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Category:
Children

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Today a Judge from the District Court for the District of Columbia order our government to stop keeping asylum-seeking families in jail as a deterrent to other potential migrants.  The lawsuit is only at the preliminary injunction stage at this point, but hopefully this is the beginning of the end of "family detention" in America.

Read the full opinion here:

Civil Action No. 15-11, Memorandum Opinion

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My first post of the New Year.  This is just an intro for the link below to an opinion piece I co-authored with Kim Hunter, Dan Thomann, and Jennifer Smith, all of us volunteers for AILA's Artesia Legal Defense Team.  With the help of many volunteers, 14 families who were jailed at Artesia have been granted asylum.  Hundreds more women and children were released to their friends and families in the United States on bond to pursue their asylum claims outside of the prison system.  When the Artesia was closed, only 15 residents remained to move to the brand new family jail at Dilley Texas.  Unfortunately, the end of the Artesia family jail did not end family imprisonment.  Hundreds of mothers and children remain jailed in facilities near the towns of Karnes and Dilley in Texas.

http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/opinion/2014/12/23/opinion-these-kids-want-their-freedom-for-christmas/

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In August, 2014 I spent a week in Artesia, New Mexico working on asylum cases for women and children imprisoned there by our government.  Sadly, hundreds are still imprisoned there and the U.S. Government is building even more family prisons.  These are my letters to the President and First Lady, mailed in September.


President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington DC 20500-0001


Dear Mr. President,

I have been a supporter of your presidency since the beginning.  My husband and I took our then-infant daughter to celebrate in Millennium Park in Chicago on Election Day in 2008, and I remember it as one of the happiest events I have ever been at in my life.  I have had an Obama bobblehead in my office for years.

No more. The president I supported ran on a platform of Hope.  He chanted "yes we can!" and "Sí, se puede!"  That president is gone.

I have spent the past weeks working with women, children, and infants that you have imprisoned, Mr. President, in what I can on...

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In response to the masses of Central American children fleeing to the United States, public officials have been playing up the theory that the families have just been duped by coyotes into believing that the U.S. will help them, or that some sort of pan-American game of telephone ended with Guatemalans hearing that DACA meant free green cards for all kids.  Our president and vice-president have been publically lecturing Central American families on the dangers of the northward journey, as though they had neither the knowledge nor capability to consider that factor hitherto. 

Today, the American Immigration Council published a report based on a year-long study of factors driving child migration and the effect of deporting children back to Central America.  The full study can be read here:http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/perspectives/no-childhood-here-why-central-american-children-are-fleeing-their-homes .

The reasons that adolescents flee El Salvador according to researcher, Elizabeth...

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As our government scrambles to find some way to handle the thousands of desperate migrant children and families from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador slipping across our southern border, we should remember the past.  Seventy-five years ago, in June of 1939 another wave of desperate migrants was pleading for entry to our country. There were no visas available because of strict quotas on immigrants, and legislation that would have allowed more of these migrants into the country had died in Congress.  President Roosevelt and his Department of State declined to extend any extraordinary relief, instead sending a letter to the migrants that they must "await their turns on the waiting list."  We turned away boatloads of migrants, Jewish families fleeing Nazi Germany, and sent them back because they did not fit our immigration priorities. Of the 938 passengers on one ship, the St. Louis, more than 250 died in the Holocaust.

As an American, I am not proud of that moment in ...
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The August Visa Bulletin lists the family-preference category of F2A as "current" for all countries.  What this means is that the spouses and children of Lawful Permanent Residents (green card holders) can receive immigrant visas as soon as their applications are approved.  This is truly a rare event. In recent years, there has more typically been a backlog of two or three years for these visas.  There is no telling just how long this lucky situation will last. If many application are received, the category may "retrogress" again.  For this brief moment, however, a green card holder who marries his hometown sweetheart or has a child overseas need only wait a few short months to be reunited in the United States, rather than years.

The funny thing is, this is how many people who do not need to deal with our immigration system imagine that it always works.  There is a sort of myth that once a person gets a green card, he can just bring the whole clan with him.  The reality is that optio...
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Yesterday I joined hundreds of volunteers and thousands of immigrant youth and families at Navy Pier in Chicago for the first "DREAM Relief day" hosted by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) along with other immigrant groups, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) and many others. As anyone who has followed the new coverage in the Chicago area knows, this was *massive*.  While the good folks at ICIRR had planned for several thousand people, they had not expected the more than 10,000 who arrived, including many who camped out on the pier the night before.

As someone who has done some event planning and volunteer management on a much smaller scale, I was very impressed that ICIRR, NIJC, and others were able to put this together in such a short time period.  The entire "DACA*" program was only announced two months ago, and the forms were released less than a day before the event.  Organizations typically spe...
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On August 15th, 2012 USCIS will begin accepting "Requests for Consideration of Deferred Action" under what they are now calling "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" program.  On that day, I will be volunteering with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights at their "DREAM Relief Day" at Navy Pier.  We sure hope the forms are released on time!

For those who want more individualized attention, my office will be holding extended evening hours between 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm for the last two weeks of August.  Please fill out this appointment form to request an appointment.

Last week, Alejandro Mayorkas, the Director of USCIS clarified qualification criteria and procedures on a conference call.  USCIS has created a special webpage about the program at www.uscis.gov/childhoodarrivals.  Criteria for requesting deferred action under this program are that a person is:

1. Not 31 yet on June 15th, 2012
2. Came here before 16th bithday
3. Has been in continual residence since June 15 ...
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The case of Mexican father Felipe Montes and his American citizen children highlights the bind faced by immigrant families in custody proceedings.  Parents wanting to keep their families intact are forced to take different or even contradictory stances in immigration court and in state proceedings.

Briefly, here is Montes' story based on news reports (read Fox News or NPR ):

Mr. Montes lived and worked in North Carolina for many years, even though he never had a valid visa  or legal status in the United States.  He married a U.S. Citizen and was by all accounts a good father to his three American-born sons. Unable to get a North Carolina driver's license because he had no Social Security number, he was cited by the local police multiple times for driving without a license and related offenses.   Eventually, these driving violations put Montes on the radar of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  Montes was detained and sent back to Mexico.  Ill and unable to work, Montes' wife c...
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