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Fresh off their Miami-to-Washington trek, which ended on May 1, four Dream Walkers, Juan Rodriguez (U.S. via Columbia), Felipe Matos (Brazil), Gaby Pacheco (Ecuador), and Carlos
A. Roa (Venezuela), yesterday stared into the eyes of the monster, and the monster blinked. Three of the four are undocumented.
The Dreamer Walkers paid a visit to Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office in Maricopa County on Tuesday in order to discuss Arizona's immigration law with the hope of humanizing the immigration debate.
When confronted by the spirited youth Sheriff Joe stated that although he has compassion for the plight of undocumented immigrants that he must continue to enforce the immigration laws. Arpaio rationalized his stance stating "I was elected to do a job," "My job overrides my
The Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act), is designed to help undocumented youth who meet certain requirements by providing them with an opportunity to enlist in the military or go to college, which inevitably will lead to a
path to citizenship that would otherwise be unavailable.
I urge you to contact your representatives in Congress and implore them to back the DREAM Act.
A recent report from Ireland found that almost two thirds of asylum seekers who claimed to be from Somalia were lying. The investigation found that the "Somalis" were from other countries, such as Tanzania, Kenya, and Yemen. Apparently, some of the asylum seekers were found out based on language or a lack thereof; others had previously applied for visas to the UK using different nationalities. There may be some reason to doubt whether these techniques for outing "Somalis" are valid. For example, some Somali nationals may have been refugees for many years, raised in other countries without knowledge of Somali languages. Others may have used false passports from other countries to travel to Europe. Nevertheless, the high percentage of cases that are likely fraudulent presents a problem for the "system" and for those who represent asylum seekers.
Of course, the problem is not confined to Europe. In 2007, the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia issued a cable (I have not been able to find it online) entitled: Report on fraud trends in Ethiopian asylee claims: A guide for DHS adjudicators. The cable talks about "following to join" cases where an alien has been granted asylum in the United States and has filed a form I-730 for his relatives to join him in the U.S. From August 2005 to May 2006, the Embassy reviewed 1,449 following-to-join cases, which represented 288 asylum grants in the United States. The Embassy writes that "Almost every [following-to-join] interview at Post uncovers information that calls into question the petitioner's original claim." In addition, the Embassy has found that "more than 75 percent of documents investigated were fraudulent" and consular officers "suspect that the fraud rate is well over 50 percent." Again, there may be problems with the Embassy's methods of investigating fraud, but the cable certainly presents evidence of a problem.
The U.S. Embassy in Cameroon has issued a cable similar to the Ethiopian cable. It states that asylum claims have increased dramatically since 1992. The Embassy knows of no corresponding increase in political problems, though the economy has gotten worse, leading to the conclusion that many asylum seekers are economic migrants (the State Department Report on Human Rights conflicts somewhat with this view, listing human rights abuses such as torture, arbitrary arrest, and life-threatening prison conditions). The Embassy also reports that Cameroonians have been detained entering the United States with all sorts of fake documents that could be used to create fraudulent asylum claims. Relatives following to join frequently know nothing about the asylees' political activities or persecution. As a result of this fraud, non-immigrant visa refusal rates have increased from 35% in 2001 to 60% in 2004. Further, the Embassy complains that fraudulent applications and following-to-join applications have dramatically increased its workload. It recommends that Cameroonian asylum cases be viewed skeptically.
Other evidence is more anecdotal. A recent report from the blogosphere-I cannot vouch for the report's credibility-indicates that an Ethiopian diplomat at the Embassy in Washington, DC quit his job, claimed asylum, and then returned to work at the Embassy as a public relations officer. He was even listed on the Embassy website. The report states that the diplomat's asylum claim was false, and urged the U.S. government and the Ethiopian government to investigate.
The problem of fraud presents a dilemma for attorneys who specialize in asylum and a challenge to the "system."
Attorneys who specialize in asylum have generally entered the field to assist those who genuinely fear persecution (we certainly don't specialize in asylum for the money!), not to help facilitate fraud. However, for the most part, we can't know which cases are genuine and which are not, and it's sometimes dangerous to judge. I remember one Ethiopian woman whose case I doubted. We won, and a few months later she returned to my office and asked whether I could help her find a doctor. Ever since her detention and beating, she said, she had been suffering pain on one side of her body. Although I don't know whether this was true or not, she had no reason to lie. Experiences like this make me cautious about judging my client's veracity. Instead, it's better to represent my clients to the best of my ability and to let the Immigration Judge decide the case.
The problem of fraud also presents a challenge to the legal system. Our country has-I think quite properly-taken a generous approach to asylum. We would rather allow some fraudulent cases to succeed than turn away genuine asylum seekers. Of course, if fraud becomes too pervasive, it might cause us to re-consider how we evaluate asylum claims. The Australia government recently initiated a six-month freeze on processing asylum applications filed by Afghani and Sri Lankan asylum seekers who arrive by sea. The system was becoming overwhelmed by applicants, and the government reacted with a heavy hand. Such a broad brush approach is questionable under international law, and would obviously affect legitimate and illegitimate asylum seekers.
So what can be done to reduce fraudulent asylum claims?
The U.S. Embassy in Cameroon suggests that DHS check asylum applications with records obtained at the Embassy to determine whether family members listed on the asylum form were also mentioned at the Embassy. This would avoid the problem of asylum seekers "adding" family members in order to bring them to the U.S. after they win asylum. If "false family members" could not follow to join, the incentive for seeking asylum might be reduced.
Also, more generally, documented information at the Embassy could be compared with information in the asylum application. Theoretically, this should happen already, but DHS has limited resources, and this method seems to have limited value, as most biographical information is consistent between the Embassy and the asylum application.
In many cases, friends and relatives in the home country submit letters in support of an applicant's claim. Such people could be called to the Embassy for questioning. It is more difficult to create a fraudulent case if people in the home country are required to testify about the claimed persecution. Of course, this would have to be done while maintaining confidentiality, but this should be possible given that such people already know about the asylum claim (having written letters in support of the claim).
Another option is to identify attorneys and notarios who prepare claims deemed suspicious. Such people should be investigated and, if evidence of fraud is uncovered, prosecuted. This, to me, is the easiest and most effective solution. The DHS attorneys generally know who is producing and/or facilitating fraudulent claims. Why not send an undercover investigator posing as a client to the suspected attorney? If the attorney suggests that the "client" engage in fraud, the attorney could be charged with a crime (that is exactly what happened to a Washington State couple who helped create fraudulent asylum cases). Such tactics would reduce fraud by eliminating the purveyors of fraud and by deterring others who might engage in such practices.
The trick is to reduce fraud without preventing legitimate asylum seekers from gaining protection.
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June 1, 2010
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Classifieds: Help Wanted: Immigration Attorney, Help Wanted:
Immigration Paralegals, Help Wanted: Immigration Attorney, Help
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1. Tweet: Musicians boycott Arizona http://www.thesoundstrike.net
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TN Status For Nurses By Christopher Wendt; Practice Pointers for
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Curran; Adjustment Of Status For Professional Nurses By Sylvia
Boecker; Building International Bridges By Commission On
Graduates Of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS International);Tips
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3. Article: Bloggings On PERM Labor Certification by Joel Stewart
4. Article: Bloggings On Updates In Immigration Law by Carl
5. Article: Bloggings on Immigration Law And Policy by Greg
6. Article: Bloggings on Political Asylum by Jason Dzubow
7. Article: Bloggings on Deportation And Removal by Matthew
8. News: CRS Report On Legal Analysis Of Arizona's S.B. 1070
9. Tweet: RollCall: Obama Sends Mixed Messages on #Immigration
10. Tweet: Dems still pursuing energy bill despite oil spill, but
Dems have no time for #immigration, TheHill story:
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Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill) is at the forefront of the
immigration debate. He has been harshly critical of the
President for his handling of the situation in Arizona, and for his
failure to meaningfully address comprehensive immigration reform
eighteen months into his presidency. He has also put his money where his
mouth is, getting
arrested in front of the White House while peacefully protesting the Arizona immigration law.
The Congressman appeared on NBC's Meet the Press last Sunday, and as always he provided clear insight into the immigration reform issue, rationally evaluating the problem. In doing so he assessed President Obama's political will as it relates to immigration reform as follows:
"I don't think [President Obama] is there yet, and I think that the President has to understand that simple political soundbites is not what the American public want. They want practical solutions. He knows what the solution is to this issue. He needs to demonstrate the political will and the political courage to take it on."
Plain and simply we need more people in Washington like Congressman Gutierrez.
The National Foundation for American Policy has put out a number of excellent reports on the state of American immigration and now they have two more. Family Immigration: The Long Wait to ImmigrateFamily immigration quotas are inadequate and result in separation and long waits for Americans, lawful permanent residents and close family members. Approximately 4 million people are waiting in family immigration backlogs, according to data obtained from the U.S. Department of State and Department of Homeland Security.The wait time for a U.S. citizen petitioning for a brother or sister from the Philippines exceeds 20 years. A U.S. citizen petitioning for either a married (3rd preference) or unmarried (1st preference) son or daughter (21 years or older) can expect to wait 6 to 17 years, depending on the country or origin. Research shows legal immigrants experience faster wage growth than natives, are more likely to start businesses and have higher median years of schooling. Raising family immigration quotas would serve both the humanitarian and economic interests of the United States.Death at the BorderThe absence of a way to enter the United States legally to work has contributed to more than 4,000 men, women, and children dying while attempting to cross to America since 1998. Alarmingly, immigrant deaths increased in 2009 at a time when illegal entry fell significantly. This death toll - an average of about one person a day - has occurred in the context of great pressure from Congress and executive branch officials to "control the border." The loss of life will almost certainly continue unless more paths are open to work legally in the United States. The only plausible way to eliminate immigrant deaths at the border, as well as reduce illegal immigration in the long term, is to institute a new program of temporary visas or portable work permits for foreign workers. Strong evidence exists that the current "enforcement-only" policy has strengthened criminal gangs, providing a profitable line of business for Mexican criminal enterprises. If Mexican and Central American workers could come to America on a legal visa or work permit they would have no need to employ the services of a coyote or criminal enterprise.