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  1. Immigrants' Daughter Defeats Ebola; Nigeria Safe Without Travel Ban. By Roger Algase

    Update, October 27, 8:22 pm:

    The 5-year old boy being held in isolation at Bellevue Hospital in New York after showing Ebola-like symptoms has tested negative for the disease, according to The Guardian. He will undergo further tests before being released. There is still no report on his nationality, but since his home is in New York, it is probably safe to assume that he is an American. If he were not a USC, one can assume that this fact would be all over the Internet and that certain of our political leaders and pundits would be losing no time in scapegoating all immigrants over this latest turn of events.

    Update, October 27, 9:00 am:

    According to Reuters and ABC News, a 5-year old boy who returned to the US on Saturday from Guinea with his family is now under observation and in isolation at Bellevue hospital after showing possible symptoms of Ebola, including a 103 degree fever and vomiting. For some inexplicable reason, he has evidently not yet been tested for Ebola and is not under quarantine pending such tests.

    His immigration status has not been mentioned in any news reports I have seen. However, since his home is evidently in New York, he may very likely be a US citizen or permanent resident.

    If this turns out to be the case, that would be only one more example to show that treating Ebola as an immigration issue, rather than a medical one, is not the way to protect America from this deadly disease. I will update this story as more information becomes available.

    My original post follows:

    Everyone in America congratulates the two heroic Dallas nurses, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, on their recovery from Ebola, which they had contracted while caring for the first and hopefully only Ebola patient to die of this disease in America, Liberian citizen Thomas Eric Duncan.

    The Dallas Morning News reports on October 24 and October 25 that Nina Pham, the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants who came to America as political refugees, is now back in Texas and able to meet with her dog, Bently, who tested negative for Ebola after being isolated and screened.

    Before arriving in Dallas, Nina Pham had met with and received a big hug from President Obama. I watched it on a video, which at one point also appears to show Ms. Pham smoking a cigarette, an activity that has taken thousands of times as many lives as Ebola.

    One hopes that having survived Ebola, Nina Pham will continue to safeguard her health in all other respects as well.


    In another story, Fortune reports on the steps that Nigeria, a country which has now been officially pronounced clear of Ebola, took to protect itself against the disease, which had claimed eight lives in West Africa's most populous nation. Closing its borders was not among those steps.

    The Fortune article listed the following steps that Nigeria had taken to become Ebola free after 20 people in that country had become infected:

    Preparing early; Declaring an emergency right away; Training local doctors, Managing fear, Remaining prepared for more patients, and Advocating for more international response.

    In addition, Nigeria kept its borders open and did not ban all travel from Ebola infected countries, as some American leaders are urging the US government to do despite warnings from health officials that this would be counterproductive.

    Nigeria's decision not to ban all travel from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone was based, according to the Fortune article (also published in Time) on the conclusion that such a travel ban would create more fear and panic, and potentially drive people to come into the country illegally, instead of through legal checkpoints. A Nigerian spokesman mentioned in the article stated that the best way to control an outbreak is through implementing public health strategies, not by closing borders, which would only stifle commercial activities in the countries that are already struggling due to Ebola.


    In the light of Nigeria's experience, one has to ask whether certain public figures in the US who are using Ebola to promote an anti-immigrant agenda rather than following the advice of health experts are really concerned with protecting the American people as much as they are with advancing their own careers.

    Moreover, the rush in four states, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and, reportedly, either Connecticut or Florida, against the advice of America's top medical officials, to impose 21-day quarantines on US citizen health care workers returning from the three most affected African countries, after an American doctor, Craig Spencer, was diagnosed with Ebola after helping to take care of patients in that area and is now hospitalized in New York City, shows that this deadly virus does not recognize distinctions based on immigration status.

    See also, dallasnews.com, Ebola's Hard Lesson: Africa's vulnerabilities are our own (October 26).

    Roger Algase is a New York lawyer and graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been serving employment-based and family-based immigration clients from many parts of the world for more than 30-years. His email address is algaselex@gmail.com

    Updated 10-27-2014 at 07:22 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  2. Vietnam Dissident Fights To Go Back After Deportation To US. By Roger Algase

    It is all too common to read about people who are fighting to avoid being deported from the US, or who are hoping to to be able to return to America after being deported. But it is less common to hear about someone fighting to avoid being deported to the US, and who wishes to leave the US to return to the country that deported him as soon as possible, while resisting becoming a US citizen.

    But this is exactly the situation that one of Vietnam's best known dissidents, Nguyen Van Hai, finds himself in, according to an October 22 article in The Guardian.


    Mr. Hai, known online as Dieu Cai, was jailed in 2012 for "anti-state propaganda" based on his Internet posts and his founding of a journalists group which attempted to offer an alternative to state-controlled news.

    He has been in and out of detention in Vietnam since 2007 because of his dissident views. The Guardian reports that intervention by Washington is believed to be connected with the decision to release Mr. Hai and send him to the US, where he is apparently neither a citizen nor a permanent resident:

    "Just how Hai has ended up in America - rather than his home town of Saigon - is still unclear. According to the US state department, it was Hai's decision to travel to America. But even Hai himself, and his family, recount a different tale. Speaking to Radio Free Asia, Hai's ex-wife says he was suddenly removed from his jail cell, taken to the airport and put on a plane to Los Angeles - without any prior warning."

    Based on the above report, it would appear that Vietnam does not have a procedure for issuing an NTA, holding a hearing before an immigration judge, or allowing for an appeal to any equivalent of the BIA before deporting one of its own citizens.

    The same article also quotes Mr. Hai as saying that the US government wants him to become a US citizen, but he has vowed to fight for his return back to Vietnam, as well as the return of all other Vietnamese exiles in America.

    It remains to be seen whether Mr. Hai will be successful in his battle to leave America and return to his country of origin, something which more than two million people have managed to accomplish without even asking to do so since President Obama took office.

    Updated 10-23-2014 at 01:53 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  3. Supremes Bar Up To 600,000 Likely Immigration Supporters From Voting. By Roger Algase

    This post has been revised as of 9:48 am, October 19:

    In my October 10 post, I discussed a decision by a federal judge in Texas striking down that state's voter ID law after a full trial. Based on the unrebutted evidence at the trial, Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos determined that the law, among other things, constituted a poll tax which was intended to disenfranchise African-American and Hispanic voters. She also found that anti-immigrant prejudice was one of the tactics used in order to pass the law, if not one of the main motives for its passage. She also determined that the law could disenfranchise as many as 600,000 minority US citizens, a large majority of whom, it is safe to assume, would vote in favor of pro-immigration candidates if they were allowed to exercise their constitutional right to the franchise.

    Obviously, non-US citizens do not have the right to vote in state and federal elections, and there are few if any reported instances of this being attempted, despite claims by the law's supporters that voter ID was needed in order to stop immigrants who are not US citizens from voting illegally. The trial showed only one such example in Texas: this involved a Norwegian citizen, not a Latino. According to Judge Gonzales-Ramos' 147-page decision, even this one instance was based on a misunderstanding caused by the negligence of Texas voting officials, who mailed the Norwegian citizen a ballot anyway, even though he had truthfully stated that he was not an American citizen.

    As I suggested in my previous post, voting rights and immigrant rights are joined at the hip. If American citizens coming from Hispanic and other immigrant communities are prevented from voting, we can just as well strike the phrase "immigration reform" from our vocabulary and move on to other topics, such as how many more people will be deported this year, how much the rfe/denial rate for legal employment or family-based petitions will continue to increase, or how many more years or decades it will take for millions of people to receive green cards in our backlogged visa system.

    Therefore, it is a matter of grave concern to the cause of immigration and immigrant rights that the US Supreme Court, on October 18, refused to vacate a stay which had been granted by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals of the District Court's order granting a permanent injunction against enforcing the discriminatory Texas voter ID law. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in a ringing dissent for which she will no doubt be remembered for many years to come, concluded her opinion by writing:

    "The gravest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters."

    Justice Ginsburg was joined in her dissent by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. The case is Veasey v. Perry, 574 U.S.___(2014).
    Roger Algase is a New York lawyer and graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School who has been serving employment-based and family-based immigrants from many parts of the world for more than 30 years. His email address is algaselex@gmail.com

    Updated 10-20-2014 at 07:48 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  4. Senators Criticize Detention of Central American Women and Children. By Roger Algase

    The Hill reports on October 16 that ten Senators have spoken out against the Obama administration's detention policies affecting women and children fleeing violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. In a letter to DHS Secretary Johnson, the Senators, Patrick Leahy (VT), Harry Reid (NV), Dick Durbin (IL), Chuck Schumer (NY), Patty Murray (WA), Richard Blumenthal (CT), Bob Menendez (NJ), Michael Bennet (CO), Mazie Hirono (HI) and Mark Udall (CO), said:

    "...they are concerned about the physical safety and due process rights of the women and children that [sic] would be detained at a new detention facility [to be built in Dilley, Texas.]"

    The Hill also refers to reports of substandard conditions and sexual assault at other centers. The letter from the ten Senators says:

    "Mothers and their children who have fled violence in their home countries should not be treated like criminals...They have come seeking refuge from three of the most dangerous countries in the world, countries where women and girls face shocking rates of domestic violence and murder."

    The Senators' letter also states:

    "We have heard significant concerns regarding the conditions of confinement and obstacles to due process for detainees...We are troubled by your apparent decision to make permanent and greatly expand the policy of family detention against the backdrop of these problems."


    It is refreshing to see that some Senators are standing up for immigrants' human and legal rights, while others continue to demonize immigrants as carriers of disease. The Hill, for example, also quotes Senator Pat Roberts (Kansas) as saying on October 15:

    "We [have] ISIS. We have Ebola. We have to secure the border. And we cannot have amnesty."


    No one can argue with the seriousness of Ebola and the need to protect America against its spread. However, not counting a very few people who were intentionally repatriated for treatment, there have been exactly three cases of this deadly disease in the US - one case for every one hundred million people living in this country.

    There is no justification, especially on the part of some lawmakers who voted to shut down the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) last year (along with the rest of the government), for using appeals to fear and prejudice as an excuse to turn away from focusing on the legal and human rights of immigrants, which should rightly be at the front and center of all discussion of this issue. This is a concern which transcends party affiliation, ethnic background and other divisions which may exist among America's many diverse population groups.
    Roger Algase is a New York Attorney and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 30 years, he has been serving employment-based and family-based immigrants from many parts of the world and helping them accomplish their dreams of living and working in America. Roger welcomes questions or comments posted on this site or addressed to him directly at his email, algaselex@gmail.com

    Updated 10-17-2014 at 02:31 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  5. More Politicians Fan Ebola Fears to Derail Immigration Reform. By Roger Algase

    In my October 13 post, I gave examples of some anti-immigrant politicians who have been using the current concern over Ebola in the US as a propaganda tool in order to stoke anti-immigrant prejudice and derail reform.

    No one can possibly dispute that Ebola is an extremely serious and dangerous disease and that every possible medical precaution must be taken to stop its spread in the US, Europe and at its source in three west African countries.

    But the number of people who have contracted this disease in the US so far is exactly two - a tiny fraction of the number of Americans who have died and will die this year from gun violence and cigarette smoking.

    Nor has there been a single reported case of Ebola in all of Latin America or the entire western hemisphere outside of the US. But this reality has not stopped anti-immigrant politicians from using Ebola to whip up mass hysteria against immigrants in order to block reform.

    CNN's Maria Santana reports that on October 9, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, now running for the Senate in New Hampshire, warned that undocumented immigrants might bring Ebola into the US through the Mexican border. Similar statements have been made by North Carolina Senate candidate Thom Tillis and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.


    The same report also quotes Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey, a medical doctor, as warning:

    "Reports of illegal migrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis are particularly concerning."

    Maria Santana also mentions a suggestion by Fox News host Chris Wallace that an Ebola infected terrorist could enter through the southern border and wage biological warfare. Not to be outdone, Arkansas Rep. and Senate candidate Tom Cotton has accused terror groups of collaborating with drug cartels in Mexico.

    The same article concludes by quoting Bob Quasius, president of Cafe Con Leche Republicans, as follows:

    "I am saddened to see some conservatives use fears of deadly diseases to push an immigration restriction agenda. Their claims are vastly overblown and I am especially disappointed in Rep. Phil Gingrey, who is a medical doctor and who should know better."

    Just suppose that some day in the future, there were ever to be any truth to the above allegations, as opposed to the current pure fantasy of Ebola coming into the US from Mexico or Central America. In such a case, would the administration's current enforcement policies toward unaccompanied immigrant children (also known as UAC's) fleeing gang violence in countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras not be one of the biggest dangers to public health of all?

    One can only imagine what would happen if Ebola were to break out in an immigration detention center such as Artesia, New Mexico, where hundreds of children are reportedly already at risk of becoming sick with other illnesses by being crammed in unsanitary, unhealthy facilities with inadequate food and medical care. See, for example, Lory Rosenberg's recent articles in Immigration Daily on the conditions there, including, among others, Too Little, Too Late (October 1).

    In such a case, the Obama administration's rush to deport as many children as possible in the shortest amount of time, in violation of both the letter and the spirit of the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), and of their fundamental legal Constitutional rights to counsel and due process of law, could be the beginning of a real epidemic in America, as opposed to only a couple of extremely unfortunate, but still isolated, cases at the present.

    Updated 10-16-2014 at 11:20 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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