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Category:
Family

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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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Yesterday, November 20, 2014 was a huge day in the immigration arena, a festive Thanksgiving buffet of options for a range of potential immigrants.  First, President Obama without much fanfare designated Temporary Protected Status for up to 18 months for nationals of the nations of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia which are struggling with an epidemic of Ebola.  Then in a highly publicized, televised event, the president announced that he is once again taking executive action which will lift the threat of deportation from a large class of people currently living in the U.S. without legal status.  This new action is similar in kind to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program of 2012, which I have written about before.

The exact parameters of who will be eligible for deferred action or prosecutorial discretion under the new programs have not been announced, but the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service has posted a basic overview of expected programs on its website.  High...

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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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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 was a banner day for the "Marriage Equality" movement in the United States.  In United States v. Windsor, the Supreme court struck down the federal "Defense of Marriage Act," (DOMA) a 1996 law which defined "marriage" as a union between a man and a woman for purposes of federal laws.  

When it was enacted, DOMA really just codified the status quo; no jurisdiction had yet recognized marriage between partners of the same sex. The law was a preemptive strike at a time when the earliest gay marriage cases were under consideration in the Hawaiian courts.  The situation now is vastly different.

Marriage equality, defined as recognizing same-sex marriages in the same way as opposite-sex marriages, has been gaining steam for the past decade.  As recently as ten years ago opponents of same-sex marriage could claim the "will of the people" was against marriage equality, because no state had legislatively granted same-sex marriage rights and many states had passed laws or constitutiona...
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As the Senate Judiciary Committee works over the new immigration bill this week, we have seen the familiar tug-of-war between factions demanding enforcement and accountability for rule-breakers, and those who would rather wipe the slate clean and give transgressors a chance to stay.  I support rule-of-law, but laws are human creations, which we write, amend and even ignore or forget as suits our circumstances.  When considering whether to adopt, amend, or reject a law, we must ensure that the law does not create greater harm than it seeks to prevent.

We must ask ourselves which would cause greater harm to society: breaking the law, or enforcing it?  For much of our current immigration code, the harm caused by enforcement is far greater than the harm caused by the breech.  Below is one family's story, representative of thousands more.


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Sponsor an immigrant relative to come to the U.S., and you are undertaking much more than just some extra paperwork.  By signing the I-864 "Affidavit of Support" you are contracting to keep that person from ever becoming a "public charge."  Specifically, you have a duty to guarantee the immigrant support at 125% of poverty or else the immigrant can sue you for support--as can any government agency that provided benefits to the immigrant.  This duty ends only once the immigrant becomes a citizen, leaves the country permanently, is credited with 40 quarters of employment, or dies. 

Litigation about this duty has been sparse, even though the I-864 has been used by many thousands of immigrant families since 1996.  However, a recent holding by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals may spur more immigrants to sue for support. 

In Liu v. Mund, the Seventh Circuit held that the immigrant has no duty to mitigate damages.  In this case, Liu, a Chinese immigrant sued her ex-husband in federal c...
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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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