Month: October 2017

ICE Agents Failing to Substantiate Claims of Public Safety Threats from Undocumented Immigrants

Last February began the first mass raids of the Trump administration against undocumented immigrants.  ICE instructed field offices to highlight the worst cases for the media in an effort to portray that the detained undocumented people were hardened criminals.

An ICE executive sent an “urgent” directive to ICE chiefs of staff across the country on February 10 asking for coverage of “the three most egregious cases” that each location had come across.  The email also said, “If a location has only one egregious case…include an extra egregious case from another city.”

An ICE agent in San Antonio sent an internal email the next day saying that his team was unable to complete the task.

A cache of heavily redacted emails were obtained by students at Vanderbilt University Law School through the Freedom of Information Act.  The emails depict ICE agents in Austin attempting to substantiate the administration’s claims that the raids were motivated by concerns for public safety.  But, the attempts were largely unsuccessful making it clear that the Trump administration’s narrative was false.

The raids, beginning on February 6, consisted of a nationwide sweep of undocumented immigrants.  Immigrant communities were plagued with fear as the raids led to 680 arrests nationwide.  A similar sweep, termed “Operation Safe City,” took place recently with more than 450 arrests.

ICE originally claimed that persons believed to be threats to public safety, including gang members and those with criminal convictions, were being targeted.  It quickly became evident that many of those arrested had minor violations on their record at most.  Further, dozens of those arrested had no criminal record at all.

In Austin, Texas, 51 people were arrested during the February raids, and more than half had no criminal convictions.  ICE’s aggressive tactics in Austin became a focal point for the media.  Residents reported that agents set up checkpoints on the streets, detained a teenager, and mistakenly apprehended a legal resident.

For more information, click here.

Can My Spouse Adjust if I am an LPR

If I am a green card holder, can my spouse stay in the United States if I file for adjustment of status for them?

Hi. I’m Jim Hacking, Immigration Lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. Every now and then, we come across a case where there’s a lawful permitted resident, let’s call him Juan, living in the United States.

Let’s say also that his spouse, Maria, happens to be in the United States, let’s say, on the student visa, so she is not a lawful permitted resident. She is just the spouse of a lawful permitted resident, and the question is, what type of status does Maria have to maintain in order to be able to stay in the United States.

Here’s the general rule. If you want to adjust your status, you need to be in valid immigration status at the time of your adjustment. In a situation like this, Maria would need to maintain her student status throughout the time the green card case is pending. The reason for this is that there’s a backlog on the processing of green card cases for the spouses of green card holders.

I know that sounds a little bit confusing but, basically, there are a limit on the number of green cards that are available in all kinds of green card categories, and that includes green cards for the spouses of green card holders. That is lawful permanent residences, husbands or wives.

That is the kind of thing that can screw people up because they assume that, once they file for the green card based on their marriage to a green card holder, that that allows them to stay in the United States. Some of this confusion comes from the fact that the spouse of a U.S. citizen who is out of status is allowed to adjust status.

The rules are different when you’re married to a U.S. citizen so, if Juan were already a U.S. citizen, then if Maria were out of status at the time that they applied for adjustment or at the time of her interview, that would be forgiven, the fact that she was out of status, but that rule only applies to U.S. citizens. That rule does not apply to spouses of lawful permanent residents.

That’s really where the confusion comes in. If you are married to a green card holder and if you want to adjust your status, you need to make sure that you find some valid status to be in and that you maintain that status both at the time that you file and at the time of your actual adjustment. In a lot of situations, that can be up to a year and a half or two years or even longer, depending on how many people are in line ahead of you.

This can be a really confusing issue. We’ve seen people screw it up. We’ve seen the immigration service screw it up so, if you have questions about how this works or about how we could help you with that, how you can go about maintaining your status, be sure to give us a call at 314-961-8200, or you can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com.

We hope you liked this video. If you did, please be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel or our Facebook group, Immigrant Home. You can also share this on social media. We really appreciate it. It helps spread the word, and make sure to subscribe so that you get updates and alerts when we file new videos to the web.

Thanks a lot, and have a great day.

Green Card Holders Barred From Enlisting in Army Reserve

A public affairs officer explained recently that “for the time being” green card holders are unable to enlist in the Army Reserve, but are not barred from enlisting in the army overall.  The officer claimed the change is because of a new Department of Defense policy that requires stricter vetting standards for green card holders and that background checks must be completed prior to green card holders shipping off for basic training.

The public officer made this statement in clarification of an email sent to Army recruiters from the chief of the Accessions Suitability Office Guard Strength Division that said, “EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY DO NOT ‘SHIP’ OR ‘ENLIST’ ANY FOREIGN NATIONAL’S (ALL 1-551 CARD HOLDERS) UNTIL FURHTER NOTICE.”

Army recruiters have been told to stop enlisting green card holders into the Army Reserve effective immediately, according to an email sent to military recruiters and obtained by Mic, a move that experts say breaks federal law.

The Defense Department’s chief of accession declared in a news release, “Effective immediately, all green holders must complete a background investigation and receive a favorable military suitability determination prior to entering any component of the armed forces.”  Prior to this policy change, green card holders were able to enlist and go to basic training as long as a background check had been started.

Due to a backlog of background checks, the new policy is expected to delay enlisted green card holders from shipping out to basic training for at least a year.

Green card holders are unable to enlist in the Army Reserve due to the change in policy because, according to the director of public affairs at the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, there is not a Delayed Entry Pool where enlistees can wait for background checks to be completed.

Federal law states that an “alien who is lawfully admitted for permanent residence” can enlist in “any armed force.”  Not allowing green card holders to enlist in the military would violate this law.

For more information, click here.

Trump’s Muslim Ban 3.0 Halted by Federal Judge

President Donald J. Trump’s third attempt to ban people from predominantly-Muslim countries has been halted by a federal judge in Hawaii.

The newest version of Trump’s ban was set to go into effect today, October 18, 2017.

Judge Derrick K. Wilson, who ruled previously that the prior ban was unconstitutional, found that Muslim Ban 3.0 “lacks sufficient findings that the entry of more than 150 million nationals from six specified countries would be ‘detrimental to the interests of the United States,’ ” evidence that he believes is necessary for the ban to be enforceable.

Judge Wilson’s ruling is directed to individuals from the six predominantly-Muslim countries – Syria, Somalia, Libya, Iran, Yemen and Chad.  Wilson allowed the limited portion of the ban on the two newly-added countries – North Korea and Venezuela – to go into effect.

For the six countries, a temporary restraining order has been issued, temporarily halting the ban.

The Department of Justice has made clear that it will appeal the ruling.

In a statement, the DOJ argued that the restraining order “is incorrect, fails to properly respect the separation of powers, and has the potential to cause serious negative consequences for our national security.”

Similarly, the White House issued a scathing statement: “The entry restrictions in the proclamation apply to countries based on their inability or unwillingness to share critical information necessary to safely vet applications, as well as a threat assessment related to terrorism, instability, and other grave national security concerns.  These restrictions are vital to ensuring that foreign nations comply with the minimum security standards required for the integrity of our immigration system and the security of our Nation.”

Two other federal courts are also considering the enforceability of this third version of the ban.

As a candidate, Donald Trump ran on a platform of banning Muslims from the U.S.  His pre-election statements and those issued while President have crippled the DOJ’s attempts to argue that the ban is not religiously based.

 

DOJ Wants Deportation Case Quotas to Speed Up the Removal System

Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to instill “numeric performance standards” on our nation’s federal immigration judges.  The immigration courts are currently processing 600,000 cases, which is three times as many cases on the books in 2009.

The National Association of Immigration Judges called the move “unprecedented” and calls Sessions’s plan the “death knell for judicial independence.”

Dana Leigh Marks, who served as an immigration judge for 30 years, said the Sessions plan constituted a “huge, huge, huge encroachment on judicial independence.”

“It’s trying to turn immigration judges into assembly-line workers,” she claimed.

Sessions also claimed last week that frivolous and/or fraudulent asylum claims were also responsible for slowing things down in the Executive Office for Immigration Review (the formal name given to the immigration courts).

The judges’ union argues that the current contract that it has with the government prevents them from being rated based on the number of cases that they complete or the total time it takes for a final decision.

(Just as a point of reference, immigration judges are not actual Article 3 federal judges, but rather administrative law judges and part of the Department of Justice itself).

The Department of Justice is now trying to ignore that language and to compel cases to start moving.

One thing that Sessions is ignoring is that while Congress has allocated significant resources for capturing and detaining undocumented immigrants, the same amount of resources has not been allocated to the immigration courts themselves.

There simply are not enough judges.  Currently, our office is getting court dates two and three years away due to the backlog.  An average non-detained case takes two years or more to be decided.

President Trump apparently plans to request an additional 370 immigration judges, which would double the current number.

While a stated goal of an efficient immigration system is understandable, blaming immigration judges for the delay is simply wrong.  Immigration judges have enormous caseloads and are already stretched to the limit.  Most judges have more than 2,000 open cases.

The fact of the matter is that these judges are often making life-or-death decisions for the immigrants before them.  Literally, life-or-death.  Do we really want them just running the cases through as quickly as possible?

Seems like a really bad idea.

Department of Homeland Security Looks to Make Significant Changes to Immigration Policies

The Department of Homeland Security has been looking to make subtle changes to immigration policies, without Congress, that could significantly affect Obama-era policies, including limiting the protections for undocumented unaccompanied minors, increasing speedy deportation proceedings, and limiting legal immigration into the US.

Unaccompanied children, UACs, are undocumented immigrants who enter the US under the age of 18 unaccompanied or are not met by a parent or legal guardian upon entrance.  Unaccompanied children are given protections from expedited removal proceedings and are able to pursue asylum cases in the US.  A memo obtained by CNN, depicted a legal opinion written that would allow the administration to decide if unaccompanied children are no longer eligible for protections.

The administration is also considering limiting policies that allow STEM students to stay in the US an additional two years for training and work authorizations for spouses of high-skilled visa holders.  The Department of Homeland Security is also trying to heighten the threshold for asylum claim credibility.

The fear of many immigration advocates and attorneys is that slowing down the visa process would be enough to decrease the number of immigrants admitted to the US each year, even without any changes in policy.

Statistics show that there have not been an increase in the rate of immigration application denials, but the backlog of pending applications has increased steadily in the last two years.

The policies the Department of Homeland Security is looking into have not been finalized and are in different developmental stages.  Some of the changes may never happen, but the possibility alone is enough to be wary.  Plus, some of the changes are included in President Trump’s immigration priorities list sent to Congress.  Some wonder if movement on these policies will be tabled until after Congress’s discussions on DACA.

For more information, click here.

Lawyer Discovers Link Between Federal Judge and Her Private Prison Stock Owning Husband

On May 12, 2008, nearly 400 workers were arrested at a kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, in the largest workplace immigration raid in US history.

Typically undocumented immigrants arrested during raids were charged with civil violations and deported.  But, most of the workers arrested in the Postville raid were charged with criminal fraud for using falsified work documents or Social Security numbers.  Approximately 270 people were sentenced to five months in federal prison in what was termed “a judicial assembly line.”

Allegations of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct flooded in, sparking congressional hearings.

Judge Linda R. Reade, the chief judge of the Northern District of Iowa, supervised the court proceedings, claiming they were “fair and unhurried.”  But, Reade’s husband apparently owned stock in two private prison companies.  Five days before the raid, Reade’s husband bought additional prison stock.

When Reade was appointed to the federal district court by President George W. Bush in 2003, her husband owned stock in the companies now known as CoreCivic and GEO Group, the country’s largest prison companies.  Approximately 150 facilities are operated by the two companies and 150,000 inmates are housed in the facilities.

In February 2011, Reade’s husband sold his prison stocks, collectively worth between $30,000 and $100,000.  During the time between 2003 and 2011, the stocks rose in price 434 percent and 642 percent, respectively.

Former Deputy Attorney General Philip Heymann found Reade’s husband’s prison investments when looking into the legal case of the meatpacking plant manager arrested during the Postville raid, Sholom Rubashkin.  Reade sentenced Rubashkin to 27 years in prison for financial fraud in 2010, dropping all immigration charges against him.

Emails and memos from ICE show that Reade met with immigration officials multiple times in the months leading up to the bust.  An ICE memo claimed that Reade learned of approximately 700 anticipated arrests and “indicated full support for the initiative.”  Reade denied expressing personal support for the raid despite the memo.

Internal Report finds ICE and CBP Agents Used for Personal Security Details

The inspector general for the internal Homeland Security Department released a report Thursday evening with findings that immigration and border patrol executives diverted agents to create personal security details without legislative authority or proof of safety risks.

These security details have cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.  In the report, field agents were quoted who said that their bosses created the security details for convenience rather than deterring threats.

According to the report, “These security details incur substantial monetary and personnel costs, provide transportation and logistical services not necessarily tied to any demonstrated security concern, and are often authorized by those receiving the services.”

The report included an executive from the Obama administration who oversaw ICE that assembled an official government security team from the local office when traveling to her home city.  The report said, “The former Director traveled to her home city of Dallas…requiring the ICE field office to divert agents from working cases for visits which would last, on average, six days.”

No evidence that the security details were authorized by Congress was found.  The internal review also did not find evidence of any imminent security threats necessitating a security detail.  But, Homeland Security officials defend the security details, saying that ICE and CBP leaders have “been the subject of a number of incidents of harassing and menacing behavior,” examples of which include death threats, threats of raping spouses, and molestation of their grandchildren.

The report was released in the midst of debate regarding Trump Administration officials requesting government conveniences for what was apparently family and personal travel.

For more information, click here.

States File a Lawsuit Accusing Trump of Bias in DACA Decision

The District of Columbia along with fifteen states have filed a lawsuit to stop Donald Trump’s plan to end the DACA (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program.  The lawsuit claims that anti-Mexican bias was what motivated the Trump administration decision.

Evidence cited in the lawsuit includes Trump’s statements saying that some Mexican immigrants are rapists and his decision to pardon the former Arizona Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, who ignored a federal court order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants.

Decisions targeting individuals for discriminatory treatment based on their national origin without legal justification violates the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution.  The lawsuit calls for a court order blocking the rescinding of DACA and an order saying the administration is unable to use information collected from DACA recipients to arrest and deport them.

The lawsuit also claimed that the decision to revoke DACA was arbitrary and failed to provide notice as required by federal law.  If the lawsuit receives a victory on this claim, it would allow time for public comment and require the administration to study the impacts of removing DACA.  But, this still might not permanently reinstate the program.

Some say that because a federal judge blocked the Trump order calling for a Muslim ban based on rhetoric during Trump’s campaign, that this lawsuit to block Trump’s revocation of DACA will hold up.  But, others argue that Trump never made a direct association between DACA and Mexico the way that he did with Muslims and the travel ban.

The Attorney General Xavier Becerra of California, a state not included in the lawsuit, plans to file a separate suit.  California, a state with a large immigrant population, has a high number of DACA recipients.  Becerra termed Trump’s decision a “heartless” one.

For more information, click here.