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Supreme Court strikes down phrase in immigration law as vague

Courts have long held that, when a criminal law is too vague for a reasonable person to understand, it cannot be enforced. Enforcing it would violate our basic due process protections. The U.S. Supreme Court has just applied the same standard to the Immigration and Nationality Act's definition of a "crime of violence."

Under the INA, non-citizen immigrants who commit crimes of violence and certain other aggravated felonies are subject to mandatory removal and deportation. For the purposes of this case, the INA defines a crime of violence using an existing federal law, 18 U.S.C. §16(b), which defines crimes of violence for a variety of other laws.

Federal judge: Funding can't be withheld from sanctuary areas

A federal judge in Los Angeles recently ruled that the U.S. Department of Justice will not be allowed to withhold grant funding from cities, counties and states that refuse to comply with federal immigration priorities. He issued a nationwide injunction striking down the effort.

Los Angeles is considered a "sanctuary city" because it won't allow ICE agents into its jails in order to ask criminal detainees about their immigration status. Cities and counties around the country have declined to assist the federal government with certain immigration activities, and the administration has sought to compel them by having their compliance affect criminal justice grants.

US may begin seeking detailed history from all visa applicants

The State Department recently announced a plan to require virtually all applicants for U.S. visas to provide more details as part of the vetting and approval process. Only certain official and diplomatic visa applicants would be exempt.

The proposal was published in the Federal Register, where the government publishes proposed and approved regulations. The public is invited to comment on the proposal until May 29. After the comment period is closed and the comments have been addressed, the Office of Management and Budget will approve or deny the rule change.

Previously deported Army vet is granted his US citizenship

When Hector B. was in the Army, he didn't apply for U.S. citizenship. He was already a lawful permanent resident, and says that recruiters misled him into believing that citizenship would be automatic after his service. It wasn't.

Hector was born in Mexico and brought to the U.S. as a 7-year-old. He was raised in Los Angeles and became a lawful permanent resident in 1992. He enlisted in the Army upon graduation from high school and was honorably discharged in 2001. He had received both conduct and humanitarian medals for his service.

Supreme Court rejects challenge to DACA, orders continuation

The U.S. Supreme Court recently turned away an appeal by the state of Arizona, which had sought to end its participation in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. When the state attempted to deny program beneficiaries the driver's licenses they were entitled under DACA, the 9th Circuit struck Arizona's policy down. The Supreme Court left that ruling in place, requiring Arizona to issue the licenses.

The state's attorney general was disappointed in the Supreme Court's move, saying the high court had sidestepped the critical issue of whether former president Obama had the power to create the program, which he did in 2012 when it became clear that Congress was unwilling or unable to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

AG Sessions takes steps to reduce false asylum claims

"The system is being gamed, there's no doubt about it," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a speech last October. He was trying to get Congress to tighten the rules for asylum.

In the U.S., asylum is offered to people who have suffered persecution, or fear they will suffer persecution based on their race, nationality, religion, political opinions or membership in a particular social group. In many cases, people can legitimately apply for asylum in the U.S. after being victimized by gang crimes or domestic violence, if their home governments will not help them. However, the rules are strict and the definitions have been fiercely litigated over the years.

Rules tightened for companies sponsoring outsourced H-1B visas

H-1B visas are available for several types of workers, but the most well known is the "specialty occupations" visa. It is available to highly skilled foreign workers who work in jobs which typically cannot be performed by people without at least a bachelor's degree in their field. Examples include engineers, architects, and computer programmers.

To qualify for this non-immigrant visa, the worker must have a job offer from an employer willing to obtain a foreign labor certification and petition on the worker's behalf. 85,000 H-1B visas are issued each year, supposedly in fields with a shortage of American talent.

DACA to continue, surprise Dreamer deportations ordered to stop

Two major court decisions involving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program were announced this week. First, the U.S. Supreme Court put off an appeal of a federal court order. That order, a nationwide injunction, ordered the federal government not to shut down DACA on Monday, March 5, as had previously been announced. Second, another federal judge ordered all federal immigration enforcement authorities to stop revoking Dreamers' DACA protections or deporting them based on allegations of minor criminal activity.

Supreme Court refuses to hear untimely appeal, leaves DACA order in place

Most immigrants ICE arrested in 2017 had past criminal convictions

Although many immigrants worry that they could be targeted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement despite causing no problems, recent information suggests that the agency has been focusing mostly on those with criminal issues. At the same time, however, ICE arrests were up overall in 2017 -- especially among those without prior convictions.

According to ICE data analyzed by the Pew Research Center, 74 percent of all ICE arrests during fiscal year 2017 involved immigrants with prior criminal convictions. Another 16 percent had pending criminal cases. That left about 11 percent who had no known criminal charge or conviction.

2nd court of appeals rules Trump's travel ban unconstitutional

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, just released its ruling on whether President Trump's travel ban passes constitutional muster. In a 9-4 vote, the appellate court held that it does not.

The ban prohibits at least some residents from eight countries from traveling to the U.S. Those countries include Libya, Somalia, Chad, Syria, Yemen, Iran, Venezuela and North Korea, with only limited restrictions placed on the last two countries.