Author: Jim Hacking

Noncriminal Arrests of Immigrants Go Up

According to the Washington Post, “noncriminal” arrests of immigrants have doubled in 2017.

Since Donald Trump took office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests have increased by 40 percent.  In 2017, ICE detained nearly 38,000 “noncriminal” immigrants.  The Washington Post said the number of detained immigrants that have been convicted of crimes has also raised a little and is at almost 106,000.

This is no surprise, considering that Jeff Sessions, the attorney general of the United States, told Justice Department prosecutors to be tough on immigrants that have committed crimes.  He even went as far as saying that if an immigrant enters the United States undocumented after being previously removed, then the immigrant will be “referred for felony prosecution.”

This makes sense considering that Trump’s 2016 election campaign promise was one filled with anti-immigrant rhetoric and a closed-door ideology of the United States.

The Department of Homeland Security has used the Alien Incarceration Report as what they believe is evidence that shows the need for Trump’s wall being built on the Mexican border.  But, these reports hardly seem fair.

The majority of immigrants come to America in search of a better life.  Putting up a wall on the border takes the idea of the “American Dream” and completely diminishes it.  The Statue of Liberty is a sign of ‘welcome,’ signifying hope and promise of a future.  A wall does the opposite.  Using undocumented immigrants that are incarcerated as a way of explaining a need for a wall that will do so much more than simply hinder undocumented immigration, which it probably would not even successfully do.

Here at the Hacking Law Practice, we are not ready now and will NEVER be ready to live in a country that denies its roots in immigration and forgets that the Statue of Liberty “glows [with] world-wide welcome.”

For more information, click here.

ICE Prosecutor Charged With Identity Theft

The chief immigration prosecutor for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Seattle, Washington, has been charged with stealing immigrants’ identities.  According to a federal information, the ICE chief counsel unlawfully forwarded identifying information for seven immigrants to his personal email address, presumably as part of a plan to steal their identities.

The chief counsel charged with the offense, Mr. Raphael A. Sanchez, resigned from the agency on Monday, February 12th.  Sanchez faces one count of aggravated identity theft and another of wire fraud in a charging document filed Monday in U.S. District Court.

Prosecutors in the Western District of Washington, working with the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, allege that Sanchez stole the identities of seven people “in various stages of immigration proceedings” in order to scam credit card companies including American Express, Bank of America and Capital One out of money.

According to the federal information filed, the scheme took place over four years – from October 2013 to October of 2017.

As an example, the government alleges that in April of 2016, Sanchez emailed himself documents belonging to an alien identified only as “R.H.”  Sanchez allegedly emailed himself R.H.’s lawful permanent resident (green) card, a utility bill and the biographical page of R.H.’s Chinese passport.

According to news reports, Sanchez and his attorney had not been reached for comment.

Mr. Sanchez, like all criminal defendants, are presumed innocent until proven guilty in these criminal proceedings.  But here’s the thing.  The Department of Justice does not mess around.  When the DOJ assigns two attorneys from the Public Integrity Section to investigate and prosecute one of their own – a federal attorney – they are not messing around.

It is expected that the Justice Department will come after him with full force.  Government employees are held to a higher standard.  Attorneys are held to a higher standard.  If Sanchez is guilty, he will be proven so and you can expect his sentence to be severe.


NYC Rally Against Deportation of Immigration Activist

A rally held in New York brought hundreds of people together to support an immigration activist from Trinidad and Tobago who is fighting deportation.

Ravi Ragbir, a fifty-three-year-old man, was facing removal on Saturday, February 10, but a judge in Newark ruled the day prior that Ragbir could remain in the United States while a lawsuit that had been filed on his behalf was being argued.

On Saturday, February 10, Ragbir was still required to check in with immigration officials at the lower Manhattan federal office.  This is where the rally formed.

The rally was put on by the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City which includes 150 faith-based, pro-immigration groups.  Ragbir headed a march, calling out the racist immigration policies in the United States.

“Am I a national security problem?” he asked.  “We know that there is a movement,” Ragbir furthered, “to remove people of color, to learn that there is an ethnic cleansing being created by this administration.  And it’s very hard words, but let’s be real about what we are seeing.”

After being detained in January during a check-in with ICE, a federal judge released Ragbir and expressed “grave concerns” about his treatment.

Ragbir was detained due to a 2001 conviction for a mortgage fraud scheme.  He is working to vacate the conviction in New Jersey federal court, arguing that he was simply an employee and was unaware of the fraudulent activity.

According to ICE officials, Ragbir’s politics have nothing to do with his deportation and it is based on his criminal record.

A rally attendee, Debbie Mullins, was “pleasantly surprised” that Ragbir was allowed a temporary stay.  The sixty-four-year-old woman said, “traditionally America has been a country that welcomed people that were poor and oppressed…You just have to read what’s written on the Statue of Liberty.”

For more information, click here.

Immigrant Arrested After Calling the Police for Help

A police department in Washington turned am immigrant in to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents when the immigrant called the police for help.

According to the Tukwila Police Department, the offices did not act “with malice” when they arrested the immigrant.

The immigrant called the police regarding a “suspicious person” that was trespassing on his property.  His call was made around 5:30 a.m.

The police department followed standard procedure, saying, “As with every incident, we establish the identity of those involved.”  During this ‘standard procedure,’ the officers found an outstanding warrant from ICE and they thought it was a judicial warrant.

When the officers asked the immigrant about the warrant, he affirmatively acknowledged the warrant.  He called his lawyer and a friend before he was transferred to ICE agents and taken into custody.

According to the police department, the officers were not aware that the warrant was not a judicially-issued warrant, but rather an administrative warrant from ICE.

The difference between the two is vast.  According to the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Susan Gottehrer, a judicial warrant means that “there has been due process backed by probable cause…an administrative warrant is simply a document signed by an ICE agent…[that does not] pass constitutional muster.”  Gottehrer says that if an ICE agent came to your house with an administrative warrant, “you do not have to open the door.”

There was no apology issued by the police department that arrested the immigrant, but in a Facebook post made by the Tukwila Police Department, the department said officers “will not be responsive to administrative warrants issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, nor will it collaborate with the agency.”

The department furthers their post saying the Department “has worked tirelessly over the past several years to develop and maintain relations with our large immigrant and refugee population.  These relationships are important to the Department.”

One can only hope the department does better in the future.

For more information, click here.

FIRM-ALY Values //HLP Vlog EP001

Welcome the Hacking Law Practice VLOG!

We’re going to show you the inside and out of what we do each day and what it’s like being an immigration law firm in 2018.

We threw a baby shower for our paralegal Adela Zepcan this week. You’ll also see snippets of activity around the office.

Stay tuned for more and let us know what you want to see more of!

If you haven’t yet, check out Jim’s podcast:

Undocumented Immigrant Finds Refuge in St. Louis Church

Alex Garcia has taken sanctuary from deportation in a St. Louis church for the last four months.  The church on Bellevue and Bruno where he has been living is over 150 miles from his family—his wife and five children.

Garcia is from Honduras and came to the United States thirteen years ago.  Garcia started having trouble from ICE a few years ago and has been given two one-year reprieves to remain in the United States.

This all changed after he requested a third stay last summer and, under the Trump administration, his request was denied.  In September he was told to report to ICE so that he could be sent back to Honduras.  Garcia found his way to Christ Church United Church of Christ instead.

The church had been looking for new ways to help vulnerable communities after Donald Trump was elected to the presidency in 2016.  They decided to focus their attention on immigration.

Pastor Rebecca Turner preached to the congregation, “Jesus says that when someone comes to us in need, we are to treat him as Jesus himself…If we don’t provide, it’s, in essence, turning Jesus away.”

Pastor Turner received a call the following day from an agency that works with undocumented persons from Latin America.  She was told that a man facing deportation needed sanctuary from ICE.

Turner says, “There was simply no way we could not say yes…We’ve got Jesus knocking at the door.”

ICE policy, beginning in 2011, designates “sensitive locations” where immigration laws are not likely to be enforced.  Examples of sensitive locations include churches, schools, and hospitals—although this policy is not hard and fast, and sensitive locations are not completely immune to the enforcement of immigration laws.

The church, along with other sensitive locations, file documents with ICE to give officials notice that the immigrant has sought sanctuary and is presiding in a sensitive location.

Pastor Turner is adamant.  “We are not harboring, hiding anyone…[Garcia] is being protected by the church.”

For more information, click here.

Trump’s UN Migration Nominee Says Accepting More Syrian Refugees is “Foolish and Delusional”

Donald Trump’s UN Migration nominee uses social-media to give his true feelings about Muslims.

Ken Isaacs, the vice president of the Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, has made many controversial statements through twitter, radio appearances, and various other media outlets.  Not only has he denied climate change, which is a lead factor in migration, he has made many Islamophobic statements.

After a terrorist attack in London, a Catholic bishop said, “This isn’t in the name of God, this isn’t what the Muslim faith asks people to do,” in an attempt to defend the Islamic faith from blanket statements of “radicalism.”

Isaacs disagreed with the bishop and retorted, “Bishop if you read the Quran you will know ‘this’ is exactly what the Muslim faith instructs the faithful to do.”

Isaacs’ nomination was announced on Thursday.  His official position would be director general of the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM).  The budget of IOM is nearly one billion dollars.  This organization has commonly had a United States leader for many years because the United States gives very high contributions to IOM.

After Obama said he wanted to accept more Syrian refugees, Isaacs said that this was a “foolish and delusional [attempt to] show cultural enlightenment.”  According to Isaacs, after a measly two hours in a refugee camp, he saw people that he assumed to be “real security risks” because he “knows what a fighter looks like.”

Isaacs also said that Christian Syrian refugees “must be 1st priority” because “Christians can never return” to Syria.

After the State Department was sent evidence of Isaacs social media, his Twitter was made private and Isaacs issued an apology, saying he regrets that the comments “have caused hurt and have undermined my professional record.”

Noticeably, Isaacs did not say in the statement that he did not mean what he said.  Based on his inability to condemn his past claims and a look at his previous posts, one can assume that Isaacs holds a serious prejudice against Muslims.

Eric Schwartz, the president of Refugees International (who used to be an assistant secretary of state for President Obama), spoke of the nomination saying, “I don’t know the nominee, but I’ve seen some of his statements and they reflect a troubling prejudice that is really incompatible with a position of leadership for the world’s most important international migration agency.”

Schwartz went further, adding, “The person who leads this needs to be a symbol of the international community’s support for humanity.  And that means that dark-skin people and Muslim people have the same inherent worth as any other people.”

For more information, click here.

ICE Arrests Father of Three

Syed Ahmed Jamal, a father of three living in Kansas, was arrested by immigration officials on January 24 while getting his kids ready for school.

Jamal, 55, was arrested in Lawrence, Kansas outside his home.  According to an ICE statement, Jamal is currently being detained and will be deported to Bangladesh, the country he and his wife are originally from.

Syed Ahmed Jamal has lived in the United States for over three decades.  He studied in the United States as well, completing an undergraduate and master degree.  Jamal’s three children are American citizens.

With deportation looming, his family is distraught.  Naheen, Jamal’s daughter, says, “I don’t really understand why this is happening…[it’s] frustrating because he hasn’t done anything wrong.”  Jamal’s son, Taseen, says, “He’s obviously a very dedicated dad…I just want him to come back.”

Online there is a petition with over 8,000 signatures calling to stay Jamal’s deportation.  According to the petition, Jamal is a “family man, scientist, and community leader.”  The petition also points out that Jamal has lived in the United States for thirty years.

In a statement to ABC News, ICE said that Jamal had entered the United States lawfully twice on temporary nonimmigrant visas, but overstayed the visas both times.  The second time Jamal overstayed he violated a judge’s order giving him 120 days to depart and remained in the United States.  The judge ordered a final order of removal.  This was in 2002.

After Jamal was arrested on misdemeanor criminal charges in September 2012, Jamal was back on ICE’s radar.  In May 2013, Jamal’s appeal of his removal order was denied by the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Jamal will be deported back to Bangladesh, forced to leave his family.

To think that on a seemingly normal day, three United States citizen children were leaving for school, and their father was arrested.

Immigration is about families.  Ripping them apart?  That just doesn’t sit well with us.

For more information, click here.

Yazidi Refugees Find New Home in Small Town Nebraska

Nearly 3,000 Yazidi refugees from Northern Iraq have resettled in Nebraska.

Due to the heinous violence from the Islamic State group, thousands of Yazidis left dead after an ISIS genocide in 2014, along with long-going ethnic and religious persecution, the Yazidi minority has found a new home in the city of Lincoln, Nebraska’s state capital.

Hasan Khalil, who spent eleven years living in a refugee camp, describes his new home in Nebraska, saying “it’s kind of like back home.  You know, we lived in farms back in Syria.  It looked…really safe.  And that’s what attracted me most…”

Lincoln has created a cultural center for refugees to learn skills that will help them succeed in America, such as the English language, money management, and how to drive.

The director of the center, Jolene McCulley says of the Yazidis, “They’re dealing with a lot of trauma.  And so right now our goal is to help them overcome the trauma and remember their culture and carry on their culture, before we focus on integration.”  McCulley explains that even Yazidis who started out in a different city in the US, relocate to Lincoln after hearing about the Yazidi population there.  “Then,” she says, “the community support is a lot better than some of the bigger cities that they have been resettled in.”

Lutheran Family Services’ Lacey Studnicka welcomes refugees in Lincoln.  According to Studnicka, “Nebraska is a flyover state, typically very conservative.  But Nebraska resettled the most refugees per capita in 2016.”

When asked about his feelings regarding those still in refugee camps, or worse, Hasan Khalil says, “There’s always hope.  When I think about those kids in the refugee camps right now that are struggling, I always feel like I want to give them my voice, tell them that there is hope.”

It is refreshing to hear that refugees and immigrants are still finding newfound opportunity and happy homes here in our nation of immigrants.

For more information, click here.

ICE Team Searches for Bosnian War Criminals

The Bosnian War, from 1992 to 1995, was “an attempted ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims.”  Approximately 100,000 people died because of this war and millions more were displaced.

The Srebrenica genocide, a period of less than two weeks during the war, left 7,000 to 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys killed.

This was one of the worst atrocities in Europe, second only to the Holocaust, and many of the war criminals have managed to take shelter in the U.S.

According to The New York Times, in 2015 there were between 300 and 600 Bosnian War criminals living in the U.S.  Jovo Asentic was recently removed by immigration officials after evidence came to light that he blocked escape routes for Bosnians fleeing the Srebrenica genocide during his time in the military.  Milan Trisic, a Bosnian Serb living in North Carolina, also was found to have lied about his role in the war to immigration officials, pleading guilty to beating and detaining Muslim prisoners.

Despite the 300 to 600 estimate of Bosnian War criminals in America, since 2015, ICE has only deported, extradited, convicted, or arrested 14.

Michael MacQueen, who works for ICE and has made a career of hunting these war criminals, credits the low number of arrests and removals to missing documents.  “At the time that most of the entrants to the U.S. from the Balkans came as refugees,” says MacQueen, “there was no access to wartime records which would show that they have lied on their applications…Our system was based on people telling the truth.”

A legal adviser for ICE blames the “conspiracy of silence,” claiming that the criminals’ communities are aware of their crimes but do not turn in offenders.

If no one comes forward and shares information, MacQueen and his team are left to follow the measly records available to them and witness accounts, having to ask victims of the war to relive their trauma.

Macqueen’s retirement is nearing, and many fear that Bosnian victims will not be able to rely on justice and due diligence after he leaves ICE.

For more information, click here.