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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 wishing to be able 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.
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 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."
The same article also quotes 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 10-22-2014 at 08:51 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
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 email@example.com
Updated 10-20-2014 at 07:48 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated 10-17-2014 at 02:31 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
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
Update: October 17, 8:35 am:
The latest video shows Nina Pham arriving by ambulance at the NIH hospital in Bethesda, MD for treatment after being transferred from Dallas. I also watched a wonderful video showing Nina in her isolation room at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital together with a health care worker in full protective gear. In the video, she smiles, says "I love you guys" to her health care workers and looks forward to "party in Maryland" as she wipes away tears. The video was reportedly shot by the physician in charge of her care at the Texas Hospital, Dr. Gary Weinstein.
This post has been updated as of 2:27 pm and again at 4:21 pm on October 15.
Nina Pham, the courageous daughter of Vietnamese parents who came to America as political refugees, is now battling Ebola in a Dallas hospital as a result of her heroic actions in caring for the Liberian victim, Thomas Eric Duncan, who died last week as a result of his own heroism in carrying a seven months pregnant woman to a hospital in Liberia and then back home after finding out that the hospital had no room for her. It is not clear whether Duncan knew that the woman had Ebola, from which she died shortly afterward.
The New York Times reports that Nina Pham's friends have described her as a compassionate and caring nurse who loved her job and was grounded by her Catholic faith. According to the Times, Ms. Pham's friend and co-worker, Jennifer Joseph, is a conscientious and careful nurse who always double-checked her charts and never seemed to make a mistake:
"To Ms. Joseph, Ms. Pham is both a great nurse and a great friend. She said Ms. Pham helped her get oriented at Presbyterian, and during her 12-hour shifts together taught her 'how to become the nurse I am today.' Frequently, when thinking about a patient, Ms. Pham would ask herself, 'What would I do if this was my mom, dad or grandparent?' Ms. Joseph said."
See: Ebola Puts Nina Pham, a Nurse Unaccustomed to the Spotlight, in Its Glare (October 13).
The Associated Press also reports that Nina Pham took care of Mr. Duncan throughout his entire hospital stay, up until the time of his death. She is currently reported to be in good condition.
Everyone in America can take great encouragement from the dedication to her profession, devotion to duty and unstinting care for her patient under the most difficult and dangerous circumstances that this member of Dallas' Vietnamese immigrant community has shown, in keeping with America's highest values and ideals. We all congratulate her and wish her a full and speedy recovery, along with a second nurse at the same Dallas hospital (Texas Health Presbyterian), Amber Vinson, who has also tested positive for this disease. Ms. Vinson has been transferred to Emory Hospital in Atlanta for treatment.
Roger Algase is a New York lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been serving employment and family-based immigration clients for more than 30 years. His email address is email@example.com
Updated 10-17-2014 at 07:35 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs