The Benach Collopy Asylum Summer Fellowship 2017 I have been so lucky to get to know so many brave, hard-working, family-oriented, and generous people from all over the globe. They all shared one thing in common: a willingness to take a chance to come to the U.S. to be the person they knew they were meant to be. -Ava Benach Description of Fellowship Surging violence against transgender and gender nonconforming communities worldwide continue to force a record number of individuals to seek protection at U.S.
Back in November, we made some predictions about what might occur in a Trump presidency as it relates to immigration. Generally, we were very pessimistic and presumed that almost all areas of immigration would become more difficult and challenging for immigrants, families and communities. This has proven to be true, but not in all of the ways we anticipated. In some areas, such as refugees and admission policies, the administration has been as bad as expected.
“The judgement is affirmed by an equally divided court.” With one sentence, the Supreme Court refused to engage in the question of the President’s authority to extend deferred action to the parents of U.S. citizens (DAPA) and additional young people who entered the U.S. as children (expanded DACA). By affirming the judgement, the Court let the injunction against DAPA and expanded DACA stand, dashing the hopes of millions that there would be the ability to work legally in the U.S.
Even as the Obama administration takes steps to protect transgender children in schools and provide access to health care for trans people, the President’s illiberal approach to immigration continues to affect trans women in predictable and violent ways. As accolades were heaped on the administration from transgender advocates, the administration announced the creation of a new detention facility designed to hold trans detainees in Alvarado, Texas. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced a 36 bed enclave in the 700 bed facility that will be dedicated to trans detainees and will, in the words of ICE, operate along the most advanced lines of transgender care.
Justice Scalia The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has created turmoil in Washington DC and on the Presidential campaign trail. Republicans are uniformly calling on the President to refrain from nominating anyone to fill the vacancy due to the upcoming Presidential election. Within hours of the news of the Justice’s death, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader and the man who controls the Senate’s agenda, stated that the “vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.” The President has stated that he intends to nominate someone to fill the vacancy, setting up a battle with Senate Republicans over whether the nominee will ever get a hearing or approved by the Senate.
Our Client of the Month for January 2016 is Monique Kagayigayi. A survivor of the Rwandan genocide whose asylum claim was granted in 2004, Monique just received her green card after more than 10 years of waiting. This is the story of a remarkable woman and the legal efforts that were required to secure her status in the United States. On April 6, 1994, Rwanda’s then-president’s plane was shot down, sparking more than three months of terror and killing throughout Rwanda that today seems unthinkable.
We get a lot of questions about what it is like to be an immigration lawyer in Washington DC. After all, immigration is a federal matter and Congress and the executive branch are just blocks from our office. In addition to the White House and Capitol Hill, there are the headquarters of the Citizenship & Immigration Service, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, Customs & Border Protection, and the Executive Office for Immigration Review.
What just happened in the 5th Circuit? The U.S. Court of Appeals formally upheld Judge Hanen’s injunction prohibiting the administration for implementing DAPA & DACA. The injunction prohibited the administration from implementing DAPA and expanded DACA until the litigation brought by Texas and twenty six other states was resolved. Injunctions are sought to preserve the status quo while the legality or proposed actions is resolved. Judge Hanen ruled that Texas presented evidence of the possible injury if DAPA or DACA went forward and that Texas was likely to succeed in challenging DAPA and expanded DACA.
In Avendano-Hernandez v. Lynch, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled today that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) made an error of law in denying protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) to a transgender woman from Mexico who had been sexually assaulted and raped by members of the Mexican police and military. Apparently, an immigration judge and the BIA got it so wrong that it took an appeal to the Court of Appeals (a step below the Supreme Court) to reach the right decision.
Since last summer, when the Obama Administration hastily resurrected the concept of family detention to jail refugee women and children seeking asylum, thousands of women and children have languished in inhumane conditions, have been refused meaningful access to counsel and interpreters, have been hurled through bond proceedings with predetermined results, and have been sent directly and expeditiously back to the danger from which they fled – all in violation of U.S.