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The Weekly Round-Up: ICE Clarifies Policy on Detention, State of the Union Highlights Immigration, and Twins are Born, but Only One is a U.S. Citizen

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ICE Agents Directed to Detain Undocumented Immigrants Attending Court

On Wednesday, January 31, ICE announced a new set of guidelines pertaining to how they will conduct arrests of undocumented immigrants at federal and state courthouses.  In response to uncertainty on the issue, ICE stated it will continue to target undocumented immigrants in courthouses, particularly in criminal matters.  These guidelines indicated that this new targeted arrest policy was partly in response to “sanctuary” jurisdictions, noting that “increasing unwillingness of some jurisdictions to cooperate with ICE in the safe and orderly transfer of targeted aliens inside their prisons and jails has necessitated additional at-large arrests.”  ICE also indicated it would avoid arresting family members and friends – unless they interfere with ICE actions – and would refrain from making arrests in non-criminal courts (such as family courts) without express authorization from a supervisor.

Both immigration rights advocates and government officials are concerned about courthouse arrests, arguing that they deter attendance at hearings and discourage witnesses from providing testimony about crimes – an issue that directly affects law enforcement.  Just last August, the offices of the New York Attorney General and Brooklyn District Attorney issued a joint statement on the issue, noting that “a growing number of victims have expressed reluctance to move forward with criminal prosecutions due to fear of being deported.”

If you are an immigrant who has been subject to a courthouse arrest, please contact an experienced immigration attorney as soon as possible.

SOTU Highlights Immigration

The president delivered his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night, and immigration played a big part.  Specifically, the president set out the“four pillars” of his immigration plan: a path to citizenship for Dreamers; $25 billion for a border wall; an end to the diversity visa program; and greater limits on family reunification.

Reactions from both Democrats and Republicans were mixed, with no real move towards compromise, raising the prospect of another government shutdown after the short-term spending bill expires on February 8.  Democrats began to jeer and hiss as the president blamed “two terrorist attacks in New York” on “chain migration” – a term used by the president to describe the process of U.S. citizens and permanent residents sponsoring their parents, children, and siblings to emigrate to the United States.  Meanwhile, conservative Republicans were disappointed by what they viewed as “amnesty” for Dreamers, young people who came to the United States without documentation as children.  The divide in Congress over immigration reform appears to be growing, and if no deal appears on the horizon, Democrats may not feel inclined to cooperate with Republicans on a spending deal, possibly provoking another shutdown.

The NMM Immigration Blog will monitor this issue closely as the February 8 deadline approaches.

Twins Born, Only One a U.S. Citizen

Twin boys were born in Canada – one is a United States citizen, one is not.

This story, which has led to lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State, centers around the boys’ fathers, Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks.  Andrew, an American Citizen, and Elad, an Israeli citizen and U.S. lawful permanent resident, were married in Canada in 2010, when same-sex marriage was still illegal in the United States.  In 2016, they both donated sperm and the two boys, Ethan and Aiden Dvash-Banks, were conceived with eggs from the same donor, using a surrogate in Canada.  Both fathers are listed on the boys’ birth certificates, but, after applying for U.S. passports, they learned that Aiden, who has Andrew’s DNA, was granted U.S. Citizenship, while Ethan, with Elad’s DNA, was denied any status.

The family, currently living in California, is applying for permanent residence status for Ethan, who currently has no lawful status, while simultaneously suing the U.S. government to establish his citizenship, arguing that the denial was grounded in discrimination based upon sexual orientation.  A similar lawsuit filed against the State Department involves two women, a U.S. citizen and an Italian citizen, who wed in London and each later gave birth to a son.  Only the son of the U.S. citizen was granted citizenship.  We will continue to follow this story as it develops.

If you have questions about topics covered in today’s weekly round-up, or other immigration matters, contact me at wcmenard@nmmlaw.com.