Aggravated Felony Press Release Sample

How to Use This Press Release

One of AILA’s top legislative goals is to appeal the retroactive application of the aggravated felony rules. Over the past few months, sympathetic cases of immigrants trapped in this fishnet have caught the attention of the press and their communities. Such attention will help us in our legislative efforts. If you represent such sympathetic clients, use this release to get more attention for their plight. Here are some tips for customizing and distributing this release:

  • Only describe your most sympathetic cases. Avoid drug-related cases at all costs. Use clients who committed minor offenses many years ago and have led exemplary lives since then. Highlight clients with U.S. citizen families.
  • Encourage your client to talk directly to the press. If the client agrees, add a "note to editors" line at the end of the press which says that your client is willing to talk to reporters.
  • If your clients are not quite so sympathetic, drop paragraphs four and five completely.
  • Send the release to your press list, which you can develop by keeping track of reporters who cover immigration issues, human-interest stories, business and labor issues, etc. The best way to reach them is through e-mail; a fax is second-best. A package sent by messenger should also get through. Reporters rarely have time to read the stacks of mail they receive every day. Another option is to sign up with a service such PR Newswire or BusinessWire, which will send your release to every media outlet in your city, or in the country, depending on how much you want to spend. Your release will go straight into the editor’s computer, as well as to the Internet.
  • Call the most important reporters on your list before you send them the press release. (Always ask if the reporter is on deadline first; if they are, call back later.) Explain the issue in a sentence or two; once they are interested, they’ll be on the lookout for your release. Call others on your list after you’ve sent out your release. Ask them whether the material was relevant, and if they need more information.
  • Keep track of your press clippings, and send copies to AILA National. You can also send copies to your Members of Congress or coalition partners.


American Immigration Lawyers Association

For Immediate Release: [INSERT TODAY’S DATE]


Immigration Law Breaks Up Families, Hurts Businesses

Local attorney calls for hearings

[INSERT YOUR CITY, YOUR STATE] - Legal permanent residents who once committed minor crimes are being deported and permanently banned from the United States, reports local attorney [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE]. Due to an immigration law passed in 1996, immigrants - some of whom have been in the U.S. since they were small children, and now have U.S. citizen spouses and children - are being forced to leave families and businesses behind to pay for insignificant offenses committed long ago that often did not require jail time. [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE], a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, is urging Congress to repeal this harsh provision.

"The law was supposed to keep dangerous criminals from entering and remaining in the United States. Instead, Congress went too far and requires the INS to deport any non-citizen who has ever made a mistake, no matter how minor that mistake may be and no matter how long ago it was committed," [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE] commented. "What’s worse, these immigrants have no recourse once the INS decides to kick them out of the country. This is because the 1996 law also took away immigrants’ rights to appeal their cases by tying the hands of immigration judges. Even in the most sympathetic cases, a judge has no power to reverse the INS’ decision to deport. These draconian provisions fly in the face of America’s tradition as a nation of immigrants, and must be overturned."

Many of these cases have already received significant attention, such as the case of Jesus Collado, a 43-year-old legal permanent resident who was nearly deported because, at 19, he had sexual relations with his 15-year-old girlfriend.

[INSERT YOUR NAME HERE] is representing a number of clients caught in this legal abyss: [INSERT TWO TO THREE CASE SAMPLES HERE]

[SAMPLE CASE WRITE-UP. USE THIS FORMAT TO DESCRIBE YOUR OWN CASES]: Juan D., a 35-year-old legal permanent resident who has been in the United States for 20 years. Married to a U.S. citizen and the father of two small children, Juan has a college degree and owns a small business. He and his wife own a home and volunteer at their local church and elementary school. When Juan was a teenager, he was involved in a school fight, pled guilty to a minor assault charge and was placed on probation. After successful completion of probation, Juan’s record was sealed and he has stayed on the right side of the law ever since. But after Juan left the country briefly to visit his mother, the INS arrested him when he returned to the U.S., and is now planning to deport him and bar him from ever returning. If that happens, his children will grow up fatherless and his wife will be forced to sell their business and possibly their home.

"All over the country, there are people in similar dilemmas," commented [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE]. "Because of minor offenses committed years ago in their youth, many immigrants are forced to sacrifice their lives and the future of their citizen children. And there are thousands of other legal permanent residents who live in fear of this law. This forces them to avoid the INS, so they can never return to their country of origin or apply for citizenship.

"This is NOT what America is about," exclaimed [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE].

Senator Spencer Abraham (R-MI), chairman of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee, may hold hearings on the impact of the provision, noted [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE]. [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE] is also calling on Senator [INSERT YOUR SENATOR’S NAME HERE] and Representatives [INSERT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES’ NAMES HERE] to support legislation that would repeal these provisions.

"America is a country that believes in second chances," [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE] concluded. "We should not deny that opportunity to men or women who weren’t lucky enough to be born here."

For more information on this provision and other immigration laws, contact [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE] at [INSERT YOUR PHONE NUMBER HERE]. [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE], a [INSERT YOUR POSITION HERE] at [INSERT YOUR FIRM’S NAME HERE] has been specializing in immigration law for XXX years.



© 1999, American Immigration Lawyers Association

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 98021957.