Author: Jim Hacking

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.

Company Being Investigated for Preying on Detained Immigrants

Virginia-based company, Libre by Nexus, is being investigated in at least two states because they are accused of preying on detained immigrants.

Libre by Nexus aids in posting bond for immigrants held in immigration detention centers while waiting for the cases to go to court.  Immigrants sign contracts agreeing to pay $420 per month and wear the company’s GPS ankle device.

Lawsuits and claims of fraud have been made by immigrants claiming they did not understand the contracts they were agreeing to.  Three years ago, ICE determined that the company was not breaking the law.

But, at least two states are now investigating the company despite the ICE decision because of an article in the Washington Post on March 9, 2017, depicting the struggles of Libre clients who struggle with paying the monthly fee for the ankle device.  Clients in the article claimed that Libre employees threatened the clients with returning them to ICE custody if they could not pay the monthly fee.

Libre by Nexus denied the allegations.

A class-action complaint was filed against the company by two Honduran immigrants in February.  A similar lawsuit against Libre by Nexus was settled last month.

Rep. Norma J. Torres of California introduced legislation on Thursday that targets companies that bond people out of detention centers in return for monthly fees and GPS monitoring.  The “Stop Predatory Bail Contracts Act” is aimed at protecting undocumented immigrants from an “exploitative industry.”

According to Rep. Torres, “Many [undocumented immigrants]are victims…fleeing very violent communities, coming to our border…out of desperation, they are jumping into contracts they don’t truly understand.”  Torres says her constituents in Southern California have complained about Libre by Nexus.

The bill would prohibit companies such as Libre from charging clients more than the cost of GPS monitoring (according to court documents, this is less than $100 a month; Libre disputes).  It would also apply to companies using GPS monitoring with criminal bonds.

Bond agencies posted more than 8,000 immigration bonds worth approx. $100 million in the 2016 fiscal year.  The average cost of a posted immigration bond has risen by more than 70 percent from 2013 to 2016.

For more information, click here.

What Happens if I Need to Cancel My Immigration Interview

What should I do if I have an emergency and need to cancel my immigration interview?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri.

We had an interesting and somewhat sad situation come up at our office recently and I thought I’d make a video about it so I could explain it to everyone. In this situation, we have a client who has applied for a green card based on her marriage to a US citizen, and as it turns out, this client has been waiting a very long time for her interview, over a year. The St. Louis office has been behind on spouse cases. This Canadian client has been waiting a really long time for her interview. Her interview is set for today, actually. She called me last week and she told me, very sadly, that her dad is dying. He’s in the process of passing away and only has a few more days to live. It was sort of touch and go over the weekend. We were wondering whether or not she was going to be able to actually come to the interview. Obviously when a situation like that arises, you have sort of more important concerns than the green card, but at the same time you have been waiting a long time.

The question comes up, what do I do when I have an emergency and want to cancel my appointment? Now this is, frankly, one of the benefits of working with an immigration attorney because if my client had had to leave suddenly over the weekend and was not going to be able to attend her interview, I would have gone down there myself and explained it to the officer, exactly what had transpired and they would have, most likely, rescheduled it.

What if you don’t have an attorney? Well, in those situations I think you have to do everything you can to notify the office that you won’t be there. Now they don’t have a regular telephone number. You can’t call the local office in most situations. You might want to have someone else from your family go down and explain it to them. This is probably not preferred by immigration service, but I think you really want to document what efforts you made to let them know that the appointment would not be made. At the very least, I would try to make an InfoPass appointment before I left, if possible, to go down there and alert them that you’re not going to be there.

Generally in our experience, if you miss an appointment, they usually reschedule it once as a courtesy. That doesn’t mean that they have to though, so you can’t rely on that. I think you really have to do everything you can to notify them somehow. Either before the interview, hopefully, or even on the day of the interview or after the interview, why you missed. You might want to submit documentation as to why you had to leave. With a sick father, it would be hospital records or a dying father, their death certificate. These kinds of things.

You don’t want to leave things dangling in the wind. You want to make sure that if you can, that you convey to them that you did everything you could to be at the interview, but that you just weren’t able to make it because of this family emergency. Then you want to make sure that you do everything in writing. That you back it up, that you keep notes. If you go down and talk to someone at the immigration office, that you write down their name, the date, the time that you came. Or the people that went for you, what information they were able to get.

Most importantly you want to document it. You also probably want to follow it up with a cover letter explaining why you missed it. At this point, if you’re not working with an attorney, you probably should get an attorney involved so that they can reach out. Maybe they have contacts at the local office that they can sort of get things back on track. You could also make an InfoPass appointment for when you come back and explain to the officer at the window what happened and why you missed.

We hope this answers the question of what you need to do if you have an emergency on a immigration interview. If you have more questions, feel free to email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. Or you can call us at (314) 961-8200. If you like this video, please be sure to click like and sign up as a subscriber as you get updates for all of our future videos.

 

Parents Awaiting Two-Month-Old Son’s Operation Arrested by Border Patrol

We see a lot of appalling conduct at our office when it comes to how cruel federal immigration officials can be.  But this next case may be at the top of the list regarding callous disregard of any human emotion on the part of Customs and Border Patrol.

Oscar and Irma Sanchez’s two-month old son, Isaac Enrique Sanchez, was diagnosed with pyloric stenosis, a condition causing vomiting, dehydration, and weight loss in infants.  Enrique’s condition was curable, but no pediatric surgeon in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas was capable of performing the surgery on his stomach.

Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas, was the Sanchez family’s only hope.  But, the hospital that was only a few hours away via highway would mean that the Sanchezes would have to pass a Border Patrol checkpoint.  The Sanchezes were undocumented.

A Border Patrol officer showed up in the Harlingen, Texas hospital and offered to arrange officers to escort the Sanchezes through the checkpoint, but the Sanchezes would be arrested and put into deportation proceedings once they arrived at the hospital.  Oscar and Irma Sanchez agreed, their son’s best interest in mind.

The Sanchezes’ situation is a part of the controversy over ‘sensitive locations.’  During the Obama administration, the Department of Homeland Security abided by a policy that immigration agents should avoid arrests at hospitals, schools, churches, and public demonstrations unless there were special circumstances.

Immigrant advocates are afraid that the Sanchez family’s experience demonstrates the Trump administration’s way of handling enforcement actions in sensitive locations.  The Sanchezes had no criminal records and were desperate to help their son.

At Driscoll Children’s Hospital, the officers never left the Sanchezes alone.  They even asked Mrs. Sanchez to leave the door open while breast-feeding Isaac and escorted Mr. Sanchez to the bathroom.

Customs and Border Protection claimed that they are required to monitor subjects in custody “at all times” and attempted to do so “in the least restrictive manner possible.”

Oscar Sanchez says that, “Everywhere we went in the hospital…they followed us.”

For more information, click here.