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  1. Four United We Dream leaders arrested outside an ICE facility in Phoenix

    by , 08-22-2013 at 09:44 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    I just received the following email notification from United We Dream organizer Reyna Montoya:

    Just now, four United We Dream leaders were arrested outside an ICE facility in Phoenix!

    These courageous leaders-- Maria Castro, Alejandra Sanchez, Francisco Luna, and Yadira Garcia, the United 4-- engaged in civil disobedience to protest outrageous deportations that tear our families apart and to call on Congress and the Obama Administration to act.

    Right now, they need you to call to get them released. Call 602-379-3235 (press 2, press 3 and leave a message):

    "I am calling to ask for the immediate release of Alejandra Sanchez, Yadira Garcia, Maria Castro and Francisco Luna: the four people who are currently being detained for standing against senseless deportations and family separations. They are heroes for our community and should be released to continue to advocate for the rights of all American families.”

    We have been in front of the ICE facility in downtown Phoenix for the past two days, highlighting the stories of families in deportation like Ardany and Teresa, and calling on Congress and the White House to stop family separations and pass real immigration reform.

    After marching around the ICE office, the United 4 chained themselves to the gate to protest deportations and shut down ICE operations. Their actions were bold and courageous and now, they need our help to make sure they are able to return to their families. Together, we can shine a spotlight on the moral crisis in our nation and the need for our political leaders to act now.

    Call for their release now: 602-379-3235 (press 2, press 3 and leave a message):

    For ALL 11 million,

    Reyna Montoya
    United We Dream
  2. ACLU Says That Muslims Are Blacklisted For US Citizenship. By Roger Algase

    An August 21 story in the Huffington Post with the title: Muslims Blacklisted For U.S. Citizenship Under Secret Government Program, Says ACLU reports as follows:

    "A government program to screen immigrants for national security concerns has blacklisted some Muslims and put their U.S. citizenship applications on hold for years, civil liberties advocates said on Wednesday.

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California said in a report that the previously undisclosed program instructs federal immigration officers to find ways to deny applications that have been deemed a national security concern. For example, they flag discrepancies in a petition or claim that they didn't receive sufficient information from the immigrant.

    The criteria used by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to blacklist immigrants are overly broad and include traveling through regions where there is terrorist activity, the report said. The criteria disproportionally target Muslim immigrants, who often wait years to get a response on their citizenship applications and in some cases are denied, advocates said."

    The Huffpost article cites the case of Ahmad Muhanna, a 53-year old Palestinian engineer, who applied for US citizenship with his wife. Their applications were denied after waiting nearly four years for a response.

    The reason for denial was that they had failed to note in their application that they had donated money to a Muslim charity which was later declared to be a terrorist organization.

    The Huffpost quoted Muhanna as saying:

    "You can't just assume every Muslim is a guilty person, and every Muslim is a terrorist."

    Muhanna also said, according to the article, that he had lived in the same house, with the same phone number, for 15 years, making him easily traceable.

    If the ACLU report is accurate, this would raise two questions: First, if the government has information that someone might actually be a terrorist, then is sitting on that information for years and taking no other action against the person except holding up a citizenship application really the best way to protect the safety and welfare of American citizens?

    How well did that strategy work, for example, in the case of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the deceased Boston bomber suspect whose US citizenship application was held up, but with no other action taken against him prior to the attack?

    Second, if there is not enough evidence to create a reasonable suspicion that someone might be a terrorist, is there any justification for holding up an immigration or citizenship application other than racial or religious profiling?

    In order words, if the government has reason to believe that an immigration or citizenship applicant is a terrorist, it has the authority to kick the person out, and it should do so promptly.

    If the government does not have such evidence, the person's application should be granted within a reasonable time, if he or she is otherwise qualified.

    Unreasonably delaying, or denying, immigration or citizenship applications purely for political purposes, as the ACLU charges USCIS with doing in its report, without any other reason other than racial or religious profiling, is not going help national security or protect the safety of Americans, including preventing another 9/11 or Boston bombing.

    Nor will racial or religious profiling help bring about an immigration system based on equity and fairness, rather than the stereotyping and prejudice which is the main obstacle to passing immigration reform this year.

    America went through a red scare almost a hundred years ago, right after the First World War. We do not need to repeat that kind of history again.

    Here is the link:

    I also remember giving a talk about the Bush administration's "Special Registration" program for men from Muslim countries in the wake of 9/11, which was later cancelled as a total failure (after an estimated 10,000 people were deported for minor visa violations, without a single terrorist connection being found, if my recollection is correct).

    I could feel the anxiety and dread among the men required to register and their families with whom I spoke afterward, all of whom were from a Muslim country (Indonesia). However, it is safe to assume that there was not a single Muslim present. The meeting took place inside a Catholic church.

    In the decade or so that has passed since that time, I have still not been able to figure out how the Bush administration could have decided that deporting Christians would make America safer from the threat of an attack by Islamist groups.

    In the same way, the Obama administration may have some explaining to do about why it thinks that denying citizenship to people purely because of their religion will make America more secure, or how it fits in with the principles of a nation dedicated to equality and governed by the rule of law.

    Updated 08-22-2013 at 03:59 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  3. The End of Asylum as We Know It - Part II

    Last time, I wrote about the influx of credible fear applicants and how this is straining the asylum system all across the U.S. Since then, I've communicated with attorneys in different parts of the country, and they are confirming that Asylum Offices are interviewing very few asylum applicants anywhere. Instead, they are focusing on credible fear interviews. This means that applicants (including many of my clients) are stuck in what appears to be an indefinite limbo. Thus, the question: Is this the end of the asylum system as we know it?

    I have never been accused of being an optimist, but I think the pretty clear answer here is "no." Or, maybe more accurately, "no, but..." Here's why:

    "Don't worry. The Asylum Office will get to your case before you're my age. Probably."

    First, the Asylum Offices are in the process of hiring significant numbers of new officers. It takes time to train the new hires, but even so, we should start seeing their impact within the next six months. In addition, the rumors I've been hearing indicate that the Asylum Offices expect to begin shifting resources back to asylum relatively soon (I've heard various dates, including October 2013 and January 2014).

    Second, the influx at the border will eventually slow down. If my theory (discussed in the prior posting) is correct and the new arrivals are being drawn here by the possibility of immigration reform, that "pull" factor will eventually go away. Either reform will pass or it will be killed by House Republicans. Once the issue is resolved, the added incentives it creates will likely disappear.

    Third, and possibly most important, asylum is the law of the land, and there is nothing on the table to change that. Although there are certainly people and groups who would like to curtail or eliminate the asylum program, there really is no organized movement to change the law.

    All that being said, I don't expect that the current problems signal the end of asylum as we know it. However (and here's the "no, but..." part), I suspect that the current problems will lead to a "new normal" in the asylum system. I also suspect that this new normal will not be as good as the old normal.

    For one thing, there is some (disputed) evidence that aliens arriving at the border are becoming more sophisticated about making credible fear claims. Thus, the new normal might involve more resources devoted to credible fear interviews and less devoted to asylum cases (since Asylum Officers currently adjudicate both types of cases). Most likely, since many credible fear applicants are detained (at government expense), DHS will do the fiscally responsible thing and prioritize the credible fear cases. This could lead to increased waiting times for asylum seekers.

    In addition, even if the credible fear caseload were resolved today, there would still be a large backlog of pending asylum cases to work through. Assuming no further disruptions, it will probably take years to interview and decide all the backlogged cases. And of course, new cases are coming in all the time.

    Also, the world situation has been conspiring to increase the number of people seeking asylum in the U.S. Violence in Mexico is ever on the increase. Our disengagement from Iraq and Afghanistan has caused many people who worked and fought with us to flee for their lives. War in Syria and trouble in Egypt have created new refugee flows.

    Finally, legislative and attorney-driven changes in the law have expanded the categories of people eligible for asylum--these days, asylum can be granted to victims of forced family planning, victims of FGM and domestic violence, people persecuted due to their sexual orientation, and people subject to forced marriage. I believe most of these changes are positive and life-saving, but when the number of people eligible for asylum expands, the number of people applying for asylum will likely go up. This further burdens the system.

    All these factors point to a future where asylum cases are adjudicated more slowly than before. So while I don't believe we are witnessing the end of asylum as we know it, I do think the new normal will be a more difficult environment for people seeking asylum in our country. In the third part of this series, I will discuss some policy responses to this new situation.

    Originally posted on the Asylumist:
  4. Legalization Without Citizenship: Panacea, or Poison Pill? By Roger Algase

    Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-Va), the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has been floating a proposal which would provide for legalization of unauthorized immigrations, but without the special pathway to permanent residence and eventual US citizenship which Democrats and immigration supporters consider to be essential to any immigration reform package, and which is provided for in the Senate CIR bill.

    As Goodlatte describes his proposal, legalized immigrants would be eligible for green cards if they meet the same qualifications as everyone else - family or employment sponsorship, in most cases.

    (He doesn't explain how they would get over obstacles such as the unlawful presence bar in the current law, for example. This would put green cards out of reach for the great majority of people who are unauthorized immigrants now, unless a waiver were specifically included in the reform statute, and Goodlatte has said nothing about that, as far as I know.)

    But despite the fact that Goodlatte's statement about permanent residence or citizenship being available through "regular channels" may be meaningless for most of today's 11 million unauthorized immigrants - except for those with USC spouses or adult USC children, who do not need legalization in any event - some immigration advocates appear to be taking Goodlatte's proposal seriously as a possible solution to the impasse over CIR.

    "Why is a special pathway to a green card or citizenship so important?" the argument goes. "The essential point is to grant legalization, i.e. protection against deportation, to 11 million people. If we can get that through Congress, we will have accomplished a great deal. The perfect should not be the enemy of the good."

    Far be it from me to disparage the possible utility of throwing the "Pathway" to green cards and citizenship under the bus, to join the other immigration benefits already occupying that space - the diversity visa - H-1B as we now know it - sibling green cards, etc.

    But would this really be enough to satisfy Goodlatte and to get a legalization bill through the House? Or would the goalposts be moved once again, as they have already been moved before by Republicans in both Houses of Congress?

    Greg Sargent in the Washington Post quotes Goodlatte as making a comment indicating somewhat less than good faith in backing any type of reform at all. See: Here's how Republicans may try to kill immigration reform (August 20).

    Sargent quotes Goodlatte as saying the following at an August 19 town hall meeting:

    "Even if it [a House immigration bill] doesn't go all the way to be signed by the president - because I have a hard time - like you do - envisioning him signing some of those things - it doesn't mean we shouldn't show the American people that we are interested in solving this very serious problem that we have in our country."

    Sargent comments:

    If we're right, he [Goodlatte] wants to pretend to want to get reform done, he wants to get a majority of House Republicans to agree with his bills, and then, when the Democrats say it's not good enough, try to blame them for 'blocking reform' - as if the GOP is ever going to win a blame game on immigration reform."

    But suppose the Democrats try to take Goodlatte at his word and actually agree to a bill which provides for legalization without a pathway to citizenship, just as they made so many compromises to get a CIR bill through the Senate?

    Would that ensure that reform with legalization for 11 million people would actually pass in the House? Not by a long shot.

    According to the Huffington Post's August 19 article about the same town hall meeting; Bob Goodlatte On Immigration: No "Special Pathway from House", the GOP Congressman also said that he would not support moving forward on legalization, even for DREAMERS, until other border security and enforcement mechanisms were in place.

    The goalposts are moving again. Even if the Democrats are willing to accept an immigration "reform" bill without the pathway to citizenship which Goodlatte and most other House Republicans so adamantly oppose, is there any real sign that the House GOP is doing anything other than looking for a way to kill immigration reform which would give them the best chance of blaming the Democrats for its demise?

    Rather than waiting for the House Republicans to continue playing a cynical game for which the final score already seems to be clear, even though the game is not yet over, isn't it time for the Obama administration to take Plan B off the shelf, wipe away the dust, and start thinking about how to put it into action before hundreds of thousands, or another million, more immigrants who pose no threat to America, including 44,000 people who were due to be deported during the August recess (according to Pablo Alvarado writing in The Hill on August 2), are sent back?

    Updated 08-21-2013 at 10:01 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  5. Congressman to 11 Year Old Girl: Your Dad Should Get Deported!

    by , 08-20-2013 at 10:14 PM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    Embarrassed to say that Congressman Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) is from my state. His exchange with the little girl has gone viral. And the RNC folks are trying to figure out why their brand is so toxic with America's Hispanics.

    The worst part of this video is where the Tea Party crowd erupts in applause when he essentially says "too bad, your dad has to go."

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