AILA Video and Response to New USCIS Guidance on Issuance of NTAs

Betsy Lawrence, AILA's Director of Government Relations, discusses the implications of the updated USCIS guidance on issuance of Notices to Appear (NTA). Image Source: Tim Gouw, Pixabay

UPDATED: July 30, 2018. 

On Monday, July 30, 2018, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released a statement notifying stakeholders that the implementation of new guidance regarding Notices to Appear (NTA) and Referrals to ICE (RTIs) is pending until operational guidance is issued. Earlier this month, USCIS published new guidance stating that individuals whose immigration applications are denied will be issued NTAs.

On July 5, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published new guidance, dated June 28, 2018, regarding Notices to Appear (NTA). An NTA is a charging document that is issued to foreign nationals, placing them in removal proceedings and directing them to appear before an immigration judge. Immigration advocates fear that this will new policy will make immigrants more vulnerable and have a chilling effect on communities of color.

Anastasia Tonello, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the national association of more than 15,000 attorneys and law professors who practice and teach immigration law, stated,

“The new guidance will have a chilling effect, discouraging people who are eligible for immigration benefits from applying out of fear that they will be tossed into the deportation machine if they are denied – even if that denial is due to an agency mistake. It is based on the false assertion that everyone who comes to the United States and seeks an immigration benefit intends to break the law by overstaying if they are denied, when the vast majority comply on their own. As a result, USCIS will now needlessly sweep tens of thousands of individuals into removal proceedings, including those who have lived and worked lawfully in the U.S. and would otherwise seek appellate review or depart voluntarily if their application is denied. This could include workers who have fully complied with our immigration laws who may unexpectedly be informed by USCIS that they no longer qualify for the visa status they have legally held for years and will now be placed in removal proceedings. This policy erases the ‘Service’ from USCIS and transforms the agency into yet another DHS enforcement tool.”

Benjamin Johnson, AILA Executive Director added,

“The Homeland Security Act was designed to have three components, service, enforcement, and border control, each under a different agency, particularly so that the ‘service’ component was not overshadowed by the enforcement and border components. The Trump Administration is re-writing the Homeland Security Act without Congressional action. The new policy will also create an operational nightmare for both USCIS and the immigration courts by diverting USCIS adjudication resources to enforcement activities and adding more cases to our already overburdened immigration court system with cases that pose no threat to public safety or national security. Over the past decade, USCIS processing times across all product lines have grown consistently worse and the immigration court backlog it at its highest ever, exceeding 700,000 cases as of May 31, 2018. This guidance is a recipe for disaster, further cementing the Administration’s rejection of any exercise of prosecutorial discretion on immigration, a cornerstone of every other law enforcement system in America. This policy is built on the Administration’s belief that every immigrant is unwelcome and undesirable. That is not the story of our nation, which has benefited tremendously from the contributions of immigrants.”

Who are AILA Members?

AILA member attorneys represent U.S. families seeking permanent residence for close family members, as well as U.S. businesses seeking talent from the global marketplace. AILA members also represent foreign students, entertainers, athletes, and asylum seekers, often on a pro bono basis. Founded in 1946, AILA is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that provides continuing legal education, information, professional services, and expertise through its 39 chapters and over 50 national committees.

If you have any questions about how this new policy may affect you or would like more information or have any questions, please contact us. Follow us on InstagramTwitterFacebookLinkedIn or Tumblr for up-to-date immigration news.

Rasoulpour Torregoza is the law firm for immigrants, by immigrants. We are founded on the motto of LegalEase: we do away with the legal jargon and make law easy to understand, so you can focus on what’s important to you – going for your American Dream.
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