December 03, 2009
(Washington, DC) - The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency's increasing practice of transferring immigrants facing deportation to detention centers far away from their homes severely curtails their ability to challenge their deportation, Human Rights Watch says in a report released today. The agency made 1.4 million detainee transfers in the decade from 1999 through 2008, the report says.
-Human Rights Watch
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Read the report.
Published: December 2, 2009
Growing numbers of noncitizens, including legal immigrants, are held unnecessarily and transferred heedlessly in an expensive immigration detention system that denies many of them basic fairness, a bipartisan study group and a human rights organization concluded in reports released jointly on Wednesday.
-New York Times
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December 01, 2009
In a sense, she has. For a year and a half Ms. Jiang, a waitress with no criminal record and a history of attempted suicide, was locked away in an immigration jail in Florida. Often in solitary confinement, she sank ever deeper into mental illness, relatives say, not eating for days, or vomiting after meals for fear of being poisoned.
With no lawyer to plead for asylum on her behalf, she had been ordered to be deported to her native China, from which her family says she fled in 1995 after being forcibly sterilized at age 20. Too ill to obtain the travel documents needed for the deportation to take place, she was trapped in an immigration limbo: a fate that detainee advocates say is common in a system that has no rules for determining mental competency and no obligation to provide anyone with legal representation.
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Update: The above article was a response to the previous New York Times Article on mental illness and immigration.
Mentally Ill and in Immigration Limbo
By NINA BERNSTEIN
Published: May 3, 2009
Twice the immigration judge asked the woman’s name. Twice she gave it: Xiu Ping Jiang. But he chided her, a Chinese New Yorker, for answering his question before the court interpreter had translated it into Mandarin.
“Ma’am, we’re going to do this one more time, and then I’m going to treat you as though you were not here,” the immigration judge, Rex J. Ford, warned the woman last year at her first hearing in Pompano Beach, Fla. He threatened to issue an order of deportation that would say she had failed to show up.
Read the rest of the article.
By JEANNIE KEVER Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle
Nov. 30, 2009, 8:59PM
October 25, 2009
Detained immigrant children face legal maze in U.S.
MIAMI (CNN) -- When "Marta" was 12, she entered the United States illegally, hoping to join her mother, who had left her in Central America years ago to search for work. Three years later she was sitting in immigration detention by herself waiting to be deported back home to her grandmother, who was dying of cancer.
For full story click here
October 23, 2009
"A second high-ranking official in a two-month-old federal office that oversees immigration detention policy and planning has left the government, sources say. Cree Zischke, tasked with addressing detainee health care issues for Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Office of Detention Policy and Planning, departed just weeks after her boss, Dr. Dora Schriro, left ICE in late September to become commissioner of New York City's jails." Andrew Becker, Oct. 23, 2009.
October 15, 2009
October 09, 2009
October 05, 2009
Surviving Criminalization: Films on Incarceration & Family Detention
The Equal Justice Society, in partnership with the ACLU of Northern California, the San Francisco Film Society and the Commonweal Institute, will be screening two documentaries that take a probing look into America’s criminal justice and immigrant detention systems. As racial justice advocates, we believe that building a movement that addresses both systems of oppression is imperative.
Wednesday, October 14th
Sundance Kabuki Cinema
1881 Post Street, San Francisco Japantown
October 01, 2009
Published: September 29, 2009
LOS ANGELES — A clothing maker with a vast garment factory in downtown Los Angeles is firing about 1,800 immigrant employees in the coming days — more than a quarter of its work force — after a federal investigation turned up irregularities in the identity documents the workers presented when they were hired.
"Broken in U.S.A." NEW YORK TIMES - click here TO READ EDITORIAL
Brent Renison reports: "The Court finds that the plain language of 8 U.S.C. § 1151(b)(2)(A)(i) does not automatically strip an alien, whose citizen spouse filed an I-130 petition but died before it was adjudicated, from classification as an “immediate relative” solely because the citizen died before the couple’s second wedding anniversary." Hats off to Michael Pass with Steptoe & Johnson in D.C.
"Before this Court is an issue of law regarding Plaintiff Juana MacLean's residency status in the United States. Coined by Plaintiff as the 'widow penalty,' this issue arises when a United States citizen petitions the government to adjust the status of the alien spouse, but dies before the government actually adjudicates the request. The Government takes the position that a petition dies with the death of the petitioning United States citizen. The surviving spouses claim the Government's position is contrary to the law. The Court agrees." Hats off to Jeff Devore.
September 30, 2009
THE TRUTH ABOUT COSTLY VERIFICATION SYSTEMS,
UNAUTHORIZED IMMIGRANTS AND HEALTH CARE
As health care bills make their way through Congress, lawmakers are debating
whether or not to include overly burdensome citizenship verification requirements to ensure
that unauthorized immigrants do not have access to health insurance. However, past attempts
to implement these kinds of additional measures have prevented U.S. citizens and legal
immigrants from receiving health care, while uncovering very few instances of unauthorized
immigrants trying to abuse the system. In fact, research shows that unauthorized immigrants
do not come to the United States for health care benefits or any other public services for
which they are not eligible. These additional measures threaten to ensnare far more citizens
than unauthorized immigrants and add unnecessary costs to health care reform.
Click HERE to keep reading
September 29, 2009
September 16, 2009
VISA BULLETIN OCTOBER 2009
A. STATUTORY NUMBERS
1. This bulletin summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers during October. Consular officers are required to report to the Department of State documentarily qualified applicants for numerically limited visas; the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security reports applicants for adjustment of status. Allocations were made, to the extent possible under the numerical limitations, for the demand received by September 9th in the chronological order of the reported priority dates. If the demand could not be satisfied within the statutory or regulatory limits, the category or foreign state in which demand was excessive was deemed oversubscribed. The cut-off date for an oversubscribed category is the priority date of the first applicant who could not be reached within the numerical limits. Only applicants who have a priority date earlier than the cut-off date may be allotted a number. Immediately that it becomes necessary during the monthly allocation process to retrogress a cut-off date, supplemental requests for numbers will be honored only if the priority date falls within the new cut-off date which has been announced in this bulletin.
The fiscal year 2009 limit for family-sponsored preference immigrants determined in accordance with Section 201 of the Immigration and Nationality
2. Section 201 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sets an annual minimum family-sponsored preference limit of 226,000. The worldwide level for annual employment-based preference immigrants is at least 140,000. Section 202 prescribes that the per-country limit for preference immigrants is set at 7% of the total annual family-sponsored and employment-based preference limits, i.e., 25,620. The dependent area limit is set at 2%, or 7,320.
3. Section 203 of the INA prescribes preference classes for allotment of immigrant visas as follows:
First: Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Citizens: 23,400 plus any numbers not required for fourth preference.
Second: Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent
Residents: 114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, and any unused first preference numbers:
A. Spouses and Children: 77% of the overall second preference limitation,
of which 75% are exempt from the per-country limit;
B. Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older): 23% of the overall second preference limitation.
Third: Married Sons and Daughters of Citizens: 23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences.
Fourth: Brothers and Sisters of Adult Citizens: 65,000, plus any numbers not required by first three preferences.
First: Priority Workers: 28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required for fourth and fifth preferences.
Second: Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability: 28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required by first preference.
Third: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers: 28.6% of the worldwide level, plus any numbers not required by first and second
preferences, not more than 10,000 of which to "Other Workers".
Fourth: Certain Special Immigrants: 7.1% of the worldwide level.
Fifth: Employment Creation: 7.1% of the worldwide level, not less than 3,000 of which reserved for investors in a targeted rural or high-unemployment area, and 3,000 set aside for investors in regional centers by Sec. 610 of P.L. 102-395.
4. INA Section 203(e) provides that family-sponsored and employment-based preference visas be issued to eligible immigrants in the order in which a petition in behalf of each has been filed. Section 203(d) provides that spouses and children of preference immigrants are entitled to the same status, and the same order of consideration, if accompanying or following to join the principal. The visa prorating provisions of Section 202(e) apply to allocations for a foreign state or dependent area when visa demand exceeds the per-country limit. These provisions apply at present to the following oversubscribed chargeability areas: CHINA-mainland born, INDIA, MEXICO, and PHILIPPINES.
5. On the chart below, the listing of a date for any class indicates that the class is oversubscribed (see paragraph 1); "C" means current, i.e., numbers are available for all qualified applicants; and "U" means unavailable, i.e., no numbers are available. (NOTE: Numbers are available only for applicants whose priority date is earlier than the cut-off date listed below.
|Fam-ily||All Charge- ability Areas Except Those Listed||CHINA-mainland born||INDIA||MEXICO||PHILIPP-INES|
*NOTE: For October, 2A numbers EXEMPT from per-country limit are available to applicants from all countries with priority dates earlier than 01MAR03. 2A numbers SUBJECT to per-country limit are available to applicants chargeable to all countries EXCEPT MEXICO with priority dates beginning 01MAR03 and earlier than 01JUN05. (All 2A numbers provided for MEXICO are exempt from the per-country limit; there are no 2A numbers for MEXICO subject to per-country limit.)
|Certain Religious Workers||U||U||U||U||U|
|Targeted Employ-ment Areas/ |
|5th Pilot Programs||U||U||U||U||U|
The Department of State has available a recorded message with visa availability information which can be heard at: (area code 202) 663-1541. This recording will be updated in the middle of each month with information on cut-off dates for the following month.
Employment Third Preference Other Workers Category: Section 203(e) of the NACARA, as amended by Section 1(e) of Pub. L. 105-139, provides that once the Employment Third Preference Other Worker (EW) cut-off date has reached the priority date of the latest EW petition approved prior to November 19, 1997, the 10,000 EW numbers available for a fiscal year are to be reduced by up to 5,000 annually beginning in the following fiscal year. This reduction is to be made for as long as necessary to offset adjustments under the NACARA program. Since the EW cut-off date reached November 19, 1997 during Fiscal Year 2001, the reduction in the EW annual limit to 5,000 began in Fiscal Year 2002.
B. DIVERSITY IMMIGRANT (DV) CATEGORY
Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides a maximum of up to 55,000 immigrant visas each fiscal year to permit immigration opportunities for persons from countries other than the principal sources of current immigration to the United States. The Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) passed by Congress in November 1997 stipulates that beginning with DV-99, and for as long as necessary, up to 5,000 of the 55,000 annually-allocated diversity visas will be made available for use under the NACARA program. This reduction has resulted in the DV-2009 annual limit being reduced to 50,000. DV visas are divided among six geographic regions. No one country can receive more than seven percent of the available diversity visas in any one year.
For October, immigrant numbers in the DV category are available to qualified DV-2010 applicants chargeable to all regions/eligible countries as follows. When an allocation cut-off number is shown, visas are available only for applicants with DV regional lottery rank numbers BELOW the specified allocation cut-off number:
|Region||All DV Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed Separately|
|NORTH AMERICA (BAHAMAS)||2|
|SOUTH AMERICA, and the CARIBBEAN||450|
Entitlement to immigrant status in the DV category lasts only through the end of the fiscal (visa) year for which the applicant is selected in the lottery. The year of entitlement for all applicants registered for the DV-2010 program ends as of September 30, 2010. DV visas may not be issued to DV-2010 applicants after that date. Similarly, spouses and children accompanying or following to join DV-2010principals are only entitled to derivative DV status until September 30, 2010. DV visa availability through the very end of FY-2010 cannot be taken for granted. Numbers could be exhausted prior to September 30.
C. ADVANCE NOTIFICATION OF THE DIVERSITY (DV) IMMIGRANT CATEGORY RANK
CUT-OFFS WHICH WILL APPLY IN NOVEMBER
For November, immigrant numbers in the DV category are available to qualified
DV-2010 applicants chargeable to all regions/eligible countries as follows. When an allocation cut-off number is shown, visas are available only for applicants with DV regional lottery rank numbers BELOW the specified allocation cut-off number:
|Region||All DV Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed Separately|
|NORTH AMERICA (BAHAMAS)||2|
|SOUTH AMERICA, and the CARIBBEAN||575|
D. EXPIRATION OF TWO EMPLOYMENT VISA CATEGORIES
Employment Fourth Preference Certain Religious Workers: Pursuant to Section 1 of Public Law 111-9, the non-minister special immigrant program expires on September 30, 2009.No SR-1, SR-2, or SR-3 visas may be issued overseas on or after September 30, 2009. Visas issued prior to this date will only be issued with a validity date of September 30, 2009, and all individuals seeking admission as a non-minister special immigrant must be admitted (repeat, admitted) into the U.S. no later than midnight September 30, 2009.
Employment Fifth Preference Pilot Categories(I5, R5): Section 101 of Division J of the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009, extended this immigrant investor pilot program through September 30, 2009. The I5 and R5 visas may be issued until close of business on September 30, 2009, and may be issued for the full validity period. No I5-1, I5-2, I5-3, R5-1, R5-2 or R5-3 visas may be issued after September 30, 2009.
The cut-off dates for the categories mentioned above have been listed as “Unavailable” for October. If there is legislative action extending one or both of these categories for FY-2010, those cut-off dates would immediately become “Current” for October.
E. OBTAINING THE MONTHLY VISA BULLETIN
The Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs offers the monthly "Visa Bulletin" on the INTERNET'S WORLDWIDE WEB. The INTERNET Web address to access the Bulletin is:
From the home page, select the VISA section which contains the Visa Bulletin.
To be placed on the Department of State’s E-mail subscription list for the “Visa Bulletin”, please send an E-mail to the following E-mail address:
and in the message body type:
Subscribe Visa-Bulletin First name/Last name
(example: Subscribe Visa-Bulletin Sally Doe)
To be removed from the Department of State’s E-mail subscription list for the “Visa Bulletin”, send an e-mail message to the following E-mail address:
and in the message body type: Signoff Visa-Bulletin
The Department of State also has available a recorded message with visa cut-off dates which can be heard at: (area code 202) 663-1541. The recording is normally updated by the middle of each month with information on cut-off dates for the following month.
Readers may submit questions regarding Visa Bulletin related items by E-mail at the following address:
(This address cannot be used to subscribe to the Visa Bulletin.)
Department of State Publication 9514
CA/VO:September 9, 2009
September 09, 2009
Note: The "Feet in 2 Worlds - Telling the Stories of Today's Immigrants" Blog is an excellent blog that those of us at Caudle Immigration highly recommend you read on a regular basis.
By Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes, FI2W contributor
Darlene Garcia, a 56-year-old woman who has lived in Queens, NY for the last 18 years, remembers the days when communicating with her family in Guayaquil, Ecuador was an odyssey.
“I used to talk to my mother from a local pay phone once a week, and to my sister maybe once a month. They would keep me informed about the lives of my cousins, uncles, other family members, old neighbors and friends,” she told FI2W recently.
“Now everyone in Ecuador is on Facebook and we talk all the time.”
Facebook is helping immigrants get back in touch with less-immediate family members with whom it was virtually impossible to keep an ongoing relationship before the arrival of new technologies. About 70 percent of the social network’s 250 million active users are outside the U.S.
See http://feetin2worlds.wordpress.com/2009/09/09/immigrants-use-facebook-to-reconnect-with-family-and-issues-back-home/ for the rest of the article.
August 28, 2009
ACLU sues for laptop search details
By Andrew Noyes
The American Civil Liberties Union wants federal government records pertaining to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's policy of searching travelers' laptops without suspicion of wrongdoing. The watchdog group filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit Wednesday in a New York federal court to learn how the agency's policy, issued last year, has impacted the civil liberties of travelers during the first year of its implementation. The ACLU made an initial FOIA request for CBP records in June.
"Traveling with a laptop shouldn't mean the government gets a free pass to rifle through your personal papers," ACLU staff attorney Catherine Crump said. "This sort of broad and invasive search is exactly what the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable searches are designed to prevent." According to the ACLU, the CBP policy permits agents to read the information on travelers' laptops "absent individualized suspicion" including personal financial information, photographs and lists of Web sites travelers visited.
CBP's policy extends to suspicionless searches of "documents, books, pamphlets and other printed material, as well as computers, disks, hard drives and other electronic or digital storage devices," the ACLU said. The policy covers all persons, whether or not they are U.S. citizens, crossing the border. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced in January that she was reviewing a range of immigration and border security policies and in May said clarification is needed with respect to the laptop issue. She said a team at DHS will "issue pretty firm guidance and protocol for how you conduct a laptop search."
New DHS Standards For Electronic Border Searches Not Adequate
Good First Step But Not Enough To Protect Privacy Or Curtail Profiling, Says ACLU
WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released new privacy standards for border searches of electronic devices today which, while a welcome first step, do not go far enough. The new standards fail to address the fundamental constitutional problems of suspicionless searches that have been occurring at the border.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit yesterday on suspicionless searches at the border, demanding records about the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) policy of searching travelers' laptops without suspicion of wrongdoing. CBP is a component of DHS. The lawsuit was filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to learn how CBP's policy, issued last year, has impacted the civil liberties of travelers during the first year of its implementation.
The following can be attributed to Catherine Crump, staff attorney with the ACLU First Amendment Working Group:
“DHS’s latest policy announcement on border searches is a disappointment, and should not be mistaken for one that restores the constitutional rights of travelers at the border. Members of the public deserve fundamental privacy rights when traveling and the safety of knowing that federal agents cannot rifle through their laptops without some reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. The ACLU does not oppose border searches, but it does oppose a policy that leaves government officials free to exercise their power arbitrarily. Such a policy not only invades our privacy but can lead to racial and religious profiling.”
The following can be attributed to Christopher Calabrese, counsel for the ACLU Technology & Liberty Program:
“There are two key aspects of this new policy worth applauding – the limitations on the time that electronic devices can be held by Customs officers and requirements that information from electronic devices only be retained if there is probable cause that a crime has been committed. These procedural safeguards recognize that the old system was invasive and harmed many innocent travelers.
“But unless and until the government requires agents to have individualized suspicion before reviewing such sensitive information as medical records, legal papers and financial information, even the most elaborate procedural safeguards will be insufficient for the government to live up to its constitutional obligations. It is now time for Congress to act and create concrete standards for searches and directly confront the problem of racial and religious profiling.”
The ACLU's FOIA request is available online at: www.aclu.org/freespeech/gen/39817lgl20090610.html
The ACLU statement on legislation improving laptop searches is available online at: www.aclu.org/privacy/gen/40463leg20090722.html
August 27, 2009
Where Immigration Reform Stands Without Kennedy
Posted by Stephanie Condon 8/27/2009
While Democrats in Congress are hoping to push health care reform forward in honor of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, the senator's death serves as a reminder that Congress and President Obama have substantial work to do to accomplish another of Kennedy's lifelong causes: immigration reform.
In a column in Roll Call newspaper, editor Morton Kondracke writes that passing immigration reform would also be a fitting tribute to the stalwart liberal, who died Tuesday night.
Kennedy dramatically changed the United States' immigration system with the Immigration Act of 1965, which eliminated the quota system and allowed immigration from Latin America and Asia to dramatically increase. The bill "will go down as one of our nation's core civil-rights bills of that era," the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute's Vice President Don Kerwin said in a statement.
He also worked to pass the Refugee Act of 1980, and in 1986 he supported a measure that allowed nearly three million undocumented immigrants to gain legal status and established penalties against employers who hired illegal immigrants. He supported the Immigration Act of 1990, which increased the number of immigrants that could enter the country, including those who could enter with permanent job-related visas and temporary worker visas.
"Senator Kennedy was the driving force behind every significant piece of immigration legislation over the past 40-plus years," the American Immigration Law Foundation noted in a statement (PDF).
August 24, 2009
Read about it...
Study: Immigration judge as stressed out as emergency room doctors, prison wardens
By Howard Mintz
On any given day, Immigration Judge Dana Leigh Marks can find herself listening to a wrenching tale of an immigrant seeking asylum, fearing everything from torture to death if returned to his or her homeland. Or she could be deciding the fate of one of thousands of immigrants who find themselves facing deportation each year, some of whom have been in the United States for years, going to school, working and raising families.
In a cramped corner office in San Francisco's financial district, the case files stacked on Marks' desk show the sheer volume of her task. The roughly 215 immigration judges in the country last year decided an average of more than 1,600 cases, dwarfing the workload of a full-time federal judge, who may have about 350 cases on their docket at a time.
For Marks and other immigration judges around the country, it appears all those stories and case files are starting to take their toll. In a study released this summer by University of California-San Francisco researchers, immigration judges, it turns out, are as stressed out and burned out as emergency room doctors and prison wardens. And the study found female immigration judges far more stressed than their male counterparts.
As U.S. Department of Justice employees, immigration judges ordinarily do not speak publicly. But they didn't hold back with UCSF researchers. One judge told researchers they have to "grovel like mangy street dogs" to convince top immigration officials
they need more time to deal with the crushing caseloads. Another reported a "knot in my stomach" deciding asylum cases. And another told researchers: "I can't take this place anymore. What a dismal job this is!"
The study does not entirely surprise Marks, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges. She's now using the findings to push for long-sought reforms to the system, including a proposal for the immigration courts to break from Justice Department oversight.
"The depth and the severity is what was surprising,'' Marks said of the study. "It's gotten a lot worse a lot faster."
Immigration courts have come under closer scrutiny in recent years as caseloads exploded across the country. The number of immigration cases jumped from more than 282,000 in 1998 to a projected 385,000 this year, with only a modest increase in the number of immigration judges. Northern California's immigration judges are based in San Francisco.
Federal appeals courts, which often review the work of the immigration courts, have grown increasingly frustrated with some of the justice dispensed. A Mercury News review three years ago found a San Francisco-based federal appeals court was regularly overturning the immigration courts in the most important immigration matters it decided.
A spokeswoman of the Executive Office of Immigration Review, which runs the immigration court system for the Justice Department, said officials are aware of the recent study and working to address its findings, which included recommendations to provide far more resources to immigration judges.
Elaine Komis, the EOIR spokeswoman, said 19 new judges are being hired this year, and the department is asking for 28 more judges in 2010. And during a weeklong training session for all the judges earlier this month in Washington, D.C., one segment included stress management.
But the findings of widespread stress and burnout in the study are cause for concern among immigration rights advocates, who worry that frustrated, overworked immigration judges are too often giving short shrift to immigrants in their courtrooms.
Experts such as Karen Musalo, a Hastings College of the Law professor and leading asylum lawyer, say there are ample numbers of judges who don't deserve sympathy because "there are judges that just shouldn't be there."
But Musalo and others say many judges are well-intentioned but overburdened. In particular, department pressure to push judges to decide immigration cases quickly and erase backlogs has aggravated the tension in the system, according to experts.
"We're driven by numbers, statistics,'' said Gilbert Gembacz, who retired last year as an immigration judge in Los Angeles after 12 years on his court. "The bean counters have taken over."
Bay Area immigration lawyers recently provided the San Francisco judges with a survey of their performance, and the main concern in those findings — which are not public — was ensuring judges remain patient and empathetic to the rights of the immigrants.
"A lot of these judges appear easily frustrated,'' said Philip Hwang, who runs the asylum program for the San Francisco Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and summarized the survey.
The UCSF study identified asylum cases as a leading cause of stress for the immigration judges because of the stakes involved and the limited resources to fully examine asylum claims.
"We're dealing with death penalty cases in a traffic court setting," Marks said.
On an ordinary day in immigration court, most asylum cases unfold behind closed doors, one at a time. A government lawyer shooed a reporter out of Marks' courtroom on a recent day earlier this month as the judge considered the asylum petition of an Afghan woman.
Down the hall, more routine hearings involving deportation matters unfolded in the courtroom of Judge Lawrence Di Costanzo, who plowed through a calendar of cases, speaking slowly into a microphone to produce recordings of the proceedings.
There was little sign of stress in the small, antiseptic courtroom, but most of the hearings were routine matters far from resolution. For the judges and the system, the stress comes later, when the decision is made on whether an immigrant can stay in the country or must be sent away.
"You're dealing with someone's life,'' said Gembacz, the retired Los Angeles judge. "I felt the stress disappear quickly when I retired."
August 20, 2009
American Civil Liberties Union
August 19, 2009
ACLU Sues Maricopa County Sheriff's Office For Illegal Arrest And Detention Of U.S. Citizen And Legal Resident
PHOENIX – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Arizona filed a lawsuit today challenging the illegal arrest and detention of a U.S. citizen and a legal resident by Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) deputies. The two men were driving down a public roadway when they were stopped and arrested without justification, and transported to the site of an immigration raid.
"Our clients suffered egregious constitutional violations and were terrified when held against their will for three hours by armed MCSO personnel," said Dan Pochoda, Legal Director of the ACLU of Arizona and lead counsel on the case. "Sheriff Joe Arpaio's deputies had absolutely no reason to stop these two men and drag them off to a worksite raid. This is yet another example of MCSO sacrificing the rights and well being of workers in the name of immigration enforcement."
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on behalf of Julian Mora, a legal permanent resident who has lived in the U.S. for 30 years, and his son Julio Mora, a U.S. citizen, against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Maricopa County. The lawsuit charges that the MCSO deputies racially profiled the father and son as they drove their pickup truck on a busy public road and illegally arrested and detained them, violating the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law and prohibition on unreasonable seizures.
Julian Mora was driving to work when, without provocation, an MCSO vehicle cut in front of him forcing him to stop abruptly. MCSO deputies then ordered the father and son out of their vehicle, then frisked and handcuffed them. Although the deputies had no reason to believe that the Moras had broken any law or were in the country unlawfully, they transported the Moras to Handyman Maintenance, Inc. (HMI), where MCSO was conducting a raid that morning. For the next three hours, the Moras were held at HMI, where they were denied food and water and forbidden contact with the outside world. They were not released until they were interrogated.
The ordeal was particularly humiliating for 66-year-old Julian Mora who, due to his diabetic condition, has difficulty controlling his bladder and had an urgent need to use the bathroom. MCSO personnel, however, rejected his repeated requests. Eventually, deputies escorted him outside where he was made to urinate in the parking lot. MCSO personnel later mocked his son Julio when he had to use the bathroom, because he had difficulty going with his hands still cuffed.
"To this day, I don't know why the officers stopped us out of all the cars on the road," said 19-year-old Julio Mora. "We were treated like criminals and never told why. I was very scared. I never thought something like this would happen to me. Now I know it can happen to anyone, citizens too. I don't think it's fair."
Arizona's draconian employer sanctions law and the federal 287(g) program have enabled MCSO personnel to question and arrest workers for alleged violations of federal immigration law. As a result, MCSO has aggressively stepped up local immigration enforcement efforts and conducted raids at worksites across the county with predominantly Latino employees. The raids have not resulted in the conviction of any employer for an employer sanctions violation.
"Local sheriff and police forces simply should not be in the business of enforcing immigration laws. Where state or local officers try to determine who is in the U.S. without permission, we see a pattern of conduct where law-abiding people cannot go about their business without government interference," said Cecillia Wang, a managing attorney with the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. "Instead of violating our basic American rights by seizing people without any reason and singling them out for 'looking foreign,' MCSO should focus on dangerous crimes and maintaining a safe environment for everyone in Maricopa County."
Annie Lai, an ACLU of Arizona staff attorney, said "Arpaio's worksite raids – such as the raids last year on Artistic Land Management in Mesa, Gold Canyon Candle Company in Chandler, last week's raid on Royal Paper Converting and this raid on HMI – are frequently conducted in total disregard for people's constitutional rights and have resulted in the arbitrary detention of many law-abiding citizens and legal residents."
Lawyers on the case, Mora, et al. v. Arpaio, et al., include Wang and Harini Raghupathi of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project and Pochoda and Lai of the ACLU of Arizona.
August 19, 2009
Obama Vows to Focus on Borders
The Washington Post
Cheryl Thompson and William Booth
August 11, 2009
GUADALAJARA, Mexico, Aug. 10 -- President Obama, attending a North American summit with the leaders of Mexico and Canada, said Monday that his administration will pursue a comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. immigration system this year but that no action on legislation will happen before 2010.
Wrapping up the two-day meeting, Obama said that there needs to be "a pathway to citizenship" for millions of illegal immigrants in the United States, and that the system must be reworked to avoid tensions with Mexico. Without it, he said, Mexicans will keep crossing the border in dangerous ways and employers will continue exploiting workers.
"We can create a system in which you have . . . an orderly process for people to come in, but we're also giving an opportunity for those who are already in the United States to be able to achieve a pathway to citizenship so that they don't have to live in the shadows," Obama said during an hour-long news conference at the Cabañas Cultural Center in downtown Guadalajara. "Am I going to be able to snap my fingers and get this done? No. This is going to be difficult."
The president said he expects draft legislation and sponsors by the end of the year, but no action until 2010 because of more pressing issues, including health-care reform, energy legislation and financial regulatory changes.
"That's a pretty big stack of bills," he said.
Immigration official says agents will no longer have quotas
August 17, 2009
The head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced today that he has ended quotas on a controversial program designed to go after illegal immigrants who have ignored deportation orders and that he planned to make more changes to the program soon.
John Morton, who took over as head of the federal agency in May, said during a meeting with reporters in Los Angeles that the program needs to do what it was created to do -- target absconders who have already had their day in court.
“The fugitive operations program needs to focus first and foremost on people who have knowingly flouted an immigration removal order and within that category obviously we will focus first on criminals,” he said.
Beginning in 2003, the agency dispatched teams around the country to arrest and deport immigrants with criminal records and outstanding deportation orders. During widely publicized sweeps, armed agents showed up at homes and apartment buildings and arrested tens of thousands of immigrants.
Immigrant rights groups criticized the early morning raids, saying they divided families and resulted in the arrests of many who had no criminal records or deportation orders.
A report by the Migration Policy Institute this year showed that 73% of the nearly 97,000 people arrested by those teams between 2003 and early 2008 did not have criminal records. The report also showed that in 2006, the agency stopped requiring that two-thirds of those arrested be criminals and allowed the teams to include nonfugitives in their tally.
That same year, the teams were expected to increase their annual arrests from 125 to 1,000, the report said.
Morton said Monday that there is nothing wrong with targets but that hard quotas don’t make sense.
“I just don’t think that a law enforcement program should be based on a hard number that must be met,” he said. "I just don't think that’s a good way to go about it. So we don’t have quotas anymore.”
Morton said, however, that he would continue enforcing the law against immigrants who have fought their cases and lost.
“It is important that the system have integrity,” he said. “I am not signaling in any way that we are not going to enforce the law against noncriminal fugitives.”
There are 104 fugitive operation teams, up from 8 when the program started. The immigration agency received $226 million for the program this year, up from $9 million in 2003.
- Anna Gorman
August 06, 2009
By: NINA BERNSTEIN
Published: August 5, 2009
The Obama administration intends to announce an ambitious plan on Thursday to overhaul the much-criticized way the nation detains immigration violators, trying to transform it from a patchwork of jail and prison cells to what its new chief called a “truly civil detention system.”
Details are sketchy, and even the first steps will take months or years to complete. They include reviewing the federal government’s contracts with more than 350 local jails and private prisons, with an eye toward consolidating many detainees in places more suitable for noncriminals facing deportation — some possibly in centers built and run by the government.
The plan aims to establish more centralized authority over the system, which holds about 400,000 immigration detainees over the course of a year, and more direct oversight of detention centers that have come under fire for mistreatment of detainees and substandard — sometimes fatal — medical care.
One move starts immediately: the government will stop sending families to the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a former state prison near Austin, Tex., that drew an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit and scathing news coverage for putting young children behind razor wire.
“We’re trying to move away from ‘one size fits all,’ ” John Morton, who heads the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency as assistant secretary of homeland security, said in an interview on Wednesday. Detention on a large scale must continue, he said, “but it needs to be done thoughtfully and humanely.”
Hutto, a 512-bed center run for profit by the Corrections Corporation of America under a $2.8 million-a-month federal contract, was presented as a centerpiece of the Bush administration’s tough approach to immigration enforcement when it opened in 2006. The decision to stop sending families there — and to set aside plans for three new family detention centers — is the Obama administration’s clearest departure from its predecessor’s immigration enforcement policies.
So far, the new administration has embraced many of those policies, expanding a program to verify worker immigration status that has been widely criticized, bolstering partnerships between federal immigration agents and local police departments, and rejecting a petition for legally binding rules on conditions in immigration detention.
But Mr. Morton, a career prosecutor, said he was taking a new philosophical approach to detention — that the system’s purpose was to remove immigration violators from the country, not imprison them, and that under the government’s civil authority, detention is aimed at those who pose a serious risk of flight or danger to the community.
Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, said last week that she expected the number of detainees to stay the same or grow slightly. But Mr. Morton added that the immigration agency would consider alternative ways to assure that those who face deportation — and are not dangerous — do not flee.
Reviewing and redesigning all facilities, programs and standards will be the task of a new Office of Detention Policy and Planning, he said. Dora Schriro, special adviser to Ms. Napolitano, will become the director, assisted by two experts on detention management and medical care. The agency will also form two advisory boards of community groups and immigrant advocates, one focusing on detention policies and practices, the other on detainee health care.
Mr. Morton said he would appoint 23 detention managers to work in the 23 largest detention centers, including several run by private companies, to ensure that problems are promptly fixed. He is reorganizing the agency’s inspection unit into three regional operations, renaming it the Office of Detention Oversight, and making its agents responsible for investigating detainee grievances as well as conducting routine and random checks.
“A lot of this exists already,” he said. “A lot of it is making it work better” while Dr. Schriro’s office redesigns the detention system, which he called “disjointed” and “very much dependent on excess capacity in the criminal justice system.”
Asked if his vision could include building new civil detention centers, he said yes. The current 32,000-bed network costs $2.4 billion a year, but the agency is not ready to calculate the cost of a revamped system.
anita Gupta, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who led the lawsuit against the Hutto center, was jubilant over the decision to stop sending families there, but cautious about the other measures.
Times Topics: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
“The ending of family detention at Hutto is welcome news and long overdue,” she said in an e-mail message. “However, without independently enforceable standards, a reduction in beds, or basic due process before people are locked up, it is hard to see how the government’s proposed overhaul of the immigration detention system is anything other than a reorganization or renaming of what was in place before.”
Ms. Gupta said the changes at Hutto since 2006 illustrated the importance of enforceable rules. Before the A.C.L.U. lawsuit was settled in 2007, some children under 10 stayed as long as a year, mainly confined to family cells with open toilets, with only one hour of schooling a day. Children told of being threatened by guards with separation from their parents, many of them asylum-seekers from around the world.
Only through judicial enforcement of the settlement, she said, have children been granted such liberties as wearing pajamas at night and taking crayons into family cells. The settlement also required the agency to honor agency standards that had been ignored, like timely reviews of the decision to detain a family at all. Some families have been deported, but others were released or are now awaiting asylum decisions in housing run by nonprofit social service agencies.
That kind of stepped-up triage could be part of the more civil detention system envisioned by Mr. Morton and Dr. Schriro, who has been reviewing the detention system for months and is expected to report her recommendations soon.
But the Hutto case also points to the limits of their approach, advocates say. Under the settlement, parents and children accused of immigration violations were detained when possible at the country’s only other family detention center, an 84-bed former nursing home in Leesport, Pa., called the Berks Family Shelter Care Facility. The number detained at Hutto has dropped sharply, to 127 individuals from as many as 450.
Advocates noted that Berks, though eclipsed by the criticism of Hutto — the subject of protest vigils, a New Yorker article and a documentary — also has a history of problems, like guards who disciplined children by sending them across the parking lot to a juvenile detention center, and families’ being held for two years.
The Hutto legal settlement expires Aug. 29. In the most recent monitoring report last month, Magistrate Judge Andrew W. Austin wrote: “Although the use of this facility to hold families is not a violation of the settlement agreement, it seems fundamentally wrong to house children and their noncriminal parents this way. We can do better.”
Mr. Morton, a career prosecutor, seemed to agree. Hutto will be converted into an immigration jail for women, he said, adding: “I’m not ruling out the possibility of detaining families. But Berks is the better facility for that. Hutto is not the long-term answer.”
NEW YORK TIMES
AUGUST 5, 2009
July 30, 2009
"Citizens who have been wrongfully locked up in immigration jails can't reclaim the months or years they spent behind bars, but some of them are seeking restitution and suing the U.S. government." SF Chronicle, July 28, 2009.
July 23, 2009
By Dennis Wagner, USA TODAY
PHOENIX — Some of the nation's top cops on Wednesday called upon Congress to promptly adopt an immigration reform measure, saying local law enforcement agencies across America are struggling to deal with crime and confusion caused by a broken system
July 22, 2009
"125,000 people registered to serve as “virtual Texas deputies” and monitor the border cameras on the website “BlueServo.” Camera watchers found it difficult to determine the difference between animals and undocumented immigrants crossing the border. One vigilante wrote: “Just a word of warning: A moment ago I saw a spider crawl across the top of the camera…You might want to try and prevent any webs from being spun across the lens area by treating with repellent or taking other measures.”" Andrea Nill, July 17, 2009.
"This fact sheet provides basic analysis on the benefits of inclusion and the actual impact of immigrant participation on the current health care system." IPC, July 22, 2009.
Published: July 21, 2009
Armed federal immigration agents have illegally pushed and shoved their way into homes in New York and New Jersey in hundreds of predawn raids that violated their own agency rules as well as the Constitution, according to a study to be released on Wednesday by the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
The study by the school’s Immigration Justice Law Clinic, backed by several law enforcement experts including Nassau County’s police commissioner, found a widespread pattern of misconduct by agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement after analyzing 700 arrest reports obtained from the agency through Freedom of Information lawsuits.
The raids were supposed to focus on dangerous criminals, but overwhelmingly netted Latinos with civil immigration violations who happened to be present, the study said. Raiders mistakenly held legal residents and citizens by force in their own homes while agents rummaged through drawers seeking incriminating documents, the report said.
Acting without judicial search warrants, the agents were required to obtain informed consent from a resident before they entered a private residence. But the study found that in 86 percent of the Nassau and Suffolk County arrest reports that it analyzed, and a quarter of the New Jersey cases, no consent was recorded.
“If any local law enforcement agency in the nation were involved in these types of widespread constitutional violations it would prompt a federal investigation,” said Lawrence W. Mulvey, the Nassau police commissioner, who led a panel that guided the Cardozo report. “Federal immigration agents simply need to play by the same rules as every other law enforcement officer.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement responded with a brief e-mail statement defending the conduct of its agents and the home raids — the same kind of response it has made to similar criticism since the Bush administration vastly expanded their use in 2006.
In 2007, Mr. Mulvey sharply criticized raids that brought scores of agents from around the country to Long Island, some brandishing shotguns, and rousted many citizens and legal residents from their beds in what Nassau officials called a poorly planned antigang operation.
The report said a similar “cowboy mentality” emerged in many other raids. In Paterson, N.J., last year, legal residents from Guatemala and their 9-year-old son, a United States citizen, were threatened with guns by immigration agents who had entered their home while the boy’s mother was in the shower.
In a Staten Island case, an immigration judge recently ruled that the conduct of agents acting without a warrant was an “egregious violation” of fundamental fairness; they had entered a man’s bedroom armed with pistols, “forced him into the hall and required him to stand in his underwear before his brother, sister-in-law and their children.”
In an e-mail message obtained under a Freedom of Information request, a federal immigration agent in Connecticut invited a state trooper to join a scheduled set of raids in New Haven, writing: “We have 18 addresses — so it should be a fun time! Let me know if you guys can play!”
The report also found a strong suggestion of racial profiling in the difference between the ethnicity of the named targets — 66 percent Latino — and of the “collateral” arrests — 87 percent Latino in New Jersey and 94 percent on Long Island.
Such concerns have surfaced repeatedly around the country in news articles and lawsuits since 2006, when the Bush administration raised the arrest quota of each raiding team eightfold, to 1,000 a year.
Six months into the Obama administration, with the same spokesmen in place from the Bush years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement responded to the Cardozo report with a general defense of its agents.
"The men and women of I.C.E. are sworn to uphold the laws of our nation,” the agency said in an e-mailed statement. “We do so professionally, humanely and with an acute awareness with the impact enforcement has on the individuals we encounter. While I.C.E. prioritizes our efforts by targeting fugitives who have demonstrated a threat to national security or public safety, we have a clear mandate to pursue all immigration fugitives."
The Cardozo report said that Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, had changed some policies that contributed to the abuses it found, like eliminating the arrest quota. But the report recommended more drastic steps.
Home raids should be “a tactic of last resort, reserved for high-priority targets,” and then only after agents have obtained judicial warrants, the report urged. A high-level supervisor should be on site, and home raids should be videotaped, it recommended.
Agents should have to note why they initially seized and questioned any person, the study said. “That’s the bread and butter of any arrest report,” said Peter L. Markowitz, who teaches at Cardozo and is one of the report’s authors. Such a note was missing from two-thirds of the arrest reports analyzed in the study.