News

Bill Introduced Would Require “Alien” on Immigrant IDs

A bill introduced yesterday would require the Tennessee Department of Safety to label ID cards with “alien” or “non-citizen” for anyone who does not have permanent status to live in the U.S., the Tennessean reports. Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, cited terror attacks as the rationale for filing the bill. The legislation also calls for any license, permit or identification to expire when the person’s work visa or temporary authorization expires. Advocacy organizations likely to oppose the legislation say it is unnecessary and will threaten foreign investment in Tennessee. 
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Questions Surround Refugee Lawsuit After Executive Order

A planned Tennessee lawsuit to challenge refugee resettlement is up in the air following President Trump's executive order suspending resettlement in the United States, Nashville Public Radio reports. Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, backed the lawsuit, but now says attorneys are trying to decide whether the state still has a case. "It could mean that our standing is in question, depending on how long the moratorium lasts," Norris said Thursday. "What I may do is ask for a meeting with the new attorney general, with Jeff Sessions." The Tennessean has more
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Judges Block Trump Travel Ban, Tennessee Delegation Split

At least five judges over the weekend partially blocked President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, the ABA Journal says. Federal judges in Brooklyn, Boston, Alexandra, Los Angeles and Seattle issued injunctions. In Tennessee, Reps. Jim Cooper and Steve Cohen both say they will join fellow Democrats in sponsoring legislation that would bar the use of federal funds to enforce the travel ban, the Commercial Appeal reports. Tennessee Republicans in Congress defended the actions, calling them a "necessary step" to strengthening national security. Some also admitted the actions were sometimes poorly carried out.
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ABA Urges SCOTUS to Hear Expedited Deportation Case

The American Bar Association is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case challenging the federal government’s right to deport immigrants without a hearing. Twenty-eight mothers arrested in Texas in 2015 are fighting against the U.S. government’s “expedited removal” process. The families claimed asylum, which would make them ineligible for expedited removal, but authorities deemed they had no credible fear of persecution and ordered their removal. Read more at the ABA Journal.
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Obama Ends Cuban Refugee Policy, Doctors’ Program

The Obama administration yesterday ended a two-decade-old policy that allowed Cuban refugees to enter the United States without visas. Under the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy, the United States turned away Cuban refugees who were intercepted at sea but let refugees who made it onto land stay and eventually become legal residents. Under the new policy, any refugee not qualifying for humanitarian relief will be returned to Cuba. National Public Radio also reports that the president ended the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, which allowed Cuban doctors and other medical personnel to seek temporary legal status in America.

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Day 2 of Sessions Hearing Offers Conflicting Views

For a second day, the issue of racism was at the center of the confirmation hearing for attorney general designate Jeff Sessions, UPI reports. After questioning Sessions for more than 10 hours yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee today turned its attention to testimony from others – including three black lawmakers who all recommended against his confirmation. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Reps. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Cedric Richmond, D-La., questioned Sessions’ past views on race and whether he would aggressively pursue civil rights, equal rights and justice for all citizens. Representing a different perspective, Sessions’ former chief counsel, who also is black, told the committee, “I have not seen the slightest hint of racism because it does not exist.”

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Sessions’ Hearing Hits Hot Button Issues

Attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions went before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today and mounted a full-scale response to what he has described as character attacks against him and false charges about his past. The hearing, which was interrupted from time to time by protestors, covered a range of “hot button” issues including civil rights, immigration, a border wall, same-sex marriage and abortion, with Sessions saying he will uphold the law even if he does not agree with it. Sessions also said he would recuse himself from any investigation of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation given his past comments on those issues. The hearing continues tomorrow with unprecedented testimony by one sitting senator, Illinois’ Cory Booker, against another. Read Sessions’ opening statement.

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TBJ Covers Immigration, Child Sexual Abuse, Family Law, Humor

Companies’ hiring of employees using work visas is a tedious business, but Nashville lawyer Dan E. White details it in the January Tennessee Bar Journal. Since the printing of the issue, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) increased filing fees by an average of 21 percent. Read the article online, which now includes the specifics on the updated fees. Also in this issue, John Day writes about child sexual abuse victims, and Marlene Eskind Moses and Benjamin Russ explain the doctrine of “inconvenient forum.” Bill Haltom looks at the flip side of “absence of malice.” Read the January TBJ.

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California Dems Hire Holder to Fight Trump Policies

Democratic leaders in the California legislature have hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to advise them on a legal strategy as they prepare for a fight against President-elect Donald Trump and a number of his policies. The group will pay Holder $25,000 a month plus expenses for three months to develop strategies “regarding potential actions of the federal government that may be of concern to the state of California.” Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders have talked tough since Trump’s election, vowing to confront his campaign promises to repeal “Obamacare” and deport undocumented immigrants. WRCB-TV has the Associated Press story.

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Have You Heard About the TBA Mashup?

Interested in observing a legal hackathon or getting a hands-on demonstration of the new Fastcase 7 platform? Both will be part of the first TBA Mashup, a full-day of activities and free programming set for Feb. 17 at the Tennessee Bar Center in conjunction with the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program.

In addition to the hackathon and Fastcase 7 demo, the TBA Mashup will feature sessions on: 

  • Current State of Health Insurance for the Small Firms
  • Professional Liability Insurance - What to look for in YOUR Policy
  • A Demo of Fastcase TopForm, a powerful bankruptcy filing software
  • Retirement Planning Guidance from the ABA Retirement Funds
  • Pro Bono in Action: How to help with pro bono events and how to take part in online options

At the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program, you can take as many or as few hours as you need. Registration will be open all day. Payment will be determined at checkout based on the hours you need. Topics will include: 

  • Bill & Phil Tech Show
  • Ethical Considerations for Cyber Security in Law
  • Evolution of the Legal Marketplace
  • Making e-Discovery Affordable 
  • Drone Law
  • Encryption for Lawyers

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Art Exhibit to Benefit Immigrant Legal Services

The #HereToStay: Art of Resilience art show and fundraiser will take place Jan. 13-27 at L. Ross Gallery, 5040 Sanderlin Ave., Suite 104 in Memphis. The show kicks off with a reception on Jan. 13 from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person and are available online or at the door the night of the event. According to organizers, the event will feature works by local artists that express their support for the immigrant community. A percentage of all proceeds from artwork sold will be used to support a pro bono coordinator who will recruit and manage volunteer lawyers working for the Community Legal Center’s Immigrant Justice Program, Mid-South Immigration Advocates and the Derechos Immigration Program sponsored by Latino Memphis. For more information contact Jerri Green with the Community Legal Center at 901-543-3395.

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Immigration Activists Call for Unified Resistance

Immigration reformers must coordinate their efforts to combat threatening policies from the incoming administration, Democratic federal lawmakers told attendees at the National Immigrant Integration Conference in Nashville. Among those making the case was Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez and Pramila Jayapal, the first Indian-American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Nashville’s Rep. Jim Cooper also made an appearance, during which he called Tennessee a “special state” because both of its senators voted in favor of comprehensive immigration reform in 2013. That measure, which would have offered a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, was never taken up for a vote on the floor of the House. Read more from the Tennessean.

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National Immigration Conference Coming to Nashville

The Ninth Annual National Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC) will take place in Nashville next week on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The conference will feature leading voices on immigration and civil rights as well as those affected personally by immigration policies. Among those sharing personal stories will be Eddie Huang, who will speak at 2 p.m. Sunday on “Breaking Bread: Food, Culture and Immigration.” Widely known as the chef and owner of a popular Taiwanese restaurant in New York City, Huang also has produced several projects under the moniker "Fresh Off the Boat," including a memoir, a travelogue and a sitcom. Register for the full conference or RSVP for the complimentary Huang presentation.

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Senators Planning Bill to Give ‘DREAMers’ Legal Status

Two U.S. senators are working to give young undocumented immigrants legal status, possibly before President-elect Donald Trump takes office, Roll Call reports. Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Illinois, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, reportedly are drafting legislation to protect the so-called “DREAMERs” – undocumented immigrants who came to the states as children and meet the requirements of federal law. The pair decided to act after President Barack Obama said he would not pardon the young people.

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Community Legal Center (CLC) in Memphis Seeks Joint Immigration Pro Bono Coordinator

The Community Legal Center (CLC) in Memphis is seeking a Joint Immigration Pro Bono Coordinator who will work under the direction of the Executive Director to recruit, train, mentor and supervise volunteer attorneys in Memphis and throughout the State of Tennessee.  To learn more about this job opportunity, see the TBA Joblink posting

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Group Seeks Immigration Lawyer in Memphis

The Community Legal Center (CLC) in Memphis is seeking a Joint Immigration Pro Bono Coordinator with at least three years of experience as a practicing attorney and at least two years working in the field of immigration. The attorney will work with Memphis-area nonprofit immigration legal service providers (including the CLC, Latino Memphis and Mid-South Immigration Advocates) in recruiting, training, mentoring and supervising volunteer attorneys handling immigration cases in Tennessee, Arkansas and North Mississippi. For additional details and information on applying see the group's JobLink listing.

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Juvenile Law Annual Forum Coming Soon

The TBA will host its annual Juvenile Law CLE on Dec. 1 at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville. Speakers will include representatives from Vanderbilt’s Center of Excellence for Children in State Custody and the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS). Sessions will cover case law updates, immigration issues in juvenile court, and using medical evidence in severe abuse cases. A panel on DCS administrative hearings and policies and a session on ethical issues in juvenile courts will round out the day. Learn more or register online.

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Tennessee Hosting 4 Equal Justice Works Fellows

Tennessee is benefiting from the services of four Equal Justice Works fellows. It is the first time in more than 10 years that the state has had any fellows, according to the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS). That group is hosting Kirsten Jacobson in its office. Elder Justice Fellow Matt Schwimmer is serving with West Tennessee Legal Services in Jackson. Elder Justice Fellow Sara Dodson is serving with the Tennessee Justice Center in Nashville. And Immigrant Defense Fellow Valeria Gomez is working with Justice AmeriCorps and VIDA in Knoxville. TALS credits the work of the state Supreme Court, which has made pro bono a strategic priority, and the support of the state’s legal aid providers in making these fellowships a reality.

Photo from left: Jacobson, Gomez, Schwimmer, Dodson

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2 Clinics Planned for Oct. 22 in Memphis

Two legal clinics will take place in Memphis Oct. 22. The Midtown Legal Clinic, sponsored by Memphis Area Legal Services, will be held from 10 a.m. to noon at Idlewild Presbyterian Church, 1750 Union Ave. To volunteer or for questions, email midtownlegalclinic@gmail.com. From noon to 4 p.m., the Community Legal Center, Latino Memphis, Mid-South Immigration Advocates, Catholic Charities of West Tennessee and World Relief team up to host a “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” clinic to help children and young adults apply for the federal program. The clinic will be held at Latino Memphis, 6041 Mt. Moriah Rd. Spanish language skills are not required. Come at noon for a volunteer training session and lunch. Contact Emily Stotts with any questions.

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Senate Hires Michigan Legal Group for Refugee Lawsuit

The Tennessee Senate has hired the conservative Christian Thomas More Law Center to represent it in a federal lawsuit attempting to block refugee resettlement in the state after state Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III declined to take the case. The House is likely to approve the hire, but nothing has been formalized yet, the Tennessean reports. The Michigan-based legal group will represent the state for free in the nation’s first lawsuit to challenge the federal government for noncompliance with the Refugee Act of 1980 based on the 10th Amendment. The move comes after lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a resolution earlier this year in support of a lawsuit.

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800+ Immigrants Mistakenly Granted Citizenship

The U.S. government has mistakenly granted citizenship to at least 858 immigrants from “special interest countries” – those with national security concerns or with high rates of immigration fraud – according to a Department of Homeland Security audit released Monday. The department’s inspector general found that the immigrants used different names or birth dates to apply for citizenship and were not caught because their fingerprints were missing from government databases. The report also found that fingerprint records are missing for as many as 315,000 immigrants with final deportation orders or who are fugitive criminals. WRCB-TV has the story from the Associated Press.

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Justice Department Made Error in Data Provided to Court

The U.S. Justice Department has told the Supreme Court that it made “several significant errors” when providing information about immigrant detentions for a 2003 case, the ABA Journal reports. The department recently reviewed statistics for an upcoming case and discovered it had underestimated the time some immigrants spend in detention. It now says the time is closer to one year rather than the five months originally claimed. The court called the five-month period a “very limited time of detention” and relied on that fact in deciding it was constitutional to deny bail to immigrants with criminal records who were being held while appealing their deportation order.

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New Entrepreneurial Visa Proposed

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services proposed a new rule Friday that would allow international entrepreneurs additional years of U.S. residency to start and build their businesses, the Upstart Business Journal reports. The International Entrepreneur Rule would allow startup founders to stay in the United States for up to two years, followed by a period of up to three years if they meet “additional benchmarks.” Factors to be considered include the entrepreneur’s ownership stake and leadership role, the growth potential of the startup, success in securing competitive research grants, and investment by qualified American investors.

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Trump: Values Test, ‘Extreme Vetting’ for Immigrants

In a speech today, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump called for “extreme vetting” of immigrants and use of a new ideological test to assess an immigrant's likely support for "American values" of tolerance, pluralism and religious freedom. It is the latest version of his position, which began with a call to temporarily bar all foreign Muslims and then morphed into a temporary ban on immigrants from areas with a history of terrorism. WRCB-TV has more from the Associated Press.

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Lawyers Donate $76,000 to Access to Justice Efforts

More than $76,000 has been donated by Tennessee attorneys to organizations that serve low-income individuals in need of legal assistance, the Administrative Office of the Courts reports. The donations come as part of the annual licensing registration process. Starting in 2015, attorneys were given the option to donate to an Access to Justice Fund when renewing their licenses. Organizations receiving funds this year are the Community Legal Center, Disability Rights Tennessee, Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Legal Aid Society, Memphis Area Legal Services, Southeast Tennessee Legal Services, Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, Tennessee Justice Center, Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors, Volunteer Lawyers and Professionals for the Arts, and West Tennessee Legal Services.

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