Friday, July 30, 2010

Obama Administration on Track to Deport 10% More Than Bush Administration

Listing to one of my favorite Ipod Broadcasts this morning, the reporter was discussion an underreported fact - that the Obama administration is deporting more immigrants than the Bush administration. So I looked it up and this remarkable fact is accurate and true. Amazing. See the chart below.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America's Voice, "As the chart shows, the Obama administration is on track to deport a record 400,000 people in 2010, 70% of whom are non-criminal undocumented immigrants who have been caught up in an aggressive dragnet of local, state and federal raids and enforcement actions. As shocking as these numbers are, they are proof that Republican calls for increased immigration enforcement as a pretext to comprehensive immigration reform are just hollow political pot shots."

Deportations more than doubled in the Bush years and are increasing even more in the Obama administration. And even among those considered "criminal" deportees, immigrants could be classified as such for infractions as minor as selling an unauthorized phone cards. In conjunction with the fact that border security spending and personnel have also increased in recent years, the deportation numbers show that ramped-up, enforcement-only immigration policy already is the status quo. As a result, Republican calls for increased immigration enforcement as a necessity before moving forward on comprehensive immigration reform do not ring true in light of these numbers and this reality.

Said Sharry, "Every day, bad actor employers exploit immigrant workers, undercut American workers and undermine honest competitors. Every day, Americans become more frustrated and more polarized as Washington dithers. Unfortunately, the vacuum created by the lack of action on comprehensive immigration reform has been filled by ramped up federal enforcement and discriminatory laws like Arizona's. It's time to deliver on the change that Obama promised on immigration, such as when he spoke eloquently to the National Council of La Raza and said, "The system isn't working when 12 million people live in hiding, and hundreds of thousands cross our borders illegally each year; when companies hire undocumented immigrants instead of legal citizens to avoid paying overtime or to avoid a union; when communities are terrorized by ICE immigration raids - when nursing mothers are torn from their babies, when children come home from school to find their parents missing, when people are detained without access to legal counsel."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Strange Story Out of Canada - IJ Solicits Sex from Asylee

As reported by the Globe and Mail today:

Immigration judge who wanted sex for granting citizenship gets 18 months

A former Immigration judge who propositioned a South Korean refugee claimant with sex in exchange for citizenship in 2006 was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Thursday.

Steve Ellis, 51, was convicted in April with breach of trust and bribery. He had pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Mr. Ellis was the adjudicator at Ji Hye Kim's refugee hearing in 2006. Ms. Kim was 25 years old at the time.

The court heard that Mr. Ellis visited Ms. Kim twice at the restaurant where she worked and made comments she interpreted as sexual propositions.

The third time they met, Ms. Kim’s boyfriend secretly videotaped the encounter.

The tape, given to CTV news, shows Mr. Ellis and Ms. Kim in a coffee shop. Mr. Ellis proposes that he needs a “girlfriend on the side” of his marriage, and in exchange he’ll see what he can do about Ms. Kim’s refugee claim. Ms. Kim was seeking asylum in Canada from her physically abusive father.

Federal Crown Attorney Lynda Trefler said Mr. Ellis breached a public trust.

“He owed a duty to the Canadian public who trusted him with this power and authority to make decisions on behalf of the Canadian government,” Ms. Trefler said.

She said Thursday’s sentencing sent a message that, when someone in a position like Mr. Ellis's abuses their power, it would be taken seriously.

The sentence paves the way for other vulnerable individuals like Ms. Kim to come forward, she said.

“It certainly sends a message that justice is being done,” Ms. Trefler said.

On Thursday CTV reported that the judge in the case ruled that Mr. Ellis’ bipolar disorder was a mitigating factor, but that Mr. Ellis still knew what he was doing was wrong. Bipolar disorder can lead to errors in judgment.

John Rosen, Mr. Ellis’ lawyer, says his client told him to appeal the sentence. “I have instructions to proceed with an appeal,” Mr. Rosen said from his office.

It could take months to prepare the documents, he said, and there will be an application for bail pending the appeal.

He said he could not comment on the outcome of the sentencing because the issue is still before the court.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Update on Our Office's Two Adam Walsh Act Cases

I just received a comment on my earlier post regarding the denial of immigration benefits under the Adam Walsh Act. Congress passed this law which did many thing, including barring any U.S. citizen from petitioning for an immigration benefit.

The two cases our office handled included a naturalized U.S. citizen who had a Statutory Rape conviction 10 years previously. Under California law he must register as a Sex Offender, pursuant to Penal Code section 290. He married a women from Mexico, filed an I-130 Petition on her behalf and it was denied by USCIS.

The other case involved a U.S. citizen who was convicted of Oral Copulation on a minor - also a Registered Sex Offender under P.C. 290.

I am happy to report that we prevailed in both cases. Both of our clients were able to adjust their spouses and they have their green cards in their hands.

We still have one remaining issue and that involves the child of one of the foreign spouses. We are still trying to get the child his green card through the consular processing. We hope to prevail here as well, however, since this process is still new to both USCIS and the State Department, it will take some time convincing them to do the right thing.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

ALCU Documents the Unequal Access to Citizenship for Muslims

The Los Angeles Office of the ACLU just wrote a report about the unequal access to citizenship for Muslim Residents. Our office has also extensive experience with this discrimination. We filed an Mandamus Action for a muslim women how has been waiting for over 5 years to obtain the State Department clearance necessary for her N-400 citizenship application.

Here is the text of the ACLU story:

For many immigrants in this country, the chance to take the oath of allegiance to the United States and become sworn in as a U.S. citizen is a moment they dream about and work years to achieve. But for Tarek Hamdi and many other Muslim immigrants around the country, the dream is tarnished by racial and religious discrimination in the naturalization process.

Tarek, a 50-year-old man born in Cairo, Egypt, has lived in the United States since he was a teenager. Over the last three decades, he built what many would consider an ideal American life, marrying his American-born college sweetheart and raising four daughters, all U.S. citizens. He has a successful career as a civil engineer, has never been arrested or charged with a crime, and is a man of faith. As a practicing Muslim, Tarek has stayed involved in his religious community and in accordance with the religious principle, zakat, regularly donates money to support humanitarian causes, both Muslim and secular, for those people he believes are most in need.

Tarek considers himself more American than Egyptian. Yet, despite the fact that he bears all of the qualifications for citizenship, having fully established that he is of "good moral character," our government treats him as suspect because of his religion, just like they have apparently treated so many other naturalization applicants who are Muslim or from Muslim countries.

Naturalization applications, like Tarek's, by law must be processed in six months but his stretched out for nine years. He endured endless scrutiny and frustrating delays because too many Muslim applicants are presumed suspects. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) finally denied his application, claiming that evidence from the FBI showed that he made a single donation to the Benevolence International Foundation (BIF) and thus failed to disclose his "association" with the charity on his application. Tarek donated that money to BIF in 2000, believing that they were providing important humanitarian relief around the world, two years before the charity was shut down by the Treasury Department as an alleged financier of terrorism. Tarek has no more association with the BIF than he does to the American Cancer Society, to whom he also donated money. Tarek's story is unfortunately the story of far too many Muslim immigrants. In the Los Angeles Field Office, Muslim applicants appearing for their naturalization examinations are often asked detailed questions about their religion, including how often they pray and what mosque they attend — none of which is relevant to their eligibility for citizenship. They are singled out for lawful donations to Muslim charities and forced to respond to extensive "requests for evidence" reaching so far back that it is impossible to fully comply. Many are brow-beaten into becoming FBI informants in order to have their applications finally processed. And again and again, Muslim applicants are denied naturalization for bogus reasons.

Congress abolished racism from the naturalization process nearly 60 years ago, making the dream of citizenship possible, at long last, for all people, not just Western European immigrants and African descendants. In 1952, Congress proclaimed in the Immigration and Nationality Act that "[t]he right of a person to become a naturalized citizen of the United States shall not be denied or abridged because of race."

While outright prohibited, racial and religious discrimination again infects the naturalization process, disparaging the very meaning of the Constitution to which many new Americans seek to pledge their allegiance.

Monday, July 12, 2010

USCIS Announces Today - Temporary Protected Status Registration Period Extended for Haitian Nationals

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced an extension to the registration period for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible nationals of Haiti. Initially, the 180-day registration period for nationals of Haiti was from Jan. 21 through July 20, 2010. This registration period is now being extended through Jan. 18, 2011.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) previously published a Federal Register Notice on Jan. 21, 2010, announcing the TPS designation of Haiti for 18 months, from Jan. 21, 2010 through July 22, 2011. The designation applies only to Haitians who have continuously resided in the United States since Jan. 12, 2010; TPS will not be granted to Haitian nationals who first entered the United States after Jan. 12, 2010.

Haitian nationals eligible for TPS are strongly encouraged to register as soon as possible within the registration period that now ends on Jan. 18, 2011.

TPS applicants must submit both the Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, and Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to register. Applicants must pay the Form I-821 fee. Applicants age 14 and older must also submit the biometric service fee. Applicants who are age 14 through 65 who request an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) must pay the Form I-765 fee. Applicants under age 14 or over age 65 who request an EAD do not need to pay the Form I-765 fee. If an individual is only seeking to register for TPS, the applicant must still file Form I-765 for data-gathering purposes, but the Form I-765 fee is not required. Applicants who can demonstrate an inability to pay may request a fee waiver for any of these fees. Failure to submit the required applications with any required fees and the biometric fee, or a properly documented fee waiver request, will result in the rejection of the application. For information on TPS fee waivers, please visit the “Questions and Answers: Requesting Waiver of Fees Temporary Protected Status Applicants” webpage.

Further details on the designation of TPS for Haiti, including the application requirements and procedures, are available at on the TPS page under Haiti’s designation and in the Federal Register Notices published on Jan. 21, 2010 and today.

TPS forms are available online or by calling the toll-free USCIS Forms line, 1-800-870-3676.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Deadline for Haitians Registering for Legal Status is July 20

The initial registration period for any Haitian national, or person last habitually residing in Haiti to file for Legal Status in the United States is July 20, 2010.

The benefit of registering for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is you can obtain Employment Authorization, a Social Security Card, and apply for any benefits related to having a social security card, such as Earned Income Credit and the Stimulus Benefit.

To qualify you must:

(1) Be a Haitian National or last habitually resided in Haiti;
(2) Have been present in the US on January 12, 2010;
(3) Properly complete and file TPS registration before the July 20 deadline;
(4) Meet certain immigration requirements (such as no felony convictions); AND
(5) File before registration ends.

If you fail to file by the deadline you will not be eligible for TPS.

Note: Failure to properly file for TPS during the deadlines the US government has set could mean that you lose your chance to benefit from Haitian TPS. It is important to utilize experienced TPS immigration attorneys in order to ensure that your filing is performed timely and properly.