News

Obama Confident About Immigration Appeal

President Barack Obama urged immigrants thrown into legal limbo this week to keep planning for eventual relief, WRCB reports from the Associated Press. A Texas federal judge put a hold on the President's executive actions, but Obama said he is confident that his deportation directives won't be thrown out in court. Obama said he expects to win when a U.S. Circuit Ccourt hears his appeal, but added that his administration will "take it up from there" if the appeal fails, in an apparent reference to the Supreme Court.

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Homeland Security Releases Rule on Employment Authorization

The Department of Homeland Security yesterday released the long-awaited H-4 employment authorization rule, allowing certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants to receive employment authorization documents, according to immigration attorney Greg Siskind. Siskind Susser goes into detail about the new rule in its blog.

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Judge Blocks Obama Immigration Order

A federal judge in Texas has temporarily blocked President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration, which has also drawn opposition from 26 states. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled late last night to block executive actions Obama took late last year to shield as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, ruling that the administration had failed to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act. The White House said in a statement today that the president's actions "are well within his legal authority" and that the Justice Department has indicated "that it will appeal that decision.” CNN has more.

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ABA House Acts on Range of Issues

The ABA House of Delegates met Monday in Houston, adopting a number of resolutions, including: (1) calling for counsel to be appointed to unaccompanied minor immigrants and special training be provided to courts that hear their cases, (2) opposing stand-your-ground laws, (3) condemning foreclosure rescue fraud, (4) urging states to grant protective orders even though a victim and perpetrator have no established domestic relationship, (5) requiring a unanimous jury verdict before imposing the death penalty, (6) calling for open and transparent disclosure of execution protocols, (7) urging governments to adopt a presumption against the shackling of juveniles in court, and (8) urging law schools and bar associations to counsel young attorneys on student loan debt. The body considered but sponsors ultimately withdrew resolutions calling for federal regulation of paid tax preparers and stronger laws to protect the privacy of consumer data.

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Former ACLU Attorney to Lead Human Relations Commission

Melody Fowler-Green has been appointed executive director of the Metro Human Relations Commission, the Tennessean reports. A former attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, Fowler-Green has taken up causes for migrant workers and argued for same-sex marriage at the Tennessee Supreme Court. She replaces Tom Negri, who has been interim director since 2013.

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ABA Midyear Meeting Opens in Houston

Immigration, access to justice for persons of modest means and money’s influence on elections are just some of the issues that will be tackled by attendees in hearings and panel programs during the 2015 ABA Midyear Meeting. The meeting runs through Monday when the 560-member House of Delegates, which sets policy for the ABA, convenes. The Tennessee Bar Association with support from Tennessee law schools will host a reception in Houston Saturday for former TBA president Danny Van Horn. View the invitiation here

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ICE Told to Help Identify Immigrants for Leniency Programs

The Obama administration has ordered immigration agents to ask immigrants they encounter living in the country illegally whether they might qualify under President Barack Obama’s plans to avoid deporting them, according to internal training materials obtained by The Associated Press. The directives from the Homeland Security Department mark an unusual change for U.S. immigration enforcement, placing the obligation on the government for identifying immigrants who might qualify for lenient treatment. Previously, it was the responsibility of immigrants or their lawyers to assert that they might qualify under rules that could keep them out of jail and inside the United States. WREG has more.

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Legal Aid Hires 2 for Immigrant and Refugee Outreach

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands has hired two people to work with immigrant and refugee outreach. Jarod Word joins Legal Aid Society's Volunteer Lawyers Program, where he will be tasked with building new community partnerships to expand the program’s immigrant and refugee outreach. Guadalupe Betanzos comes to Legal Aid Society's Nashville office as a bilingual victim advocate. Fluent in both English and Spanish, she will work with victims of domestic violence in a two-county territory with a focus on immigrant populations.

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Learn About Immigration Executive Actions at Pro Bono CLE

Lawyers interested in learning more about President Obama’s recent immigration executive actions should plan to attend a free CLE this Thursday from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at the Tennessee Bar Center. The session is sponsored by Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON), Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) and the TBA and its Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative. Those in attendance will receive an overview of new and expanded administrative relief available to undocumented immigrants. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean also will be on hand to speak about how the program is impacting Nashville communities. Register by email or contact Bethany Jackson with any questions.

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Attorneys Refute Claims Immigration Orders are Above Judicial Review

Twenty-five states’ top lawyers blasted the federal government’s claim that President Barack Obama’s executive order letting more than 4 million undocumented immigrants stay in the U.S. is above judicial review. The administration claims the policy is “challengeable by no plaintiff, reviewable by no court, and subject to no public input,” lawyers for the states said in an 88-page filing. The states claim they have the legal right to challenge the executive order because they may have to spend “hundreds of millions of dollars on health, education and law-enforcement programs” to serve new waves of immigrants. The Columbia Daily Herald has more from Bloomberg News

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Funding Lags for Sex-Trafficking Victims


Despite increasing awareness of America’s sex-trafficking industry, many states have not yet enacted laws to combat it with enough funding to support trafficking victims, WRCB reports from the Associated Press. National advocacy groups say relatively few states have appropriated substantial funding to support victims with shelter, mental-health services and life-skills training. Without such services, advocates say, many victims are less useful as witnesses against their traffickers and more vulnerable to being forced or lured back to the sordid underworld that exploited them.

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Haslam Backs Immigration Challenge

Gov. Bill Haslam is backing Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s decision to join a multistate lawsuit aimed at blocking President Barack Obama’s executive order on undocumented immigrants. “From what I understood, what they're challenging it on is not on the basis of the immigration deal but more on the basis of can you do that by executive order,” Haslam said Monday. “And I do think that's a legitimate concern.” Haslam told the Times Free Press that Slatery had not informed him personally of the decision but he did see the statement released by the attorney general’s office. With Slatery's actions, Tennessee becomes the 25th state, all with Republican attorneys general, challenging Obama's executive order.

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Tennessee Joins Immigration Lawsuit

Tennessee will join a lawsuit challenging recent immigration actions by President Barack Obama, the Tennessean reports. Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery said the suit is not really about immigration. “It is really more about the rule of law and the limitations that prevent the executive branch from taking over a role constitutionally reserved for Congress," he said. "The executive directives issued by the White House and Homeland Security conflict with existing federal law." Tennessee is the 25th state to join the suit, originally brought by the state of Texas.

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Judge Rules Immigration Move Unconstitutional

A federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled yesterday that President Barack Obama's move to halt deportations for millions of undocumented immigrants violates the Constitution — but it's not clear that the ruling will have any immediate impact. Pittsburgh-based U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab, a George W. Bush appointee, became the first judge to rule on the legality of Obama's executive overhaul of immigration rules when he issued his unusual opinion in a criminal case. The Justice Department shot back that the judge was "flatly wrong" and his ruling wouldn't halt the implementation of Obama's immigration policies. WCYB has more.

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DOJ Responds to Immigration Challenge

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is urging dismissal of a lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama's executive order on immigration, the Associated Press reports. The suit, brought by Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, argues that the program will serve as a magnet for illegal entries into the United States and will place additional burdens on his law enforcement resources. Responding to the lawsuit, DOJ argues that Arpaio does not show how he will suffer any injury from the program, making his claims purely speculative. In addition to Arpaio’s suit, 24 states have joined together to challenge the program on two fronts: that Obama violated constitutional limits on presidential power and that his action will exacerbate the humanitarian crisis along the southern border. WRCB-TV has the AP story.

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Obama Calls Nashville ‘Role Model’ for Other Cities

President Barack Obama was in Nashville Tuesday to garner support for his recent immigration actions and reiterate his call for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration legislation, the Nashville Business Journal reports. Obama appealed to civility and morality as well as economic arguments for immigration reform. He said he came to Nashville because it has one of the fastest-growing immigration populations in the country and can be a role model for other communities. “Nashville is leading the way in getting this conversation right,” Obama said at a town hall meeting at the Casa Azafran community center, which provides social services to immigrants.

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AG: Tennessee Undecided on Suing Obama Over Immigration

Tennessee has not decided to join a 17-state coalition in its lawsuit against the Obama administration that challenges the president’s executive order easing immigration restrictions. "The fact that Tennessee is not currently one of the plaintiffs does not mean that Attorney General Slatery has decided against joining the lawsuit or that he is opposed to appropriate legal action," said Leigh Ann Jones, a spokeswoman for Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery. The Tennessean has the story

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House Attacks Obama Immigration Orders

House Republicans today issued a stern rebuke to President Barack Obama over immigration, passing a bill declaring his executive actions to curb deportations "null and void and without legal effect,” the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The bill stands little or no chance of advancing through the Senate, so is mostly symbolic. Obama's executive actions last month will extend deportation relief and work permits to some 4 million immigrants here without documents, mostly those who have been in the country more than five years and have children who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.

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Obama to Give Immigration Speech in Nashville

President Barack Obama is visiting Nashville next week to deliver remarks on the nation's immigration system at Casa Azafran, an immigrant community center on Nolensville Pike. The Dec. 9 visit will mark Obama's second trip to Nashville in less than a year. In January, Obama visited McGavock High School where he gave a speech on education, the Tennessean reports

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Section Chair Provides Details on Immigration Executive Order

In a newsletter today to members of the Immigration Law Section, chair Bruce Buchanan breaks down President Obama’s executive order on immigration, explaining six key provisions of the order. Then on Dec. 10, Buchanan and fellow Nashville lawyer Sean Lewis will present a one-hour webcast on the executive action and other changes in immigration policy. Learn more at TBA CLE.

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What is Included in President Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration?

By Bruce Buchanan*

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced sweeping changes to immigration policy which will allow up to 5 million undocumented workers to obtain work authorization cards for three years and not be subject to deportation (also called removal) during this same three year period. In addition, President Obama’s Immigration Actions will expand the “provisional waiver” program, clarify the meaning of “extreme hardship” in provisional waiver cases, take actions to better enable U.S. businesses to hire and retain highly skilled foreign-born workers, expand opportunities for students to gain Occupational Practical Training (OPT) and set new removal priorities.[i]

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Slatery Decides Not to Join GOP AGs on Immigration Letter

Attorney General Herbert Slatery has confirmed that he did not join a group of Republican colleagues from other states in issuing a statement vowing “appropriate action” on President Barack Obama’s recent executive order on immigration. In a statement today, Slatery said he will give “careful consideration to all the relevant facts” before making an informed decision. The letter, organized by the Republican Attorneys General Association, was signed by 19 current and incoming attorneys general. The Greeneville Sun has the story from the Associated Press.

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Immigration Law CLE

Learn more Presdient Barack Obama's new executive order on immigration as well as many other changes in immigration policy on Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. Immigration Law section members will receive a discount. Learn more at TBA CLE.

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Obama Announces Immigration Changes

President Barack Obama last night announced a plan to allow up to 5 million of the country’s 11 million undocumented residents to obtain legal status in the U.S, the ABA Journal reports. As outlined in a press release, the president’s immigration reform plan calls for increased border enforcement, deporting felons rather than families and allowing parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents permission to stay here temporarily if they register, pass criminal and national security background checks and pay their fair share of taxes. In response to the announcement, Rep. Andy Holt (R- Dresden) and Sen. Mae Beavers (R- Mt. Juliet) are filing a joint resolution requesting Gov. Bill Haslam file a lawsuit against the Obama Administration, citing the commandeering of state resources, which they say would be required to execute the President's Executive Order, and the lack of enforcement of deportation statutes as warrant for legal recourse.

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Immigration Courts Backlog Grows as Obama Prepares Executive Action

More than 420,000 cases are pending in U.S. immigration courts, a steadily growing backlog that immigration lawyers say they hope will be eased by President Barack Obama’s soon-to-be-announced executive actions, the National Law Journal reports. Obama is set to announce tonight a series of executive actions he says will help fix what he has called the country’s “broken immigration system.” The executive actions are expected to include an expansion of temporary protections from deportation and an update to the guidelines that prosecutors use in deciding whether to close or stop pursuing certain cases.

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