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Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal


  1. ICE Admits to Detaining 13 Pregnant Women

    by , 01-07-2014 at 08:55 PM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    The National Immigrant Youth Alliance's (NIYA) infiltration of the El Paso detention center has resulted in both the discovery, and the Obama administration's confession that ICE has locked up 13 pregnant women in immigration detention between August and November of 2013. Because of a lack of transparency there is no way of knowing how many pregnant women are currently being held in ICE custody nationwide despite the administration's policy against it.

    Click here for more information.

    Updated 01-08-2014 at 02:18 PM by MKolken

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  2. Erika Andiola: "Why I'm Fighting to Stop Deportations Outside of Congress"

    by , 12-28-2013 at 08:53 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    Erika Andiola, Co-Director of the DRM Action Coalition, recently left her job in Congress to help stop her mother's deportation. She has now penned an article explaining her motivations. From the article: "After seeing my mother in handcuffs, I realized that I was perhaps wrong about the President I encouraged my community to support. I realized that the words President Obama said as a keynote speaker at my Arizona State University graduation in 2009 were empty words."

    She has since moved on to her "Clean Obama's Mess" stage.

    We wish you luck Erika!

    Click here to read the full article.

    Updated 12-28-2013 at 11:19 AM by MKolken

  3. How many citizens will spend Christmas without their deported relative this year?

    by , 12-24-2013 at 11:24 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    I saw the following anonymous comment posted in response to a blog about deportations and immigration enforcement and was compelled to republish it here. It perfectly crystallizes the human toll that the last 5 years have had on United States citizens with relatives that have been deported by the Obama administration.

    "You are so worried they are doing nothing! They do enforce and they do deport no matter what the family member wants. The police even laughed when they arrested my husband and told me he would be released after i paid a fine, they said to wait and I did for 4 1/2 hours while they kept looking at me knowing darn well they weren't going to release him.

    Its a game to them. They make them criminals for doing what any family man would do get back to his family. I contacted everyone from the President to the Judge , Senators Congressman, Pro immigrant groups and lots more.

    Whats so weird they all told me they had no power to do anything, most just ignored me. My husband crime was coming back here to take care of me and he would have come back this time but the President gave many of us false hope all the talk about personal discretion yada yada yada and I asked him to wait to see if we could do this the right way-he asked me several times said it was getting worse over there-If i would have brought him back illegally he would still be alive!

    I begged since 2010- well they deported him again in Dec 2012 to one of the most violent countries of the world and Saturday Dec 15, 2013 he was murdered and I am left trying to go on without him I am 55 years old and disabled.

    To you people he is just one more to me he was my life, my hope, my future. I cant close my eyes without seeing him, I cry all the time. But I don't matter either after all he was just a immigrant to you. He was the kindest, caring- the finest man I have ever know. He is not replaceable.

    I should have had more say in his deportation, he should have been allowed to stay here while processing his paperwork, to this day there has been no action on his paperwork. I had to barrow to get the money to pay the lawyer and forms. I have lost respect for our system when you make laws knowing they are not going to work to criminalize a otherwise normal person just lacking authorization setting them up to fail and making them felons is so wrong! So I well pay for it the rest of my life.

    The pain I feel is real it is devastating he should have been offered amnesty but they just wanted to deport. All his life he lived in fear And violence he lived in the streets from the time he was 9 his stepfather came close to killing him twice, his uncle electrocuted his legs for punishment and burned his skin to the bone, he saw a man decapitated right in front of him and so much more . He didn't deserve to be sent back to die I wrote ICE , John Morton and it seems no one has authority to do anything he was robbed his 1st or second month back in his country and I wrote them all again.

    Well none of this is important to anyone but me but if it did affect them they would have done something. I have nothing left but memories at least they can not destroy those but I hope they make a change so more like me don't have their lives taken away and spend the rest of their days suffering for the loss of their partner or child."

    To the anonymous author of this comment, rest assured your story is important to me.

    To those in our community that provide cover for the administration that has destroyed more families through deportation than at any time in history, you need to take a long hard look in the mirror. This isn't about politics. It is about children losing parents, and husbands losing wives.

    Well here is the reality check: it was President Obama's administration that deported this woman's husband to a death sentence, and no seldom used prosecutorial discretion memo will ever bring him back to her. If I sound outraged, you would be correct. I've grown weary of the endless stories of loved ones being shackled in the middle of the night as children cry helplessly, unable to comprehend that daddy is never coming home again.

    Hopefully, in 2014 things will finally "Change" so I can use this forum to do something other than on a near daily basis expose the President's lies about his deportation record. I know it has grown tiresome to some, but to me speaking the truth is more important than receiving an invite to the White House Holiday party.

    Just sayin'

    Updated 12-24-2013 at 11:26 AM by MKolken

  4. Reactions to ICE's New Deportation Statistics

    by , 12-20-2013 at 10:00 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    Yesterday, ICE released their annual deportation statistics. They are claiming that 98% of the agency's total removals consisted of convicted criminals, recent border crossers, "illegal" re-entrants, or those previously removed by ICE.

    From the press release:

    In FY2013, ICE conducted a total of 368,644 removals, 235,093 of whom were apprehended while, or shortly after, attempting to illegally enter the United States, and 133,551 of whom were apprehended in the interior of the United States. Nearly 60 percent of ICE’s total removals had been previously convicted of a criminal offense, and that number rises to 82 percent for individuals removed from the interior of the U.S. Other than convicted criminals, the agency’s enforcement priorities include: those apprehended while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States, illegal re-entrants – individuals who returned to the U.S. after being previously removed by ICE – and immigration fugitives.

    My friend and colleague Chuck Kuck had the following reaction to the numbers: "Obama only deported 350,000 people last year. Somehow this is something to celebrate?" Pretty much sums it up for me.

    But there is more to the story. Anyone paying attention knows that the administration has ramped up criminal prosecutions of immigrants charged with immigration law crimes. In fact, according to Syracuse University's TRAC Immigration, illegal reentry prosecutions have jumped 76% during the Obama administration, and the 100,000 prosecutions mark is at an all-time high. Another record setting performance for the Deporter-in-Chief. What this means is that the administration is turning an unprecedented number of individuals into convicted criminals when their only criminal infraction stems from an immigration law violation. This clearly has resulted in a padding of the criminal removal statistics.

    As for the claim that ICE is enforcing our nation’s laws in a smart and effective way, TRAC has already done the heavy lifting for us. They found that very few ICE detainers involve serious criminals. TRAC determined that "if traffic violations (including driving while intoxicated) and marijuana possession are put aside, fully two thirds of all detainers had no record of a conviction." Statistics show that through November 2013, only a small percentage of the deportation filings are based on alleged criminal activity.

    Here is a sample of some of the other reactions I've seen to the recent release:

    From the ACLU:

    Despite broad consensus that the nation needs immigration reform, the Obama administration is barreling towards the dubious honor of hitting a record 2 million deportations by early next year. Today’s numbers show that ICE continues to sweep tens of thousands of immigrants into a detention and deportation machine that lacks basic due process protections, including the dignity of an appearance before a judge. The Department of Homeland Security should sharpen its enforcement priorities and strengthen due process protections for immigrants in removal proceedings.

    Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum:

    ICE is still removing people with no criminal record who are just trying to build a life in America — including tens of thousands this past year. These numbers highlight the urgency for broad immigration reform from Congress that stresses accountability and moves our country forward. In 2014, leaders simply must follow through on a new immigration process that emphasizes security, freedom, opportunity and human dignity.

    America's Voice was not so diplomatic in their response, calling the Obama administration "sickening."

    There is a huge gap between what they say and what they do. DHS announced prosecutorial discretion policies in 2011 aimed at focusing deportation on the ‘worst of the worst,’ and yet these policies have never been fully implemented. They claim that most of those being deported are ‘convicted criminals’ – a scary label until you realize that their own definitions of ‘convicted criminals’ include traffic violations and minor nuisance offenses (see here and here). They claim that the only answer is legislation – which really is the best and most permanent solution – but refuse to simultaneously use their substantial administrative authority to rein in the out-of-control detention and deportation machinery. The time is now for the Administration to do its part to stop deporting people who are anything but ‘criminals’ and have deep roots and make huge contributions to the country they now call home.

    The National Day Laborer Organization had the following insight:

    "People on all sides will look at these numbers with a great deal of skepticism. It’s easy for the Administration to say that those deported fit their priorities when this White House has practically made sneezing a criminal act for immigrants. These numbers may represent political calculus for the beltway but for immigrant families, they represent our parents, siblings, and loved ones,” explains Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director. “The five years of criminalization the President has overseen blankets immigrant communities with suspicion and causes people to live in fear. Until the historic mistake of entwining local police with immigration enforcement is corrected, the country will face a crisis of safety in our communities, confidence in the President, and separation in our families."

    It is obvious to everyone other than those drinking from a Big Gulp sized cool-aide that the administration's recent release is little more than propaganda and public relations spin to address the negative publicity that is finally raining down on the President.

    Better late than never.

    Updated 12-20-2013 at 02:30 PM by MKolken

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  5. Pew Research Survey: Deportation Relief Seen As More Important Than Citizenship

    by , 12-19-2013 at 02:31 PM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    Pew Research has released a survey that found that to Hispanic and Asian Americans deportation relief is seen as more important than a pathway to citizenship. This comes as no surprise to anyone that practices deportation defense.

    From the survey:

    By 55% to 35%, Hispanics say that they think being able to live and work in the United States legally without the threat of deportation is more important for unauthorized immigrants than a pathway to citizenship. Asian Americans hold a similar view, albeit by a smaller margin—49% to 44%.

    Together Hispanics and Asian Americans account for two-thirds of the 28 million immigrants who are in the U.S. legally, and Hispanics alone account for about three-quarters of the additional 11.7 million immigrants who, according to Pew Research Center estimates, are in the country illegally.

    Here's the problem. There are powerful forces that are demanding a pathway to citizenship as a central component of immigration reform legislation, which we all know will result is reform's failure, and is one of the main reasons why the Senate Bill was dead on arrival. You have to question the motivations of the people taking an all or nothing approach. To me it is more likely that they want to see reform fail so they can continue to use immigration as a wedge issue in 2014 and 2016. They are playing politics by trying to "win" the immigration reform debate, rather than fighting for actual reform that stops deportations, and provides legality that brings millions of people out of the shadows. So long as immigration reform legislation doesn't preclude citizenship through normal channels it is worthy of consideration.

    The client I represented today in Federal Court is a father of two United States citizen children, and he is married to a Green Card holder. He and his family could really care less if reform includes an automatic pathway to citizenship. He just doesn't want to have his family destroyed by deportation. This study reveals that he is in the majority.

    Here is the bottom line: If you want immigration reform in 2014 you better be willing to accept a solution that does not have a baked in pathway to citizenship. It really is that simple.

    Updated 12-19-2013 at 04:16 PM by MKolken

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