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Minutes of Meeting
Saturday, August 17, 2002
Texas Law Center
San Antonio, Texas


The meeting of the State Bar Committee on Laws Relating to Immigration and Nationality was called to order at 10:40 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.


Committee Members:
Gregory Ahlgren
Hon. David Ayala
Gregory Ball
Rebecca Burdette
Bruce Coane
Robert Loughran
Catriona Lyons
Lynn Olinger
Kenneth Pasquarell
Paul Parsons
Debra Rodriguez
Vanna Slaughter
Irma Soto
Matt Trevena
Paula Waddle
Peter Williamson
Deane Willis

Guests -
Javier Maldonado (for Hussein Sadrudden)

Mr. Parsons asked for recommendations for any changes to the minutes from the April 26, 2002, meeting held at the Catholic Charities Office in Dallas, Texas.

The minutes were amended with changes from Evelyn Upchurch and were accepted with the additions and changes.


American Immigration Lawyers Association (by Matt Trevena)

Our local chapter consists of about 500 attorneys from Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas. There are two annual conferences hosted by our chapter. The next one will be held Dec. 5-8 Cancun. About 50 people are expected to attend. Our AILA Texas website has a registration form, which can be located on The Spring conference will be held at South Padre Island, April 24 through 26. About 100 people are expected to attend.

The National Association of Governor's meeting was held at Toronto, Canada on August 9-12. The biggest issue was the potential Homeland Security bill. The position of the association was that we prefer immigration was not part of bill, but that intelligence from Homeland should be used by the immigration service. Both service and enforcement should be together.

At a recently attended seminar on media presentation, we learned that immigration is not a front burner issue, but it does come up in Homeland Security. There is a broad-based effort to promote immigration, but not necessarily to address the issues. The public wants reform. It was suggested that we encourage embracing reform, while also directing our efforts at what we want.

The public still agrees that we are a nation of immigrants. However, most people believe you can fill out card and become a citizen. Our message should be that legality should be the norm. People need a way to be able to accomplish this.

We suggest continuing our efforts to speak out on the political front for immigration.

Regarding some of the political races, Matt Trevena made it clear that as a group, AILA does not endorse any particular candidate.

It was noted that Commission Ziglar has submitted his resignation. However, we believe he will stay until December, 2002.

You can e-mail any information to Matttrevena@immigrationlaw

Also, please see TSC Filing Reminder, attached to these minutes.

U.S. Department of Labor (John Bartlett)

Mr. Bartlett presented a written report, which indicates that the service will no longer honor requests for processing times or case status by telephone. Mr. Bartlett also updated the committee on current processing times:

Processing Times
Basic cases received: 01/00
RIR cases received 02/02
RIR cases with deficiencies received 03/00
Both H2A and H2B current

(Please see Update from Region IV, U.S. Department of Labor, which has been attached to these minutes.)

INS Texas Service Center (Evelyn Upchurch)

Please note the changing fax numbers for inquiries, effective August 29th:

Prem. Processing, (214) 962-5525
Business petition (214) 962-5520
Adjustment services, (214) 962-5103
Family services (214) 962-5443
Naturalization (214) 489-4049 (same)

Helpful hints:
Please do not hide the fee
Complete the names, country of birth
Allow the max time before calling for status
Respond back in manner requested by officer.
Always use cover sheets sent with as requested
Premium Processing: All requests for refund must be in writing.
Always enclose G-28 if you want to be notified.
Re: I-130, G-325. Need original signature of beneficiary even though outside the country.
Sibling cases: all birth certificates must be there.
Divorce decrees for ALL divorces
Need address changes
Need proof of meeting w/ fiance
Re: 751: Affidavits not enough. Need documentation.
I-129: list both: if born in one country, and country of citizenship
If license requirement, please include
I-485, the process is fingerprint driven.
All I-539 applications must be processed within 30 days. This was done to help the students could start school with approval - part of a security issue. However, it was noted that the I-129s seem to be slowing down from three to five months. The question was raised whether I-129 filed w/ I-539 (w/o premium processing) would be processed w/in 30 days. It was suggested the 30-day rule may apply just to independently filed applications. Riding applications are supposed to be processed with the I-129.

U.S. Consulate in Juarez

A written report was submitted at the meeting. (Please see Ciudad Juarez Consulate Update, and attached to the minutes.)

In summary:
NIV operations: "Terrible 7 countries": Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Libya. There are special security clearances for males older than 16 years old. They must submit a report before a visa is issued. This procedure applies to people who are/were citizens, natives, and legal permanent residents.

Any TCN may make appointment through NVARS. But if they have extra processing requirements, (above) it will be cancelled.

The new DS-158 form is required of all applicants (primary applicants and derivatives) seeking F, J, M visas.

PAW (Personal Appearance Waiver): All children under 7 are eligible, but parents must submit photo. Also, elderly and affirmed may obtain these waivers, but they must be approved by chief on a case by case basis. Also, A-1, A-2, G-1, G-2 (but not G-3, G-5) are eligible to receive these waivers.

A and G visa holders may use the drop off box, but the U.S. Embassy can require a personal appearance.

A "hit" from lookout system may trigger request for fingerprints ($85). They can not process these applications without a fingerprint check.

A question of whether there a mechanism we can request for expediting fingerprint problem was asked. But, this type of procedure is not in place at this time.

Paul Parsons suggested that perhaps we meet in El Paso sometime this year.

INS District Office (Ken Pasquarell)

Commissioner Ziglar has announced his resignation, but he should stay in office until Homeland Security bill is passed, perhaps December, 2002.

Staff changes:
Deputy: Daniel Solis (He will be Acting District Director in Houston for 1 week period only)
Sharon Hutson Adjudications
Yoli Chaverria Inspections
Frank Chaverria Investigation
Grace Winfrey Detention
Bill Russell Admin. Asst. Director

Chris Saucedo became permanent supervisor. There are currently 15 term employees.

UPL: have had four to five meetings. Last one included an Assistant U.S. Attonrey. Mr. Pasquarell thinks there is hope on prosecuting people who change the payee on client checks (e.g, crossing out "INS" and placing their name).

Regarding the exit-entry systems: certain immigrants will be registered and fingerprinted if they stay longer than 30 days. Only nationals from four countries are required to do this at this time, but Syria will probably be added to the list as well. North Korea is not one of the countries. IBIS runs quick query. They have had several hits. Presently they have 245 interviews / fingerprints scheduled. There are several people who are wanted for warrants. San Antonio is also checking US citizen (petitioners) records. This had not been the practice in prior years.

He will try to place an information officer out front of the security process to help those people who need to go to fingerprint support center.

Tractor trailer cases (smugglers). Trying to go to truck stops to help.

Processing Times:

I-485 5 months
I-131 2 months
I-600 current
I-765 2 months
N-400 6 months
565 4 months

Greg Ball reported that Judge Brodsky retired in late June, replaced by Howard Van Winkle who started in July. He will be permanently assigned to the San Antonio office. Also, Judge Zuniga, (a former AILA member J) has been hired and will start September 9.

Greg Ball also reported on staff issues: They are in the process of hiring two (2) more attorneys. Positions announced in August and the position has been closed. He will be getting list of attorney to interview. Judy Patton , the criminal special Assistant U.S. Attorney, is retiring.. That position will not be filled. The total number of attorneys is currently nine (9) in San Antonio, plus the two (2) new positions, plus two (2) supervisors. Also, there are two (2) attorneys who are counsel at border patrol sectors. Every border patrol sector in the U.S. has a counsel that sits there to advise the chief on legal issues. Del Rio and Laredo are our sectors.

A report on the Houston timelines was given:

I-485 2001 - (they starting to see CR cases again)
I-131 30-45 days
I-765 2 -3 months
N-400 Feb. 2002

Vanna Slaughter reported that I-485 are taking about 14-16 months in Dallas.

Vanna also reported that they are having a problem with the assigned term employees who are processing the life legalization cases. They appear to be holding the applicants to a very high standard with the proof required for these cases.

Everyone seemed to be pleased on the reduction of the time to process these cases.

Association of International Educators (NAFSA) (Deane Willis)

Some of the major schools have waited for pre-enrollment.

The SEVIS deadline is January 1, 2003. Right now, you can not go into system without becoming a SVIS school. Schools are just now getting into system. There are a lot of gliches.

Preliminary enrollment is going on. There are no interim rules for SEVIS regulations for some of proposals.

Dept. Of State needs to be notified when a school issues an I-20. The deadline for this new regulation is 9-11-02. Otherwise, a visa will not be given.

Notification to INS is required of non-enrolled students who will be starting in fall. Notification must be done within 30 days (by 800#) of non-enrollment. Schools will be notified when the student enters on a visa through school.

There are approximately 4500 international students - this consists of about 1100 new students.

Border issues: students can not start until their visa has been changed from B-2 to F-1. However, this rule does not apply if changing from H-4 to F-1; it is o.k. to start without approval.

On May 22nd, INS stated that commuter students can not come in and study with a BCC and then return that night to their home country. Then, on August 7th, INS said they can continue to do this until December. Look for proposal for new visa type for commuter students. Sen. Hutchinson is working on this.

Social Security issue for students - After 9-1, Social Security will require verification. They will have to go through a document check, (See new directive). They will not allow an F-1 student to apply for SSN until they have something that says they are full-time student.

Visa issues, security issues: Security checks can take more than 5-6 weeks. There are instances where immigrants are stuck in Nuevo Laredo. Beijing is denying student visas.

San Antonio District Office
Re-instatement person: currently Ramiro Villarreal
San Antonio will make corrections on I-94. Other offices are harder to deal with this.

Dallas District Office
(no report)

Houston District Office:
Becky Burdette feels that the Houston office seldom approves re-instatements.

The fee proposed to be collected from students for SEVIS system - at this time will be not collected from students, but not sure if this will become permanent policy.

Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR)

Please see Report on Activities of ProBar, submitted by Carol Wolchok.

Voluntary Agencies (Vanna Slaughter)

Unfortunately, funding is weak. They have been carefully watching the IOLTA issue since a major source of their funding comes from this. The Supreme Court has accepted the case on review. The last update came about two weeks ago. She is not sure if the 5th and 9th circuit cases are going to be combined.

If IOLTA interest rates are down, this will cause shortfall also.

It was opined that if the banks would agree to waive service fees ($650K), this amount may be added to the fund.

Other area of funding: SBOT dues. Blank on dues statement allows you to "opt out" of funding. This year, almost 1 million dollars was received from voluntary contribution, four times more than last year due to redesigning of form.

Hopefully the Crime Victims Compensation Fund will continue to be available for VAWA and severe trafficking cases.

Discussed 88 arrestees from NY in severe trafficking case. Only 14 were identified as victims. They would not give testimony re: prostitution. They received voluntary departures instead.

Tractor/trailer: Liz represented several people in these types of cases.

Several upcoming training were announced:
Houston August 29 Citizenship and Naturalization
Austin September 13 Immigrant worker's rights
Dallas September 20 Employer Seminar

The deterioration of Honduras and asylum issues were addressed.

Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Immigration Project (Javier Maldonado)

San Antonio had been trying to reprove valid LPRs of naturalization applicant - - Barbara Hines argued the case. Two members of the panel were upset at the government for admitting that this was happening. But, the court said that the case was not ripe, if not ripe, judicial review is available.

Other suits brought included
El Paso for falsely arresting - (Area of misconduct)
Indefinite detention cases.

These cases challenging INS refusal to provide work verification were resolved. INS has agreed to issue nationwide regulations.

Grants are down. With a total of three attorneys, it will be hard to make budget. Appreciation was noted for the support and grants in the past which have been supplied by AILA.

Matt reminded that any grant requests must be made 30 days prior to any conference.

Texas State Department of Human Services (Catriona Lyons)

Big issue: Security Measures. Everyday new security measures. The number of refugees admitted has only 21,000 of the ceiling of 70,000. This is having a severe impact on the organizations providing refugee services. Many programs are being cut back.

Stateside: They are seeing new systems being put in place with other federal association, such as the Social Security Administration. The increasing verification of documents may delay receipt of SS# by several weeks/months. Mr. Pasquarell noted that there is only a 2-3 day verification through San Antonio.

A new program will eventually be put in place nationally (RAPS). This will be a 1-2 day turnaround. However, it is not in place yet.

SAFE program: Systematic Alien Verification. This program may be able to help with SSA problems.

New regulation: Aliens need to change their address within 10 days. People have been picked up for failure to do this.

They are continuing to work with victims of severe trafficking.

They will be opening an unaccompanied minors site in Houston. They are co-sponsoring a conference in Dallas in February. A conference re: trafficking will be held Nov. 17 through 20. They are bringing in national partners, such as the U.S. Attorney General's office.

Immigration Litigation Update (Greg Ahlgren)

Several cases were discussed, including:

US v. Nunez: an important criminal case in which in 1326 cases the government did allege the prior deportation This case did not raise an Aprendi issue.

Efi v. Ashcroft. Asylum case by Nigerian. Alien was involved in street protest and stabbed police officer. Fifth Cir affirmed to deny application.

Antonio v. Ashcroft: Asylum case. Honduran. Squatter on land, involved in on-going incident with wealthy landowners. Affirmed by 5th Circuit that the fact presented were an insufficient basis for asylum case.


Unauthorized Practice of Law Task Force
Peter Williamson discussed the over 100 lawyers who are licensed elsewhere than Texas who confine their practice to federal practice and whether they should they be allowed to practice in front of immigration judges. He believes that the issue is a consumer protection issue. How can you lodge complaint against lawyer in Texas if they are not licensed here?

The defense to this point of view stems from Part 292, which states that "any lawyer can practice before the INS or the EIOR."

1.1 defines lawyer as: "lawyer licensed in any state.

It is a Federal preemption issue. There is no resolution as of yet. Peter will keep us updated.

Court Update
Judge Ayala reported on bond hearings, continuances and problems with filing which were given to the INS court on the 75th day.

On Monday the court moved to their temporary quarters.

The National Association of Judges hired a lobbiest.

Parties are working on restoring the Judicial discretion previously enjoyed by Judges. However, there is no news on this yet.

Matt thanked the Judges and the association he belongs to for getting together to try to solve some of these issues.

A discussion ensued regarding LPRs formerly found to be aggravated felons based on their third DWI conviction. Judge Ayala stated that he frequently reopens these cases on his own motion. It is not clear about the nationwide policy on these cases.

The committee adjourned at 1:50 p.m.

Submitted by Debra Rodriguez, Secretary