On June 19, 2015, ICE/ERO announced a new policy that could significantly change the way transgender women are treated in immigration custody. On the positive side, the policy acknowledges the possibility that transgender women can be housed in women’s facilities, and it promises to provide training on the work that must be done to respect an individual’s gender identity. AILA and other non-profit organizations greeted this new policy with cautious optimism, but expressed concern that it would result in members of this vulnerable community being isolated from counsel and community. For example, the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) commented that the policy was likely to “result in hubbing transgender women in remote areas where they cannot have meaningful access to counsel.” In the two months since ICE announced this policy, the concern over hubbing—and in particular in Adelanto, California—has only increased. Continue reading ‘Mistreatment of LGBT Detainees Continues with Planned Mass Transfer to Remote California Facility’ »
Paralegal Laura Tovar recently volunteered in Dilley and Karnes with the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project. The experience changed her life and she wanted to share what she learned:
What did you see and how did it make you feel?
They all had the same look, eyes sunken with dark rings, hungry, and sleep deprived women with listless skinny children. As a paralegal who works in Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto behind a desk, I returned changed from a week volunteering at the Dilley and Karnes City Detention Centers in Texas. In the midst of my normal life, I’m still haunted by the visions and stories of women suffering from domestic violence or escaping from their country in order to protect their children from gang recruitment.
At the detention facility I spent my time preparing women for bond hearings and credible fear interviews. I thought that the shortage of legal help might be the biggest problem I saw but no, the lack of medical care was what broke my heart.
Continue reading ‘Witness to Inhumanity’ »
“Progress is implied in independence. Without self-government neither industrial progress is possible, nor the educational scheme will be useful to the nation…” – Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
When you think of the phrase “Independence Day,” naturally you think of July 4th and wonderful images of BBQs, apple pie and fireworks come to mind. August 15th is Indian Independence Day, which is relatively recent, having begun in 1947. It certainly feels recent to me since my father was ten years old at the time. Of course he later moved to Britain, where I was born, making me a British Citizen, therefore setting me up for a lifetime of combined pride and self-loathing. In the U.S., Indian Independence Day on August 15th is celebrated in numerous cities, and with a number of parades and parties.
India has come a long way. Just shy of one quarter of the world’s population and the world’s largest democracy, it is amazing to see the progress over the last decade. Modern cities and developments have sprung up all over India. The economy is booming and India is creating many different items for export. Perhaps its largest and most valuable export though, is people, in particular, highly educated people.
Continue reading ‘Indian Independence Day’ »
Affordable and accessible healthcare has long been a national priority. However, for decades the United States has experienced a critical shortage of physicians. The addition of millions more insured Americans to the healthcare rolls under the Affordable Care Act has heightened the problem. In fact, the Association of Medical Colleges predicts the US will face a shortage of 46,000 – 90,000 physicians by the year 2025. While the US is now graduating more medical students than ever before, the number of graduate medical education residency and fellowship training programs has remained static. With American physicians increasingly choosing hospital-based medical specialties over primary care positions, millions of vulnerable Americans are left without primary healthcare.
Fortunately, US immigration law provides an incentive to attract US-trained international medical graduates (IMGs) to parts of the country not fully served by American physicians. Since its inception in 1994, state Departments of Health across the country have used the Conrad State 30 J-1 waiver program (“Conrad 30”) to place over 12,000 IMGs in medically underserved communities where they have provided healthcare to millions of our country’s neediest citizens.
Continue reading ‘Conrad 30 – A “Win-Win” Response to the US Healthcare Crisis’ »
…Continued (Read Part 1 of this blog post)
In general, AILA and other industry stakeholders are finding strong bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate for the EB-5 program. And yes, Congress has extended the Regional Center (RC) program numerous times since 1992.
But, and this is important, the current legislative atmosphere is uncertain and complex – especially involving immigration issues. Many legislators, from both parties, want to address all immigration issues as part of a larger comprehensive reform package. Extending just the EB-5 program and other sunset immigration programs could be viewed as piecemeal and diluting a comprehensive approach favored by many.
Continue reading ‘EB-5 Up for Reauthorization: Part 2’ »
The EB-5 “Regional Center” visa program again finds itself in an all too familiar place – unless Congress reauthorizes by September 30, the program will sunset. For better or worse, the EB-5 program remains connected with three other sun-setting immigration programs (E-Verify, Conrad and Religious Workers). AILA continues to be actively involved in the extension process and here are some updates:
Let’s start with a quick refresher. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa classification has many street names, such as the “Entrepreneur” visa, the “Investor” visa and the “Jobs Creation” visa. By any name, the U.S. Congress created this program in 1990 with the goal of encouraging the infusion of foreign capital to benefit the U.S. economy. And to that end, it would offer the privilege of U.S. residency to an entrepreneur in exchange for creating 10 new jobs for American workers.
Continue reading ‘EB-5 Up for Reauthorization: Part 1’ »
There are hundreds of individuals who have come together on the ground to work on family detention – in Artesia, in Karnes, in Dilley, and in Berks. There are people from every far-flung corner of our nation who have worked remotely on case after case, brought attention to this tragic and inhumane incarceration, and refused to give up.
This past weekend, it was a pleasure to see some well-deserved accolades bestowed upon the law firm of Jones Day for their remarkable pro bono work and leadership when the humanitarian crisis sent tens of thousands of children and mothers fleeing for safety to seek asylum in the United States. One of five 2015 Pro Bono Publico Award Recipients, Jones Day was honored by the American Bar Association for their steadfast commitment to helping those who need it most. A video produced about their pro bono efforts includes AILA’s own Susan Timmons describing how Jones Day threw itself into the new morass of legal access for detained families and unaccompanied children, helping countless incredibly vulnerable immigrants.
The ABA was not alone in recognizing the efforts of Artesia and CARA volunteers; the AILA Artesia Pro Bono Project won the 2014 Super Lawyers Pro Bono award, as well as the 2015 Power of A Gold Award from the American Society of Association Executives.
Continue reading ‘Recognition of Some Amazing Volunteer Work’ »
You may know that there’s a lot that goes into a pro bono clinic. But planning the AILA Annual Conference Pro Bono Clinic takes it to another level. Here are some insights on the planning and logistics of this year’s event, sharing what we learned at the AC for anyone looking to run a pro bono clinic in the future – maybe even for Citizenship Day this September!
Planning began in earnest shortly after President Obama’s announcement regarding Executive Action. The number of clients potentially eligible for Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) in the Maryland/DC/Virginia area far exceeded the resources of area nonprofits, so AILA’s DC Chapter decided to use it as a way to give back and support the nonprofits. Originally the plan was to work with Ayuda, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, and CARECEN to assist their overflow clients who were ready to apply for DAPA since the timing would be perfect. The clinic would take place several weeks after applications would start being accepted. What’s that they say about best laid plans? The next thing we knew, the Texas lawsuit injunction happened and DAPA was officially in limbo.
Continue reading ‘The Pro Bono Clinic: Nuts and Bolts’ »
National tragedies have long propelled political change. Often a terrible event will ignite a fervent desire in political leaders to take action on an issue that has been neglected or overlooked. However, it is in these times of passion and emotion that some of the worst mistakes are made.
Following the attacks on Pearl Harbor, our nation felt justified in stripping thousands of Japanese-Americans of their land and forcing them into internment camps. After the horrible terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, our government implemented laws such as the Patriot Act that infringed on Americans’ constitutional rights.
On July 1, 2015, 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle was shot and killed on Pier 14 in San Francisco, while walking arm-in-arm with her father. The man who reportedly shot her, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, was an undocumented immigrant who had been deported five times and been convicted of several drug-related offenses in the past. This random and senseless act is fueling the urge on the part of Congress to do something.
On July 23, 2015, the House passed H.R. 3009 to punish local jurisdictions – known as “sanctuary cities” that don’t comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) indefinite detainer requests for non-violent criminals. If enacted these provisions will have devastating fiscal and humanitarian consequences for these municipalities. In addition to other penalties, non-compliant cities would be ineligible to get reimbursed for the cost of detaining immigrants accused of or convicted of crimes. In California, where we are just emerging from a severe recession and still have unemployment levels above the national average, such a federal mandate would prove devastating to our recovering economy. Continue reading ‘Acting in Haste’ »
Last week, the Office of Management and Budget released a plan for modernizing and streamlining the legal immigration system. Much of the focus was on the potential positive impact of digital innovation. Recommendations included the creation of a cross-agency digital services team to support the implementation of the modernized immigrant visa project. This team would be charged with improving the visa applicant experience and increasing efficiencies in the adjudication process through digitization. The plan rightly points out that “currently, the immigration application and adjudication process is mostly paper-based, requiring documents to change hands and locations among various federal actors at least six times for some petitions.” Or in many cases, the same information must be sent separately, and in different formats, to several agencies, several times. Take for example the H-1B nonimmigrant visa category for specialty occupations. This category alone requires coordination between the Department of Labor (DOL), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Department of State (DOS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The DOL piece of the puzzle, the Labor Condition Application (LCA), has had an electronic option since 2002 and is today entirely online. An employer may submit an LCA, post notice of filing and receive approval of certification from DOL without a single piece of paper. However, the five-page LCA, once certified, must be printed out, signed and sent to one of USCIS’s Service Centers in Vermont or California as part of the H-1B petition. Continue reading ‘From Systems to Substance, Digital Innovation is Welcome News for Immigration’ »