Friday, December 30, 2011

TRAC Report: Only 8.3% of all Pending Deportation Cases Involve Criminal Aliens

Syracuse University's TRAC Immigration has issued another report finding that only 8.3% of all pending deportation proceedings involve immigrants with criminal convictions. TRAC also reports that by the end of September 2011, the number of pending deportation cases has reached record levels.

There are now 297,551 pending deportation cases nationwide, and the backlog keeps on growing (up 4.2% since July 2011). This is a 60% increase from what was seen in George W. Bush's last year in office.  

This chart was prepared by TRAC and illustrates the exponential growth of the backlog of pending deportations since Obama took office.

Here are some of the other findings of TRAC's report:
  • The number of pending deportation cases involving criminal aliens is down from what was seen at the end of fiscal year 2010.
  • 90% of pending deportation cases only involve individuals charged with mere immigration violations (i.e., overstaying a visa). 
  • Pending cases only involving immigration violations has increased from 236,415 at the end of FY 2010 to 259,038 at the end of July 2011.
  • It is now taking an average of 497 days to complete deportation proceedings for individuals charged with mere immigration violations. 
  • It is now taking 410 days to resolve pending deportation cases for individuals charged with criminal grounds of removal.  
So the rhetorical question becomes: who should we believe?

The Obama administration who claims that more than half of the people deported last year have been convicted of crimes, or a non-partisan University who analyzes the raw data that shows that 90% of all pending cases do not invovle criminal grounds of removal? 

I'm just going to hazard a guess that the Obama administration's misrepresentation (AKA lies) are directly correlated to the fact that 59% of all Latinos oppose Obama's handling of deportations.

Wouldn't it be nice if our elected officials actually told the truth for once.

The audacity of hope.

Click here to donate to TRAC immigration.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Alabama immigration law deterring investors

"Some local officials in Alabama are worried that the state's tough new immigration law has turned off foreign investors from bringing business -- and jobs -- to cities that desperately need them."-CBS News

Click here for more of this US immigration news update.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2012: The Road to Immigration Nowhere

I’m sorry but I need to vent. I just read a blog by a former President of AILA and it got my dander up. The question posed was what can we expect in the world of immigration in 2012?
The short answer: absolutely nothing.

As was pointed out, next year is an election year, and the Democrats are scrambling to keep both the Senate, and the White House. It isn't looking good.

President Obama once said that he would rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term President. I think in 2012 he is going to get half his wish, but for the sake optimism, let's just call that wish half-full. I predict this because from an immigration perspective President Obama's first term has been God-awful.

Obama has completely failed to provide ANY leadership whatsoever on the issue of immigration reform, turning his back to the Hispanic electorate the moment he unpacked his bags in the White House, and adopting the most aggressive deportation policy in the history of the United States.

This has resulted in sharp disapproval from Hispanics, the largest and fastest growing voting block in the country. The Pew Hispanic Center has just released a study that shows that 59% of all Latinos disapprove of Obama’s deportation policies. Obama won the Hispanic vote by nearly a 2-1 margin in 2008. I wonder how many of these voters will turn out next November.

Obama’s failure to lead on the issue of immigration reform resulted in the Democrats squandering a two-year super-majority. Immigration reform could have been passed without a hiccup in the President’s first 100 days in office. This is what he promised. So why did it happen? Obama expended every ounce of his political capital on his signature health-care legislation, throwing Hispanics under the bus in the process. Specifically, in order to get the votes required for passage, Obama lied to the Hispanic Caucus who was threatening to oppose Obamacare unless racist and anti-immigrant provisions were removed. His promise to the Caucus: to aggressively work with Congress to pass immigration reform. How did that work out?

So for those of you keeping score at home, Obama’s immigration reform efforts to date principally feature a lunch with Shakira and a Desperate Housewife. Change you can believe in?

The apologists respond with the fact that the Administration has recently introduced a “common sense immigration enforcement” policy involving the employment of a prosecutorial discretion memo. The reality is that this is nothing more than a public relations stunt. I know of only a handful of cases nationwide where prosecutorial discretion is being favorably exercised, and those cases are usually attached to embarrassing media coverage of individuals facing deportation to countries they haven’t been to since they were young children. The silent majority receive little, if any, reprieve from the Administration’s 400,000 deportations per year mandate.

As for the Administration’s recent constitutional challenge to Arizona’s immigration law, this President should be careful throwing stones in his glass White House. Persistent human rights violations permeate the Obama Administration’s handling of immigrants.

So here we are, facing the dawn of a new year that will bring us down the road to immigration nowhere. Thankfully, we have the vacationer-in-chief to guide us down it, leaving a trail of broken promises, lies, and half-truths.

So let us all raise a glass and wish that in 2012 Barack Obama gets half his wish ending his one and only term as President.

Happy New Year?

College Sports Star Fighting Deportation

ESPN has reported that Ayded Reyes, a star Pacific Coast Conference cross-country athlete, is currently scheduled to appear before an immigration judge in March 2012, to determine whether she will be deported to Mexico.  She came to the United States as a two-year-old, and doesn't know a single person in all of Mexico.

Reyes, the top ranked women's junior college cross country athlete at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, California, was jailed for five days this past October after being encountered by police sitting with her boyfriend in a parked car.  This five day period of incarceration was used as a means to pressure Reyes into signing off on her own deportation.  Standard procedure.  

Reyes was smart, and strong enough to resist ICE officers commenting "If they make me go back, I will be lost."

U.S. Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) has introduced a private bill (H.R. 3281), which if passed and signed will put a stop to Reyes pending deportation.

I'll keep you posted if updates on this story become available.

Click here for the original ESPN report.

Friday, December 23, 2011

AZ Sheriff Arpaio: Mounting Storm of Anti-Latino Bias, Prisoner Abuse, Sex-Crimes Negligence

District Judge Blocks Portions of South Carolina Immigration Law

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel has blocked portions of the South Carolina immigration law that requires law enforcement officials to confirm the immigration status of any individual believed to be in violation of U.S. immigration law. Judge Gergel further blocked provisions of the law that criminalize the act of harboring or transporting undocumented immigrants.  The law was schedule to take effect on January 1, 2012.

The Justice Department, the A.C.L.U., and the Southern Poverty Law Center have challenged the constitutionality of the law arguing that only the federal government maintains constitutional authority over the regulation of federal immigration law.  In rendering his decision, Judge Gergel acknowledged the “traditionally predominant role of the federal government in the field of immigration.”   

A spokesman for South Carolina’s governor, Nikki R. Haley issued the following response on Thursday:  “If the feds were doing their job, we wouldn’t have had to address illegal immigration reform at the state level, but, until they do, we’re going to keep fighting in South Carolina to be able to enforce our laws.”

Click here for the New York Times article that was the source for this article.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Suspect in immigration agent killing held in US

The Associated Press reports that a suspect in the murder of an immigration agent is being held without bail in the United States. The alleged Mexican drug cartel member entered a not guilty plea yesterday (Wednesday December 21, 2011).  He was arraigned in federal court and charged with murder and attempted murder for a roadside attack on two U.S. immigration agents in Mexico.  He faces a life sentence if convicted.

Click here for more of this US immigration news update.

92 Maricopa County jail officers turn in ICE badges

Adam Slinger of the Associated Press reports that 92 jail officers in Sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona turned in their ICE badges in front of cameras. Last week the Federal government stripped the officers of their authority to check immigration status due to allegations of civil rights violations.

There is only one remaining federal agent that is responsible for checking the immigration status of all inmates held in Maricopa county jails.

It has been reported that an average of 15 individuals were detected each day that did not have proper immigration status.

Click here for more of the original story.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Immigration Judges Give "Scathing Assessment" of Lawyers Appearing before New York Immigration Courts

The New York Times published an article a couple of days ago about the availability of quality of legal representation before the immigration court in New York.  The article references a Cardozo Law Review article entitled "Assessing Justice: The Availability and Adequacy of Counsel in Immigration Proceedings."

Immigration Judges (IJ) estimated that from an approximately one-year period between 2010 and 2011 33% of the cases involve lawyers that have provided “inadequate” representation, and “grossly inadequate” representation in 14% of the cases.  The IJs viewed private lawyers least favorably, which according to the Times piece, may be attributable to "predatory" "ambulance-chasing-style lawyers" that are not familiar with immigration law and who are primarily responsible for the low grades.

The moral of the story is make sure that you do your research before hiring an immigration lawyer to represent you in a deportation proceeding.

Click here to read the N.Y. Times article.

Click here to read the Cardozo Law Review article.

Obama Administration Still Enforcing Defense of Marriage Act in Immigration Context

United States Citizen Frances Herbert and her spouse, Japanese-born Takako Ueda, just learned that the Obama administration will not recognize their marriage for immigration purposes, which may result in Ueda's deportation from the country.


The couple were legally married in Vermont on April 26, 2011.  The immigrant petition that Herbert filed on Ueda's behalf was just denied on December 1, 2011.  The denial was a direct result of the mandate of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The denial letter contained the following language: "The DOMA applies as a matter of federal law whether or not your marriage is recognized under state law." "Your spouse is not a person of the opposite sex. Therefore, under the DOMA, your petition must be denied."  The denial was issued despite U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's position that DOMA is unconstitutional.

According to Immigration Equality, there are 36,000 American families that will be destroyed by deportation as a direct result of DOMA.

District Judge Grants Class-Action Status to Mentally Incompetent Immigrant Detainees in Immigration Court

The Washington Post reports that United States District Judge Dolly M. Glee has granted class-action status to mentally disabled immigrant detainees in California, Washington, and Arizona that do not have legal representation before the immigration court, and that have been deemed mentally incompetent to represent themselves. The decision was rendered under seal in November, but became public this past Monday. 

When the suit was filed on February 14, 2010, there were 55 mentally disabled detainees in custody. It has been estimated that at any given time there are between 200 and 300 mentally disabled people held in immigration detention in California, Washington, and Arizona.

ACLU of Southern California deputy legal director Ahilan Arulanantham believes that the Court's decision "paves the way" for a mandate for appointed representation in immigration court proceedings for individuals deemed incompetent. Current law affords individuals the right to representation before immigration courts, but at their own expense.

Judge Glee sits on the United States District Court for the Central District of California, and was appointed to the bench by President Obama.

Click here to read more of the Washington Post story.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sheriff Arpaio Responds to DOJ Immigration Report

DOJ to Arpaio: the Feds are only ones allowed to violate the civil rights of immigrants

Yesterday, Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez spoke at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) to announce that the Department of Justice (DOJ) had concluded their civil rights investigation of the office, finding that MCSO has engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing in violation of the 4th and 14th amendments, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Specifically, the DOJ found that:
  1. MCSO engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing; specifically, MCSO engages in racial profiling of Latinos, and unlawfully stops, detains and arrests Latinos.
  2. MCSO unlawfully retaliates against people who criticize its policies and practices.
  3. MCSO operates its jails in a manner that discriminates against Latino inmates that are limited English proficient.   
  4. MCSO routinely punishes Latino inmates that are limited English proficient when they fail to understand commands given in English, and denies critical services that are provided to other inmates.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Perez made no mention of the human rights violations that are occurring at the hands of the Obama administration.  
Specifically, he made no mention of the fact that:
  1. Sexual abuse of immigrant detainees is widespread.
  2. The federal government is not abiding by its commitments under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its Protocol, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right.
  3. ICE is not providing proper oversight of abuse in immigration detention facilities.
  4. In some immigration detention facilities abuse of immigrants is systemic.
  5. Border patrol abuse is widespread.
  6. Latinos are being racially profiled for deportationsometimes out of boredom.
  7. There is evidence that both ICE and CBP approve of racial profiling.
  8. Immigration agents have been accused of "aggressive and overzealous" tactics.
  9. A substantial percentage of Immigrants are not being afforded their right to due process.
  10. In the rush to meet the 400,000 deportations per year mandate, the administration is deporting United States citizens.
I think you get the point.
So the question becomes, who is going hold this administration accountable for the very abuses that they are rightfully condemning the MCSO for?
Hopefully it is the voters. 
Click here to read the DOJ press release.
Click here to watch a clip of the press conference.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

U.S. Citizen Antonio Montejano Detained by ICE for Days

United States citizen Antonio Montejano was detained by Immigration and Customs enforcement for days even though he is a United States citizen and they had literally no legally authority to hold him for even one second.

To this end, ICE Director John Morton has acknowledged: "We don't have the power to detain citizens." 

To quote Mel Brooks: "Badges?  We don't need no stinkin' badges!"

I advise you to contact your representative in Congress and implore them to investigate the misconduct, which  according to the New York Times, appears to be a regular occurrence under the Obama administration. 

Justice Department Resolves Citizenship Status Discrimination Charge Against Pennsylvania Employer Sernak Farms

The Department of Justice issued a press release on December 13, 2011, announcing that they had agreed to settle a case involving S.W.J.J., or Sernak Farms (SF),  that claimed that SF discriminated against U.S. citizens by preferring to hire H-2A temporary visa holders over U.S. citizen applicants. 

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that it has reached a settlement agreement with S.W.J.J. Inc., or Sernak Farms, based in Weatherly, Penn., to settle allegations that Sernak engaged in discrimination on the basis of citizenship status by preferring to hire temporary visa holders over U.S. citizen applicants and adversely treating its U.S. citizen employees.   The underlying charge was filed by Philadelphia Legal Assistance on behalf of eight U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico.

The Department of Justice investigation indicated that Sernak hired three foreign national workers under the H2-A visa program without considering hiring three of the eight U.S. citizens because of the belief that H2-A visa holders are more diligent than U.S. workers.   Of the five U.S. citizens it did hire, the department’s investigation suggested that Sernak treated them differently than Sernak’s foreign national employees in their terms and conditions of employment, and then dismissed them because of their citizenship status.  The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) generally prohibits employers from hiring or terminating employees because of their citizenship status.

Under the terms of the settlement, Sernak has agreed to pay $30,000 in back pay to the eight injured parties, who are U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico.  Sernak has also agreed to provide its employees training on the anti-discrimination requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), adopt nondiscrimination policies with respect to recruitment and hiring, and maintain and submit records to the Department of Justice for the three-year term of the agreement.

“All workers who are authorized to work in the United States have the right to look for a job without encountering discrimination because of their immigration status or national origin,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.   “We are glad to have reached a settlement with Sernak and we look forward to continuing our work with public and private employers to educate them about anti-discrimination protections and employer obligations under the law.”

The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, which prohibits employers from discriminating against work-authorized individuals on the basis of citizenship status or national origin in hiring, firing, recruitment or referral for a fee.   Attorneys Richard Crespo and A. Baltazar Baca represented OSC in this matter.

For more information about protections against employment discrimination under federal immigration law, call OSC’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2525, TDD for hearing impaired), OSC’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-362-2735, TDD for hearing impaired), or 202-616-5594; email ; or visit the website at www.justice/gov/crt/osc .

Report: Obama administration breaks 2009 promise by failing to address the human rights crisis in immigration detention facilities

The Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) and the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR) have issued a report that reveals that the Obama administration has broken their 2009 promise by failing to sufficiently address the human rights crisis that is occurring in immigration detention facilities across the nation.  

The report is entitled "Not Too Late for Reformand is the result of the review of conditions in two detention facilities in Illinois (Jefferson County Jail, and Tri-County Detention Center) and one facility in Kentucky (Boone County Jail).  The report reveals that the conditions in all three facilities were "deplorable" and that these facilities are "typical" of other immigration detention facilities nationwide that house immigrant detainees.

NIJC Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy calls on the Obama administration to "put an end to this human rights crisis by ending the expansion and privatization of this broken system."

The report makes a demand on the Obama administration to:
  • Reduce mass immigration detention by abolishing harsh enforcement practices and referring more individuals into alternative to detention programs
  • Close the worst facilities nationwide, including Boone County Jail, Jefferson County Jail, and Tri-County Detention Center
  • Cancel plans of opening new facilities operated by private prison contractors that often are responsible for human rights violations
  • Restore human rights protections with strong oversight measures
  • Save taxpayer dollars by releasing from detention individuals who do not pose a threat to society and assign them to an alternative to detention program.
Click here to read the report.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

NY Times Report: "Growing Number" of American Citizens being Detained by the Obama Administration's "Immigration Crackdown"

Julia Preston of the New York Times reports that the Obama administration is detaining an increasing number of United States citizens as "illegal immigrants" as a result of "flawed information" from Department of Homeland Security (DHS) databases.  The databases instruct local police to hold the individual for investigation for possible deportation.

The article gives examples of citizens that are being caught up in the Secure Communities deportation program that requires the fingerprinting of every individual booked at local jails.  The fingerprints are then cross-checked against DHS immigration databases. If a check returns positive an immigration hold is placed on the individual, enabling local law enforcement to detain the individual for up to 48 hours.  A false positive can be triggered in a Secure Communities fingerprint check because of "flukes" in the databases. 

It is unknow how many American citizens have been erroneously detained because, conveneintly, the Obama administration does not keep statistics on false positives. One study has been conducted, however, that reveals that 82 citizens were held in Arizona immigration detention centers for as long as a year before an immigration ultimately determined that they were United States citizens.

Click here to read more of the article.  It is worth your time.

Obama administration is not doing enough to protect immigrant detainees from sexual assaults in immigration detention centers

NPR Reports that the Obama administration is not doing enough to protect immigrant detainees from sexual assaults in immigration detention centers, and is actually seeking an exemption from a new rule that seeks to protect against prison rape because they don't want to be told what to do.  

The new rule, the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), was unanimously passed by Congress and imposes a zero tolerance policy on guards and wardens, as well as establishing reporting mechanisms. The Department of Justice (DOJ) is charged with developing the PREA rules.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) oversees immigration detention facilities.  They are seeking an exemption from PREA because they don't want DOJ to have the ability to order DHS around.  The likely outcome of this petty inconvenience is the continued abuse of immigrant detainees on President Obama's watch.     

More hope and change from the Obama administration.

There have been 200 reported complaints of sexual abuse of immigrant detainees in the past five years, but ACLU lawyers state that the actual number of abuses is likely substantially higher because immigrant detainees are afraid to report instances of abuse. ACLU Legislative Counsel Joanne Lin states: "Traumatized by the sexual assaults, [immigrant detainees] are understandably loath to report the abuse to the same government authorities that have the power to rape, detain and deport them." 

See below for the full NPR report.


Supreme Court to Look at State Immigration Laws

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Supreme Court to weigh in on Arizona immigration battle - Kagan Recuses Herself

The Arizona State Attorney General received an early Christmas present yesterday.  The United States Supreme Court agreed to review the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision relating to four provisions of the highly controversial Arizona immigration law known as S.B. 1070.

The four enjoined provisions direct state law-enforcement officers to cooperate and communicate with federal officials regarding the enforcement of federal immigration law and impose penalties under state law for non-compliance with federal immigration requirements.

The four provisions in question are as follows:
  • The requirement that police when making a stop to attempt to determine an individual’s immigration status should an officer have a “reasonable suspicion” that the individual is in the United States in violation of immigration laws. If arrested, an individual is precluded from release until immigration status is verified by the federal government. 
  • A provision requiring that criminalizes the act of intentionally failing to obtain and carry proof of lawful immigration status while in Arizona. 
  • The inclusion of a misdemeanor offense for the act of applying for employment, publicly soliciting employment, or working in Arizona without authorization. 
  • Permission for a probable cause warrantless arrest of any person should a police officer reasonably believe that the individual has committed any crime, anywhere, that would subject them to removal from the United States.
The question is presented is "whether the federal immigration laws preclude Arizona's efforts at cooperative law enforcement and impliedly preempt these four provisions of S.B. 1070 on their face."

Justice Kagan took no part in the consideration or decision of the Court to review the case, and has recused herself.  As a result, only 8 members of the Court will render a decision.

The following is the procedural history of the case courtesy of

Monday, December 12, 2011

Supreme Court: BIA’s policy for applying §212(c) in deportation cases is “Arbitrary and Capricious”

The United States Supreme Court rendered an immigration related decision today.  The unanimous 9-0 opinion was delivered by Justice Kagan.  See Judulang v. Holder, No. 10–694, December 12, 2011.
The case involved the application of Section 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) in the deportation context.  Prior to its repeal in 1996, §212(c) gave the Attorney General the authority to grant discretionary relief to an individual charged with being excludable from the United States, where the alien had lawfully resided in the United States for at least seven years prior to a temporary departure so long as the individual was not excludable on one of two specified grounds.  
To determine continuing eligibility for §212(c) in a deportation context the BIA used a test called the “comparable grounds” rule, which evaluates whether a charged ground for deportation is analogous to the list of exclusion grounds contained in the INA.  
The rule works as follows. If a conviction that subjects an individual to a ground for deportation is “substantially equivalent” to a conviction that constitutes a ground for exclusion, an individual is eligible for §212(c) relief.  Conversely, if the deportation ground covers "different or more or fewer offenses than any exclusion ground",  the individual is ineligible for §212(c) relief, even if the particular conviction is a ground for exclusion.
The Supreme Court held that the comparable grounds rule is arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U. S. C. §706(2)(A), reversing and remanding the decision below rendered by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. 
The Court used particularly strong language in rendering its decision calling the Board's current approach fundamentally flawed because it doesn't even rest on factors that are relevant to whether an individual should be deported, characterizing the test as a “sport of chance” that circumvents the protections established by the APA. The Court further ruled that the Board's approach has no connection to the purposes of the immigration laws or the appropriate operation of the immigration system, and eligibility is tied to "irrelevant comparison between statutory  provisions."
The Government attempted to argue that the test is valid because it saves time and money, but the Court dismissed this argument stating that "cheapness alone cannot save an arbitrary agency policy."
Score one for the little guy.
Click here to read the full decision.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.: Obama Administration is not Implementing Prosecutorial Discretion Memo

It has been reported that Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill. has stated that the Obama administration is not implementing the prosecutorial discretion memo that is supposed to prioritize the deportation of immigrants with criminal conviction over individuals who are only subject to deportation for immigration violations.

Congressman Gutierrez cites an example of a 19-year-old girl that was held in an Alabama jail for three days for a traffic violation. She has no prior criminal record, is a young mother, and is married to a United States citizen who is the father of her child.  Moreover, she did not intentionally break our immigration laws as she was brought to the United States as a 12-year-old. Gutierrez called her the "the gold standard for prosecutorial discretion."

I'm sure that now that the Administration has been embarrassed in the media action will be taken.  Par for the course.

Click here for more of the story. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Stiff Immigration Laws, No Bar To Big Dreams

"Even though Maria Luna's parents are U.S. residents, she is in limbo. That's because her mother drove to Mexico to deliver Maria and leave her there.

"I happened to be born on New Year's Day, and my grandmother who owned a house in Mexicali, Mexico — where I was born — was celebrating with her family. And when she found out what my mother had done, she immediately came to my rescue and brought me over to the United States at just three days old. So she basically saved my life within the first 72 hours of my birth," Luna told Tell Me More host Michel Martin."-NPR Staff

Click here for more of this US immigration news update.

Obama Administration has Favorably Exercised Prosecutorial Discretion in Only One Deportation Case involving Same Sex Spouses

The DOMA Project has reported that nationwide there has only been one case where the Obama administration has favorably exercised prosecutorial discretion in favor of an individual in a same sex marriage facing deportation.  On November 30, 2001, Immigration Judge Terry Bain signed the order of dismissal.  Monica Alcota, born in Argentina, received a temporary reprieve for her and her United States citizen spouse Cristina Ojeda.  It should be noted that unless Judge Bain dismissed proceedings with prejudice to the Department, charges may be re-instituted at any time. 

It is unsurprising that Judge Bain granted the motion, as TRAC Immigration statistics reveal she is one of the most immigrant friendly judges in the country on the issue of asylum granting 90.4% of all cases between 2001 through 2006.  There are no Judges nationwide with a more favorable asylum grant rate during the same period.  It does not appear that Ms. Alcota was applying for asylum, however, but in my experience an immigration judge's grant rates on asylum are a reliable barometer on how they will rule on other forms of relief from removal.

What I find most telling is the fact that this is the first reported case where the Department has moved to dismiss a case involving a same sex marriage.  It is also unsurprising that this case warrented favorable consideration due to the fact that Cristina and Monica have been waging a high-profile battle against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and her deportation proceedings have garned national attention.  This is a repeating pattern of this administration.  High profile cases that have received media coverage are given high priority, while the vast invisible majority of individuals facing deportation are left out in the cold.

I have a number of current cases dealing with this very issue, and in every instance the Department has declined to favorably exercise prosecutorial discretion by enforcing the mandate of DOMA, and advancing the charges of removability. It should be noted that the Obama administration's recent prosecutorial discretion memorandum specifically excludes same sex spouses from consideration.

So the question becomes, will this be the first case in a reoccurring pattern, or will it be the exception to the rule that the Obama re-election campaign carts out for public relations purposes. 

I predict the latter.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

TRAC Report: Obama Administration Withholding Records that they are Targeting Fewer Criminals in Deportation Proceedings

Syracuse University's TRAC Immigration has done it again.  They just released a report (December 5, 2011) that reveals that from July - September 2011 only 7,378 individuals or 13.8% of all individuals facing deportation have engaged in criminal activities. The proportion of alleged "criminals"  deportation cases has dropped from the 16.5% during FY 2010.
TRAC found that:
Not only has ICE targeted relatively few criminals as the basis for seeking deportation in these court proceedings, but this proportion has been declining steadily throughout the past year: 15.8 percent were charged with engaging in criminal activity during the first quarter period (October - December 2010), 15.1 percent during the second quarter (January - March 2011), 14.9 percent during the third quarter (April - June 2011), and finally 13.8 percent during the fourth quarter (July - September 2011). The average rate across the four quarters for FY 2011 was 14.9 percent.
TRAC also determined that during FY 2011 ICE initiated deportation proceedings against 188,770 individuals that only violated U.S. immigration laws, or 83.4% of the total cases. The percentage of individuals charged with mere immigration violations increased slightly from FY 2010 when 81.9% of all pending removal cases only related to immigration violations.
Here is what TRAC has to say about the discrepencies between the administration's clearly erroneous statements that criminal deportations are increasing:
TRAC's findings appear to contrast sharply with the White House's announcement that: "Under the President's direction, for the first time ever the Department of Homeland Security has prioritized the removal of people who have been convicted of crimes in the United States." The findings also are hard to reconcile with ICE's recent press statements that claimed that during the past year the agency had targeted a large and increasing number of convicted criminals for deportation.
Unfortunately, while the agency could easily clear up these apparent discrepancies it has chosen not to do so. Indeed, for twenty months, in clear violation of public disclosure laws, ICE has persisted in withholding from TRAC the case-by-case data TRAC requested under FOIA that the agency maintains on these same court proceedings — information precisely parallel to what the Department of Justice already determined must be released to the public from its own files. DHS and other government offices have failed to rectify this matter despite TRAC's appeals to DHS's Director of Disclosure and FOIA Operations, as well as to the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS).
The records ICE is withholding would show just which ICE programs — such as Secure Communities or others — have contributed to fewer alleged criminals being targeted for deportation in court proceedings. The data would also allow the public to judge whether ICE's actual activities match ICE's announced policies to target serious criminals, and those who pose threats to public safety, as well as to better monitor how the agency exercises prosecutorial discretion in whom it seeks to deport.
In addition, TRAC contacted ICE's Public Relations office on November 7, 2011 asking for explanations of the figures given in the agency's October 18, 2011 press release that claimed the agency's FY 2011 accomplishments closely matched announced ICE priorities. At a meeting with ICE officials November 10, the agency promised to promptly provide answers to a series of TRAC questions that asked for details backing up the agency's claims. Again and again, however, the promised answers did not materialize. ICE's Public Affairs office continues to say the promised answers will be forthcoming.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE consider donating to TRAC. They are at the very front line of defense against this administration's war against the truth. Obama Campaign Still Lying About Trying to Deport You

I just read a post on that pretty much sums up what the Obama administration is doing with its immigration policy as it relates to their re-election strategy.  Flavia said it perfectly, so I'll just quote her for you:
It’s getting old. And maybe folks are tired of hearing the same thing, over and over, but it’s true- the Obama administration is not telling the truth about its deportation policy. It is a lie.  Perhaps the infrastructure is larger than we understand, and decisions being made in D.C. can’t manage to find their way to places like Mobile, but whose responsibility is it to make sure that it happens? Certainly not ours.
What is worse is the Obama campaign’s clear and blatant manipulation of this issue to build their email lists. It might be okay if they were actually trying to do something to help immigrant communities, but all we have seen are toothless policy memos and lawsuits that pass the buck.
At this rate, we simply can’t blame anybody who decides to place their bets with Newt Gingrich or Rick Perry, who have both alluded to their support for the DREAM Act, or simply referred to those who would “deport them all” (as Obama is currently doing) as heartless. Maybe that’s shameless politicking- but at this point, what’s the difference?
Click here for some more truth.

Obama Administration has done little to clean up "Chronic Abuses" in Immigration Detention System

The New York Times published an editorial yesterday regarding the Obama administration's now two-year-old pledge to clean up the immigration detention system.

 The pledge was made in 2009 by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in acknowledgment of "reports of chronic abuses — of detainees beaten and sometimes left to die of untreated injuries and illness." 

The Times gave a status update on the progress the administration has made towards cleaning up a "broken, dangerous system." The report reveals that only "meager progress" has been made by the administration, citing a report issued by Human Rights First (HRF), entitled Jails and Jumpsuits: Transforming the U.S. Immigration Detention System—A Two-Year Review. HRF found two years later that:
 ...the overwhelming majority of detained asylum seekers and other civil immigration law detainees are still held in jails or jail-like facilities—almost 400,000 detainees each year, at a cost of over $2 billion. At these facilities, asylum seekers and other immigrants wear prison uniforms and are typically locked in one large room for up to 23 hours a day; they have limited or essentially no outdoor access, and visit with family only through Plexiglas barriers, and sometimes only via video, even when visitors are in the same building. 
 The Times editorial also references a recent American Civil Liberties Union report uncovering nearly 200 accusations of sexual abuse of immigrant detainees.

Here is the ACLU summary:
Government documents obtained by the ACLU contain nearly 200 allegations of sexual abuse of immigration detainees jailed at detention facilities across the nation since 2007 alone. The documents were obtained from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and ICE. While the information gleaned from the documents likely does not represent the full scope of the problem given that sexual abuse is notoriously underreported, the documents nonetheless make clear that the sexual abuse of immigration detainees is not an isolated problem limited to a few rogue facilities or to a handful of bad-apple government contractors who staff some of the nation’s immigration jails. According to the documents, while facilities in Texas are the focus of more allegations by far than any other state, sexual abuse allegations have come from nearly every state in the nation that houses an immigration detention facility. 
As I have said many times before, this President may not have the power to change our beyond broken immigration laws, but he has complete authority over the execution of the law, and the ability to ensure that human rights abuses are not perpetrated by an extension of his own hand.

Maybe the President should have another lunch with Shakira to figure out how to fix this problem, because after two-years he still hasn't been able to find an answer.

How is that re-election campaign going Mr. President?

Click here to read the Times editorial.

Monday, December 5, 2011

State Legislator Proposes Immigration Initiative in California

The Sacramento Bee reports that last Friday State Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar, filed an initiative that is being billed as a "moderate, common-sense approach" to immigration reform in the State of California.  The initiative would create "safe harbor" and "exceptions" to Federal law that prohibits employers from hiring individuals that lack immigration status or employment authorization.

The proposal would apply to undocumented immigrants living in California for four years, and who pay a fee.  Individuals must speak, or be in the process of learning English.  An individual would be excluded from consideration if they have a felony conviction, or are a suspected terrorist.

The measure requires 504,760 voter signatures to be placed on the ballot for consideration by California voters.  It has been alleged that $325 million in tax revenue would be generated from the legalization of undocumented workers.

Click here for more of the story.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Pew Research Study: Gingrich Immigration Plan May Prevent Deportation of Millions

The Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan "fact tank," has conducted a study that analyzes Newt Gingrich's recent immigration proposal that would create a path to legalization for certain unauthorized immigrants in situations where they have lived in the country for a long period of time, have U.S. citizen children, and are tax payers.  The data from the study was derived from the March 2010 Current Population Survey (CPS), conducted jointly by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau.
Pew estimates that almost two-thirds of the estimated 10.2 million unauthorized adult immigrants have lived in the United States for at least 10 years, 35% of which have been in the United States for 15 years or more.  Pew further estimates that nearly half of the estimated 10.2 million have minor United States citizen children.  
This translates into potentially millions of people in this country without authorization that could benefit from Speaker Gingrich's proposal, and could be spared the harsh realities of the Obama administration's deportation machine.
Public opinion seems to be on Newt's side here as polling shows that 72% of all Americans support a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants under these conditions, with 86% of Latinos supporting this type of plan. See: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 2011.
Regardless of whether Gingrich's plan is the right plan, what I find most troubling is that three years into the Obama Presidency we have yet to see ANY plan from him.  There has been virtually no leadership from the oval office on the issue of immigration reform.  
On the issue of immigration reform President Obama gets an 'F' for effort. Having lunch with Shakira and a Desperate Housewife simply doesn't cut it, Mr. President.
Bottom line: We all expected more.