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Class Certification Granted in Suit Over Legal Representation for Minors |
On June 24, 2016, a federal judge granted a request to certify a class of children in an ongoing suit against the Attorney General for failing to providing legal representation.
The main class certified by the court consists of all children under the age of eighteen in removal proceedings in the Ninth Circuit who have not been admitted to the United States, do not have and are unable to financially obtain legal representation, and who are potentially eligible for asylum, withholding of removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture, or who have colorable claims of U.S. citizenship.
The court also certified a subclass consisting of all minors in the main class who are under the age of fourteen.
The case is F.L.B. v. Lynch (formerly J.E.F.M. v. Holder), 14-cv-01026-TSZ (W.D. Wash.).
Immigrant Justice Corps Names New Executive Director
The Immigrant Justice Corps announced that Jojo Annobil will become the organization’s executive director effective August 29, 2016.
Annobil previously served for more than a decade as the head of the immigration law unit at the Legal Aid Society in New York City.
The Immigrant Justice Corps, a fellowship program created in 2013, is dedicated to providing legal representatives to noncitizens in removal proceedings
USCIS Ombudsman Releases Annual Report
On June 29, 2016, the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman submitted its annual report to Congress for 2016.
Among other issues, the report addresses the growing backlog for asylum interviews, the Special Immigrant Juvenile program, the proper delivery of USCIS notices and documents, delays in obtaining employment authorization documents, and implementation of the new naturalization fee waiver.
DOJ Settles Discrimination Claims Involving Residents of Podiatry Programs
On June 20, 2016, the Justice Department announced a settlement with more than 100 podiatry residency programs and the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine over discrimination claims involving noncitizen residents.
According to the Justice Department, the defendants wrongfully limited hundreds of residencies to U.S. citizens and discouraged noncitizens from applying for such positions between 2013 and 2015. Two lawful permanent residents were denied consideration for such positions due to the citizenship requirements.
Under the terms of the settlement, selected residency programs must pay civil penalties amounting to $141,500, and the association must pay $65,000 in civil penalties.
The investigation was conducted by the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices.
D.C. Circuit Revives FOIA Suit Against DHS
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a published decision on June 28, 2016, reviving a lawsuit filed under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain records from the Department of Homeland Security relating to the denial of an asylum application.
A district judge had dismissed the suit on grounds that the requester had failed to administratively appeal the DHS’ explanation for its partial denial of its request. The circuit court reinstated that suit because the DHS abandoned its original position and put forth a new basis for the denial during the course of the litigation.
The appellant was represented by David Cleveland of Catholic Charities in Washington, D.C. Mr. Cleveland is a member of the Editorial Board for Bender’s Immigration Bulletin.
New Jersey to Cease Denying Financial Aid to Children of Undocumented Parents
New Jersey officials announced in late June that the State would stop enforcing a policy that prevented many children of undocumented immigrants from obtaining financial aid to attend institutions of higher learning.
A spokesperson for the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority stated that the agency would no longer deny applications with missing or incorrect Social Security numbers for one or both of the applicant’s parents.
The change will take effect for the 2016-2017 school year.
CBP Reinstates Policy Allowing Agents to Act as Interpreters for Police
On June 20, 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske announced the rescission of a policy prohibiting Border Patrol agents from serving as interpreters for state and local police.
The policy, which had been in place since December 2012, followed reports of Border Patrol agents responding to 911 calls involving non-English speakers.
The reversal of the policy was announced without notice or consultation with outside groups.
EB-4 Visa Limits Reached for Special Immigrants From India
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced on July 11, 2016, that India had reached the EB-4 visa limit for fiscal year 2016.
The August 2016 Visa Bulletin reflects a final action date of January 1, 2010, for EB-4 special immigrants from India. In recent months, the agency has announced the same final action date for special immigrant applicants from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The employment-based visa numbers for August may be found infra.
On June 30, 2016 President Obama signed the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016.
Among other amendments, the act requires agencies to make publicly available records that have been requested three or more times, creates a 25-year sunset on materials exempt under the deliberative process privilege, and creates a Chief FOIA Officer Council within the Executive Branch.
[This is an excerpt from the Aug. 1, 2016, issue of Bender's Immigration Bulletin.]
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