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Posts Tagged ‘immigration policy’

Attorney General Eric Holder Vacates Board of Immigration Appeals Decision Regarding Same Sex Marriage

May 10th, 2011 No comments
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Attorney General Eric Holder today filed a very rare decision, vacating a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals related to the application of Paul Wilson Dorman, in which the BIA applied Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act to his pending case.

Holder writes:

Pursuant to my authority set forth in 8 C.F.R. § 1003.1(h)(1)(i), I order that the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (“Board”) in this case applying Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), 1 U.S.C. § 7, be vacated, and that this matter be referred to me for review.

Saying the attorney general “has taken [an] extraordinary step” with the decision, attorney Eric Berndt — the supervising attorney for the National Asylum Partnership on Sexual Minorities at the National Immigrant Justice Center — tells Metro Weekly, “It adds some heft to our requests for prosecutorial discretion in individual cases in which the foreign partner” of a same-sex bi-national couple is seeking a green card because of his or her citizen same-sex partner.

Attorney Lavi Soloway, a co-founder of Immigration Equality, has been one of the leading attorney-advocates on the issue of asking the government — the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security and White House — to exercise that discretion. Soloway tells Metro Weekly in an email, “This development could be a sign that the Obama administration is looking for a way to protect gay and lesbian bi-national couples who are currently barred from the regular marriage-based immigration process by the Defense of Marriage Act.

Immigration Equality’s communications director, Steve Ralls, writes, “This seems to be a step in the right direction. I have little doubt that the recent, significant Congressional pressure on DOJ, led by Senator Kerry and Congresswoman Lofgren, played a key role in Holder’s decision.”

Of his current work at Stop the Deportations, Soloway says, “This is precisely why we must continue to advocate for the executive branch to implement administrative remedies to keep couples from being torn apart, remedies which include instituting a moratorium on deportations.”

In Holder’s decision, he goes on to state four questions that he directs the BIA to consider:

In the exercise of my review authority under that regulation, and upon consideration of the record in this case, I direct that the order of the Board be vacated and that this matter be remanded to the Board to make such findings as may be necessary to determine whether and how the constitutionality of DOMA is presented in this case, including, but not limited to: 1) whether respondent’s same-sex partnership or civil union qualifies him to be considered a “spouse” under New Jersey law; 2) whether, absent the requirements of DOMA, respondent’s same-sex partnership or civil union would qualify him to be considered a “spouse” under the Immigration and Nationality Act; 3) what, if any, impact the timing of respondent’s civil union should have on his request for that discretionary relief; and 4) whether, if he had a “qualifying relative,” the respondent would be able to satisfy the exceptional and unusual hardship requirement for cancellation of removal.

Unlike in other cases in which Soloway has pressed this issue, this case appears to involve a couple who have a civil union in New Jersey — and not a marriage license in one of the jurisdictions that permits same-sex marriages.

It will be interesting to see what the Board of Immigration Appeals says about questions 2 posed by Attorney General Holder. Historically, U.S. immigration laws have not recognized same sex marriages or partnerships as being eligible for marriage-based immigration benefits.

To follow current immigration events and policy regarding same sex marriage, follow The Nunez Firm blog and website.

Introduction to the New House Republican Majority’s Position on Immigration and U.S. Workers

January 25th, 2011 No comments
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After four years of Democratic control, Republicans are now in charge of the U.S. House of Representatives.  House Republican leaders have placed a familiar cast of characters in position to draft the chamber’s strategy on immigration:

* Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) is now the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and he has declared that immigration will be a top priority for his Committee.  Smith was the chair of the House Immigration Subcommittee in 1996 when Congress passed a series of laws that ramped up enforcement against both legal and undocumented immigrants—bills that collectively made the broken immigration system worse, not better.  Despite following Smith’s enforcement-only strategy for nearly fifteen years, the number of undocumented immigrants in our country has continued to rise.

* Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA) is now the chair of the House Immigration Subcommittee, and he is preparing to launch a series of hearings on immigration enforcement at the beginning of the 112th Congress.  Gallegly also has a long track record on immigration, and has focused much of his efforts on attacking children.  For example, since the early 1990s Gallegly has sponsored legislation to deny U.S. citizenship to babies born in America based on who their parents are.  In 1996, he famously pushed an amendment to deny undocumented children access to an education—the federal version of California’s Proposition 187.

* Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is now vice-chair of the House Immigration Subcommittee.  He may have been passed over for the top spot because of his incendiary comments, such as his comparison of immigrants to livestock and suggestion that we install an electric fence at the border to keep them out.  Still, Smith and Gallegly share King’s policy positions on immigration, and he will continue to play a key role in crafting their approach.

In one of his first acts of the year, Rep. Smith (R-TX) changed the name of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law to the Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement.  The name change reflects the new priorities of the Committee—an enforcement-only approach with the goal of driving 11 million undocumented immigrants and their family members out of the country.

However, since a mass deportation policy is not popular with Latino voters, House Republicans are attempting to recast their approach in more palatable terms.  Rather than change course and embrace comprehensive immigration reform—the only proposal that would truly level the playing field, turn workers into taxpayers, and restore the rule of law—they are simply recasting their anti-immigration agenda using pro-worker terms.

In this report, America’s Voice Education Fund (AVEF) peels back the pro-worker mask that Smith, Gallegly, and King are attempting to put on, and shows that they are motivated not by concern for workers but their desire to remove 11 million immigrants and their family members from the country.  AVEF reviews their voting records on worker issues, and find that they have a long history of opposing policies to help American workers succeed, such as an increase to the minimum wage.

In reality, Smith, Gallegly, and King are simply carrying out the policies embraced by a shadowy coalition of anti-immigrant organizations—many of whom have been tied to white supremacists or labeled hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  This report exposes that connection and makes it clear that groups like the “Coalition for the Future American Worker” are simply using American unemployment as the latest excuse to rail against immigrants.  In the past, these same organizations have blamed immigrants for such diverse issues such as global warming, the housing crisis, a broken health care system, traffic congestion, and more.

Finally, AVEF examines why a mass deportation agenda is dangerous politics for the Republican Party.  After pushing anti-immigrant policies for years and campaigning on the issue in the 2006, 2008, and 2010 elections, Republicans have boxed themselves in with Latino voters.  Following the strategy of Smith, Gallegly, and King, they are the party of Proposition 187, the Sensenbrenner bill, the Arizona “papers, please” immigration law and copycat proposals in other states, the defeat of comprehensive immigration reform, and the defeat of the DREAM Act.  Latino voters feel disrespected and attacked by the GOP, and are increasingly voting Democratic because of it.

As the 2010 Census results drive home, unless the GOP finds a way to reverse course on immigration and win at least 40% of the Latino vote, it will never see the inside of the White House again, and will become a minority party.  With Smith, Gallegly, and King at the helm in the House, the GOP is poised to become a sinking ship with Latino voters unless real leaders in the Party step up.

(As published by America’s Voice)

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