Friday, September 30, 2011

Obama administration is deporting "everyone they can get their hands on"

DREAMer Nadia Habib and her mother granted a "temporary reprieve"

Once again the Obama administration has been shamed into doing the right thing, granting DREAMer Nadia Habib and her mother a "temporary reprieve" from deportation.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has been doing her part to force the administration to actually administer the prosecutorial discretion memorandum that has been largely ignored since its release.  You have my vote Senator.

As I predicted, the Obama administration has only been favorably exercising prosecutorial discretion on a handful of high profile cases in order to avoid the embarrassment of the negative publicity.  The President is transparently attempting to woo back the Hispanic electorate who are inflamed with his complete failure to meaningfully address comprehensive immigration reform, while assigning blame to the Republicans for his own inaction.  Obama's failures, coupled with the adoption of an aggressive deportation policy, has resulted in more immigrants being deported than at any other time in history.

We aren't buying it Mr. President.  You had a super majority for the bulk of your presidency.  Stop blaming others, when the reality is that you turned your back on immigration reform the moment you unpacked your bags in the White House.  You have utterly failed us.

Thank you all for taking action.  Because of your efforts Nadia is still here celebrating her 20th birthday. 

Happy birthday Nadia!

Click here for more of the story.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

DREAMer Nadia Habib set to be Deported TODAY by the Obama Deportation Machine

DREAMer Nadia Habib and her mother are set to be deported today.

The following summary was taken from the New York State Youth Leadership Council website:

Nadia and her mother are scheduled to be deported back to Bangladesh on September 29 at 11am. They were denied motion to reopen their case after a mistake of the immigration judge. Please take action immediately to stop their deportation!

Nadia was brought to the U.S. when she was only a one year old. She is now 19 and a junior at Stony Brook University in New York studying Psychology. Nazmin is married to a green card holder and has three younger children, all of whom are U.S. citizens and need her to stay in the country.

Click here to see how you can help stop this from happening.

Whatever happened to prosecutorial discretion?

Alabama Governor: 'We Have the Strongest Immigration Law'

"A federal judge refused Wednesday to block key parts of a closely watched Alabama law that is considered the strictest state effort to clamp down on illegal immigration. Gov. Robert Bentley said his state will enforce it." -Associated Press

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I-601 Waiver Approval Overcoming 10-year Bar Despite Criminal History

Our client is a native and citizen of South Korea. She entered the United States somewhere along the Washington-Canada border, without inspection. After her arrival she was convicted of one count of New York Penal Law § 240.20, Disorderly Conduct, a violation of New York State law, and fined $100.00. She was also was arrested and charged with violating New York Education Law § 6512, Unauthorized Practice. This charge was dismissed.

Subsequent to the disposition of these criminal matters, the Department of Homeland Security issued a Notice to Appear, alleging that she was an alien present in the United States who was not admitted or paroled. She was not charged with any criminal ground of removability.

After the institution of removal proceedings she married her United States citizen boyfriend. We were then retained.

We prepared and submitted a Form I-130, Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative, together with a bona fide marriage exemption, which was required due to the fact that the marriage was entered into after the institution of removal proceedings. We then obtained a continuance in order to permit our client and her husband to jointly attend an interview to enable Citizenship and Immigration Services to determine whether the marriage was real. It is, and CIS approved the petition.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that her husband's petition was approved, our client was ineligible to apply for her Green Card inside the country due to the fact that she was not inspected or admitted to the United States. This resulted in her having to depart the United States in order to apply for an immigrant visa in her home country.

To complicate matters, her departure from the country triggered a ten-year bar to readmission because she entered the United States without inspection, and because she remained in the United States for more than one year without authorization.

In Court were able to obtain voluntary departure in lieu of removal, and our client paid for her own return plane ticket complying with the voluntary departure order by departing the United States as required.

After she departed we prepared and submitted an immigrant visa application, together with a Form I-601 waiver application to cure the 1--year bar. We argued that our client's conviction did not render her inadmissible to the United States because it is not a crime involving moral turpitude, and even if it was it qualifies for the “petty offense exception.”

We also argued that the waiver should be granted due to the fact that our client's husband would experience extreme hardship if he remained in the United States without her, or if he was forced to relocate to South Korea to live with her. We explained that her husband would experience extreme hardship if his spouse were not permitted to return to the United States because of his close ties to the country, including his entire family, and many friends and attachments; his lack of family ties outside the country; the conditions in South Korea should this waiver be denied and he be forced to relocate there; his lack of ties in South Korea, and; the financial impact of departure from this country.

After consideration of our legal brief and supporting evidence submitted thereto, the Department of State granted the Form I-601 waiver, and issued our client an immigrant visa. The couple is now reunited in the United States.

District Court's 115 pg. Ruling on Alabama Immigration Law

ICE Cracks Down on the 'Worst of the Worst' Criminal Immigrants

Immigration enforcement debate in Massachusetts rekindled by recent crimes

A series of recent crimes in Massachusetts allegedly committed by unauthorized immigrants has resulted in a rekindling of the immigration debate with respect to how immigration enforcement should be handled at the State level.  

Massachusetts is one of only seven states that never agreed to participate in the Secure Communities program.  Now supporters of Secure Communities argue that Governor Patrick should sign on to the program because they believe that non-participation makes Massachusetts a sanctuary for criminal immigrants evading deportation. Governor Patrick is sticking to his guns, however, and maintains that immigration enforcement should be handled at the federal level.

The most shocking incident involves a 41-year-old Brazilian immigrant who allegedly stabbed his girlfriend to death.

As we learned in law school: bad facts make bad law.

Kolken & Kolken

Immigration News for Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Obama's Deportation Policy a Cash Cow for Private Prison Industry

ACLU Report: Systemic Abuse of Immigrants in Arizona Immigration Detention Centers

The ACLU of Arizona has prepared a report entitled "In their Own Words: Enduring abuse in Arizona immigration detention centers." The report was the result of 115 face-to-face interviews with detainees in Eloy and Florence, Arizona, correspondence with detainees, and interviews with the family members of detainees, as well as the review of more than 500 detainee grievances.

The ACLU concluded that immigrant detainees held in Eloy and Florence suffer from "systemic civil and human rights abuses related to inhumane conditions and inadequate legal protections."

The report contains the following findings:

  • There have been increased detentions of non-violent, low-risk persons resulting from local immigration enforcement;
  • Immigrant detainees are forced to endure inhumane conditions at Pinal County Jail, which has received “deficient” ratings in 2007, 2008 and 2009; 
  • Detention officers frequently place ICE detainees on lockdown for minor infractions, including not making a bed, not moving quickly enough, or saving a piece of fruit to eat later in the day.  
  • ICE detention standards are self-monitored, non-legally enforceable, and are not fully implemented;
  • At Eloy Detention Center, a privately contracted detention facility, there is evidence of abusive treatment of vulnerable populations that are at a higher risk for sexual assault and physical abuse. Examples include five cases involving transgender or gay detainees who were sexually assaulted or treated in an abusive manner; and
  • Both facilities have deficient medical and mental health care.

The Obama administration may not have the power to change our immigration laws, but it sure as hell has the power to ensure that immigrants in custody are being treated humanely.

It has become abundantly clear that this administration has failed miserably in this regards.  

Par for the course.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Report: Border Patrol Abuse is Widespread

CNN reports that the humanitarian organization "No More Deaths" has assembled 13,000 testimonials detailing widespread abuse of immigrants by the Border Patrol.  The organization has released a report entitled "A Culture of Cruelty" that details "rampant U.S. Border Patrol abuse of immigration detainees, deportees and migrants apprehended on the U.S.-Mexico Border."The abuse includes the denial of food and water, extreme heat or cold exposure, sleep deprivation, death threats, and psychological abuse such as blaring music with lyrics about individuals dying in the desert.

The findings include:

  • 10% of people interviewed after being held in Border Patrol custody reported being physically abused – including teens and children. Forms if physical abuse reported by interviewees included being punched, kicked, bitten by Border Patrol dogs, pushed down hills or into cacti, and being shoved forcefully against walls or vehicles.
  • Out of 433 incidents in which emergency medical treatment or medication were needed, only 59 (14%) received it before being deported – the other 86% were deported without receiving needed medical care. The concerns seen repeatedly include: untreated open wounds and severe heat illness, confiscation or denial of needed medications.

Click here to sign the petition to end Border Patrol abuse.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Police Shackle Undocumented Pregnant Woman During Labor for Driving without a License

Juana Villegas, an undocumented woman, was arrested, handcuffed, and thrown in jail for a week after a routine traffic stop. She was nine months pregnant at the time.  At the time of the stop Ms. Villegas gave the arresting officer her unexpired vehicle registration and a valid photo identification.  Her crime: driving without a license, and careless driving.   

While in police custody Ms. Villegas went into labor. Her ankles were cuffed together during her transport to the hospital, and upon arrival she was shackled to the hospital bed.  She describes the ordeal: "When I was in bed, I was begging the sheriff, 'Please let me free -- at least one hand,' and he said, no, he didn't want to."  The officers kept her shackled for six hours after giving birth.

Her attorney, Gregg Ramos, remarked:  "She should have received a simple, written citation instead of being physically arrested and brought down to the jail." Mr. Ramos further explained that after giving birth the police confiscated the breast pump that was given to her by medical professionals, which resulted in prolonged suffering in "great pain."

Just one more example of the "serious criminals" this administration is targeting for deportation for the offense of driving while brown.

Thanks to Christina Costantini of the Huffington Post for reporting on this story.

Click here for more.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Report: Racial Profiling and Immigration Enforcement in Bedford County, Tennessee

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition has prepared a report entitled "The Forgotten Constitution," which examines the interconnection of racial profiling and immigration enforcement in Bedford County, Tennessee. 

The report is broken down into four parts.  

  • Part 1 describes initial encounters that immigrants have with law enforcement officials;  
  • Part 2 examines the booking and detention procedures at the Bedford County Jail;
  • Part 3 reports problems that immigrants have with the Bedford County court system;
  • Part 4 looks at issues that immigrants deal with once they are taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and
  • Part 5 details what is being done by activists to attempt to fix the problem.

In sum, the report explains that: “To be an immigrant or refugee in Bedford County is to be treated with suspicion or outright hostility by one’s own government, whose offices still exhibit vestiges of the overt racial apartheid of years past.”

Click here to read the full report.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Report: 160,000 Immigrants Deported without Ever Appearing Before an Immigration Judge

A report entitled "Deportation without Due Process" reveals that over the past ten years the United States government has deported over 160,000 immigrants by having them stipulate to their own removal, thereby stripping them of their right to appear before an immigration judge.

The government has been regularly using stipulated removal against people being held in immigration detention that are unrepresented by counsel and who face deportation as a result of minor non-criminal immigration violations.  

The government is basically giving these people an option: agree to be deported now, or stay in detention for what could be years while you fight your case.

Not cool.  Not cool at all.

The report reveals that government officials:

  1. Provide immigrant detainees with inaccurate, misleading, and confusing information about the law and removal process.  
  2. Overemphasized the length of time detainees would spend in detention if they chose to fight their cases and see a judge, 
  3. Fail to tell detainees that they could secure release from detention on bond while fighting their cases, or that some might win the right to remain legally in the country.  

The immigrant detainees are regularly not afforded an opportunity to have the consequences of signing stipulated removal translated into their native language, or explained by an attorney.

What is more troubling is that immigration judges have voiced their opinion that the stipulated removal program violates an individual's right to due process, and yet the practice continues.  Some immigration judges have refused to sign stipulated removal orders as a result of the constitutional deficiency of the stipulation.

The report issues the following recommendations:

 The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the sub-agency of the U.S. Department of Justice that oversees the immigration court system, should require immigration judges to hold brief, in-person hearings before signing off on stipulated removal orders for noncitizens who are not represented by attorneys.  These should be individual hearings, similar in scope to plea colloquies in the criminal context. 

 EOIR should expand access to counsel and legal information for noncitizen detainees, especially those whom the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) targets for stipulated removal.  In detention facilities that offer legal rights presentations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents should be barred from offering a detainee the option of a stipulated removal order until the person has had the opportunity to attend a legal rights presentation.  ICE and EOIR should also require a 72-hour waiting period between when a detainee signs a stipulated  removal order and when an immigration judge approves the order, to permit the detainee the opportunity to consult with an attorney.  ICE should give detainees notice of this 72-hour period and provide them a list of local no-cost or low-cost legal service providers prior to obtaining their signature on a stipulated removal order.  

 DHS should develop and institute training that is specifically  aimed at preventing coercion and manipulation by ICE or U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents in the stipulated removal process.  

 DHS should ensure that language barriers do not jeopardize the integrity of the stipulated removal process.  Stipulated removal forms must be competently translated into multiple languages, and detainees who do not speak English well should never be offered a stipulated removal without a qualified interpreter  being present to help them understand exactly what they would be accepting if they signed the form.  

 If any immigration judge in a given district raises concerns about the local process for offering stipulated removal to noncitizens, the chief immigration judge in that district should place a moratorium on the use of stipulated removals in that district until the chief judge and his/hercounterpart at ICE headquarters have resolved the concerns that have arisen in the district. 

 ICE should be prohibited from using stipulated removal on vulnerable noncitizens and those with strong ties to the  U.S.   These include, at  a minimum, children,  people  with mental disabilities, and lawful permanent residents.  

 ICE should inform the public when it intends to use stipulated removal in a particular jurisdiction.   

 ICE should publish statistics on its use of stipulated removal, at both the national and local levels, on an annual basis. 

 Detainees (or their representatives) who call EOIR’s toll-free (800) number for information about their immigration cases should be told whether or not they have signed a stipulated order of removal request. 

 Instead of expanding stipulated removal, Congress and ICE should halt the expansion of immigration detention, provide for more alternatives to detention, and consider developing broader solutions to the nation’s broken immigration system.

Click here to read the full report.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Obama Administration will continue to deport more people than ever

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has indicated that deportations will remain "robust" under the Obama administration despite the recent announcement that it would be reviewing 300,000 pending deportation cases.  Speaking at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor she stated: “The numbers are going to be very robust in terms of numbers of removal — we don’t fool around about this.”

Of this we have no doubt Madam Secretary.