What is Happening – A Humanitarian Crisis and Call to Action

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Deportation, family separation, immigration bill, Immigration Court, Immigration Law, Legislative Reform Leave a comment

What is Happening – A Humanitarian Crisis (Family Separation/Zero Tolerance)

I know we have been inundated as immigration attorneys with more changes in the last year and a half than most of the Obama Administration but I want to give you an update from what I have seen on the ground regarding family separation. I volunteered at Port Isabel 2 weeks after the AILA Annual Conference(https://tinyurl.com/y7qlax2h/), stayed in touch with those I visited as well as other volunteers, organized efforts, communicated updates with the media, took pro bono case work, sent my associate attorney to volunteer last week, and didn’t unplug during my annual vacation last week because of this.  I have been following the crisis on local, state, and national levels in many capabilities and all of them shirking my law firm management duties to serve a greater cause.

As you know, the Admin. charged parents with criminal illegal entry to separate their kids and to label their children as UACs to place in ORR facilities under the “Zero Tolerance” policy (on a large scale level starting May 7, 2018). ACLU’s efforts (see Ms. L. v ICE  +) and the public outcry (see E.O. of June 20) have been putting the Administration on notice to act to reverse it but it has been a due process struggle at every juncture as the Administration creates road blocks at each step of the way (see Matter of A.B., etc.)

What I saw was parents who were traumatized, they were lied to when they were separated from their children. They didn’t have the opportunity to speak with their young child until after the June 20 Executive Order, which meant a day or two before or a day or two after their credible fear interview. Would you want to give your whole life story over the phone to a Government that lied to you and ripped your child from you? Many come from countries that they don’t trust in the first place and why do we expect them to tell their secrets, they didn’t even tell their family, their spouse, their children, the a person on the other side of the phone while they are living with the trauma of separation? That is why we need to help them to create a class action lawsuit and give them more opportunities to fight for due process.

Many received negative credible fear interview results. Upon Immigration Judge review, there were often summarily kept with the same decision, often without the IJ even allowing the attorney to speak (Enter Article 1 vs Article 3 court discussion). But for the ACLU’s litigation, many would have been deported without their children by now. Let that sink in.

There were approx. 103 “tender age” separations including one mother I spoke with at Port Isabel detention center(PIDC) who was separated from her 5-month old baby she was breastfeeding.

Approx. 2,551 other minor children were separated and spread around the country.  This last group must be reunited by the Ms. L v Ice deadline given by Judge Sabraw of Thursday, July 26. Many of us who have seen the inner workings don’t believe this deadline will be met but progress has been expedited in the last few days.

Starting Friday, July 13th, 9 children were reunited with parents at PIDC and then later more parents were reunited. They were reunited after 30-60 days of separation, placed in a shelter for a day or two and then on their way. Oh, and given master calendar hearings in Harlingen for a month after their departure of detention even though they plan to relocated around the country. This is not specific to Port Isabel, I am hearing reports from other facilities like Arizona, etc.  I am afraid the Administration is setting many up for failure hoping the reunified parents and traumatized families will miss their deadlines and be deported in absentia.

Things are changes every minute. We are experiencing a tsunami with various points of collateral damage at each step of the way. Non-profits and organizations have not been able to keep up. Think travel ban 1.0 at the airports or for us in Houston, Harvey, and then take it to the next level because our Government knew they were traumatizing children, gutting asylum law, and creating chaos simultaneously  without a plan to fix it.  They were invoking trauma on children in the name of deterrence of asylum-seekers but all the while dodging asylum law obligations and general human rights mores.

Call to Action

  1. Take a pro bono case or two – these people need our help and they need it soon: I think the Admin wants them to get in absentia orders so let’s not let that happen. I know of grassroots efforts collecting information of the parents being reunited and I too have information of parents, if you want a lead on a case, I can help. ([email protected])
  2. Encourage your friends to donate to groups doing the best good, help in other non-legal ways and volunteer on a short-term basis:

 

  1. Let’s remind our US citizen friends and clients to register to vote and to actually vote. Put instructions on how to register and upcoming elections in your lobby and your social media. Bring it up in consultations.
  2. Be the voice for those who are not being heard –
    1. Advocacy tools and Op-ed templates: https://www.aila.org/advo-media/tools
    2. Speak to the media and journalists – give immigrants a voice and explain the situation as a subject matter expert.

Let’s do this!

Ruby L. Powers

Board Certified Immigration Attorney, Powers Law Group, P.C.

www.RubyPowersLaw.com

[email protected]

July 19, 2018


My Court Date Got Reset- What’s Next?

Posted on by Carlos Gutierrez in Immigration Court, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends Leave a comment

 By Cynthia Milian

In the last month, many immigration attorneys have scrambled to readjust their schedules and firm personnel to ensure that their clients are prepared and are represented in their upcoming court hearing dates that have been moved from 2019 to the summer of this year. This means that cases that were initially scheduled for 2019 have been moved a whole year ahead.

What does this mean for you?
It is imperative that you communicate with your immigration attorney. Contact your attorney and get a follow up regarding the strategy or course your case will take. If there have been major changes in your life—change of address, marriage, death, birth of children—make sure you notify your immigration attorney to see what documents will need to be presented to the immigration judge prior to or at your next hearing.

If you receive a new court date and do not know what to do next, contact an immigration attorney that has court experience. Facing a judge on your own can be daunting, but having an attorney that is knowledgeable with immigration court experience can not only make you feel more confident, but help you be better prepared and increase your chances of getting a favorable outcome.

Here at Powers Law Group we have many years of experience in immigration court. Our office would be happy to assist and represent you at your next court hearing. If you are in doubt, and do not know what to do with your reset court date, contact our office for a consultation to see what course of action to take.


Five Trends in Immigration Court

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Deportation, Immigration Court, Immigration Trends Leave a comment

By Jose Aponte, Esq.

January 2018

As an attorney that spends a considerable amount of time in Immigration Court throughout the Houston area (Downtown, CCA Detention Center on Greens Road, as well as, via teleconference from the Joe Corley Detention Center), I watch for trends that may be developing over time.  Here are five of the most recent trends observed in immigration court in the Houston, TX area:

  1. New Judges – The Executive Office for Immigration Review, (“EOIR”) has been hiring new Immigration judges throughout the country, including the Houston area over the last few years to meet with the demand to cover the case load. This leads to two potential consequences:
    1. First, cases that were originally set for dates in 2019, 2020, or even 2021, may now be reset for much sooner dates as the heavy case load is dispersed among the new judges. Moreover, any date requests for individual merit hearing are receiving earlier dates by the newer judges.  Therefore, it is important that your attorney to be prepared to defend your case in a relatively short period of time between your last Master Calendar hearing and your Merits hearing.
    2. Secondly, there is a steep learning curve for the new judges so it is important that your attorney be willing to do all they can to make sure that your right to due process is always protected.
  2. Hearing Dates – As stated above, many cases over the last several years were being set for both Master and Merit hearings for dates in November 2019. However, there has been a trend of resetting these cases to sooner dates both as a result of the new judges being hired as well as other factors.  Therefore, it is very important for both you and your attorney to always remain in the look-out for any such changes to your hearing date.
  3. “Courtroom shuffle” – With the advent of the new Immigration Judges, there has been a bit of a reshuffle of the various courtrooms immigration judges occupy in the two buildings that make up the Downtown Houston Immigration court. While this may not seem as a major issue, its importance does increase in significance if you happen to be running late on the date of your hearing only to find out that your judge has switched courtrooms and is now in a different building.
  4. Notice to Appear for Applications – We have recently seen a trend where Notice to Appear (“NTA”) have been served on clients at significantly faster rates that previously seen. For example, individuals who have mailed late-filed I-751’s received, very shortly thereafter, not only an NTA but also had their initial Master Calendar hearing scheduled soon thereafter.
  5. Respondent’s Without Representation – A trend that seems to be continuing is that of the large number of Respondents that are appearing at various stages of the process of removability without any form of representation. While there are many instances when the respondent simply could not afford the services of an experienced attorney, on many other occasions it is as a result of misinformation.  It is important that you do all that you can in order to ensure that all your rights are protected as you navigate the complicated and often confusing maze of Immigration Court proceedings.  Hiring an experienced Immigration attorney is an important step in protecting your rights.

We are currently in the midst of many changes occurring with U.S. Immigration laws and policy.  Rest assured that as these and other trends continued to develop, the Powers Law Group will remain vigilant and do all it can to disseminate accurate and timely information.


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