PHOENIX — Mercedes Ryden, chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Arizona Chapter, on behalf of the executive committee, released the following statement today:

We welcome the President’s announcement offering his planned administrative action to ameliorate some of the damage done by our broken immigration system in the absence of Congressional action.

The President acted in the best interest of the country after months of delays by Congress.  The actions he has taken will keep America safer, offer relief that takes into account the need to boost businesses, keep families together, and alleviate some of the daily tragedies our broken system engenders.

The President took a bold and courageous first step by turning away from the naysayers, from the critics, and made good on his promise to try and fix America’s broken immigration system.

Congress should be ashamed that instead of doing its job, and passing comprehensive reform, they have done nothing to help the situation.

President Obama was well within his legal authority to act on immigration reform: Presidents from both parties going back decades have taken similar steps, including President Bush, Sr. who gave blanket deferral of enforcement in 1990 to 40% of the undocumented population at the time.

The President’s action does not fix all the problems with America’s current immigration system, it’s a stopgap measure. It’s not permanent but it allows Congress the opportunity to step up and pass comprehensive immigration reform.

What President Obama intends to do on border security remains unclear. Unfortunately, the administration seems committed to increased buildup of resources on the border despite the fact he has already deployed unprecedented amounts of manpower, resources, and technology to secure the nation’s borders in the past decade.

The President’s plan as described today includes:

  • Deferred Action for the parents of U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children who fit the eligibility requirements.
  • Expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to remove the age cap and move the continuous presence date up to January 1, 2010.  DACA will now be granted for 3 years (including those with pending renewal applications).
  • Replacement of the controversial Secure Communities program with a “Priority Enforcement Program” program the details of which are still unclear.
  • Ensuring that job-creating entrepreneurs have legal means to enter and operate in the U.S.
  • Increasing access for university affiliated businesses to key talent.
  • Allowing spouses and children of lawful permanent residents to apply for unlawful presence waivers from within the U.S. and ensuring appropriate standards for adjudicating those waivers.
  • Enabling families of individuals trying to enlist in the armed forces to utilize parole in place to ensure legal status.
  • Changing the procedures for adjustment of status to allow legal immigrants caught in the immigration quota backlogs to register their applications and thus begin the final step of the process.
  • Directing agencies to look at modernizing the visa system, with a view to making optimal use of the numbers of visa available under law.
  • Announcement of a new border security campaign and plan.

Governor Jan Brewer: President Obama Thwarts Congress & the American People to Impose Amnesty

“Not so long ago, President Obama rightly acknowledged that his role as president under the Constitution is to ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed.’ Publically and repeatedly he has rejected the suggestion of bypassing Congress to impose a de facto amnesty via executive order.

“Now, rather than work with Congress on a bipartisan solution to fix our immigration system and secure the border, he is once again taking brazen, unilateral action that will only further exacerbate the border problem – just as he did in 2012 when he signed an executive order to provide an amnesty to almost two million illegal aliens through his ‘Deferred Action’ plan.

“This is not a partisan issue. When the bluest of blue states – like Oregon, for example – vote overwhelmingly to prohibit illegal aliens from obtaining drivers licenses, it speaks volumes about the widespread lack of support for President Obama’s immigration policies. The American people have spoken, and time and again they have been ignored.

“That President Obama refuses to visit our border, refuses to enforce our existing immigration laws and refuses to come to the table on an issue of such critical national safety and economic importance is a disgrace. We are a nation of laws, the most significant of which are written to ensure cooperation and balance among our branches of government. Separation of powers is what has distinguished us from other forms of government for 225 years. Over the past six years, this President has sought at every turn to move us toward a concentration of power which, as President Reagan opined, ‘has always been the enemy of liberty.’ With controversial executive actions like that announced today, President Obama undermines our Constitution and erodes the fundamental principles upon which America was built.

“Clearly, the President is not interested in executing our laws, and even when he and his party had control of Congress and the White House, they did absolutely nothing to reform immigration. His new executive action sends a disturbing message about the way this President perceives his role as leader. When a president constantly refuses to enforce existing laws, disregards the will of the people and creates his own policies based on personal preferences, we shift from a nation of democracy to one of tyranny. In 1838, a profound man, Abraham Lincoln, prophetically warned the American people that a tyrant could overtake our political system from within, and that, ‘when such a one does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs.’

“Evidently this President must be reminded that we, the American people, elected a president that serves beneath the law – we did not anoint a tyrannical king that is above the law.”


Funding Available to Support Federally-Recognized Tribes and Tribal Consortia 

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice today announced the opening of the grant solicitation period for comprehensive funding to support public safety, victim services and crime prevention improvements in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.  The department’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS) was posted today at www.justice.gov/tribal/open-sol.html. The solicitation closes on Feb. 24, 2015.

“The Department of Justice is making a concerted effort – one that we are building on every year – to expand our reach to tribes and make resources more widely available to our partners in Indian country,” said Assistant Attorney General Karol V. Mason for the Office of Justice Programs.  “This solicitation addresses an array of tribal justice system issues and will give tribes access to the support they need to keep their communities safe and ensure a just, fair, and effective system for fighting crime.”

CTAS is administered by the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), and Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).  The funding can be used to enhance law enforcement; bolster adult and juvenile justice systems; prevent and control juvenile delinquency; serve sexual assault, domestic violence and elder victims; and support other efforts to combat crime.  To view the FY 2015 CTAS, visit www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/tribal/pages/attachments/2014/11/19/ctas_fy-2015_solicitation.pdf.

Applications for CTAS are submitted through the Justice Department’s Grants Management System (GMS) which enables grantees to register and apply for CTAS online.  Applicants must register with GMS prior to submitting an application.  An applicant will not be able to submit an application without registering in GMS before the application deadline of 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET), Feb. 24, 2015.

The FY 2015 CTAS reflects improvements and refinements from earlier versions.  Feedback was provided to the department during tribal consultations and listening sessions, and includes tribal leaders’ request to improve and simplify the DOJ grant-making process.  Changes to DOJ grant programs, enacted with the passage of the Tribal Law and Order Act, are incorporated into the CTAS solicitation and in the appropriate purpose areas.  For more information about changes to the CTAS Solicitation from last year, read the FY 2015 CTAS fact sheet.

For the FY2015 CTAS, a tribe or tribal consortium may submit a single application and select from nine competitive grant programs referred to as Purpose Areas.  This approach allows the department’s grant-making components to consider the totality of a tribal nation’s overall public safety needs.

The nine purpose areas are:

  • Comprehensive Tribal Justice Systems Strategic Planning (OJP/COPS/OVW)
  • Public Safety and Community Policing (COPS)
  • Justice Systems, and Alcohol and Substance Abuse (BJA)
  • Corrections and Correctional Alternatives (BJA)
  • Violence Against Women Tribal Governments Program (OVW)
  • Children’s Justice Act Partnerships for Indian Communities (OVC)
  • Comprehensive Tribal Victim Assistance Program (OVC)
  • Juvenile Justice Wellness Courts (OJJDP)
  • Tribal Youth Program (OJJDP)

Tribes or tribal consortia may also be eligible for non-tribal government-specific federal grant programs and are encouraged to explore other funding opportunities for which they may be eligible.  Additional funding information may be found at www.grants.gov or the websites of individual agencies.

Today’s announcement is part of the Justice Department’s ongoing initiative to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities.

Interior Deputy Secretary Mike Connor to Discuss Accomplishments, Additional Steps in Implementation of Tribal Land Buy-Back Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, November 20, U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Interior Mike Connor will host a news media teleconference to discuss the year-to-date accomplishments and next schedule for the continued implementation of the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations (Buy-Back Program).

The Buy-Back Program implements the land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to purchase fractional interests in trust or restricted land from willing sellers at fair market value within a 10-year period.  Land fractionation is a serious problem across Indian Country.

As lands are passed down through generations, they gain more owners. Many tracts now have hundreds and even thousands of individual owners. Because it is difficult to gain landowner consensus, the lands often lie idle and cannot be used for any beneficial purpose.

In its first year of sending offers, the Program has already successfully concluded transactions worth nearly $225 million to American Indian landowners and has restored the equivalent of more than 375,000 acres of land to tribal governments.

WHO: Mike Connor, Deputy Secretary of the Interior
WHAT: News media teleconference on progress for the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations
WHEN: Thursday, November 20, 2014, 1 p.m. Eastern Time
MEDIA: Credentialed members of the media can participate in the teleconference by calling 1-888-324-9613 and entering the passcode 9464430.


Justice Department Task Force Report Recommends Increased Funding, Coordination, and Training to Address Violence, Health and Welfare Issues

WASHINGTON, DC – The Advisory Committee of the Attorney General’s Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence released policy recommendations to the Justice Department today.

The report recommends a significant rebuilding of the current services provided to Indian Country, through increased partnering and coordination with tribes, and increased funding for programs to support American Indian and Alaska Native children.  Each of the five chapters discusses the Advisory Committee’s findings and recommendations.  The report provides the Advisory Committee’s vision for the development of effective, trauma informed, and culturally appropriate programs and services to protect American Indian and Alaska Native children exposed to violence.

“American Indian and Alaska Native children represent the future, and they face unprecedented challenges, including an unacceptable level of exposure to violence, which we know can have lasting and traumatic effects on body and mind,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.  “We must understand these impacts well so we can pursue policies that bring meaningful change.  That’s why I am deeply grateful for the work of this advisory committee and the continuing mission of this task force.”

Attorney General Eric Holder created the task force in 2013.  It is composed of a federal working group that includes U.S. Attorneys and officials from the Interior and Justice Departments and a federal advisory committee of experts on American Indian studies, child health and trauma, victim services and child welfare.  Former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan and Iroquois composer, singer and child advocate Joanne Shenandoah co-chaired the 13-member committee.

These recommendations are a culmination of the research and information gathered through four public hearings held between December 2013 and June 2014 in Bismarck, North Dakota; Scottsdale, Arizona; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Anchorage, Alaska, and five listening sessions in Arizona, Minneapolis and Alaska where over 600 people participated from over 62 Tribes and 15 States from across the nation.  More than 70 experts and 60 community members testified at the hearings, addressing domestic and community violence in Indian Country; the pathway from victimization to the juvenile justice system; the roles of juvenile courts, detention facilities and the child welfare system; gang violence; and child sex trafficking.

The Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence is part of the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood initiative.  The task force is also a component of the Justice Department’s ongoing collaboration with leaders in American Indian and Alaska Native communities to improve public safety.

To read the entire report and for more information about the advisory committee and public hearings, please visit www.justice.gov/defendingchildhood.

Once-a-year opportunity to go “wild” at Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center is Nov. 22-23

PHOENIX –  Come see a bald eagle, bobcat, ringtail, and many bird and reptile species at the free Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center’s open house on Saturday, Nov. 22 and Sunday, Nov. 23 from 10-3 p.m. daily.

During this once-a-year glimpse into the center’s operations, visitors will have the opportunity to see wildlife up close, view educational displays, make wildlife-related crafts and meet wildlife experts.
Over thirty years ago, the Arizona Game and Fish Department opened the first state-run wildlife rehabilitation and education center in the nation. Today, the center has provided wildlife triage, treatment and rehabilitation to more than 30,000 sick or injured animals and delivered wildlife education programs to millions of people at events and schools.

Its original focus, when founded in 1983, was on treating and rehabilitating sick and injured wildlife. While the center still continues to provide care to wild animals, it also focuses heavily on educating the public about Arizona’s diverse native wildlife. Ultimately, the center strives to rehabilitate wildlife for return to the wild, but in instances where an animal cannot be rereleased, the center may use them as educational wildlife ambassador.   

It is operated with a small budget from the Heritage Fund, a voter-passed initiative that provides for wildlife conservation and education through Arizona lottery ticket sales, and operated by the Game and Fish Department with help from the Adobe Mountain Wildlife Auxiliary. The center depends on public support to care for the vast number of animals that come through its doors. The following donations are always very welcome:

• Paper towels
• Plastic storage bags (quart or gallon)
• Dawn dish soap
• Laundry bleach
• Heavy-duty trash bags (30-33 gallon)
• Tall kitchen trash bags (13 gallon)
• Gift cards to grocery and hardware stores
• Game meat (good quality, not freezer burned)
• Monetary contributions

The wildlife center is located north of Pinnacle Peak Road just west of I-17 in Phoenix. It is on the same property as the Adobe Mountain School. Officers and volunteers will be giving directions for parking once at the facility.

Admission and parking for the open house are free, and food will be available for purchase.

For more information about the Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center, go online to www.azgfd.gov/wildlifecenter or watch a related video at http://youtu.be/YrIPSVYtNWQ.