News

UT Immigration Clinic Raising Funds for Legal Fellow

Karla McKanders, an associate professor at the University of Tennessee College of Law and director of the school’s Immigration Clinic, is raising money through “VOLStarter.com” – an online platform designed to raise money exclusively for university projects – to fund an immigration fellow at the clinic. The new fellow would provide legal assistance to children who have escaped violence, abuse and neglect in their home countries, as well as work closely with students on such cases. McKanders hopes to raise $10,000 to pay for travel, supplies and educational material.

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Panel Looks at Immigrant Birth Issues

Babies born in the United States to noncitizen parents would no longer be automatically granted citizenship under a proposal debated at a congressional hearing yesterday, the Tennessean reports. The House Subcommittee on Immigration held a hearing on so-called “birthright citizenship” as well as the issue of “birth tourism,” which refers to pregnant women from other countries who travel to America to deliver their children. Tennessee representatives Phil Roe, Scott DesJarlais and John Duncan have signed on to legislation to limit citizenship.

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Legislative Session Wraps Up

State lawmakers finished their work for the 2015 legislative session just before 10 p.m. last night, the Tennessean reports. Among the bills passed yesterday, lawmakers approved an additional exemption to the Hall tax on investment income, new rules for ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, and the use of cannabis oil to treat seizures. Among the bills that failed to advance were measures allowing undocumented immigrants’ children who grew up in Tennessee to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities (which lost by one vote), allowing residents of parts of cities to de-annex territory, and banning alcohol sales to people with three or more drunken driving convictions. See a break down of more legislative winners and losers from the Associated Press.

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SBA Official in Nashville Today

Maria Contreras-Sweet, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, highlighted immigrant entrepreneurs during a stop in Nashville today, the Nashville Business Journal reports. Contreras-Sweet joined Mayor Karl Dean at Conexion Americas this morning to highlight the city’s efforts to make immigrants feel welcome. Those actions include establishing the Mayor’s Office of New Americans and launching programs to connect immigrants and refugees with government resources. This afternoon, she gave the keynote address at a luncheon hosted by the Latin American Chamber of Commerce.

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DOJ Asks Court to Lift Stay on Immigration Actions

A federal appeals court today appeared divided over the Obama administration's request to lift a lower court ruling that blocked the government from implementing the president’s executive actions to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation and grant them work permits. In February, a Texas federal judge halted Obama’s deferred-action program to consider a suit filed by 26 states. The Justice Department appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. A three-judge panel of that court peppered lawyers from the Justice Department and the state of Texas with questions about whether Obama acted within his rights when he enacted the new policies. The Washington Post has more.

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Tea Party Speaker Will Address Federal/State Relations

Nashville attorney Joanne Bregman will be the Chattanooga Tea Party’s guest speaker tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. at The Century Club Banquet Hall, 3221 Harrison Pike, the Chattanoogan reports. Bregman has been involved in policy work at the Tennessee legislature and will speak on the constitutional relationship between federal, state and local governments, especially involving refugee resettlement programs.

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Judge Allows Undocumented Children to Seek Legal Counsel

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Zilly yesterday rejected the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to secure legal representation for a group of undocumented children who face deportation. The ACLU filed the suit on behalf of Salvadoran siblings who entered America to escape gang violence. Federal officials argued it would be too expensive to provide legal representation in immigration cases.  Politico has more on the story.

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TALS Seeks Presenters for Equal Justice Conference

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) is seeking presenters to speak at this year’s Equal Justice University set for Sept. 2-4 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Murfreesboro. The conference, cosponsored by the TBA, is the annual gathering for Tennessee’s Access to Justice community. Speakers are sought to provide substantive law courses, ethics and professionalism training, and technology and communications skills. Send proposals by May 15 to TALS’ Policy & Training Director Anne Fox.

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ABA Launches New App to Aid Pro Bono Attorneys Representing Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

The American Bar Association Working Group on Unaccompanied Immigrant Minors has launched the ICAN Yammer group, an online and free mobile application resource. Accessible by invitation only, the app is an interactive resource that allows volunteer attorneys and mentors to post questions on legal representation of unaccompanied minors, receive answers from national immigration experts and share documents.

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White House Criticizes Ruling on Immigration Plan

A federal judge has wrongly prevented "lawful, commonsense policies" from taking effect by blocking President Barack Obama's executive action that seeks to shield millions of immigrants from deportation, the White House said today. The administration released a statement criticizing U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen's decision to keep a temporary hold on the president's policies. The U.S. Department of Justice had asked Hanen to lift the stay, but the Texas judge refused in a ruling late Tuesday night. The Greeneville Sun has the story from the Associated Press.

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Legal Aid Gets Grant for Immigrant Clinic

The Nashville Bar Foundation has awarded a $10,000 grant to the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands (LAS) to continue outreach to Nashville’s immigrant and refugee community. The funds will support an ongoing free walk-in legal clinic at Casa Azafrán, the city’s only general legal advice program for these population groups. The clinic is held the third Friday of the month.

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U.S. Files Appeal of Hold on Immigration Action

The Justice Department urged a federal appeals court Monday to reverse a hold a Texas judge placed on President Barack Obama's immigration executive action that could spare from deportation as many as 5 million people who are in the U.S. without documents. DOJ lawyers say in the new court filing that the federal government has unique authority to enforce the nation's immigration laws and to use its limited resources to exercise discretion during the deportation process, including by deferring removal of certain groups of immigrants, such as those who do not pose a public safety threat. NBC News has more from the Associated Press.

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State Law Limiting Workers’ Comp to Undocumented Ruled Unconstitutional

Davidson County Chancellor Russell Perkins has ruled that a state law limiting the amount of workers’ compensation benefits that undocumented workers can receive is unconstitutional, the Associated Press reports. The decision stems from the case of a Guatemalan man whose left arm was severely injured when he fell and was run over by a lawnmower. Perkins found that the U.S. Constitution gives the federal government, not the state, the authority to set immigration policy, The Memphis Daily News reports.

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DOJ Asks Court to Lift Hold on Immigration Actions

The Justice Department is asking a federal appeals court to lift a lower court’s hold on President Obama’s latest executive actions on immigration. Obama’s actions from late last year would shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation, and provoked a standoff in February with the Republican Congress over funding the Department of Homeland Security. The Hill has the story.

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Tapas for Justice Fundraiser April 14

The annual “Tapas for Justice” fundraising event to benefit Justice for Our Neighbors will take place April 14, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the law offices of Baker Donelson in Nashville. The suggested contribution of $50 to Justice for Our Neighbors will help keep Nashville immigrant families together and strengthen the cultural and economic life of our city. Contact wade@tnjfon.org for more information.

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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 Court 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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