Month: October 2016

by SCwpadmin SCwpadmin 118 Comments

The Application Period for the Diversity Visa Lottery closes on November 7th

The Diversity Visa program selects 55,000 registrants at random from nations with historically low levels of immigration to the United States. Those selected are then given the opportunity to apply for Lawful Permanent Residence (a “green card”) in the U.S. The deadline for applicants to register for the 2018 Diversity Visa program is 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on the first Monday in November (11/07/2016). Beginning May 2, 2017, the results of the lottery will be available.

Those wishing to apply are encouraged to do so as early as possible and avoid applying in the final week of registration. Because of heavy demand for the lottery, the registration process may be significantly delayed.

Registration details and program instructions (including a list of eligible applicants) may be found here. There is no fee to register! To register for the Diversity Visa program, submit an entry at the official registration site:

by SCwpadmin SCwpadmin 34 Comments

Obama Administration Contemplating Ending For-Profit Immigration Detention Centers

In August, the Federal Government announced its decision to end the use of for-profit prisons to house federal inmates. According to a memo released by the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the DOJ based their decision primarily on the facts that the cost savings of private facilities are negligible, and such facilities failed to provide “the same level of correctional services, programs and resources.”

Immigration detention facilities house far more detainees than the private facilities the federal prison system has used. However, it remains in question what the implications of this decision will be on the federal practice of contracting with private corporations to house immigrant detainees. The Obama Administration has budgeted $2.1 billion for detention operations in 2017, a system that currently holds over 31,000 people in custody on any given day. Out of the ten largest immigration detention facilities in the United States, nine are operated by private companies, housing about two-thirds of all immigrant detainees.

Figures for how much of the detention operations budget flows to private companies have not been released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). However, federal budget data analysis by Grassroots Leadership, an Austin, Texas based non-profit organization, has found that about $1 billion a year, or half the annual budget for detention operations, went to private companies.

In late August, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Jeh Johnson, ordered a review of ways to end the use of private detention facilities. While Secretary Johnson has not taken a side on this issue, his Homeland Security Advisory Council is expected to make a recommendation by the end of November on the results of DHS’s review.


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The “Crime of Violence” Category in Immigration Law may soon be Void for Vagueness

In a 2015 case called Lynch v. Dimaya, the 9th Circuit held that 18 USC § 16(b), the statute that defines “crime of violence” for immigration purposes, to be unconstitutionally vague. The Court labeled the statue’s definition, as incorporated into INA § 101(a)(43)(F), to be vague following the Supreme Court decision in Johnson v. United States (2015). There, the Armed Career Criminal Act’s residual clause definition for “violent felony,” namely its language “involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another” had been labeled unconstitutionally vague.

Before Dimaya, the open nature of Subsection (F)’s “crime of violence” definition included many criminal convictions, and conviction with a term of imprisonment of at least one year for a crime of violence constitutes an “aggravated felony.” In the immigration context, designation of a conviction as such is often devastating to non-citizens, making their options for relief from removal few and far between. Essentially, by designating “crime of violence” as vague, the 9th Circuit narrowed the definition of which crimes can be considered aggravated felonies as crimes of violence.

The Supreme Court now seems poised to follow Johnson itself as the 9th Circuit did. Following government appeal, the Supreme Court granted a petition for writ of certiorari in Dimaya on September 29, 2016, to determine “[w]hether 18 U.S.C. 16(b), as incorporated into the Immigration and Nationality Act’s provisions governing an alien’s removal from the United States, is unconstitutionally vague. Given this development, and the Supreme Court’s recent history in Johnson, immigration practitioners and non-citizen clients may very well soon witness the jurisprudence of “crime of violence” unconstitutional vagueness expanding to the entire nation.