in District or City Courts.
 
Maine
  • Maine Juvenile Crime Information Request
  • Online site provides electronic access to request criminal history record and juvenile crime information maintained by the Maine State Police, State Bureau of Identification.
 
Maryland
  • To access juvenile records, write a letter to the Juvenile Court of the County in Maryland where the records are.
  • Include name, date of birth, and reason for requesting records. The request will be forwarded to the Juvenile Court judge who will rule on whether or not to allow access. The court will then follow up with the requestor with further instructions.
  • The Maryland Immigrant Rights Coalition can help determine DACA requestors’ eligibility for expungement.  Individuals with prior dispositions of Probation Before Judgment (PBJ) are those who are most likely eligible; most convictions cannot be expunged.  See Md. Code Ann., Crim. Pro. Art. § 10-105(a)(9) for limited exceptions.
 
Massachusetts
  • Information available at www.mass.gov/cjis.
  • Register at iCori, receive an e-mail confirmation, activate account within 24 hours, submit request along with a money order for $25.
  • To make request by mail: fill out Juvenile Record Request and send, along with $25 money order to:Office of the Commissioner of Probation One Ashburton Place, Room 405 Boston, MA 02108-1612 Attn: Juvenile Records
 
Michigan
  • Request a copy of the juvenile records from the Michigan State Police. Each department has different requirements for how to obtain records and different options for transmitting them to the requester.
  • If the crime was minor and an isolated incident, juvenile records may be unavailable. Request records in writing at: Michigan State PoliceCriminal Justice Information Center, Identification Section 7150 Harris DriveLansing, MI, 48913 Phone: (517) 322-1956Include full name, race, sex, full birth date, and all names used. If the defendant has a common name, consider including a Social Security Number. Enclose a $10 cashier's check or money order and a return envelope with the defendant's return address and current postage. Records by mail take three to five weeks.
  • Alternatively, request records through ICHAT – Michigan’s Internet Criminal History Access Tool.
 
Minnesota
  • Most Juvenile Court cases are closed to the public, and you generally must get permission from the presiding judge to view or get copies from a Juvenile Court file.
  • Practices vary from county to county, contact the Juvenile Court in each county.
  • Example: Affidavit for Access to Juvenile Court Files form in Hennepin County, Mail or drop off your completed request form to:4th District Juvenile Court Hennepin Co. Juvenile Justice Center Records Request - 1st Floor 590 Park Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55415
 
 
Mississippi
  • In the 21 counties which have a County Court, those judges also serve as Youth Court judges. In counties which do not have a County Court, the Chancery Judge may hear Youth Court matters, or the Chancery Judge may appoint a lawyer to act in a judicial capacity as Youth Court Referee.
  • Contact the Court in the county where the records would be and request records in person, bringing proof of identification, which would then allow the juvenile to access his own record.
 
Missouri
  • Juveniles can request access to their own records. Only a court can order sealed records to be unsealed.
  • Missouri Revised Statues Section 211-321 concerns juvenile court records
  • Practices vary from county to county. Contact the Juvenile Court in each county.
 
Montana
  • Court records for a specific case can only be viewed in the court where the case was filed. Records may be reviewed in person. They must be viewed at the court, but copies can be made for a fee, which varies from court to court.
  • Sometimes, the court records contain information not available to the public. If this is the case, a written request for that information must be presented to the court where the case was filed. A judge will decide whether to grant access.
 
Nebraska
 
Nevada
  • Individuals may inspect their own records in person at the Department of Juvenile Justices or may petition the Juvenile Court for a court order allowing copies of the juvenile record to be made.
  • For questions regarding juvenile records, contact the Juvenile Justice Services Department at (702) 455-5220.
 
New Hampshire
  • The NH Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Children, Family and Youth Services maintain a database known as “NH Bridges.”
  • See the State Police’s website for further information.
 
New Jersey
  • Send a written request stating what records are sought to: Yvonne Lemane Juvenile Justice Commission P.O. Box 107 Trenton, NJ 08625
  • Requests may also be faxed to (609) 943-4655.
  • You will receive back a form to complete and return in order to access records.
 
New Mexico
  • Request records, in writing or in person, at the New Mexico court where the matter was adjudicated.
  • In the case of significant misdemeanor offenses and multiple misdemeanor offenses the individual should contact the magistrate court of the proper county.
  • For felonies, contact the district court.
  • Contact information for district courts and magistrate courts can be found at http://www.nmcourts.gov/othercourts.php.
 
New York
  • The Division of Criminal Justice Services provides individuals with the opportunity to obtain and review their own criminal history record. Call (518) 485-7675 , or visit the Record Review Page for full details.
  • To obtain a copy of your criminal history record, request an informational packet from Record Review Unit New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services 4 Tower Place Albany, New York 12203-3764
 
North Carolina
  • The North Carolina Juvenile Online Information Network (“NCJOIN”) is a database of arrest information maintained by the North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice.
  • Court records are currently available at county courthouses. The state is also implementing a new juvenile court record database called JWise. A juvenile, a juvenile’s parents or guardians, and attorneys may examine and obtain copies of court records without a court order.
 
North Dakota
  • A complete Criminal History may be obtained by contacting:North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigations 205 State Street P.O. Box 1054 Bismarck, ND 58502 Phone: (701) 328-5650
 
Ohio
  • Contact the clerk of the juvenile court in the county where the incident took place.
  • Request records by supplying the court with your name and date of birth.
  • Can telephone, fax, or make the request in person to the county court.
 
Oklahoma
  • Visit your local probate court to obtain the paperwork required to file a motion to access your juvenile records. There may be a fee for this, though the fee may be waivable.
  • Fill out a Petition to View Records and/or Request for Copies form.
  • Must present a valid photo ID.
 
Oregon
  • Contact the Portland Police Bureau:Records Division 1111 SW 2nd Avenue, Room 1126 Portland, OR 97204 For juvenile records call: 503-988-3460
 
Pennsylvania
 
Rhode Island
 
South Carolina
  • Send a written request, including your date of birth and the last 4 digits of your social security number, to:Attn Central Records P.O. Box 21069 Columbia, SC 29221-1069
South Dakota
  • The Jackson County Clerk of Court conducts statewide record searches.
  • Mail this form to: Jackson County Clerk of Court, P.O. Box 128Kadoka, SD 57543-0128 Phone: (605) 837-2122 Email: carol.schofield@ujs.state.sd.us
Tennessee
Texas
 
Utah
  • Application for Criminal History Record
  • The petitioner requests the report from BCI. There is a fee for the report. The judge might require that you file a criminal history report from the other communities in which you have lived.
Vermont
  • Criminal Record Check request form.
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
  • A juvenile can request records by completing form DJ-LE- JD-1738-250 and filing with the state’s Crime Information Bureau.
Wyoming
  • Submit a State of Wyoming applicant fingerprint card with a preprinted waiver signature section on the reverse side. In addition, the applicant must also submit a fee which is also set by statute.
  • Contact the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation (307-777-7181 or 208 S. College Dr., Cheyenne, WY) for a fingerprint card and instruction form.
 
 

CLINIC and other organizations that help permanent residents naturalize and that promote the integration of newcomers sent the attached letter to Representative Nancy Pelosi, urging her to support appropriations funding for the U.S. Citizenship and Integration Grants Program.  Since the program began in October 2009, USCIS’s Program has helped more than 38,000 permanent residents in 30 states and the District of Columbia prepare for citizenship. Twenty-six percent of the 2012 grantees are CLINIC affiliates. 

 
 
 

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) signed onto this letter July 23, 2012 urging members of Congress to support the Help Separated Families Act, legislation introduced by Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA-34). The bill aims to improve the likelihood that children placed in the child welfare system as a result of immigration enforcement actions against their parents can ultimately reunify with their parents.

 
 
 

On Monday, June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its 5-3 ruling on Arizona's state immigration enforcement law, SB 1070.   What did the Court hold? What does it mean? What are the potential ramifications for "copycat" laws in other states? What's next for advocacy?    

Featured Panelists:

 
 
 

This document addresses ten immigration myths. It provides information from a variety of  resources in order to clarify these common misconceptions.  Click here to view Ten Immigration Myths.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) From Volunteers

1) What is the BIA Pro Bono Project?

The Project is a unique collaborative effort of five non-governmental organizations and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).  The Project, which seeks to increase the level of representation to detained and non-detained immigrants with case appeals before the BIA, is coordinated by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) and supported by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the American Immigration Council (AIC), the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG), and the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition.  Volunteer attorneys screen and summarize cases each week at the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).  The case descriptions circulated to potential pro bono counsel are based on these experts’ review of the record of proceedings that took place before the Immigration Judge.

2) Who does the Project help?

We are a pro bono project that works mainly with detainees and non-detainees who were pro se (unrepresented) before the immigration judge and now their case is on appeal before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).   Either they lost the case before the Immigration Judge (IJ) and appealed, or they won the case before the IJ, and the government appealed.

More specifically, the project concentrates on finding representation for four types of individuals: (1) asylum-seekers, (2) minors, (3) individuals who received a favorable decision by an Immigration Judge that was subsequently appealed by the government, and (4) persons with a case in which the Immigration Judge requested certification of his/her decision from the BIA. All cases involve individuals who were not represented before the Immigration Judge, and who remain pro se before the BIA.

3) What does the attorney need to do?

i.    Each week we distribute new cases of individuals who need representation for their appeal.  Contact the CLINIC BIA Pro Bono Project coordinator if you have questions about a case or would like to volunteer for a particular case.  After the case is assigned to you, CLINIC will get consent from the respondent, which can take a week or two.  If we do not get consent, we will be happy to assign you a new one.  Once you receive the consent packet, you will file your entry of appearance (Form EOIR-27) with the Board.

   
ii.    Once the Board receives the EOIR-27, it will send you a full copy of the record of proceedings.  This is unique to our project and will not happen with other Board appeals.  Normally you would have to do a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request, or dig up the information yourself, so receiving a copy of the record is one significant advantage of participating in our project, rather than doing a Board appeal on your own.  The Board will also send you a briefing schedule, typically set 3 weeks from the time your EOIR-27 was received.   You have the option of filing for an extension, which the Board will always grant.  If it does not, let us know and we will intervene to get the extension.  The extension is for an additional 3 weeks, so you will have a total of 6 weeks to write the brief, if you request the extension.  We will send you a sample extension request.


iii.    Next, you write your brief. The Board prefers concise briefs that are about 15-20 pages long.  You file one copy with the Board and send one to the opposing counsel (DHS).  Other than keeping in touch with CLINIC and updating the respondent, that’s all there is to it.

4) Do I need immigration law experience to volunteer?

The pro bono attorney needs to have a background in Immigration law, strong litigation/writing experience, or a background in appellate litigation. You need to have an active license to practice law in any U.S. state.  You do not need to practice or be licensed in the same state as the respondent.  We also work with law school clinics.

5) Do I need to meet with the client in-person?

No, many volunteer attorneys communicate with their client over the phone or through the mail.  You do not need to practice or be licensed in the same state as the respondent. 

6) Do I need to be licensed in the state of the respondent?

No, you do not need to practice or be licensed in the same state as the respondent.

7) What sorts of costs are connected to writing an appeal?

The notice of appeal was already filed by the respondent, so there are no filing fees for your brief or any extension requests.  The only costs to you will be the FedEx/mailing costs you incur.  That said, if you wish to file a motion to reopen or reconsider in the future, there will be filing fees. How do I sign up?

Please fill out the form here and the Project Coordinator will get in touch with you.

8) Do the procedures differ from the BIA practice manual?

i.    Yes, the procedure through the BIA Pro Bono Project differs slightly. Therefore, the volunteer should always check with us when they have procedural questions to make sure everything is routed to the proper person/office at the Board.


ii.    Specifically, the briefing schedule will be reset for cases through the project and the attorney will get a photocopy of the entire record. 

9) How do I learn more about Board appeals?

i.    EOIR’s virtual law library has an excellent manual, with sample pages and full procedural instructions.


ii.    The procedure through the BIA Pro Bono Project differs slightly. Therefore, a volunteer should always check with us for answers to procedural questions to make sure everything is routed to the proper person/office at the Board.

10) Does CLINIC cover me in the case of malpractice?

Yes, CLINIC maintains umbrella coverage for the volunteers who take an appeals case through our pro bono project. 

11) How long does the process take from start to finish?

The good thing about our project is that the timing is predictable.  It will take CLINIC a week or two to get consent from the Respondent.  You would then file the E-27.  Within a week or so, the Board will send you the record of proceeding and a new briefing schedule.  You have three weeks to write the brief, and an additional three weeks if you request an extension.  Therefore, you should be done with your part within 2-3 months.

 

12) When do we get the decision back from the Board?

It can vary---anywhere from 3 to 6 months; sometimes as long as a year or more!  The Board is faster with detained cases than non-detained cases, and decisions on cancellation of removal tend to come out more quickly than other cases.  Asylum/withholding/CAT cases with controversial issues can sometimes take a lot longer, especially if the Board isn’t sure how it wants to deal with the case (and they all sometimes have to agree on the direction they will take), or if the Board is considering publishing the case.

13) What happens if the respondent already filed a brief?

It’s not a problem.  The Board will keep the respondent’s brief and put it in the record of proceeding.  However, your brief will trump theirs.  The Board knows this is a BIA Pro Bono Project case and that we are finding an attorney for the respondent.  The Board will consider your brief when adjudicating the case.

14) What about legal support?

CLINIC provides mentorship and guidance throughout the BIA appeal process.

15) Do you have sample briefs?

Yes we do!  We have been collecting them for over 11 years and have a good variety of samples.  We do not make the bank publically available, but we can send you samples on any given topic that you desire.  Most of our volunteers find the sample briefs very helpful.

1)      What is the BIA Pro Bono Project?

Select Topics in Family-Based Immigration Law Training and Visit to National Visa Center

Select Topics in Family-Based Immigration Law Training
and Visit to National Visa Center

Co-Sponsored by
Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)
and
New Hampshire Catholic Charities

July 10-11, 2012
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

July 12, 2012
Optional Tour of National Visa Center, Portsmouth, NH

Location:
Diocese of Manchester
153 Ash Street
Manchester, NH 03104

$250 per person from affiliate agencies; $750 cap ($50 materials fee for each additional staff from the same office location)


$275 per person for other non-profit agency staff; $825 cap
($50 materials fee per person for more than 3 attendees from the same office site)


$405 per person for private attorneys and staff

Optional: Additional $25 fee per person for round-trip transportation to National Visa Center in Portsmouth

Continental breakfast and lunch  included on July 10th and 11th.

This intensive two day training will provide updated information on selected topics in family-based immigration, including the new proposed provisional waiver of the unlawful presence ground of inadmissibility.  We will discuss who may seek a provisional waiver in the U.S. and the proposed new form and process.  The training will also cover: establishing qualifying family relationships for relative petitions; priority date retention and conversion; the Child Status Protection Act; relief available to widows and other surviving relatives following the death of the petitioner or principal beneficiary; adjustment of status and consular processing; completing the affidavit of support; select inadmissibility issues; filing effective inadmissibility waivers and ethics in family-based immigration. 

The training will be presented by CLINIC attorneys Kristina Karpinski and Debbie Smith.  A representative from the USCIS office in New Hampshire has also been invited to participate

The training will also feature an optional tour of the National Visa Center in Portsmouth, NH on July 12th and a question and answer session with NVC Director Kimberly Kelly.  Space for the NVC visit is limited to the first 38 people who register for the tour.

Training Level: Note that this is not an introductory training and is not geared to new practitioners. Please review the agenda before registering; the training is conducted at a level that assumes participants have a basic understanding of family-based immigration law and procedure.

The training is for the staff of Catholic Charities and other community-based organizations with IRS 501(c)(3) status, and attorneys and legal  staff of private law offices.  If you are registering as staff of a community-based organization, you must fax a copy of you IRS 501(c)(3) letter designating your agency as a nonprofit entity to CLINIC at 202 635-2649 to the attention of Andres Abella. Your registration will be confirmed upon receipt of this letter. If you are an attorney, please include your state bar number. Payment is by credit card only. Please be sure to register under the correct category and for the correct training. All registration changes or cancellations are subject to an administrative charge of $70.00.

Space for the July 10-11 training is limited to 40 participants. The deadline for registration is July 3rd or sooner if registration is filled. For registration information contact: Dinah Suncin at dsuncin@cliniclegal.org.

For the agenda and additional information click here.

Lodging Information 

A block of rooms has been reserved at the rate of $99.00 plus tax at the following hotel under the name “Catholic Legal” or code CLI. Make reservations early, the rate is only guaranteed until June 19th.

Holiday Inn Express
1298 South Porter Street
Manchester, NH
603-669-6800
Hotel can provide transportation to & from the airport and to the training site.
Close to Shopping Mall and many restaurants

 REGISTER HERE

for Select Topics in Family-Based Immigration Law Training 

 

SIGN UP

to tour the National Visa Center

Training Type: 
Training Category: 
 
 

On April 25, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Arizona v. United States, a case involving the legal challenge to Arizona's restrictive state immigration enforcement law "SB 1070."  The U.S.

 
 
 

The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) submitted these comments on March 30, 2012 in response to the Executive Office for Immigration Review’s (EOIR) proposal to amend the regulations governing the recognition of organizations and accreditation of representatives who appear before EOIR.

 
 
 

CLINIC and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops joined other faith-based organizations in asking Congress to permanently extend the Religious Worker Visa Program.  See the letter here.

 
 
 

CLINIC hosted a webinar to train users of CLINIC's new web-based State & Local Immigration Policy Map. The Map offers CLINIC's many state-specific resources on policy proposals affecting immigrants and their families. This webinar will be free and open to the public. During this fully interactive training, participants experienced a real-time demonstration of the Map's capabilities, received step-by-step instruction in finding materials, asked questions of CLINIC's State & Local Advocacy Attorney Karen Lucas and CLINIC's Communications O

 
 
 

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, along with other faith-based, human rights, immigrant advocacy, and legal service organizations expressed thir support for expanding the Legal Orientation Program (LOP), a program within the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). Since its launch in 2003, LOP has generated bipartisan support because of its proven track record in reducing court processing times and making the detention and immigration court process more efficient.

 
 
 

The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) submits these comments in response to the request for public comment by the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) in advance of its two public meetings on the agency's proposal to amend the regulations governing the recognition of organizations and accreditation of representatives who appear before EOIR.

 
 
 

On November 20, 2014, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced new immigration enforcement priorities in a memorandum entitled Policies for the Apprehension, Detention, and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants. The guidance sets forth factors DHS should consider when deciding whether an individual is an enforcement priority or warrants a favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion. The government documents, articles, sample requests and motions, and other materials contained in this toolkit will help advocates understand prosecutorial discretion policies ---- who can benefit, what is the process, and how to assist clients both before and after the issuance of the Notice to Appear.

 

Position Openings

West Coast Mennonite Central Committee, a CLINIC subscriber, has two position openings immediately available for and Legal Services Advisor and.. Staff Associate for Immigration (caseworker) (both Bilingual).

Immigration Legal Services Advisor

The Immigration Legal Services Advisor provides leadership and oversight to the West Coast MCC Immigration and Documentation Program. With excellent Spanish and English communication skills, this person is an advocate for immigrant rights and just governmental policies. The Immigration Legal Services Advisor directly supervises the Immigration Caseworkers (based in Reedley, Calif., and Upland, Calif.) as well as the Immigration Receptionist.

Major Responsibilities:

  • Administration of Immigration Legal Services Program Components· Supervision of Staff· Staff Training· Budget Monitoring· Community Outreach · Legal Casework· Collaborate with larger MCC team

Qualifications:

  • BIA representative, JD, or attorney who has completed a recognized jurisprudence degree
  • Membership in the California State Bar
  • Membership with the American Immigration Lawyers’ Associate preferred
  • Minimum of three years immigration legal experience, one year management experience
  • Knowledge and understanding of current immigration issues and filing processes
  • Demonstrated ability to create structures and systems to provide immigration services
  • Demonstrated ability to handle confidential documents with discretion
  • Ability to lead a team and organize office procedures
  • Demonstrated communications skills in cross-cultural settings in Spanish and English languages
  • Technologically proficient, knowledge of MS Office, ImmigrationTracker a plus
  • Demonstrated ability to set and follow through on work priorities without supervision.
  • Passionate concern for undocumented and other marginalized people.  Demonstrated ability to relate to MCC board and to other agencies addressing immigration issues

 

Staff Associate for Immigration (Bilingual)

The Staff Associate for Immigration will assist qualified applicants with immigration documentation needs. With a primary focus on serving immigrants from MCC constituent churches in Central California, the associate, in conjunction with the Immigration Team, will assess the needs of immigration clients and provide immigration legal counsel and documentation services such as translation, completing immigration paperwork, and declarations. Also includes accompanying applicants to Immigration Service interviews.

Qualifications:

  • Associate of Arts degree or equivalent experience
  • Passionate concern for undocumented immigrants and marginalized people
  • Professional office appearance and demeanor
  • Fluent in verbal and written English and Spanish
  • Clear oral and written communication skills
  • Ongoing willingness to learn, interpret and remain current in immigration laws and procedures
  • Ability to recognize and properly maintain confidential data and information
  • Demonstrated ability to meet deadlines, multi-task and appropriately prioritize assignments
  • Solid organizational and administrative skills, close attention to detail
  • Cross-cultural skills and the ability to relate comfortably and effectively in a variety of constituent settings
  • Prior experience working in a team environment with limited supervision
  • Computer and Internet literate
  • Available to travel for training sessions and meetings approximately four times per year
  • Prior immigration legal experience preferred

MCC is an equal opportunity employer, committed to employment equity. MCC values diversity and invites all qualified candidates to apply.

Please send cover letter and resume to Emily Stednick at eas@mcc.org or call 559-301-3403 for more information.

Court Helps Define False Claim of Citizenship

By Charles Wheeler

If you are an undocumented alien who is arrested by the police and during booking you lie and state you were born in the United States, is that a false claim of citizenship for immigration purposes?  The Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that it was not and overturned the BIA and immigration judge, who held that it was.

The facts in the case were muddled and contested as to whether the alien, Jose Castro, even claimed to have been born in Puerto Rico.  His testimony was that he responded truthfully and stated he was born in Costa Rica, and that the officer either misheard him or was confused, since his colleague at the time of arrest was born in Puerto Rico.  Nevertheless, the immigration judge found that he made a false claim of citizenship to the arresting officer, and neither the BIA not the appellate court overturned that finding.  Instead, the appellate court analyzed the statutory section, INA § 212(a)(6)(C)(ii), and applied it to the findings of fact to determine whether the alien had made the false claim “for any purpose or benefit under this Act…or any other Federal or State law.”  The immigration judge and a majority on the BIA panel held that Mr. Castro, who had no legal status at the time, was seeking a benefit under federal law by claiming to be a citizen, namely, to evade being turned over to DHS for possible deportation.  The immigration judge also noted that Mr. Castro was married to a woman who was applying for naturalization and that he was contemplating filing for adjustment of status.  His claiming to be a U.S. citizen, according to the immigration judge, furthered all of those federal benefits.

The appellate court addressed these three alleged benefits.  First, the alien’s spouse had naturalized seven years before the arrest, and therefore his claim to citizenship was unrelated. Second, it was Mr. Castro who brought himself to the attention of the Immigration Service by applying for adjustment of status.  His lying about his citizenship would not further his application for adjustment – instead it might adversely affect it, given that that benefit is discretionary. Mr. Castro even testified that he went back to the police station the next day to correct the booking sheet so that the error would not harm his future adjustment application. The court then turned to the issue of whether Mr. Castro, when he made the false claim, was seeking a federal benefit in hoping to evade DHS detection.  The court found that there was no evidence in the record that the police would have alerted DHS had it known Mr. Castro’s citizenship or that Mr. Castro thought that it would.

The appellate court examined the legislative history and found that the “benefit under…Federal or State law” seems to require an application for a specific immigration benefit, private employment, or public service. Mr. Castro was not seeking any specific benefit from the police in the sense of one created and administered by that agency.  Any tangential benefit such as adjustment of status would be a benefit conferred by DHS and not the police.  To characterize evasion from DHS enforcement as a “benefit” would be to read the limiting language “out of the statute entirely.”  Minimizing the risk that the police would report a person’s arrest to DNS “is not, in and of itself, a legal benefit.”

This case is significant given that it is one of the few reported decision interpreting this non-waivable ground of inadmissibility.  The holding would apply, at least in the third circuit, to similar fact situations.  It is distinguishable from situations where an alien makes a false claim of citizenship in an effort to seek admission to the country or in an application for a specific benefit conferred by state or federal law. But even outside the third circuit, lying about one’s citizenship to the police at the time of arrest should not invoke the permanent bar to admissibility.

Asylum and Particular Social Group Membership: Challenges to the BIA’s Definition

By Debbie Smith

Asylum may be available to individuals who have a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country based on one of five grounds: race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.  The most difficult of the five grounds to interpret and the one that remains the most contentious more than 30 years after the enactment of the Refugee Act of 1980 is “membership in a particular social group.”  In the case Henriquez-Rivas v. Holder, No. 09-71571, Order (January 31, 2012), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided to reconsider its previous decisions on social group membership.  Similarly, other courts of appeals have wrestled with the BIA decisions on membership in a particular social group deciding that the Board’s requirements were contradictory and incorrect.  The facts of the Henriquez-Rivas case reveal the problems with the BIA’s unreasonable requirements. 

Why the BIA Decisions on Membership in a Particular Social Group Are Confusing.  The BIA first interpreted the term membership in a particular social group in the case, Matter of Acosta, 19 I.&N. Dec. 211 (BIA 1985).  In Acosta, the BIA held that persecution on account of membership in a particular social group meant that “persecution is directed toward an individual who is a member of a group of persons all of whom share a common, immutable characteristic.” Using the analysis of Acosta, the BIA found that Filipinos of mixed Filipino-Chinese ancestry, familial sub-clan in Somalia, young women from a specific tribe who had not been subjected to FGM and who oppose the practice, were members of a particular social group.  Individuals in these groups had a fundamental characteristic that could not nor should not be required to change. However, in 2006, the BIA added factors to the evaluation of membership in a social group. 

In In re CA, 23 I.& N. Dec. 951 (BIA 2006), the BIA required that an individual seeking asylum as a member of a social group demonstrate  the “social visibility” and “particularity” of the social group.  In C-A, the asylum applicant’s group consisted of noncriminal drug informants working against the Cali drug cartel.  The BIA held that confidential informants could not meet the “visibility” prong of the test for social group because they were by nature out of public view. The new requirements of “social visibility” and “particularity” became the new criteria by which the BIA determined whether an individual established membership in a particular social group.

Facts of Henriquez-Rivas.  The case of Henriquez-Rivas illustrates the strange consequences that result from an application of the BIA’s “social visibility” and “particularity” criteria.  At age 12, Ms. Henriquez-Rivas witnessed her father’s murder by the Mara Salvatrucha (MS) gang.  She testified in open court against the three MS members, two of whom were convicted of her father’s murder.  Suspected MS gang members visited Ms. Henriquez-Rivas’s home and school after the trial.  In fear for her life, Ms. Henriquez-Rivas fled El Salvador and sought asylum in the United States.  She claimed that she would be persecuted by MS gang members because of her membership in the particular social group composed of individuals who testified against gang members in open court.  The immigration judge granted her application for asylum but the BIA held the Ms. Henriquez-Rivas’ social group lacked “social visibility” and “particularity” and reversed the immigration judge’s decision.

Nebraska Service Center Teleconference on Asylee and Refugee Issues

On February 9, the USCIS Nebraska Service Center held a stakeholder teleconference on Asylee and Refugee Issues.  Questions raised by stakeholders and responses from the Service Center are below.

Refugee Issues:

Q. How is a newly arrived follow-to-join refugee who is joining a spouse who has been to the US for more than two years treated?  Are they classified as refugees or a different status?

A. Classification is not affected by the amount of time the spouse has been in the US.

Q.  Do they qualify for the eight months government assistance (i.e., Medicaid, cash assistance, and food stamps)?  If not, why not?

A. These are state-administered programs.  USCIS cannot answer questions about eligibility.

Q.  We have been receiving duplicate “Welcome Notices” for I-485 applications based on refugee status. These sometimes arrive the same day, or one to two days apart. Obviously, this creates a significant environmental impact issue, apart from extra staff time spent opening and filing duplicate notices.  Can something please be done to correct this?

A. USCIS cannot investigate without specific examples.  Please share examples, including A numbers, with Kathryn Nicolas, Community Relations Officer at the NSC, at ceo.nsc@dhs.gov.

Q.  A question was raised on the September refugee/asylee teleconference about case transfer notices and the fact that attorneys with G-28s on file never receive the transfer notice; it is only sent to the applicant. The answer was that this is a deficiency in the electronic system and the NSC would submit this request for future changes.  What is the status of this request to have attorneys receive the transfer notices?

A. USCIS cannot investigate without specific examples.  Please share examples, including A numbers, with Kathryn Nicolas, Community Relations Officer at the NSC at ceo.nsc@dhs.gov.

Q.  Since the NSC is the exclusive adjudicator of refugee I-485 cases, what is the best procedure to follow when a case is incorrectly filed at a wrong lockbox and then incorrectly receipted and/or transferred to a wrong service center?  Based on past experience, a call to the NCSC will not resolve a matter of this type.

A. If an application is incorrectly filed and forwarded to the wrong service center, first call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC).  If no response, contact the service center through its follow-up email address at ncscfollowup.nsc@dhs.gov

Asylee Issues:

Q.  Does the NSC have any updated information on the position that USCIS will take on asylee derivatives whose I-485 cases are often denied (for failure to go through the nunc pro tunc procedure prior to filing the I-485) if their principal parent or spouse naturalizes prior to adjustment?  (This issue was supposedly discussed at one or more of the last three USCIS Asylum Division meetings, but those minutes to do not appear to have been posted for any of these meetings.)

A. NSC continues to follow current regulations and policies.  A derivative asylee who no longer meets the definition is no longer eligible to adjust to LPR.  Some examples are when a derive spouse divorces the principle alien, or when an asylee naturalizes.  Any future changes to these regulations and policies will be made at the USCIS headquarters level.

Q.  Can NSC provide a list of the main reasons asylee adjustments get referred to the local office for interview?  Attorneys would appreciate some guidance / referral memo in the appointment notice, to better prepare clients and manage their expectations.

A. When an asylee adjustment file is referred, the reasons vary.  Generally the interview will be used to establish the applicant’s eligibility and admissibility.  Some examples include, but are not limited to, resolving issues with identity, relationship and security checks.

Q.  We recently saw a case (rare scenario) where a derivative asylee whose case was approved in the U.S. and later denied at the consulate abroad (by Service Error), entered the US and applied for an I-94 through the local office (as recommended in previous calls). Upon receiving the I-94 we noticed that the “Asylum Status Granted Since____” has been given retroactively to the date of first approval by NSC. Would this make the derivative eligible for adjustment of status before being in the U.S. for 1 year?

A. The NSC is unable to fully respond to this question since it does not provide complete information.  An applicant must be physically present in the US for at least one year after being granted asylum.

I-693 Medical Issues:

Q.  Are examiners trained to know that while the current edition of the I-693 form is required for examinations conducted on or after 1/1/2012, for exams conducted before that date, the 10/11/11 or 7/20/10 version is acceptable? 

A. Yes, officers were trained to accept exams conducted on these form versions. 

Q. And, does NSC take the position that a medical exam done of a refugee (which generally only is an assessment of the vaccination requirements) expires in one year similar to the full I-693?

A. Yes.  An exam of a refugee, including vaccinations, expires in one year, as does the full I-693.

Q.  The “Vaccination Requirements” link on the US CIS I-693 site indicates that EACH YEAR the flu season starts on October 1 and ends on March 31st.  However, one CBO recently received a RFE from an NSC examiner indicating the I-693 was deficient because a flu shot was not given, even though the exam was conducted on 4/4/2011 (or outside the flu season).  Please clarify.

A. Officers should not send an RFE for a flu shot missing from an exam conducted in April.

Q.  As indicated in prior teleconferences, some CBOs have had considerable problems with local health departments and private civil surgeons using incorrect versions of the I-693 and/or they continue to make other types of errors on the form.  In the event an RFE was responded to due to an I-693 issue, and the health department or other civil surgeon still fails to adequately correct the I-693, the case will often be denied.  In these cases, is there any way to file a more “informal” motion to reopen or reconsider directly with the NSC instead of following the I-290B procedure?  If not, is there any way to request expedited processing if the denied refugee applicant re-files the I-485?

A. There is no informal way to file a Motion to Reopen or Reconsider if the denial was not service error.  Generally, I-485s are not expedited.  However, expediting may be done in limited circumstances.

TRIG Issues:

Q.  The TRIG Working Group hosted a quarterly stakeholder meeting on 12/13/11 in Washington, D.C., and we assume there were representatives of the NSC present or NSC reps were briefed on the meeting.  Since those minutes have not yet been posted, can you provide any type of summary of the issues raised, the answers, etc. for issues that relate to refugee and asylee I-485 applicants?  We are particularly interested in the impact of the US CIS HQ memo of 11/20/11 that now allows for denial of some cases currently on hold in which a TRIG exemption would not be granted.

A.  For information about the meeting, please contact the USCIS TRIG working group directly at trigquery@uscis.dhs.gov.  This email address can also be used to make individual case inquiries. 

Q. Does an asylee need an EAD to continue to work while his or her adjustment application is on hold? 

A. No, asylees do not require EADs, though some employers may require the card.  USCIS has no control over employers’ requirements.

NOTE from CLINIC:  The Department of Justice has hotlines and fact sheets about what employers and refugees/asylees should know about their rights and responsibilities.  These can be found at: http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/osc/pdf/publications/Refugee_Asylee_Flyer_English.pdf.  Additional materials, including those in other languages, can be found at: http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/osc/htm/worker.php.

Liberian Hold Issues:

Q.  While most cases still on Liberian Hold have been on hold for many years, it appears that the hold is still in effect for more recently filed cases that meet that “profile” (i.e., Liberian refugee who lived in the Ivory Coast in a refugee camp prior to entry into the US).  Is this true - could a case filed in November 2010 that meets that profile have been put on hold for this reason?

A. The NSC no longer holds Liberian cases.  Cases that meet that profile are transferred to the district office for processing.

General Issues:

Q.  What would be the process to request a name change in the Central Index System? Often we see circumstances where by mistake the order of the name is changed by USCIS and will not correspond to client’s SSN creating confusion and possibly generating Tentative Non Confirmation Letters, denials of public benefits and other implications.

A. First, contact the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at the following address to request the change: P. O. Box 82521, Lincoln, NE 68501-2521.  Alternatively, send correspondence to the NSC directly (note though, that a request made in this manner will take longer).  Evidence must be provided to support the correct legal name.

I-765 Issues:

Q.  While the instructions for the I-765 indicate that the applicant must submit two photos, is there any indication that the Service will ever eliminate this requirement in light of the fact that biometrics are done for the EAD and the applicant has to present some type of photo ID to enter the CIS office to do the biometrics?  For refugees who have lost all their U.S. issued documents prior to being eligible to file their I-485 and who need proof of immigration status/ employment eligibility to replace their SSN card, and cannot afford to replace their I-94 by filing a Form I-102 (which is not fee waivable), the I-765 with fee waiver offers a good alternative. However, many of these people are homeless and literally cannot afford the $10-12 cost for two photos, particularly if there are several adults in the household who need photos for EADs.

A. At this time, eliminating the requirement for two photos is not under USCIS policy consideration.

CLINIC Needs Your Input

This month, CLINIC's Advocacy staff is working on several issues with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and we need to hear from you!  Is there a detention facility in your area that doesn't allow detainees to make telephone calls to 800 numbers?  Do you have examples of ICE conducting enforcement actions in "sensitive locations" such as schools, places of worship, funerals or others places where children and families are present?  Contact me at aposner@cliniclegal.org or 202-635-2567. 

CLINIC Launches State and Local Policy Map.

By Allison Posner

On February 6, CLINIC launched its new, interactive web feature highlighting state and local immigration initiatives across the country. This feature is publically available for free, thanks to a grant from the Ford Foundation.

In 2007, CLINIC created a project to support advocates working to address the growing number of restrictionist immigration measures proposed and enacted at the state and local levels. After the collapse of comprehensive immigration reform in 2007, approximately 500 immigration-related bills were introduced by state legislators. By 2008, the number of proposed immigration-related bills had tripled to 1,562. In 2011, legislatures in all 50 states considered at least one measure related to immigrants, the most notably being the legislation enacted in Arizona.

CLINIC'S cutting-edge online resource provides practitioners, advocates, and the general public with legal and policy analyses, technical assistance, and advocacy tools such as statements from U.S. Catholic bishops, Q&As, talking points, and issue briefs.

"For almost 25 years, CLINIC has provided critical support to the country's largest network of charitable legal immigration service providers," said Maria M. Odom, CLINIC's executive director. "Today, we face an environment in which legislators are proposing competing enforcement-only measures. Our interactive map will easily guide users to CLINIC's state-specific resources on a wide variety of topics and will allow users to compare states, issues, and bills affecting the lives of immigrants and their families."

The webpage features a clickable map and allows users to search based on topics found in bills including employment, public benefits, education, and criminal law enforcement.  CLINIC will add new materials to the page as legislative sessions across the country continue. Many of the resources will also be available in Spanish.

New Members - Subscribers

CLINIC welcomes the following new subscribers to its network:

IMPORTA – Center for Immigrant Integration, Santa Barbara, CA.  Russell Trenholme,  Executive Director, is in the process of applying for BIA agency recognition and staff accreditation for staff Patricia Carlyon and Vanessa del Toro.

International Club of Southwest Louisiana, Lake Charles, LA. The agency is applying for BIA recognition and staff accreditation for Dalia R. Matheus, Executive Director, and Ann Simien, paralegal.

The Diversity Service Center of Iowa, Muscatine, IA. Rosa Mendoza is the Executive Director and a BIA partially accredited representative.  Additional staff are Irma Soria, Assistant, and Cruz Martinez, Administrative Assistant.

Administrative Closure: New BIA Standards

By Debbie Smith

What can be done to temporarily stop removal proceedings while awaiting the adjudication of a visa petition, naturalization application, TPS application, or other benefit?  An individual in removal proceedings can request a brief rescheduling or continuance of the hearing or the administrative closure of the case.  The Board of Immigration Appeals recently revised the rules affecting administrative closure in a decision issued on January 31, 2012, Matter of Avetisyan, 25 I&N Dec. 688 (BIA 2012).

What is Administrative Closure.  Administrative closure is a procedural mechanism to temporarily stop removal proceedings by removing the case from the immigration judge’s or BIA’s calendar.  The case is administratively closed to allow an event outside the control of the parties to occur – even if the event does not take place for many years.  Once the case is administratively closed, neither the immigrant nor the government counsel need appear in court to  attend removal hearings until the case is re-calendared for a new hearing.  While the case is closed temporarily, administrative closure does not permanently terminate the case, eliminate the existing Notice to Appear (NTA), nor result in a final order of removal.

Administrative closure can be used to defer individual removal cases or the cases of large groups of people.  Under the settlement agreement in the American Baptist Churches case (ABC Settlement Agreement), the immigration court and the BIA were required to administratively close the deportation cases of all Guatemalan and Salvadoran class members to permit class members to have new asylum adjudications. American Baptist Churches v. Thornburgh, 760 F. Supp. 796 (N.D. Cal. 1991).

What Rules Govern Administrative Closure.  An individual in removal proceedings or the government attorney can request that the immigration judge or BIA administratively close the case.  Prior to the Matter of Avetisyan decision, a removal case could not be administratively closed if either party opposed the closure. Matter of Gutierrez, 21 I&N Dec. 479, 480 (BIA 1996).   However, the BIA overturned this rule in Matter of Avestisyan and held that immigration judges and the BIA may administratively close removal proceedings, even if one of the parties objects.  The BIA noted that once the removal case is commenced, jurisdiction over the case resides with the immigration judge or the BIA.  The decision to close proceedings, “[i]nvolves an assessment of factors that are particularly relevant to the efficient management of the resources of the Immigration Courts and the Board…”  This decision affirms that the immigration judges and BIA must exercise judgment independent of the desires of DHS.

What Factors Should Be Considered in Evaluating a Request for Administrative Closure.  The Matter of Avetisyan decision established a set of criteria for assessing whether to grant a request for administrative closure.  The BIA cautioned that all relevant factors presented in the case should be evaluated in making the administrative closure decision including: 1) the reason administrative closure is sought; 2) the basis for any opposition to administrative closure; 3) the likelihood the respondent will succeed on the petition, application, or other action that is being pursued outside the removal proceeding; 4) the anticipated time period of the closure; 5) the responsibility of either party in contributing to the delay; and 6) the expected outcome of removal proceedings when the case is finally re-calendared.

In Matter of Avetisyan, Ms. Avetisyan was an out-of-status J-1 visa holder who was placed in removal proceedings.  Ms. Avetisyan informed the court that her husband was in the process and naturalizing and would be filing a visa petition on her behalf.  The immigration judge continued the removal proceeding several times, initially to permit Ms. Avetisyan to provide proof of the naturalization and visa petition, but then to allow CIS to adjudicate the visa petition.  The immigration judge granted five continuances, during which time DHS counsel failed to bring the file to court several times.  Finally, Ms. Avetisyan requested that the case be administratively closed and the immigration judge, over the objection of DHS counsel, administratively closed the case.

Why Is Matter of Avetisyan Important.  Matter of Avetisyan is an important case because it sets forth legal standards that will assist representatives in presenting a request for administrative closure, reaffirms the independence of the Executive Office of Immigration Review, and clarifies that DHS prosecutorial discretion is limited to issues that arise before the NTA is issued.  Prosecutorial discretion is the authority that every law enforcement agency has to decide whether to exercise its enforcement powers against a person.  Even if there is a decision to exercise enforcement powers, discretion is used in deciding what degree and in what form it should take.  Last year DHS indicated that it will be reviewing cases in removal proceedings to consider which cases merit administrative closure.  In Matter of Avetisyan, the BIA states that the ultimate decision about whether to grant administrative closure remains with the immigration judge and the BIA.

Volunteer Home Page

Thank you for participating in the BIA Pro Bono Appeals Project!  The benefits of your time, legal background, and research skills will have a significant impact on an immigrant who would otherwise face a complex legal struggle alone.

Below is a list of 10 steps that outline in detail the different stages of the appeal process.  Please review the information provided on this website.  You have also received a letter via email that provides important deadlines and case # information.  Best of luck and thank you for volunteering.  Please contact Project Coordinator Bradley Jenkins if you have any questions at bjenkins@cliniclegal.org.

Step 1: 

CLINIC sends a packet to the Respondent requesting consent 

Step 2:

The attorney files form EOIR-27 with the BIA

Step 3:

Attorney should contact his/her client and review the Record of Proceedings (ROP)
The Board resets the briefing schedule

Step 4:

The attorney receives the new briefing schedules and has an opportunity to request an extension

Step 5:

Time to write the brief (Brief Bank)

Step 6:

The attorney formats the brief in accordance with the BIA Practice Manual

Step 7:

The attorney files the brief with the Board

Step 8:

Scan or fax a redacted copy to the Project

Step 9: 

What happens next: decision by the Board

Step 10: 

Please inform the client and CLINIC of the outcome of the case

 

Step 9

What happens next: decision by the Board

When will you get a decision back from the Board?

It can vary---anywhere from 2-3 months (which is usually the case) to 6 months to a year or more!  The Board is faster with detained cases than nondetained cases, and decisions on cancellation of removal tend to come out more quickly than other cases.  Asylum/withholding/ CAT cases with controversial issues can sometimes take a lot longer, especially if the Board isn’t sure how it wants to deal with the case, or if the Board is considering publishing the case.

After a case is ready for adjudication, ideally single-member adjudications will be completed within 90 days and three-member adjudications will be completed within 180 days.  See, FACT SHEET BOARD OF IMMIGRATION APPEALS: FINAL RULE The Purpose of the Rule: Providing Quality Service Through More Expeditious Review.

Scope of Representation:

As for the scope of your representation, we expect you to represent the client before the Board of Immigration Appeals for this specific appeal.  If the case is remanded to the immigration court, or if the client loses and wishes to appeal to the circuit court, you are welcome to continue with the case, but are under no obligation/expectation to do so.   

Upon issuance of a decision, the BIA is supposed to send a copy of it to the attorney of record.  However, some project participants have informed CLINIC that the BIA has failed to do so.  Instead, some attorneys have learned that a decision was issued only after receiving a phone call from a client indicating that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was about to remove him or her from the United States.  For this reason, we strongly urge you to periodically use the toll-free EOIR phone number to check the status of your case.  The number is 1-800-898-7180.  After entering the client’s alien registration number and verifying his/her name, you can press #4 for appeal processing information.

 

Remand to the IJ: If your case is remanded to Immigration Court, and you cannot continue with the case due to geographic or other constraints, please let me know. In this event, we will try to find pro bono counsel to represent the detainee before the Immigration Judge. 

Appeal to the Circuit Courts: For more information on appealing a BIA decision, see a practice advisory from the Legal Action Center about how to file a petition for review. The filing of a Petition for Review before a circuit court does not automatically stay the removal of your client.  If your client is in DHS custody and the BIA decision includes a removal order against your client, an emergency stay request must be filed to prevent DHS from executing the order of removal. 

Motions to Reopen and Motions to Reconsider (Please see the BIA Procedures Manual for more detailed information).

  • Motions to Reopen and Motions to Reconsider:  Please note that a new E-27 and a fee waiver request (Form EOIR-26A available here) must accompany a motion to reopen and/or reconsider before the BIA. 
  • The filing of a motion to reopen or reconsider does not automatically stay the removal of your client.  If your client is in DHS custody and the BIA decision includes a removal order against your client, an emergency stay request must be filed with the BIA to prevent the DHS from executing the order of removal.  There is no separate filing fee for an emergency stay request.  See Chapter 6 of the BIA Practice Manual for more information on stay requests.

Click for Step 10

Step 8

Scan or fax a redacted copy of the brief to the Project

As part of this Project, we are continuing to develop our brief bank.  Therefore, we ask that once you submit your brief to the BIA, please send a redacted version of the brief as an e-mail attachment to lsullivan@cliniclegal.org or via fax at 202-756-5537.

Click for Step 9

Step 7

The attorney files the brief with the Board

  • Serve the DHS trial attorney with one copy of the brief.
  • File one copy of the brief with the BIA, with proof that you have served the DHS trial attorney with a copy of the brief.  (See Chapter 3.2 of the BIA Practice Manual for “Proof of Service” samples). 
  • You will not receive notice of receipt of the brief from the BIA.  You can call the EOIR automated status inquiry system at 1-800-898-7180 to verify the date that the brief was filed. 

Document Links:

Important Phone Numbers

BIA Addresses

Click for Step 8

Step 6

The attorney formats the brief in accordance with the BIA Practice Manual


BIA PRACTICE TIPS

Please note the following essential practice points:

  • The brief must be received by the BIA on or before the date indicated on the briefing schedule.  Simply postmarking a brief on or before that date does not constitute a timely filing.  The BIA recommends using overnight mail.
  • The brief must indicate the respondent’s correct Alien (A) number in the caption.  Failure to include the respondent’s correct A number will result in a missed deadline, as the clerk’s office will not be able to properly route the brief to the respondent’s file.
  • Place the original briefing schedule on top of the brief.
  • Attach a cover page to the brief.  (See Appendix F of the BIA Practice Manual).
  • Two-hole punch the brief at the top of each page. Do not submit side bound briefs.  Use  8 ½” x 11” paper. 

Click for Step 7

Step 5

Time to write the brief (Brief Bank)

CLINIC provides full legal support for BIA Pro Bono Project cases.  We also have volunteer mentors from around the country who have offered to answer any substantive legal questions about the cases and offer legal guidance to our volunteers. Please contact the Project Coordinator at lsullivan@cliniclegal.org if you would like additional guidance.

CLINIC has a number of sample briefs available for your review.  We can send you samples on any given topic that you desire.  Most of our volunteers find the sample briefs very helpful.  Please contact the Project Coordinator at lsullivan@cliniclegal.org if you would like to see a sample brief on a particular topic related to your case.

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) maintains a virtual law library.

Click for Step 6

Step 3

Attorney should contact his/her client and review the Record of Proceedings (ROP).

The Board resets the briefing schedule.

Send a copy of the filed EOIR-27 and letter of introduction or an engagement letter to the respondent.  This is very important, as the respondent is anxiously awaiting confirmation that s/he has a legal representative.  This letter should outline the scope of your pro bono representation.  Although participation in the Project only requires that you represent your client with his or her appeal before the BIA, your client may ask for assistance with release from detention, an appeal of an adverse BIA decision, or other matters.  If you would like to help your client with such matters, we support your efforts and ask that you contact CLINIC for additional guidance.  Please note that you are solely responsible for your case, and for informing your client of the progress and outcome of his or her BIA case.   

Sample Engagement Letter

Sample Engagement Letter (Spanish)

Reset Briefing Schedule: Upon receipt of your EOIR-27, the Clerk's Office will reset the briefing schedule and send it to you along with a copy of the entire record of your client's case. This will take about 1 week.

Upon receipt of the ROP, please review it to make sure it is complete.  Please refer to the original case summary, which contains a description of the ROP.  If documents listed in the description are not included in the ROP, or if you do not receive the ROP in a timely fashion, please contact the Project Coordinator.

Click for Step 4

Step 2

Once the attorney receives the respondent’s consent, the attorney files the entry of appearance with the BIA

Upon receipt of the respondent’s packet, please review the documents to ensure the respondent consented to representation and signed the indigency checklist.

You will file form EOIR-27 with the Clerk's Office at the BIA.  The Board has revised the EOIR-27 form and does not require the respondent’s signature. Each respondent has their own EOIR-27 filing due date for their case.  Please review the letter we emailed you to determine the due date in your case.  Contact the Project Coordinator if you are getting close to your deadline and still have not received the signed EOIR-27.

Please complete the revised EOIR-27 and follow the steps below for filing it with the Board. 

How to file the EOIR-27 with the Board

Tips for Completing the EOIR-27

Revised EOIR-27

Flagging Notice (print on red paper)

Click for Step 3

Step 1

CLINIC sends a packet to the Respondent requesting consent

CLINIC will send a packet to the respondent that explains the BIA Project.  The packet includes: 1) a letter explaining the project; 2) a consent checklist; and 3) a notice for respondent to update us of any address changes. 

The respondent will complete the forms and mail the packet to the attorney.  We will provide him with a pre-addressed/posted U.S. Postal Service Express Mail envelope to use to return the signed EOIR-27 form to the attorney. Once the Respondent consents, you may proceed with your representation and file your appearance before the Board using the revised form E-27 (Entry of Appearance before the Board). 

Please be aware that not all respondents consent to representation.  For example, they may already have representation or prefer to proceed before the Board pro se. Sometimes, we cannot locate the respondent prior to the filing deadline.  The Project would be happy to assign another case to you if this should occur. 

1) Sample Letter to Respondent

2) Keep Address Updated

3) Consent Checklist

Click for Step 2

Important Changes to I-601 Waiver Processing

Important Changes to I-601 Waiver Processing

Dear Affiliates:

The USCIS announced today that it will publish a Notice of Intent for proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register on Monday, January 9, 2012. This notice will outline the agency's proposed plan to transfer the adjudication of certain I-601 waiver applications from USCIS overseas to stateside processing. This adjudication would take place before the applicant leaves for consular processing, thus eliminating the waiting time abroad and the uncertainty of the adjudication outcome. Those applicants whose waiver is provisionally approved could then continue with immigrant visa processing at the U.S. consulate abroad; those who are denied would likely choose to abandon the process. The proposed pre-adjudication procedure is not in effect yet and will likely not go into effect for several months. Officials within the USCIS are hopeful that a final regulation implementing the change will be in effect before the end of this year.

When a proposed regulation is published, it will contain a notice and comment period. CLINIC will be circulating model comments and encouraging affiliate programs to submit their own formal response. Today's announcement is likely to cause widespread media attention and great interest in the immigrant community. CLINIC will also be providing further information, including sample community education materials, should that be necessary.

Below is a short summary and analysis of the upcoming Federal Register notice. The USCIS announcement follows. Here is the link to the Federal Register notice.

1. The pre-adjudication policy will apply only to immediate relatives, i.e., spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21 of U.S. citizens. Those in the preference categories (spouses and children of permanent residents; married children or children over 21 of U.S. citizens; and siblings of U.S. citizens) are not covered and continue to be subject to the current waiver filing requirements. In other words, they will file their I-601 waiver after being formally refused an immigrant visa by a consular official and that waiver will be adjudicated by an overseas USCIS office. It is unclear at this time whether the agency is likely to, or could be convinced by the submission of comments; expand this to cover all family preference categories and/or waivers for other grounds of inadmissibility. This proposed change will also have limited applicability to parents of U.S. citizens over 21, since they will likely lack the qualifying relative.

2. The pre-adjudication procedure will apply only to immediate relatives who are filing an I-601 application to waive the unlawful presence ground of inadmissibility that would be triggered by the immigrant visa applicant's departure for the consular interview. Those who are subject to inadmissibility based on other grounds, such as fraud, health, or criminal conduct, will be subject to the current waiver filing requirements. It is also important to remember that family members who have triggered the "permanent bar" under INA § 212(a)(9)(C), based on more than one year of unlawful presence followed by a departure and illegal reentry, cannot file a waiver until they have departed and spent 10 years outside the United States.

3. The waiver would be filed after the I-130 petition is approved and the case file has been forwarded to the National Visa Center, which controls consular processing. The immigrant visa applicant would likely file the waiver at a designated USCIS Service Center and pay the filing fee (currently $585). All waiver applicants will be screened through existing databases based on their names and biometrics to see if they are subject to other grounds of inadmissibility.

4. If the waiver is granted by the USCIS Service Center, it will be on a provisional basis. This means that the consulate reserves the right to question the immigrant visa applicant, review current data bases, and investigate for any other possible grounds of inadmissibility that were not previously identified. But it is anticipated that denial of an immigrant visa after the waiver has been provisionally granted would be rare.

5. If the waiver is denied by the USCIS Service Center, the applicant will be subject to the current USCIS policy on issuance of a Notice to Appear, which commences removal proceedings. According to the November 7, 2011 USCIS memo titled "Revised Guidance for the Referral of Cases and Issuance of Notices to Appear (NTAs) in Cases Involving Inadmissible and Removable Aliens," the USCIS will issue NTA's when there is a finding of fraud in the record. The memo does not indicate if the nature of the fraud will be considered, but simply states upon a finding of fraud, an NTA will be issued. In addition, an NTA will be issued if the applicant is under investigation for, has been arrested for, or has been convicted of an "egregious public safety" crime. These include aggravated felonies, such as murder, rape, sexual abuse of a minor, firearms trafficking, crimes of violence for which a term of imprisonment for a year or more has been imposed, ransom, child pornography, alien smuggling, or offenses relating to peonage or slavery. In addition, NTAs will be issued to human rights violators and those where the alien reentered the United States after an order of removal subsequent to a conviction for a felony where an I-212 has not been approved.

In the case of non-egregious public safety criminal cases, the USCIS will complete adjudication of the waiver and refer the case to Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE). ICE will then decide whether or not to issue an NTA. It will make its decision based on the "totality of the circumstances" and existing priorities and guidelines on the exercise of prosecutorial discretion. The totality of the circumstances includes factors such as the severity of the crime, time since the crime was committed, additional criminal conduct, evidence of rehabilitation, immigration history, length of presence in the United States, and contributions to society. The USCIS will not issue an NTA if ICE declines to do so.

Therefore, in the routine case involving an applicant with no serious criminal conduct, if the waiver for unlawful presence is denied, the applicant will not be put into immigration proceedings. However, practitioners will need to screen their clients well to determine if they are subject to any other grounds of inadmissibility, including prior orders of deportation.

6. The proposed change does not affect current requirements for eligibility for the waiver of unlawful presence, nor does it modify the standard of extreme hardship to a U.S. citizen or LPR spouse or parent. Those applicants who are provisionally approved would still have to consular process if they are not otherwise eligible for adjustment of status. The proposed change would not affect pending waiver applications. In other words, those who have left the country and are waiting abroad for their waiver to be approved by the USCIS will be subject to the current procedure. This change, however, will likely discourage those immediate relatives who are in the consular process pipeline and will be scheduled for an immigrant visa soon from proceeding abroad if they would be eligible for this pre-adjudication process.

___________________________________________________________

Dear Stakeholders-
 
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) posted a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register outlining a proposed change to its current process for the filing and adjudication of waivers of inadmissibility relating to unlawful presence.
 
The proposed process would allow certain individuals seeking permanent residence through their U.S. citizen immediate relatives to apply for waivers of inadmissibility before leaving the U.S. for their interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas.
 
The proposal reflects the Administration's steadfast commitment to maintaining the integrity of immigration law, promoting family unity and improving overall efficiency in the immigration system. This change would decrease the time eligible individuals are separated from their U.S. citizen relatives and would only apply in cases where U.S. citizens would suffer extreme hardship as a result of prolonged separation.

USCIS will host a stakeholder engagement on January 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm (EST) to provide an overview of how these proposed process changes may affect filing and adjudication as well as address questions and concerns from stakeholders. Please see the attached invitation for more information.

Kind Regards,

 

Office of Public Engagement

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

www.uscis.gov

 
 

"We call on the administration to prioritize release of immigrant families in all cases. We
urge the administration to assign social workers to manage familiesʼ cases rather than
placing them in detention. For families without housing, the administration should
partner with non-profit shelter or child welfare organizations experienced in supporting
asylum-seeking and immigrant families to resolve any issues preventing the direct
release of families. Social workers with proven track records providing family and child

 
 
 

The undersigned members of the ICLN and other interested parties are writing in response to the regulations proposed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) on September 6,
2011, regarding Special Immigrant Juvenile Petitions. While we applaud the proposed
regulations’ provisions reflecting the statutory language updated by the William Wilberforce
Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, we have significant concerns about
much of the proposed regulatory language, as well as the commentary accompanying the

 

Requests for Information about Prosecutorial Discretion

In August, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would exercise prosecutorial discretion in 300,000 pending immigration removal cases.  And it recently announced plans to implement that plan and train DHS staff.  CLINIC’s Advocacy staff is interested in hearing from you about your experiences with requesting prosecutorial discretion in your cases.  Please contact me at aposner@cliniclegal.org to share your experiences regarding the merits of your clients’ cases and how the government responded to your requests.

Update from Ciudad Juarez

By Susan Schreiber and Charles Wheeler

The highlight of CLINIC’s annual family immigration law training in El Paso on November 16-17, 2011 was a presentation by consular and USCIS officials.  Catherine Holt, Chief of the Immigrant Visa (IV) Section, and Yolanda Miranda, Field Office Director at the USCIS office located at the consulate, each spoke and then answered questions for over two hours.  The following is a summary of the information they provided at the conference and during the consular tour on November 18th.

Form DS-260.  All immigrant visa applications must now be submitted on Form DS-260, which is an electronic form.  The consulate completed the transition to that form during 2011. In order to be considered qualified to attend the IV interview and receive an immigrant visa, the applicant must submit this electronic form.  Cd. Juarez and Mexico City are the only two posts that currently require this form from all applicants, although it will eventually be a requirement for all consular posts located worldwide. The representative can hit the “submit” button on behalf of the applicant and send the information to the NVC; it does not have to be the applicant himself or herself who does that.  The applicant, however, is responsible for making sure that all the information is correct.

Electronic Processing.  The NVC instituted a program last year called Mexican Electronic Processing (MEP) that affects applicants who are immediate relatives in the IR-1 (spouse of U.S. citizen), IR-2 (child of U.S. citizen), and conditional residents in both the CR-1 (spouses) and CR-2 (children) categories.  Applicants in these categories are required to submit the forms and their documents to the NVC in an electronic format.  The applicant scans Form I-864 and the required documents (e.g., birth certificate, marriage certificate) and e-mails them to the NVC, rather than mailing the original or certified copy.  The NVC in turn forwards the file containing the scanned documents to the consulate. The consulate opens the file via a “sharepoint site” and processes the application without having to see any hard copies of the forms or documents. The applicant will bring the original I-864 and other documents to the consular interview, as well as the Mexican passport and medical exam results.  Clients with immigration violations or a criminal history should bring original documentation of arrests, convictions, or court dispositions.  Cases designated for this processing will be marked “MEP,” rather than “CDJ.”  This pilot program will eventually be extended to all immigrant visa categories and all consulates.

Fingerprints and Photos.  The consulate has also moved to off-site collection of fingerprints and photos rather than having them taken at the consulate on the day of the interview.  There are currently 11 off-site Applicant Service Centers (ASCs) in Cd. Juarez.  In addition, an ASC is housed at each of the other eight U.S. consulates located throughout Mexico and at the Embassy in Mexico City, as well as one in Chihuahua City.  All IV applicants will receive a letter or e-mail informing them of the need to make an appointment to have their photo and fingerprints taken at the ASC of their choice.  There is no extra fee for the biometrics and photo; it is included in the immigrant visa fee.

The ASC closest to the Consulate is located in the plaza just to the left of the Consulate, in the same area as the municipal waiting room.  The plaza also contains other businesses offering immigration-related services, which may cause some confusion.  Let applicants know that they are in the wrong place if fees are being requested.

In the ASC, the applicant will need to present his or her passport and the application confirmation page so that the bar code may be scanned.  The applicant will also select the DHL facility that he or she wishes to use for delivery of the immigrant visa.  There are between 300-400 DHL offices located throughout Mexico. After that, applicants will be asked to take a seat until called for a “live capture” of their photo and fingerprints.  The fingerprint process includes a four-finger print from the left hand, followed by a four -finger print from the right hand, and then the two thumbs together.  Children aged 7 and older must undergo fingerprinting.  The ASC has baby booster seats for the taking of photos of babies. 

Children.  Remember to inform clients who will be consular processing with children between the ages of 2-14 years that they must come for their medical appointment at least four days before the interview.  Children will be given the PPT skin test for tuberculosis, and it takes between 48 and 72 hours to read the results.  For that reason, no skin tests are administered on Thursday, since no readings are conducted on Sunday.

Medical Exams.  Two medical centers are located in buildings next to the Consulate.  The clinics are open beginning at 6 a.m. and examination results can be retrieved by early that afternoon.  No appointment is necessary, but you need to have a consular interview appointment in order to be seen.  The current examination fee for adults is $210; for children under age 14 it is $149.85.  The civil surgeon exam should include questioning as to the applicant’s criminal history, which will be noted in the remarks. If a consular officer notes that an applicant has a history of DUIs, and the medical exam does not reflect that this issue was known by the examining doctor, the applicant will be referred back for another medical exam to assess health-based inadmissibility based on this history.  Applicants who were previously found inadmissible based on a Class A medical condition that may be overcome through remission need to make a new visa interview appointment for a new medical exam so that remission can be determined.

Ms. Holt noted an increase in applicants with drug-resistant TB; usually they are related to applicants residing in the U.S.  Applicants with TB must be treated at the clinic, and the treatment is provided at no cost.  Once a visa is issued to an applicant treated for TB, or with Class B latent TB, the applicant must cross into the U.S. at El Paso, where she or he will be met by a CDC official to make sure that the person is set up for further treatment.

Applicants may not be provided with a copy of the civil surgeon medical exam.  Director Holt suggested contacting the Communications Unit by email to request background information on the basis of a Class A medical condition finding.

Safety Concerns.  The consulate maintains updated information and posts any travel alerts on the home page of its website, which can be found at www.travel.state.gov.  It should be accessed by persons traveling to Cd. Juarez who have concerns about their safety.  The consulate encourages persons to read this information before traveling to Cd. Juarez, but it also recommends that they take the same safety precautions they would take when visiting any major city.  For example, do not carry large quantities of cash; most purchases, including appointments at the medical clinic, can be made by credit card.

What to Expect on Day of Interview.  The first appointments are set for 7:15 a.m. Advise applicants to arrive no earlier than 30 minutes before the appointment time. All applicants start out in a municipal waiting room and are escorted in groups based on appointment time from the waiting room to the Consulate entrance to pass through security.  In general, only applicants are allowed into the Consulate for the appointment, but when an applicant needs special help – such as a young child without an accompanying parent applicant, an elderly applicant, or a parent with several young children – an additional family member may be allowed in to assist.

The municipal waiting room is located to the left of the Consulate entrance and is the required first stop for applicants.  It is also encouraged as a waiting area for family members not accompanying the applicant to the consular interview.  Lockers are available for items that can’t be brought into the consulate.  Applicants also receive orientation by “greeters” about the steps in the appointment process.

There is no reason to bring cash to the appointment. There is nothing to pay for outside of the building; no consular officials are ever located outside the building to review documents or to collect fees.  Anyone doing so is a scammer. The consulate sometimes tries to get the police involved and get money returned to the applicant, but this issue is not a high priority for police, given other security concerns. Inside the Consulate, applicants may use credit cards to pay for any required fees.

Applicants are brought into the Consulate in groups of either IV or NIV applicants.  After passing through a metal detector, the applicant is given a ticket with a number that the applicant uses to identify when his or her case is being called.

Once inside the Consulate, applicants are led to outdoor waiting areas, which have seats and heaters installed overhead for cold days and misters and fans for hot days.  There are separate outdoor waiting areas for NIV and IV applicants.  Bathrooms are located by the waiting areas as well as an adjacent food stand where applicants can buy snacks and drinks.  Water fountains have potable water. Applicants who are elderly, are young, have young children, or have other special needs are directed to IV or NIV indoor waiting areas  The Consulate is in the process of setting up a play area for children adjacent to the IV outdoor waiting area.

Once in the waiting area, applicants are seated and need to check the overhead electronic boards that post the ticket numbers of cases ready for interview. An arrow indicates the window number where the interview will take place.  Ms. Holt emphasized that it is all right to leave to use the bathroom or purchase something at the food kiosk without fear of losing one’s place if the number is posted while one is outside the waiting area.  If an applicant misses seeing his or her number, the number will be called by loudspeaker if necessary. The case may be passed for the next appointment, but the applicant who missed the posting will be called again.

Every IV appointment starts at the intake window with document review because, at a minimum, each IV applicant will need to present his or her passport, photos, and medical exam results. Other applicants may have other documents to turn in, including I-864s. After the intake appointment, the applicant returns to be seated in the indoor waiting area. The applicant again waits to see the ticket number for his or her case posted on the electronic boards hanging on the wall, which will direct the applicant to the designated window number for the IV interview.  The minimum number of stops for IV applicants is two: the intake document review and the IV interview. In some cases, the applicant may be paying an additional fee at a cashier window.  This may happen, for example, in the case of a new derivative born after the interview was scheduled, when the parent will then need to pay the IV fee.

Both the intake interview and the IV interview take place in front of clear windows with the interviewer sitting on the other side. There are two small privacy rooms, however, which are used for either DNA collection or cases requiring privacy. The might happen, for example, when an applicant wants to be questioned in private about criminal arrests or convictions outside of earshot of accompanying children.  At the start of the interview, the interviewer places the applicant under oath and confirms the identity of the applicant with his or her thumbprint.  This process applies to applicants aged 7 or older.  Where there are no special issues or concerns (such as a case where the applicant has never been to the U.S.), an interview may be completed in just a few minutes.

Where an applicant needs additional documents for case approval, the consulate tries to avoid having the applicant appear in person. The applicant will receive instructions for submitting the requested documents to the consulate through DHL.  These document submission “come backs” are assigned for review by the interviewing officer within one or two days of receipt at the Consulate.  If that officer is no longer working there, or is on vacation, another officer is always assigned to cover all documents submission “come backs” for officers who are not present.  Once the application is complete, the applicant will then be sent an instruction letter for waiver submission if a waiver is required.  The applicant cannot make the waiver submission appointment at the Call Center until the officer has determined that the application is otherwise complete and issued the waiver instructions. At this point, the Call Center will be notified by the consulate that the applicant can make a waiver submission appointment.

If more than six months have passed since the applicant first applied for a visa until the point when the applicant may be issued a visa, the applicant will sent a letter advising him or her to submit a new medical exam result, because they are valid only for six months. This exam result may be submitted by DHL so that the applicant does not need to return to the Consulate. If more than a year has passed, the applicant will also need to submit a new DS-260.  In both instances, if the passport has been returned to the applicant, this also needs to be submitted.  A new visa fee will only be charged if the adjudication delay is due to the applicant.  Adjudication delay based on the time frame for waiver decisions is considered a government delay, so no new visa fee is required.

The Consulate’s goal is for IV applicants to complete all appointment activities within one hour.  In the typical case, however, the applicant is in and out of the Consulate within two hours of the scheduled appointment time.

General Tips.  The following are a collection of best practices and reminders:

  • Bring any prior nonimmigrant visas that were issued to the applicant.  The immigrant visa will not be issued unless the nonimmigrant visa is canceled.
  • Bring all original documents if the applicant was processed as MEP. 
  • Bring all civil registry documents and documentation showing relationship to the petitioner.  This is especially true for stepchildren.  In those cases where the biological parent is not seeking an immigrant visa or has not adjusted status, the consulate may require extra proof of the bona fides of the marriage.  The consulate may require one of the parents to be present at the interview in order to verify the validity of the marriage and stepparent-stepchild relationship.
  • If the applicant has been arrested in the United States or another country, make sure he or she brings copies of the disposition and court record.  If applicable, bring proof of voluntary departure or voluntary return.
  • Make sure a signed I-864 is submitted for every IV applicant and that it meets the poverty income guidelines.
  • If the applicant will be found inadmissible, advise the client of this so he or she is not learning this for the first time at the consular interview. Prepare them for the subsequent waiver application process.
  • The consulate is following State Department interpretation that minors can accrue unlawful presence prior to turning 18 for purposes of 212(a)(9)(C)(i)(I) inadmissibility.  This is in contrast to the three- or ten-year bars under 212(a)(9)(B), which contains an exception for unlawful presence accrual of children under 18.
  • The non-waivable ground of inadmissibility for false claims of citizenship under 212(a)(6)(C)(ii) applies to children, regardless of their age, provided the false claim was “knowing.” [Editor’s Note: The USCIS Adjudicator’s Field Manual states as follows: “For Section 212(a)(6(C)(ii)(I) of the Act to apply, the claim to U.S. citizenship must be “falsely” made in that the alien knowingly misrepresents the fact that the individual is a citizen of the United States. Thus, the alien must have known that he or she was not a U.S. citizen.”]
  • Advise your client not to be tricked by persons selling services and documents outside the consulate.  Anyone trying to review documents outside the consulate, and/or charge fees, even if dressed in a uniform that appears to be of a consular official, is necessarily a scammer. Director Holt called the commercial area to the right of the Consulate front entrance the “Bermuda Triangle.” This is the main location where scammers approach applicants and family members to convince them that their documents are inadequate and need to be fixed.
  • Make sure clients are familiar with their “external history”: entries and exits to U.S., detentions, amount of time within the U.S. and in what status.  For clients who are not good with dates, it is acceptable to use memory triggers, like “I came the day after Selena died,” or “I came right after 9/11,” or “I came in the summer after I turned 18.” 
  • DNA is requested in cases where the consular officer is not convinced of the biological relationship.  A fact scenario that might trigger such a request would be where the petitioner is the alleged biological father, but has always lived in the U.S. while the immigrating child has always lived abroad, and the father hasn’t seen the child in several years.  Applicants are not required to undergo DNA testing.  If they opt to undergo it, they must bear the costs.

Fees and Other Changes.  Beginning on January 11, 2011, the applicant pays $404 for the immigrant visa processing fee, which also covers the ASC biometrics and the DHL delivery service. The Call Center is no longer a toll number. If calling from the United States, the number is 703-439-2313.  If calling from Cd. Juarez, the number is 656-212-1016.  In addition, there are 12 other numbers one can use depending on where they are calling from in Mexico. Applicants will not have to remain in Cd. Juarez after their interview for delivery of the visa.  They will be able to designate any of the 300-400 locations within Mexico that DHL services.  They do have to go to the DHL office in person to pick up their visa, however.  For security reasons, DHL will not deliver the visa like it does other packages.

CSPA Opt-Out.  The State Department allows principal beneficiaries who are under 21 and in the F-2A category to opt out of automatic conversion to immediate relative when the petitioner naturalizes.  This would be advantageous for those beneficiaries who have derivative children and who prefer to immigrate together with their children in the F-2A category, rather than immigrating sooner as an immediate relative but without their children.  The consulate has the discretion to allow such opt-out and does not require USCIS approval.  This policy does not apply, however, if the F-2A child is a derivative beneficiary when the parent naturalizes.  In that case, the citizen parent needs to file a separate I-130 petition for the child, who would then convert to the immediate relative category.  Immediate relative children in those cases would not be allowed to opt out and remain in the F-2A category.  Therefore, if they had children of their own, those children would not be able to immigrate with them as derivatives.

The consulate has not received any guidance on the impact of the recent BIA decision, Matter of Zamora-Molina, 25 I&N Dec. 606 (BIA 2011), which held that children who are over 21 using their biological age, but under 21 using their CSPA age, cannot opt out of the automatic conversion to the F-1 category when the parent naturalizes. According to the BIA, these children cannot opt out and remain in the F-2A category.  The consulate is waiting for instructions from the Visa Office, which in turn receives its instructions from DHS, before it changes its current practice.

Affidavits of Support. Many applicants who qualified to submit an I-864W in lieu of an I-864 because they had satisfied the 40-qualifying-quarters exception were nevertheless required to submit an I-864 at the time of the consular interview.  The consulate has provided re-training to its officers, clarified the current requirements, and corrected the problem. Some officers, apparently, were unaware that the applicant could be credited with quarters earned by a spouse during marriage or by a parent before the child turned 18. If these applicants have submitted sufficient evidence from the Social Security Administration indicating that they have earned or been credited with sufficient quarters, the consulate will no longer require an I-864. Submission of an I-864W in the appropriate situation should satisfy the public charge ground of inadmissibility. If you have situations where the consular official is still requiring an I-864 or additional evidence to overcome public charge, please send an inquiry to the Communications Unit.

There are still some situations and cases – albeit quite rare – where the applicant has submitted an I-864 that meets the minimum financial requirements and the consulate still requires additional proof that the applicant will not become a public charge.  One such situation might be when the applicant has been diagnosed as HIV positive, which is not a medical ground of inadmissibility, but does raise potential public charge concerns. So the consulate may require proof that the applicant can cover the costs of treatment in the United States.

Impact of Palacios Case.  The Ninth Circuit recently held that unlawful presence for purposes of the “permanent” bar under 212(a)(9)(C)(i)(I), which is triggered due to illegal or attempted illegal reentry after more than one year of unlawful presence, includes time spent in the United States prior to April 1, 1997.  Palacios v. Holder, No. 09-72059 (9th Cir. June 21, 2011). Attorneys for the respondent in that case have filed a petition for rehearing en banc.  The consulate is aware of that decision and is holding onto cases that might be impacted by that decision.  In other words, per the Palacios decision, an applicant with more than one year of unlawful presence in the aggregate prior to April 1, 1997 triggers the permanent bar by an entry without inspection on or after April 1, 1997.  The consulate will hold off granting or denying immigrant visas in those cases, regardless of where the applicant was residing in the United States, until it receives guidance from the Visa Office.

Inquiries.  The consulate receives between 1,000 and 1,200 e-mails per month pertaining to immigrant visa applications. The consulate has a staff of four who respond to these inquiries and it has set a maximum time of 10-15 days to respond to them.  The website, http://ciudadjuarez.usconsulate.gov, contains instructions for posting an electronic inquiry concerning a case.  These can be posted by attorneys and BIA representatives (responded to within three days and currently within 24 hours), the general public, and congressional representatives.  Inquiries that deal with an alleged misapplication of the law are directed to Ms Holt. She reviews the case and either affirms or overturns the officer’s decision in that case. Telephone service is also available Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Central) and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. From Cd. Juarez, call 656-212-1016.  From the United States, call 703-429-3313.  For information service and online appointment programming of immigrant and nonimmigrant visas, go to http://mexico.usvisa-info.com. The Information window at the consulate, where applicants can come and ask questions or submit post-appointment documents is open Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

USCIS Updates.  Processing waiver applications is the main work of the USCIS field office at the consulate.  But it also performs investigations in the USCIS processing of I-130s, I-360s, adoption cases, and DNA testing.

Numbers and Statistics.  Ninety percent of the waivers that are filed worldwide are filed in the USCIS Mexico City district, which includes Cd. Juarez. Between 2006 and 2011, the field office has seen a 120 percent increase in volume of applications. In FY 2010, the office processed 24,507 waivers. Approximately 10,000 of those applications were adjudicated by staff in the Cd. Juarez field office, while the others were adjudicated by USCIS staff in Mexico City or in the United States.  The agency has a software system called “Camino” that links all of the offices adjudicating waiver applications.  This system allows the agency to track these waiver cases.  The numbers for FY 2011 are not official, but preliminary results show that 17,719 waivers were filed at Cd. Juarez.  Of those, 5,714 were referred out; 7,513 were adjudicated at Cd. Juarez; and 6,378 are still pending.

The USCIS field office in Cd. Juarez is currently approving approximately 50 percent of the waiver applications and referring the other half.  Of those applications that are referred, those USCIS offices are approving an additional 50 percent, bringing the total approval rate to about 75 percent.

Staffing.  The USCIS office has traditionally employed 3 overseas adjudication officers and 12 foreign service nationals (FSNs). The office is currently down to one overseas adjudication officer, and that employee actually just left on November 18th.  Three new staff will be detailed to the office beginning on November 21st and will hopefully begin processing applications soon.  But the staffing reductions have affected adjudication numbers and processing times.

Procedure.  Once the IV applicant has been found inadmissible by the consular official, refused the visa, but also determined to be eligible to file a waiver, he or she is given a set of instructions.  Applicants are told to call the Call Center the following day to make an appointment for the I-601 intake. It is currently taking 6 to 8 weeks to get an appointment for waiver submission. They come to the consulate on that date and time and undergo intake processing.  In the past, they could show up early on the day of their drop-off appointment and be processed.  Beginning in January 2012, the applicant will be allowed into the consulate no earlier than 30 minutes before their allotted time.

The FSNs will instruct the applicant to go to the cashier and pay the waiver fee, annotate that the fee has been paid, and conduct a brief “packet review.”  The applicant then proceeds to a designated window where a USCIS employee accepts the waiver application.  Waiver submission takes place in a bank of windows adjacent to the IV windows.  The applicant will then be told that the application will be sent for either “quick review” or “normal processing.”

After the USCIS field office receives the waiver application it will conduct an initial processing, or vetting, to determine which cases can be considered readily approvable. Those that cannot be readily approved are put aside for referral to normal processing.  The USCIS then sends the applicant a receipt and referral notice, his or her passport, as well as an RFE suggesting the submission of additional documentation in support of the claim of extreme hardship.  The applicant has 84 days within which to submit this additional documentation.  That documentation should be sent to the following address: Department of Homeland Security, USCIS, PO Box 9896, El Paso, TX 79905.   If the case will be referred out, it will be sent to one of three USCIS offices: Mexico City, Monterrey, or Anaheim, California. The office to which the case is referred may also do a second vetting to determine which cases it can readily approve and which ones it cannot.  That office may in turn send out an RFE requesting additional documentation.

Alternatively, if the application is determined readily approvable by Cd. Juarez, the packet, which includes the applicant’s passport, is sent back to the consulate for issuance of an immigrant visa.  The passport and visa will then be sent to the applicant via DHL.  If the case was referred and that office approves the waiver, it will notify the applicant and direct him or her to send in the passport so that the immigrant visa can be issued. Then the waiver approval and passport are forwarded to the consulate for issuance of the visa.  Beginning on January 10, 2011, the consulate has been able to issue the immigrant visa without requiring a second interview and it is issuing the visas within a couple days of receiving the passport.  In some cases the consulate will require updated information, medical exam results, documents, or biometrics.

If a waiver application appears complicated and voluminous, it is more likely to be referred, given the short time that officers have to review each application.  Waivers where the applicant has an “A” file will typically be referred, since that file will have to be reviewed before making a decision and it takes several weeks to receive the file.

Denials.  The USCIS field office in Cd. Juarez either approves or refers waiver applications. If the case is referred out to one of the three offices currently adjudicating these waivers and it is denied, the office that made that decision will send the applicant a notice of denial. Those applicants can file an appeal with the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO).  The applicant has 30 days within which to submit an appeal, which is filed at the office that adjudicated the waiver.  Every appeal is also treated as motion to reconsider by that office.  The AAO is currently taking approximately two years to issue a decision.  If no appeal is filed, the case is closed within 60-90 days after the decision is made and the file is shipped to the National Records Center (NRC).

In the alternative, those who were denied a waiver may reapply with the USCIS.  The procedure has changed, however. While in the past, those persons had to reschedule an immigrant visa interview with the consulate and be refused again before resubmitting another waiver packet.  Now they can simply call the Call Center and request a new waiver drop-off appointment. This saves them time and immigrant visa fees.  This new procedure, which went into effect in May 2011, is recommended in cases where the underlying waiver packet was poorly documented or prepared.

Finally, those who were denied a waiver based on unlawful presence can simply wait out their time in Mexico, depending on whether it is a three- or ten-year bar.  The consular official will indicate on the refusal notice when the applicant triggered the bar and thus when the period will have run.  The applicant does not need to file a new I-130 petition or other forms.  He or she simply calls the Call Center and reschedules a new immigrant visa interview.  Depending on how long it has been since the initial refusal, the Consulate may need to retrieve the case file from the NRC.

Processing Times.  As of today, applicants who phone the Call Center are receiving appointments for waiver packet drop-offs for early next year, indicating a 6 to 8-week backlog. It is then currently taking 2 ½ months from the time the USCIS office receives the waiver to perform its vetting, or adjudication under “quick review.”  So currently it is taking approximately 4 to 4 ½ months from the date of the consular interview to be approved under the “quick review” procedure.  If the case is referred out, it is now taking approximately 7 ½ months for that outlying office to adjudicate it.  But the total adjudication time for normal processing is 10 months, because one must include the 2 ½ months the case was pending at the USCIS office in Cd. Juarez before it was referred out.  And if one adds in the 6 to 8-week backlog in scheduling the drop-off appointment, the total time for referred cases after the consular interview and visa refusal is currently about one year.

Strategy Tips.  Applicants are encouraged to include a detailed cover letter, an index, or table of contents listing or briefly explaining the relevance of the supporting documents.  This index might reference numbered documents that are separated and designated by corresponding tabs at the bottom or side of the packet.  Make sure the packet is two-hole Acco-fastened or bound together in some other form so that the supporting documents do not get separated from the application. The strong points in the waiver case need to be put forth up front and not buried in the application or supporting documentation.  Legal briefs are optional. Do not include newspaper articles or other documentation on the general level of violence in Mexico; adjudicators residing in Cd. Juarez are well aware of the safety concerns.  You can include documentation, however, on recent levels of violence in the specific area of Mexico where the applicant intends to reside.  Similarly, do not include documents from the Internet describing depression or other medical conditions; instead submit specific medical evidence or doctor’s reports.  The most important part of the waiver application will be the declaration from the applicant and the qualifying relative, as well as the supporting documents, not the cover letter or statements from the representative. There are no special instructions or requirements regarding the form that the waiver application packet should take other than it should be well organized. Officers adjudicate approximately 30-35 waiver applications each day, so any efforts to highlight the extreme hardship factors will be appreciated.

Form I-212.  Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States after Deportation or Removal, can be submitted with the I-601 waiver application.  Since I-212s do not require a showing of extreme hardship to a qualifying relative, and thus carry a lower standard, they are typically approved if the accompanying I-601 is approved.  No stand-alone I-212 applications should be filed with the USCIS office in Cd. Juarez, except in fiancé (K-1) cases.  In other cases where the applicant does not have any other ground of inadmissibility except for a prior order of removal, the I-212 should be filed in the United States with the DHS district office that issued the order.

For applicants subject to the “permanent bar” under 212(a)(9)(C)(i)(II) due to illegal or attempted illegal reentry after a final order of removal, the applicant can submit an I-212 after remaining abroad for ten years.  These should be filed at the USCIS district office that has jurisdiction over the place where the applicant intends to live in the United States.  The same is true for applicants subject to the “permanent bar” under 212(a)(9)(C)(i)(I) due to illegal or attempted illegal reentry after more than one year of unlawful presence. 

Expedited Processing of the Waiver.  Applicants with compelling health-related hardships that affect the qualifying relative can ask that their waiver application be expedited.  This hardship should be indicated to the consular officer at the time of the interview, in which case this may be passed along to the USCIS.  Or the applicant can later inform the USCIS office in Cd. Juarez or one of the referral offices.  Be sure to document any medical-based requests for expedited processing.  Except for the most egregious situations, however, the request to expedite will likely be denied given the availability of medical care in Cd. Juarez.  Active duty military personnel also qualify for expedited adjudication.  If this is brought to the attention of the consular official, it is possible that the case will be sent that same day to the USCIS for a decision on the waiver application.

Stateside Processing.  While there have been a lot of high-level discussions about ending the special Cd. Juarez waiver processing and moving all adjudication stateside, there is no official update to report at this time.

Alabama Resource Center

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Click here to meet CLINIC’s Alabama Affiliates (in Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, Robertsdale and Hoover)

 

CLINIC's HB56/HB658 Court Case & Bill Analyses

CLINIC’s HB56 Community Resource Q&As 2011

Remember: You have rights when you are stopped by police or immigration agents! See this pamphlet from ACLU in English and Spanish.

 

CLINIC's HB56 Talking Points 2011

More HB56 Resources

The Suit to Stop HB56

NSC Call: Refugee and Asylee Issues

The Nebraska Service Center held a teleconference on September 15, 2011 that was hosted by Sean Allen.  The following are unofficial minutes from that meeting.

Q.  During the last several months, one CBO has received at least 50-60 RFE letters for I-693s for refugees that the local Health Dept. prepared on the wrong edition of the I-693 (i.e., the 10/14/2009 edition instead of the 7/21/10 edition).  While we have now educated the Health Dept. to ensure they use the correct version of the form, we have no idea whether there may be many more future I-693s still to come.  (And, responding to these RFEs requires obtaining a new I-693 on the 7/21/10 version of the form – involving a considerable amount of time and effort.)  In comparing the 10/14/09 and 7/21/10 versions (pages 1, 4, and 6), it would appear that the ONLY change in the form was the removal of the Human Papilloma virus and Zoster vaccinations from page 4 (to comply with the changes when these two shots were deleted from the list of required shots).   It would considerably reduce examiner time and the time of CBOs if the examiner would not have to insist on the 7/21/10 version if the 10/14/2009 version has been filled in correctly.  Is that a possibility?  (Note:  We have no idea whether this error is limited to one Health Dept. or if NSC is seeing this as a problem nationwide by health departments or private civil surgeons.)

A. The NSC is following USCIS policy on this matter.  No edition earlier than 2/25/10 may be used.  Any other form is unacceptable.  This policy is in place nationwide.

Q. It seems consistent with NSC and other service centers that when a case is transferred to the NBC, for example for local interview, that the G-28 attorney never receives the transfer notice.  It is only sent to the applicant. Why is this the case?  Can attorneys with G-28s on file also be sent a copy of the transfer notice?

A. This is a deficiency in the electronic system. A request will be made for it to be fixed in future changes or updates.

Q. Why would an I-485 refugee case be transferred to the TSC (as one was recently for one CBO’s client)?  Doesn’t the NSC still have “exclusive jurisdiction” for I-485 refugee cases?

A.  NSC does have jurisdiction over refugee I-485 adjustment applications.  Without specific case information, it is not possible to know the reason for transfer of an application or petition.  Concerns about individual cases should be addressed through normal National Customer Service Center (NCSC) channels.

Q.  On the last conference call, we were advised that Liberian Hold cases were being transferred to the NBC for local interviews.  However, one CBO has two cases where the files were sent from the NSC to the NBC back in May, 2011, but still have not been sent to the local USCIS office (which is not extremely backed up on interview dates).  Does the NSC have any control over how fast those cases are routed from the NBC to the local office?  Will Liberians who are interviewed locally be subject to a lengthy list of questions prepared by the NSC similar to the questions asked of I-485 applicants/Liberian Hold cases several years ago?

A.  The NSC does not have any control over cases not in its possession. Contact the NBC and the local office for more information.  The NSC does not have information as to what the processing of these cases will entail.  The NSC cannot control the substance of the interview.

Q.  Please give an update on the status of cases that are on perpetual/apparently indefinite hold due to TRIG issues – numbers, types of cases, names of specific groups that are still considered Tier III groups, etc.

A.  Cases on TRIG hold are being held in accordance with established USCIS policy.  Questions should be referred to USCIS Service Center Operations.

Q. The processing times online for cases still appears to be inaccurate, resulting in different responses from customer service reps when calling NCSC for cases beyond the processing timeframes. Calls to the NCSC sometimes result in the CBO being told that the case is not past the processing timeframes (contrary to the online information) and they will not do a SRMT. Immediate call backs to the NCSC with a different NCSC representative then results in representative who says case is past processing timeframes.

What are the average processing timeframes for I-485 refugee cases?  If the USCIS case status info/processing info is not accurate, how can we know when a case is past processing times so we can contact NCSC and get a five-day SRMT?

A.  Case processing times posted online are accurate.  Concerns about the NCSC should be addressed to the NCSC. 

Q.  If the I-485 refugee has a forwarding order on file with the USPS, will the green card (now sent by priority mail) be forwarded to that address by the USPS, or returned to the Service Center that mailed out the card? If the latter, what is the best procedure for ensuring the card is re-sent to the new address, and how fast will that generally occur?

A.  The USPS does not forward any mail sent by USCIS.  It returns USCIS mail to the agency with the individual’s forwarding address.  If USCIS can confirm the address change with an AR-11 it has on file, the item will be re-mailed to the new address.  If not, it will be held for one year awaiting an AR-11.  The NSC recommends submitting an AR-11 for every member of the family.

Q.  Do you have suggestions on how to follow up on a Cuban adjustment case that has been pending in Nebraska for nearly 1.5 years, and has contacted USCIS in Miami many times about her case and is always told to keep waiting?

A.  NSC does not adjudicate adjustment applications based on the Cuban Adjustment Act.  Questions related to it should be addressed through normal NCSC channels.

Q.  When an I-485 for a refugee is filed with the NSC and while the I-485 is still pending, an I-730 is filed later on with the TSC (because the petitioner lives in TSC coverage area), is the I-730 still being transferred to the NSC for review?  In the past, cases like this were transferred to the NSC, but now with so many files being scanned, we assume that this may not be the same procedure b/c service centers may not have to compete for the A file.

A.  If the I-485 is still pending with the NSC at the time the I-730 is filed, the I-730 will be transferred to the NSC.

Q.  Please provide suggestions on how to handle RFEs for I-730s that ask for marriage certificates/birth certificates when the Department of State says that they can be obtained but it is virtually impossible for the client to obtain.

A.  Documentary evidence of the claimed relationship is required by the regulations.  The burden is on the petitioner to establish the relationship by a preponderance of the evidence.  If your client cannot obtain the requested documentation, state the reason the evidence does not exist or is unobtainable.  Only then will secondary evidence will be acceptable. 

Q.  Do you have any suggestions for our Burmese clients who are in Malaysia or Thailand and since they are not considered to be residents there, their marriage in the church or other venue is not seen as valid-but for all other purposes the client believes that marriage is valid?

A.  For a relationship to be valid for immigration purposes, the marriage must be recognized where it occurred.  If the petitioner relies on foreign law to establish the relationship, it must be submitted as well. 

Q.  This question is for an asylee derivative. After the parent becomes U.S citizen, they have to have their own asylum approved before adjustment of status. Sometimes for some cases the USCIS schedules an interview for individuals; other times the client needs to get a lawyer. What is a rule that we can follow for all the clients in the same way?

A.  Derivative asylees who no longer qualify under the statute must file a nunc pro tunc application with their local office.  Service centers do not handle any processing or scheduling of interviews.

Q.  The category (a)(4) “paroled as a refugee” is often mistaken for the correct category (c)(11) to be used by Cuban/Haitian parolees.  One CBO has had several Cuban parolee clients who either did the I-765 on their own or through a “notary” and have checked the (a)(4) category.  The application is then rejected and then if re-filed correctly, they have still lost several weeks/months on getting an EAD.  Can this category be removed from the I-765 instructions or some clarification added so Cuban/public interest parolees don’t choose this incorrect category?

A.  The decision to add or remove categories is at the headquarters level.  NSC has forwarded the concern to USCIS headquarters.

Q.  We have clients who have applied for adjustment of status and three months later they need file an application for a refugee travel document.  Do they need to pay for the biometrics fee again or could the service use the previous records since biometrics are valid for 15 months?

A.  If an applicant has filed an I-485 and has paid the full filing fee and the I-485 remains pending, the applicant need not pay a fee for the I-131.  If the full fee was not filed with the I-485, the fee must be paid, including the biometric fee.

Q.  We understand that the filing fee for a refugee travel document /re-entry permit can’t be waived, but could the biometrics fee for a RTD be waived due to inability to pay?

A.  An applicant may request a waiver of the biometrics fee by submitting form I-912 with the I-131.

Q. In Los Angeles, the requests for emergency advance parole are referred to the USCIS Los Angeles Field Office 8559 for adjudication and the requests are processed immediately.  Have you considered a similar process for RTDs be available at a local level for bona fide emergencies? Currently, requests for an expedited RTD are sent to Phoenix, AR before being sent to NSC for adjudication and can take approximately 3 weeks.

A.  Because of booklet production requirements, RTDs cannot be processed at local offices.  The NSC tries to process expedite requests as quickly as possible.

Q.  One CBO often does not receive the required written response to a NCSC inquiry (that has been bumped up to an officer inquiry), yet the G-28 on file has the correct address.  What entity is actually responsible for sending out the written responses?

A.  The NSC customer service office is responsible for generating the responses.

“Pray for the DREAM” Events

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Justice for Immigrants (JFI) Campaign will be holding its “Pray for the DREAM” events from September 18th through October 9th.  Dioceses, parishes and other faith groups will be planning events and/or incorporating petitions, homilies, and prayers into the Sunday Masses in support of DREAM Act eligible students and youth.

The JFI Campaign is looking to coordinate events and Masses in support of immigrant youth with a special focus on Sunday, September 25th.  The goal is to continue the call for the DREAM Act while also urging President Obama to protect vulnerable populations, including DREAM Act-eligible youth and parents of U.S. citizen children, from unwarranted detention and deportation.

See the Justice for Immigrants campaign website for more information.

Secure Communities

Throughout the month of August, the Task Force on Secure Communities held a series of four public meetings in Dallas, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL; and Arlington, VA.  CLINIC staff and/or affiliates were in attendance at each, and many who were not able to attend a Task Force meeting shared their concerns in response to the call for public comments.  The Task Force is expected to release its report and recommendations by the end of September.

DHS

On August 18, 2011, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) held a telephonic meeting announcing the process for exercising prosecutorial discretion in the 300,000 immigration removal cases currently pending in the United States.

An inter-agency working group will be established to identify low priority removal cases that should be considered for prosecutorial discretion.  Criteria will be based on factors outlined in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton’s June 17, 2011 memo regarding prosecutorial discretion.  Vulnerable groups whose cases will be reviewed include young people who would qualify for the DREAM Act, military veterans and their families, victims of crime, and individuals with strong ties to family and community. 

As a result of the review, cases deemed to be of "low priority" for removal will be administratively closed.  Individuals whose cases are closed may be eligible to apply for work authorization.  All applications for benefits will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. 

The review process will not apply to anyone not currently in removal proceedings, however the Administration has stated that, going forward, "low priority" individuals will not be placed in proceedings based on the same criteria.

CLINIC will continue to monitor the implementation of prosecutorial discretion across the country and asks that affiliates who have had experience with the policy or with case review contact Allison Posner, CLINIC’s Director of Advocacy, at aposner@cliniclegal.org.

Introduction to Immigration Consequences of Crimes

Introduction to Immigration Consequences of Crimes

Co-Sponsored by

Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), and
Catholic Charities of Portland

November 15 - 16, 2011

 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. – Day One
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Day Two

Location:

Catholic Charities of Portland
2740 SE Powell Blvd.
Portland, OR 97202
(503) 542-2855

$250 per person from CLINIC affiliate programs; $750 cap for 3 staff ($65 materials fee per person for more than 3 attendees from the same office site)

 

$275 per person for other non-profit agency staff; $825 cap for 3 staff
($65 materials fee per person for more than 3 attendees from the same office site)


$405 per person for private attorneys and staff 

Continental breakfast and lunch is included. 

This intensive two-day training will provide an overview of how to determine whether your client’s criminal record will have immigration consequences, including exposure to removal or ineligibility for a particular benefit under immigration law. The trainers will discuss the concepts involved in analyzing the immigration consequences of crimes including differentiating between inadmissibility and deportability; statutory definitions of conviction and sentence; and exceptions to crime-based inadmissibility. The training will also cover techniques for screening clients to uncover criminal issues, and how to gather and read criminal records.  The training will focus on crimes involving moral turpitude, drug and domestic violence offenses and aggravated felonies among other categories of crimes.  Through the use of both lecture and exercises, participants will learn how to analyze the potential immigration consequences of criminal convictions or certain criminal conduct.  The trainers for this program are CLINIC attorneys Sarah Bronstein and Debbie Smith.

Is This Training Right for You?

This is an introductory training on immigration consequences of crimes designed for the practitioner who has a background in immigration law but is new to this area. This training is also appropriate for criminal attorneys seeking to learn about immigration consequences of crimes. For more information about CLINIC’s training classifications, see our website.

The training is for the staff of Catholic Charities and other community-based organizations with IRS 501(c)(3) status, and attorneys and legal staff of private law offices.  If you are registering as staff of a community-based organization, you must fax a copy of you IRS 501(c)(3) letter designating your agency as a nonprofit entity to CLINIC at 415-394-8696 to the attention of Chris Ozaki. Your registration will be confirmed upon receipt of this letter. If you are an attorney, please include your state bar number. Payment is by credit card only.

Space is limited to 50 participants. The deadline for registration is November 9, 2011 or sooner if registration is filled. For registration information call: Chris Ozaki 415-394-9371

Click here for a draft agenda.

Location information: 

Street parking is available and there is a city parking lot adjacent to the west side of the building. The training site is located in Southeast Portland, across the street from Cleveland High School, just east of the SE 26th St. and SE Powell Blvd. intersection.  The training site is accessible from downtown via the #9 bus towards either 98th & Powell or the Gresham TC. The stop is at SE 26th & Powell.

We suggest you look for hotels using a service such as hotwire or expedia. 

 

REGISTER HERE

Training Category: 
Training Location: 
 
 

CLINIC offers our faith-based perspective to recommend improvements to the Secure Communities program.

 
 
 

This tool kit provides an overview of the Criminal Alien Program, the Secure Communities Program, and the 287(g) Program. It also recommends strategies to advocate against the implementation and halt the continuation of these programs in communities.

 
 
 

The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) submits these comments in response to the request for public comments by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Policy Memorandum, PM-602-0039, The Role of USCIS District Directors in the Board of Immigration Appeals Recognition and Accreditation Process; Revisions to the Adjudicator’s Field Manual, New Chapter 12.6, AFM Update AD 11-34. Click here (pdf) for the full letter. 

 
 
 

Esta grabaciόn contiene una serie de preguntas y respuestas acerca de la ley migratoria de Indiana.

 
 
 

This podcast is a short Q & A on Indiana’s immigration law PL 171.