* Dramatization
* Dramatization
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sunrise-721180_640-300x198A group of nine states and the District of Columbia have filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Tuesday, seeking a court order to get access to records on the detention and deportation of immigrants within each state and district’s jurisdiction.

Maura Healey, Attorney General for the State of Massachusetts, filed the lawsuit against the DHS and other concerned federal immigration agencies in Massachusetts federal court. The petition aptly cites the US Freedom of Information Act in demanding the release of the documents.

The plaintiff attorneys general had earlier filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in June addressed to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

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pexels-photo-164183-300x200In a move that cements California’s refusal to join the Trump administration’s anti-immigration crusade, California Governor Jerry Brown has just signed a bill limiting the cooperation between federal immigration agencies and local law enforcement, effectively making the Golden State a so-called “sanctuary state.”

California Senate Bill 54 (SB54), authored by California Senate President Kevin de León, provides for several measures for the protection of California’s immigrants.

  • The bill bans federal immigration detainer requests or the deemed-unconstitutional local detention of federal suspects without local charges.
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pexels-photo-247880-300x200The Trump administration’s immigration crackdown has so far mostly consisted of reforms in enforcement. These include the increased deployment of ICE agents and so-far successful defunding of so-called sanctuary cities—communities whose law enforcement officials refuse to cooperate with federal deportation efforts.

But one area of Trump’s immigration policy that hasn’t received as much media coverage is “chain migration.”

According to Stephen Lee, Professor of Immigration and Administrative Law at the University of California, Irvine, chain migration refers to a process of citizens—usually permanent residents—sponsoring new individuals to come to the United States and receive green cards. These new green card holders, in turn, sponsor other individuals to enter the country.

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flag-2713652_640-300x200The refusal of one federal judge to overrule President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban against Muslim-majority countries, has put the fate of four families—two from Iran and two from Yemen—who won the annual immigration/visa lottery, in limbo.

In her 17-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan wrote: “The court declines to alter the status quo and grant these specific requests for injunctive and mandamus relief while the legality of the executive order is currently before the Supreme Court.”

The Immigration and Nationality Act provides for a diversity visa program, the winners of which are selected through a lottery system. The program, initiated by Congress, grants up to 50,000 visas to applicants from select countries. Applicants enter the lottery by filing a petition, after which the State Department randomly chooses winners to receive visas.

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barbed-wire-960248_640-1-300x199A group of refugees from different parts of the globe has filed a lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for illegally putting them in prison, where some were held for nearly two years.

The refugees recall going through the standard procedures for asylum applications, having passed their initial “credible fear” interviews upon arriving at the border. They were nonetheless detained.

Five of the refugee—the plaintiffs of the case—come from Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, and Sierra Leone. All five are currently held in detention centers in Texas—three at the Port Isabel Detention Center, one in Pearsall, and the other in Laredo.

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houston-1411796_640-300x169Attorney General Ken Paxton praised the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals for its unanimous decision to allow Texas to enforce core provisions of Texas Senate Bill 4 (SB4), a law designed to crack down on so-called “sanctuary” cities—a label that comes from their refusal to cooperate with the deportation efforts of the federal government.

District Judge Orlando Garcia of Del Rio, Texas had ruled on August 31—a day before SB4 was to be implemented—to block the state’s attempt to ban sanctuary cities. While Texas appeals this lower court ruling, the 5th Circuit affirms the state’s right to detain individuals based on the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer program.

Several of SB4’s provisions are designed to force local departments and law enforcement agencies to cooperate with the feds in their crackdown on undocumented immigrants.  The law forbids all local law enforcement officials, including police chiefs, sheriffs, and even campus police, to prevent immigration officers from inquiring about a person’s immigration status. The law also penalizes jurisdictions that refuse to comply with federal immigration detainers—requiring law enforcement agencies to detain individuals without local criminal charges for deportation.

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fence-2404730_640-300x200U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis slammed the Department of Homeland Security’s stubborn October 5 deadline for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status renewals, calling it “a position which is heartless,” adding that it is “unacceptable to me as a human being and as a person.” DACA is an Obama-era immigration executive order designed to allow undocumented immigrants, also known as DREAMers, who entered the United States as minors to stay and be permitted to work in the country for as long as they renew their status every two years.

What is DACA?

Under DACA, DREAMers can apply for renewable work permits, driver’s licenses, and even go to college without having to fear for their immigration status. For immigration rights advocates, these individuals might as well be American citizens, as they no other home aside from the United States, being too young to remember life in their native country.

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city-569093_640-300x300US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on Monday that it will be resuming premium processing for H-1B visa petitions. However, with the previously declared annual cap of 65,000 visa petitions for 2018 already met, only certain groups of applicants may push through with their visa processing.

What is the H-1B Visa?

The H-1B brings allows foreign workers in highly specialized fields to enter the United States and work in the country, as provided by section 101(a)(17)(H) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The specialized workers in demand include individual whose expertise are in technology, accounting, academic research, or other fields “requiring specific theoretical and technical expertise.”

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chicago-2519635_640-300x200Federal efforts to force counties and cities into complying with immigration policy have been stymied after a Chicago district court ruled against the defunding of so-called sanctuary cities—communities whose local government units and law enforcement officials refuse to detain and hand over undocumented immigrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation.

In July of this year, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department would withhold millions of dollars in federal funding from cities and states that refuse to honor federal immigration detainers for supposed immigrants with no local criminal charges.

The federal funding in question comes from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, which helps pay for the necessary law enforcement expenses of several local police departments in the country. This is paired with the threat to fine and even terminate sheriffs, campus police, and other law enforcement officers who refuse to cooperate with efforts to apprehend and deport identified immigrants.

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us-1978465_640-300x200The Supreme Court has ruled to allow the Trump administration’s restrictive refugee policies, including a travel ban that will prevent up to 24,000 refugees from entering the country before the end of October 2017. A lower court ruling had previously prevented the ban from taking effect, arguing it had violated the Constitution and federal immigration laws.

This won’t be the last time the administration’s immigration agenda hits news headlines, however. On October 10, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the legality of another travel ban, this time against six predominantly Muslim countries and refugees from other parts of the world.

However, it’s unclear what the high court will decide by that time; the 90-day travel ban lapses at the end of September, while the 120-day refugee ban lapses in late October. The Trump Administration has yet to announce whether they plan to renew the bans, expand them, or make them permanent.