Month: September 2015

USCIS Immigration Officer Allegedly Sought Sex from Immigrant

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Laura Maldonado, an undocumented immigrant from Ecuador, brought her 10-year-old son to an immigration office in Tampa, FL in 2006.  Their legal status was unclear ever since her American husband of 15 months died in 2002.   

At the Tampa USCIS office, Maldonado met an immigration officer, Jeffrey Bohn, who federal officers claim ended up visiting her for sex.  

Bohn is on trial in U.S. District Court for being accused of lying about his relationship with Maldonado.  Mr. Bohn’s alleged lying took place while he was applying to keep his national security clearance active.  

In a translation of Maldonado’s courtroom testimony she said, “He told me he had seen me and he had fallen in love at first sight.  He was in love with me and wanted to marry me. He started kissing me …”

Sara Sweeney, a federal prosecutor, said that U.S. Customs Citizenship and Immigration Services is staunchly against its employees having close contact with foreign nationals because of the possibility that biases would arise.  

16 years ago, Maldonado illegally crossed the U.S. border with Mexico.  According to marriage records from Hillsborough, FL, she married her late husband in April 2001.  

On September 11, 2006, Bohn interviewed Maldonado. He stamped her son’s passport for another year and learned that she had illegally crossed the border.  

Following the interview, Bohn called her cell phone.  They met at a fast food restaurant and he soon came to her home.  

Maldonado went on to say, “I never asked him to stop because I was afraid that he would take reprisals and he had my paperwork. I was afraid for myself and my son.”

Dionja Dyer, Bohn’s federal defender, claims that Maldonado created the allegations as a way to stay in the United States.  

The prosecutor claims that there is DNA evidence linking the two.

When selecting the jury, jurors were asked how they felt about extramarital sex because Bohn was married at the time.  The jury is made up of nine women and five men.  

Creative lawyering nets 2 immigrant visas in 22 year old case

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We recently succeeded in getting two immigrant visas for a daughter and son on a case that has been pending for 22 years!
Our client decided to file a Form I-130 application on behalf of her then 5 year old daughter. Our client had obtained her lawful permanent residence status in the U.S. but had been forced to leave her daughter behind. All these years, she wanted to be reunited with her daughter.
Unfortunately, our client started out by filing the case by herself. Then, when there was no progress, she hired an online “attorney” office that prepares forms for people but are not really attorneys. That was her second bad move. They not only took her money but also never filed anything on her behalf.
By the time she met with our office, so much time had passed that normally, her recommendation would have been to start over.
However, there was one interesting wrinkle to the case. The I-130 that the client filed on her own had more or less been forgotten by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services. There had never been a final approval or denial on the application. We were able to use the fact that the case had never been approved to the client’s benefit.
Under the law, lawful permanent residents can only apply for unmarried sons and daughters. This was true when our client submitted her application when her daughter was 5. However, over the long years of waiting, our client’s daughter had married. Normally, this would have been the end of the case.
However, our client had also become a U.S. citizen before her daughter’s marriage. Making several careful legal arguments, we not only secured an approval on an I-130 visa application that had been pending since the 90’s but is happy to report that our client’s daughter and her son-in-law have been issued visas to finally join her in the U.S.

University Head found guilty of immigration fraud

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The CEO of Herguan University in Sunnyvale, CA, Jerry Wang, is facing a one year prison sentence after being found guilty of submitting false immigration documents to the Department of Homeland Security.  Mr. Wang was indicted for illegally bringing students to Herguan without valid visas.

The San Jose Mercury News ran an investigation that discovered Herguan University had lied on federal applications to help foreign students that were in search of a U.S. student visa.  

U.S. Attorney Brian Stretch said about the crimes, “Jerry Yang has admitted submitting over 100 fraudulent documents to the government in an effort to circumvent the rules applying to international students.  In doing so, he has imperiled the programs that allow international students to visit the United States in order to engage in valuable educational exchanges.”

Last year, a federal jury found Susan Su, founder of the former Tri-Valley University in Pleasanton, CA, guilty of similar crimes.  Su was found to have committed visa fraud, money laundering, and many other documents.  The school was found to be more of a place for harboring foreign nationals that were willing to pay for falsified documents, than a university.  

Ryan Spradlin, a San Francisco special agent with the DOJ said, “International students represent an invaluable asset to our nation.”  He went on to say, “[The U.S. Justice Department] will aggressively target those who commit student visa fraud out of greed and self-interest.  Their actions undermine the integrity of this country’s immigration laws.”

According to Herguan’s website, the school is open and still offering its usual weekend classes and master’s programs.  

 

Losing a Parent to Deportation Has Devastating Effects on US Citizen Children

Topping the list of issues for U.S. presidential candidate, Donald Trump, is America’s roughly 11.3 million undocumented immigrants.  Trump has vowed to deport all of them.  New research shows the scary effects of immigrant children losing their parents to deportation.  

The Obama administration deported about 3.7 million people between 2009 and 2013.  According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are several hundred thousand children that have either one or no parents in America, as a direct result of deportation.  In addition, there are currently there are about 5.3 million children living with undocumented parents.  Deportation has slowed because of a shift of emphasis toward deporting those that have actually committed crimes in the United States.   

Recent reports were released which detail how children have been affected by deportations.  The reports were paid for by the Urban Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and by the Migration Policy Institute.  

The first report, shows that the effects of losing a parent to deportation is strikingly similar to the effects of losing a parent to prison.  These effects include: homelessness, poor performance in school, along with many devastating psychological problems.  Another report revealed that family income dropped significantly following deportation and roughly twenty-five percent of the families reported going hungry.  

The authors of the second report said, “Study participants reported that children refused to eat, pulled out their hair, or had persistent stomachaches or headaches.  Others turned to more self-destructive outlets such as cutting themselves or abusing substances.”

In regards to effects on academic performance, a grandmother had this to say about her grandson, “He was hardworking, he was doing well in school.  But after all that, he would not go to school, he wouldn’t work, he just sleeps during the day and is out at night. He’s on a bad path now, he’s always going to court.”

Depression also has grave effects on spouses of people that are deported.  Many times, these spouses were not primary providers for their family and now face trouble doing so.  Immigrant parents are afraid of applying for social welfare benefits even when their children are U.S. citizens.  

Many child welfare agencies aren’t equipped to work with custody issues that arise from deportation.  

CBP Busts Alleged 19 Year Old Nanny, Sends Her Back Home

Aimee Schneider, 19, was not allowed to enter the United States last month, on a trip to visit her family.  She was denied entry for babysitting her cousin’s children, which is in violation of her tourist visa.  

A U.S. customs officer told her, “I could believe you if you were traveling to New York.  But who vacations in Cleveland?”

Schneider’s plan was to spend four months with her cousin’s family in Vermilion, Ohio, work on her English, and tour Cleveland.  In an interview, Schneider went on to say, “I felt like I was a terrorist.  I wasn’t allowed to talk to anybody. I couldn’t call my parents.”  Her story has been circulating through media outlets throughout Germany.  

According to an interview with Schneider in Cleveland’s newspaper, The Plain Dealer, this is what happened:

  • Schneider flew from Frankfurt to Philadelphia, to catch a connecting flight to Cleveland. Before flying to Cleveland, Schneider had to go through customs first.
  • She went on to say, “They asked me a lot of questions: ‘Where do you come from? Where are you going? Why are you staying so long?'”
  • She told the next round of officials, “I’m here for vacation, I’m visiting my family” – to which they replied, “I don’t believe you.”
  • She told the officers that she used Facebook to converse with her cousin.  The customs officials took her phone and looked through her Facebook conversations.  They discovered that Schneider would occasionally babysit for her cousin, Aimee Holmes, and Holmes’ co-workers.  
  • The customs officer asked if she was an au pair, to which she replied saying that she doesn’t receive money in return.  
  • She was photographed and fingerprinted.  An official ultimately told her, “You’re trying to work illegally in the United States. You can’t do that with your visa. If you don’t go back to Germany in half an hour, you will be put in jail.”

According to Stephen Sapp, who works with U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Philadelphia, Schneider was denied entry to the United States because she did not have the correct type of visa.  

Sapp said, “Work doesn’t mean you have a 9-to-5 job five days a week.  If you’re being paid for a service you’re going to provide in the United States, it’s considered work.”

He has claimed that searching luggage and confiscating a cell phone, for the purpose of looking at their social media, are legal means of determining if someone is entering the U.S. legally.  Holmes said on the matter, “She mentioned helping out with the kids, to give her something to do.”  The U.S. State Department says on its website, “Visitors are not permitted to accept employment or work in the United States.”

“I know how beautiful the country is and how beautiful the people are. I would love to come back to America again. The thing is, I’m really scared to try it again, which is really sad,” said Schneider.  

100 Women March 100 Miles in Support of Immigration Reform

100 immigrant women, faith leaders, domestic workers, and immigrants’ rights activists embarked on a 100-mile pilgrimage on foot from Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C.  They hope to get the message across to Pope Francis, that immigration should be at the forefront of his address to Congress.  

Juana Flores, one of the marchers, explained that they are starting their pilgrimage at a detention center in order to spread, “stories from a site of human suffering to the Pope with a message of human dignity.”

Following the marchers arrival on September 22, they will participate in a vigil and candlelight procession at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.  

100 miles

They will join millions of pilgrims, in Washington D.C, eager to hear the Pope speak in front of Congress.  He is expected to continue his legacy as the “Migrant Pope” and share a message of love for migrants around the world.  It is hoped, that his address, will spark a greater debate on immigration and lead to the greater protection of immigrants by U.S. policy.  

“Our world is far from what we are called to create, but we hope that each step on our pilgrimage is another step closer to it. Though global migration is a hallmark of our times, it is still marked by fearful reception, capsized boats and harrowing desert crossings. But Pope Francis places today’s migrants in the legacy of the holy family during their escape from Herod into Egypt and he tells us not to lose hope.  Far from losing hope, we are filled with it. With each step, with each mile, with each of our stories, we will arrive in the nation’s capital the night before the Pope’s meeting with President Obama and we will be there eager to hear his message.”

Mexican national dies in ICE custody

Juan Garcia-Hernandez, a 39-year-old Mexican national, died while in immigration custody at Florence Hospital in Arizona.  

Garcia-Hernandez had been in custody since August 27, following the expiration of his stay of removal, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  Hospital workers attempted to revive him but were unsuccessful.  

The Board of Immigration Appeals gave him a voluntary departure on in March 2014, which required him to leave the U.S. within two months.  Garcia-Hernandez did not leave, prompting ICE to grant him a one-year stay of removal in June 2014.  

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At the time of his death, Garcia-Hernandez was awaiting repatriation to Mexico.  The Mexican Consulate has been notified of his death.  

He is the seventh person in ICE custody to die in 2015.  

Jose Deniz-Sahagun, another Mexican National, had attempted to illegally cross the border with the United States on May 15.  Deniz-Sahagun had tried to enter through Douglas, Arizona but had been caught by Border Patrol.  

While awaiting a hearing before an immigration judge, regarding the possibility of his deportation, Deniz-Sahagun committed suicide.  

According to the Arizona Republic, five suicides have been committed at the Eloy facility.  ICE has claimed there to be 14 deaths at the Eloy center, since 2003.  Two suicides took place in 2013 and another person died of asphyxia at the Pinal County jail in 2008.  

 

Doctor’s office calls cops on alleged undocumented immigrant

Blanca Borrego, an undocumented immigrant, was arrested before her gynecology appointment at Northwest Women’s Healthcare clinic in Houston, Texas.  

Borrego was told by clinic staff that her paperwork needed to be updated.  When Borrego was asked for an ID, she presented a fake driver’s license.  After heading to the examination room, she was arrested by Harris County Sheriff’s deputies.

One of the deputies told Borrego’s daughter, “We’re going to take her downtown, she presented a form of false identification.  She’s going to get deported.” The deputy went on to say that the bond would be roughly $20,000.  

Borrego was charged with one felony count of tampering with a government record.  This is said to be because of a fake Social Security card that was found in Borrego’s purse.

There are exemptions to federal patient privacy laws, HIPAA, but Borrego’s attorney, Clarissa Guajardo, claims that suspecting a fake ID isn’t one of them.  

Guajardo told the Houston Press, “They took her into that examination room solely for the purpose of being arrested.  I just have a very hard time with that. I think it’s a violation of HIPAA laws.”

Borrego’s daughter and son were granted temporary legal status from Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.  If Borrego is convicted of a felony then she faces a greater chance of being deported back to Mexico.  

“It’s a basic human right to be able to get medical care.  It wasn’t like she was getting public assistance, even. She had an established doctor-patient relationship with that gynecologist. This shouldn’t have happened like this,” said Guajardo about the case.  

Detention

 

Significant changes to the Visa Bulletin

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The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and the Department of State (DOS) are changing  the procedures for determining visa availability for applicants waiting to file for employment-based or family-sponsored preference adjustment of status. This revised process is supposed to approve the agencies’ ability to more accurately predict overall immigrant visa demand and determine the cut-off dates for visa issuance published in the Visa Bulletin.

The Visa Bulletin revisions implement November 2014 executive actions on immigration announced by President Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Johnson, as detailed in the White House report, Modernizing and Streamlining Our Legal Immigration System for the 21st century, issued in July 2015.

The Visa Bulletin has changed.  Now, two charts per visa preference category will be posted in the DOS Visa Bulletin:

  • Application Final Action Dates (dates when visas may finally be issued); and
  • Dates for Filing Applications (earliest dates when applicants may be able to apply).

 

Each month, in coordination with DOS, USCIS will monitor visa numbers and post the relevant DOS Visa Bulletin chart. Applicants can use the charts to determine when to file their Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

 

To determine whether additional visas are available, USCIS will compare the number of visas available for the remainder of the fiscal year with:

  • The known qualified visa applicants reported by DOS;
  • Pending adjustment of status applications reported by USCIS; and
  • Historical drop off rate (for example, denials, withdrawals, abandonments).

These changes will have significant impacts on people who have been stuck in immigration limbo due to unavailability of visas.  By allowing people to submit adjustment of status applications earlier, they will be allowed to obtain work authorization and travel documents.  Moreover, this approach may allow less children of visa applicants to “age out.”  The changes have just been announced and we are working our way through the changes.  But this is a very exciting development in the way that the United States distributes visas to foreign nationals.

Sad story shows why filing with immigration without an attorney is a bad idea

Here’s a great example of why people should hire an immigration attorney and not file for benefits on their own.  John Oliver, 89-year-old World War II Royal Air Force veteran, is facing trouble when it comes to living the end of his life with his son in New Jersey.  

After filing for a green card, Oliver was blocked by immigration officials because he overstayed a 90-day visa issued in 2011.  He had overstayed his visa because his wife was dying and they were recommended to stay in New Jersey with their son.

His son Robert Oliver is quoted as saying, “Our biggest mistake was being honest.  Lawyers told us we should have just kept him here illegally.”

In 2012, Oliver’s wife, Betty, died while in hospice care.  Following Betty’s death, Robert Oliver and Mary Bradley, his fiance, worked on attaining green card status for  his father.  The proper forms were filed with the State Department and the immigration wing of Homeland Security.  

Following the denial of their applications, Robert Oliver wrote a message to the President through the white house website.

The response was generic, “Thank you for writing. America’s immigration system is badly broken, and I know many people are hurting because of it.”

Robert Oliver and his father flew to London to talk to the U.S. Embassy in London.  

“At that point the rubber stamp went down and said he was barred from the U.S. for 10 years because he overstayed his visa – something that we had reported time and time again that he was still in the country.  He never once tried to hide the fact that he overstayed his visa,” said Bradley.  Oliver never should have left the U.S. as he should have been allowed to adjust.