Immigration

Supreme Court to Hear DACA Case

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing arguments that will determine if the Trump Administration has the legal authority to end protection for more than 700,000 undocumented immigrants who came to into the country as children. The court agreed to consider the government’s appeal after its third attempt to terminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In September 2017, President Donald Trump made the decision to end the Obama-era policy but the first two attempts to prevail in court have failed. To date, the courts have not agreed with the administration’s argument that the program was unlawful.

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Workers Involved in Bean Station ICE Raid Sue for Discrimination, Excessive Force

Workers detained by ICE after an immigration enforcement raid on a Bean Station slaughterhouse are now suing the agency, Newsweek reports. In the lawsuit filed last Thursday, the workers contend that ICE agents — along with officials from Homeland Security Operations, Enforcement and Removal Operations and the Tennessee Highway Patrol — used excessive force, berated the workers with racial slurs, punched one worker in the face and shoved firearms in the faces of many others. In total, approximately 100 workers were detained and 11 were arrested during the raid, making it among the largest worksite-enforcement operations in recent years. Read the complaint using this link. Additionally, executive council member Bruce Buchanan wrote a recent blog post regarding the lawsuit.

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Lawmakers and Advocates Push Back on Tennessee's Ban of Sanctuary Cities

Tennessee lawmakers and refugee rights proponents intend to advance legislation that will protect local governments over a state law prohibiting sanctuary cities, The Tennessean reports. Existing measures require local law enforcement officials conform to U.S. immigration policy or lose state economic development funds because of noncompliance. Bills introduced this year — SB507/HB558 and SB931/HB1110 — take aim at the law, requiring the state to reimburse localities for incurred expenses regarding compliance, and allow local police departments to take statements from victims and witnesses of crimes without asking their immigration status respectively.

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Private Prisons Using Detainee Labor Face Lawsuits

A recent class-action lawsuit has been filed in federal court against a CoreCivic correctional center located in New Mexico, The Guardian reports. Detainees earned 50 cents or less per hour for various tasks, including cooking and working in the center’s library. CoreCivic and Geo Group are two of the country’s biggest private prison companies, citing combined revenues of $4 billion in 2017. Lawsuits against both companies regarding the practice of using detainee labor have been filed in several states over the past four years; however, they are still working through the courts. Spokespeople for both companies have stated that its work programs are completely voluntary and comply with government-established standards. 

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East Tennessee Meatpacking Plant Owner Admits Tax Evasion

The owner of the East Tennessee Southeastern Provision meatpacking plant, James Brantley, agreed to plead guilty to federal charges of tax evasion, wire fraud and employing unauthorized immigrants, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. In April, I.C.E. agents and I.R.S. investigators conducted the nation’s largest single immigration crackdown in more than 10 years at the plant; they rounded up 97 people on illegal entry charges. This action sparked statewide protests and unsuccessful attempts to toughen punishments for employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers. Brantley’s hiring of undocumented workers allowed him to pocket millions of dollars by ignoring safety regulations, violating federal wage and hour laws and avoiding unemployment and workers’ comp premiums. He will enter a formal plea in court on Sept. 12.

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9th Circuit: Immigration Courts Must Consider Ability to Pay in Setting Bond

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld an injunction requiring immigration judges to consider financial ability to pay when setting bond, the ABA Journal reports. “No person may be imprisoned merely on the account of his poverty,” wrote Judge Stephen Reinhardt for the panel. The American Bar Association previously filed an amicus brief in the case that said immigration courts should be required to consider ability to pay and flight risk before deciding on bond.
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Bill Allows Judges to Consider Immigration Status in Felony Sentencing

A bill passed by the state legislature but awaiting the governor’s approval would require Tennessee judges to consider immigration status as a felony enhancement factor, the Tennessean reports. Judges would be allowed to use their discretion in whether they would apply the enhancement. If Gov. Bill Haslam signs the bill into law, a court battle could ensue, as courts have struck down similar measures in other states. 
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U.S. Supreme Court Hears Case of Tennessee Immigrant

The case of a Memphis restauranteur who faces deportation after pleading guilty to a drug charge was heard before the U.S. Supreme Court last week, the Washington Post reports. Jae Lee’s lawyer told him there was no way he’d be deported if he took a plea deal, but he was wrong. The court will decide whether Lee should be given a second chance in court due to bad lawyering. Lee is a legal resident who has lived most of his life in the United States. "This case answers what kind of prejudice you have to show in order to get relief from the mistakes made by your trial lawyer," said one of Lee's lawyers, Patrick McNally of Nashville.
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Supreme Court Will Review Obama Immigration Actions

The U.S. Supreme Court will review President Obama’s executive immigration actions from 2014, CBS News reports. Tennessee and 25 other states challenged the legality of the actions that were aimed to block millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in November 2015 in favor of the states; the Obama administration appealed the decision. The case will be argued in April and decided by late June.

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