Comment on avoidscams website accreditation and recognition 6 11-11
 

Comment on avoidscams website accreditation and recognition 6 11-11

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The 1st 32 saw the older version, it was updated 6-11-11

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Comment on avoidscams website accreditation and recognition 6 11-11 Comment on avoidscams website accreditation and recognition 6 11-11 Document Transcript

  • Comments on PM 602-0039 RE: Form EOIR-31 and Role of USCIS DD in Recognition and Accreditation; and USCIS‟ new “avoidscams” webpages: to help stop Unauthorized Practice of Immigration LawUSCIS stated that it began to develop efforts to update the regulation in early 2010.On February 2, 2010, USCIS, on behalf of DHS published an Interim Rule: “ProfessionalConduct for Practitioners: Rules, Procedures, Representation, and Appearances” at 75 FRPages 5225-5230.USCIS (DHS) received only a handful of comments mostly disagreeing with therequirement to file G-28s, a warning about “notarios” (something already known), thedistinction between practice and form preparation, and prohibiting foreign-educated lawstudents/graduates or law students/graduates abroad from appearing.On January 24, 2011, USCIS issued an “Executive Summary” of a StakeholderEngagement that took place on August 25, 2010, (excerpt below) available at:http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/Outreach/Public%20Engagement/National%20Engagement%20Pages/2010%20Events/August%202010/IGA%20teleconference%20QA%20%288-25-10%29%20%28FINAL%29.pdf which included: “Q: Recently, we have encountered a large number of non-accredited individuals posing as accredited representatives or attorneys. Are there any regulations or ways to deter the unauthorized practice of law? A: Under federal regulations, only attorneys and representatives accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) for organizations that have been recognized by the BIA are authorized to practice immigration law. USCIS is not an enforcement agency and, therefore, does not have authority to prosecute these individuals. However, we are committed to combating the unauthorized practice of immigration law, and are currently enhancing our public education efforts and working with federal, state and local law enforcement partners to address this issue.”A follow up to the earlier Interim Rule was published on January 31, 2011, at 76 FR5267, and asked for written comments to be submitted on or before March 2, 2011.A larger number of comments were received in response to the re-issued rule, close to100. These mainly reiterated the earlier issues. The VAST MAJORITY just complainedabout having to file G-28s. One1 pointed out that 8 CFR § 292.2 and the EOIR-31 had notbeen addressed.1 http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=DHS-2009-0077-0009Comment from Joseph P. Whalen joseph.whalen774@gmail.com June 11, 2011 Page 1
  • On an uncertain date between February 4, 2011, and May 2011, EOIR posted apowerpoint presentation2 on the Recognition and Accreditation Process including theform EOIR-33 which itself is dated February 4, 2011.On March 10, 2011. USCIS posted its UPIL Fact Sheet at:http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextchannel=8a2f6d26d17df110VgnVCM1000004718190aRCRD&vgnextoid=25d08f0c04ccc210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRDUSCIS invited interested parties to participate in a stakeholder engagement on April 14,2011 at 2:00PM (Eastern Time) regarding the unauthorized practice of immigration lawand building the capacity of immigration service providers. The Office of PublicEngagement, in collaboration with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) will presentan overview of the BIA accreditation and recognition process and address suggestedtopics as submitted by stakeholders. The promised “Executive Summary” is still notposted as of today, June 10, 2011, but might be redundant at this point.On April 21, 2011, USCIS posted an “Executive Summary” of the IntergovernmentalAffairs Stakeholder Engagement of January 12, 2011. In that summary, USCIS stated: “From December 2010 through February 2011, USCIS hosted meetings with federal, state, and local government partners and stakeholder engagement sessions in seven pilot cities: New York, Baltimore, Atlanta, Detroit, San Antonio, Fresno and Los Angeles. After the completion of the pilot period, USCIS will seek to expand our efforts to other USCIS districts and will launch a nationwide public education campaign.”As per the April 21, 2011, posted summary, USCIS had defined its approach anddescribed it like this: „Principal Themes USCIS Initiative to Combat the Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law (UPIL) The unauthorized practice of immigration law adversely impacts members of the immigrant community and undermines the integrity of our immigration system. The objectives of the UPIL initiative are to:2 http://www.justice.gov/eoir/statspub/raroster_files/RA_Overview_%202011-02-04.pdfComment from Joseph P. Whalen joseph.whalen774@gmail.com June 11, 2011 Page 2
  •  Better inform the public on how to find qualified legal advice and representation when seeking immigration benefits from USCIS;  Increase the number legal representatives that are recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) via the BIA’s Recognition & Accreditation Program; and  Provide information on how to report individuals and businesses that engage in the unauthorized practice of immigration law to federal, state, and local agencies.”On June 3, 2011, EOIR posted a News Release on its own letterhead entitled: “FederalAgencies Combat Immigration Services Scams DHS, DOJ and FTC Collaborate withState and Local Partners in Unprecedented Effort”On June 7, 2011, FTC posted a Media Advisory entitled: “Federal Agencies CombatImmigration Services Scams DHS, DOJ and FTC Collaborate with State and LocalPartners in Unprecedented Effort” this consists of almost the exact wording as theEOIR June 3, 2011, News Release.On June 9, 2011, EOIR posted a News Release displaying all three Departments’ sealsentitled: “National Initiative to Combat Immigration Services Scams DHS, DOJ andFTC Collaborate with State and Local Partners in Unprecedented Effort”On June 9, 2011, FTC posted a News Release3 entitled: “FTC Combats ImmigrationServices Scams” which plays up FTC’s recent cases against immigration scams andbriefly mentions the joint action with a link to the EOIR News Release with the threeDepartments’ seals. This release links to various of the partner agencies’ releasesincluding another DOJ component4, the Access to Justice Initiative.On June 9, 2011, ICE posted its News Release5 entitled: “National initiative to combatimmigration services scams DHS, DOJ and FTC collaborate with state and localpartners in unprecedented effort.” This release links to various of the partner agencies’releases.The big news of the day was that, on June 9, 2011, the e-mail I got about the USCIS,ICE, DOJ (including EOIR and Civil Division) and the FTC “Unprecedented Multi-Agency Initiative” via live webcast came really late. The USCIS e-mail notice came at12:37pm for a 1:00pm webcast.3 http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2011/06/immigration.shtm4 http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/June/11-atj-750.html5 http://www.ice.gov/news/releases/1106/110609washingtondc.htmComment from Joseph P. Whalen joseph.whalen774@gmail.com June 11, 2011 Page 3
  • Almost simultaneously with the June 9, 2011, webcast (at 12:50pm), USCIS issued anInterim Memo for comment entitled: “The Role of USCIS District Directors in the Boardof Immigration Appeals Recognition and Accreditation Process; Revisions to theAdjudicator’s Field Manual, New Chapter 12.6, AFM Update AD 11-34 (dated June 7,2011)” at:http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/Outreach/Feedback%20Opportunities/Interim%20Guidance%20for%20Comment/role-of-bia-recognition-accreditation.pdfIn that memo, on page 3, in the last sentence of the first full paragraph it says: “See also Appendix F for relevant BIA precedent decisions.”The memo does have appendices numbered: 12-1 through 12-4, but there is no AppendixF either attached or in the AFM available on the public website. There is however, alisting of the relevant BIA precedents included in the new AFM Chapter 12.6 in“paragraph (g)”. Unless there is some non-accessible AFM Appendix F, then the memoneeds correction on that point.Also on page 3, the memo says that there is a link to the BIA Roster at the “USCISDisciplinary Counsel website.” I could not find any such website or webpage. I realizethat the memo and new AFM Chapter are written to the adjudicators so, there very wellcould be such a page on a non-public website.A search of the USCIS website found a reference in a Q&A entitled: “Questions &Answers: DHS Implements Regulation to Enhance Attorney Discipline Program” 02/02/2010 “Q. How do I file a complaint about an attorney or an immigration practitioner? A. You may file a complaint in writing with the DHS Disciplinary Counsel, OCC/USCIS/DHS, 70 Kimball Avenue, Room 103, S. Burlington, VT 05403, using Form EOIR-44, Immigrant Practitioner Complaint For[m]—available on the Department of Justices website—or providing the information in a letter.”As for the new addition to the public site, I found: http://www.uscis.gov/avoidscams witha variety of resources. One of the pages found following the “Find Legal Services” buttonis a very nice addition as are all the webpages. The last sentence on that page is missing aword as shown (inserted) in bold below. “Please note that the DHS official may decide not to permit a reputable individual to appear at your interview.”When it comes to the EOIR-31 being served on USCIS and ICE, how do the applicantorganizations figure out where to send the copies?Comment from Joseph P. Whalen joseph.whalen774@gmail.com June 11, 2011 Page 4
  • At the ICE website they have these further contact links and when you click the firstoption it brings up the Chief Counsel addresses: How Do I Contact a Local ICE Field Office?  Principal Legal Advisor  Enforcement and Removal  Professional Responsibility  International Affairs  Homeland Security Investigations  Law Enforcement Support Center Above at: http://www.ice.gov/contact/It seems easy enough, with regard to ICE. Trying to figure out the correct mailingaddress to send something to a USCIS District Director, it is not so easy.Take a look in some local phone books around the country, many still have a listing forthe Immigration and Naturalization Service. The USCIS Office Locator feature onwww.uscis.gov allows one to find their local office by entering a zip code or selecting aState by name. Applicant organizations will not serve the USCIS copy of the EOIR-31 atthe correct address most of the time. This will cause delays if the Field Office is not at thesame address as the District Office. That of course is the reality of USCIS. This will onlyadd to the processing time. The EOIR-31 directs the applicant to submit it to the localDistrict Director. The average CBO is staffed with well meaning but perhaps not sosavvy individuals who just don’t understand the distinctions.https://egov.uscis.gov/crisgwi/go?action=offices.type&OfficeLocator.office_type=LOHow cumbersome would it be to identify the District to which each local Field Officebelongs on the individual filed office pages? Something along the lines of: This USCIS Field Office is part of a larger District Office. We belong to District NO. ##. Any correspondence intended for the District Director should be addressed to: District Director District No. ## 123 Some St., Room/Suite//Mailstop/??? XX [or P.O. Box ###] City, State 12345-1234One last an observation:Comment from Joseph P. Whalen joseph.whalen774@gmail.com June 11, 2011 Page 5
  • It seems that this effort is almost completing a full circle and bringing a majority of thisresponsibility back to where it started. INS used to bear the full responsibility ofaccepting requests to be listed, made the decisions, did whatever checking was deemednecessary, and kept the lists. The jurisdiction over matters of maintaining the lists of legalservice providers shifted from INS to EOIR’s OCIJ effective March 31, 1997, pursuant toIIRIRA (1996). Also, appellate jurisdiction in matters concerning recognition andaccreditation shifted from the Assoc. Comm’r Exams. (AAO) to the BIA in that samerule making at 62 FR 9071-9075 (2/28/97). It’s worth reading that old FR Notice. (Seeseparate post.)Overall, I like what’s happening and applaud it.Comment from Joseph P. Whalen joseph.whalen774@gmail.com June 11, 2011 Page 6