* Dramatization
* Dramatization
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courtroom-144091_640-1-224x300“Knock it off,” is what California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote in her letter to the Trump administration, this after a recent spate of arrests by immigration officials at multiple courthouses around the country.

Cantil-Sakauye previously accused immigration officials of targeting undocumented immigrants at trial courts, using the courthouses as staging grounds to detain unsuspecting migrants waiting for the results of their hearings.

Most recently, the Cantil-Sakauye fired off a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, pointing out that, “Courthouses should not be used as bait in the necessary enforcement of our country’s immigration laws.”

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border-62866_640-1-300x206During a visit to the U.S.-Mexico Border on Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ushered in what he called the “Trump Era,” vowing that immigrants deported from the United States who re-enter the country without proper documentation will face felony charges amid an intensified immigration enforcement initiative.

“For those that continue to seek improper and illegal entry into this country, be forewarned: This is a new era. This is the Trump era. The lawlessness, the abdication of the duty to enforce our immigration laws, and the catch-and-release practices of old are over,” Sessions said in a speech addressed to immigration and border agents in Arizona.

According to a memo circulated within the Department of Justice, government attorneys should now “consider” raising felony charges against individuals caught crossing the border after being previously being deported. In addition, federal attorneys must aggressively pursue felony convictions against individuals found to have helped migrants enter the United States illegally, as well as those harboring undocumented immigrants. Compared to misdemeanor violations, felony convictions come with stiffer penalties.

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boston-1934665_640-300x207Questioning government attorneys over the legality of holding an undocumented immigrant indefinitely for U.S. immigration authorities to deport, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court notes how a case it is taking up sets a huge precedent for U.S. immigration policy.

Justice Geraldine Hines was particularly decisive in her move to curb the federal government’s recent emphasis on deporting what it calls “criminal aliens.”

“We have the right to look at the whole. If this issue is capable of repetitive and expanding review, we’re entitled to look at that. Whether Mr. Lunn is a criminal alien or whatever, that’s kind of beside the point,” she said.

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golden-gate-bridge-1990253_640-300x200In a move that protests President Donald Trump’s “false and cynical portrayal” of undocumented immigrants, California lawmakers have recently pushed two bills that would fund legal assistance for individuals trying to fight deportation, all while blocking U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials from forcing local law enforcement agencies to detain undocumented immigrants for the federal government to deport.

In a press release, state Senate Majority Leader and Senate President pro Tempore Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) said, “The Senate’s passage today of the California Values Act is an acknowledgement of the cultural and economic contributions made to our great state by immigrants and is a rejection of President Trump’s false and cynical portrayal of undocumented residents as a lawless community.”

Senate Bill 54, also known as the California Values Act, would “prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies, including school police and security departments, from using resources to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes.” It would also prohibit local law enforcement agencies from making arrests based on civil immigration warrants.

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columns-756619_640-300x201After escalating his case to the Supreme Court, a Korean immigrant is waiting for a decision involving a claim for ineffective assistance of counsel. The result will determine whether the petitioner, Jae Lee, gets to keep his permanent resident status.

All of the justices appeared to sympathize with Lee’s predicament after learning how his lawyer had given him wrong counsel, urging him to plead guilty to a drug charge so he would not be deported from the country.

The conservative justices, however, were concerned about writing a decision that would require judges to jump into the minds of defendants to judge whether it would be rational for them to take their case to court knowing with certainty they would lose, or accept a plea deal like Lee did.

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car-2150838_640-300x200Immigration authorities have set their sights on an Oregon “DREAMer” last week after learning of a DUI charge against him from last December. According to a spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties of Oregon, 25-year-old Francisco Rodriguez Dominguez was eventually released from the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma on Monday, on an unspecified bond.

DACA Background

Rodriguez Dominguez joins the list of immigrants enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program who have been detained after President Trump took office in January.

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razor-wire-1762079_640-300x169Four immigrant women have dropped their domestic abuse charges for fear of being arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents that have been observed waiting outside courthouses to make opportunistic arrests to deport undocumented immigrants.

According to Denver City Attorney Kristin Bronson, she regrets that the four unique assault charges cannot be pursued due to the lack of victims’ testimony and the eventual release of domestic abusers. She points to a video taken and circulated last month of ICE agents waiting outside a Denver courthouse to arrest an immigrant facing trial inside as being the reason for their crippling fear.

The Trump administration has been vocal on its hard-line stance on immigrants and immigration, which encompasses incendiary remarks made by the President himself, the implementation of a travel ban against 6 predominantly Muslim countries, and the increased hiring of more ICE officers. These efforts has so far been effective, resulting in the deportation of hundreds of documented and undocumented immigrants in the first two months of the new administration

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crj-1738764_640-300x225Although top politicians in Texas have long been vocal about their efforts to crack down on undocumented immigration, things could not be more different in Travis County, specifically its county seat Austin, which has declined more immigration holds than any other county in the United States.

According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), counties across 16 states, Texas included, combined to reject 206 detainer requests between January 28 and February 3, as were revealed in the DHS’s Declined Detainer Outcome Report.

But more surprising is that Travis County accounted for more than two-thirds (142) of all declined detainers.

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american-691626_640-300x200President Trump’s revised executive order to once again suspend the United States’ refugee program and temporarily ban immigrants from six Muslim-majority countries has naturally stoked fears of tighter restrictions against visa applications. The original order, signed in January this year, resulted in legitimate visa holders being held in airports in the country due to their citizenship and country of origin. This prompted a Seattle court to file an injunction against the so-called Muslim ban, which has since been frozen.

Yet despite the travel ban, gaining legal entry into the United States, even on a temporary basis (e.g. for work, leisure, education purposes), has always been challenging for people from different countries, especially in recent years. In fact, it has turned into a significant source of revenue.

According to data collected by Axibase, a data analysis software company, “In 2015, the U.S. State Department earned over $400 million from non-immigrant visa applications that ended up being rejected.” The report also revealed that the federal government rejected around 1 in every 5 applications, amounting to more than 2.6 million denied non-immigrant visas, each one costing an average of $160 in fees.

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courthouse-1223279_640-300x200Tennessee filed a lawsuit against the federal government this week, claiming a violation of the 10th Amendment after it threatened to cut the state’s Medicaid funding unless it agreed to allocate funds for the resettlement of refugees in the country. The suit, filed in Jackson, Tennessee, by the state’s General Assembly and 2 representatives, argues that the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program—comprised of the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) and Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)—violates the protection of state sovereignty and the Constitution’s Spending Clause.

The lawsuit states: “This suit is not intended to inflict harm on immigrants or refugees from any nation. Rather, this is a suit that seeks to preserve the constitutional relationship between the federal government and the states as mandated by our nation’s founders.”

Tennessee state officials point out that in 2015, they spent over $31 million to help resettle refugees through TennCare, the state’s version of Medicaid, which receives federal funding. After voluntarily participating in the program, Tennessee tried to pull out unsuccessfully in 2008.