News

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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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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