* Dramatization
* Dramatization
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arrestThe federal government has filed charges of illegal entry against a group of 11 Central American immigrants suspected to have come to the United States to seek asylum, a few of whom are mothers and children allowed to proceed with their asylum applications.

The group of undocumented immigrants now face criminal charges filed by the Justice Department for allegedly participating in a caravan that coursed through Mexico by both train and on foot—a journey that took a month to complete. The defendants claim to have left their home countries to escape violence.

The arrests were made in separate locations, all within miles of the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego, a place where hundreds of Central Americans wait to be processed by immigration agents. According to the complaints, the defendants were arrested in an area known to locals as the “Goat Canyon.”

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lawTexas is leading a seven-state coalition claiming that former President Barack Obama exceeded the authority of his office when he issued the executive order creating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012. This comes after Texas officials promised to take legal action against the polarizing immigration program.

DACA grants immigrants who entered the country as children(colloquially known as DREAMers, after the DREAM Act, a similar but failed immigration law) relief from deportation, allowing them to apply for temporary work permits and driver’s licenses every two years. It is estimated that there are at least 125,000 DACA recipients reside in Texas alone.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit in federal court, seeking an injunction to prevent the government from further issuing or renewing permits under the immigration program. He is joined by the attorneys general of other Republican-controlled states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, and West Virginia.

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migration-3130767_1920The Justice Department recently reached a settlement with Themesoft Inc (Themesoft), a Texas-based technology consulting and staffing company.  After an extensive investigation of the company’s refusal to refer a work-authorized immigrant to a client, the company was found to have violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). A former worker of Themesoft accused management of discriminating against him because of his citizen status as an asylum seeker.

According to the complaint, Themesoft refused to refer the asylum seeker’s application to one of their clients, citing his lack of a lawful permanent resident status, U.S. citizenship, and H-1B visa. The US government, however, grants asylum seekers work authorization, allowing them to find employment just as any lawful permanent resident and U.S. citizen is able to.

Themesoft was also found to have violated the INA’s anti-discrimination provision by demanding specific immigration documentation from the asylum seeker due to his immigration status. Under the provision, employers are strictly prohibited from requiring documents from immigrant workers pertaining to their citizenship, immigration statuses, or country of origin beyond those specified by law.

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statue-of-liberty-164294_1280In a serious blow to immigrants facing deportation without legal representation, the U.S. Justice Department has issued an indefinite suspension on the Legal Orientation Program (LOP), effective April 30, in an effort to assess the program’s effectiveness. The LOP provides immigrants facing deportation with basic legal education, helping them make informed decisions throughout the deportation proceedings, the better to ensure that due process is observed. Judges, immigration attorneys, and even Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have praised the program, claiming that it has saved taxpayer money by expediting the court process.

While immigrants are entitled to an attorney to represent them as they go through the immigration court proceedings, the government is not required to provide lawyers to those who cannot afford them. In fact, according to a recent report by Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), an independent and nonpartisan research organization at Syracuse University, the vast majority of Texas immigrants went through their deportation proceedings without legal representation.

In the absence of an attorney, the next best thing immigrants have is the LOP.

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trumpAs the Trump administration carries on with its crackdown on illegal immigration, detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants by the thousands, one report shows that Texas immigrants are not only most likely to be deported, they are also the least likely to go through the deportation proceedings with the help of a legal professional.

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), an independent and nonpartisan research organization at Syracuse University, released a report showing that between October 2000 and February 2018 in Texas, only 213,197 out of 733,125 immigrants—less than 30 percent—went through their deportation proceedings with adequate legal representation. Texas trails behind only Louisiana and Arizona in this respect.

Furthermore, 68 percent of Texas deportation cases in the study’s sample resulted in a removal (i.e. deportation) order. In New York, on the other hand, 74 percent of immigrant defendants were represented by an attorney, leading to only 27% of cases ending with a removal order.

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lawThe Supreme Court quashed a law on Tuesday that would authorize the government to arbitrarily deport immigrants found guilty of serious crimes, stating that it was too unconstitutionally vague. The ruling is yet another setback to the Trump administration’s efforts to deport immigrants convicted of certain crimes.

The ruling is significant because Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who usually leans conservative, unexpectedly joined the four liberal justices in the high court, forming a simple majority with a 5-4 vote. Justice Gorsuch, explaining his vote, claimed that the law was simply unconstitutional.

“Vague laws invite arbitrary power,” he wrote in agreement.

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detentionThe American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts filed a class action lawsuit against the Trump administration on Tuesday, claiming a trend of detaining immigrants seeking legal immigration through marriage to U.S. citizens.

The lawsuit comes amid increased calls by President Trump to crack down on illegal and legal immigration, particularly chain migration, or the practice of seeking legal immigration status by sponsoring extended family members seeking legal entry into the United States. These new immigrants, upon legalization, carry on the practice, resulting in a familial “chain” of immigrants entering the country.

The proposed class action, filed in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, alleges that immigration officials have been deliberately detaining noncitizen spouses of U.S. residents seeking lawful immigration status, forcibly breaking families apart.

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licenseSeveral immigrant rights advocacy groups have raised concerns over a number of state bills recently introduced in Michigan, which require drivers’ licenses for legal immigrants to bear distinguishing visual markers and the expiration date of their legal status, claiming that such a measure will lead to racial profiling and discrimination.

Two Michigan House bills were proposed last month by Pamela Hornberger(R-Chesterfield Township) and Beth Griffin (R-Mattawan), mandating to have driver’s licenses and state identification cards of noncitizens clearly indicate when the license holder’s legal status is set to expire. Both bills will be discussed in a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing set on Tuesday.

According to Michigan Rep. Triston Cole (R-Mancelona), chair of the committee considering the legislation, the two bills are likely to “not have a great deal of resistance in the committee,”and will “come out fairly quickly once we can get the hearing process over.”

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Immigrationjudge judges claim that the annual case quota set by the Trump administration to unclog the country’s immigration court system will likely do the opposite, adding to, rather than clearing up the courts’ huge backlog of cases.This comes after the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would be setting a quota for immigration judges, mandating every judge to handle and resolve a minimum of 700 cases a year to meet job standards.

The Trump administration has been making changes to the country’s immigration system, living up to the President’s campaign promise to crack down on unlawful immigration and undocumented immigrants. In particular, the president has focused his efforts on doing away with the legal technicalities he believes have been “abused” by individuals seeking asylum in the U.S. and awaiting court dates in order to remain in the country. Immigration courts have thus seen an overwhelming influx of cases, resulting in a backlog of cases that continues to grow with each passing day.

According to Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges and herself an immigration judge in L.A., the quota will only backfire and undermine a system already suffering from imbalances, which are preventing people who are slated for deportation from receiving a fair hearing.

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us militaryPresident Trump announced on Tuesday his plan to deploy the military to patrol the southwest border after reports surfaced that a large group of asylum seekers is looking to immigrate to the United States.

Since his campaign, Trump has criticized and threatened to rescind a number of U.S. immigration policies and practices he deemed were too lenient and allowed undocumented immigrants to freely enter the country. In particular, the President criticized laws allowing people to come and ask for asylums as he explained recent announcement to buff up border control.

“The Mexican border is very unprotected by our laws.We have horrible, horrible, and very unsafe laws in the United States,” Trump claimed in a news conference where the presidents of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were present.