National Advocacy Issues
Supreme Court denies Administration’s Petition for Rehearing, Leaving Block to DAPA in Place
On October 3, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the Administration’s Petition for Rehearing in the United States v. Texas case. Following the Court’s split (4-4) decision issued in June, the Justice Department filed a Petition for Rehearing, asking to reargue the case once a ninth justice is confirmed. The Court’s decisions mean that the preliminary injunction issued by the U.S. District Court in Texas remain 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. The Supreme Court remains one justice short following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last February.
CLINIC Calls on President to Request Temporary Protected Status for Northern Triangle Countries
On August 24th, CLINIC submitted a letter to President Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Johnson, requesting the administration extend temporary relief to certain undocumented individuals in order to protect and promote family units. Specifically, CLINIC recommends the administration consider re-designating El Salvador and Honduras for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and designating Guatemala for TPS due to increasingly violent circumstances in those countries. CLINIC also requested the Administration address inconsistencies as to whether a TPS grant constitutes admission by creating a uniform policy for all USCIS district offices. Further, CLINIC also requested the administration expand parole in place to the parents of U.S. citizens over the age of 21 who are already physically present in the United States.
Diapers in Detention Campaign Raises Awareness, Urges ICE to End Family Detention
The Diapers in Detention Campaign was started as a week long campaign from August 20 -September 1 to create public awareness about family detention centers and to urge Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to end family detention while keeping families together. Some of the tactics used in this campaign included sending cards congratulating the birth of a new baby to the ICE Director, holding baby showers at ICE Field Offices, and releasing press statements. The one week campaign turned into a successful month of action attracting attention from the press, creating a social media presence, and impacting at least ten cities throughout the country.
A sampling of local news articles that capture the impact of the campaign:
CLINIC and Affiliates Celebrate Citizenship Day 2016
CLINIC commemorated Citizenship Day by sharing naturalization stories of immigrants in the community, including CLINIC’s own Advocacy Attorney and native Liberian, Christy Williams. Read Christy’s naturalization story.
CLINIC affiliates in the DC metro area, through the New Americans Campaign, partnered with the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s DC Chapter to honor Citizenship Day by hosting a one-day workshop on September 17. Each workshop offered consultations and filing assistance for lawful permanent residents who are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. The event served over 225 individuals at nine locations in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. CLINIC affiliates hosting workshops included: Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington Immigration Legal Services; CARECEN; Esperanza Center; and Hogar Immigrant Services. Additionally St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church in Virginia Beach served as a workshop location. CLINIC staff served as volunteers at several of the workshop sites.
New and Proposed Rules & Policy Guidance
Update on Status of New USCIS Fee Schedule
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) Fee Schedule is at the final stage of review with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Click here to see how the rulemaking process works. CLINIC expects the Fee Schedule to be published in winter 2016. CLINIC will continue to monitor the status of the new rule and report updates to affiliates.
Update on Status of Extreme Hardship Policy Guidance
On October 7, 2015, USCIS released draft USCIS policy manual guidance on extreme hardship for public comment. The proposed revisions to the policy manual include much awaited guidance on establishing a qualifying relative, extreme hardship factors, extreme hardship determinations, and discretion. CLINIC submitted its comments to the proposed guidance on November 23, 2015. The final guidance was sent to the OMB for review on July 27, 2016. CLINIC expects the final guidance to be published this fall.
Updates from Key Federal Agencies
USCIS DACA Processing Delays Put a Damper on Program Success
In early August, CLINIC affiliates began reporting notable increases in processing times for DACA cases, particularly renewal applications. CLINIC escalated this issue to USCIS, providing recommendations the agency could take to improve communications regarding the sources and scope of the delays. CLINIC has sent practice alerts to affiliates to share information about the processing delays and to encourage escalation of case examples. CLINIC has now received over 115 cases escalations. Many individuals have reported losing their jobs and driver’s licenses as a result of the processing delays. CLINIC continues in its advocacy in this area, leading efforts with other immigrant advocate groups to submit a comprehensive list of recommendations to USCIS for communicating and addressing the delays as well as protecting applicants from lapses of status the result from processing delays. For more information, please visit our DACA delays resources page here.
In Response to Advocates’ Requests, USCIS Issues New Form I-512L
USCIS has modified the Advance Parole travel document, Form I-512L, Authorization for Parole of an Alien into the United States, which incorporates clearer, simpler language and warning labels for recipients to better comprehend and be aware of important information regarding their travel document. For more information about the changes and related resources, click here.
USCIS Opens New Field Office in Fort Myers
USCIS’ new Field Office in Ft. Myers is now open to the public, with a special Grand Opening celebration scheduled for Oct. 21. The office is located at: 4220 Executive Circle, Suite 1, Fort Myers, FL 33916-7966. The office will serve Charlotte, Collier, De Soto, Glades, Hendry, Lee, and Okeechobee counties. It will also provide services to parts of Highlands, Miami-Dade and Sarasota County. For more information about the office and a full listing of zip codes served, click on this link.
State and Local Issues
State and Local Legislative Updates
In the first six months of 2016, more than 40 states enacted 229 legislation that address a variety of immigration issues including refugee resettlement, professional licenses, sanctuary cities, and federal immigration law enforcement. Tennessee enacted legislation that calls for the state Attorney General to sue the federal government over refugee resettlement activities in the state. Virginia governor vetoed anti-sanctuary city legislation that called for local jails to comply with ICE detainer requests. For more state legislative updates, see our mid-year report on proposed 2016 state immigration legislation.
At local levels, city governments such as Phoenix, Arizona and Detroit, Michigan, have approved municipal identification programs from undocumented immigrants and other residents. Cincinnati, Ohio is the most recent locality to approve the ID program from immigrants. Little Rock, Arkansas may be next in line. Read more.
On September 6, Advocacy Attorney Christy Williams presented a webinar to review state immigration legislation that were proposed in the first half of 2016 and provided advocacy strategies. Guest speakers Ingrid Delgado of Florida Catholic Conference and Rachel Pollock of Catholic Charities of North East Kansas shared strategies they used to defeat multiple legislation that would have negatively impacted immigrants in their areas. Recordings of the webinar are available online.
We Have Developed New Resources for You
CLINIC recently published several new resources to broaden understanding of critical immigration issues that impact immigrants in the community:
Our Identification for Undocumented Immigrants resource which highlights the different kinds of identification cards used my undocumented immigrants and the benefits they bring to local communities. The Professional License for Undocumented Immigrants backgrounder give details about the importance of extending professional licenses to undocumented immigrants. Our Immigration Detainer resource provides information about the use of ICE detainers in local jails and negative impact they can have on communities
We recently updated our Sanctuary Cities Toolkit with new reports of the financial benefits immigrants bring to local economies and strategies to promote immigrant-friendly policies.
For questions about these and other online resources, please contact us.
Affiliate Advocates Corner
Advocate’s Corner: How to Elevate a Case with the CIS Ombudsman’s Office
The CIS Ombudsman’s Office was created by Congress in the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to help individuals and employers who need to resolve a problem with USCIS and to make recommendations to fix systemic problems and improve the quality of services provided by USCIS.
The CIS Ombudsman’s Office assists individuals and employers in resolving problems with USCIS. The Office provides the following services: case assistance; tips and resources; public engagement; and public teleconference series. Click here to find out more about requesting case assistance from the Ombudsman.
State and Local Advocate Spotlight: Robert Tasman Shares Best Practices in Defeating Anti-Immigrant Legislation
In this edition, Robert M. Tasman, Executive Director of Louisiana Catholic Conference, shares his advocacy experience and strategies that were helpful in his efforts to successfully defeat proposed anti-sanctuary city legislation which would have negatively impacted major cities like New Orleans and Lafayette. Read Rob’s full blog.
Quarterly Quick Tip #2: Generally, the National Visa Center does not require any original civil documents. Only copies should be submitted.
Sign On Letters
September 30, 2016
CLINIC joined USCCB and eight other faith-based organizations in urging USCIS to swiftly implement the short-term extension of the Special Immigrant Non-Minister Religious Worker Visa Program in the Continuing Resolution signed into law by the President (H.R. 5325) on September 29. Read letter. Shortly thereafter, USCIS released updated information related to these two programs on its Adjustment of Status Filing Charts from the Visa Bulletin page.
September 14, 2016
CLINIC joined more than 340 immigrant rights, faith-based and civil- and labor-rights organizations to deliver a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson calling for the government to end its use of private prison companies to detain immigrants. Recent reports indicate privately operated detention centers have repeatedly been sites of abuse and mistreatment. Read letter.