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Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal


  1. Deported and Exiled U.S. Citizen Gets Passport Back

    by , 12-02-2013 at 10:19 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    The New York Daily News reports that formerly deported and exiled United States citizen Blanca Maria Alfaro has finally had her passport returned to her, again. Ms. Alfaro was born in Texas, but her family moved to El Salvador when she was a child. Her ordeal includes having her passport stripped on multiple occasions, being detained by immigration officials for over two weeks, and being threatened with jail to coerce her to make a sworn statement that she was not a United States citizen at the airport.

    From the article:

    According to Alfaro, an immigration officer told her that the U.S. passport she carried was not hers. An officer said that she should write down her correct name on a piece of paper.

    She penned "Blanca Maria Alfaro" but officers laughed and ripped it up, she said.

    "I told them I was from here, from the United States. They insisted, no, I was from El Salvador," she said.

    After hours, they told her that if she didn't tell them her correct name she'd go to jail — where there were "a lot of bad women," Alfaro said. Tired, scared and frustrated, she wrote down her half-sister Mayra's name.

    Great work by immigration lawyer Bryan Johnson to get this matter straightened out.

    Updated 12-02-2013 at 10:27 AM by MKolken

  2. Immigration Activist Ju Hong's Appearance on Democracy Now!

    by , 11-27-2013 at 11:59 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    From Democracy Now!:

    Two days after he interrupted a speech by President Obama, Ju Hong, an immigrant rights activist from South Korea, joins us to talk about how Obama’s immigration policies have torn apart his family. As Obama continued his campaign for comprehensive immigration reform with a speech in San Francisco, Hong interrupted him to call for an end to deportations. Obama then turned around to address him directly, and Hong continued talking, pleading for Obama to stop separating families through deportations. Those who placed Hong behind Obama during the speech may not have realized he is one of the most outspoken young immigrant activists in California. Hong has been arrested previously during immigration protests — most recently over the summer when he opposed the confirmation of former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as president of the University of California system. Hong is a member of ASPIRE–Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights Through Education. "I thought about my family, I thought about my personal struggle as undocumented, and I thought about my friends and my communities who have been deported and who are currently in detention centers," Hong says about why he spoke out. "I felt I was compelled to tell the truth to President Obama that he has the ability stop the deportations for all."

  3. The President Does Have the Power to Limit Deportations

    by , 11-26-2013 at 11:41 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    Yesterday, President Obama gave a speech in San Francisco where he was confronted by California Berkeley graduate Ju Hong who pleaded with the President to do something to stem the tide of deportations hallmarking his presidency. Mr. Hong specifically asked: "Mr. President, please use your executive order to halt deportations for all 11.5 undocumented immigrants in this country right now."

    The President's response was as follows:

    But we’re also a nation of laws. That’s part of our tradition. And so the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws. And what I’m proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve. But it won’t be as easy as just shouting. It requires us lobbying and getting it done. (Applause.)

    In sum, the President said that he is bound to enforce our nation's immigration laws, and is powerless to do anything to limit the carnage of his own deportation grinder. It appears that the President has forgotten about the Morton memo, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers, and the most recent memorandum providing Parole in Place for Military Families.

    So clearly there is precedent that this President has the authority to favorably exercise prosecutorial discretion on behalf of deserving groups of immigrants. Point being, the President was being disingenuous at best, and lying at worst when he said that you would have to "pretend" that he can do something. He clearly can do something. He already has. Four times. Unless of course he is now saying that his previous prosecutorial initiatives were in violation of law. But I'm sure he wasn't saying that. No, he certainly was not.

    It is firmly established that the President decidedly has the authority to exercise prosecutorial discretion, and he should exercise that authority to an expanded group of undocumented immigrants. For example deferred action for parents of DACA recipients, and parents of United States citizen children under the age of 21. He could also expand parole in place for immediate relatives of citizens that are statutorily ineligible to adjust status because they entered without inspection. These are just a few examples, but they are a start.

    A CNN/ORC poll that was released this week found that a majority of Americans think President Obama is not honest or trustworthy.

    His latest appearance isn't helping matters.

    Updated 11-26-2013 at 05:11 PM by MKolken

  4. Report: Dignity Denied, LGBT Immigrants in U.S. Immigration Detention

    by , 11-25-2013 at 09:56 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    The Center for American Progress has released a report entitled: Dignity Denied, LGBT Immigrants in U.S. Immigration Detention that reveals that LGBT immigrants in immigration detention facilities face an increased risk of abuse.

    From the introduction:

    The U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment went as far as finding the treatment of LGBT
    immigrants in U.S. detention facilities in violation of the Convention Against Torture after it received information on gay and transgender individuals who had been subjected to solitary confinement, torture, and ill-treatment—including sexual assault—while detained in U.S. immigration facilities.

    The report details incidents of sexual assault, denial of adequate medical care, long-term solitary confinement, discrimination and abuse, and ineffective
    complaints and appeals processes.

    Click here to read the full report.

    Updated 11-25-2013 at 05:14 PM by MKolken

  5. Obama Willing to Support Piecemeal Immigration Reform

    by , 11-20-2013 at 09:06 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    In a move that may signal real progress on the immigration reform front, President Obama indicated yesterday that he would be willing to support the House GOP's piecemeal approach to comprehensive immigration reform so long as key components are addressed in smaller bills.

    He stated: "If they want to chop that thing up into five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don't care what it looks like." He then qualified his statement saying: "What we don't want to do is simply carve out one piece of it…but leave behind some of the tougher stuff that still needs to get done."

    This is a very positive sign in my opinion, as the House GOP is quietly working on their own version of reform legislation. Hopefully we will see something introduced if not this year, in early 2014.

    I am on record with my immigration reform solution that would immediately provide legal status to the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country. My solution would provide a temporary renewable status that brings people out of the shadows, protects them from deportation, and also provides employment and travel authorization so that people can lead normal lives. The status could be renewed indefinitely in the absence of disqualifying criminal grounds of removal. It would require a one-time payment of a penalty fee, and a substantially lower filing fee for renewals, which would be required every ten years.

    Although there would be no independent pathway to citizenship baked in, you would not be precluded from obtaining a Green Card and ultimately citizenship through the normal channels. This solution would allow undocumented immediate relatives of United States citizens to immediately apply for a Green Card the moment they receive their status. Spouses of United States citizens would be eligible to apply for citizenship three years after they get their Green Card. It is a real path to citizenship, unlike the illusory one provide in the Senate Bill.

    For this solution to work properly we need more immigrant visa numbers as well as a robust skilled and guest worker program to afford future immigrants an opportunity to come to this country legally. I have articulated this solution to GOP members of Congress and it has been received favorably.

    Here's to 2014: the year of immigration reform.

    Updated 01-09-2014 at 10:23 AM by MKolken

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