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Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal


  1. 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

  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. ICE Sued for Illegally Detaining United States Citizen

    by , 01-17-2013 at 07:00 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    The ACLU of Pennsylvania has filed suit in the U.S. District Court for Western District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Angelica Davila, a United States citizen for what the executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, Reggie Shuford, calls "a blatant example of ethnic profiling."
    It has been alleged that after being stopped for a minor traffic violation, Ms. Davila was illegally arrested by ICE and held overnight in the Allegheny County Jail based on the erroneous belief that she had violated United States immigration laws, and was subject to deportation.
    From the ACLU press release:

    On the evening of January 22, 2011, Davila and a friend, Joel Garrete, were pulled over on Perry Highway in Wexford shortly after exiting the parking lot of a Mexican grocery store. Davila, a legally licensed driver in Pennsylvania, had forgotten to turn on her headlights. She provided her license, proof of registration, and insurance card to Patrolman Andrew Bienemann of the Northern Regional Police Department. The officer also demanded identification from her friend and asked if he was in the country legally. A native of Honduras, Garrete admitted he was not lawfully present. Bienemann then called the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to check on the status of both Davila and Garrete. 
    Davila provided her name, country of origin, and date of birth to ICE Special Agent Brianna Tetrault over the phone and told Tetrault she was legally present in the United States. Davila, who speaks both English and Spanish fluently, agreed to translate while Tetrault spoke to Garrete.
    Nevertheless, after waiting by the side of the road for two hours, both Davila and Garrete were handcuffed and eventually transported to the Allegheny County Jail at the request of ICE. During her ordeal, Davila repeatedly explained to police officers and jail guards that she was legally present.  In fact, Davila was a U.S. citizen at the time of her arrest under a law granting automatic citizenship to children of U.S. citizen parents who were under 18 on February 27, 2001.

    Click here to view the complaint.
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