Category: General (Uncategorized)

Trump’s Extreme Vetting Initiative Impossible Without Bias

In pursuit of a way to accomplish Donald Trump’s “extreme vetting” for immigrants idea, large technology firms like IBM, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Red Hat attempted to take on the task.

Over 100 civil rights and technology groups have come together to claim that code for “extreme vetting” software would promote discrimination.  Letters written by legal scholars dictate the inability to implement such procedures and the catastrophic result of trying to implement them.  One letter was signed by 54 experts in computer science, engineering, and other fields that have “grave concerns” regarding “extreme vetting.”

According to ICE documents, the Extreme Vetting Initiative needs software that can “determine and evaluate an applicant’s probability of becoming a positively contributing member of society, as well as their ability to contribute to national interests.”  Experts from Google, MIT, and Berkeley are skeptical that “computational methods can provide reliable or objective assessments of the traits that ICE seeks to measure.”

The fear of bias that pervades the letters in opposition of the Extreme Vetting Initiative stems from the recognition that a computer system cannot accurately assess a human life’s benefit to society.  Positive contributions are unquantifiable and abstract, therefore an algorithm could simply flag different groups of immigrants arbitrarily.

Some suspect that social media posts regarding American government policies and an applicant’s income would be forms of evidence that an algorithm would respond to.  Many worry that racial and religious bias would inevitably run rampant.

The second letter was signed by many different human and civil rights organizations, including the ACLU.  According to the 56 organizations that signed the letter, the Extreme Vetting Initiative and the software necessary “risks hiding politicized, discriminatory decisions behind a veneer of objectivity—at great cost to freedom of speech, civil liberties, civil rights, and human rights. It will hurt real, decent people and tear apart families.”

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Olympic Runner Immigrated to the United States as a Child

Marathoner, Meb Keflezighi, is retiring.  He attained a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics in Athens and has won the New York City and Boston marathons (as well as multiple other victories).

Keflezighi is from a large family from Eritrea, which was formerly considered a part of Ethiopia.  Russom, Keflezighi’s father, left Eritrea in 1981 when Ethiopian soldiers threatened to kill supporters of the Eritrean independence movement.

Russom immigrated with his family to Sudan, Italy, and finally the United States.  Meb Keflezighi and his family settled in San Diego in 1987.  Keflezighi was twelve-years-old at the time.

Keflezighi is one of twelve children.  Nine of his siblings earned college degrees, four of which obtaining degrees after their bachelor’s.  Russom and his older children would wake up at 4:30 a.m. so that he could teach them English.  They learned by reading and practicing words from the dictionary.

Keflezighi’s family sat at the dining room table after school completing their homework together.  The children were not allowed free time until all of their homework was finished.  Russom worked several late night jobs, such as cleaning office spaces, and Keflezighi would help his father when he was finished with his studies.

According to his children, Russom would say, “Look, the people who have an education work from nine to five and are home with their families right now, but I don’t have a formal education…Get your education because no one can take that away from you.”

When Bob Larsen, the track coach at University of California, Los Angeles (U.C.L.A.) caught sight of Keflezighi, he offered him a full scholarship.  When speaking of the scholarship award, Larsen said, “Facetiously a little bit, I say I gave the scholarship not to Meb, I gave it to his family.  They have the key on how to motivate sons and daughters.”

Keflezighi obtained his citizenship in 1998 and joined his first Olympic team in 2000.

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Alleged Rapist’s Membership in Trump’s Resort Saves Him From Being Removed

According to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, deporting rapists and other criminals was one of Trump’s top priorities.  But, an alleged criminal’s membership at the Mar-a-Lago, which is owned by Trump, persuaded the president to allow him to remain in the United States.

Guo Wengui, a Chinese businessman, is being investigated by the Chinese government for bribery, kidnapping, fraud, money laundering, and rape.  Wengui has accused multiple Chinese government officials of corruption.

Wengui has applied for asylum in the United States and is currently residing in New York.

Wengui was brought to Trump’s attention during a private dinner at the White House, when the Chinese government gave him “a letter that Steve brought.”  Steve Wynn, the carrier of the letter, is a casino mogul.

Wynn receives the licenses to operate in Chinese territory of Macau from the Chinese Government.  The property in Macau is worth billions of dollars.  Wynn also holds the position of “finance chairman” for the Republican National Committee.

The Wall Street Journal reported that when Trump finished reading the letter, he said, “We need to get this criminal out of the country.”

Trump’s response was altered after finding out that Wengui was a member of the Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida resort.  The membership initiation fee was at least $100,000 and annual dues are $14,000.  The resort, among other properties Trump owns, are a major generator of money for his personal fortune.

Aides of the president also mentioned to him that Wengui could become a bargaining chip for future discussions with China.

Some argue that how Trump is choosing to handle the Wengui situation reflects Trump’s susceptibility to corruption and how his business relationships affect his presidential decision making.  Considering that Trump has refused to divest from his company is feared to be an easy route for people to trade money for favors.

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Portland ICE Agent Texts Immigrant

A Portland resident received a text on a Wednesday morning that addressed the man by his first name and read, “This is Officer Smith.  My address is as follows: 4310 SW Macadam Ave. Portland, OR 97239. Please feel free to call me with any questions that you have.”  The officers message even included a typo in the phrase, “I will need to heard from you soon,” assumed to mean ‘I will need to hear from you soon.’

The officer, Scott Smith, is an ICE agent.  The address he supplied was the ICE headquarters in Southwest Portland.  The Portland resident, who would like to remain anonymous, was charged with a misdemeanor in Multnomah County and is thought by ICE to be undocumented.

When the officer got the Portland resident to pick up the phone, he convinced him to admit his immigration status and his native country.

It is highly unusual, in Portland and possibly many other places, for ICE agents to send text messages to undocumented immigrants targeted for deportation.  Although, it is common around the country for scammers posing as ICE agents to text immigrants and con them out of money.

Some fear that if ICE is texting immigrants, there is an increased risk of immigrants becoming victims of fraud.  It would also be more likely that people, such as the Portland man, would be manipulated into admitting things over the phone that could get them into trouble.

When the Portland man’s attorney reached out to ICE and Officer Smith to determine the legitimacy of the text message, ICE confirmed that it was.

An ICE spokesperson who was pressed about targets being texted answered with, “Due to operational and safety implications, the agency does not comment on enforcement tactics.”

For more information, click here.

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.

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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.

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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.

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.