Judge Blocks Part of Arizona Law; Governor Brewer Appeals
A federal judge blocked significant portions of the controversial Arizona immigration law the day before it was set to take effect. On July 28, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton issued a preliminary injunction against several sections of the law, but let stand others. By the following day, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer had filed an expedited appeal with the Ninth Circuit, asking the court to lift the injunction and allow all the provisions of the law to go into effect pending a decision on the merits of the case.
The law (S.B. 1070, 2010 Ariz. ALS 113, 2010 Ariz.Ch. 113, as amended by H.B. 2162) requires authorities to determine the immigration status of a person during any legitimate stop, detention, or arrest made by a state or municipal official or agency if a reasonable suspicion exists that the person is unlawfully present in the United States. The law establishes crimes involving trespassing and stopping to hire or soliciting work under specified circumstances, stipulates that it is unlawful for a person who is unlawfully present in the United States and who is an unauthorized alien to knowingly apply for work or solicit work in a public place or perform work as an employee or independent contractor, and expressly forbids communities from becoming sanctuaries, among a host of other restrictive provisions.
In her decision, Judge Bolton sided with the Obama administration on several key provisions of the law. The preliminary injunction blocked portions of the law that would require authorities to check the immigration status during a legitimate stop, criminalize the failure of immigrants to carry documentation of their permission to be in the United States legally, make it illegal for an undocumented alien to solicit work in a public place, and allow police to make warrantless arrests of individuals suspected of being in the country unlawfully. She let go into effect the sections prohibiting municipalities from becoming sanctuaries and making it a crime to stop or block traffic to hire someone. A more complete summary is published at page 1160.
In the expedited appeal, Governor Brewer asked the Ninth Circuit to expedite the briefing schedule and its ruling, “since Congress and the President have once again failed to act.” The court set oral argument for November.
For further information on the law, see 15 Bender’s Immigr. Bull. 731, May 15, 2010, and 15 Bender’s Immigr. Bull 1005, July 15, 2010; see commentary on the law, by former ICE leader Julie Myers Woods, on lexis.com at 2010 Emerging Issues 5019, and by Daniel Kowalski and Stephen Yale Loehr on the Emerging Issues Law Center Focus on Immigration.
Just days after the ruling, the Obama administration went ahead with its plan to deploy “hundreds” of additional ICE agents, Border Patrol agents, and National Guardsman to the Arizona border.
USCIS No Longer Accepts Cash at Domestic Offices
On October 1, 2010, USCIS will stop accepting cash payments for fees at all domestic offices, including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. USCIS International Operations offices, located in embassies abroad, may continue to accept cash payments. Eliminating the acceptance of cash should reduce USCIS operating costs.
Applicants and petitioners can pay the required fees using personal or bank checks, money orders, or credit cards. USCIS requires that a check be made out to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” Abbreviations such as “USDHS” or “DHS” will not be accepted. For those applicants living and filing in Guam, the check must be made payable to “Treasurer, Guam.” In the U.S. Virgin Islands, it should be payable to “Commissioner of Finance of the Virgin Islands.” Checks will be converted into electronic funds transfers, which usually occur faster than normal processing of paper checks.
American Express, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover cards will be accepted in all domestic field offices that accept payments.
DHS Campaign Against Human Trafficking
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano launched the “Blue Campaign” — a DHS-wide initiative to combat human trafficking through enhanced public awareness, victim assistance programs, and law enforcement training and initiatives — on July 23. To help citizens identify and properly report indicators of human trafficking, DHS is pursuing public outreach tools such as social media, multilingual public awareness campaigns, and a comprehensive website for DHS’s efforts to combat human trafficking. The campaign also includes new training for law enforcement and DHS personnel, enhanced victim-assistance efforts, and the deployment of additional victim-assistance specialists. The Blue Campaign’s name and symbol were selected to evoke the “thin blue line” of law enforcement, as well as the global anti-human trafficking symbols the Blue Blindfold, produced by the United Kingdom Human Trafficking Center, and the Blue Heart, developed by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, to help raise international awareness about this issue. More on human trafficking is available at the LexisNexis Rule of Law Resource Center.
USCIS Priorities Announced
In April 2010, USICS issued a survey asking interested members of the public and its own workforce to identify the adjudication and customer service policies that USCIS should examine and review. Based on the survey results, USCIS has selected the following areas as the first ten to be addressed in the agencywide review: National Customer Service Center; Nonimmigrant H-1B; Naturalization and Citizenship; Employment-based Adjustment of Status; Family-based Adjustment of Status; Employment-based Preference Categories 1, 2 and 3; Refugee and Asylum Adjustment of Status; Form I-601; General Humanitarian; and Employment Authorization and Travel Documents. USCIS is organizing internal working groups to focus on each of the ten areas. The working groups will include adjudicators, policy analysts, attorneys, customer-service representatives, and others from within the agency. The results of the survey are available online. Click on the “OUTREACH” tab, then “Feedback Opportunities,” then “Policy Review Survey”.
AILA Seeks H-1B Information
On July 20, the American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center filed a lawsuit against DHS and USCIS on behalf of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, seeking the public release of records concerning agency policies and procedures for the H-1B visa program. AILA had sought the disclosure of the documents through two separate Freedom of Information Act requests, both of which were denied in full. The FOIA litigation centers on the government’s H-1B visa review and processing procedures implemented in 2008 that involve more stringent procedures and dramatically increased the frequency of unannounced worksite inspections, according to the American Immigration Council press release. "It is in the public and the agency's interest to release the documents sought by AILA," said Mary Kenney, attorney at the Legal Action Center. "The documents will help employers and foreign workers who seek immigration benefits comply with the law. Further, the agency violated FOIA when it issued wholesale denials of AILA's FOIA requests."
[This is an excerpt from the August 15, 2010, issue of Bender’s Immigration Bulletin.]