Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Father of Three United States Citizen Children Detained while Children "Watched in Horror"

Mr. Shi Tong Chu is currently being held in the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility.  The following background information was taken from the on-line petition that has been created calling for his immediate release from custody.  I urge you to sign it.
On June 12, 2012, Mr. Chu was detained by ICE while on his way to make a delivery for the family restaurant he operates in Schenectady, New York. His three U.S. citizen children watched in horror from the restaurant windows as their father was taken into custody right before their eyes. They have not seen their father in four months.

Mr. Chu arrived in the United States 12 years ago. He fled China in 2000 after being harassed and threatened with imprisonment for practicing Falun Gong, a spiritual movement that the Chinese government has banned since 1999. 

For the past twelve years, Mr. Chu has been a peaceful resident of Sunset Park, Brooklyn. His life revolved around supporting his wife and three young children, who are all U.S. citizens. He relocated with his family to Schnectady, New York only recently to take care of his mother-in-law who has cancer. His 8-year-old son, Brian, is also ill and might need to undergo surgery soon. Brian asks everyday if his father will be there for his surgery. Since getting detained, his wife, Yuki, has been distraught and overwhelmed having to take care of her ill mother, three children and run a restaurant all by herself. 
Please take immediate action by signing the petition.  I also urge you to call ICE Director John Morton at 202-732-3000 or 202-732-3100 asking for Mr. Chu's release.

Here is a sample script for your call:
“I am calling to ask that you release Shi Tong Chu (A#078 104 926) from Buffalo Federal Detention Center. Chu fled China 12 years ago to escape being persecuted by the Chinese government for being a Falun Gong practitioner. Chu has 3 U.S. citizen children and is a low-priority deportation. He should have never been detained under the Morton Memo. Let Chu go!"

Thursday, October 18, 2012

ICE is Arresting Parents as they drop-off their Children at Elementary School

Apparently smart immigration enforcement includes arresting parents as they drop-off their children at elementary school.

This week, ICE agents approached two immigrant families while they were dropping off their children at Cesar Chavez Academy in Southwest Detroit.  One father, Hector Orozco, was dropping off his son when he was arrested, and remains in detention.
Another family was stopped outside the Manuel Reyes Vistas Nuevas Head Start Center.  The ICE agent temporarily let the family go so they could drop off their children, and told them they would be detained once they returned home.  The family took refuge in the elementary school until advocates could intervene.
Julia Preston of the New York Times reports that a 7-year-old child in the vehicle at the time of one of the arrests became distraught, pleading in English: “Please don’t take my dad. We want to go to school.”

This isn't the first time that Detroit ICE decided it was a brilliant idea to stalk parents of school children. The administration's response, predictably, was to issue a memo, that Detroit ICE immediately put in the circular file right next to the Morton Memo.

Here is the "policy" that is being ignored:
This memorandum sets forth Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policy regarding certain enforcement actions by ICE officers and agents at or focused on sensitive locations. This policy is designed to ensure that these enforcement actions do not occur at nor are focused on sensitive locations such as schools and churches unless (a) exigent circumstances exist (b) other law enforcement actions have led officers to a sensitive location as described in the "Exceptions to the General Rule" section of this policy memorandum, or (c) prior approval is obtained. This policy supersedes all prior agency policy on this subject.
Quotas are quotas.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Has Obama Failed Latinos?

"Dozens" of Immigrant Students Arrested by ICE in San Diego - Told to "Self-Deport"

More evidence has been reported of the Obama administration's continuing efforts to round up and deport "low priority" immigrants.  At 6:00 am yesterday morning ICE raided a downtown San Diego apartment complex netting approximately 40 students that were working without authorization as cab drivers to help support themselves while attending school.  The raid lasted a few hours.

After taking the students into custody, ICE revoked their visas, and instructed them to "self-deport" within 30 days.  It does not appear that any of the students taken into custody had criminal records, and all were in valid immigration status at the time of the arrest.

And that, my friends, illustrates the principal difference between the immigration policies of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney: Mitt Romney suggests that immigrants self-deport.  Barack Obama demands it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Huffington Post Live: More Immigrants, Please

Last night I appeared on a Huffington Post Live segment entitled: "More Immigrants, Please." The segment was hosted by Alyona Minkovski.  I was joined by immigration policy analyst David Beir, Steven Camarota, Director of Research at the Center for Immigration Studies, and Erika Almiron, Executive Director of Juntos.

What I found most interesting about my appearance was that I did it on my ipad.

Beam me up Scotty.

Friday, October 5, 2012

ICE Directive on Sexual Abuse and Assault Prevention and Intervention

On May 11, 2012, ICE Director John Morton issued a Sexual Abuse and Assault Prevention and Intervention Directive.  The directive acknowledges the existence of "significant incidents of sexual abuse or assault of individuals in ICE custody."

The directive specifically addresses situations where ICE employees sexually assault immigrant detainees. Unfortunately, at the time the directive was written ICE had no upper-level individual designated to oversee the directive.  I do not know if one is in place now, or if the directive is being internally enforced. 

It provides for ICE employee "training" to, among other things, reinforce "ICE's zero-tolerance policy for sexual abuse and assault." The directive further provides that "ICE personnel may not retaliate against individuals who report sexual abuse or assault."  

That being said, solitary confinement for victims of sexual assault has been limited to five days "except in highly unusual circumstances."

It does NOT provide for victims of sexual assault to be released from custody, but they will be placed "in a supportive environment that represents the least restrictive housing option possible."

As for the ICE employee accused of raping an immigrant, the directive provides that individuals suspected of perpetrating sexual abuse or assault will be "removed from all duties requiring detainee contact pending the outcome of an investigation."  It does not, however, provide for the removal of the employee from the facility where they have been accused of raping someone.

The directive also includes the following disclaimer:
This document is an internal policy statement of ICE. It is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law by any party in any administrative, civil, or criminal matter.
Par for the course.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Two Major Candidates on Immigration

Because the topic of this conversation is limited to Obama and Romney I will refrain from injecting my candidate of choice Gary Johnson into the conversation.

Let's take a look at each candidate's policy positions on immigration to decide which candidate has a better platform.

From Obama's website (and incidentally, I had to search the website for Obama's immigration platform because it is not immediately listed on the important issues tab and took some hunting to find it - striking since Obama did claim that his failures on immigration are his biggest disappointment):
Since the beginning of his time in office, President Obama has worked to build a consensus for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. He plans to continue his efforts to work with Congress to pass a bipartisan immigration reform, and has promised to make it a priority of his second term as president. <-Overstates his actual efforts. 
The Obama Administration is focusing immigration enforcement efforts on those who endanger our communities, and is de-emphasizing low-priority cases like students, veterans, seniors, and military families<- Not happening in practice 
The President understands the challenges that immigrants face. That’s why he proposed a new rule to keep families together by allowing undocumented spouses and children of U.S. citizens to stay in the country while they begin the legal immigration process. <-There is no new "rule" as Obama declined to sign an executive order instead relying on a discretionary policy memorandum.
Almost four years later and we still have ZERO specifics on what comprehensive immigration reform would look like under Obama.  There is no plan, no framework, no bullet points, no nothing.

Anyone else remember what Rahm Emanuel said to Juan Salgado, board chairman of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights: "There is no way this [immigration reform] legislation is happening in the Democratic House, in the Democratic Senate, in the Democratic presidency, in the first term."

He wasn't kidding.

As for the future, the leading reform voice in Congress, Luis Gutierrez, recently stated that he’s received no promises from the White House that Obama would move quickly on immigration reform if reelected in November.

Maybe the Democrats are waiting for another lame duck session before taking the issue up again.

Romney, on the other hand, has indicated that he intends to push for reform prior to the expiration of the two year DACA grace period, and he has given specifics for what reform will look like.

From Mitt Romney's website:
Grow Legal Immigration To Grow Our Economy 
Attract More Highly Skilled Immigrants:
To ensure that America continues to lead the world in innovation and economic dynamism, a Romney administration would press for an immigration policy designed to maximize America’s economic potential. Foreign-born residents with advanced degrees start companies, create jobs, and drive innovation at a high rate. 
While lawful immigrants comprise about 8 percent of the population, immigrants start 16 percent of our top-performing, high-technology companies, hold the position of CEO or lead engineer in 25 percent of high-tech firms, and produce over 25 percent of all patent applications filed from the United States.
The United States is projected to face a shortage of 230,000 science and technology workers by 2018.  At the same time, we have set the caps on high-skill visas so low that, for some countries, an entire year’s quota has been filled in an hour.  Mitt Romney will ask Congress to raise the caps on visas for highly skilled immigrants. 
Many country caps—or limits on immigrants from specific countries—are so low, that America is losing some of the best and brightest to our international competitors.  Mitt Romney will work with Congress to raise the country caps. 
Every foreign student who obtains an advanced degree in math, science, or engineering at a U.S. university should be granted permanent residency. 
Make The Temporary Worker Visa System Functional: 
As president, Mitt Romney will make the system for bringing in temporary agricultural workers and other seasonal workers functional for both employers and immigrants.  We should get rid of unnecessary requirements that delay issuance of a visa, and we should speed the processing of applications. 
Mitt Romney will work with Congress, states, and employers to properly set the cap on non-agricultural temporary worker visas.  Many tourist-oriented businesses in the United States rely on these workers and would have to cut back or cease operations if there are not enough visas.
Secure Our Borders & Discourage Illegal Immigration 
Mitt Romney will protect legal immigration and the 4.5 million who are waiting in line to enter the United States legally by taking a strong stand against illegal immigration. He believes that illegal immigration must end and has a proven track record of advancing that goal. 
Secure The Borders 
According to the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, Border Patrol lacks control of over half of our southwest border. And some estimates indicate that over 40% of illegal immigrants in America entered the country legally, but then overstayed their visas. 
Mitt Romney will complete a high-tech fence to enhance border security.
Governor Romney will ensure that we have the officers on the ground we need to gain control of the border. 
A Romney Administration will work to develop an efficient, effective system of exit verification to ensure people do not overstay their visas. 
Discourage Illegal Immigration 
Mitt Romney will develop an effective, mandatory employment verification system that will enable employers to be sure that those they hire are eligible to work. This will discourage illegal immigrants from coming to America to seek jobs.  
Governor Romney opposes all “magnets” that entice illegal immigrants to come to our country.   As governor, he vetoed in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrants and opposed driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. 
As president, Mitt Romney will foster a legal immigration system that works. This will offer an alternative to those who would otherwise enter illegally.  For instance, reforming our current temporary worker program will offer employers who need such staff a legal option to find employees. 
Enforce The Law 
Mitt Romney believes in the rule of law and will fully enforce federal immigration law. As governor, he authorized state police to assist the federal government in immigration enforcement. 
Cut Red Tape That Is Keeping Immediate Families Apart 
As president, Mitt Romney will ensure that husbands, wives, and their minor children are brought together on a timely basis. 
Mitt Romney will speed the processing of applications by eliminating the red tape that is keeping immediate families apart. 
Mitt Romney will work with Congress to give legal permanent residents the same priority as citizens when applying to bring husbands, wives, and minor children to the United States. 
Mitt Romney will reallocate green cards to family of citizens and legal permanent residents.
Military Service 
Mitt Romney believes that young illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children should have the chance to become permanent residents, and eventually citizens, by serving honorably in the United States military. 
Address The 11 Million Illegal Immigrants In America In A Civil and Resolute Manner That Respects the Rule of Law 
Mitt Romney opposes amnesty because he believes that it acts as a magnet encouraging illegal immigration. The last amnesty law passed in 1986 granted legal status to 2.7 million illegal immigrants. In the decades since, the illegal immigrant population has quadrupled. Mitt believes that an amnesty should not be permitted to happen again. Illegal immigrants who apply for legal status should not be given any advantage over those who are following the law and waiting their turn. Mitt absolutely opposes any policy that would allow illegal immigrants to “cut in line.”
I'll let you all be the judge, but in the end if you aren't happy with your choice don't blame me... I vote libertarian.

Vote Gary Johnson for President.

Only 80,073 DACA Applications Submitted reports that to date there have been 77,268 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications accepted (not approved) by USCIS, and another 2,805 applications rejected, for a total of 80,073 DACA applications received.

As of last week 29 DACA approvals have been reported.  The following disclaimer is included on the Form I-797 approval notice issued to DACA applicants.  

It appears that USCIS is not prospectively verifying the information and documentation submitted in support of DACA and "the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reserve the right" to subsequently determine whether a fraud has been committed in furtherance of the application.  The disclaimer says that methods of verifying information "may" include going on the internet.  Seriously.

This is simply unacceptable, as it gives more ammunition to individuals like Lamar Smith, and Chris Kobach who will predictably argue that the DACA application process is rife with fraud.

Maybe it is about time that the Obama administration stops proving their point.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Romney: I won't revoke DACA Approvals if elected

In an interview with the Denver Post Mitt Romney has indicated that he will not revoke deferred action for individuals that have already received it.

Here is his quote:

"The people who have received the special visa that the president has put in place, which is a two-year visa, should expect that the visa would continue to be valid. I'm not going to take something that they've purchased," "Before those visas have expired we will have the full immigration reform plan that I've proposed."

So much for the argument that you should vote for Obama to save DACA.

Monday, October 1, 2012

TRUST Act Vetoed by California Governor Jerry Brown (D)

Late last night California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed AB 1081, commonly known as the TRUST Act. The TRUST Act would have prevented California law enforcement officers from participating in the Federal immigration fingerprint data sharing program known as Secure Communities (SCOM).  

SCOMM requires local law enforcement to detain suspected undocumented immigrants arrested for criminal violations until Immigration and Customs Enforcement can verify their immigration status. Fingerprints of suspected immigrants are sent to DHS to check against immigration databases. If these checks reveal that an individual is unlawfully present in the United States or otherwise removable due to a criminal conviction, ICE takes enforcement action.

The National Immigration Law Center has issued the following press release in response to Governor Brown's veto:

September 30, 2012

CONTACT: Adela de la Torre


Governor of California Fails to Enact Sound, Inclusive Policy

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. – Governor Jerry Brown ended California’s legislative session by vetoing two major bills designed to improve public safety and guarantee basic labor protections for domestic workers. The TRUST Act, sponsored by Rep. Tom Ammiano, would have restored public trust in law enforcement by ensuring that immigrants who do not pose a threat to public safety do not fear that they will be placed in federal deportation proceedings as a result of an encounter with the local police. The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, also sponsored by Ammiano, would have made California the second state in the United States to codify the basic labor rights of domestic workers, a population long excluded from basic labor regulations.

“By failing to sign the TRUST Act, Governor Brown signaled that he cares more about deportation quotas established 3,000 miles away in Washington, D.C., than about the safety of our communities and the unity of our families,” said Marielena HincapiĆ©, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “The TRUST Act, which won widespread support from communities of faith, and labor, as well as endorsements from key law enforcement leaders, would have represented a firm and positive step toward an inclusive policy and away from a draconian deportation state like Arizona. Governor Brown had an opportunity to support the communities that had faith in him, and show the country that a more inclusive legislative path is possible. Unfortunately, Brown squandered that opportunity tonight.”

“The governor also showed that he couldn’t follow in another state’s positive footsteps this evening by failing to sign into law the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights. This bill would have allowed workers who take care of our families, children, and homes to have the same basic protections the rest of us consider essential for a fair and just workplace. A similar bill was signed into law last year in New York, and those of us who believe that all people should count on basic workplace rights had hoped that California would follow New York’s lead. Unfortunately, despite widespread support in both chambers of the California legislature, as well as support from so many sectors of society, Governor Brown failed to allow this common-sense piece of legislation to become law.”

“One need not look further back than the mid ‘90s to know that California’s immigrant voters will be stronger, not weaker, as a result of this setback. Courageous domestic workers, immigrants, and allies showed their leadership in launching impressive advocacy campaigns promoting these two visionary bills. Governor Brown should remember that failure to stand up for the communities of color that compose a growing portion of California’s population today can and will lead to a negative result at the ballot box in the future.”

Earlier this week, Brown did sign into law AB 1899, which provides continued access to in-state tuition, scholarships, fee waivers and financial aid to otherwise eligible crime survivors who are granted a T or U status. Prior to this law, survivors who cooperated with law enforcement and obtained one of these statuses, became ineligible for in-state tuition and other assistance that is available to other California college students regardless of their status. This legislation, which corrects this inadvertent gap in the law, was supported by anti-trafficking and anti-domestic violence advocates, law enforcement, higher education institutions, students, immigrant rights and civil rights groups, received unanimous support throughout the legislative process.

Added HincapiĆ©, “While we were pleased to see that legislation to improve access to education for immigrant communities was signed into law, Brown should have shown similar leadership in other areas affecting the daily lives of Californian workers and community members. This deep disappointment will not be soon forgotten.

“Immigrant communities across the state will now organize to ensure that their local jurisdictions adopt policies that protect their communities from the harsh immigration enforcement practices that are separating families and devastating communities. Ultimately, change is needed at the federal level. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency must stop wreaking havoc on 400,000 families across the country each year, take the administrative steps necessary to stop deporting vibrant members of our communities, and start working toward creating an immigration system that allows aspiring Americans to continue contributing their best to our country.”