Monthly Archives: November 2018

The Role of the Executive Branch in Setting Immigration Policy

Last month, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) heard from Stephen Roth of Project Citizenship, concluding the month-long examination of immigration policies today. Stephen has extensive experience representing detained and non-detained immigrants undergoing removal proceedings and in family-based petitions in both New England and greater New York City.  Project Citizenship* is a nonprofit agency that seeks to increase the naturalization rate in Massachusetts and beyond through free workshops and legal counseling.

Stephen offered a first-hand look at how immigration policy has changed from the Obama Administration to the Trump Administration. Specifically, under a regulation rarely invoked in the past, the U.S. Attorney General has the singular authority to refer immigration cases to himself and to then re-adjudicate them autonomously.

Upon becoming Attorney General, Jeff Sessions self-referred several cases involving previously settled law, Stephen explained. The most notorious of his decisions was Matter of A-B-, in which Sessions overturned Board of Immigration Appeals precedent, finding that “being a victim of private criminal activity” did not constitute a cognizable “particular social group” for purposes of asylum, though domestic-violence-based claims had been recognized as grounds for asylum for decades.

Stephen encouraged the PILP class to volunteer with Project Citizenship and other nonprofit organizations providing free or low-cost legal services to low-income immigrants and refugees.  Stephen further encouraged everyone to participate in notice-and-comment procedures on proposed changes to federal regulations governing asylum and other immigration procedures.

Meeting recap provided by PILP Member Genevieve Aguilar (Choate).

*Project Citizenship is a 2018 Boston Bar Foundation Grant Recipient.

PILP Learns About Employment-Based Immigration Policy and Recent Legislative Reform

In October, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) heard from George Lester, Partner at Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewry, LLP.  George has 25 years of experience practicing in the field of U.S. immigration and nationality law, and he advises diverse U.S. and multinational companies seeking to hire foreign professionals, scientists, business persons, and artists and represents them in all procedures to obtain temporary or permanent immigration status before relevant U.S. government agencies.

With immigration playing a major role in the 2016 presidential campaign and 2018 mid-term elections, changes to U.S. immigration law and policy impact not only refugee admissions and humanitarian issues, but have significant business consequences as well.  George focused his remarks on how the federal government’s changing immigration priorities have had immediate effects on corporations dependent on high-skilled immigrant labor.

George discussed various legislative proposals to overhaul the current immigration system, their projected efficacy in addressing the current system’s shortcomings, as well as obstacles to their implementation. George also examined executive actions and reform initiatives that the Trump administration has taken or is expected to take, which do not require action from Congress.

The PILP class welcomed the opportunity to learn about an often overlooked piece of the immigration system and the impacts of recent policy changes on businesses in the U.S. George encouraged lawyers to submit public comments to proposed regulation changes which, he said, would likely have an overall detrimental effect on the U.S. economy.

Meeting recap provided by PILP Member Genevieve Aguilar (Choate).

Interested in Providing Legal Assistance to Military Members & Veterans?

The Military & Veterans Legal Helpline is a core part of the BBA’s ongoing efforts to provide access to justice and crucial legal assistance to military members, veterans, and their families. Each year, the helpline, which is housed in the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service, receives hundreds of calls from this population, and refers individuals to attorneys offering reduced-fee legal services as well as other legal service programs.

Last year, nearly 500 calls and requests came to the helpline, and we are looking for more attorneys to assist this population in all areas of law. If you are an attorney interested in assisting by providing reduced-fee legal services, please contact Solana Goss, Lawyer Referral Service Manager, at [email protected] or 617-778-1978.

If you work with military service members, veterans, or family members of either group who are looking for legal assistance, please encourage them to call the Military & Veterans Legal Help Line housed at the Boston Bar Lawyer Referral Service at 617-742-0625 or 1-800-552-7046. Individuals can also get referrals 24/7 through our newly launched online platform, www.bostonbarlawyer.org.