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ICE Issues New Guidelines on Use of Solitary Confinement in Immigration Detention Centers:
On September 4, 2013, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a directive establishing policy and procedures for the placement of detainees in solitary confinement. Under the new guidelines, detainees will be placed in solitary confinement only when necessary to ensure the detainee’s safety or, if for punitive reasons, following a hearing at which the detainee is determined to have engaged in serious misconduct. Reviews are required whenever a detainee is held in solitary confinement for more than fourteen days, or in cases where detainees have health problems or could be vulnerable to sexual assault or other victimization. Field Office Directors must also be notified whenever detainees placed in solitary confinement are disabled, mentally ill, or at risk for suicide. The new guidelines come a year after the release of a critical report from the National Immigrant Justice Center and Physicians for Human Rights, which found that immigration detainees were subjected to punitive and long-term solitary confinement without meaningful avenues for appeal. The new guidelines are reprinted at Appendix A.
North Carolina Enacts E-Verify Exemption for Short-Term Employees
On September 4, 2013, lawmakers in North Carolina voted to override a gubernatorial veto of a law that would exempt workers employed in the state for less than nine months per year from being subjected to the E-Verify federal database search. Originally enacted in 2011, the E-Verify law requires employers in North Carolina with twenty-five or more employees to subject new hires to E-Verify. The more recent law, H.B. 786, exempted temporary employees at the behest of the state’s agricultural interests. Previously, the exemption applied only to employees who worked in the state fewer than ninety days per year. The law was vetoed by North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (R), but his veto was overridden by a vote of 84-32 in the state House of Representatives and 39-5 in the state Senate.
Texas Court Orders Dissolution of Nonprofit for Engaging in Unauthorized Practice of Law
On August 13, 2013, a state district court in Austin, Texas, issued a permanent injunction requiring Cristo Vive, Christian Social Services, Inc., a nonprofit organization, to dissolve within sixty days. The injunction followed the State’s filing of an enforcement action in August 2012 accusing the nonprofit of violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act by fraudulently representing itself as legally authorized to represent individuals before federal immigration authorities.
The court also imposed $300,000 in civil penalties against three of the organization’s officers, who are prohibited from soliciting or providing immigration services in the future, and up to $250,000 in restitution. The court also ordered the State of Texas to notify all customers reasonably believed to have received immigration services from Cristo Vive of the process for submitting restitution claims.
IRAC Creates Index to Collection of Unpublished BIA Decisions
The Immigrant & Refugee Appellate Center has released an index to its growing collection of unpublished decisions of the Board of Immigration Appeals. Located across the street from the headquarters of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, IRAC regularly collects and posts unpublished BIA decisions from the EOIR law library as a public service. IRAC has uploaded more than 300 helpful unpublished BIA decisions to date, and plans to post hundreds more in the coming months. To view a sample of the decisions in IRAC’s collection, and to preview and purchase the index, visit www.irac.net/unpublished.
Customer Identity Verification Deployed at USCIS Field Offices
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that beginning September 9, 2013, individuals appearing for interviews or to receive evidence of immigration benefits will have their identities verified by biometric data, specifically two electronic fingerprints and a photograph. The new procedures will not apply to individuals with InfoPass appointments. The procedure is being phased in between September 9 and October 21, 2013. Customer Identity Verification (CIV) is intended to enhance the integrity of the immigration system and combat identity fraud. Technical issues delayed the original launch of the tool.
The biometric data collected at the appointment connects instantly to the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology’s Secondary Inspections Tool. SIT is a Web-based application that processes, displays, and retrieves biometric and biographic data. US-VISIT also links databases associated with border inspections and security.
The requirement that applicants and petitioners requesting immigration or naturalization benefits visit an Application Support Centers to provide biometric data has not been changed. USCIS uses this data to help determine eligibility for requested benefits. Applicants and petitioners also must provide a government-issued document for examination.
Bits and Pieces
New EOIR Zip Code
The Executive Office for Immigration Review announced that effective October 1, 2013, the zip code for all mail addressed to the agency’s headquarters in Falls Church, Va., should be 20530 rather than 22041.
10,000 U Visas Issued for Fiscal Year
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced on September 6, 2013, that it had issued the statutory maximum of 10,000 petitions for U nonimmigrant status for the fiscal year. The agency will resume issuing U visas on October 1, 2013.
Special Immigrant Visa Program for Helpful Iraqis Expires
Authorization of the Special Immigrant Visa Program for Iraqi nationals who worked for or on behalf of the U.S. government expired on September 30, 2013.
[This is an excerpt from the Oct. 1, 2013, issue of Bender's Immigration Bulletin.]
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