Immigration Law Practice News

A shift in U.S. immigration policy to include deporting people without criminal records has resulted in a deportation order for a Minnesota naturopathic doctor who has spent the past 18 years in the state, and, according to her patients, saved lives. 

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Join us for a FREE CLE, “Current Immigration Enforcement Trends Targeting the Sponsors of Unaccompanied Children: What Immigration Practitioners Need to Know about the Administration’s Focus on Smuggling Allegations.” University of St Thomas Faculty Fellow Rebecca Scholtz is among the presenters.
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Here's a look at the program and what happens next for the nearly 800,000 people in it who are allowed to work in the U.S. and receive protection from deportation.

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The parties in Dilley Pro Bono Project v. ICE have reached a settlement that ensures access to mental health evaluations for certain detained mothers and children seeking asylum. The case was filed after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) barred Caroline Perris, a full-time legal assistant with the Dilley Pro Bono Project (DPBP), from entering the South Texas Family Residential Center (STFRC) in Dilley, Texas.

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President Barack Obama used the pardon power to free hundreds of narcotics prisoners serving harsh terms. It was a principled use of mercy, a striking vision of the most powerful person on Earth recognizing the humanity of the least powerful. Now, President Donald Trump appears to be considering an abuse of that same power by helping some of the most powerful people on Earth, including himself. If he does try to stymie the investigation into collusion with Russia through clemency, Trump will harm both his legacy and the moral force of the pardon power itself.

 

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What is the definition of an unaccompanied child (“UC”) under federal immigration law and what protections are afforded to such children? This practice advisory is intended to educate advocates on important UC protections and assist them with starting-point strategies for combating Department of Homeland Security efforts to strip vulnerable children of protections afforded to them as unaccompanied children. 

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In August 2016, Rudy Martinez received clemency from President Obama. He was one of 1,714 people who had their sentences commuted during Obama’s second term. Like Rudy, nearly all of them were non-violent drug offenders. In those two-and-a-half decades of incarceration, he often joked that he would be free when the Cubs won the World Series. It turned out he was right.

 

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The Dilley Pro Bono Project (DPBP), a consortium of the American Immigration Council, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), filed suit to challenge a new ICE policy that arbitrarily restricts the types of legal services that DPBP may provide and interferes with the ability of DPBP staff to effectively represent their clients.

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After months of speculation about how much the new government had picked up the pace of immigration arrests and deportations, new data from Immigration and Customs Enforcement offers an early glimpse. From the inauguration through mid-March, agents working out of ICE's St. Paul office, which also covers the Dakotas, Iowa and Nebraska, arrested more than 620 immigrants — up roughly 80 percent over the same period last year.

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The Trump administration has cited Hennepin County for not cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement efforts to detain some immigrants in the country illegally who allegedly committed crimes.

But some in Minnesota law enforcement say there are limits to how they can respond to such federal requests.

The Trump administration on Monday issued the first in what will be a weekly list of jurisdictions it says have not honored federal immigration detainer requests.

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Prof. Wiebe speaks to the Star Tribune about recent immigration critique from the Trump administration.

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My school in downtown Minneapolis is built around a stunning atrium, a four-story glass-walled showcase looking out over a broad lawn and the Target corporate headquarters. Twice a year, new citizens of the United States are sworn in there as the sun streams in.

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Prof. Virgil Wiebe speaks at St. Cloud State University's School of Public Affairs on March 21, 2017 from 3:30pm - 4:15pm. The topic of discussion is Immigration under the Trump administration. Professor Wiebe will also explain U.S. immigration law in the Minnesota context by using the imagery of a hotel with U.S. citizens occupying the top floor, unauthorized immigrants as living in the basement, as other types of legal status in between.

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Faculty Fellow Rebecca Scholtz presents at a Minnesota State Bar Association CLE called Immigrants and Minnesota Family Law - Current Strategies in Uncertain Times on April 27.

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Prof. Collett and Prof. Wiebe speak on a panel called The First Fifty Days, discussing the new administration on March 9, 2017. The panel is supported by the Institute for Catholicism & Citizenship – University of St. Thomas – Minnesota.

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University of St. Thomas General Counsel and law professors formed a panel to explore the implications and legality of President Trump's executive orders on immigration.

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Rebecca Scholtz will be joining the Legal Services Clinic as a faculty fellow. A graduate of Middlebury College and Yale Law School, Rebecca clerked for Judge Diana Murphy on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals before joining Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, where she has specialized in immigration work.
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(KMSP) - President Donald Trump significantly expanded the number of undocumented immigrants who face the possibility of deportation. The expansion was outlined in two memos released by the Department of Homeland Security.

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Prof. Virgil Wiebe, Director of the Immigration Law Practice Group, speaks about the immigration executive orders on Kare11.

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Samira Dahir got the call in the middle of the night: Her 4-year-old daughter, who was scheduled to leave a Ugandan refugee camp for the United States, would not be going anywhere because of an executive order President Trump had signed days before, temporarily blocking refugees from entering the United States.

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The immigration clinic at the University of St. Thomas School of Law prepared this week to sign on to any potential litigation involving the case of a 4-year-old girl from Somalia who was impacted by President Trump’s recent travel ban. Faculty and students from the School of Law’s immigration and religious liberty clinics, including professors Virgil Wiebe and Tom Berg, students Ted Shillingstad and Jessica Lanzi, and alumnus James Todd ’14, were conducting background research into constitutional questions related to the case when young Mushkaad Abdi was cleared for travel.

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There are number of ways for people from other countries to come to the U.S. So, how do they differ? Heather Brown answers this Good Question with Professor Virgil Wiebe. WCCO 4 News At 10

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As the presidency of Barack Obama wrapped up last week, so too did the largest federal clemency initiative in United States history. But not before the sentences of 105 federal inmates were cut short thanks to the work of University of St. Thomas School of Law Professor Mark Osler and his former students.

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Prof. Wiebe contributes to the research depicted in CBS Minnesota's news.

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President-elect Donald Trump swept to the White House promising to clamp down on illegal immigration and so-called "sanctuary cities" like Minneapolis and St. Paul whose leaders vow not to act as local immigration enforcers.

Republicans around the country — including the newly empowered GOP majorities in the Minnesota Legislature — have followed suit, threatening to withhold government aid from cities that decline to work with federal immigration authorities and represent themselves as safe havens against deportation.

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“You’re just watching the ship sink and you’re in the lifeboat. And there’s not enough room for everyone,” said Mark Osler, a University of St. Thomas law professor and former federal prosecutor who runs a clemency clinic for law students. “These last few weeks — it’s deep joy and it’s deep tragedy.”

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What are the rights of undocumented people on campus?
What is a sanctuary campus?
What is a sanctuary city? What does it mean that Minneapolis is a sanctuary city?

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The Constitution gives presidents nearly unlimited authority to grant pardons and commute sentences — decisions that no future administration can reverse. Unfortunately, for most of his presidency, Barack Obama treated mercy as an afterthought. Even as thousands of men and women endured outrageously long sentences for low-level, nonviolent drug offenses as a result of the nation’s misguided drug war, Mr. Obama granted relief to only a tiny handful.

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A coalition of more than 50 scholars and advocates are calling on President Obama to expand clemency efforts in the final weeks of his administration — including considering granting clemency to entire groups of people without case-by-case review.

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Jocelyn Hernandez dressed in all black on Wednesday morning as she faced an uncertain future.

An Obama administration program for young immigrants brought to the country as children allowed Hernandez, a North Hennepin Community College sociology student, to work, drive and plan for a career as a teacher. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to end the deportation reprieve program — part of a tougher stance on illegal immigration that he made a centerpiece of his campaign.

After his victory, Minnesota Latinos and other immigrants worry about pledges to step up deportations, build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and crack down on employers who hire unauthorized workers. The election’s outcome also dimmed hope for a state proposal to grant driver’s licenses to residents without legal status — and for national immigration reform that would open a path to citizenship.

Meanwhile, Trump’s election heartened Minnesotans who want to see tougher immigration enforcement.

Key questions remain about what a Trump administration can do and will do about immigration, said Virgil Wiebe, an immigration law expert at the University of St. Thomas.

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The Minnesota 8 committed crimes and served their time via state laws.

Now, they're facing federal punishment.

Based on a 1996 immigration law, they can be deported for committing aggravated felonies even if they've served time.

St. Thomas law Professor Virgil Wiebe explained the big picture.

"The tricky thing is with the shifting definitions of what kinds of crimes will get you deported. The law that was passed in 1996 says a whole range of crimes, from very serious crimes, to what appeared to the common person to be petty crimes, are considered aggravated felonies, "Professor Wiebe added.

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Mark Osler's journey has led him from a career as a fierce prosecutor, to now arguing for clemency and leniency in sentencing. He also works to abolish the death penalty. We talk about this transformation, as well as his new book, Prosecuting Jesus.

In our conversation, Osler talks about being a prosecutor in an era of "mandatory minimum sentences." He would watch defense attorneys make impassioned arguments, even though the words would not lessen the sentence that would be imposed. Despite their seeming futility, Osler credits those passionate speeches with changing his own mind about the criminal justice system, and his role in it.

We go to the heart of the importance of that "faithful futility" in this compelling and fascinating interview.

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This election cycle has been a cruel one. The presidential candidates share one thing, at least: the instinct to attack their opponent in the most cutting way possible. Our electorate is largely following suit. Many Trump supporters genuinely believe Hillary Clinton is evil. An equal number of Clinton supporters cannot imagine why anyone would vote for Trump, a man they despise.

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We are in the heart of cross country season for high school and college athletes. Watching a race last week reminded me of this crucial point in the Obama presidency. Just as runners accelerate to the finish, knowing that moving up in those last few hundred yards may be the difference between a victory for their team or a loss, President Obama will finish his clemency project either with a flourish—thus ensuring his legacy for restoring the lost tool of the pardon power—or with a limp, coloring his record on criminal justice. If he fails to finish strong, it will not just be his legacy that suffers, but the hopes of prisoners with good cases and the sense of fairness one hopes for when justice and mercy meet the levers of power.

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Drawing on his training as a federal prosecutor and professor of law, Mark Osler and a group of friends have been staging the trial of Jesus around the country over the last several years.
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The scene: a briefing room at the White House. Date: March 31, 2016.

The audience: a diverse group of administration officials, attorneys, human rights activists and former prisoners who had received presidential grants of clemency.

The day before, President Barack Obama had announced another 61 such grants, bringing the total of prisoners whose sentences he had commuted during his presidency to 248. That same day, however, The Washington Post had run an article critical of the administration for not doing enough to act on the thousands of petitions for clemency from federal prisoners serving lengthy sentences. The article prominently quoted a law professor – an expert on clemency – calling the grants nothing to celebrate when more than 9,000 petitions from eligible prisoners remained pending.

The source quoted: Professor Mark Osler of the University of St. Thomas School of Law.

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The work of the Federal Commutations clinic and Professor Osler is covered by Fox 9 News.

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Law professor Mark Osler told a federal inmate serving a life sentence that he would be a free man by New Years.

The news came by the White House and the Department of Justice, which announced Tuesday President Barack Obama had commuted the sentences of 111 federal inmates.

Osler holds the Robert and Marion Short Distinguished Chair in Law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis. Before joining the law faculty, he was an assistant U.S. attorney in Detroit, during which time he prosecuted innumerable drug cases, enforcing the draconian sentencing laws he now rails against from academia.

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Prof. Osler talks to NPR about President Obama's clemency policy and his own federal commutations work.

Osler, the law professor and lawyer for inmates seeking mercy, said he thinks the president believes in the effort. Obama, he said, visited a prison and went to lunch with people who won clemency. The question for the next five months is whether the White House can finish the job, even if it angers some Republicans in Congress, Osler added.

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Earlier this month, President Obama made history by commuting the sentences of 214 people in federal prisons. That action, one of the largest exercises of presidential clemency powers since Gerald R. Ford granted pardons to Vietnam draft dodgers and deserters facing prison in 1974, has been hailed by the White House as a sign of Obama’s commitment to clemency.

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Prof. Mark Osler continues with other thought leaders to push the Obama administration to move faster on clemency. Initiatives to turn back the overreach of sentencing that led to mass incarceration are chronicled in an Atlantic Monthly piece yesterday.
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When President Barack Obama granted clemency to 214 federal inmates last week, University of St. Thomas School of Law professor Mark Osler and several of his former students finally saw the fruits of their labor—some more than five years in the making. On Obama’s list were the names of six men whose freedom they helped make possible.

Through their work as clinical student attorneys in the Federal Commutations Clinic at St. Thomas Law, alumni Marc Spooner ’12, Ashley Bennett ‘13, Derek Hansen ‘13, Eric Hylok ’15 and Jamie Waldon ‘15 directly impacted the lives of three men whose sentences were commuted Aug. 3. An additional three men were helped by Waldon through his work with the Clemency Resource Center at New York University, a pro bono law office that Osler co-founded, where Waldon works alongside Hylok and four other fellows.

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The work of our Federal Commutations Clinic students, under the leadership of Prof. Osler, is highlighted in Politico.

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Prof. Osler comments in the Star Tribune article, Drug inmate wins release, thanks to University of Minnesota program.

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On June 3, 2016, Robert Sleepers received the phone call he had thought about for the past 12 years. Sentenced in June 2004 to a mandatory minimum of 20 years for his role in a non-violent, relatively low-level conspiracy to distribute cocaine, Sleepers admittedly broke the law, but his punishment far exceeded his crime.

For more than 12 years, Sleepers had limited contact with the tight-knit family that supported him throughout his incarceration. He and his family members relied on letters, rare visits, and telephone calls to maintain their tight family bond. On holidays his family members would gather around the phone in one central location to allow each of them to speak with the father and brother they had all missed over the past decade. However, the June 2016 phone call brought news that would change future holidays for Sleepers and his family.

Read more in Newsroom.

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The work of the NYU Clemency Project and Prof. Mark Osler written about in the Harvard Gazette.

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Prof. Osler, Director of Federal Commutations Clinic, writes for the Baltimore Sun along with Nkechi Taifa of the Open Society Foundations.
Clinton and Sanders should commit to clemency | The Baltimore Sun | May 19, 2016

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Professor Osler comments in The Washington Post regarding his work with the Clemency Resource Center.

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Professor Osler, Director of the Federal Commutations Clinic, is featured in an article in Fusion regarding  the Obama Administration's Clemency policy.

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This good-looking bunch are the students and supervisors of the of the federal inmate clemency clinic at the law school at the University of St. Thomas. The clinic was founded by Professor Mark Osler, the speaker at Drinking Liberally in Minneapolis on April 28th.

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April 1, 2016, IN my pocket is something ancient: a 1,700-year-old Roman coin. It bears three human images and the word “Clementia.” That was the name of the Roman goddess of mercy, who was often depicted standing beside (and holding the hand of) the Roman emperor. The message was clear: Mercy was a virtue not only of individuals but also of governments. The framers of the United States Constitution embraced that tradition when they preserved for the president one of the traditional powers of kings: the pardon power.

That ancient ideal needs to be put into action by President Obama. Despite commuting on Wednesday the sentences of 61 federal prisoners convicted of drug and firearm crimes — bringing his total number of commutations to 248, more than that of his six predecessors combined — he is far from accomplishing the ambitious goals his administration publicly set out two years ago.

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University of St. Thomas School of Law Professor Mark Osler spoke at the White House on Thursday, March 31, to discuss and share ideas on President Barack Obama’s clemency initiative alongside other advocates, academics and Administration officials.

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Immigration Law Practice News

Prof. Wiebe, Director of the Immigration Law Practice Group, comments in the Star Tribune about private immigration detention centers.

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Federal Commutation News

A Conversation with a Former Prosecutor

While Jeanne, her family, and her friends, knew she had forgiven Biro, the killer himself had not heard from Jeanne. That would change following a conversation with Mark Osler, a former federal prosecutor, and a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis.

“We were at dinner one night, and she was talking about David Biro, and one of the things that came up and she was struggling with how do you forgive someone who’s remorseless. I asked her, ‘how do you know that,’ because she’d never talked to him. She’d never said his name. And she said, ‘well, at trial, he denied everything.’ I said ‘that was when he was 16 years old, that was a long time ago.’ Two decades had passed since then. She had that moment of reflection,” Osler told Fox 9.

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News

"These are not easy questions that are being addressed, and because of that it does take an investment of time and resources," said University of St. Thomas law professor Mark Osler. "It's not the person; it's the process, and this administration has to realize that."

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News |

Co-Director George Baboila tweets a photo with Prof. Wiebe as he celebrates the new UST branding with Tommie the Tomcat.

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Clinical students from the University of St. Thomas School of Law Immigration Appellate Clinic secured a sweeping victory for their detained immigrant client this week, preserving the unity of his family.
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University of St. Thomas School of Law professor Mark Osler recently announced the opening of a unique initiative, a pro-bono, pop-up law office. The Clemency Resource Center (CRC) will be open for only one year and will exclusively prepare petitions for federal clemency.

Osler calls the new operation a “factory of justice” and has the goal of addressing at least 300 clemency cases. The pop-up is housed and co-founded by the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law at New York University School of Law.

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New York University School of Law is launching a yearlong pro bono law office that will help federal prisoners seek clemency. Seven full-time attorneys—primarily recent law school graduates—will begin handling prisoners’ applications in August.

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NYU School of Law announced the launch of the Clemency Resource Center (CRC), a pop-up law office within the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law (CACL). The CRC was co-founded by Rachel Barkow, Segal Family Professor of Regulatory Law and Policy at NYU Law, and Mark Osler, who holds the Robert and Marion Short Distinguished Chair in Law at the University of St. Thomas. Erin Collins, a former public defender and acting assistant professor at NYU Law, serves as executive director. Generously funded by Open Society Foundations, the CRC will begin work in August.
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