Saturday, February 5, 2011

BIA Narrows Moral Turpitude Deportations

From the American Immigration Council

Board of Immigration Appeals Overturns Previous Ruling,

Narrows Grounds for Deportation

Washington, D.C. - On Thursday, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) modified its much-criticized interpretation of a law which wrongly expanded the number of immigrants subject to removal from the United States. The BIA's modification partially adopts the position of the American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center, which argued in an amicus brief that a prior BIA decision ignored the intent of Congress when it interpreted the law to cover longtime U.S residents in addition to more recent arrivals.

The case involved the circumstances under which noncitizens may be removed for committing so-called "crimes of moral turpitude."  Under current law, immigrants may be deported for committing such a crime within five years of "admission" to the United States.  In the prior decision, the BIA ruled the five-year clock may start when noncitizens are admitted at the border and restart if and when they later adjust to lawful permanent resident status from inside the country, thereby reopening the window for deportation.

Numerous federal courts, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, disagreed with the BIA's initial interpretation. In Thursday's decision, the BIA reversed part of its previous ruling and held that the five-year clock does not restart for noncitizens who were previously admitted at the border before becoming permanent residents. 

"The ruling is a win for fair administration and better interpretation of our immigration laws, a point the Board acknowledged by conceding its prior failure to focus on the language of the statute," said LAC staff attorney Emily Creighton, who co-authored the amicus brief with LAC senior staff attorney Mary Kenney.

As a result of the ruling, the BIA terminated removal proceedings against Alla Adel Alyazji, a Palestinian citizen who entered the United States on a temporary visa in 2001 and became a lawful permanent resident in 2006.  Under its new standard, the BIA found that the relevant offense had not occurred within five years of the original entry.  Mr. Alyazji was represented by Wayne Sachs of Philadelphia. 


February 5, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Anti-Immigrant Minutemen Face Murder Charges

Ismael Estrada reports for CNN

Brisenia Flores arrived in her rural Arivaca, Arizona, home with her parents, Raul Flores and Gina Gonzales, on the evening of May 29, 2009.

The family had spent the day shopping for Brisenia's new shoes about 60 miles northeast in Tucson, her mother testified this week. The 9-year-old girl had just finished the third grade and needed the shoes for summer camp that was about to start, her mom told jurors.

Brisenia went to bed on a couch in the living room so she could sleep with her dog, which wasn't allowed in her room. She fell asleep watching television as her parents slept in their bedroom.

A few hours later, she opened her eyes to the sight of her father, lying on the opposite couch. He had been shot in the chest and was choking on his own blood, her mom testified. Her mother was bleeding on the floor, a gunshot wound to her leg. The little girl was startled and cried out to intruders in her home, "Why did you shoot my mom?"

Gonzales described that scene to jurors in a Tucson courthouse this week in the capital murder trial of Shawna Forde, accused of being the ringleader of the fatal raid in the early hours of May 30. The trial, now in its second week, could last through the rest of the month.

Gonzales testified that four people knocked on the door, claiming to be law enforcement and border patrol. They said the house was surrounded because they had information that the family was harboring fugitives. Gonzales said her husband opened the door and allowed them inside, but they knew immediately that the people entering were not law enforcement at all.

She described a short, heavyset woman, a "super- tall" white male and two other Spanish-speaking men as the people in her home.

Gonzales says that after a short struggle, the tall man shot her husband several times in the stomach and chest before turning the gun on her. She was shot in the leg and fell to the floor when she heard her husband choking on his own blood. She says he could hear the gunman reassure Brisenia, who was awakened by the blasts of the weapon, that she wouldn't be hurt.

"She was really scared. Her voice was shaking," Gonzales cried as she testified in the witness stand. "I know she's crying and really scared."

Gonzales says her daughter began to question why her mother and father were shot when the gunman reloaded his weapon. "I can hear her say 'Please don't shoot me,' " Gonzales said, wiping away tears and sobbing.

The gunman paid no attention to her pleas and fired two shots into Brisenia's head, causing the girl to fly back on the couch, Gonzales recounted. She said she could hear her daughter struggling to breathe as the intruders began to steal items and leave the home. Gonzalez made her way to a weapon her husband kept in the kitchen and called 911. Read more...


February 5, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Immigrants Can Reopen Cases from Outside the U.S.

From the American Immigration Council:

Federal Court Upholds Immigrants' Right To Reopen Cases From Outside the U.S.
Yesterday, a federal appellate court chastised the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) for preventing noncitizens from reopening their cases from outside the United States. This important ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit repudiates the government's view that immigration judges and the BIA lack "jurisdiction" over such cases. 

The American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, which filed a joint amicus brief in the case, applaud the Sixth Circuit's ruling.  The Legal Action Center and National Immigration Project have coordinated litigation on this issue nationwide and call on the BIA to abandon its misguided regulation barring review of motions filed by noncitizens outside the United States. 

"The Sixth Circuit recognized that the regulation deprives noncitizens of their statutory right to present new evidence in their cases.  The decision corrects the government's unlawful attempt to separate families and opens the door for them to return to the United States," said attorney Trina Realmuto of the National Immigration Project. Beth Werlin of the Legal Action Center said, "A motion may be a person's only chance to present his case to the immigration judge. The government should take immediate steps to withdraw this unfair and outdated regulation rather than proceed with continued, unnecessary and costly litigation."

Federal law gives noncitizens the right to file motions to submit new evidence after their removal orders become final.  But the BIA has long maintained that it cannot consider such a motion if a foreign national is outside the United States. This policy gives the government a perverse incentive to remove noncitizens from the country before they have an opportunity to submit evidence that could change the outcome of their cases. Moreover, the policy is at odds with provisions of a harsh 1996 immigration law that resulted in a dramatic reduction in due process rights and expansion of expedited removal but that made it clear that noncitizens had the opportunity to seek review of unfavorable decisions from outside the United States.

The ruling involved Vakhtang Pruidze, a green card holder from Russia removed from the country because of a minor offense in Michigan.  Less than two weeks after his removal, the criminal court vacated Mr. Pruidze's conviction.  He then sought to reopen his immigration case, but the BIA refused to consider the motion because he was outside the country. 

As the Sixth Circuit declared in its ruling, the BIA's interpretation "has no roots in any statutory source and misapprehends the authority delegated to the Board by Congress."


February 4, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New Immigration Article: Hearing Difficult Voices: The Due Process Rights of Mentally Disabled Individuals in Removal Proceedings

This article raise addresses some very important, and all-too-common, issues for immigration practitioners:  "Hearing Difficult Voices: The Due Process Rights of Mentally Disabled Individuals in Removal Proceedings" New England Law Review, 2011 ALICE J. CLAPMAN, Georgetown Law.  ABSTRACT:   Email: Every day, immigration judges are faced with unrepresented respondents who present signs of severe mental impairment and possible incompetence. They are given no resources for, or guidance on, how to address the situation. Every day non-citizens are ordered removed from the United States even though, if their stories were actually heard, they might be found eligible for relief. This article provides both theoretical and practical guidance to the decision makers who must address the problem. The article describes the current situation, in which various decision makers respond to the problem in various ways, most commonly by glossing over it. The article then sets out a legal argument derived from different strands of due process jurisprudence (due process in removal proceedings; civil due process generally; and due process with respect to mentally impaired litigants) for why additional procedural protections are necessary. Finally, the article discusses the types of safeguards that would be feasible and adequate, such as setting a clear competency standard requiring both passive and active abilities, imposing disclosure duties on DHS and investigative duties on the immigration judges, creating an expert panel within DOJ to perform competency evaluations, revising procedural rules to require judges to focus on objective evidence where an applicant is incapable of satisfying the current standards for credible testimony, providing for skilled, court-appointed representation where necessary (in some cases in a hybrid guardian-advocate role), and authorizing immigration judges to terminate proceedings in the rare case in which no other safeguard would be adequate.


February 4, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Latest Developments in the Saga of Anti-Immigrant Icon Roger Barnett

The BLT: Blog of Legal Times reports that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in an unpublished memorandum disposition, upheld a jury verdict in a case that prompted death threats against the late Chief Judge John Roll of Arizona, who presided over the trial and later was fatally shot in a shooting spree in Tucson that resulted in serious wounds to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Following a trial, a jury in 2009 found in favor of four plaintiffs who claimed a rancher named Roger Barnett assaulted them on public land on the border of Arizona and Mexico. The appeals court upheld the jury’s award of compensatory, punitive and nominal damages in a suit filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

The panel in the case was comprised of Ninth Circuit Judges David Thompson and Barry Silverman and Senior Judge Robert Cowen of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, sitting by designation.

The MALDEF press release announcing the jury verdict in February 2009 outlined the facts of the case as follows:

"The plaintiffs were resting in a wash in Douglas, Arizona when they were accosted by defendant Roger Barnett who was armed with a gun and accompanied by a large dog. Roger Barnett held the group captive at gunpoint, threatening that his dog would attack and that he would shoot anyone who tried to leave. During the encounter, Barnett kicked a plaintiff as she was lying, unarmed, on the ground.

The jury found in favor of the women plaintiffs and awarded damages on their claims of assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Barnett must now pay $73,352 in damages to the victims.

This is not the first racial assault case filed against the Barnett family. The Morales family and Emma English, a family friend, are U.S. citizens who filed suit after Barnett confronted them on state land in November 2004, while they were on a family hunting trip. Armed with a semi-automatic military-style assault rifle, Barnett held the family at gunpoint, cursed and screamed racial slurs at them and threatened to kill them all. In September 2008, the Arizona Supreme Court rejected Barnett’s appeal and allowed to stand a jury award to the family of close to $100,000 in damages."

Barnett, who is something of a cause celebre in anti-immigrant circles, claimed a while back on the Glenn Beck show that he had apprehended more than 10,000 illegals crosssing his ranch in sourtern Arizona.


UPDATE:  A few hours after the initial post, MALDEF issued the following press release about the case:

"Today, MALDEF welcomed the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in Vicente v. Barnett, upholding an Arizona jury verdict against a vigilante rancher operating along the Arizona-Mexico border. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the jury’s decision that the vigilante was liable for assaulting a group of immigrants he found on public land. As a result of today’s ruling, the rancher will be forced to pay approximately $87,000 in damages.

The Ninth Circuit ruled that the rancher, Roger Barnett, was not entitled to claim self defense, because he admitted that none of the migrants he assaulted had threatened or attacked him. The Ninth Circuit also upheld the jury’s award of punitive damages against Barnett.

"We are very pleased with the Ninth Circuit's verdict. Today's ruling sends the strong message that vigilantes will not be tolerated in Arizona" stated David Hinojosa, MALDEF's Southwest Regional Counsel and attorney in the case.

"This case was tried in Tucson in front of Chief Judge John Roll, who was tragically killed in the recent attack on U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords," stated Nina Perales, MALDEF Director of Litigation. "We are pleased to have secured some justice for our clients, and to have preserved the ruling in a case in which Chief Judge Roll served so ably and fairly," continued Perales.

Prior to Barnett's attack, the plaintiffs had been resting on the ground near Douglas, Arizona. Barnett was armed with a gun – a semi-automatic .45 – and was accompanied by a large dog. He held the group captive, threatening that his dog would attack and that he would shoot anyone who tried to leave. During the encounter, Barnett kicked a woman as she was lying, unarmed, on the ground.

Today's ruling marks the second successful case challenging Roger Barnett's vigilante attacks along the border. In September 2008, the Arizona Supreme Court upheld a jury award of close to $100,000 in damages for a family of Latino U.S. citizens who were assaulted by Barnett on state-owned land. In that case, Barnett held the group at gunpoint with a semi-automatic military-style assault rifle, cursed and screamed racial slurs at them and threatened to kill them all, including two girls aged 9 and 11.

Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel stated "This decision vindicates constitutional guarantees for all. Even in Arizona, vigilantes do not have the right to harass and victimize peaceful migrants."

The law firms of Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg & Ives P.A. and Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP participated as pro bono counsel on behalf of the plaintiffs."


February 4, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

America’s Deporter in Chief Kris Kobach

profiles Kansas Secretary of State and anti-immigrant zealot (and profiteer) Kris Kobach in a story aptly titled "Deporter in Chief."  This puff piece finds a Yale law professor -- Kobach, by the way, is a Yale Law School alum -- to characterize Kobach’s legal positions, which have been rejected repeatedly by the courts, as "tenable, even clever."  References also are made to the fact that Kobach, when in the Bush administration, hiked and boidy surfed with former Attorney General John Ashcroft, well-known by Capitol insiders for clothing statues in the Justice Department foyer.

The article acknowledges that "Kobach’s contagious ideas and all-American good looks have made him a fixture on Fox News."  I am not sure what count as "all-American good looks" in 21st century America but he is a regular on Fox News.

For a critical look at Kobach's immigration work, click here.


February 4, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Border Patrol Protestors Facing Trial

Border Patrol Headquarters Occupation Protesters to Fight Charges

Group Calls for Further Action Against Border Militarization

Tucson, AZ -- On February 23, 2011, 2:00 PM at Tucson City Court, five of the six protesters who locked-down and occupied the US Border Patrol (BP) – Tucson Headquarters on May 21, 2010 are going to trial fighting one count each of “criminal trespassing”. One of the six has chosen to take a diversion.

The action was taken, in part, to demand that BP, Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), their parent entity, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Obama administration end militarization of the border, end the criminalization of immigrant communities, and end their campaign of terror which rips families apart through increasing numbers of raids and deportations.

Alex Soto, one of the arrestees and member of O’odham Solidarity Across Borders states, “As we did not enter the BP headquarters alone but with prayers of O’odham elders and community supporters, we are asking for support once again for our continued stand against border militarization. Our messaging is the reality for everyone that is forced to feel the pain that borders inflict upon us in our daily lives.

“The Border Patrol is not the only agency responsible for the militarization of the border – and it’s subsequent destruction of Indigenous and migrant communities – or the only benefactors of border militarization.” Soto states.

In a previous release O’odham Solidarity Across Borders and O’odham elders stated, “The development of the border wall has lead to desecration of Tohono O’odham ancestors graves, it has divided communities and prevents O’odham from accessing sacred places. Troops and paramilitary law enforcement, detention camps, check points, and citizenship verification are not a solution to “issues” of migration. Indigenous Peoples have existed here long before these imposed borders, elders inform us that we always honored freedom of movement. Why are Indigenous communities and the daily deaths at the border ignored? The impacts of border militarization are constantly made invisible in the media, the popular culture of this country and even the mainstream immigrants rights movement which has often pushed for “reform” that means further militarization of the border, which means increased suffering for Indigenous communities. Border militarization destroys Indigenous communities.”

Since the creation of the current U.S./Mexico border, 45 O’odham villages on or near the border have been completely depopulated.

According to the migrant support group No More Deaths, from October 2009 to Sept. 2010 there have been more than 250 deaths on the Arizona border alone.

Actions toward ending border militarization and the decriminalization of our communities:

- Immediately withdraw National Guard Troops from the US/Mexico border

- Immediately halt development of the border wall

- Immediately remove drones and checkpoints

- Decommission all detention camps and release all presently held undocumented migrants

- Immediately honor Indigenous Peoples rights of self-determination

- Fully comply with the recently signed UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

- Respect Indigenous People’s inherent right of migration

- End NAFTA, FTAA and other trade agreements

- Immediately repeal SB1070 and 287g

- End all racial profiling

- No BP encroachment/sweeps on sovereign Native land

- No raids and deportations

- Immediate and unconditional regularization (“legalization”) of all people

- Uphold human freedom and rights

- Support dignity and respect

- Support and ensure freedom of movement for all people

Put this message in action and help end the attack on Indigenous and migrant communities. Take these messages to the street where you are. If you can, join us inside and outside the court room in Tucson at 2:00pm. on February 23, 2011.

Tucson City Court is located at 103 E. Alameda St. Tucson, AZ.


February 3, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Utah introduces alternative to AZ's SB1070--

From Utah Daily Harold Newspaper,

"SB 60 would require undocumented immigrants over the age of 14 to register to receive an accountability card, which would need to be renewed every two years. The card would require fingerprints, photographs and criminal background checks on those applying, and 160 hours of English and civics classes paid for by those wishing to obtain the card. The card also would require holders to pay income taxes and prohibit the holders from receiving unemployment benefits or any social or public welfare benefits." to read the article click here.


February 3, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Janet Napolitano: In Two Years We’ve Deported More Than Ever Before!

I am not sure that, as a nation, the following is something we want to crow about.  But it is part and parcel of the Obama administration's "enforcement now, enforcement forever" approach to immigration.

Earlier this week, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano told a gathering in El Paso what is not news, but is not paid enough attention to:

“In both fiscal years 2009 and 2010, Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed more illegal immigrants from our country than ever before, with more than 779,000 removals nationwide in the last two years.”

It is certainly not the first time that Napolitano has boasted about her agency’s immigration enforcement.  But where is the promised, yet elusive, immigration reform?


February 3, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Article: The Unspoken Voices of Indigenous Women in Immigration Raids

"The Unspoken Voices of Indigenous Women in Immigration Raids" University of Tennessee Legal Studies Research Paper No. 133 KARLA MARI MCKANDERS, University of Tennessee College of Law.  This article reviews a topic that often is not attended to in the analysis of the onslaught of immigration raids by teh federal government -- that indegeneous immigrant women are disparately affected.  ABSTRACT:  The voices of the most vulnerable populations often point towards social constructs in dire need of systemic change. The treatment of immigrant women in workplace raids exemplifies this concept. Over the last couple of years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, has executed several workplace raids to deport undocumented immigrants who are unauthorized to work in this country. When discussing workplace raids, most news articles focus on the mass deportation of men, this paper will take a different perspective, and examine indigenous immigrant Guatemalan women’s stories in migrating to the United States, seeking employment with large factories, and their interactions with the immigration system. In May 2008, in Postville, Iowa, the largest raid in this country’s history occurred where 389 immigrants were arrested. Approximately, 76 of the immigrants detained in the raid were women. Similarly, in April 2008, approximately 300 immigrants were arrested in the Pilgrim’s Pride Poultry raid nationwide. In both cases the women were released pending their deportation proceedings on humanitarian grounds to care for children or because they were pregnant. This paper will explore how race, class and gender intersect to create the conditions under which indigenous Guatemalan women of color migrate to the United States, their work, and their unique experiences with the immigration system. As the intersection theory highlights the need to account for multiple grounds of identity when considering how the social world is constructed, this paper will use this theory to critically analyze the ways in which our legal system addresses undocumented women workers. The paper will proceed in four parts. The first section details how migratory laborers are forced to work in an underground system that fails to recognize their humanity and their work. The section will detail how immigration raids affect undocumented immigrant employees and the towns in which they work. The second section tells the story of a Mam Mayan indigenous woman from Guatemala who was detained in the Pilgrim’s Pride immigration raid. Her story illustrates firsthand how intersectionality theory can serve as a lens to examine how different legal and social constructs contribute to women’s subordination. The third section examines intersectionality theory’s applicability to immigration law. This section presents a detailed analysis of how ethnicity, immigration status, gender, and class intersect to subordinate indigenous Guatemalan women. The last section addresses how intersectionality theory can be used to dissolve the multiple layers of subordination within the immigration system. The goal is to critique the concept of citizenship that has been predicated upon exclusion of minorities, women and the poor and how the immigration system functions to perpetuate subordination within the system.


February 3, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)


A new public opinion survey shows that as North American and European countries continue to recover from the global economic crisis, there is a nearly consensus view that governments are managing immigration poorly. For the first time, there is also evidence that respondents whose personal economic situation got worse in 2010 were more likely to fear immigrant competition in the labor market. According to the third-annual Transatlantic Trends: Immigration survey of public opinion in North America and Europe, majorities in the United States (73%), the U.K. (70%), Spain (61%), France (58%), and the Netherlands (54%) believed that their government was doing a poor job in managing immigration. Only Canadians were split, with 48% feeling positive and 43% responding negatively about their government’s handling of immigration. In the United States (67%) and U.K. (63%), respondents also said immigration policy would affect their vote.

Transatlantic Trends: Immigration is a public opinion survey that addresses multiple aspects of the immigration and integration debate, including the effect of the economic crisis on attitudes toward immigration, immigrants’ labor market impacts and effects on wages, and how governments are managing immigration, among others.  It measures public opinion on immigration issues in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain.

For the first time, the survey showed evidence that personal economic hardship is correlated with more fears of labor-market competition. Those whose household economic situation got worse in 2010 were more likely to say that immigrants take jobs away from native-born workers. In the United States, for instance, 63% of those whose economic situation “got worse” in 2010 made this claim versus only 49% of those whose situation either “got better” or “stayed the same.” Europeans who self-identified as unemployed were also more likely to say that immigrants take jobs (43% versus the European average of 35%).


OVERALL PERCEPTIONS OF IMMIGRANTS REMAIN STABLE Despite economic recession and various national debates about immigration, the proportions of respondents saying that immigration is either a problem or an opportunity have remained steady since 2009. The U.K. (65%), Spain (53%), and the United States (52%) are the only countries with majorities saying immigration is “more of a problem” than an opportunity. Canada had the lowest number (27%) agreeing with this statement.

MISCONCEPTIONS OF IMMIGRANT NUMBERS PERSIST Misperceptions about the numbers of immigrants in North America and Europe continue to prevail, with overestimates of the immigrant population increasing in both Canada and the United States. In 2010, on average, American respondents believed that 39% of the population was born abroad, up from 35% in 2009. The real figure is less than 14%. However, when presented with population figures, respondents’ feelings as to whether there were “too many” immigrants in their country dropped 20 percentage points in the United States, the U.K., and France.

IMMIGRANTS INCREASINGLY SEEN AS ECONOMIC DRAIN With countries in Europe and North America continuing to cut public spending, majorities or pluralities of participants said that immigrants benefit more from social security measures than they contribute in taxes. The United States and Spain had the highest proportion agreeing, with 67% in each country. Despite these concerns, majorities in Europe were still in favor of granting both legal and illegal immigrants access to general and emergency healthcare.

MIXED VIEWS ON IMMIGRANT INTEGRATION, MUSLIM INTEGRATION With the exception of Spain, most respondents in Europe had unfavorable views on the state of immigrant integration. In contrast, majorities in Canada (65%) and the United States (59%) thought that immigrants were integrating well into society. When asked how well Muslim immigrants were integrating into society, Germany, Spain, Canada, and the United States expressed more skepticism. Only 25% of Germans, for instance, thought that Muslim immigrants were integrating well, versus 41% who said that immigrants in general were well integrated.

SECOND-GENERATION INTEGRATION SEEN MORE POSITIVELY ACROSS THE BOARD When asked about the children of immigrants, more respondents in all countries said that they were integrating well. At least 50% of respondents, and up to 87% in Canada, said that the second-generation was integrating well. When asked specifically about the children of Muslim immigrants, only Spain and Germany had majorities saying that they were integrating poorly. France, which has recently passed legislation to ban face-covering veils, was split, with 50% saying that second-generation Muslims are integrating well. Despite attention paid to far-right politicians such as Geert Wilders, 56% of Dutch respondents also said that children of Muslim migrants were well-integrated into their society, a sentiment echoed by majorities in North America, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

AMERICANS DIVIDED ON WHO SHOULD ENFORCE IMMIGRATION LAWS With a heated national debate about immigration law enforcement following Arizona’s controversial SB1070 law as backdrop, 44% of Americans thought that state or local authorities should have primary responsibility for enforcing immigration policies, while 50% believed that the federal government should take the lead. These averages mask a strong partisan divide, however, as 66% of Democrats want federal responsibility for enforcement efforts while 50% of independents and 53% of Republicans would prefer that state and local authorities take the lead.


February 3, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Feds Announce Human Trafficking Enforcement Initiative


The Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Labor announced today the launch of the "Human Trafficking Enhanced Enforcement Initiative" designed to streamline federal criminal investigations and prosecutions of human trafficking offenses. As part of the initiative, specialized Anti-Trafficking Coordination Teams, known as ACTeams, will be convened in select pilot districts around the country. The ACTeams, comprised of prosecutors and agents from multiple federal enforcement agencies, will implement a strategic action plan to combat identified human trafficking threats. The ACTeams will focus on developing federal criminal human trafficking investigations and prosecutions to vindicate the rights of human trafficking victims, bring traffickers to justice and dismantle human trafficking networks.


February 2, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

2011 Heartland Fellows Selected

15 journalists have been selected to take part in a fellowship program that challenges reporters to go beyond familiar sound bites and instead cover the complexities of immigration with depth and context.  The program, Immigration in the Heartland, is being conducted by the Institute for Justice and Journalism (IJJ) in partnership with the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication and its Institute for Research and Training.

The program opens March 5, featuring discussions with experts, field reporting and professional workshops. Issues to be explored include education, labor and immigration law. Speakers with contrasting views on immigration will make presentations on the pros and cons of existing and proposed state legislation.

On March 9, the fellowship program moves to Dallas for discussions on the economic effects of immigration and for reporting from federal immigration courts. Officials of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also will provide a briefing for the Fellows.

The selected journalists, from print, broadcast and online reporting sites, are:

■  Michael Baker, senior staff writer, The Oklahoman

■  Maria Bastidas, associate editor, Mundo Hispanico newspaper, Atlanta

■  Jason Buch, reporter, San Antonio Express-News

■  M. Scott Carter, Capitol bureau reporter, The Journal Record, Oklahoma City

■  Rachel Cernansky, freelancer, Boulder, Colo.

■  Diana Correa, executive producer, Hispanic Information & Telecommunications Network, New York

■  Jaclyn Cosgrove, investigative reporter, Oklahoma Watch

■  Rebekah Cowell, freelance contributor, Independent Weekly, Durham, N.C.

■  Ralph De La Cruz, blogger and reporter, Florida Center for Investigative Reporting

■  Sarah Gustavus, reporter, KUNM (NPR-affiliated station), Albuquerque

■  Alex Kellogg, national correspondent, NPR Washington Bureau

■  Jens Krogstad, reporter, Des Moines Register

■  Kari Lydersen, freelancer, Chicago

■  Sandra Martinez, reporter, The Santa Fe New Mexican and editor of La Voz section

■  Teresa Puente, blogger and associate professor, Columbia College Chicago


February 2, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Executive Office for Immigration Review Releases FY 2010 Statistical Year Book

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) has released the Fiscal Year 2010 Statistical Year Book. The book is a compilation of figures and tables that provides meaningful data on aliens who appeared before an immigration judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals during the previous fiscal year. It examines the data on the alien respondents’ cases by nationality, language, and disposition, and provides a window into asylum cases. EOIR also announced that, in addition to the standard information, this year’s book includes national pending caseload numbers for the immigration courts.


Immigration court receipts increased by 12 percent between FY 2006 (351,051) and FY 2010 (392,888).  

Immigration court completions decreased by four percent between FY 2006 (366,080) and FY 2010 (353,247). However, completions in FY 2010 increased by seven percent from FY 2007.

Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and China were the leading nationalities of immigration court completions during FY 2010, representing 67 percent of the total caseload.

Spanish was the most frequently spoken language for immigration court case completions during FY 2010 at over 66 percent.

Forty-three percent of aliens whose cases were completed in immigration courts during FY 2010 were represented. (Figure 9, page G1)

Asylum applications filed with the immigration courts decreased by 42 percent from FY 2006 to FY 2010. Affirmative receipts decreased by 35 percent while defensive receipts decreased by 56 percent.

In FY 2010, the New York, NY; Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; Miami, FL; and Orlando, FL, immigration courts received 62 percent of the total asylum applications filed with the courts.

Four nationalities were among the top 10 nationalities granted asylum each year during the five-year period FY 2006-10: China, Colombia, India, and Ethiopia.

The grant rate for asylum applications was 51 percent in FY 2010. The grant rate was 61 percent for affirmative applications and 35 percent for defensive applications.

In FY 2010, the percentage of asylum cases in which either asylum or withholding of removal was granted was 60 percent.

In FY 2010, 25 percent of proceedings completed at the immigration courts had an application for relief. 

Forty-four percent of FY 2010 immigration court completions involved detained aliens.

The number of appeals to the BIA from IJ Decisions is down for the fifth consecutive year.

Receipts of appeals of DHS decisions increased 99 percent from FY 2009 to FY 2010. Receipts of appeals from DHS decisions on visa petitions increased 115 percent for the same time period.

BIA had a 10 percent decrease in receipts between FY 2006 (39,743) and FY 2010 (35,787).

Mexico, China, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Haiti accounted for 56 percent of BIA immigration judge decision appeals completed in FY 2010.

Seventy-nine percent of BIA appeals completed in FY 2010 were for represented aliens.

In FY 2010, eight percent of immigration judge decisions were appealed to the BIA.

OCAHO case receipts increased from FY 2009 (31) to FY 2010 (91).

OCAHO case completions increased from FY 2009 (25) to FY 2010 (53).


February 2, 2011 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

From the Bookshelves: Migrating Alone: Unaccompanied and Separated Children’s Migration to Europe Edited by Jyothi Kanics, Daniel Senovilla Hernández and Kristina Touzenis

Migrating alone 
Migrating Alone: Unaccompanied and Separated Children’s Migration to Europe Edited by Jyothi Kanics, Daniel Senovilla Hernández and Kristina Touzenis 
he book is available for purchase on the UNESCO Publishing Website in the Social Sciences Studies series Summary The planned, forced or spontaneous decision to abandon home and country of origin takes on a new dimension when the persons involved in the migration adventure are sometimes just in their early teens. Despite common features and many links with the migration of adults, the independent migration of children has emerged as a specific phenomenon all over the world. Since the early 1990s, most European countries have notably been destination and/or transit points for such young migrants. Faced with the migration of unaccompanied and separated children, European national government policies do not always coincide with the legal instruments (national or international) created for the care of children ‘in need’ regardless of origin or nationality. Child migrants tend to be considered migrants before they are considered children, whereas international legal protection standards for children are far better than those concerning migrants. The essays that make up this book tackle the question of child migration from legal, sociological and anthropological angles, examining the situation in both countries of origin and receiving countries.


February 2, 2011 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Impacts of the Obama Administration's Enforcement Now, Enforecment Forever Immigration Approach

We have talked before how the Obama administration
has promised future immigration reform while ramping up immigration enforcement.  What we have seen is more enforcement, more criminal prosecutions, record levels of deportations and detentions, more deaths, and more human misery but no immigration reform.  Morover, there are collateral impacts of the immigration enforcement emphasis on other federal law enforcement activities.  TRAC's latest report "Federal Criminal Enforcement and Staffing: How Do the Obama and Bush Administrations Compare?" reviews the data showing that, with federal enforcement increasingly focused on immigration matters, other kinds of felony prosecutions — particularly those brought in districts outside the southwest — have declined.  The comparison of the first two years under President Obama with the last two years of the Bush administration, shows these impacts of the emphasis on criminal immigration enforcement.


February 2, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

AZ Birithright Bills Introduced

The AZ legistature has introduced two bills challenging the 14th Amendment.  To see the text of the bills click HB2561 and HB2562.

February 2, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Scriptural Foundations Of An Open Immigration Policy

I found this piece on the The Scriptural Foundations Of An Open Immigration Policy by Bruce and Judy Hake to be interesting reading.  Bruce Hake is an immigration attorney.  Although it was written in 1998, the article, unfortunately in certain respects, has aged well with time in discussing the anti-immigrant politics of then and today. 


February 2, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Washington State Senator Zarelli Leads Anti-Immigrant Attack

From MexMigration:


Seattle, WA. The draconian efforts to destroy the Constitution through state-level immigration laws are not limited to Southwestern border states. The State of Washington now has an active Republican Party/Tea Party coterie pursuing some of the same kinds of legislative proposals that have made Arizona into the "Hate State" and "State of Fear".

State Senator Joe Zarelli (R-Ridgeway, Clark County) has announced a new bill (SB 5006) that would force the State of Washington to ask for "proof of legal residency" when issuing drivers licenses and other identity cards. Washington is currently one of only three remaining states that do not require proof of legal residence in the state to acquire a license.

Another proposed bill is seeking cuts to the children health insurance program that allegedly includes undocumented children or at least the U.S.-born citizen children of undocumented or mixed-status families. There are already federal restrictions on eligibility of legal and undocumented immigrants for state and federal public welfare benefits like food stamps.

The proposed anti-immigrant legislation overlooks the fact that there are already a wide variety of federal and state statutes governing eligibility and proof of identity for public documents and identification cards and that immigrants, legal and undocumented, are already restricted in their access to health and human services. Read more...


February 2, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

NACARA Motion to Reopen Deadline Tolled Seven Years

Mejia-Hernadez v. Holder No 07-74277

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 1699 (January 27, 2011)

Mr. Mejia-Hernandez applied for Asylum November 1993. The Guatemala Guerrillas had almost beaten him to death. However, an Asylum officer denied the claim because Mr. Mejia-Hernandez did not connect the beating to any protected ground. Mr. Mejia-Hernandez was referred to an immigration judge (IJ). He appeared pro se at several hearings submitting a proper change of address notice to the court. Mr. Mejia-Hernandez was sent a certified notice of a rescheduled hearing but the notice was returned to the court as unclaimed. On January 7, 1997 the court ordered Mr. Mejia-Hernandez deported in absentia.

On March 31, 1998 Mr. Mejia-Hernandez and Ms. Perez-Lopez, the mother of his two U.S. citizen children hired Bryan Ramos to help them with their immigration case. Mr. Ramos falsely represented himself as an attorney. Mr. Ramos told Mr. Mejia-Hernandez that he could apply for NACARA under Mrs. Perez-Lopez even though they were not married. Mr. Ramos filed a NACARA application for Ms. Perez-Lopez and a Motion to Reopen for Mr. Mejia-Hernandez. The motion to reopen was returned for failure to include the fee. Mr. Mejia-Hernandez confronted Mr. Ramos about the returned motion, but Mr. Ramos reassured him that the court had made an error and that he would correct it. Mr. Ramos never filed the motion. Mr. Mejia-Hernandez and Ms. Perez-Lopez subsequently married on November 15, 1998.

For seven years Mr. Mejia-Hernandez and his wife paid Mr. Ramos to handle their cases. Mr. Ramos continued to reassure them that everything was in order. Ms. Perez-Lopez finally received her NACARA appointment but Mr. Ramos refused to attend the appointment with her. It was then that the couple learned through Mr. Ramos’ secretary that he was not in fact a lawyer. Ms. Perez-Lopez was granted NACARA on January 7, 2005. Mr. Mejia-Hernandez hired new counsel on April 30, 2005 and on July 5, 2005 he filed a motion to rescind the in absentia order of deportation.

The IJ granted a sua sponte motion to reopen based on (1) Mr. Mejia-Hernandez’ timely filed but never adjudicated Asylum claim; (2) Mr. Mejia-Hernandez’s two U.S. citizen children and LPR wife who obtained status through NACARA; (3) Mr. Mejia-Hernandez’s deportation would cause extreme hardship to his family, and (4) it was in the interest of justice to reopen the case. At the subsequent merits hearing the ICE attorney stated that Mr. Mejia-Hernadez was statutorily eligible for NACARA and that he had established the necessary hardship. However, on appeal the government claimed that the sua sponte reopening was an abuse of discretion. Mr. Mejia-Hernandez countered that he had not received proper notice of his 1997 hearing. The BIA rejected Mr. Mejia-Hernandez’ notice and equitable tolling arguments and reinstated the deportation order.

The Ninth Circuit disagreed with Mr. Mejia-Hernandez's claim that the fact that he did not receive actual notice of his 1997 hearing constituted grounds to reopen his case. The Ninth Circuit also held that it lacked jurisdiction to review the BIA’s decision to overturn the IJ’s sua sponte reopening. However, the Ninth Circuit disagreed with the IJ and BIA’s determination that Mr. Mejia-Hernandez had missed the deadline for his motion to reopen under NACARA.

The Ninth Circuit recognizes the tolling of motion deadlines during periods when the individual is prevented from filing because of deception, fraud or error. The individual however must act with due diligence in discovering the deception, fraud or error. Iturribarria v. INS 321 f.3d 889 (9th Cir. 2003). Mr. Mejia-Hernandez was deceived by Mr. Ramos who told him that a Motion to reopen had been filed and told him that he had to wait for a grant of his wife’s case in order to regularize his own status. It was reasonable for Mr. Mejia-Hernandez not to discover the deception until 2005 when Ms. Perez-Lopez’s NACARA case was adjudicated. Moreover, as Mr. Ramos obtained relief for Ms. Perez-Lopez, it was reasonably took a couple of more months for Mr. Mejia-Hernandez to become suspicious and visit an attorney to check on the veracity of Mr. Ramos’ assurances. The deception was verified on April 30, 2005 when the new attorney obtained called the automated court system. Consequently, the equitable tolling began when Mr. Ramos misrepresented himself as an attorney and ended April 30, 2005 when the new attorney discovered the truth. The seven years and one month of tolling are added to the September 11, 1998 NACARA motions to reopen deadline. Since Mr. Mejia- Hernandez filed his motion on July 5, 2005 he met his adjusted deadline of October 11, 2005. The Ninth Circuit remanded the case back to the BIA to consider Mr. Mejia-Hernandez’s eligibility for NACARA on his own right.




February 1, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)