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  1. Corso's Issues Statement after ICE Raid

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

    Corso’s Flower and Garden Center of Sandusky, Ohio and Castalia, Ohio, the target of ICE raids on June 5, 2018, recently issued a statement concerning ICE’s investigation.

    As you may recall, on June 5, approximately 200 ICE agents swarmed Corso’s two plant nurseries and detained approximately 114 workers suspected of being in the country without proper work authorization. The workers were expected to be placed into deportation proceedings and many criminally charged with identity theft and tax evasion.

    Corso’s press release, which was shared on its Facebook page, read in pertinent part:

    Corso’s is fully complying with the government’s investigation. Corso’s regrets the stress and pain the raid had on our employees and their families…. It is our hope that federal authorities will work diligently to ensure minimal disruption to families of our employees as they execute their orders.

    Corso’s prides itself on being a good corporate citizen and has always made it a priority to operate its business with the utmost integrity, both to its employees and to the community. This means that Corso’s does right by the law, just as it does right by its employees and customers. Corso’s therefore demands proper documentation from all those seeking employment at its facilities and also ensures that all employer taxes, are properly paid.

    Just as Corso’s has strived over the past 77 years to be honest and fair in its dealings with its employees, Corso’s expects its employees to be honest with it as well. Corso’s strives to comply with U.S. employment laws and therefore asks its employees and prospective employees for honest and legitimate identification and documentation. If mistakes were made or if anyone used false, fraudulent, or otherwise disingenuous identification documents or other documents to secure employment at Corso’s, the company was not aware of those things.

    Corso’s looks forward to the resolution of this unfortunate situation and in the interim will continue to focus efforts on serving customers as the investigation proceeds.

    Interestingly, Corso’s is a participant in IMAGE, a federal program with ICE, where the employer uses best practices including E-Verify and ICE conducting I-9 inspections.

    In this case, ICE initially served Notices of Inspection weeks ago and had been auditing the 313 I-9 forms supplied by Corso’s. Before the service of the Notices of Inspection, ICE received tips involving Corso’s and began an investigation in October 2017. A triggering event appears to be the arrest and indictment of Martha Buendia-Chavarria, who was charged with operating a document mill. During the ICE audit, according to ICE, they found 123 I-9 forms which were suspicious due to use of duplicate Social Security numbers and identification belonging to other people.

    It will be interesting to see what the result of the raid is as it relates to Corso’s. If you want to know more information on employer immigration compliance, I recommend you read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book I co-authored with Greg Siskind, and available at
  2. While Trump Grovels to Putin, Attacks on Non-White Immigrants Continue; Two USCIS Memos Threaten Future of Legal Immigration. Roger Algase

    The following comment has been revised as of July 17 at 10:06 pm.

    Donald Trump's obsequious "Thank You" to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki for election favors rendered (as alleged in the latest Mueller indictments of Russian agents), has earned him scathing condemnation across the spectrum of opinion in the US, including many of his own strongest supporters - even at Fox News, according to the latest reports. Even the word "treason" has appeared in some of the comments, and not only by liberal Democrats.

    While Trump's widely condemned groveling before the Russian tyrant, and what this may or may not mean for the world order and America's security are far beyond the scope of these comments, one cannot overlook the contrast between Trump's meekness in the face of a powerful foreign dictator who America's own intelligence professionals suspect may have caused incalculable damage to our election system and the functioning of our democracy on the one hand, and his savagery toward some of the most vulnerable and powerless people of all in American society- namely brown-skinned immigrants from what Trump has called "shithole countries" - and their even more vulnerable and defenseless children - on the other.

    In the face of the debacle caused by his kowtowing to the Russian dictator, will Trump go back to doing what he does best - demonizing, scapegoating and terrorizing immigrants who are not from "Countries like Norway" in order to divert attention away from his humiliating meeting with Putin and bolster the image of himself as America's Strongman?

    There are many signs that he will. Immigrant advocacy group America's Voice warns, for example, that after his "historically disastrous summit in Helsinki", Trump may try to recover by renewing his attacks on immigrants. According to the organization's Managing Director Pili Tobar, Trump's:

    "...playbook is as predictable as it is cynical, distract from the administration's harmful and dangerous actions by attacking immigrants and using fear-mongering as a diversion."

    Already there are signs that at least one commentator over at Trump's favorite mouthpiece, Fox News, is losing no time in following this strategy of diversion and demonization against a vulnerable immigrant - and American - group, namely Mexicans. quotes Fox News' Tucker Carlson as trying to equate Americans of Mexican descent voting legally on US elections with illegal Russian interference as follows:

    "Some do it more successfully than Russia like Mexico, which is routinely interfering in our elections by packing our electorate."

    In addition to this openly racist attack on Mexicans and Mexican Americans coming from a news outlet which is normally so pro-Trump that some have compared it to official state news organizations in dictatorships, the Washington Post reports that House Republicans are now busy boosting a plan to provide more money to the tune of $5 billion for Trump's favorite method of demonizing Mexican and other brown immigrants - his border Wall.

    And no matter how weak he may have been in his meeting with Putin, Trump is not afraid to project his twisted idea of "strength" by overseeing horrific abuses of immigrant children who were (or in some cases still are) separated from their parents in detention, as the Huffington Post reports:

    However, in one respect, comparing Trump with the Russian tyrant toward whom America's president is showing such great friendship and admiration is entirely justified in the context of America's legal immigration system. This is shown by the two latest USCIS memos relating to processing of petitions and applications for legal immigration benefits.

    These two memos together eliminate any vestiges of objectivity, fundamental fairness or due process of law which may now exist in the adjudication of either employment-based or family-based immigration petitions or applications, and instead turn the entire USCIS agency into a funnel for deportation.

    Instead of conducting legal immigration according to the rule of law and the clear intent of Congress, USCIS has now, acting entirely on its own, in effect made Donald Trump into the Vladimir Putin of America's legal immigration system, which is now threatened with destruction so far as any resemblance to the principles and procedures of democracy and a free and open society are concerned.

    With just two memos, issued without any Congressional sanction, hearings or input from America's elected representatives, USCIS has been transformed from an agency dedicated to carrying out the purpose of this country's laws relating to legal immigration which have been in effect for most of the past half century.

    Instead this agency is being turned into just another cog in a machine for carrying out Trump's authoritarian agenda of basing America's immigration system on the doctrine of white supremacy - or to put it in Trump's own words, as reported on January 11,"Countries like Norway."

    To be continued in my upcoming comment.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 07-18-2018 at 07:23 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  3. Threefold Difference in Immigration Bond Amounts by Court Location

    by , 07-17-2018 at 07:02 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    Via Syracuse University's TRAC:

    In recent years somewhat over one in four detained individuals were ultimately successful in obtaining an Immigration Court custody decision that allowed them to be released by posting a bond[1]. So far this year, this success rate has been 30.5 percent, up from 18.4 percent during FY 2014. See Figure 1. Percent of Detained Individuals Granted Bond in Immigration Court, FY 2014 - FY 2018.

    This increase occurred primarily because more and more of those detained are receiving custody hearings. Judges have been actually no more willing to grant bond at these hearings. During FY 2014 in slightly less than half the cases (48.8%) were bond motions granted. A slightly lower proportion (47.1%) have been granted during FY 2018.
    Nationally, for bond hearings thus far during FY 2018, the median bond amount set was $7,500. This amount is up by 50 percent from the median of $5,000 five years ago.

    A median bond amount of $7,500 means half of all individuals who were successful in having their motions granted had to post a bond of $7,500 or more. Nearly 40 percent had to post a bond of $10,000 or more. Five percent had their bond amount set at $25,000 or more. Only 1 percent were released without having to post a dollar bond. And only one in twenty had a bond amount that was less than $2,500. See Table 1 for details on bond amounts at the end of this report.

    Click here for more.
  4. Employers Beware! New USCIS Memos Could Upend Legal Immigration

    In June and July 2018, the publication of 2 important USCIS memos puts US employers at risk. Never during my 40+ years of practicing immigration law have I seen such drastic changes to our immigration system promulgated by an administrative agency.

    Employers need to be aware of the content of these USCIS memos, how they could be impacted and how best to remain in compliance.

    USCIS Memo re: RFEs and NOIDs (7-13-18)

    On July 13, the USCIS published a memo regarding Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs).

    When an employer sponsors a person for a temporary working visa or a green card, if USCIS needs more evidence in order to decide whether to approve or deny the benefit, they usually send an RFE to the employer.

    Typical RFEs either request additional information about the employer (Ability to pay prevailing wage, need for the employee’s services, etc.) or the employee (Justification for requiring a certain level of education or experience, etc.). In 2017, the number of RFEs for H-1B petitions increased 44% over the previous year.

    The employer is given time to respond to the RFE. After the response, the USCIS examines the original petition/application and the employer’s response to the RFE before deciding the matter. In some cases, the USCIS issues a NOID and grants the employer a chance to respond.

    The July 13th memo does away with many RFEs and NOIDs. It grants USCIS examiners, in many cases, with the power to simply deny requests for immigration benefits when they determine that the evidence is “insufficient” to grant an application.

    But if an application or petition for a temporary visa or green card is denied by the USCIS, couldn’t the employer simply refile for the benefit using premium processing?

    Even this may no longer be an option in many cases.

    USCIS Memo re: NTAs Where Person has No Status (6-28-18)

    What complicates this is an USCIS memo issued on June 28 stating that if a denial renders the person “out of status”, the USCIS will issue a Notice to Appear (NTA) which will place him in deportation proceedings before an Immigration Judge.

    This worst case scenario is to be avoided at all costs. The employer would be forced to terminate the employee who was being sponsored for a temporary working visa or a green card.

    What can Employers do to Avoid the Penalties Imposed by the New USCIS Memos?

    Below are a number of strategies to help you in sponsoring employees for temporary visas and green cards:

    1. If you are sponsoring an employee for a green card, make sure to keep renewing his temporary work status until his green card application is approved. This way, even if a problem arises with the green card application, the fact that he is in a temporary working status will prevent the USCIS from initiating deportation proceedings.

    2. Apply for extensions of H-1B, L-1, O-1 and other types of temporary working status 180 days before the status expires, and consider using premium processing. This way, should there be a problem in extending the temporary status, the employee will still be in proper status, and you can reapply for an extension.

    3. Temporary status is employer-specific. If Employer B is petitioning for H-1B status for an employee who is currently working for Employer A, it is a wise idea to use premium processing and not to have the employee change employers until after the petition and the application for a change of employers is approved.

    4. Always overdocument a petition or application. Clearly document that you have complied with the prevailing wage and posting requirements, that you have the ability to pay the employee and the reasons a particular university degree and level of experience are required for the job. In general, it is not a good idea to include the ability to speak a foreign language in the job requirements.

    5. Make sure that you choose an immigration law firm to represent your company whose lawyers have many years of experience working for employers and who have successfully obtained thousands of approvals of temporary work visas and EB green cards.

    6. Take a look at the following online resources:

    7. If you are an employer, feel free to call one of our employment-based attorneys, Cheryl Gertler or Que Hirschi for advice on how to avoid the penalties contained in the new USCIS memos.

    Updated 07-16-2018 at 01:22 PM by CShusterman

    Tags: employer, l-2 Add / Edit Tags
  5. Difference Between ICE Raid and ICE Audit

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

    In 2018, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids have returned to workplaces after being dormant for the past 10 years. ICE audits/inspections have been regularly taking place for the past 10 years though they are increasing at an accelerated rate in 2017-2018 under the Trump Administration. So, what’s the difference between an ICE raid (also called a targeted enforcement operation) and an ICE audit/inspection:

    An ICE raid is like it sounds – ICE, or actually a part of ICE called Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), shows up at the employer’s premises without warning – hoping to catch employers and employees off guard. Raids often occur after an ongoing investigation shows a number of undocumented workers are employed there, often with the knowledge and/or assistance of the employer. HSI may receive tips of this unlawful activity by the employer.

    When ICE arrives at the employer’s premises, its agents surround the building and usually have aerial presence. Then ICE agents enter the business with a criminal search warrant. The search warrant will have a detailed description of what and where agents are going to search and what they may seize. This list may include: payroll; I-9 forms and any supporting documents; bank records; Social Security Administration documents; IRS Form 940 and 940 employment tax documents; and other financial or employee records. The employer should immediately contact its immigration legal counsel.

    Employers are not required to answer ICE questions during a worksite raid. If, during a worksite raid, ICE discovers unauthorized workers at the site, they may arrest and detain them. At the end of a raid, ICE agents should leave an inventory of the property they seized and a list of employees arrested.

    A recent example of an ICE raid and how it occurred is the April 2018 raid at Southeastern Provision, a meat-processing plant in Bean Station, Tennessee. The investigation began when the employer’s bank inquired of company officials why it was making very large cash withdrawals every week. The employer official said it was for payroll and its workforce was Hispanic. After the bank provided this information, the IRS subpoenaed the company’s bank records, which confirmed these large cash withdrawals. Later, a confidential informant was sent to Southeastern Provisions and hired without filling out an I-9 form. Based upon this evidence and other evidence gathered in the investigation, HSI and the IRS raided the employer’s facility and detained about 100 employees.

    In ICE audit is friendlier but can lead to damaging results. In this situation, HSI serves a Notice of Inspection (NOI)/subpoena on the employer, requesting all I-9 forms with supporting documentation as well as many other documents. Normally, the visit to the employer’s premises is unannounced, like an ICE raid. But there the similarities cease. Usually two agents will serve the NOI/subpoena on the employer and demand production of records within three business days or a little longer, such as within seven business days. HIS agent will ask if the employer wishes to waive the three days. Under no circumstances should an employer waive the three days. Upon receiving an NOI, the employer should contact its immigration legal counsel or hire one if the employer does not have one.

    Other records that will normally be subpoenaed include: copy of payroll, list of current employees, list of former employees for past one to three years; Social Security Administration documents; IRS Form 940 and 940 employment tax documents; business licenses; and list of companies who were contracted work.

    The ICE agents have the right to receive and inspect the originals of the I-9 forms. The employer should copy all documents turned over to ICE. Once the employer provides the documents, an ICE auditor inspects the I-9 forms to determine whether they comply with the law. The ICE auditor is checking for substantive violations, such as incomplete or missing forms, and technical violations, which an employer will be given 10 days to remedy.

    It is clear that employer raids and ICE audits will be frequent tools of ICE. Every employer should be vigilant in their immigration compliance. I would advise employers to meet with their immigration counsel, or obtain immigration counsel, to conduct an internal I-9 audit and draft or review an immigration compliance policy.

    If you want to know more information on employer immigration compliance, I recommend you read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book I co-authored with Greg Siskind, and available at
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