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Via the House Judiciary Committee:
Washington, D.C. Ė House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) today called on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson to investigate and begin the process of revoking citizenship for people that obtained citizenship despite being ineligible and due to the Departmentís systemic failures.
Earlier this month, the DHS Office of Inspector General (IG) issued a report finding that at least 858 individuals who were ordered deported were instead granted citizenship because they used another identity when applying for citizenship and were not caught by federal immigration authorities since their fingerprints were never digitized and uploaded to government databases. The IG report also found that about 148,000 fingerprint records have not been digitized for aliens with final deportation orders or who are criminals or fugitives.
In their letter to Secretary Johnson, Goodlatte and Gowdy call on the Department of Homeland Security to initiate a plan to investigate and refer for criminal prosecution and denaturalization proceedings each person identified in the IGís report who has been granted citizenship based on fraudulent identity. They also call on DHS to provide information to the House Judiciary Committee about what it has done to remedy this systemic failure.
Below is the text of the letter. The signed copy can be found here.
September 22, 2016
The Honorable Jeh Johnson
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528
Dear Secretary Johnson,
We write regarding the September 8, 2016, U.S. Department of Homeland Securityís Office of Inspector General (IG) report entitled, ďPotentially Ineligible Individuals Have Been Granted U.S. Citizenship Because of Incomplete Fingerprint Records.Ē
The IG report stated that, ďUSCIS granted U.S. citizenship to at least 858 individuals ordered deported or removed under another identity when, during the naturalization process, their digital fingerprint records were not in the DHS digital fingerprint repository, IDENT.Ē In addition, the IG found that, ďU.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has identified about 148,000 older fingerprint records that have not been digitized of aliens with final deportation orders or who are criminals or fugitives.Ē Thus, still more individuals could have been naturalized despite their ineligibility to do so.
Administration officials repeatedly tell those of us in Congress and the American people that the immigration benefits vetting process is robust and secure. Concerns we raise about the process are continuously dismissed in favor of Administration actions to expand the scope of eligibility for immigration benefits.
Yet time and time again, those concerns are proven valid. Whether it is with the improper grant of a fiancťe visa to an individual who goes on to commit a terrorist attack in California, or with the improper naturalization of hundreds of individuals whose fingerprints were never automated, there is no doubt that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Servicesí (USCIS) adjudication is not the secure and robust process that we are asked to believe.
USCISí first responsibility is to the American people, and that responsibility is to ensure that foreign nationals approved for immigration benefits are, in fact, who they claim to be. Without such elementary knowledge of the individuals seeking immigration benefits, the U.S. immigration system and any claimed security protections therein are rendered useless.
In addition, naturalization not only bestows rights and benefits to the individual naturalized, but also for their family members. So through chain migration, one individual fraudulently naturalized can result in hundreds of additional naturalizations. Such actions make a mockery of U.S. immigration law and policy.
As you also know, federal law allows USCIS to refer an individual to the Department of Justice for denaturalization proceedings in the case of an individual who USCIS believes to have ďillegally procured or procured by concealment of a material fact or by willful misrepresentation,Ē naturalization. Federal law also allows such referrals for criminal prosecution.
Thus, we request that you initiate a plan to investigate and refer for criminal prosecution and denaturalization proceedings, each individual in the group described by the IG to have been naturalized based on a fraudulent identity and despite having fingerprints that were not previously entered into the system.
In addition, we request the following information:
For the 858 individuals who were found to have been naturalized despite being ordered deported or removed under a different identity:
How many have been investigated to determine whether they were truly eligible at the time of naturalization?How many aliens have been naturalized or received other immigration benefits based on the U.S. citizenship status of the fraudulently naturalized individual? What, if any, action has been taken to denaturalize or revoke immigration benefits from such individuals?How many have been referred to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for criminal prosecution?How many have been referred to DOJ for denaturalization proceedings?Of the cases referred for criminal prosecution, how many cases has DOJ agreed to prosecute and how many have been prosecuted? Please indicate the outcomes of any such prosecutions.Of the cases referred for denaturalization proceedings, how many cases has DOJ agreed to take and how many proceedings have been initiated? Please indicate the outcomes of those cases.How many have been determined, through investigation, to have been eligible for naturalization despite the fraud used to gain naturalization? For each individual found to have been eligible, please indicate the reasons for such a finding.Please provide us monthly updated numbers on a) through g) above as the process continues.For the 148,000 fingerprint records that have not been digitized of aliens with final deportation orders or who are criminals or fugitives:
What is your plan to investigate the number of those individuals who have been naturalized or have received other immigration benefits?Please provide monthly updated statistics regarding those of the 148,000 who were naturalized and the number who were naturalized under a new identity.Of the number who have already been naturalized, how many have been referred to DOJ for criminal prosecution? How many has DOJ agreed to prosecute?Of the number who have already been naturalized, how many have been referred to DOJ for denaturalization proceedings? Against how many has DOJ agreed to begin denaturalization proceedings?
Please respond to the above questions no later than October 5, 2016. If you have questions regarding this letter, please contact Andrea Loving on the House Judiciary Committee staff at (202) 225-3926.
We appreciate in advance, your prompt response.
Sub Committee Chairman
Updated 09-23-2016 at 02:37 PM by MKolken
by Chris Musillo
In an unprecedented development, USCIS is demanding that FCCPT only issue FCCPT Type I Certificates to graduates of university programs whose diploma titles read “Masters Degree,” and who have at least 202.1 credit hours. Any graduate of a program that is equivalent to a US Masters Degree will no longer be eligible to enter the US and practice Physcial Therapy. USCIS’ actions put US patients’ lives at risk, decimate an already dire Physcial Therapy shortage, and alienate fully qualified foreign-trained Physcial Therapists.
USCIS has issued a Notice of Intent to Deny the FCCPT’s ability to issue Type I Certificates. FCCPT is understandably ceding to the USCIS’ wishes in spite of USCIS outrageous action. The USCIS’ actions were done without the advice and consultation of interested stakeholders, such as FSBPT, APTA, CAPTE and the AAIHR. It is unclear if the USCIS has consulted with the US HHS, which it is required to do by statute.
The AAIHR has issued a press release on this matter, which sums up the issue:
“USCIS’ decision was predicated on a number of potential misunderstandings and inaccuracies. USCIS’ decision to terminate FCCPT accrediting these international programs is largely based on assumptions around required coursework hours and degree titles. However, the comparison of degree “titles” or credit hours is irrelevant. Titles and credit hours vary by institution."
MU Law is releasing an FAQ shortly.
Please read the Musillo Unkenholt Healthcare and Immigration Law Blog at www.musillo.com and www.ilw.com. You can also visit us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Updated 09-23-2016 at 11:07 AM by CMusillo
If you want to hire a lawyer to help you with your asylum case, you'll find that attorney fees are all over the map. Some lawyers charge tens of thousands of dollars for a case. The larger immigration firms typically charge in the five to ten thousand dollar range. "Low bono" lawyers--and I include myself in this group--charge a few thousand dollars for an asylum case.
Remember, when you use a pro bono attorney instead of hiring me, you are taking food from the mouths of my children.
But what if you do not have any money for a lawyer, and even a "low bono" fee is too much? The options then are to do the case yourself (usually not a great idea) or to find a pro bono attorney.
Pro bono (short for "pro bono publico") is a Latin phrase meaning "for the public good." In the legal context, it basically means that the lawyer does the work without charging the client any money.
There are different types of pro bono attorneys. The major categories are lawyers who work for charities, attorneys who work for law school clinics, and private attorneys who volunteer their time. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of pro bono attorney, and strategies for finding an attorney in each category are a bit different.
I suspect that most asylum seekers who find a pro bono attorney do so through a charitable organization. You can find a fairly comprehensive list of such organizations on the Executive Office for Immigration Review website (EOIR is the government agency that administers the nation's Immigration Courts). The list is organized by state, which is helpful. If you do not see your location, click on a nearby state and you should find charities that serve your area. The American Immigration Lawyer's Association (an association of private and non-profit attorneys) maintains a similar, and probably more comprehensive, list. Many of the organizations on these lists are free. Some charge a nominal fee (though in certain instances, I have heard about "nominal fees" ranging into the thousands of dollars, but this is the exception, not the norm). Also, most such organizations will not take a case where they believe the asylum seeker has the ability to pay for a lawyer.
The main disadvantage of using a charitable organization is that they are very busy, and they may not have the capacity to take your case. Also, if you need your case done in a hurry, they may not be able to accommodate you. Indeed, the reason lawyers like me exist is because the charitable organizations do not have the resources to help everyone. If you are able to obtain representation from a charity, they will either do the case in-house, or they will find you a volunteer attorney who will work under their supervision. Many of these volunteer attorneys do not specialize in asylum. However, the non-profits are adept at training and supervising their volunteer lawyers, and in most cases, you will get excellent representation.
So how do you get one of these charities to take your case? It often is not easy, and you may need to call/email/visit a number of organizations before you find one that can help you. But if you are persistent, you may be able to obtain representation. If one organization cannot help you, ask whether they can recommend another to try. It can feel like a full-time job to find a pro bono lawyer, but those applicants who make the effort are often able to obtain representation.
Another type of pro bono representation is the legal clinic. Many law schools have clinical programs where a law professor supervises law students in real-life cases. The students do the actual work on the case. I do not know of a comprehensive, updated list of law school immigration clinics, but this list (in Excel) from the Law Professors Blog Network should get you started. Also, you might try Googling "Law School Immigration Clinic" + the name of your city. Again, these clinics receive many requests for assistance and they have limited capacity, so it is often difficult to get one to represent you.
If you are represented by a law school clinic, you will work mostly with the students--after all, the primary purpose of the clinic is to provide a learning experience for the students. The obvious question is whether law students have the ability to adequately represent asylum applicants in court or in the asylum office. My observation is that, what the students lack in experience, they make up for in enthusiasm and energy. Also, the supervision at clinics (at least the ones I have seen) tends to be excellent. I do not know of any studies on this, but I expect that the success rate of clinical students is comparable to the success rate of practicing attorneys. One issue for clinics is that their cases must be scheduled according to the academic calendar, which can sometimes cause additional delays (though sometimes, it can make things faster instead).
Finally, many law firms have pro bono programs where the firm will represent individuals free of charge. Most firms get their pro bono clients from charitable organizations, but they can take on individual cases directly. If you know someone at a law firm (or if you know someone who knows someone), you might want to ask about this. If the attorney is not familiar with asylum law, she can likely partner with a non-profit organization, which will supervise her (the non-profits usually love to get new volunteer attorneys and are happy to help).
In truth, it is often difficult to find pro bono representation. Resources are stretched thin. But if you persevere, it is possible to find a free attorney. And having an attorney can make a big difference in the outcome of your case.
Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.
Updated 09-23-2016 at 09:18 AM by JDzubow
Via the Associated Press:
A federal appeals court panel on Tuesday rejected a class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of children who go without lawyers in deportation proceedings, despite saying that having kids represent themselves in such complex matters is "an extremely difficult situation."
The lawsuit was filed two years ago in Seattle by immigrant rights advocates, following a flood of unaccompanied minors arriving at the U.S. border. It sought to force the government to appoint lawyers for the children; immigration judges don't have that authority now.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly ruled that the children could pursue their claims that being denied lawyers violated their due-process rights, but three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision. The appeals court panel said federal immigration law precludes such claims from being filed in U.S. District Court.
Instead, the judges said, such claims must be brought individually and filed directly in federal appeals courts after deportations proceedings are exhausted.
Click here for the full story.
Donald Trump has let the cat out of the the bag about where he stands on Syrian Refugees. The Guardian reports that his opposition to them is not just based on alleged "terror" concerns (over people who are fleeing from terror perpetrated by the twin horrors of ISIS and the Assad dictatorship, backed by Russia's own dictator, Vladimir Putin, whom Trump has had a least a few good things to say about).
In addition to labeling Syrian refugees (once again) as potential terrorists, Trump is now saying that they would affect America's "quality of life",
Here is the exact quote from Trump, speaking about Syrian refugees at a rally in Toledo, Ohio, as reported in The Guardian on September 21:
"Not only the danger of it all-this isn't only a matter of terrorism, but alswo a matter of quality of life. We want to make sure we're only admitting those into our country who support our values and-love - and I mean love - our people."
What, exactly, does Trump mean when he doubts that Syrian refugees would be good for for America's "quality of life", that they might not support "or values" or "love our people"?
Is there something "un-American" about wanting to flee from war, persecution and dictatorship, and from the horrors of ISIS fanaticism which Trump, on other occasions, has described as graphically and accurately as anyone else (in support of his advocacy of using torture).
Does wanting to settle in a country of freedom and democracy, one which was founded on the principle of refuge from tyranny and political or religious persecution, mean a rejection of "American values", or lack of love for the American people?
Or is Trump's statement a not so veiled claim that people from parts of the world outside Europe, and of non-white skin color or non-Judeo-Christian faith, are incompatible with America's "quality of life"
Is Trump identifying America's "quality of life with the notorious "Nordics-only" national origins immigration quotas of the 1924 Johnson-Reed Immigration Act which favored Northern Europeans and excluded Jewish, Italian, Polish, Hungarian and, "coincidentally" all Middle Eastern immigrants?
Perhaps a further explanation from Trump about what he means when he says that Syrian refugees endanger America's "quality of life" would be in order.
Trump might also wish to share with us where he got his preposterous idea that Hillary Clinton wants to bring in "620,000" refugees in her first term - a figure which, according to The Guardian's above article, has "been proven false by independent fact checkers."
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, he has been helping to make it possible for mainly skilled and professional immigrants of diverse nationalities and ethnic/religious backgrounds to accomplish their goals of becoming productive, contributing members of American society and improving our quality of life.
Roger's email address is email@example.com
Updated 09-22-2016 at 12:22 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs