ILW.COM - the immigration portal Immigration Daily

Home Page

Advanced search

Immigration Daily


Processing times

Immigration forms

Discussion board



Twitter feed

Immigrant Nation


CLE Workshops

Immigration books

Advertise on ILW

VIP Network


Chinese Immig. Daily


Connect to us

Make us Homepage



The leading
immigration law
publisher - over
50000 pages of free

Immigration LLC.

Immigration Daily: the news source for
legal professionals. Free! Join 35000+ readers
Enter your email address here:

< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly




Minutes of Meeting

Friday, April 26, 2002

Catholic Charities Offices

Dallas, Texas



Regular Business Meeting


The  meeting of the State Bar Committee on Laws Relating to Immigration and Nationality was called to order at 10:10 A.M. by Paul Parsons, Chairman.  The committee is a standing committee established in 1982 to study current and proposed laws pertaining to immigration and nationality and to make recommendations for any improvements in such laws.  The committee is comprised of private immigration lawyers, an immigration judge, the director of a pro bono asylum project, an INS attorney, a representative from the Association of International Educators, the director of an immigration civil rights project, the director of an INS regional service center, an INS district director, a certifying officer of the U. S. Department of Labor, accredited representatives of non-profit organizations recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals, a U.S. consular officer and other public representatives.


The following persons were in attendance:


Committee Members –

Gregory Ahlgren

John Bartlett

Brian Bates

Rebecca Burdette

Magali Candler

Ouisa Davis

Judith Flores-Saldivar

Silvia Graves

Yalila Guerrero

Meredith Linsky

Robert Loughran

Catriona Lyons

Paul Parsons

Kenneth Pasquarell

William Puplampu

Debra Rodriguez

Dr. Richard Rubottom

Hussein Sadruddin

Vanna Slaughter

Evelyn Upchurch

Deane Willis

Page Two

Guests –

Beau Blank – Attorney – Catholic Charities

Liz Cedillo – Attorney – Catholic Charities

Lisa Chandler – TSC – Deputy Director/ Operations

Wyvette Covington – TSC – Assistant Center Director Exams – Business Section

Pamela Easterday – TSC – Supervisor N-400/Natz

Anne Estrada – INS Dallas District Director

Lynn Gros – TSC – Assistant Center Director, Exams

Dennis Janda – TSC – Intel Research Specialist

Joyce Namde – U.S. Consulate, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico – Acting Consular Section Chief

John M. Peace – INS Dallas District Office, SDAO - Naturalization

Paul M. Pierre – INS Headquarters, Washington, D.C. – Branch Chief

John Pittman – TSC – Assistant Center Director, Exams

Dana Powell – TSC – Deputy Director / Management




Mr. Parsons asked for recommendations for any changes to the minutes from the January 26, 2002

meeting in Austin, Texas.   Ms. Deane Willis had requested a correction to her portion of the minutes.  The minutes had stated that the FBI had requested copies of foreign student documentation from Texas A & M University.  In fact, the INS District Office had requested this documentation. The minutes were accepted with this correction noted.




Ms. Silvia Graves, Chair,  presented the AILA Texas Chapter report to the committee. The AILA Texas Chapter covers the states of Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma with a membership of over 550 attorneys who practice in the area of immigration law.  The Texas Chapter website ( is the primary tool to inform Texas Chapter AILA members of new procedures, cases and local office information.   Ms. Graves discussed the AILA Annual Conference to be held in San Francisco, California , June 12-16, 2002.  Additional information can be found on the AILA National web site  The fall conference of the Texas Chapter of AILA will be held at the Ritz-Carlton in Cancun, Mexico in November-December 2002.  Ms. Sarah Brown is in charge of the facilities arrangements and the actual dates will be provided as soon as confirmation can be obtained.  The House of Representatives has passed a bill to split the INS.  At this time the Senate has to decide whether to support the House Bill or propose changes.  Senators Kennedy and Brownback are expected to be instrumental to whatever action the Senate takes on this legislation.


Mr. John Bartlett, Certifying Office for Region IV, Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, presented a report for his office.  At the present time the DOL Regional Office in Dallas is processing Regular RIR labor certification cases received at the Dallas Office in November 2001.  Deficient RIR cases received in the Dallas Office in January-February 2000 are being reviewed now.  Limited Review cases received in the Dallas Office in mid August 2001 are being processed now.  Basic labor certifications that don’t qualify for Limited Review are being periodically reviewed for those received in the Dallas Office in January 2000.  The Dallas DOL  Page Three

Region presently has approximately 5,900 permanent labor certification cases in their office.  The H-2A/H-2B temporary labor certification cases consume most of the resources of the Dallas Office. At present there are 300 H-2B cases in the office as of 4/25/02.  DOL is current (within 30 days) on these cases.  There are also approximately 300 H-2A applications which are also current, but time consuming to process within the restrictive time frames.  The DOL alien labor certification program nationally has a total of 85 staff positions which will be reduced to 70 by the end of the year.  The Denver suboffice only has 1 staff person and the Dallas office is down to 8 staff positions including 3 individuals assigned to H-2A cases; 3 individuals assigned to H-2B cases and the other 2 individuals who perform all other required duties for the Dallas office.  The use of overtime is the only way that much of the progress is made on the permanent cases. The regulations for the new PERM program will be published in the Federal Register soon.  (Actual publication date May 6, 2002.)  This new program will be a dramatic change to the permanent labor certification program which will be implemented within 12 to 18 months.  The program may be modeled after the current automated program for LCAs that will allow FAX and online applications at sometime in the future. Under the new program labor certification applications will be submitted directly to the DOL Regional Offices, however the SWAs (State Workforce Agencies) will still have a role in the processing providing prevailing wage information as well as H-2A and H-2B processing.  Once the comments on the proposed PERM regulations have been reviewed and the regulations are issued in final form, DOL will first create a pilot program before the program is generally available to the public.  It is expected that the old labor certification program will continue to run in parallel with the new program until the old backlog has been processed.   On March 20, 2002, Mr. Dale Zeigler, Chief, Foreign Labor Certification Unit, Department of Labor, issued a Policy Memorandum to address issues raised by layoffs prior to or during the processing of a permanent labor certification application.  Mr. Bartlett and others had questioned the granting of labor certification applications for U.S. employers who had experienced recent layoffs.  DOL examined the issue and drafted the memorandum to provide guidance to the Regional Offices in the form of a DOL national policy.  The Memorandum was reviewed and approved by the highest levels of the DOL in Washington, D.C.  After the issuance of the DOL memorandum, the Dallas Regional Office began reviewing the approximately 2500 to 3000 cases that had been held for review under the anticipated policy.  In many cases FAX requests and formal NOFs (Notice of Findings) will be issued requesting specific information from the employer to demonstrate that the individuals who were impacted by the layoffs were not able to perform the job duties for which permanent labor certification was being requested. The memorandum also reconfirms the basic procedure for RIR cases in addition to recommended procedures if a layoff has occurred.  The DOL regional offices will look at the six month period prior to the submission of the original labor certification cases and the six month period immediately prior to the review of the labor certification case to determine if the new layoff policy will require a request for additional information.  The suggested actions if a lay off has occurred during these time frames will be to issue NOFs if one of the following fact patterns has occurred.  1) The company requesting certification has experienced layoffs in the area of intended employment within the stated time period; 2) The industry has experience layoffs in the area of intended employment within the stated time period; or 3) Both the company requesting certification and the industry in the area of intended employment have experienced layoffs.  The U.S. employers and their representatives should wait until they receive a NOF to respond to the specific inquiry.  The layoff affidavit used in the past will be the same format required when layoff NOFs are issued.  The Dallas Office keeps a list of companies who have laid off employees during the required time period.  They obtain

Page Four

information from the SWAs as well as newspapers and other media sources.  Although no additional funding is expected for additional staff at the Dallas Regional Office, some funding from the H-1B fees way be available to assist the SWAs in moving cases more quickly.  The TWC only has 18 to 20 analysts at this time, although up to 40 analyst could be used to process the workload.  Part of the concern is that the individuals hired will only be temporary employees.  With the complexity of the process, training is very lengthy.  It is difficult to obtain employees and expend the time and effort required to train them appropriately if they will only be funded for a temporary period of time. 

Information on processing times for all SWAs and DOL regions can be obtained on the DOL web site at  The Dallas DOL Office also has a telephone status line at 1 (214) 767-4975 and an email inquiry line at


Ms. Evelyn Upchurch, the new Director of the INS Texas Service Center, presented the report on activities at the Center. At the present time, the INS is waiting to see which reorganization plan will be implemented.  One plan calls for the creation of a new position within the Department of Justice for an Assistant Attorney General for Immigration.  Under this person will be two separate agencies, possibly Citizenship and Immigration Services and Immigration Enforcement. The INS Service Centers will continue to adjudicate services, regardless of  changes brought about by reorganization plans.  The TSC currently has approximately 500 permanent staff with an additional 500 contract employees to help with the over 374,000 adjudications from receipts of over 1 million during the last year.  Weekly the TSC receives over 103,000 pieces of mail.  During Fiscal year 2001, the TSC completed over 5.7 million cases.  On April 7, 2002, several new Assistant Director positions were created to deal with Operations, Examinations and Enforcement ,and Management.  One of the major problems facing the TSC at this time is the lack of one central physical facility to provide the required services.   Director Upchurch is planning now for one unified facility and hopes to convince INS Headquarters of this plan in the near future.  By housing all TSC functions at one location, productivity would be greatly increased.  With the present operation at two distant locations there are chronic problems with file location and retrieval, not to mention such concerns as parking for all employees and problems with electrical and other building facility needs for a large workforce.  Several new brochures have been prepared to advise the public in the most efficient ways to contact individuals at the TSC and the use of the Premium Processing program and certain nonimmigrant visa processing. 

Ms. Lisa Chandler, the new Assistant Center Director for Operations introduced a number of her personnel who proceeded to provide specific information for their assigned divisions within the TSC.

Ms. Pam Easterday is responsible for N-400 naturalization processing at the TSC.  Their procedure is to complete the data entry and other administrative functions including the fingerprint scheduling for naturalization applicants.  Once this has been completed, the cases are ready to be sent to the various INS District Offices when they request files for interviewing.  The TSC also schedules the actual interviews and then forwards the file to the District Office for the actual naturalization interviews.  The TSC is trying to clear out the older cases so that the processing will be more consistent.  Because of changes in the various computer systems, some cases are not identified for processing when they should be.  The current goal is to complete processing on all naturalization cases filed between January 1998 and December 1999.  Some problems are encountered with the processing of section 319(b) special naturalization cases which are not required to meet the same standards as regular naturalization cases.  Some INS districts prefer to handle these cases locally to avoid problems and delays.  The N-400 receipts were up in November 2001 especially immediately Page Five

prior to the fee change in February 2002.  N-400 cases from Florida have also increased noticeably recently. 

Mr. John (Jack) Pittman was introduced to provide information on cases that fall within his section, I-130, I-751, I-129F, I-765, I-821 and legalization filings. He explained that since over 85% of the employees in his section have been working for less than one year, training is a key issues.  They have instituted a team approach to processing cases with a mix of experienced and new employees in each team to help with questions on issues  as well as training.  The I-130 cases are sorted so that the IR cases with visas available are processed first.  Cases whose priority dates are far off will be processed more slowly.  They are processing the new I-765 applications for L and E spouses.  All I-765 applications are now within the 90 day statutory period.  I-751 cases are also current.  Fiancιe cases are now being processed within 45 to 60 days after being much more backlogged last year.  I-821 TPS cases are being processed as well.  The Hurricane Mitch TPS for Hondurans and Nicaraguans is expected to be extended soon.  The El Salvadoran TPS program is ongoing .  His section is also responsible for I-130 upgrades to IR status.  Since many V visa applicants at the U.S. consulates have to prove that an I-130 petition has been filed in order to qualify, there is some concern on how the INS and Department of State can coordinate efforts in this regard.  Although the petitioner will receive a fee receipt from the filing of the I-130 petition, many consular posts will not accept the receipt as evidence of qualification without some verification with the INS that the petition was actually filed.  This is clearly a questions for INS Headquarters to work with the NVC and the U.S. consulates to provide a secure method to verify the I-130 filing so that the V visas can be processed expeditiously at the consulates.  The individuals filing for V status with the INS Missouri Service Center have an advantage because INS can verify the I-130 filing within their own database.     

Ms. Lynn Gros was introduced to provide information on the processing of I-485 applications, I-90 applications as well as I-526, I-829 and I-612 waiver applications.  She provided the Committee with a sample copy of the new electronic format of the I-131 travel documents that are issued to allow individuals to travel while their I-485 permanent resident applications are pending with the INS.  The information including the photograph are all scanned making is a more secure document than the old format that had a photo manually attached to the document.  Ms. Gros stated that her section processes between 1500 and 2000 I-485 cases per week.  They are focusing on scheduling the older cases from 1999 and 2000 for fingerprints so that these cases can be completed.  If individual cases from this period have not been scheduled for fingerprints, please FAX her section at 1 (214) 767-7409 so that the prints can be scheduled and the case completed.  Mark the FAX with BOLD letters that fingerprints are needed and include the A# and SRC receipt number.  Presently they are holding at the March 2000 date for processing the I-485 cases to allow them time to clear out the older cases. They have over 5,000 cases that they are processing manually because of problems with the automated processing system.  A question was raised about the processing of I-90 replacement card applications.  The TSC keeps returned I-551 cards for 6 months and then destroys the card.  Often there has been a change of address that resulted in the returned card.  For I-90 replacement card issues send a FAX to Shirley Simpson at the previous FAX number.  She is in charge of POND cases. (Post Office Non Deliverable) If an initial I-551 card has not been received, then send an I-731 form to the TSC, especially if there has been a change of address.  If the I-551 card has not been destroyed, then it will be sent out to the new address.

Ms. Wyvette Covington was introduced to report on I-129, I-140 and I-539 processing.  She stated that the TSC is trying to process I-140 petitions within 90 days.  They are making progress on

Page Six

reducing the backlog in this area.  At the present time no instructions have been received from INS Headquarters concerning Premium Processing for I-140 petitions.     Until instructions are received from INS Headquarters, the normal processing times for I-140 will control, unless there is an age-out problem.  The I-140 form should be clearly marked whether adjustment or consular processing is desired.   The I-129 petitions are being processed within 30 to 60 days.  When completing the I-129 make sure to indicate BOTH country of birth AND country of Citizenship in the box on the I-129 form.  I-539 applications are being processed within about 45 days.  The new I-539 form MUST be used.  If the application is filed on an older form, it will be returned.  With the Premium Processing cases, please make sure that they are sent to the special P.O. box or physical address to prevent additional delays in processing.  With the change in the regulations, B-2 cases are being processed more quickly and reviewed more closely.  Individuals who were in the U.S. when the regulations were published on April 12, 2002 are still able to change status to F-1 however, those entering after that date will most probably not be eligible for a change of status.  Deane Willis expressed concerns about the prohibition of attending the school until the change of status is actually approved.  This could result in students not being able to attend classes and possibly losing tuition and time on their degree program. 

Mr. Dennis Janda reported on INS enforcement activities at the present time.  The TSC is working very closely with other INS offices, Department of Labor, Department of State functions both in the U.S. and internationally, to prevent fraud and other criminal activity related to immigration processing and admissions.  His section provides information requested by INS adjudicators to allow them to complete the processing of the case.  It is important to respond fully when an adjudicator requests additional information on a case. 

Finally, Dana Powell was introduced as the new TSC Deputy Director for Management -  One of the challenges faced is the coordination between the C-3 and C-4 computer systems to make sure cases are processed quickly and efficiently.  Budgeting is also a challenge as are new employees who do not have physical space to park or work.  The Records section which includes interface with the contract employees responsible for the mail and data entry also fall within this section.  This division is responsible for quality assurance standards for data entry and security for the database.      


Ms. Joyce Namde, Acting Chief of Consular Services at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, provided information about the Juarez Consulate operations.  Mr. Vasquez has gone to Washington, D.C.  Mr. Michael Puccetti will be Acting Principal Officer until the new Consul General arrives in August.  Mr. Larry Kaye has resigned.  Acting NIV Chief is Mr. J.L. Gonzalez. Mr. Santiago Burciaga is IV Chief.  V nonimmigrant processing is being done for approximately 300 to 500 per day during the last two weeks of each month.  The first two weeks of each month are available for family immigrant visa processing, with just 50 V visa appointments on those days.  This schedule will continue until September 2002, depending on the clearance and training of the 5 new officers who will hopefully arrive at the Consulate by August.  At that time the Consulate plans to begin processing approximately 600 V visas per work day.  Presently it is taking about 6 months to process and schedule an appointment for a V nonimmigrant visa.   To process the V visa applicant the Consulate must clear the individual through DOS and INS databases and/or one other database before an appointment can be set.  Part of the clearance procedure requires independent verification that the I-130 petition has been filed, even if the applicant presents the original I-797 receipt notice.  They are exploring ways to verify the I-130 filing if this can’t be verified through the normal database clearances, but this will not be possible until full staffing levels are reached.  By Page Seven

the end of 2002 the Consulate hopes to be current with processing and scheduling of appointments for V visa issuances. The Consulate in Tijuana will start processing V visas in the near future.  Juarez will still do the preliminary processing and schedule the appointments for applicants in Tijuana.  They are now identifying and clearing additional panel physicians in Tijuana to allow this expansion in processing to be implemented soon.  The INS Office in Juarez is now current on waiver processing.  This means that as soon as the fingerprints are cleared which usually takes 1 to 2 months, the waiver application can be adjudicated.  Of course, if there is a hit in the fingerprint process, the application will take longer to process pending additional investigation.  The Consulate is aware of the new procedures to substitute I-864 sponsors when the petitioner dies.  They are also following the February 2002 cable concerning the use of 40 qualifying quarters of social security contributions in place of the I-864.  A social security printout may be acceptable.  Since there are no clear instructions on what constitutes acceptable documentation, the consular officers will use their discretion.  Since Juarez has a Federal Benefits Unit in the Consulate, they may be helpful in obtaining social security information with the permission of the social security number holder in certain cases.   These procedures can be followed if the I-864 is reviewed at the Consulate.  For those cases where the I-864 is reviewed at the NVC, different procedures may have to be followed.  Mr. Trevena asked about individuals who obtain their V nonimmigrant visa from the INS in the U.S. and then travel outside of the U.S.  Will they have to go through the entire V visa process at the Consulate?  Ms. Namde stated that they would need an appointment but she would need to clarify whether they need to complete the entire process again including fingerprints and medical exam procedures.  Ms. Namde reported that an employee at the U.S. Consulate in Juarez was recently convicted of four counts of bribery related to referrals of individuals for interview at the Consulate.  Because of this and other issues, security at the post is even tighter than before.  All individuals entering the Consulate must have an appointment.  No walk-ins will be allowed.  Attorneys are still able to accompany a client to their interview at the Consulate.  The Juarez web site is presently being revised and advises third country nationals that have an appointment granted and then cancelled to not appear at the Consulate.  Cancellations are usually made by email or phone call.  Revalidation of I-94 cards at the border is only available for individuals who come to the Consulate to apply for the same type of visa.  These individuals will not be readmitted on their I-94 card if their passport has been stamped that they have applied for a visa while outside the U.S.  For questions regarding third country nationals or Mexicans applying for visas other than laser visas,  refer to the web site at  For general information about the Consulate see the web site at or send specific questions to Appointments are current for first time Mexican nationals applying for laser visas as well as replacement laser visas. All K-1/K-3 visas for Mexico are processed at the Consulate in Juarez.


SAN ANTONIO - Mr. Kenneth Pasquarell, District Director, presented a report on the San Antonio INS District Office.  He informed the committee of a program that they have been using successfully in San Antonio to avoid keeping alien material witnesses in detention until such time as they can provide testimony required for conviction of alien smugglers and those engaged in other criminal activities involving aliens.  Until this program was created, the alien material witnesses we forced to remain in custody until they were able to testify.  Now arrangements have been made for certain alien witnesses to be released until they are required to testify against the alien smugglers.  Under this program these individuals can be released on parole with an EAD.  This avoids the need to house aliens witnesses with the criminal population and allows them some means to support themselves

Page Eight

while they are required to remain in the U.S.  These individuals are placed with family members or released to half-way houses until they can testify.  The Mexican Consulate in San Antonio is also involved with the program to assure that the alien witnesses do testify as required.  When the individuals return to Mexico, they are given Voluntary Returns instead of exclusion or removal orders.  If the witnesses are housed in another jurisdiction before trial arrangements are made with the appropriate authorities in that area to monitor the individual until testimony is required.  Although the individuals are returned to their countries, they are allowed to work legally while in the U.S. and their departure on VR leaves the possibility of eventually returning to the U.S. in a legal status.    The San Antonio Office has been involved in UPL issues as they relate to the non attorney providers of immigration processing and benefits.  In March 2002 a meeting was held in San Antonio to address these concerns.  Representatives from the INS Office, the Mexican consulate, Austin Police Department, and members of the bar including Mr. Parsons, Mr. Simon Azar-Farr and Ms. Lee Teran discussed ways to prosecute individuals who take advantage of some elements of the immigrant population .   Since many of these individuals file applications with the INS for benefits which may not be legally viable, mail fraud is one avenue for prosecution.  Another meeting is planned which will include representatives from the TSC.  There have been instances when notaries file I-130 petitions for cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews and requests for EADs that are not legal applications.  The INS accepts the applications with the filing fees and issues receipts.  The unsuspecting petitioners assume that the cases are going to be processed and approved by the INS.  Since the INS may takes several years to actually review I-130s that are not filed for immediate relatives, it will be years before denials will be issued explaining that a permanent resident or U.S. citizen can not legally file for these kind of relatives.  For the EAD applications, after 90 days the individuals appear at the INS District Office to inquire about their employment card.  At that time they discover that they were misled.  Another area of concern are the “hostage” cases where alien smugglers hold the smuggled alien until friends or family pay additional fees to the smugglers.  In one instance the smuggled alien was a small child.  The smuggler threatened to take the child back to Mexico and leave him at an undisclosed orphanage, if the additional fee of over $1,000 was not paid.   Obviously there are real concerns about the safety of the smuggled aliens if the additional money is not paid.

DALLAS – Ms. Anne Estrada, District Director for the Dallas INS District Office reported on activities in her district.  Staffing is a real issue in Dallas.  They have 45 temporary employee positions open but only 10 have been filled so far.  Is it difficult to recruit and train individuals for positions that may not continue beyond a one or two year period.  The permanent resident goal for the District Office this year is very high.  They are focusing on the oldest cases, some from 1996, in an effort to become more current with processing.  I-765 and I-131s are processed within 30 to 60 days.  N-400 cases are being processed fairly quickly but some cases dating from August 2000 are still pending.  They have 47 new employees and no room for them.  In July 2002, a satellite location will be set up to process permanent resident cases to provide sufficient office and parking spaces for the INS employees and their customers.  IIOs have increased from 4 to 11 to help with the expected processing.  The INS does not maintain their own detention facilities in Dallas so they place alien detainees in Dallas and Denton County jails.  With over 400 detainees at the present time, they are trying to coordinate rights presentations for these individuals.    Most of the detained individuals are not Mexican nationals.  The Dallas Office special agents are working with investigators from the TSC and the Postal Service to prosecute individuals who are found to be defrauding individuals by filing for INS benefits not legally available.  The Dallas Police

Page Nine

Department is working with the INS and banks to provide valid Mexican documents so that aliens are able place their money in banks rather than provide an easy target for criminals by having cash available.  Mr. Parsons stated that the Austin Police Department with the assistance of the Mexican consulate is doing this in Austin.  Similar efforts are being made in El Paso as well.  The INS is attempting to recruit a large number of new employees but they are also losing employees to FBI recruitment efforts.


Ms. Deane Willis, Director, International Student & Scholar Services for the University of Texas at Austin presented the report for NAFSA.  She thanked the TSC for providing two of their employees to participate in a meeting scheduled in San Antonio in May 2002 to provide information on the new SEVIS system that will establish an automated tracking of I-20s and IAP-66 forms. Since the Senate approved HR 3225 which will provide more funding for the SEVIS program, the implementation is moving forward.  The fee procedures will need to be worked out.  July 2002 is the target date for web based access to the program with the ability to access batch information by the end of the year.  There may be redesignations for F-1 schools as part of this process.  All schools that are authorized for international students are very concerned about the recent changes in procedures for change of status to F-1 and the prohibition against starting school until the change of status has been approved by the INS.  Improvements in F-1 I-20 data entry procedures will be helpful.  The goal is to have all I-20s for change of status applications returned to the school instead of being sent directly to the alien student.  This will allow the school to verify identity and attendance when the individuals pick up their approval documents.  Mr. Pierre from INS Headquarters indicated that this is being implemented now.  Other issues will arise with reinstatement requests and stricter limitations on initial B admission periods.  With these changes, fewer foreign students will be able to change to student status in the U.S.  This will require their return to their home country for F-1 visa issuance allowing the DOS and INS to perform more security clearance procedures before the student is admitted to the U.S. 


Ms. Meredith Linsky, the ProBAR Coordinator presented the report for her organization.  Her organization has been providing legal services to detained indigent aliens to assist them in their efforts to remain in the U.S. legally.  Our committee, the ABA and AILA both nationally and the Texas Chapter have been very supportive of these continuing efforts.  Initially ProBAR only assisted with asylum applications for these detainees however, now they have expanded services to include all types of immigration cases for the detained population.  They have a new attorney volunteer working with the organization who came from Florida but was originally from El Salvador. ProBAR continues daily rights presentation to all detainees at the INS detention center in South Texas.  After the rights presentations, they offer to speak with unrepresented detainees individually about their possibilities for relief.  Individuals with relief available are referred to attorneys for further assistance.  One attorney with ProBAR has been designated as liaison with the Texas Department of Human Services as part of the ongoing Unaccompanied Children Project.  They are planning a training session in early fall to train volunteer attorneys in the representation of unaccompanied minors.  ProBAR is seeking another attorney to help with this project.  Any applicant attorney must be able to speak Spanish and have at least one year of relevant experience. With immigration law in a constant state of flux, the individual consultations are more important than ever.  ProBAR is the only organization that provides free legal services to indigent detainees at the detention center which holds on average 700 detainees.

Page Ten


Ms. Vanna Slaughter presented the report for the voluntary agencies. Ms. Slaughter reported that the Texas Equal Access to Justice Act provides assistance for legal civil benefits for victims of crimes. These funds are available in Dallas for VAWA applicants who meet the poverty guidelines for benefits.  They may also be eligible for funding from  the Criminal Victims Compensation Fund. IOLTA funding is also an option.  However when IOLTA trust accounts are opened in banks that have lower interest rates on these type of accounts, then less funding is available for the victims.  They are attempting to locate banks that will pay higher interest on IOLTA trust accounts that will go directly to IOLTA.  The State Bar of Texas dues statements include a box for contributions for civil legal services.  All members of the Texas Bar are urged to make at least the suggested donations or more if desired. 


Mr. Hussein Sadruddin presented the report for the Lawyers Committee.  Mr. Sadruddin is requesting that the AILA Texas Chapter continue their contributions to the organization.  A recent Federal District Court decision has found that INA §236(c) mandatory detention requirement is unconstitutional.  No written decision has been made available but this is a significant development for aliens detained under this section of the law.  Another case in El Paso involving the mandatory detention of an Iranian national was also successful.  Several other lawsuits have been filed under the provisions of the Zadvydas Supreme Court  decision where the aliens have been detained improperly for over six months.  Another case challenging the indefinite detention of an alien in exclusion proceedings has been filed in the Southern District of Texas in Houston.  The Lawyers Committee is looking for cases involving aliens who received serious injuries while in INS custody for possible legal action. The Lawyers Committee is recruiting another attorney to function in an ad litem capacity for alien detainees who are legally impaired.  In conjunction with the Houston INS Office, the Lawyers Committee is providing rights presentations for detained female aliens.


Ms. Catriona Lyons presented a report on activities in the Texas Department of Human Services (TDHS). The continuing moratorium on refugee arrivals in the U.S. is continuing to impact on the infrastructure created to assist these individuals.  During the last year only 10,603 refugees have arrived in comparison with an estimated 30,000 in previous years.  Very few refugees are arriving from the Middle East.  The refugee processing center in Islamabad, Pakistan has closed.  There are concerns about the limits that President Bush will set for next year’s refugee admissions.  The refugees that are being processed are being subjected to much closer scrutiny especially relating to identity documentation.  The TDHS can assist victims of severe forms of alien trafficking, especially involving children.  An office may be opened in Houston to assist these individuals.  The only INS relief that may be available to these individuals would be the T visas however, these are very difficult to obtain.  With fewer individuals eligible for refugee services in the state, many programs may not continue.


Mr. Greg Ahlgren presented an update on recent court decisions involving immigration issues.  The recent Supreme Court decision in Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board 122 S. Ct. 1275 (March 27, 2002) was a 5 to 4 decision stating that undocumented alien workers do not have recourse for illegal termination under the National Labor Relations Act.  The Court did not award backpay after the termination.  However, presumably undocumented workers are still entitled to pay for services actually performed regardless of whether they are authorized for

Page Eleven

employment or not.  Since the worker involved in this case is a Mexican national, President Vincente Fox of Mexico will lodge a protest with the United Nations over this decision.  In another recent decision,  Zadvydas v. Davis (No. 97-31345, March 12, 2002) the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted habeas relief on remand from the Supreme Court decision.  After instruction from the Supreme Court, the Fifth Circuit held that the alien who was being detained indefinitely, had shown that there was no significant likelihood of his removal in the reasonably foreseeable future and therefore his continued detention would violate his due process rights. Finally in Girma v. Immigration and Naturalization Service 283 F.3d 664 (5th Cir, 2002), the Court affirmed the BIA denial of asylum to a Ethiopian national who did not present sufficient evidence to show that her abduction in Ethiopia was based on one of the required grounds for a grant of asylum.


Mr. Parsons reported briefly on the recent public hearings held in Austin concerning the requirements for issuance of a Texas Drivers license.  Many individuals testified including Mr. Parsons, about their concerns if undocumented aliens are not provided with drivers licenses.  Issuing drivers licenses to these individuals is important to the public safety in that is insures that all individuals licensed to drive in Texas are knowledgeable concerning the traffic laws and have the required insurance if they are involved in accidents. 


The committee adjourned at 2:00 PM.


Submitted by Rebecca Burdette, Vice Chair

Immigration Daily: the news source for
legal professionals. Free! Join 35000+ readers
Enter your email address here: