Articles Posted in Enforcement

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children-crossing-border.bmpImmigration-related issues again dominated the headlines last week as major news sources reported that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a nationwide and class action lawsuit against the Obama administration. Specifically, the lawsuit challenges the administration’s policy of retaining, in immigration detention centers, women and children who are seeking asylum in the United States. These detention centers are spread all across the U.S. with the largest center located in Texas.

The Case – RILR v. Johnson

The ACLU filed the lawsuit, RILR v. Johnson, on behalf of foreign national children and their mothers who assert that they are fleeing to the U.S. from Central America in order to escape rape, death threats, extreme violence, and persecution that they are subject to in their home countries. Each of the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit has already been found to possess a “credible fear” of persecution, and this finding was made by an immigration enforcement office or immigration judge. A finding of credible fear is the first step in applying for asylum in the United States. Those who have been found to have a credible fear, like the plaintiffs in this case, enjoy the “significant possibility” that their asylum application will ultimately be granted.

The Plaintiffs

Some of the plaintiffs involved in the case include a Honduran mother and son who fled from the physical abuse perpetrated upon them by the boy’s father, and an El Salvadorian mother and her two children who are also fleeing the children’s violent father. Although these plaintiffs have U.S. citizen friends and family members who have pledged to house them while they await their asylum hearings, the Obama administration’s blanket detention policy prevents the asylum seekers from joining their loved ones. According to court documents, the plaintiffs worry that their indefinite detention in centers is adding to the emotional and psychological trauma that their children have already suffered.
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On December 16, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a press release to announce the launch of the Border Wait Time app to help travelers better plan for an excursion over the border. From the release:

The app provides estimated wait times and open lane status at land ports of entry allowing travelers to make an informed decision of where and when to cross the border. Wait times for pedestrian and passenger and commercial vehicle crossings are broken down by lane type (standard, SENTRI, NEXUS, FAST, Ready Lane, etc.).

App users can download the app for free from Apple’s App Store and Google Play, per the release, and it does not require registration or input of any personal information for use.

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1409595_gavel_5.jpgAs comprehensive immigration reform has been spotlighted in the media for the past several months, one issue that is continually discussed is what the government can do to reduce the population of undocumented foreign nationals who are currently held in local jails.

In recent weeks, Maryland joined the ranks of other states including California and Connecticut when its state legislature proposed a bill that would decrease the undocumented population being held in Maryland state jails. The bill would accomplish this goal by allowing state jail administrators to circumvent certain provisions of a federal immigration enforcement program called Secure Communities.

The Secure Communities program requires state law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement efforts, particularly with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The program allows ICE officers to identify and initiate deportation proceedings against undocumented foreign nationals who are either repeat or serious criminal offenders. Basically, Secure Communities helps ICE officers by allowing them to run any arrestee’s fingerprints though an extensive Department of Homeland Security (DHS) database. The database informs the officer if the arrestee is suspected of residing in the U.S. without immigration authorization.
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undocubusIt’s an election year, you know, and that means politicos again are looking for any excuse not to discuss immigration policy–unless you count the trite and shameless rhetoric used to pander to each party’s base.

But seriously, now is that special time each quadrennial when political parties host celebrations–part pep rally, part pageantry–to unveil their platforms and to highlight rockstar candidates. However, amid all of the pomp and circumstance and discussion of jobs or family values or the “American dream,” there is a dearth of meaningful dialogue about immigration reform. Why? Because, frankly, neither party knows what to do about it. Immigration reform is–choose your cliché political metaphor–a political football, the third rail of politics, or a can to kick down the road. While our national, elected leaders bloviate in a perfect Midwest diction “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,” an action called Sin Papeles, Sin Miedo/No Papers, No Fear, is well-underway in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Sin Papeles, Sin Miedo (also traveling under the moniker the UndocuBus) is a group of intergenerational, self-outed undocumented immigrants who traveled by bus from Phoenix, Arizona, to Charlotte, North Carolina, to demonstrate outside of the Time Warner Cable Arena during the Democratic National Convention (DNC), stopping in a number of cities across the South along the way. Its purpose? To raise awareness of the injustice and inhumanity created by legislation like Arizona’s S.B. 1070, and to introduce undocumented persons to politicians and an electorate that seemly refer to immigration only in the abstract.

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by Slowik & Robinson, LLC

Immigrantings_Immgration ReformWith a national election just around the corner and a general populace perceiving the federal government as lax in its enforcement of immigration laws, many of us expect continued controversy regarding the issue of undocumented immigrants and the growing trend of states seeking to control immigration within their borders.

Arizona appears to have started this trend with its SB 1070, passed by the state legislature in early 2010.  In the wake of Arizona’s passage, two dozen copycat bills were introduced in state legislatures across the U.S., with five passing in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah.

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ObamaonImmigrationby Slowik & Robinson, LLC

The Obama Administration has tread a careful line on immigration, trying to appease immigration rights activists and minorities–particularly Hispanics who overwhelmingly supported him in the last election, but whose support has since dwindled–without alienating voters who favor more conservative immigration measures. Activists want the administration to use its power to defer removals (ie, deportations, which usually occur through the immigration courts), particularly those of undocumented students, brought here as children by their parents, and to review and revise current policies, including pushing for passage of the Dream Act. Conservatives want tightened borders and prosecution of undocumented individuals who have fallen afoul of U.S. criminal law (being undocumented is a civil offense, just to clarify).

Note: the administration has the power to transform immigration court procedures because those courts are part of the Justice Department in the executive branch, not part of the federal judiciary.  Developments in the area of prosecutorial discretion illustrate how the President has managed to satisfy neither side in this matter.