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Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal

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  1. Nine-Year-Old Child's Political Activism Helps Stop Parents' Deportation

    by , 07-30-2013 at 08:17 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    Here is another example of what winning the public relations war can do to help stop a deportation. The video below is then nine-year-old Katherine Figueroa pleading for the release of her parents who were held for three months prior to their release.

    The Huffington Post reports that four years later her parents' case has been administratively closed by an immigration immigration judge.

  2. Members of Congress Write President Obama on behalf of the #DREAM9

  3. Past President of AILA Calls #DREAM9 Protest a "Publicity Stunt"

    by , 07-29-2013 at 10:13 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    In an act that has unleashed both shock and outrage, David Leopold, Past President and [past] General Counsel of AILA, characterized the courageous acts of the #DREAM9 protesters as a “publicity stunt” that hinders reform. He explained that he was “bothered” by the #DREAM9’s protests because they were “being flippant about U.S. law and U.S. policy.” In essence, that they should move to the back of the bus, sit there quietly, and enjoy the ride.

    He then took it a step farther, stating that [at least 3 of] the #DREAM9 have little chance of obtaining asylum in the United States because: “it is only granted to people who can prove well-founded fear of persecution based on several traits such as gender, sexual orientation, political opinion, religion or nationality.”

    Leopold’s statements [do not not necessarily paint a complete picture of the law of asylum]. Specifically, asylum may be granted in the absence of a well-founded fear of persecution if an individual is able to demonstrate “compelling reasons for being unwilling or unable to return to the country arising out of the severity of the past persecution,” or there is a reasonable possibility the individual may suffer other serious harm upon removal to that country. 8 C.F.R. § 208.13(b)(1)(iii)(A) and (B).

    It should be noted that the other serious harm standard does not require a prospective fear to be based on a protected ground for asylum, and provides an immigration judge with the authority to take a look at the totality of the circumstances in determining whether a favorable exercise of discretion is warranted on a case-by-case basis. In determining whether an applicant has established a reasonable possibility of other serious harm, adjudicators should focus on current conditions that could severely affect the applicant, such as civil strife and extreme economic deprivation, as well as on the potential for new physical or psychological harm that the applicant might suffer. Matter of L-S-, 25 I. & N. Dec. 705 (BIA 2012).

    So that clears that up.

    Now, although Leopold has every right under our constitution to form and communicate an opinion, it is inexcusable for any competent immigration lawyer to make sweeping generalizations about the merits of an individual's asylum claim without first having command of ALL of the facts. As former Board of Immigration Appeals Judge Lory D. Rosenberg has articulately stated: “it does a disservice to the development and practice of asylum law to suggest that the determination of what may constitute unacceptable harm done to human beings by any government is so clear-cut or easily made, or that fears of persecution may be so easily dismissed. Shame on any immigration attorney whose desire to make a political point would belie the complexity and variability of these necessarily case-by-case asylum determinations.”

    Moreover, Leopold's statements are dangerous as they may serve to poison these kids' ability to present an application for asylum, or to receive a favorable exercise of discretion regarding humanitarian parole, as the public relations war is as significant a battle as the legal one.

    Which brings me to the next question, did Leopold make these statements out of an innocent ignorance of the law, or did he have more deviant motivations: to provide political cover for an administration that he has a propensity to defend at all costs?

    I’ll let you be the judge.

    Author's note (July 29, 2013 @ 7:15 pm): A second edit was made out of professional courtesy to amend the qualifying adverb "patently" from the qualification of Mr. Leopold's statements relating to his interpretation of law.

    Author's note (July 29, 2013 @ 4:02 pm): David Leopold has contacted ILW.com with objections to this post.

    His first objection is stylistic, as he wishes to have the word "former" included before his former position as General Counsel. It should be noted that my use of the word "Past" attached to both his former position as President of AILA, as well as to his recently vacated position as General Counsel.

    His second objection is that my reference to his assessment of the viability of the #DREAM9's chances for asylum only applies to three of the nine individuals. It should be noted that a fair interpretation of the article is that Mr. Leopold made a general appraisal of the law of asylum, and his assessment was not case specific.

    The third objection relates to the author's use of the adverb "patently" to qualify the word "false." The author employed the common usage of the word "patently" which is: openly, plainly, or clearly: i.e., a patently false statement. The author was not inferring specific intent.






    Updated 05-03-2016 at 08:43 AM by MKolken

  4. Update: Women of #DREAM9 on Hunger Strike over Access to Telephones

    by , 07-26-2013 at 08:58 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    All five women in the #DREAM9 are on a hunger strike over the restriction of telephone service at the Eloy Detention Center. They report they receive a messages that their calls to friends and advocates are restricted.

    From the Huffington Post:


    “The facility is preventing them from making phone calls,” Mohammad Abdolahi, an organizer with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, said on a conference call with reporters. “As soon as they begin speaking and start telling us what’s happening, the call just drops.”

    I'll keep you posted as the story develops.



  5. Update on the Dreamers Who Crossed the Border in Nogales and Week of Action

    by , 07-26-2013 at 07:51 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    This latest update is from DREAMActivist.org:

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Update on the Dreamers Who Crossed the Border in Nogales and Week of Action
    Events nationwide to #BringThemHome

    NATIONAL—This is an update from the National Immigrant Youth Alliance on the status of the Dreamers who were detained yesterday at the Nogales Port of Entry:


    The Dreamers are currently in detention at Eloy Detention Center, where they have remained since yesterday. There is also a vigil for the Dream 9 tonight at 830P (local time) outside Eloy. The National Immigrant Youth Alliance has organized a week of action, with events occurring nationwide.

    You can access a map with the events, past and future here: http://bit.ly/15HKOsz

    If you need assistance contacting the organizers of a local event, check the Facebook page listed or email media@theniya.org


    We are urging our supporters to call their representatives and ask them to support the Dreamers trying to come home. We have also launched a petition asking the Obama Administration to allow them to home home: http://action.dreamactivist.org/bringthemhome


    The ICE Principal Legal Advisor peter Vincent can be reached for comment at 202.732.5000.
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