Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 38me0014 (posted Aug. 24, 2000)"
Thursday, August 24, 2000
Matt Tallmer, AILA,
AILF, 202-371-6450 X 600, firstname.lastname@example.org
Southern California National
Immigration Law Center,
213-639-3900 X 111, Joaquin@nilc.org
Northern California Immigrant
Legal Resource Center, 415-255-9499
X 627, email@example.com
Paul Arter, Arizona, 602-254-5605,
LAWYERS SUE INS OVER BACKLOGS;
BUREAUCRACY HURTS FAMILIES AND
LOS ANGELES, CA.
¯ The American Immigration Law Foundation,
the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and the National Immigration Law
filed a federal court suit against the Immigration and Naturalization Service
(INS), charging the agency with violating its statutory responsibilities under
the Family Unity Program.
Begun in 1989, the
Family Unity program allowed immediate family members of some permanent
residents to remain in the U.S. while their green card applications were
processed. The INS agreed to not deport family members and grant them employment
authorization while their applications were pending. Congress in 1990 made the
Family Unity Program permanent and mandatory. In 1996, Congressalso ordered the INS not to consider people in the Family
Unity Program to have an “unlawful presence” in the United States.
Because the INS is
not following Congress’ mandates, the Foundation and its co-counsel filed the
lawsuit. Specifically, the suit charges that the INS is refusing to process
Family Unity and employment authorization applications.
For example, many applicants at the INS’s California Service Center
have been waiting more than two years for the INS to issue what should be
As a result,
thousands of spouses and children of permanent residents and U.S. citizens are
threatened with deportation, and are not being granted work authorization.
The plaintiffs have been fired from their jobs or have been unable to
register for school because of the INS’s failures to process their
applications. The Foundation estimates that as many as 11,000 Family Unity
applications may beawaiting processing.
The suit charges
that, contrary to congressional mandates, the INS considers the time it takes to
process a Family Unity application as “unlawful presence.” Under an overly
harsh 1996 change in immigration law, people who the INS considers to be
“unlawfully present” – even some who have been given permission to remain
here - can be barred from re-entering this country for up to ten years.
The suit charges that the INS is creating the very delay that may cause
people to be barred from reentering the United States.
“We are suing to
force the INS to comply with federal law. Thousands of eligible husbands, wives
and children of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents are threatened with
being permanently separated from their families and are being denied the
opportunity to earn a living because of the INS’ refusal to follow the law,”
said Peggy McCormick, the Foundation’s President. “A government agency
should not be allowed to tear apart families or deny business access to valued
“We tried for
months to settle this case without litigation,” McCormick continued, “but
the INS did not respond to our inquiries. As a result, we have been forced to
file this suit seeking to force the INS to reduce its unconscionable backlogs.
We want the INS to do its job as mandated by Congress, so that thousands of
eligible families are not unlawfully torn apart and thousands of American
businesses can retain valued employees. The time has come for the INS to
function efficiently, fairly and effectively so that family members can remain
united and support themselves, and business can retain valued workers.”
here for the full text of the case.