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  1. Trump Uses NY Terror Attack as Excuse for More "Extreme Vetting", Calling for Cancelling Diversity Visa, and Boosting the RAISE Act. Roger Algase

    The following has been revised and updated as of November 1 at 9:46 am.

    When a deranged "lone wolf" gunman killed 56 people and injured almost 500 others in the recent Las Vegas attack, pro-NRA politicians and spokespersons rushed to try to silence calls for stricter gun control laws by condemning gun control advocates of "politicizing" the attack.

    Similarly, when one of the worst periods of back to back devastating hurricanes in recent history caused catastrophic devastation in Texas and Puerto Rico as well as severe damage in Florida, not to mention virtually wiping out some smaller Caribbean Islands, people who even mentioned the possibility of looking into the connection with climate change were pilloried for trying to "politicize" the sufferings of millions of people in those storms.

    However, in the wake of a Halloween day truck attack in lower Manhattan by another deranged apparent lone wolf, a legal immigrant from Uzbekistan who killed 8 people and injured 11 others while claiming to have done so in the name of ISIS, the president of the United States has lost no time in trying to politicize this equally horrific and vicious attack, which could have been much worse except for the prompt action of heroic New York police officers, by calling for even more "extreme vetting" of immigrants as a result.

    The far right, white nationalist supporting Breitbart News, run by Trump's erstwhile top immigration adviser Stephen Bannon, has also lost no time using the New York attack as a pretext to call for ending the Diversity Visa, which has become a popular vehicle for immigration from Africa and Asia, and which white supremacist politicians have been seeking to abolish for a long time.

    Trump himself is now also calling for the diversity visa to be cancelled as part of his support for the RAISE Act, which has been designed to favor white, European immigrants over those from other parts of the world under the guise of "merit-based" immigration.


    This is not to play down the horror and danger from this attack, which mirrors similar ISIS-inspired terror attacks in Europe, and took place in an area full of schools and young children decked out in Halloween costumes. The area that the perpetrator chose for the attack is also of great significance for hundreds of thousands, or millions, of legal immigrants in New York from every part of the world.

    The New York Federal Building, where hundreds, if not thousands, of immigrants go to every day for immigration interviews or other immigration activities, is only a few blocks from the end of the route on Chambers Street, where the attack took place.

    Another building of importance for thousands of immigrants applying for green cards and other immigration benefits was the USCIS fingerprinting facility at the beginning of this savage and inhuman murderer's route of violence and destruction near Houston Street.

    The above is not to deny the critical importance of screening immigrants who come to this country and of taking all possible steps to protect America's national security. But Trump's "extreme vetting" has, in practice, turned out to be little more than a code word for banning Muslim immigrants, using national security as a pretext. There is also good reason for concern, that in the words of the National Iranian American Council:

    "...the Muslim ban was but the first step in a wider initiative to implement Islamophobic, racist and xenophobic policies that pander to the desires of Trump's white supremacist base".

    Inevitably, one can predict that the New York attack will also be used as an excuse for white nationalists who want to make drastic cuts in immigration from Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa by enacting measures such as the RAISE Act (see above) extending Trump's Muslim ban (which now applies only to countries from which no terrorist attack in the United States has ever been launched) and ramping up Trump's mass deportation agenda, including his border Wall against Mexican and other Latino immigrants.

    Certainly, everything must be done to combat and eradicate the monstrous, inhuman madman of ISIS and their followers, as well as other apostles of violence and hate against America and the American people.

    But has the Trump administration's spending so much energy, time and resources on such things as court battles to prevent Muslim grandparents of American citizens from visiting the US, or in the latest horror, sending government agents to a hospital to take a disabled 10-year old Mexican girl into custody immediately after surgery as part of the president's mass deportation agenda, really made America a safer place?

    If the president really cares about the safety of America, he should direct his focus on real national security threats, of which there are plenty, rather than using national security as a pretext to make America whiter.

    It is also sad to see the president of the United States use the deaths of eight innocent people (5 of whom were themselves foreign visitors to the United States) in this latest attack as a vehicle for promoting his own white nationalist anti-immigrant agenda.
    Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from diverse parts of the world obtain work visas and green cards for more than 35 years.

    Roger's practice is concentrated primarily in H-1B specialty occupation and O-1 extraordinary work visas, and in green cards through Labor Certification (PERM) and through marriage and other family relationships. His email address is

    Updated 11-01-2017 at 08:53 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  2. ACLU Sues CBP For Release of 10 year old Rosa Maria Hernandez

    by , 10-31-2017 at 03:40 PM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    The ACLU just sued Customs and Border Protection and the Office of Refugee Resettlement to demand the release of 10-year-old Rosa Maria Hernandez.

    BREAKING: We just sued Customs and Border Protection and the Office of Refugee Resettlement to demand they release 10-year-old Rosa Maria Hernandez. #FreeRosa— ACLU (@ACLU) October 31, 2017

    Updated 10-31-2017 at 03:44 PM by MKolken

  3. Letters of the Week: October 30 - November 3

  4. DOJ Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against Rustic Inn Crabhouse

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    The Justice Department, through the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), has reached a settlement agreement with Ark Rustic Inn LLC d/b/a Rustic Inn Crabhouse (Rustic Inn), a restaurant located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The agreement resolves the IER’s investigation into whether Rustic Inn discriminated against work-authorized immigrants when verifying their employment authorization.

    The investigation revealed Rustic Inn routinely requested that work-authorized non-U.S. citizens present specific documents, such as Permanent Resident Cards or Employment Authorization Documents, to verify their citizenship status information; however, it did not subject U.S. citizens to the same verification. The anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits employers from subjecting employees to different or unnecessary documentary demands based on employees’ citizenship, immigration status or national origin.

    Under the settlement, Rustic Inn will pay a civil penalty of $4000 to the United States; review and revise any existing employment policies that relate to nondiscrimination on the basis of citizenship or immigration status and national origin so that it prohibits such discrimination in regard to the I-9 verification process; train its staff by viewing a free IER Employer/HR representative webinar; post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA’s anti-discrimination provision; shall ensure that all individuals, who are responsible for formulating and carrying out its hiring/firing, and employment eligibility verification policies, have available the most current version of the Form 1-9, USCIS Employment Eligibility Verification Handbook for Employers (M-274), and be subject to departmental monitoring for three years.

    The allegation of having different standards for U.S. citizens than non-U.S. citizens is a fairly common error by employers. However, with training by an immigration attorney, well-versed in employer compliance, these errors can easily be avoided. For more information on this issue and many others related to employer immigration compliance, I invite you to read my new book, The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, which is available at
  5. Asylum for Witches

    Just in time for Halloween, the Witchcraft & Human Rights Information Network (“WHRIN”) has released a report called "Witchcraft Accusations and Persecution; Muti Murders and Human Sacrifice." The report was prepared for the United Nations Expert Workshop on Witchcraft and Human Rights, which was held last month, and it discusses the wide-spread and under-reported human rights problems related to witchcraft and other harmful traditional practices. From the WHRIN report--

    In numerous countries around the world, harmful witchcraft related beliefs and practices have resulted in serious violations of human rights including, beatings, banishment, cutting of body parts, and amputation of limbs, torture and murder. Women, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities, such as persons with albinism, are particularly vulnerable. Despite the seriousness of these human rights abuses, there is often no robust state led response.

    The report indicates that the “exact numbers of victims of such abuses is unknown and is widely believed to be underreported.” “At the very least,” the report continues, “it is believed that there are thousands of cases of people accused of witchcraft each year globally, often with fatal consequences, and others are mutilated and killed for witchcraft-related rituals.” The number of cases—and the level of violence against victims--seems to be rising, and no area of the world is immune, though most of the documented cases are found in India (120 reported cases in 2016), Nigeria (67 cases), Zimbabwe (29), and South Africa (28).

    This is all very sobering, and sad. In my work, I have represented a number of victims of traditional practices who have filed for asylum in the United States. One memorable case involved a young man from Rwanda who was gay. His family decided that he was possessed by demons, and so they had him kidnapped and held in a rural area where he was subject to a three-week exorcism ritual by some type of priest. The ritual involved beatings and starvation, among other things. We argued that all this amounted to past persecution on account of a particular social group—gay people. The government accepted our argument and approved the man’s application for asylum.

    The success of our case was due, perhaps, to the fact that our client easily fit within a protected category for purposes of asylum (there are five protected categories—race, religion, nationality, political opinion, and particular social group, and under U.S. law, it is well-established that LGBT individuals can constitute a particular social group; unless a case fits within a protected category, asylum will be denied). Not all victims of witchcraft-related persecution fit so neatly into the asylum scheme, as the WHRIN report makes plain—

    Those accused of witchcraft, or at risk of such accusations, are not a well-recognised vulnerable group [under the asylum law], and they do not accrue specially recognised rights as such. They do, however, benefit from human rights protections which are available to all people. Those who face persecution in this way may flee and seek protection in other countries, but their situation is precarious even in exile.

    The WHRIN report primarily discusses British law, but asylum applicants in the U.S. could face a similar problem. I have not seen a case where “witches” or “people accused of witchcraft” has been found to be a particular social group (“PSG”) for purposes of asylum, but it seems that a strong argument could be made in favor of such a PSG. Persecution of “witches” might also be couched in terms of imputed religion—maybe the persecutors view the alleged witch in religious terms and would harm her for that reason. If there is an ethnic or racial component to the persecution, that might also allow the applicant’s case to fit into a protected category.

    Besides witchcraft, the WHRIN report discusses other harmful traditional practices: Human sacrifice and murder for body parts, which are used in certain magic rituals (sometime called Muti murder). People with albinism are particularly vulnerable to such attacks (I wrote about that here), and they would likely constitute a PSG under U.S. asylum law. But other people targeted in this way might not easily fit into a PSG.

    To win asylum, the applicant must show that she faces harm “on account of” a characteristic that the applicant herself possess (for example, her race) or on a characteristic that the persecutor “imputes” to the victim (for example, maybe the persecutor incorrectly believes the applicant is a government opponent and seeks to harm her for that reason). In the case of some traditional practice, the victim may not be able to show that the harm is “on account of” a characteristic or an imputed characteristic, and then asylum would be denied. In our exorcism case, for example, we had a relatively easy job, since our client was gay and was harmed due to his sexual orientation. But what if he was not gay and he was being "exorcised" for some other reason--maybe he was an unruly child and his parents wanted to "cure" him? Such a case would present a real challenge under U.S. asylum law.

    Fortunately, there are some resources available. The WHRIN is the obvious starting point. The Forced Migration Current Awareness blog also has a list of resources, and UNHCR has a comprehensive report about witchcraft accusations against children. Given the severity of the harm and the likelihood that the problem is spreading, it seems to me that more work needs to be done in this area. The recent attention from the UN is a good start. Hopefully, we will see those efforts continued and expanded.

    Originally posted on the Asylumist:
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