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Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal


  1. Obama to Continue Vigorous Enforcement of Immigration Laws

    by , 02-06-2013 at 06:48 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    Yesterday the President had a meeting with labor and business leaders at the White House on immigration. Members of the AFL-CIO, NAACP, and CEOs from Coca Cola, Goldman Sachs and Yahoo were in attendance.  
    The President was asked if he would consider a change to his deportation policies until immigration reform legislation has a chance to make its way through Congress.  There was a record breaking 409,849 people deported during the last fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2012.  The President indicated that he has no intention to ease up on enforcement.  
    Also yesterday, House Republicans held the first Congressional hearing on immigration reform where they rejected the inclusion of a "pathway to citizenship" as a central component of reform legislation.
    It has become abundantly clear to me that if there is any hope of reform passing this year advocates must be willing to accept an imperfect solution.  As I have stated in previous blogs I could live with a deal that included the creation of a temporary renewable nonimmigrant legal status that permits individuals to work and travel, so long as it also allows them to apply for a Green Card inside the United States if they acquire a qualifying relative or employer to sponsor them. Couple this with changes to both the employment and family based visa system and we would have a solution that would "legalize" people, and to use the common vernacular, get them "in the back of the line."  Only there would be a line, and it would be of reasonable size.
    This stop gap measure would solve two problems: 1. it would permit 11 million people to come out of the shadows and live without fear of deportation; and 2. it would placate those on the right that see a pathway to citizenship as amnesty that rewards lawbreakers.
    We all must understand the political realities we face. The GOP will not back a bill that contains an immediate pathway to citizenship, and you can't get reform legislation passed without them. As such, we need to embrace a solution that affords 11 million people an opportunity to follow the law without destroying their family. The solution simply does not need to be perfect to effectuate that goal.
    Please do not allow principle to override practicality, as making the GOP look bad to win elections is NOT the goal here.
  2. Are the "Vast Majority" of People Being Deported Really Criminals?

    by , 02-01-2013 at 07:10 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    The President was quoted yesterday in defense of his deportation record. He stated that: "What we've seen is that the people who are being deported, the vast majority of them now are criminals."

    Really Mr. President?

    If we are to believe the statistics released by ICE it is estimated there were more than 400,000 people deported in 2012, of which approximately 50% were "convicted criminals." Hardly a vast majority as the President would have you believe.

    But the 400,000 deportations question is: should we REALLY believe these statistics? The following is from Syracuse University's TRAC Immigration:

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is identifying fewer individuals as deportable owing to alleged criminal activity, according to the latest Immigration Court data on new deportation proceedings. During the most recent quarter (January - March 2012), ICE sought to deport a total of 5,450 individuals on criminal grounds. While this number is preliminary and is likely to increase once late reports are in, it represents a drastic decrease compared with 10,732 individuals against whom ICE sought deportation orders just two years ago (during the period January - March 2010).

    But let's delve deeper into the allegation by quoting another statistic of note: In 2012, there was an 168.7% increase in federal criminal prosecutions for immigration related crimes from what was the norm in 2007. The most heavily prosecuted crime being unlawful reentry. In fact, nationwide, illegal reentry under 8 U.S.C. 1326 was the most commonly recorded criminal charge brought by federal prosecutors in 2011.

    So what does this all mean?

    The Obama administration is prosecuting individuals for immigration related offenses at unprecedented levels, and by doing so they are turning mere immigration violators, people whose only crime is a violation of United States immigration law, into "criminal aliens" so that the statistics will reflect a deportation of a "serious" criminal. In September 2012 alone there were 8,132 new immigration related criminal convictions... and you can bet that every single one of them was deported through the reinstatement of a previous order of removal, and never had the opportunity to request relief from removal before an immigration judge.

    Now I'm not saying that individuals should be committing immigration violations, or for that matter criminal violations for returning to the United States after they have been ordered removed. Far from it. We are a nation of laws and our laws need to be respected by all. What I am saying is that the administration is padding their criminal deportation statistics by loading the deck with newly minted "criminal aliens."

    That brings me to my next point. In compiling the statistics what does the Obama administration count as being a "criminal alien?"

    According to TRAC Immigration the administration's definition of "criminal alien" includes: individuals convicted of serious offenses like armed robbery, drug smuggling, and human trafficking, AND people found guilty of minor violations of the law such as traffic offenses, or in more basic terms people guilty of the offense of driving while brown.

    The point being, the Obama administration is counting people that have minor traffic offenses that have absolutely no immigration consequences at all as criminal aliens, even when they are being deported for mere immigration violations such as a visa overstay, and not under criminal grounds of removal.

    How does that sit with you?

    Since we are on the topic of statistics, Tanya Golash-Boza, Associate professor of sociology at University of California-Merced, recently released a report entitled: "Mapping the Shift from Border to Interior Enforcement of Immigration Laws during the Obama Presidency."

    The report found, among other things, that by 2014 the Obama administration will have deported over 2 million people, which is more deportations in six years than the entire number of people ever deported before 1997. The report further found that between July 1, 2010, and Sept. 30, 2012, there were 204,810 deportations of parents with U.S. citizen children.

    I'll leave you with a quote from ICE Director John Morton at the infancy of his appointment: "This isn't a question of whether or not we will detain people. We will detain people, and we will detain them on a grand scale."

    At least he wasn't lying to us.

    Updated 05-04-2016 at 05:02 PM by MKolken

  3. 50% of President Obama's Immigration Reform Proposal Involves Enforcement

    by , 01-30-2013 at 06:48 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    The President held an immigration reform pep rally yesterday, where he rolled out his vision of what a new law should look like.  After the speech the White House released a fact sheet that summarizes this vision, breaking it down into four parts.  I couldn't help but notice that 50% of the President's vision relates to immigration enforcement.
    From the Fact Sheet:

    Continuing to Strengthen Border Security: President Obama has doubled the number of Border Patrol agents since 2004 and today border security is stronger than it has ever been.  But there is more work to do.   The President's proposal gives law enforcement the tools they need to make our communities safer from crime.  And by enhancing our infrastructure and technology, the President's proposal continues to strengthen our ability to remove criminals and apprehend and prosecute national security threats.

    Cracking Down on Employers Hiring Undocumented Workers: Our businesses should only employ people legally authorized to work in the United States.  Businesses that knowingly employ undocumented workers are exploiting the system to gain an advantage over businesses that play by the rules.  The President's proposal is designed to stop these unfair hiring practices and hold these companies accountable.  At the same time, this proposal gives employers who want to play by the rules a reliable way to verify that their employees are here legally.

    These were the first two points that were stressed.  The other two points include earned citizenship (with penalties), and streamlining legal immigration.
    There are some things in the President's plan that I find unsettling.  Specifically, it includes administrative "streamlined" removal for individuals considered to be a threat to public safety, which may result in completely arbitrary determinations being made by the agency effectively bypassing any right to a hearing before a judge.  It further embraces mandatory detention and a summary removal process, which potentially could be applied to lawful permanent residents convicted of crimes that may or may not have any immigration consequences.  The plan also refers to the E-verify system, which has proved to be innefective at best.  Same-sex couples have not been mentioned in the plan, although that is next on the list.
    As for earned citizenship, the political reality is that an automatic pathway to citizenship is a poison pill that will doom reform because the GOP will only support legislation that requires lawbreakers to legalize incrementally.
    As most of you are aware the bulk of my practice is deportation defense. Ask any one of my clients whether they care if immigration reform includes an immediate pathway to citizenship and they will tell you that they just don't want to be separated from their families, that they are afforded the ability to work in this country legally, that they can obtain a driver's license and social security number, and that they have the ability to leave the country periodically to visit family without penalty.

    If immigration reform provides a temporary status to 11 million qualifying people that does not preclude adjustment under employment or family based categories I could get behind it.  A renewable nonimmigrant status as a stop-gap measure is better than what the law currently provides. Couple it with a tweak in the law to include spouse, parents and unmarried children under the age of 21 of lawful permanent residents into the definition of immediate relative and most of those people will have a pathway to lawful permanent residency, and three or five years later they will be eligible to naturalize. 

    Even a simple policy change to provide parole in place in the exercise of discretion to immediate relatives of United States citizens that have already had a provisional waiver approved to enable them to adjust would be a quantum leap in the right direction.

    Point being the problem can be solved without an immediate solution that will ultimately doom reform.
    So the next question is: when will we see a Bill, and will it come from the White House?
  4. 11-year-old trying to say goodbye to his father before he was taken for deportation pushed to the ground by ICE Agents

    by , 01-23-2013 at 05:33 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)


    Edi was first detained by ICE in 2009 after a neighbor called the police saying he looked "suspicous." The police pulled him over and immediately began to grill him as to his legal status, the asked him if he had proper papers to be in the United States. Edi was honest and told them he did not; he was immediately turned over to ICE agents. 

    Edi has since been fighting his deportation to Guatemala, a country he left 12-years ago. Edi has three children; ages 11, 8 and 6. His 6-year old daughter suffers from asthma and recently had to be hospitalized. In 2009 Edi's brother was murdered in Guatemala and, if deported, he fears the same fate. 

    On Monday, January 14th, 2013, Edi woke up just like any day and got ready to take his 3-kids to school. As soon as he opened the door he was attacked by sever [sic] ICE agents. He was arrested in front of his entire family and told he'd be deported soon. Edi's 11-year old son attempted to hug his father goodbye, however the ICE agent pushed him away. 

    Edi's entire family has been shaken by this raid and they fear Edi's immediate removal. Edi is currently being detained at the Eloy immigration prison and is being told he will be deported any day now. 

    I urge you to take action by signing the petition to help stop Edi's deportation.
  5. 7 Immigration Numbers from President Obama's First Term

    by , 01-22-2013 at 08:03 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    Univision's Ted Hesson just wrote an article entitled "7 Numbers That Tell the Story of Obama on Immigration." It is a nice snapshot of what has occurred over the last four years.
    Here they are:

    1.6 million people "deported" in the President's first term (32,886 people per month);
    $18 billion spent on immigration enforcement;
    97% of the country is now under the immigration enforcement program known as Secure Communities;
    68 representing the amount of beds located in the new deportation jail in Karnes County, Texas that is being billed as a more humane way to cage immigrants;
    0 representing the net migration of immigrants from Mexico;
    92 days are left on the deadline that evangelicals have given the President to tackle immigration reform; and
    154,404 representing the number of Deferred Action approvals (407,899 submitted) as of January 22, 2013.

    So there ya have it.
    Four more years! Four more years!
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