Friday, September 21, 2018

John Amaya is a Partner with Berliner Corcoran & Rowe LLP where his practice is solely focused on federal immigration and nationality law.  He is eligible to practice and provide immigration representation to clients before various federal courts of appeal, immigration courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), and the agencies within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security involved in execution of those laws.

Prior to joining Berliner Corcoran & Rowe LLP, Mr. Amaya served in senior leadership roles within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from 2014 to 2017.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Chief of Staff at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) where he managed for the Director a broad portfolio of responsibility regarding ICE operations and policy focusing on immigration enforcement, preventing terrorism, combating the illegal movement of people and trade, including the trafficking of controlled dual-use technology.  At ICE, Mr. Amaya negotiated the creation of a new operational guidance for worksite immigration enforcement which impacted I-9 audits, inspections, civil fines and potential criminal prosecution.  Mr. Amaya also worked on matters involving the movement of legitimate goods, falsified trade documents, and misrepresented trade-related financial transactions.  To that end, he engaged foreign diplomats and law enforcement to partner in combating and dismantling trade based money laundering (TBML) crime with the creation of trade transparency units.  In doing so, he developed deep relationships abroad and a gained an understanding of corporate vulnerabilities related to the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), the Money Laundering Control Act (MLCA), and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).  Prior to ICE, Mr. Amaya served as Counselor to the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) where he worked on many complex matters including the administration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and ensuring a fair process for unaccompanied children seeking asylum, the national security response to the Ebola virus outbreak, and the national security response to risks associated with the EB-5 immigrant investor program.

From 2010 to 2014, Mr. Amaya served as Senior Counsel to then-Chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy (VT), conducting oversight and advising on civil and criminal justice, immigration and homeland security, foreign sovereign immunity, foreign corruption, sanctions, nominations, and federal courts.  In this capacity, he staffed Senator Leahy on the nomination and confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, as well as the passage of the landmark comprehensive immigration reform bill, S.744 — Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013.  Additionally, Mr. Amaya counseled corporate executives in preparation for their Congressional testimony ranging in matters from immigration to the FCPA.

Mr. Amaya also served in leadership positions at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) where he directed and executed federal legislative strategies on civil rights, immigration policy and criminal justice.  In 2006, he began his legal career as a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) following a judicial clerkship in Billings, Montana.  At DOJ, Mr. Amaya represented the United States in federal courts across the country as a litigator in both district courts and courts of appeal.

Mr. Amaya is a native of California and earned both his Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor from the University of Washington where he served on the Board of Regents.  He also earned his Master of Laws degree in International Business and Economic Law from the Georgetown University Law Center.     

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