News

Nashville School Claims ICE Agents Sought Student Records

Nashville’s Una Elementary School is accusing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency of trying to access student records during a recent visit. The schools says it refused the request citing district policy that limits the release of confidential information. A spokesman for ICE tells The Tennessean they are investigating the report, but are doubtful that agents would have tried enforcing immigration policy on school grounds. “We don’t do any immigration enforcement at schools,” the spokesman said.

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ICE Criticizes Judge’s Ruling to Limit Reliance on Federal Databases

The acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement yesterday criticized a judge’s ruling barring his agency from relying solely on federal databases when asking local governments to detain an arrested individual. The ruling, issued a few weeks ago, applies to states that cross-check jail rosters with databases that track nationality and immigration status. ICE then requests local governments to hold anyone who is undocumented. The judge determined that the federal databases have been found to have erroneous data, which can lead to falsely accusing people of being in the country illegally, Fox 14 reports

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ACLU Hosts Event with Immigration Attorney

The ACLU of Tennessee is hosting Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, at an event on Oct. 19. “On the Front Lines: Fighting Family Separation” will take place at 11 a.m. at the Nashville Public Library, 615 Church St. 37219. Gelernt is the lead attorney in the ACLU’s national class action lawsuit to stop the practice of separating immigrant families at the border. For more information, contact aclutn@aclu-tn.org, 615-320-7142.

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Court’s New Term Includes ‘Blockbuster’ Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court has several blockbuster cases in its new term—on gay and transgender rights, federal immigration enforcement, gun regulation and abortion. But before it gets to those, the court will take up two criminal law cases raising significant questions, even though only a handful of states are affected by each, the ABA Journal reports. Oral arguments started today in a case weighing whether states can abolish the insanity defense. The other case will consider whether the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires unanimous jury verdicts and whether that requirement is applicable to the states.

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Report: Plans in Place to Expand DNA Collection at Border

The Trump Administration reportedly is planning to expand the collection of DNA from migrants who cross the U.S. border and include the information in a massive criminal database operated by the FBI, the Associated Press reports. Two senior Homeland Security officials, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, said the Department of Justice was crafting new regulations and details were being discussed in a working group, but they were not sure when the plan would be implemented. Fox News 17 has the story.

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Judge Blocks Extension of Fast-Track Deportations

A federal judge on Friday blocked the Trump Administration’s proposal to extend the number of those who could be deported without an appearance before a judge, the Associated Press reports. The policy, which was announced in July but had not yet been enforced nationwide, would have allowed fast-track deportations for anyone in the country without documentation for less than two years. Currently, the procedure is limited to those arrested immediately after crossing the border. The judge struck down the policy saying the administration had not gone through the procedural requirements to seek public comment on proposed new rules. Earlier in the day, another judge blocked new rules that would have allowed the government to detain immigrant children with their parents indefinitely. And a third decision that day blocked the government from relying solely on certain databases to target those believed to be in the country illegally. US News has the story.

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City Argues Constitution Does Not Protect Immigrant Killed by Police

Ismael Lopez was shot and killed by Southaven, Miss., police officers at his home in 2017. His wife later filed a civil suit. In response, an attorney for the city argued that Lopez lacked constitutional rights because of his prior criminal record and unauthorized immigration status. The city also challenged the wife’s standing to bring the case based on her immigration status. The city's attorney, Katherine S. Kerby, wrote, "Ismael Lopez may have been a person on American soil but he was not one of the 'We, the People of the United States' entitled to the civil rights invoked in this lawsuit." She commented that she was "arguing existing law. Not new law." An attorney for the Lopez family called the city’s argument, “the most insane thing I’ve ever heard." The case is still pending in federal court in Mississippi. Read more about the case law the parties are relying on in this article from the Commercial Appeal.

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Man Previously Shot by ICE Arrested in Lawyer’s Parking Lot

A man shot by a federal immigration agent earlier this month was arrested this week in the parking lot of Ozment Law, the legal firm representing him. Lawyer Aaron Dendy called the arrest on their property an “unprecedented betrayal of the values of due process and legal representation” in comments to the Tennessean. Authorities charged the man, Jose Fernando Andrade-Sanchez, with illegally coming into the country after he was deported. Authorities initially indicated they were investigating him for a potential assault on a federal officer but no charges were filed on that issue.

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Kentucky Lawyer Prohibited from Practicing Law in Tennessee

The Tennessee Supreme Court today prohibited Kentucky lawyer Cassidy Teater from practicing law in the state and ordered her to pay restitution to two clients as a condition of reinstatement. The court reports that the action is “tantamount to disbarment.” While living in Nashville, Teater represented two individuals in the U.S. Immigration Court. After accepting payment for the cases, she ceased communicating with the clients and failed to perform the services for which she was paid. The court determined that her actions violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.16, 3.2 and 8.4(a).

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New TBA Sidebar Podcast Episode Shares Benefits of Improv Comedy For Lawyers

A new installment of the Tennessee Bar Association Podcast Network show, Sidebar, is now available. The episode focuses on improv skills for attorneys and features interviews with the co-owner of the Third Coast Comedy Club in Nashville and Kirsten Jacobson, staff attorney at the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and improv student. Sidebar is available on the TBA's website or anywhere you listen to podcasts, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher and TuneIn. Simply search the show title of "Tennessee Bar Association." Do you have a story lead you'd like to hear on a future episode? Submit your ideas here.

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Judge Hears New Challenge to Border-Wall Emergency Declaration

The County of El Paso and the Border Network for Human Rights are suing the Trump Administration, arguing that the president’s national emergency declaration to build the border barrier is unconstitutional. They are asking the federal court in El Paso for an injunction. U.S. District Judge David Briones heard arguments in the case but did not immediately rule. The U.S. Justice Department argued that a national emergency declaration cannot be reviewed by any judge, WKRN reports.

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Deputy Commissioner of TennCare Roberts to Speak at TBA Health Law Forum

As Tennessee deals with the rising medical needs of its rural citizens and seeks to realize its Medicaid block grant proposal, there are many developments on the horizon for TennCare. TBA Health Law Section member and Deputy Commissioner of TennCare Gabe Roberts will address some of these plans on Oct. 17 at the 31st Annual TBA Health Law Forum. Roberts’ address — along with presentations by Johns Hopkins health policy expert and New York Times bestselling author Marty Makary and health care policy advisor to the White House Larry Van Horn — will make this year’s forum the must-see, must-do event in health law. You can learn more and see the rest of the program’s stellar line-up using this link.
 
When: Oct. 17-18; registration begins at 7 a.m., CDT on Oct. 17
Where: Embassy Suites Cool Springs, 820 Crescent Centre Drive, Franklin
 
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Tent Courtrooms Process Migrants Waiting In Mexico

Tent courtrooms recently opened in two Texas border cities to help process thousands of migrants who are being forced to wait in Mexico while their requests for asylum wind through the immigration courts. The courts are in Laredo and Brownsville, WKRN News reports. The Department of Homeland Security says it plans to spend up to $155 million to build and operate the tent courts. Critics have denounced the proceedings because they are closed to the public and difficult for attorneys to provide legal representation.

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State Questions Nashville Mayor’s Immigration Order

Tennessee officials are questioning whether a new executive order from Nashville Mayor David Briley violates a previous commitment not to interfere in immigration investigations. In a letter sent Tuesday to Briley, the state Office of Criminal Justice Programs questioned whether Executive Order 11 violates previously signed certifications that the city has no “sanctuary city” policies. The Sept. 3 order states that “no person acting in their capacity as a Metro employee or agent shall assist or cooperate with, or allow any Metro agency funds or resources to be used to assist, cooperate with, or facilitate any federal agency in any immigration enforcement operation, except where legally required to do so by state or federal law or by court order.” The mayor’s office contends that the order does not violate any state or federal law. News Channel 5 has the story.

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Supreme Court Allows Trump Asylum Policy to Take Effect

The U.S. Supreme Court late yesterday ruled that the Trump Administration’s policy on seeking asylum can take effect, the Associated Press reports. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the majority decision. The order temporarily undoes a lower court ruling that had blocked the new policy, which requires asylum seekers to petition for protection in the first country they enter on their way to the United States. Under the ruling, the government will be able to enforce the policy nationwide while a legal challenge on the merits makes its way through the judicial system. Critics of the policy argue it will make most migrants ineligible for asylum. Supporters say it will help bring order to the crisis at the southern border, close loopholes and discourage frivolous claims.

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Networking Opportunity: Meet TIRRC's New Legal Director

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) recently decided to create a legal department to contribute to and strengthen the field of immigration legal services in Tennessee. They are thrilled to welcome Mary Kathryn Harcombe as their Legal Director. TIRRC will be gathering for happy hour on September 18, so members of Nashville's legal community can come and meet Mary Kathryn and learn more about the organization's work. 
 
Meet TIRRC's New Legal Director | Happy Hour
Wednesday, September 18
5:00-7:00pm
Geist | 311 Jefferson Street, Nashville, TN 37208
 
Please RSVP by emailing TIRRC's Co-Executive Director, Stephanie Teatro, at stephanie@tnimmigrant.org.

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Legal Aid Society to Celebrate 50-Year Anniversary

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands will hold its 50th Anniversary Celebration “An Evening at the Frist” on Nov. 9 at the Frist Museum in downtown Nashville. The event will feature cocktails, live music and a gallery exhibition, and provide a unique opportunity to honor the group’s distinguished 50-year legacy of providing “justice for all.” Tickets are available online.

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Nationwide Injunction on Asylum Rule Reinstated

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Monday reinstated a nationwide injunction on a Trump administration policy that sought to block most asylum applications for migrants transiting through other countries on their way to the U.S.-Mexican border. The policy would have required asylum seekers to apply for asylum first in Mexico or another third country. In imposing the ruling nationwide, the judge wrote of the need for a “uniform immigration policy” and the potential complications if the injunction was limited to one part of the country, the Tennessean reports. U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, however, criticized the trend of nationwide injunctions saying the practice, “embitters the political life of the nation, flouts constitutional principles, and stultifies sound judicial administration.”

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State Appeals Refugee Resettlement Case to Full 6th Circuit

After a panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Tennessee’s lawsuit against the federal government over refugee resettlement in July, the state has appealed to the full court. The case, originated by the state legislature in 2016, seeks to require the federal government to pay for all costs associated with refugee resettlement. In previously dismissing the case, the court wrote that the General Assembly had not alleged an injury that gives it standing nor established it has authority to bring suit on behalf of Tennessee. If the full court declines to hear the case, the state could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Tennessean reports.

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Tapas for Justice on Tap

Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors will hold its “Tapas for Justice” event on Sept. 26 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Bradley Law Firm, 1600 Division St., Ste 700, Nashville 37203. The event will feature food and networking, and benefit the organization and its work with immigrants and refugees. Learn more and buy tickets here.

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Governor Urges ‘Operating Under the Law’ After ICE Raids, Shooting

Gov. Bill Lee said Friday he believes the state must follow the law and try to avert tension in immigrant communities, even as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers conduct searches for undocumented residents. “I think that the message to all Tennesseans is that we are committed in this state to operating under the law and fulfilling what those laws are,” Lee said following an incident Thursday in Nashville in which ICE agents shot and wounded a Mexican national. The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition said ICE did not have an arrest warrant for the man and is calling for a thorough investigation of the incident. The group also contends that ICE agents are creating “a climate of immense fear that is terrorizing and traumatizing the entire community.” The Daily Memphian has more on the story.

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Judge: Terror Watchlist Violates Constitutional Rights

The government's watchlist of more than 1 million people identified as "known or suspected terrorists" violates the constitutional rights of those placed on it, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. The Associated Press reports that the ruling from U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga grants summary judgment to nearly two dozen Muslim U.S. citizens who had challenged the watchlist with the help of a Muslim civil-rights group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The judge is seeking additional legal briefs before deciding what remedy to impose.

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September Episode Of TBA BarBuzz Podcast Now Available

Get a monthly recap of bar association news and upcoming events on this month’s episode of BarBuzz, part of the Tennessee Bar Association Podcast Network. Also included in the network are Sidebar, a show covering human interest stories from attorneys in Tennessee and HealthyBar, a podcast centered on attorney wellbeing. The shows are now available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn and the TBA’s website. Simply search the show title or “Tennessee Bar Association” wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Join JFON for ‘Tapas for Justice’ Fundraiser in Nashville

Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors will host its annual Tapas for Justice event, a fundraiser to support its work representing immigrants and refugees. The event will take place on Sept. 26 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Bradley Law, 1600 Division Street in Nashville. Purchase tickets here.
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Nashville Mayor Brings Scrutiny to Probation Department

Scrutiny of the city's probation department intensified this week, with Mayor David Briley and a broad swath of the Metro Council demanding investigations into the department's cooperation with federal immigration agents seeking to deport immigrants in the country illegally, the Tennessean reports. Briley is calling for an investigation and performance audit of the General Sessions Probation Department following reports that the agency is sharing information on probationers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Briley is expected to sign an executive order that outlines what Metro departments and employees should do when contacted by ICE.
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