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  Immigration - Legal News


State and federal lawyers will argue before a panel of federal appellate court judges Tuesday in the pitched fight over President Donald Trump's travel and refugee ban that could reach the Supreme Court.

The legal dispute involves two divergent views of the role of the executive branch and the court system. The federal government maintains the president alone has the power to decide who can enter or stay in the United States, while states suing Trump say his executive order is unconstitutional.

Seattle U.S. District Judge James Robart, who on Friday temporarily blocked Trump's order, has said a judge's job is to ensure that an action taken by the government "comports with our country's laws."

The Justice Department filed a new defense of Trump's ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations as a federal appeals court weighs whether to restore the administration's executive order. The lawyers said Monday the travel ban was a "lawful exercise" of the president's authority to protect national security and said Robart's order that put the policy on hold should be overruled.

The filing with the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was the latest salvo in a high-stakes legal fight surrounding Trump's order.

Washington state, Minnesota and other states say the appellate court should allow a temporary restraining order blocking the travel ban to stand as their lawsuit moves through the legal system.



U.S. immigration courts are making a change to focus on deportation hearings for immigrants jailed by the federal government, giving less urgency to cases of children and families who were stopped on the U.S.-Mexico border and released.

Chief Immigration Judge MaryBeth Keller said in a memo Tuesday that the top priority for immigration judges will be scheduling quick hearings for anyone who is detained. That might potentially free up space in an immigrant jail system that is already well beyond capacity, immigration lawyers said.

While immigrants in jail have always been a priority, the Obama administration also had judges focus on children and families stopped on the U.S.-Mexico border in an attempt to deter more people from coming.



The brother of one of the shooters in the San Bernardino terror attack pleaded guilty Tuesday in an immigration fraud case stemming from the probe into the killings.

Syed Raheel Farook entered the plea in federal court in Riverside to one count of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, the U.S. attorney's office said.

The 31-year-old is the brother of Syed Rizwan Farook, who was killed along with his wife in a shootout with police after the Dec. 2, 2015 attack in which 14 people were slain and 22 injured.

Syed Raheel Farook, his wife and Russian sister-in-law were accused last year of conspiring to arrange a fraudulent marriage between the sister-in-law and Enrique Marquez Jr., who is charged with plotting with Syed Rizwan Farook to carry out earlier attacks and with supplying guns used in the 2015 killings.



Immigrants in the United States illegally are not automatically eligible for asylum on the basis that they are former gang members who risk persecution if they return home, a federal appeals court panel ruled Wednesday.

Three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld federal immigration standards that exclude former gang members from social groups that can clearly qualify for protection.

The ruling could affect thousands of immigrants who are fleeing gang-related violence in Central America, immigration experts said.

"We have so many asylum seekers form Central America, and we have a lot of people who are forced to join gangs," said Fatma Marouf, a professor at Texas A&M University School of Law who wrote a brief in the case.

The ruling came in a deportation proceeding against a man from El Salvador, Wilfredo Garay Reyes, who left a gang in his home country and entered the United States illegally in 2001 at the age of 18, after being shot in the leg by a gang leader upset about his defection. Garay sought to stay in the United States under a law that prevents U.S. authorities from sending immigrants to countries where their lives would be threatened because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

Garay argued that former members of his El Salvador gang constituted a "particular social group," and the gang members would kill him if he returned to El Salvador — possibly by placing a gasoline-filled tire around him and burning it, a method they prefer, he said.

Immigration officials rejected Reyes' claim on the grounds that former gang members do not constitute a particular social group.

The Board of Immigration Appeals said to qualify as a particular social group, there must be evidence showing that society "perceives, considers, or recognizes persons sharing the particular characteristic to be a group."

Garay's proposed group — members of the Mara 18 gang in El Salvador who have renounced their gang ties — was too broad, and there was little evidence society recognized them as a distinct group, the board said. The appeals court panel upheld the decision.



Thousands of prospective voters in Kansas who did not provide citizenship documents will be able to vote in the November election under a federal appeals court ruling late Friday that upheld a judge's order.
 
The decision from the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals affirms lower court's May order forcing Kansas to register more than 20,000 voters, a number that is expected to swell to 50,000 by the time of the November elections. It noted that the preliminary injunction serves the public interest.

The 10th Circuit ruled "no constitutional doubt arises" that federal law prohibits Kansas from requiring citizenship documents from people who register to vote at motor vehicle office. It added that its reasoning would be more fully explained in a forthcoming order.

The court had previously refused to issue an emergency stay of U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson's order, and this latest comes after a three-judge panel heard oral arguments last month in the case.

Its decision is the latest setback for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. It comes just a day after the Kansas Republican avoided contempt proceedings by striking a deal with the American Civil Liberties Union to fully register and clearly inform affected voters that they could vote in the November election.

Kobach did not immediately return a cell phone message seeking comment, but his spokeswoman said his office would issue a statement later.



A federal appeals court in Chicago is set to hear arguments in Republican Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's appeal of a ruling that blocked his order to bar state agencies from helping Syrian refugees resettle in Indiana.

The appeals court is considering the case Wednesday, about two months before voters decide if Pence will be the nation's next vice president.

After the November Paris attacks, Pence said he didn't believe the federal government was adequately screening refugees from war-torn Syria. In February, a federal judge found Pence's order discriminatory against refugees.

Pence administration attorneys say the directive is "narrowly tailored" in the interest of public safety. But the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana argues refugees are extensively vetted and the state's argument is "built on fear."


A legal ruling that would send 28 detained immigrant mothers and their children back to Latin America despite their claims they would be persecuted upon return was upheld on Monday by a federal appeals court.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit denied asylum to the women from Honduras, Guatemala and Ecuador, saying their fears they would face violence at home were "not credible."

Judge D. Brooks Smith wrote in the decision that the justices were "sympathetic to the plight" of the petitioners, but he added that since the women arrived in the United States "surreptitiously" they were not entitled to constitutional protections.

The women came over the U.S. border in Texas but are being held at the Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania, said American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Gelernt, who represented the families.

"The decision is wrong as a matter of history and precedent, and if left intact, will be the first time in the history of the country that noncitizens on U.S. soil cannot obtain federal court review of the legality of their deportation," Gelernt said in a statement.

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