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Immigration Law

News Excerpts From the Dec. 1, 2014, Bender’s Immigration Bulletin

Executive Action Coverage |

On November 20, 2014, the President announced a series of executive actions that will help secure the border, prioritize deporting felons over families, and allow certain undocumented immigrants to temporarily remain in the U.S. without fear of deportation if they pass a criminal background check and meet other requirements. We will have full coverage of the White House and DHS actions in the December 15 issue of Bender’s Immigration Bulletin.

Federal Judge Issues Guidelines for Competency Screenings for Immigration Detainees

On October 29, 2014, a federal judge in the Central District of California set forth procedures that government officials must implement within ninety days to identify noncitizens in detention facilities who may be incompetent to represent themselves in removal proceedings.

The order, issued by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee, requires all detainees to be screened for evidence of mental disorders, and government officials to disclose the results of such evaluations to immigration judges. Screenings must be conducted by licensed psychiatrists, physicians, physician assistants, psychologists, clinical social workers, licensed nurse practitioners, or registered nurses.

The order also requires U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to create a toll-free hotline to receive reports of detainees suspected of having serious mental disorders, and to advertise the hotline at all detention facilities.

While the order applies only to facilities in Arizona, California, and Washington, it is expected that the government will apply the standards at all immigration detention centers nationwide.

The order was issued in Franco-Gonzalez v. Holder, No.10-2211 (C.D. Cal.) [enhanced opinion available to subscribers].

Report Measures Effect of Representation in Removal Proceedings

On November 6, 2014, the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Stanford Law School and the Northern California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice issued a report finding immigration detainees with legal representatives were three times more likely to prevail in removal proceedings than those without attorneys.

The report, based on a study of detained cases at the San Francisco Immigration Court, determined that while detainees without attorney prevailed in 11% of cases, those with attorneys prevailed in 33%. Detainees represented by nonprofit organizations prevailed in 83%of cases, and received bond in 71% of cases in which it was requested.

The report also found that about two-thirds of detained immigrants have no legal representation at all while in removal proceedings.

In-Country Refugee/Parole Program for Minors in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras

The Departments of State and Homeland Security announced that the United States is establishing an in-country refugee/parole program in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras for minors whose parents legally reside in the United States. Beginning in December 2014, a parent lawfully present in the United States will be able to file Department of State Form DS-7699 requesting a refugee resettlement interview for unmarried children under age twenty-one in El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras. Under certain circumstances, if the second parent resides with the child in the home country and is currently married to the lawfully present parent in the United States, the second parent may be added to the child’s petition and considered for refugee status, and if denied refugee status, for parole.

Applications for this program are initiated in the United States on Form DS-7699. Form DS-7699 must be filed with the assistance of one of the designated resettlement agencies working with the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration to help resettle refugees in the United States. The form will not be available to the general public on the DOS website and cannot be completed without the assistance of a designated resettlement agency. The resettlement agencies are located in more than 180 communities throughout the United States. When the program is launched, the Department will provide information on how to contact these agencies.

Justice Deport Report Exposes Nepotism by High-Ranking EOIR Officials

A report from the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General found high-ranking officials in the Executive Office for Immigration Review violated federal nepotism laws by facilitating the hiring of relatives for paid positions in the agency’s Student Temporary Employment Program.

According to the report, EOIR Director Juan Osuna and Board of Immigration Appeals Chairman David Neal violated federal statutes and regulations by facilitating the hiring of relatives—Osuna’s niece and Neal’s son and daughter—for paid student positions. The report also found Chief Immigration Judge Brian O’Leary exercised poor judgment in seeking to secure a paid position for his daughter, and that other senior EOIR employees violated merit system principles listed in 5 U.S.C. § 2301 in facilitating the hiring of relatives.

The report stated that the Inspector General would refer the findings to the Office of the Deputy Attorney General for “appropriate disciplinary action.”

Form I-751 Workload Transfer

U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services has transferred some cases involving Forms I-751, Petitions to Remove the Conditions of Residence, from the Vermont Service Center to the California Service Center in order to balance workloads. The agency will send notices to individuals whose cases have been transferred. If you have filed Form I-751 and USCIS sends you any notice, such as a request for evidence, read the notice carefully so that you respond to the service center that sent you the notice.

Bender's Immigration Bulletin

[This is an excerpt from the Dec. 1, 2014, issue of Bender's Immigration Bulletin.]

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