Friday, December 20, 2013

Reactions to ICE's New Deportation Statistics

Yesterday, ICE released their annual deportation statistics. They are claiming that 98% of the agency's total removals consisted of convicted criminals, recent border crossers, "illegal" re-entrants, or those previously removed by ICE.

From the press release:

In FY2013, ICE conducted a total of 368,644 removals, 235,093 of whom were apprehended while, or shortly after, attempting to illegally enter the United States, and 133,551 of whom were apprehended in the interior of the United States. Nearly 60 percent of ICE’s total removals had been previously convicted of a criminal offense, and that number rises to 82 percent for individuals removed from the interior of the U.S. Other than convicted criminals, the agency’s enforcement priorities include: those apprehended while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States, illegal re-entrants – individuals who returned to the U.S. after being previously removed by ICE – and immigration fugitives.

My friend and colleague Chuck Kuck had the following reaction to the numbers: "Obama only deported 350,000 people last year. Somehow this is something to celebrate?" Pretty much sums it up for me. 

But there is more to the story. Anyone paying attention knows that the administration has ramped up criminal prosecutions of immigrants charged with immigration law crimes. In fact, according to Syracuse University's TRAC Immigration, illegal reentry prosecutions have jumped 76% during the Obama administration, and the 100,000 prosecutions mark is at an all-time high. Another record setting performance for the Deporter-in-Chief. What this means is that the administration is turning individuals into convicted criminals when their only criminal infraction stems from an immigration law violation. This clearly has resulted in a padding of the criminal removal statistics.

As for the claim that ICE is enforcing our nation’s laws in a smart and effective way, TRAC has already done the heavy lifting for us. They found that very few ICE detainers involve serious criminalsTRAC determined that "if traffic violations (including driving while intoxicated) and marijuana possession are put aside, fully two thirds of all detainers had no record of a conviction. Statistics show that through November 2013, only a small proportion of the deportation filings are based on alleged criminal activity.

Here is a sample of some of the other reactions I've seen to the recent release:

From the ACLU:

Despite broad consensus that the nation needs immigration reform, the Obama administration is barreling towards the dubious honor of hitting a record 2 million deportations by early next year. Today’s numbers show that ICE continues to sweep tens of thousands of immigrants into a detention and deportation machine that lacks basic due process protections, including the dignity of an appearance before a judge. The Department of Homeland Security should sharpen its enforcement priorities and strengthen due process protections for immigrants in removal proceedings.

Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum:

ICE is still removing people with no criminal record who are just trying to build a life in America — including tens of thousands this past year. These numbers highlight the urgency for broad immigration reform from Congress that stresses accountability and moves our country forward. In 2014, leaders simply must follow through on a new immigration process that emphasizes security, freedom, opportunity and human dignity.

America's Voice was not so diplomatic in their response, calling the Obama administration "sickening."

There is a huge gap between what they say and what they do. DHS announced prosecutorial discretion policies in 2011 aimed at focusing deportation on the ‘worst of the worst,’ and yet these policies have never been fully implemented. They claim that most of those being deported are ‘convicted criminals’ – a scary label until you realize that their own definitions of ‘convicted criminals’ include traffic violations and minor nuisance offenses (see here and here). They claim that the only answer is legislation – which really is the best and most permanent solution – but refuse to simultaneously use their substantial administrative authority to rein in the out-of-control detention and deportation machinery. The time is now for the Administration to do its part to stop deporting people who are anything but ‘criminals’ and have deep roots and make huge contributions to the country they now call home.

The National Day Laborer Organization had the following insight:

"People on all sides will look at these numbers with a great deal of skepticism. It’s easy for the Administration to say that those deported fit their priorities when this White House has practically made sneezing a criminal act for immigrants. These numbers may represent political calculus for the beltway but for immigrant families, they represent our parents, siblings, and loved ones,” explains Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director. “The five years of criminalization the President has overseen blankets immigrant communities with suspicion and causes people to live in fear. Until the historic mistake of entwining local police with immigration enforcement is corrected, the country will face a crisis of safety in our communities, confidence in the President, and separation in our families."

It is obvious to everyone other than those drinking from a Big Gulp sized cool-aide that the administration's recent release is little more than propaganda and public relations spin to address the negative publicity that is finally raining down on the President.

Better late than never.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Deported and Exiled U.S. Citizen Gets Passport Back

The New York Daily News reports that formerly deported and exiled United States citizen Blanca Maria Alfaro has finally had her passport returned to her, again. Ms. Alfaro was born in Texas, but her family moved to El Salvador when she was a child. Her ordeal includes having her passport stripped on multiple occasions, being detained by immigration officials for over two weeks, and being threatened with jail to coerce her to make a sworn statement that she was not a United States citizen at the airport.

From the article:
According to Alfaro, an immigration officer told her that the U.S. passport she carried was not hers. An officer said that she should write down her correct name on a piece of paper.

She penned "Blanca Maria Alfaro" but officers laughed and ripped it up, she said.

"I told them I was from here, from the United States. They insisted, no, I was from El Salvador," she said.

After hours, they told her that if she didn't tell them her correct name she'd go to jail — where there were "a lot of bad women," Alfaro said. Tired, scared and frustrated, she wrote down her half-sister Mayra's name.

Great work by immigration lawyer Bryan Johnson to get this matter straightened out.

Barack Obama Confronted by a young man calling on him to end deportations.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Fate Of The Dream 9

#DREAM9 Walk The Line

Matthew Kolken in the News

"Matthew Kolken, an immigration attorney in New York who has fought asylum cases, said there had been a movement for federal officials to provide asylum for more Mexican nationals because of increased violence in the country.
But, he said, it’s not politically palpable. “Unfortunately, like everything else, politics comes into play. It’s basically saying that one of our largest trading partners is persecuting someone or can’t protect someone from being persecuted,” he said."
“It’s not surprising,” said immigration attorney Matthew Kolken, who is not representing the activists, but said he had given their representatives some guidance before their protest. “Most of my clients are able to establish credible fear. But it’s a first step [for the activists]. The good news is that the Obama administration’s general policy is to release individuals who establish credible fear.”

“It was a controversial course of action they decided to undertake,” Kolken said to Fox News Latino. “But that’s what acts of disobedience are, they’re controversial.”

“When I saw nine young adults basically taking on the full weight of the U.S. government, the most powerful in the history of this planet, and doing so without anything but the shirts on their back, I couldn’t help but get behind those kids.”

“I think this is the largest story in the history of immigration law,” Kolken said. “The only one that can rival this is the John Lennon deportation case. This is Rosa Parks sitting in the front of the bus.”

"Mathew Kolken, an immigration lawyer, criticized Mr. Leopold for making assumptions about the facts of the cases for the Dream 9 and potentially having “deviant motivations” of defending the Obama administration “at all costs.”"

Friday, July 12, 2013

Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano Jumping Ship

The LA Times reports that Department of Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano is leaving her post to become the head of the University of California school system.

This announcement comes less than a month after ICE Director Morton tendered his resignation.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out Janet.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Matthew Kolken on Air with Reps. Higgins (D) and Collins (R) talking Immigration Reform

I appeared on WBEN talk radio this morning and had the opportunity to speak to Western New York's two Representatives in Congress,  Chris Collins (R- Clarence) and Brian Higgins (D- Buffalo).

Congressman Collins indicated that he would be willing to vote for reform that included a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers, and a pathway to legalization for the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in our country remarking that we need to "get our head out of the sand, these 11 million people are not going to go away on their own." Cong. Chris Collins (R- Clarence).

Congressman Higgins was similarly pragmatic indicated that he would be willing to consider a piecemeal approach to immigration reform stating that  "We can find the balance here in providing a legal pathway to citizenship, and continuing to realize the great economic benefits of immigration not only throughout the nation, but right here in Western New York." Cong. Brian Higgins (D- Buffalo).

I couldn't be more proud of Western New York's two Representatives in Congress.

Click here for the audio from the appearance.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Matthew Kolken on America's Web Radio talking Immigration Reform

I was honored to appear with immigration legend Chuck Kuck on American's Web Radio to discuss whether or not there will be immigration reform this year.

Click here for the broadcast.

Call these Senators and ask that they Vote for Immigration Reform

Johnson (Ron) 

U.S. Chamber of Commerce ad backs immigration reform

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Senate immigration deal includes tougher border security

John Boehner: ‘Bipartisan’ immigration reform only way

The Obama Administration, Immigration, and Censorship of Dissenting Opinion

My colleague Bryan Johnson of Amoache & Johnson, PLLC wrote a blog yesterday that was critical of a decision of New York Chief Counsel Wen-Ting Cheng.  Mr. Johnson disseminated the blog post through his Facebook account.

Analytic statistics reveal that the blog post has been viewed by 33 IP addresses attributable to the  Department of Homeland Security.  According to Mr. Johnson, an IP address attributable to Facebook also viewed his website yesterday, with one visit occurring a mere 2 minutes after a visit from an IP address located at DHS Headquarters.

Shortly thereafter, Facebook censored the link to the blog post by invoking a security warning that Mr. Johnson's website has been classified as abusive, proactively blocking any link to the blog.  Now it appears that Mr. Johnson's entire firm website has been similarly blocked by Facebook.

Next stop, IRS audit.

Big Brother is watching.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

ICE Director John Morton Resigns

It appears John Morton has tendered his resignation.

From the L.A. Times:

Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton announced his resignation Monday after more than four years at the head of the agency.

A senior Department of Homeland Security official familiar with the matter said that Morton’s departure was voluntary but acknowledged that the Obama administration was surprised by the timing as Congress is in the middle of debating a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws.

Morton has been hired as Senior Vice President of Capital One Financial Corp. heading compliance starting this August.

I will always remember him as the man that was "pleased" to report that in a six month period in 2011 his office deported 46,486 parents of United States citizens.

More rats from a sinking ship.

Friday, June 14, 2013

House Judiciary Committee debates SAFE Act that would criminalize the act of being undocumented, which includes visa overstays

Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee had an open hearing where they debated the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act (SAFE Act).  The SAFE Act criminalizes the act of being undocumented, which includes visa overstays.  

The legislation will also all increase Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers by 5,000 and permits State and local government to enforce federal immigration laws, as well as permitting the arrest and indefinite detention of immigrants in privately owned federal detention centers.

Click here for more information.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Gutierrez condemns toxic King Amendment, opposes mass deportations

Reid: Immigration debate starts tomorrow

REPORT: from 2008 to 2012, DHS detained at least 1,366 children in adult detention facilities throughout the United States

The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) has determined through a 2010 FOIA request that from 2008 to 2012 the Department of Homeland Security has maintained a practice of detaining children in adult detention facilities.  

NIJC determined that from 2008-2010 children under the age of 18 were cumulatively held for a total of 36,598 days in 30 different adult detention centers.  Four children were detained between 1,000 and 3,600 days, with one child being held for a decade after being detained at the age of 15.  

It is believed this data has been under-reported, however, so there is no way of knowing how many undocumented children are actually being caged nationwide.

Click here for the report.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

ACLU Exposes "Rampant" Border Abuse

Yesterday, the ACLU and Cooley LLP filed a class-action law suit in California challenging what they characterize as "endemic abuses" stemming from Border Patrol and ICE officers employing "misinformation" and "deception" to coerce Mexican nationals to sign voluntary departure orders and forgo their right to a hearing before an immigration judge. 

From the ACLU of Sandiego website:

The lawsuit, Lopez-Venegas v. Napolitano, alleges that as a matter of regular practice, Border Patrol agents and ICE officers pressure undocumented immigrants to sign what amounts to their own summary expulsion documents.  The procedure is formally known as “voluntary departure,” but it regularly results in the involuntary waiver of core due process rights.  An individual who signs for voluntary departure immediately surrenders his or her rights to a hearing before an immigration judge and is usually expelled to Mexico within a matter of hours.

The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU of California, the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, and Cooley LLP. It includes seven individual plaintiffs that claim that their constitutional rights violated.

Anthony Stiegler, partner at Cooley LLP, provided the following comment:

“The policy and practice of misrepresenting an individual’s legal rights to summarily deport them from this country is inconsistent with the fundamental notions of fairness and due process under our Constitution.  The United States derives its core strength because we embrace these values and abide by the rule of law.” 

I couldn't have said it better myself Mr. Stiegler.

Click here for more information.