Category: Deportation Defense

U.S. Army Veteran to be Deported

Miguel Perez is not a U.S. Citizen.

His two children are.

Despite this, he is scheduled to be deported due to a conviction for selling drugs.

Perez served in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.

He enlisted for not one, but two, tours.  According to his family, Perez “was blown out of his Jeep in Kandahar” and suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of the blast.

He suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  He started self-medicating with alcohol and he then turned to drugs.  That led to the selling of drugs.

Sadly, he had the opportunity to become a U.S. citizen after serving in the Army, but he didn’t understand how the process worked.  He thought that simply serving in the military resulted in him automatically becoming a U.S. citizen.

America has done a poor job of taking care of the women and men who fought in George Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan/. Problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs are legendary.

We provide little funding for treating the psychological injuries of war.

But when a man or a woman volunteers to pickup a gun and defend this country, we should be there for that soldier when they return.  If they make a mistake and commit a crime, go ahead and punish them.

But in this huge political push to see who can out-tough other politicians when it comes to immigrants, real people get caught up in the system.

We abandoned this man to the streets after he fought for us. This is deplorable what the government is now trying to do.

We believe that if you serve our nation honorably and come back to the United States that you should not be deported. A black letter rule that would prohibit us from deporting women and men who put on our country’s uniform.

Miguel Perez is running out of options. He has already been ordered de-or Ted by the immigration judge.  He is seeking relief in the Board of Immigration Appeals and has asked for members of Congress to assist him.

Will we leave this blood brother behind?  After what we a

Big Win at Immigration for Happily Married Couple

When a US citizen marries a foreign national, they can sponsor their spouse for a green card.

If the couple has been married less than two years when the green card is approved, then the foreign national only receives a two-year, temporary green card.

Before the 2-year green card expires, the couple must submit a form called an I-751 form to the immigration service. They have to demonstrate that they are still married and the marriage is real.

If the couple fails to submit this form, the foreign national can lose their status and even end up in deportation proceedings.

Early last year, our law firm was hired to represent a U.S. citizen and his wife. They are both originally from Kosovo.

They have three children and they have lived together every day since they were married.

This couple did file the I 751 on time, but they failed to respond to a request for additional evidence from USCIS. As a result, USCIS denied their I-751 petition.

This couple happens to be members of the Islamic faith. They dress in traditional Muslim garb. S it is not entirely surprising that USCIS sent the woman to deportation court.

This is a bit upsetting, however, given the fact that we have had many clients who come to see us after having not filed there I 751 on time, but without ever being placed in removal. We had a Canadian client who filed it nine years late and he was not placed into removal.

To the best of our recollection, this is the only couple that we have ever had actually sent to deportation for this failure to follow the rules.

After the deportation proceedings began, the couple hired us to try and help.

We filed a new i-751 and submitted a lot of evidence that the couple is still married. The best evidence, of course, is the fact that they have 3 U.S. citizen children between them.

The immigration judge put the deportation case on hold while USCIS decided what to do with the new submission from our office. Last week, we went to a 10 minute interview at the St.Louis field office of USCIS and the case was approved on the spot by one of the supervisors.

We will now be able to take that approval notice and get the deportation case stopped.

We are very happy for a client, especially the wife who has been afraid to go visit her mother back home because of the pending deportation case. Now, she will be able to go visit her family. Our client is also eligible to apply for citizenship now.

Immigrant Justice – Arbitrary and Capricious

Arbitrary (adj.) – subject to individual will or judgment without restriction; contingent solely upon one’s discretion.

Capricious (adj.) – subject to, led by, or indicative of a sudden, odd notion or unpredictable change; erratic.

When I attended law school, the professors taught us that justice was supposed to be distributed evenly.  We learned how precedent – prior decisions – was to dictate how judges decide matters in real time.

They also taught us that the law was NOT supposed to be arbitrary or capricious.  The law should not turn on the tendencies of a particular judge, but rather applied uniformly across the country.

The law should not be left to the “individual will” of a judge.  The law should not be “unpredictable” or “erratic.”

I think of these old law school lessons whenever I see statistics regarding the granting or denial of asylum relief in our nation’s immigration courts.

Asylum cases involve a claim by a foreign national that if he or she return to their home country that they will be persecuted for something about them that they can’t or should not have to change – their religion, their nationality, their race, their political opinion or their membership in a particular social group.

One would hope that if we took the same asylum case and presented it to an immigration judge in Cleveland and in Phoenix and in Seattle, the same result would be reached.

But the statistics from our nation’s 58 deportation courts show that this is definitely not the case.

Generally, the approval rate for asylum court cases is about 48 percent.  But after the recent surge of asylum cases stemming from the violence in Central America, the numbers in our nation’s immigration courts are all over the map.

According to a recent piece in The Washington Post, the approval rate for asylum at the New York immigration court is 84 percent.  The approval rate in Chicago is 45 percent.  But in Houston, only 9 percent of asylum seekers obtain relief.  The number in Atlanta is even worse – amazingly, the immigration judges in Atlanta only approve 2 percent of the cases that appear before them.  Two percent!

This is no way to run an immigration system.  Asylum is one of the most important forms of immigration relief that there is.  These judges are literally making life and death choices.  Due to the overworked and overloaded immigration court system, the judges have very little time to review these cases.

How in the world can immigration judges in New York approve 84 percent of the cases, but judges in Atlanta only 2?

The Executive Office for Immigration Review and the Board of Immigration Appeals must make uniformity in the rule of law a guiding principal and reign in these judges with ridiculously low approval rates.

Too much is at stake.

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Immigration Judges Are Overworked, Stressed Out

The United States currently has 277 immigration judges across the nation. This represents the highest number of judges in our nation’s history.

Despite this, immigrants facing deportation face delays of years and years before having their day in court.  Several months ago, the number of pending deportation cases reached their highest number ever – in excess of 500,000 pending cases.

Our office routinely receives individual hearing dates (basically, the trial associated with whether the immigrant stays in the U.S. or is forced to return home) that are set two or three years into the future.

The immigration judges have a union and that union has repeatedly asked Congress for increased funding for more law clerks and resources to help with the backlog.  Most of these requests have not been granted.

The failure of Congress to provide more financial support for our nation’s immigration judges has resulted in judges having to make literal life-or-death decisions in a matter of minutes, simply to keep the deportation machine moving.  A recent New York Times article makes clear that:

the conditions that immigration judges work under — fast paced, high pressure and culturally charged — make some misjudgments all but inevitable.

Immigration judges are experiencing high levels of burnout.  Turnover is the result which only slows cases down even more.

The head of the immigration judges’ union recently spoke about the difficulties in having to make such important decisions with limited information which usually rests on the credibility of the people testifying in front of them.  The judges try to combat their own internal prejudices, but often find that a difficult thing to do in such a fast-paced environment.

More than 40 percent of immigrants come to court without a lawyer, but even when lawyers are involved, experts say that immigrants who are educated, articulate and white have an easier time gaining the court’s sympathy.  That is not fair.

Our system of justice should work better than this.

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New Border Chief to Address Internal Corruption, High Number of Fatal Shootings

There is a new sheriff in town.

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Actually, we are referring to a new chief of the U.S. Border Patrol agency.  Mark Morgan, a former FBI supervisor, recently became the head of the agency charged with securing our nation’s borders.

Morgan is the first “outsider” to ever take the helm of Border Patrol and people are beginning to take notice.

Border Patrol has faced a series of setbacks and public relations black eyes in recent years.  Claims of an overly confrontational approach that has resulted in multiple fatal shootings, a long history of internal corruption and a lack of accountability in investigating misconduct have persisted.

Morgan spoke of the perceived environment at Border Patrol – “it was a culture of not getting out and talking about issues, not being transparent about the process that drove the perception there was a culture problem.”  Morgan toured half of the 20 Border Patrol outposts that cover the 6,000 miles of our Canadian and Mexican borders and spoke with front line agents at each of those locations.

He has also implemented new “use-of-force” policies to train new recruits in de-escalating mechanisms to try and cut down on the number of fatalities along the border.  An improved review system for officer involved shootings is also being implemented.

“The piece we need to get better at when a shooting happens is, what happens now?  I don’t think we were very good at all about making decisions like whether the use of force was within our guidelines.”

Morgan is a civil servant as opposed to a political appointee so it is expected that he will stay in the role no matter the outcome of the November presidential election.  During a recent Congressional hearing, Morgan was asked what he thought of Mr. Trump’s grand plan for a border wall.  He noted that the federal government already spends a tremendous amount of money on the existing border security fences and that a wall “isn’t the answer.”

 

20-Year-Old Immigration Law Signed By President Clinton Continues to Harm Immigrants

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In 1996, Democratic President Bill Clinton signed the harshest immigration bill that this nation had seen in decades.  The effects of this bill linger and hang over any efforts for “immigration reform.”

Interestingly, Clinton’s Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act has not been discussed much this election cycle, despite the fact that IIRIRA established the deportation machine that has been humming along for two decades now.

Regular readers of this website know that we have been super-critical of Republican hard-liner Donald Trump and his harsh anti-immigrant, xenophobic presidential campaign.  But this does not mean that Democrats get a pass here.

The truth is that the “centrist” Bill Clinton signed the most draconian immigration bill of our lifetime.  President Barack Obama has deported more people than any President in the nation’s history.  Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton promises immigration reform, but what exactly would that reform look like?

Lost in all of this is IIRIRA.  According to a recent article on Vox:

The ’96 law essentially invented immigration enforcement as we know it today — where deportation is a constant and plausible threat to millions of immigrants.  It was a bundle of provisions with a single goal: to increase penalties on immigrants who had violated US law in some way (whether they were unauthorized immigrants who’d violated immigration law or legal immigrants who’d committed other crimes).

IIRIRA greatly expanded the types of crimes that could result in the deportation of a foreign national.  This included lawful permanent residents.  And the Clinton bill made those changes retroactive, thereby boosting the number of possible (probable) deportations.

The law also made many immigrants subject to mandatory detention while their immigration cases were being decided.  This pre-trial hammer was used to make frustrated, imprisoned immigrants give up their effort to stop deportation and simply go home.  An underfunded deportation judicial system only meant that these immigrants had to wait longer and longer while in lockup for their day in court.

Immigrants convicted of certain crimes or those caught within 100 miles of the border were given summary deportation orders without ever having the chance to see an immigration judge.

Finally, the 1996 law made it almost impossible for undocumented immigrants to receive cancellation of removal.  This is a form of relief for longtime undocumented immigrants who had not committed crimes to stay in the country.  IIRIRA made it almost impossible to obtain such relief.

Proponents of immigration reform and immigration advocates are understandably appalled by the harsh rhetoric coming from the Republican party on this issue.  But it cannot and should not be lost on any one who follows this issue that the Democrats have a lot of blame for our current situation as well.

 

Judge OKs class action for children in deportation hearings

A glimmer of hope for immigrant children has emerged in a relatively dark and messy period for American immigration and deportation policies. This June, U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly of Seattle has approved a class action lawsuit to determine whether impoverished children are entitled to lawyers during deportation hearings.

Brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and immigration advocates, the case challenges the government’s failure to provide lawyers to children during deportation hearings.

A class action suit, or a representative action as some refer to it as, is a type of lawsuit in which one of the parties is a group of people who are represented collectively by a specific member of that group. In this case, the group of people represented is thousands of children throughout the West.

For years, the United States of America has encountered many cases in which minors are potentially eligible for asylum or citizenship but can’t afford legal representation. Under current policies, the country has run on a system that Matt Adams says “pits unrepresented children against trained federal prosecutors.” Matt Adams, the legal director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, is highly involved in the lawsuit and has stated that under the ruling, the merits of the practice will be argued in a single case, and the government will have to defend an unjust system.

This lawsuit is coming late in the game, but it is needed now more than ever for the immigrant community. Since 2013, more than 7,000 immigrant children have been deported without appearing in court. What was originally a border crisis for the United States has now become a due process crisis. Wendy Young’s advocacy group Kids in Need of Defense, as well as many other advocacy groups, have been pushing for a system more supportive of minors when it comes to court proceedings.

While it is an alarming thought that America’s fundamental due process right has been repeatedly abused with regards to immigrant children, the class action suit is one of the first steps of many in improving immigration policy that has for a long time been due reformation.

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Supreme Court Kills Off Obama’s Deferred Action Program for Parents of U.S. Citizens

The U.S. Supreme Court deadlocked in its review of a lower court’s decision on President Barack Obama’s controversial Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).

DAPA would have temporarily halted the deportations of undocumented immigrants and allowed them to work in the U.S. legally.

The 4-4 tie was expressed yesterday in a single sentence “the judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court.”

Texas and twenty-five other states challenged the DAPA program which would have shielded as many as 5 million undocumented aliens from deportation. Those eligible included the parents of U.S. citizens and green card holders. The states argued that Obama exceeded his jurisdiction in adopting the program.

A federal judge in Texas ruled against Obama and halted the program a week before it was set to begin in 2014. The feds argued that Texas and the other states lacked standing to bring the action and the judge agreed. An appellate court also agreed which meant that when the Supreme Court tied, the lower court ruling stayed binding.

This ruling deals a harsh blow to many mixed-immigration-status families throughout the U.S. It is expected that deportations will increase following this ruling.

The decision also stresses the importance of federal elections. Republicans have refused to allow comprehensive immigration reform to come to the floor of Congress for a vote. President Obama acted only after years of inaction on the part of Congress.

Republicans also refused to allow Obama’s nominee to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Elections have consequences.

In his comments yesterday, the President said, “If you keep on blocking judges from getting on the bench, then courts can’t issue decisions.  And what that means is then you are going to have the status quo frozen, and we are not able to make progress on some very important issues.”

Hopefully, voters will remember these things in November.

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Old School Rapper Slick Rick Beats Deportation, Becomes U.S. Citizen

British rapper Slick Rick became a  U.S. citizen last week after a decades long battle with the immigration service over his possible deportation.

Slick Rick, whose real name is Ricky Walters, became famous for his work with fellow old-school rapper Doug E. Fresh and for his multi-colored eye patches.

INS and then USCIS tried to kick Slick Rick out of the country several times after he pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder in 1991 and spent five years in prison.

“I am so proud of this moment — and so honored to finally become an American citizen,” Rick said Friday in a statement.

In the 1990 incident, Slick Rick fired a gun several times, although he claimed it was self defense. He claimed that a cousin who ended up injured in the gun battle had threatened Slick Rick and his mom on a prior occasion.

With the violent felony conviction, he faced deportation back to Great Briatin. He fought the deportation for many years.

On one occasions, Walters was arrested in Florida while trying to return from a Caribbean concert cruise with singer Erykah Badu.

It was less than a year after 9/11, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service was operating in an era of heightened security.

Def Jam founder Russell Simmons , along with Actors Will Smith and Chris Rock, tried to help and encouraged fans to push for his eventual release.

“This has been a long time coming for me, and I am relieved to finally put this long chapter behind me,” Walters said after he was sworn-in Friday in an official ceremony alongside dozens of other new citizens in New York.

“I want to thank everyone — my family, friends and fans — who have supported me and stuck by me over these 23 years. I am truly blessed, and stay tuned, I will have more to announce soon.”

He later posted a picture to Instagram of an American flag-themed eye patch with the caption, “#SlickRickVictory.”

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Congressman proposes private bill to keep Irishman from being deported

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Congressman Joe Crowley of New York will introduce a private bill in support of Malachy McAllister, an Irishman who is subject to deportation from the U.S. on April 25.

At the same time, the Ancient Order of Hibernians is mobilizing members around the U.S., asking them to contact their Congressional representatives to ask for relief for McAllister.  The Irish native has lived for 20 years in the U.S. after fleeing Northern Ireland with his family after their home was shot at by Loyalist paramilitaries in 1988.

“Time is of the essence. We all need to act now,” Crowley told the Irish Voice on Tuesday.

“Malachy meets all the requirements to avoid deportation. He is absolutely no threat to the United States. He is one of the former hard men who took risks for peace in Northern Ireland, and his case needs to be seen in that context. We do not want to give reason for the dissidents to say their campaign should continue, and deporting Malachy would do that.”

McAllister is a former member of the Irish National Liberation Army.  He spent three years in prison in Belfast in the 1980s.  McAllister and his family fled Northern Ireland in 1988 after their home was attacked with gunfire. They first went to Canada and then to the U.S., where they have been fighting for asylum ever since.

Recently declassified British intelligence documents indicate collusion between the British security forces and Loyalist paramilitaries in the attack on the McAllister home, making him even more worried about deportation.

“I’m just worn down,” McAllister told the Irish Voice on Tuesday morning. “So many years we’ve had to go through this. All I want is closure. Questions have to be asked as to why this is happening now.”

His case for political asylum has been on appeal at the Board of Immigration Appeals.  McAllister has received deferred action from ICE in 12 month increments every year since 2006.  In March of 2015, Immigration & Customs Enforcement reversed their prior course of action and ordered McAllister to report for deportation.  McAllister’s prior arrest in Belfast has been flagged by ICE, though the complete context of the political unrest in Northern Ireland at the time is being ignored, his supporters say.

McAllister, a resident of Rutherford, NJ owns a successful stone mason business which has employed several U.S. citizens.  He also owns an Irish bar and restaurant in Manhattan called Wolfe Tone’s Irish Pub and Kitchen. He has had no arrests since his arrival in the U.S., and he has long disavowed paramilitary activity in the North, staunchly advocating for the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.

“Everybody here knows who I am and what I stand for, all the Irish groups and organizations. I am very grateful for their support,” says McAllister, who is father to a 4-year-old U.S.-born son and grandfather to five U.S. citizen grandchildren.

The special bill that Crowley is proposing is a legislative mechanism whereby Congress can literally pass a piece of legislation designed to solve one person’s immigration issue.  It is a rare form of immigration relief.