Articles Posted in DOJ

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Today, Monday June 11, 2018, in an unprecedented move, the Trump administration announced that it would be dropping asylum protection for survivors of domestic violence. The announcement was made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions this afternoon in the case Matter of A-B- 27 I&N Dec. 316 (A.G. 2018), which explained that victims of domestic violence would no longer be eligible to receive asylum in the United States.

Matter of A-B- 27 effectively reverses a decision formerly made by the Department of Justice immigration appellate court which granted asylum to a woman from the country of El Salvador on the basis of allegations of rape and abuse by her husband.

In his decision, dated June 11, 2018, the Attorney General overruled a separate but similar decision in Matter of A-R-C-G-, stating that the case was “wrongly decided” by the appellate court and should not have become precedent. The Attorney General was able to make such a binding decision on immigration courts across the country because their authority derives directly from the Department of Justice, instead of the judiciary branch.

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Various news media outlets are reporting that the Supreme Court will hold a closed-door meeting today Friday, February 16, 2018 to decide whether the Supreme Court will hear a challenge to a lower court opinion which temporarily blocked the President’s move to end the Obama era program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, making it possible for DACA recipients to apply for a renewal of their DACA benefits.

The closed-door meeting was prompted after the Justice Department formally asked the Supreme Court to review a federal judge’s January ruling, blocking the administration’s effort to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Justice Department in making such a request is seeking to bypass lower court proceedings, asking the Supreme Court for direct review, instead of appealing the lower court’s decision before a federal appellate court.

According to a law professor from the University of Texas School of Law, the court has not granted certiorari before judgment since the year 2004, and has not done so without a circuit-level ruling since 1988.

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IMPORTANT UPDATE: On February 14, 2018 USCIS announced that due to federal court orders issued on January 9, 2018 and February 13, 2018, USCIS will resume accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under the DACA program. Please read this post to determine whether you qualify. 

On January 13, 2018, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a statement for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in response to a federal court order that resurrected certain provisions of the program.

USCIS has announced that they will resume accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action for individuals who have received benefits under the DACA program. According to the statement, the DACA policy that was in effect before the program was rescinded by the Trump administration on September 5, 2017, will continue to be implemented on the same terms as it was before. It is important to note that although USCIS will begin accepting renewal requests for individuals who have received DACA benefits in the past, USCIS will NOT be accepting initial DACA requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under the DACA program.

In addition, USCIS is NOT accepting applications for advance parole from recipients of DACA. Before the program was rescinded, individuals receiving DACA benefits could apply for an advance parole document (travel permit) allowing them to safely re-enter the United States after temporary foreign travel. This will no longer be the case. Although by federal court order USCIS may consider applications for advance parole on a case-by-case basis if it so chooses, the agency has definitively decided against accepting any such requests.

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This morning, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration is ending DACA, a program that began under former President Barack Obama, which allowed undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, the opportunity to obtain employment authorization and be shielded from deportation. This decision comes on the heels of swirling rumors regarding the President’s intent to terminate the program. Despite the President’s seemingly sympathetic attitude toward the plight of “Dreamers,” today’s announcement means that the DACA program will be phased out.

Effective immediately, USCIS will not accept new initial requests for DACA, but will allow current DACA recipients with permits expiring between now and March 5, 2018 to apply for a final 2-year renewal of their status and obtain employment authorization.

A conflicted President Donald Trump issued a statement following the announcement in which he defended his decision stating, “in the best interests of our country, and in keeping with the obligations of my office, the Department of Homeland Security will begin an orderly transition and wind-down of DACA, one that provides minimum disruption. While new applications for work permits will not be accepted, all existing work permits will be honored until their date of expiration up to two full years from today. Furthermore, applications already in the pipeline will be processed, as will renewal applications for those facing near-term expiration. This is a gradual process, not a sudden phase out. Permits will not begin to expire for another six months, and will remain active for up to 24 months. Thus, in effect, I am not going to just cut DACA off, but rather provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act.”

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Today, March 30, 2017, a federal judge from the state of Hawaii extended a court order blocking the President’s new travel ban from being enforced. In a 24-page decision, Judge Derrick Watson of Hawaii issued a preliminary injunction bringing the President’s executive order to a screeching halt indefinitely. Judge Watson first gained national attention two weeks ago, following his issuance of a temporary restraining order or TRO, which prevented the federal government from enforcing all provisions of the travel ban for a 14-day period. Watson’s TRO was meant to provide temporary relief pending further litigation. The state of Hawaii asked the judge to convert the TRO into a longer-lasting form of relief known as a preliminary injunction, at least until a higher court could issue a permanent ruling. The President’s embattled executive order sought to prevent the admission of foreign nationals from 6 Muslim majority countries including Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Iran, Libya and Yemen, for a 90-day period as well as the admission of Syrian refugees for a 120-day period.

In his decision Judge Watson wrote that he based his grant of the preliminary injunction on the strong likelihood that the state of Hawaii would succeed in proving that the travel ban violated the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution which protects freedom of religion. In addition, the state of Hawaii successfully argued that absent the provisional relief, citizens of the state would be irreparably harmed. Attorneys for the state added that the state’s national economy would suffer in the absence of relief, and that its state universities would also be harmed by the President’s executive order in both the state’s ability to retain and recruit foreign born students and faculty.

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is expected to run a study to determine whether privately run detention facilities are unsafe for migrants. The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, has stated that the administration will evaluate whether or not the agency will end the practice of privatizing immigration detention facilities, issuing a recommendation by November 30th of this year.

The announcement comes following reports that private immigration detention facilities have unlawfully withheld proper mental health and medical care from persons being detained in their immigration facilities. Presently, the two major private companies running ICE immigration detention facilities across the United States are the Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group. Together these private companies hold lucrative state and federal government contracts. It is estimated that the Corrections Corporation of America has earned $689 million alone from its contracts with ICE dating back to 2008, while the GEO Group has earned an estimated $1.18 billion from these contracts during that same period.

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26762616905_3855617f27_zAs previously reported, the Department of Justice is currently facing off in court against a federal judge from the State of Texas, who has accused federal prosecutors of misrepresenting, and withholding information in federal court, related to the implementation of the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program that was scheduled to take effect on February 18, 2015, as part of President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration. All of that changed, when Judge Hanen filed a temporary injunction in court, blocking these executive orders from taking effect, just days before February 18, 2015. Judge Hanen is asking the court to punish federal prosecutors working for the Department of Justice by forcing them to attend mandatory ethics courses.

In addition, Hanen has requested that the Department of Homeland Security hand over the names, addresses, and other information of individuals who were unlawfully granted immigration benefits under these programs. On Friday, a group of undocumented individuals came forward, asking an appellate court to respect their privacy by not turning over their personal information to the State of Texas, and other interested parties. This group of undocumented individuals is currently being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC). Attorneys for the group are expected to argue before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in order to block Judge Hanen’s order.

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15531282194_c5c9b33b52_bToday May 31, 2016 the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an emergency motion to prevent a federal judge from the State of Texas from imposing sanctions on DOJ prosecutors, requiring them to attend mandatory ethics classes. The federal judge in question is Andrew Hanen, the same judge who issued a temporary injunction blocking the expanded DACA and DAPA programs from taking effect on February 18, 2015, as originally intended by the Obama administration. The case United States v. Texas has made its way up to the Supreme Court of the United States. An official ruling assessing the legality of the expanded DACA and new DAPA program is expected this summer.

Judge Hanen filed the judicial order after federal prosecutors acknowledged that they were not completely transparent in regards to implementation of the expanded DACA and new DAPA program. Hanen argues that he was assured that the government would not start implementation of these programs until February 18, 2015 when in fact the government implemented a portion of the program before February and granted more than 100,000 applications. After reading government briefs acknowledging this information, Judge Hanen claimed that attorneys for the Department of Justice were not only knowledgeable of the facts, but were guilty of misrepresenting them in federal court.

In addition to ordering sanctions on federal prosecutors, Judge Hanen has ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide the names of individuals who were granted benefits under these programs, despite not being eligible to receive those benefits. This move would require the Department of Justice to release the records of more than 50,000 people.