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Section Liaison Committee/AILA South Florida and DHS Miami/ICE Office of the Chief Counsel – Provided by Larry S. Rifkin
On November 1, 2017, the Florida Bar International Law Section Liaison Committee to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), along with AILA South Florida, held a joint meeting with DHS Miami/Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of the Chief Counsel’s (hereinafter ICE OCC Miami) top officials including Chief Counsel, Nelson Perez, and Deputy Chief Counsels, Adis Cano, Loren Coy, Steven J. DeRenso, Alec Izzo, Carlos Lopez, and Heidi Shulman-Pereira.
During the meeting, the ICE Miami officials confirmed that the office’s internal policies and procedures have changed during the administration of President Trump and that internal memoranda describing the new policies exist but that the memoranda would not be shared with private attorneys or the general public. That said, the ICE Office of the Chief Counsel in Miami did provide important information and expressed its hope that both ICE OCC Miami and the private bar can continue to meet on a regular basis to discuss important issues.
Regarding Requests for Procedural Discretion, ICE OCC Miami confirmed that all prior memoranda issued on Prosecutorial Discretion have been rescinded. Chief Counsel Perez reminded those present that Prosecutorial Discretion has always existed and will continue to exist, but it is a tool to be used only in extraordinary circumstances.
Regarding requests for Joint Motions to Reopen (JMTR), ICE OCC Miami confirmed that their current policy is to only join in on cases of extraordinary circumstances or on cases where the Petitioner is a member of the military. As of Monday, November 6, 2017, requests for ICE OCC Miami to join in JMTR must be filed electronically or at the window on the second floor of OCC’s offices. If a Request for ICE OCC Miami to join in a JMTR is filed via mail, the request will not be reviewed by ICE OCC Miami. Furthermore, ICE OCC Miami will no longer be issuing rejection letters. If filed by E-Service, an acknowledgement email will be sent to the filing party. If filed at the window, a receipt stamp will be provided. Rejections or denials will no longer be provided on the same day of the filing.
Unlike other OCC offices, ICE OCC Miami is not yet reviewing cases in which it had previously agreed to administrative closure to decide whether to recalendar the matter before the Immigration Court to continue pursuing removal proceedings. This might change in the near future. ICE OCC Miami also advised that all issues discussed with a duty attorney will be addressed by the same duty attorney, even if it takes more than one day to be resolved.
ICE OCC Miami reminded all parties present to always bring to their attention alleged cases of misconduct by an OCC Miami Attorney. Chief Counsel Perez provided a list of the telephone numbers for all the attorneys working for the ICE OCC Miami office and promised he would look into the possibility of providing a list of the ICE Attorneys’ email addresses as well in order to facilitate stipulations and agreements between the two sides.
After the meeting with the ICE OCC Miami officials, all parties attended the ICE eService Town Hall meeting on eService, where we learned that starting on Monday, November 6, 2017, ICE eService will become available for the ICE OCC Miami Office. The ICE eService is the electronic service of documents between the OCC and aliens in administrative immigration proceedings before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), or their legal representatives, through a dedicated internet-based portal. The ICE eService is a voluntary option as it is only for the electronic service of documents to ICE OCC and does not allow for the electronic filing of documents with EOIR. The ICE eService is not meant to work as an online storage solution. Documents will be deleted after 90 days.
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