Homeland Security Sec’y urged to uphold commitments to asylum seekers

After the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing part of President Trump’s travel ban to go into effect, the Human Rights First organization is urging Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly to uphold legal obligations to accept asylum seekers. Human Rights First also wants Custom and Border Control (CBP) agents to comply with US law and treaty commitments regarding asylum seekers, including those from the six countries targeted by Trump’s executive order. Read more about Human Rights First’s stand at its’ website.

Should bad legal advice lead to deportation?

Jae Lee, a South Korean native who moved to the US at the age of 13, received lawful permanent resident status but never became an American citizen. Police arrested him in 2009 on felony charges of possession of ecstasy with intent to distribute. The criminal defense attorney he hired didn’t have much experience with immigration laws and advised Lee to plead guilty, which would lead to his automatic deportation. The case is now before the Supreme Court. The Los Angeles Times editorial board examines the issue in this story.

Supreme Court raises the bar for educating students with disabilities

A unanimous Supreme Court decision on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 will raise the bar for millions of disabled children previously denied educational benefits. In what the Washington Post called “one of the most significant special-education cases to reach the high court in decades,” the justices ruled “…that a child’s “educational program must be appropriately ambitious in light of his circumstances” and that “every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives” even if the child is not fully integrated into regular classrooms. Emma Brown and Ann E. Marimow have more details in this article at the Washington Post.

How Antonin Scalia’s death could affect key cases With only eight justices on the Supreme Court, the prospect of 4-4 ties looms large.Where the White House may lose »

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court abhors even numbers. But that’s just what the court will have to deal with, perhaps for many months, after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Eight justices will decide what to do, creating the prospect of 4-4 ties.
Source: How Antonin Scalia’s death could affect key cases With only eight justices on the Supreme Court, the prospect of 4-4 ties looms large.Where the White House may lose »

Bill Announced to Expand Federal Laws to Include Discrimination Protection for LGBT Individuals

As a follow-up to the Supreme Court’s decision of Obergefell v. Hodges legalizing same-sex marriage, lawmakers have introduced a bill to expand discrimination protection to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) individuals. (SupremeCourt.gov). Currently, less than half of the states in the US have laws that protect LGBT individuals from employment discrimination, but offer no other discrimination protection to that group. Federal laws protect most citizens of the United States from discrimination but do not include the language specifically extending those protections to anyone being discriminated against based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The proposed Full Equality Act of 2015 would include members of the LGBT community in the protections against discrimination in the areas of employment, jury selection, public education, student loans, healthcare and housing. Provisions in the act include changes in the 1964 Civil Rights Act that would forbid most businesses from discriminating against LGBT individuals in their hiring, firing and promotion practices and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that would keep business owners from being able to refuse service to LGBT customers. Religious institutions would not be required to change their hiring practices, however, and would still be able to consider religious beliefs if the employee may be doing any work involving the practice of the institution’s faith. The Full Equality Act of 2015 is sponsored in the House of Representatives by Rhode Island’s Rep. David Cicilline and in the Senate by Oregon’s Sen. Jeff Merkley, Wisconsin’s Sen. Tammy Baldwin and New Jersey’s Sen. Cory Booker. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York voiced his support on Twitter for the act by saying “We must shine a light on injustice. #LGBT discrimination has no place in our housing, employment, and education laws” (twitter.com). Sources:

Click to access 14-556_3204.pdf

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Supreme Courts Rule in Favor of Banks in Bankruptcy Protection Lawsuit

In a decision made on Monday by the nation’s highest court, chapter 7 bankruptcy rules have been clarified regarding the inclusion of second mortgages in a debtor’s petition. The Supreme Court ruling (Docket number 13-1421), brought by Bank of America against two Florida homeowners, states that a second mortgage cannot be cancelled in a chapter 7 bankruptcy. The homeowners’ cases argued that since a second mortgage is paid off before the primary mortgage, and that their properties are not worth the value of the primary mortgage amount, that the second mortgage is then valueless. The two homeowners at the center of the case had each had their second mortgages from Bank of America cancelled in the 11th United States Circuit Court of Appeals. Bank of America appealed the decision and the case found its way to the Supreme Court where the determination was made. The effects from Monday’s ruling will certainly be seen all over the country as homeowners, looking for financial relief, turn toward chapter 7 as a way to get them back on their financial feet.
Last year, more than 700,000 individuals and couples filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy, the most popular type of consumer bankruptcy, which enables a court-appointed trustee to sell a person’s property to repay debts and then cancel the rest. About 2.1 million underwater homeowners had second liens at the end of the second quarter of 2014, said lawyers for Bank of America, citing a CoreLogic  report. (Katy Stech, The Wall Street Journal)
Monday’s ruling further clarifies a 1992 ruling from the Supreme Court regarding first mortgages that are “underwater”. The 1992 determination stated that bankrupt homeowners cannot have the lien cancelled under chapter 7 bankruptcy but did not address second mortgages. The last major bankruptcy code overhaul took place in 1978 when second mortgages were much less common. Source: The Wall Street Journal The National Advocates is interested in hearing from you. Let us know your thoughts and concerns about the ruling on our Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn pages.