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23Aug 2016

Indian national among 60 Sikhs held in El Paso Processing Center more than year

PORTLAND, Oregon. – An Indian of the Sikh faith who fled India three years ago to seek U.S. asylum from political persecution says federal immigration agents violated his confidentiality by “outing” him to the Indian Consulate.

Judge Andrea Sloan of the U.S. Immigration Court in Portland, Oregon, will hear the case of Harkeet Singh August 30. Singh is one of 60 Sikh asylum-seekers who joined a two-week hunger strike at the El Paso Processing Center in Texas in 2014.

In court filings, Mr. Singh claims that while at the center, agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) set up a meeting between the Sikhs and a representative of the Indian Consulate. Such a meeting violates U.S. regulations that bar the disclosure of any information pertaining to an asylum applicant without written consent, says Texas attorney John Lawit of John W. Lawit, LLC, who represents Singh and 17 others from the group.

The Sikhs are a religious minority in India and often are persecuted for their beliefs.

“It’s just common sense. Here you have a group of men fleeing their government because they are afraid of it. The very last thing you want to do is force them into a room with a representative of that very government, but that’s exactly what ICE did,” says Mr. Lawit.

According to Mr. Singh, the consular representative told the men that their actions were treasonous and offensive to the Indian government, and threatened to jail them upon their return to India. Specifically, he threatened to imprison them in Tihar, which is known for its human rights violations. Mr. Singh said the representative also told the men that since they were farmers – not doctors or engineers – they were not fit to immigrate.

ICE agents apparently set up the meeting after Singh and the others went on a hunger strike, hoping it would prompt movement in their immigration cases.

Singh came to the United States in 2013 following a long and expensive journey that began in the Punjab state in India, then continued across the globe through South and Central America. He crossed the U.S. border at Mexico, surrendered to customs agents and requested asylum. Immigration and appellate courts so far have denied his request.

18Dec 2014

From the Washington Post – View artical


 December 16
Earlier Tuesday, a federal court in Pennsylvania declared aspects of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration policy unconstitutional.According to the opinion by Judge Arthur Schwab, the president’s policy goes “beyond prosecutorial discretion” in that it provides a relatively rigid framework for considering applications for deferred action, thus obviating any meaningful case-by-case determination as prosecutorial discretion requires, and provides substantive rights to applicable individuals.  As a consequence,  Schwab concluded, the action exceeds the scope of executive authority.

This is the first judicial opinion to address Obama’s decision to expand deferred action for some individuals unlawfully present in the United States. [I’ve now posted the opinion here.]

The procedural background of the case is somewhat unusual.  The case involves an individual who was deported and then reentered the country unlawfully. In considering how to sentence the defendant, the court sought supplemental briefing on the applicability of the new policies to the defendant, and whether these policies would provide the defendant with additional avenues for seeking the deferral of his deportation.  In this case, however, it’s not entirely clear it was necessary to reach the constitutional question to resolve the issues before the court with regard to the defendant’s sentence.

This isn’t the only case challenging the lawfulness of the Obama’s immigration actions.   Some two-dozen states have filed suit challenging Obama’s recent immigration policy reforms.  Led by Texas, these states claim that the president as exceeded the scope of executive authority in this area.  As I’ve noted before, I’m skeptical of these arguments on the merits (as is Ilya), and wonder whether the states will be able to satisfy the requirements of Article III standing to bring their claims.  Yet as this case shows, even if the states don’t have standing, the legality of the president’s actions could nonetheless be decided in federal court.

UPDATE: Here are some additional thoughts on the ruling.

It is quite unusual for a district court to reach this sort of constitutional issue in this sort of case.  Indeed, Judge Schwab appears to have reached out quite aggressively to engage the lawfulness of the President’s actions.  Based upon the procedural history recounted in the opinion, it appears the court requested briefing on the applicability of the new immigration policies on its own order.  That is, the issue was not initially raised by the defendant in his own defense.  As a result of the court’s decision, however, the defendant now has the option of withdrawing his guilty plea and potentially seeking deferral of his deportation under the new policy.

On the merits, I understand the concerns that motivate Judge Schwab’s reasoning, but I am not persuaded.  First, it is important to note that the executive branch has exercised a substantial degree of discretion in implementing and enforcing immigration law for decades.  Work permits have been issued in conjunction with deferred action for at least forty years.  President Obama’s actions are broader in scope, but not clearly different in kind from what his predecessors have done and to which Congress has acquiesced.

It is true, as Judge Schwab notes, that the President’s announced policy identifies broad criteria for deferring removal of individuals unlawfully in the country.  This would appear to make the action somewhat legislative, but I don’t think it’s enough to make the action unlawful.  The new policy does not preclude the executive branch from revoking deferred action in individual cases and does not create any enforceable rights against future executive action.  It’s no more unconstitutional than a US attorney telling the prosecutors in his office not to prosecute low-level marijuana possession absent other factors that justify federal prosecution. President Obama’s action may be broader than many are comfortable with, and it is understandably hard to stomach given all the President’s prior statements disclaiming authority to take these steps — but such concerns are rooted in customary political norms, not judicially enforceable constitutional rules.

ADDITIONAL UPDATE: As I think about Judge Schwab’s opinion a bit more, it seems to me to be an advisory opinion. Neither party to the proceeding raised the issue and, as far as I can tell, neither party sought to have the President’s actions declared unlawful.  So there was no case or controversy presenting this question.  This could explain the anomalous nature of Judge Schwavb’s disposition of the case: After declaring the President’s actions to be unlawful, he nonetheless issued an order giving the defendant an opportunity to seek to claim the benefit of the new policy (assuming the defendant could demonstrate that he qualifies).  In other words, while Judge Schwab declared the President’s actions to be unlawful, he did not set it aside.  Indeed, given that no party was challenging the lawfulness of the President’s action, it’s not clear what authority the court would have had to invalidate the policy.

Even had the court had jurisdiction over this issue, it’s still not clear what sort of relief would be appropriate.  Could the court set aside the new executive branch policy?  If so, what precisely would that mean?  Unless a court is willing to invalidate all deferred action, and order the deportation of all those unlawfully in the country, it’s not clear what it would mean to set aside the President’s directive.  The executive branch would still be able to consider deferred action and provide work permits on a case-by-case basis — and this would leave the executive branch with the authority to prioritize “families over felons” and otherwise effectuate the policy preferences embodied in the President’s actions.  This underscores the point that if Congress is unhappy with the degree of discretion the executive branch enjoys over immigration policy, Congress needs to revise existing immigration laws so as to constrain executive authority.

Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in constitutional, administrative, and environmental law at the Case Western University School of Law, where he is the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation.
03Jun 2014
Release Date: May 08, 2014

On April 1, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting applications for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Citizenship and Integration Grant Program, a competitive grant opportunity for public or non-profit organizations which promotes immigrant civic integration and prepares permanent residents for citizenship. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. EDT on May 16, 2014.

Through this grant opportunity, USCIS seeks to expand the availability of high-quality citizenship preparation services by providing grants to organizations that offer both citizenship instruction and naturalization application services to permanent residents. USCIS expects to announce up to 40 grant recipients in September 2014.

To apply for this funding opportunity, visit USCIS encourages applicants to visit as early as possible in order to obtain registration information needed to complete the application process.

For additional information on the FY 2014 Citizenship and Integration Grant Program, visit or contact the USCIS Office of Citizenship by email at

03Jun 2014

Starting June 1, 2014, USCIS will limit the validity period for all Forms I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, to one year from the date of submission to USCIS. Applicants must also submit Form I-693 to USCIS within one year of the immigration medical examination. USCIS will also provide additional ways to submit Form I-693. As outlined in policy alert PA-2014-005, this updated policy applies to any Form I-693 supporting a benefit application that USCIS adjudicates on or after June 1, 2014.

USCIS will hold an engagement on June 12, 2014 to address questions about the new policy and provide guidance on filing Form I-693. We have also updated the Form I-693 Web page on our website.

For more information, please visit our website at