Month: December 2016

Female Afghan Pilot Seeks Asylum U.S.

The Afghan Air Force’s first female fixed-wing pilot, Capt. Niloofar Rahmani, filed a petition seeking asylum in the United States this past summer. In 2015, the State Department honored her with its annual Women of Courage award, recognizing the bravery displayed throughout her career in flying despite threats from the Taliban and “even members of her own extended family,” added first lady Michelle Obama.

Despite leaving the Afghan Air Force, Captain Rahmani still wants to be a military pilot, and for this reason she hopes to eventually join the United States Air Force. In interviews, she explained her reasons for the decision. She explained that throughout her childhood and teenage years, she was inspired by America’s goal of emancipating Afghan women, shown through the Bush administration’s pursuit of women’s rights in a country where they were scarce.

Captain Rahmani always dreamed of being a pilot and finally joined the Air Force with the support of her parents. The American government hailed her as an example of a bright spot in the effort to rebuild the Afghan Air Force, which costed the American taxpayers over $3 billion. Things went south for Captain Rahmani when photos of her in combat gear were published in the press and her relatives began receiving death threats. She began to feel unsafe at work because of the male colleagues that held her in contempt.

Furthermore, after she began training programs in the United States, the Afghan Air Force stopped paying her salary. This asylum petitions is one of Captain Rahmani’s only options and she feels nervous with it pending as President-elect Donald Trump takes office. She fears his vows to bar Muslims from entering the United States but has hope because she has always seen the country as a place where women can aspire to accomplish great things.

 

Can a conviction for soliciting a prostitute keep me from getting my citizenship?

Prostitution is considered a “conditional bar” to establishing good moral character. INA § 101(f) and 8 CFR 316.10.

The USCIS website’s help center says, “[a]ny person coming to the United States to engage in prostitution, or any person who has engaged in prostitution within ten years of his or her application for a visa, adjustment of status, or entry into the United States, is inadmissible. This section also applies to those who have made a profit from prostitution.”

However, the Policy Manual, volume 12, chapter 5, part F, says that engaging in prostitution once, doesn’t fall within their definition of engaging in prostitution. Part F states:

“An applicant may not establish GMC if he or she has engaged in prostitution, procured or attempted to procure or to import prostitutes or persons for the purpose of prostitution, or received proceeds from prostitution during the statutory period. The BIA has held that to “engage in” prostitution, one must have engaged in a regular pattern of behavior or conduct. The BIA has also determined that a single act of soliciting prostitution on one’s own behalf is not the same as procurement.”

From that language, it seems that a client won’t be barred per se for participating once in prostitution. However, an applicant still needs to demonstrate five years of good moral standing to qualify for naturalization, as found in chapter 9 of the Policy Manual. So hopefully a client’s act of prostitution, when taken into account with their other acts, is not enough for them to fail their good moral standing test.

Former USCIS officer sentenced to federal prison for bribery

With great power comes great responsibility, and it is difficult to deny that officers of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have a great deal of power. It is these officers that have the authority to approve applications and ultimately grant citizenship. For these reasons, USCIS officers are responsible for preserving the impartiality and just nature of the government. One former officer out of the Los Angeles USCIS location, repeatedly fell short of the ethical standard set for the job and it was recently brought to light. Daniel Espejo Amos was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison for taking tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from aspiring immigrants.

Mr. Amos pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of accepting cash bribes after it was discovered in an investigation by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Through this investigation, it became apparent that he had accepted more than $53,000 in bribes from immigration consultants on behalf of foreign nationals who typically would not be eligible for United States citizenship. It is estimated that Amos helped at least 60 aliens obtain citizenship in exchange for a bribe. The ways in which he assisted them was by falsely certifying the immigrants had met requirements, including the English competency test, the civics test, and the naturalization interview.

Daniel Amos not only sought after personal wealth gain at the expense of the American people, but also “undermined our naturalization system and damaged the public’s faith in the government,” as United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker puts it. He had an oath to uphold that he violated on multiple occasions, warranting the sentence imposed by the court.

It is a shame that there are government officials whose actions threaten the integrity of of our nation’s legal immigration system, but this is why investigative arms exist in the Department of Homeland Security. Immigration is a process that many good people take the time to go through legally so it would be unjust to allow such bribes to continue.

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