Tuesday, September 24, 2013

High rate of deportations continue under Obama

In an interview with Telemundo’s Jose Diaz-Balart on Tuesday, President Obama said that it would be difficult to halt the deportation of immigrants living in the country illegally without the approval of Congress.

Immigration rights advocates have pushed the president to halt deportations through an executive order, especially of immigrants who haven’t committed any serious crimes.

Last summer the administration did just this for young unauthorized immigrants brought to the country illegally as children with the creation of the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program. Known as DREAMers, more than 500,000 young unauthorized immigrants have taken advantage of the administration’s program. Our 2012 survey of Hispanic adults found wide approval (89% approved of this new policy). A Pew Research Center survey of the general U.S. public found that 63% of U.S. adults approved of this program as well.

But deportations of unauthorized immigrants continue at record levels. In 2011 some 392,000 immigrants were removed from the U.S., according to the Department of Homeland Security. Among them, 48% were deported for breaking U.S. laws, such as drug trafficking, driving under the influence and entering the country illegally.

The Obama Administration has deported more immigrants annually than the George W. Bush Administration.

Most Hispanics disapprove. When asked about the Obama administration’s handling of deportations in a late 2011 Pew Research Center survey, 59% said they disapproved while 27% said they approved. According to the same survey, 41% of all Hispanics, and 55% of Hispanic immigrants, were aware that more immigrants had been deported under the Obama Administration than the Bush Administration.

The Latino vote played an important role in the 2012 presidential election. A record 11.2 million Hispanics voted, supporting the president over challenger Mitt Romney 71% to 27%, according to exit polls. For Latino voters, the issue of immigration ranks as an important issue (though in 2012 it trailed others such as the economy, education and health care).

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

California Assembly Bill Will Burden Immigration Attorneys With New Requirements 1159 (AB 1159)

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez recently introduced Assembly Bill 1159 (AB 1159) in February 2013, which has raised the ire of many immigration attorneys because of several drastic new provisions. The bill, initially introduced earlier this year, contained language on Education but was (entirely) amended instead in July 2013 to regulate immigration services in the State of California.

While controversial bills affecting immigration attorneys aren’t entirely new, it is the way in which AB 1159 (in its current incarnation) has evolved that raises many questions. The effect of this bill would be to encumber legitimate immigration practioners with regulatory burdens which would only raise the costs for those attorneys complying with the law, but would do little to deter people acting outside the law.

The national organization for immigration attorneys, American Immigration Lawyers Association, "AILA" has released a public statement in opposition, which is quoted below.

By contrast, gratuitous measures contained in the proposed legislation will only deplete the number of well-intentioned, competent professionals from one of the most humanitarian areas of the practice of law.

The misplaced focus on unprincipled lawyers already operating in violation of the existing regulatory scheme misses addressing the real threat: the victimization of vulnerable immigrants by notarios and unscrupulous immigration form-preparers (a fact which is of great concern to law enforcement and borne out by the Bar’s own reports). The bill places onerous business and procedural requirements on immigration lawyers far in excess of what is imposed on other attorneys in California. The attempt to micro-manage the attorney-client relationship impedes the immigration attorneys’ effective representation while the non-attorney perpetrators go undetected and continue to scam immigrants with impunity.

As noted above these requirements are at best redundant and at worst unnecessary, increasing the costs compliant attorneys will face. Rushing into short-sighted proposals to address very real concerns about the potential for large-scale immigration fraud will severely hinder the ability of the private bar and community-based legal assistance providers to serve the legal needs of immigrant communities. An inevitable result of the proposed requirements would make hiring qualified legal help so cumbersome and costly that it will actually drive people away from qualified lawyers and legitimate service providers and into the arms of fraudulent practitioners. Nonprofits who rely on outside attorneys to provide assistance will find fewer lawyers able or willing to provide pro bono and low bono services.

What concerns me the most personally, is the fact that the immigration courts are a federal court, meaning that any attorney licensed in any state has the right to practice before the court. The regulation proposed in this bill would only apply to California licensed attorneys and anyone from outside the state would not be subject to these news rules.