Immigrants on their way to Ellis Island in New York for a naturalization ceremony last week. Credit John Moore/Getty Images

Immigrants on their way to Ellis Island in New York for a naturalization ceremony last week. Credit John Moore/Getty Images

One of the more thoughtful deep-dives into the immigration reform issue is making the rounds via The New York Times. Written by Eduardo Porter, it is one of the few to note that U.S. immigration policy and enforcement may not drive a person’s decision to come to the United States. He also notes the huge population differences brought about by the current trends:

“What the U.S. government is doing in terms of border enforcement, mass deportations and other restrictive policies just isn’t relevant to the decision to stay home,” noted the Mexican Migration Field Research and Training Program of the University of California, San Diego, which has interviewed thousands of immigrants and potential immigrants in communities across Mexico.”
And:
“Immigrants, their children and grandchildren have accounted for 55 percent of the country’s population growth since 1965, according to the Pew Research Center. Then, the country was 84 percent white, 4 percent Hispanic and less than 1 percent Asian. Today it is 62 percent white, 18 percent Hispanic and 6 percent Asian. Unauthorized immigrants, brought close to zero after the legalization wave of the 1980s, are back at an estimated 11 million.”

Read the story here:
Immigration Reform: Disparate Ideas, Disparate Futures

U.S. Dodges International Move To Free Refugee Children

22 women who are being held at Berks County Residential Residential Center started a hunger stike on August 8. They are asking to be released from detention as their cases for asylum move through the courts. Credit: Valeria Fernández/PRI

22 women who are being held at Berks County Residential Residential Center started a hunger stike on August 8. They are asking to be released from detention as their cases for asylum move through the courts. Credit: Valeria Fernández/PRI

The New York Times coverage of this week’s United Nations discussion about refugees, which includes a “summit” hosted by President Obama, including spotlighting that ” … the U.S. and a number of other countries also objected to language in the original draft that said children should never be detained, so the agreement now says children should seldom, if ever, be detained.”

That may be because the U.S. has more than a half-million pending Immigration Court cases backed up for years and has detained some refugee families for more than a year. The detention camps have been found illegal by a federal court, and some moms have resorted to hunger strikes. Some 45 countries are expected to agree to new, non-binding goals for the international refugee crisis this week.

In the U.S., immigration regulation is enforced at immigration courts as s “civil matter,” meaning those under detention do not have the same rights as criminal defendants, which would include the right to representation by a lawyer.

Read about the hunger strikes here:
Moms go on a hunger strike to get themselves and their kids out of immigration detention

Shackles In A Civil Case? With Immigration, That’s The Deal

Photo Credit" Boston Globe report, 8/29/16

Photo Credit” Boston Globe report, 8/29/16

A Boston Globe report has detailed that many detained immigrants show up in immigration court in shackles – even without any criminal record. The Globe reports that “… when detained immigrants have their day in immigration courtrooms in Boston and in many other courts around the nation, they almost always spend it in chains. Some of the immigrants have criminal records, but some do not, and the controversial practice has ignited protests from Connecticut to California. Critics say detainees in the civil immigration system are treated more harshly than people accused of violent crimes in state and federal courts. But others say shackling preserves public safety in the courts, where security is limited.”

We would background that immigration courts are not actually U.S. federal courts, but are actually run by the U.S. Justice Department. Those facing the courts do not have a right to an attorney, as they would if criminal charges were being considered, because the cases are considered “civil” actions.

Read the Globe report here: In Boston immigration court, chains are a familiar sound – The Boston Globe

California Lawyer-Oversight Bill Leads To Attorney Fee Request

The California State Bar is supposed to protect consumers, but a recent state audit found the agency put people at "significant risk" after failing to keep watch over attorneys across California. NBC Bay Area Investigative Reporter Bigad Shaban reports in a story that first aired February 24, 2016. (Published Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016)

The California State Bar is supposed to protect consumers, but a recent state audit found the agency put people at “significant risk” after failing to keep watch over attorneys across California. NBC Bay Area Investigative Reporter Bigad Shaban reports in a story that first aired February 24, 2016. (Published Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016)

The NBC affiliate in California’s San Francisco area is reporting that the state bar of California is, for the first time in almost 20 years, asking the state Supreme Court for authority to collect attorneys’ dues. The report backgrounds that “… the announcement comes after a bill aimed at reforming the bar failed to pass through the state’s most recent legislative session… the bill, SB-846, sought to divide the bar into two agencies, since it currently serves as both a trade group for lawyers and a regulatory body that is supposed to discipline attorneys.”

The potential legislation comes amid concerns that the California bar should be run by people who do not practice law. The NBC report noted that “… the California State Bar has come under harsh criticism in recent months over mismanagement and misspending. Last week, the Investigative Unit revealed that a recent state audit shows the agency is overpaying its employees, all while the bar’s fund to repay victims of corrupt lawyers is millions of dollars short.”

The NBC affiliate, perhaps one of the most aggressive local news in the nation, said that the Investigative Unit revealed how the bar was accused of failing to keep watch over some of the state’s worst attorneys. According to a separate state audit released in June 2015, in trying to clear its backlog of consumer complaints against attorneys, the bar allowed some lawyers to continue practicing, even though they should have been disciplined or disbarred.

 

Source: Bill to Reform California State Bar Fails to Pass Through Legislature | NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Bill-to-reform-California-State-Bar-fails-to-pass-through-state-legislature-392199531.html#ixzz4K9qbxtjM
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Study: Miami Immigration Court Is Most Lenient In Nation

The clearinghouse that tracks immigration court backlog says that some places are better than others for immigrations hoping remain in the United States. The Miami Herald reports that’s “… because judges at the Miami immigration court are deemed among the most lenient toward immigrants in the country… the report from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University says that the Miami immigration court is in the top five immigration courts in the country whose judges are more likely to allow immigrants to stay in the country despite deportation orders sought by government trial attorneys representing the Department of Homeland Security.

According to the TRAC study, the Phoenix immigration court ranks No. 1 with “the highest proportion of individuals who were allowed to stay.” In second place was the New York immigration court, followed by Denver in third, San Antonio in fourth and then Miami in fifth, according to the study.

See the TRAC research here.

Read the newspaper’s story here: How lenient are Miami immigration judges? A study ranks the court

ACLU Files Lawsuit to Require Border Kids Be Granted Legal Counsel

The New York Times recently reported that the ACLU has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of unaccompanied children seeking refuge in the U.S. – Border Kids – asserting their right to legal counsel. In addition to creating a backlog of immigration cases – often pushing previous cases to the back per executive order, these kids have been placed in “family detention centers” and have been facing court hearings often without legal counsel.

The U.S. Constitution requires that individuals facing criminal charges have a right to legal counsel. There is a separate debate over what the quality of that legal counsel should look like, however, the key point is that there is no constitutional requirement for legal counsel in civil cases. Immigration, to the surprise of many, falls under civil judicial authority and the government has no legal requirement to ensure they have legal counsel.

According to the Times, In remarks to the Hispanic National Bar Association in 2014, then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said, “Though these children may not have a constitutional right to a lawyer, we have policy reasons and a moral obligation to ensure the presence of counsel.”

The case could be a groundbreaking one, and will likely have implications far beyond immigration law. For example, evictions, foreclosures and family law are also considered under civil jurisdiction. Parents fighting for child custody or people facing the loss of their home or apartment must hire private legal counsel in order to be represented. While some legal services are available for low-income individuals, the caseload is often well beyond the capacity of the agencies’ staff. Further, the income brackets are often so low that many people would not be able to incur the costs of legal fees and are thus left to on their own to face the courts – and opponent lawyers. If the ACLU argument is successful, a similar argument could be made that these civil cases are fundamental to basic needs and therefore should require legal counsel.

In the meantime, the Times reports, “We have looked for any legal system in the United States where children are required to represent themselves against a government lawyer — child welfare proceedings, juvenile delinquency proceedings. We have not yet found one, and the government hasn’t found one either,” Stephen Kang, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Right Project, said in an interview.

The youth distinction could ensure this case stays confined to the unique issue of Border Kids asylum cases, but for now the case against the court process begins.

For more information, take a look at the New York Times article here. And, look back at the blogs we have posted following this story in our Border Kids section of the web site.

ACLU Files Lawsuit to Require Border Kids Be Granted Legal Counsel

The New York Times recently reported that the ACLU has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of unaccompanied children seeking refuge in the U.S. – Border Kids – asserting their right to legal counsel. In addition to creating a backlog of immigration cases – often pushing previous cases to the back per executive order, these kids have been placed in “family detention centers” and have been facing court hearings often without legal counsel.

The U.S. Constitution requires that individuals facing criminal charges have a right to legal counsel. There is a separate debate over what the quality of that legal counsel should look like, however, the key point is that there is no constitutional requirement for legal counsel in civil cases. Immigration, to the surprise of many, falls under civil judicial authority and the government has no legal requirement to ensure they have legal counsel.

According to the Times, In remarks to the Hispanic National Bar Association in 2014, then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said, “Though these children may not have a constitutional right to a lawyer, we have policy reasons and a moral obligation to ensure the presence of counsel.”

The case could be a groundbreaking one, and will likely have implications far beyond immigration law. For example, evictions, foreclosures and family law are also considered under civil jurisdiction. Parents fighting for child custody or people facing the loss of their home or apartment must hire private legal counsel in order to be represented. While some legal services are available for low-income individuals, the caseload is often well beyond the capacity of the agencies’ staff. Further, the income brackets are often so low that many people would not be able to incur the costs of legal fees and are thus left to on their own to face the courts – and opponent lawyers. If the ACLU argument is successful, a similar argument could be made that these civil cases are fundamental to basic needs and therefore should require legal counsel.

In the meantime, the Times reports, “We have looked for any legal system in the United States where children are required to represent themselves against a government lawyer — child welfare proceedings, juvenile delinquency proceedings. We have not yet found one, and the government hasn’t found one either,” Stephen Kang, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Right Project, said in an interview.

The youth distinction could ensure this case stays confined to the unique issue of Border Kids asylum cases, but for now the case against the court process begins.

For more information, take a look at the New York Times article here. And, look back at the blogs we have posted following this story in our Border Kids section of the web site.