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  1. Bloggings: Sanchez-Herbert - Failure to Appear/In Absentia Complications, by: Danielle L. C. Beach-Oswald

    An overwhelming amount of sources discuss the backlog problems our immigration system is facing.  In deportation proceedings, the difficulties become more apparent as hearings are delayed and one is left to simply wait it out.  For those individuals that feel they do not have a strong case or lack the funds for basic daily living or can no longer stand the years of separation from their spouses, children or parents this is an abomination.  Some may decide to just leave and avoid what they deem the inevitable.  This is where the confusion arises as to how one should proceed with a current immigration case. 
    For example, in the Matter of Ramiro SANCHEZ-HERBERT, the Immigration Judge agreed to terminate the proceedings.  Yet, the Department of Homeland Security objected to this and filed an appeal that the judge should have still issued an order for deportation even if the immigrant had already left the US.   Debate exists now as to whether the Judge should have instead granted the DHS the ability to proceed with an "in absentia" hearing.  The Department of Homeland Security and Board of Immigration Appeals both agree that the judge should have ordered the immigrant deported, even if the individual had already left United States soil.  Clearly, the complications and anxieties of the immigration process are further compounded by bureaucratic controversies. 
    The "in absentia" order of removal makes an immigrant ineligible to return to the United States for ten years.  This is regardless of whether the immigrant came to the country legally or not.   An "in absentia" hearing requires the Department of Homeland Security to collect facts and evidence to be able to meet its burden for the Judge to issue an order of removal.  Despite, the bureaucratic matters at hand, logically it seems unfair to  expect an individual to stay in the United States without the ability to work, travel, have identity or status.   Consider the anxiety they are facing:  no ability to work or make any money, threatened by their illegal status, waiting for a hearing before an Immigration Court that is backlogged, and finally, the constant worst-case scenario looming in their minds-deportation to a country that they may have no more ties to or that they left years ago is evidently not in their best interest. 
    Another crucial factor in "in absentia" hearing is the procedural aspect of a notice to appear.  This element of the process is when the government begins the path towards removing a non-immigrant from the United States.  This goes back to the initial decision in this case that termination of pending proceedings is not allowed if the alien in question has indeed received proper notice of his hearing.  This begins an entirely new controversy due to the complications that surround the issuance of notices to appear.
    Some of the difficulties of the notice to appear seem very basic and appear to be common sense, yet evidently mistakes occur and people sacrifice their lives in the United States for simple mistakes.  For one, countless times these notices are mailed to incorrect addresses.  This means that the alien may have been deported and not even be aware.  While DHS and the court are preparing deportation proceedings and building their case because they believe the alien has ignored their requests for whatever reason.  Often, the person is not even aware of the deportation order as he may have moved multiple times as he moves from friend to friend who will lodge him at little or no cost.  At the same time, you run into the individuals who blatantly ignore the notice expecting it to simply disappear.  Facing language barriers and communication barriers also may complicate the process.  In the case of minors, the notice to appear must be served upon the responsible adult in whose custody the child resides.  In some instances, the notice of counsel is sufficient, but this may also bring into question as to how effective the assistance of counsel is under Lozada or simply due to overwhelming address changes.
    For those individuals that somehow avoid language barriers and actually receive the notice to appear at the correct address, all is not resolved.  While still risking deportation, these notices typically include wait times for a court appearance from anywhere from a few days to as much as several years.  In addition, oftentimes the document does not include an actual location, rather simply a date and time; complicating the process further for those that may need to commute and find out last minute. 
    A final point concerns the matter of criminal cases.  Besides the standard controversies already outlined, in a criminal case ICE has the authority to decide whether to issue a Notice to Appear.  The USCIS will not issue an NTA if ICE declines to issue the notice.  Criminal aliens are a top immigration enforcement objective of the government due to egregious public safety cases particularly as outlined in the December 21, 2012 memo.  It is long overdue for immigration to change their notice requirements to be more in tune with the reality of receiving actual notice.  
    source 1 | source 2 | source 3 | source 4 | source 5
  2. Bloggings: Orphans Suffer as U.S. ‚Äď Russia Tensions Escalate, by: Danielle L. C. Beach-Oswald

    This past Friday marks the beginning of a sad era for Russian orphans.   On that day,
    Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill outlawing American adoptions of
    Russian orphans.   As a result, there are forty six children currently hanging in
    limbo, as their adoption processes were initiated before the legislation went into
    effect.  It remains to be seen whether these adoptions will be denied with the new
    legislation in place.  
    Over the past twenty years, 60,000 Russian orphans have been taken out of orphanages
    and welcomed into American families.  The vast majority of these adoptions was
    successful and resulted in happy, loving families.  This new piece of
    legislation is cruel and unjust for the thousands more orphans that would have been
    given brighter futures through adoptions by American families. 
    This piece of legislation is primarily a political move - one in a series of heated
    exchanges between the United States and Russia.   President Putin encouraged
    anti-American feeling when he accused Hillary Clinton of being responsible for
    anti-Putin protests that took place in Moscow a year ago.  Several months later,
    Putin demanded that the U.S. Agency for International Development cease its operations
    in Russia.  Then President Obama signed legislation in honor of Sergei Magnitsky,
    which targeted Russia's corrupt tax and police officials.  In retaliation, Putin
    banned American adoptions of Russian orphans. 
    As far as Russia's human rights record is concerned, it has hit an all-time new low
    with this new piece of legislation.  Children are being left to grow up in the
    deplorable conditions of Russian orphanages, with very little hope for a bright future.
    All this is because politicians will stop at nothing to drive their point across.
    It has yet to be seen how much further tensions will escalate in the coming year.  The
    events to keep an eye on are the continuous transport of goods in and out of Afghanistan
    and Russian cooperation on Iran.  As these events play out, one cannot help but wonder
    whether the United States and Russia will find themselves locked in another cold war. 
    Although it may now seem unlikely, nothing is certain when dealing with leaders who
    unconscionably snatch away the possibility of bright futures from thousands of suffering
    source 1 | source 2 | image source
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  3. Asylee Info Line Bites the Dust

    Until recently, if you were granted asylum in the United States,* you could call the National Asylee Information and Referral Line, a toll-free number, where you could speak to someone about benefits potentially available to you (such as food stamps, Pell Grants, medical assistance, etc.). For people granted asylum through the Asylum Offices, the toll-free number was-and still is-listed on the approval notice.

    However, as of December 28, 2012, the Info Line is kaput. But have no fear-asylees can still learn about benefits (assuming there are benefits after we fall off the fiscal cliff). Visit the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement, Benefits page on the internet.

    A refugee tries to navigate the ORR website.

    Unfortunately, the ORR website is not so easy to use. Admittedly, I am fairly inept with a computer, and so many people might have an easier time with this than me. But it really does seem confusing.

    For one thing, the site directs the user to a map of the U.S., where she can click on her state to find organizations that assist with benefits. The organizations that receive ORR grant money are listed, as are state coordinators and directors. The problem is, I cannot tell who to contact to ask questions about benefits. If there is an NGO or ORR employee who helps asylees learn about benefits, this should be made more explicit.

    There is a helpful fact sheet available in English and eight other languages, which explains certain benefits, such as the Employment Authorization Document, the Refugee Travel Document, and how asylees can obtain their green cards. But this does not help with medical benefits, food stamps, English language programs, and the like.

    I understand that we live in an era of budget cuts and looming fiscal apocalypse, and I guess that the Info Line was discontinued in order to save money. But I do not see why it should cost much money to make the ORR website simpler to use. In that way, asylees will more easily obtain the services they need, and more quickly become self sufficient. This benefits the asylees, of course, but it will also save money for the government.

    I hope that the Office of Refugee Resettlement plans to make its website more user-friendly. Given that ORR provides grants to implementing agencies, perhaps it could also require the local agencies to follow an easy-to-use model website for providing localized information to asylees. A dedicated, accessible website will go a long way towards replacing the telephone Info Line and towards helping asylees begin to adjust to their new life in the United States.

    Originally posted on the Asylumist:

    Updated 07-16-2013 at 01:54 PM by JDzubow

  4. Bloggings: While Waiting For The Supreme Court To Rule On DOMA, Thousands Of Valid Same Sex Marriages May Be At Risk Of Being Broken Up By Deportation. By Roger Algase

    While the Supreme Court examines arcane issues such as the "level of scrutiny" to apply to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, and the degree, if any, to which the "states rights" guarantee of the 10th Amendment may prohibit the federal government from denying benefits to same sex couples who are legally married under state law, thousands of real life people may be in danger of having their marriages broken up by deportation while the Obama administration continues to enforce DOMA, in defiance not only of basic fairness and morality, but the rulings of federal circuit courts. 
    One such couple, Fabiola Morales and Kelly Costello, are the subject of a December 29, 2012 Washington Post article: Federal marriage law may force deportation of many immigrant gay spouses. The article describes the traumatic effect that deportation of Morales, who is from Peru and living in Maryland with her legally married spouse, Costello (who is expecting twins), would have. 
    Morales, according to the Post, earned US bachelor and master degrees in nursing at Georgetown University and suffers from multiple sclerosis, for which she is receiving experimental treatment at the same university. She and Costello are requesting the Department of Homeland Security to hold her green card application "in abeyance" pending the expected Supreme Court decision on DOMA's constitutionality. 
    Another couple mentioned in the same article, Santiago Cortez and his marriage partner, Pablo Garcia of Venezuela, have been together for 20 years. These couples, and many others like them are in danger of being broken up by deportation because the the Obama administration's rigid insistence on enforcing DOMA to the letter, even though it refuses to defend DOMA's constitutionality in the courts. 
    It is hard to imagine how the concept of law enforcement would suffer if pending same sex marriage green card cases were kept on hold pending the Supreme Court decision. If the administration blindly goes ahead with deporting same sex marriage partners, then even if the Supreme Court strikes down DOMA, it may be too late for many people.
    In terms of how the Supreme Court might be likely to rule on DOMA, it is noteworthy that in his dissent in US v. Arizona, 567 US       (2012) Justice Scalia used the 10th amendment as authority for his view that the states should be given great leeway in adopting their own immigration enforcement policies. Will he and his fellow conservatives on the Court be as eager to uphold states' rights with regard to marriage benefits for same sex couples? We will have to wait and see.
    Happy New Year to all ID readers.

  5. Letters of the Week: Dec 31- Jan 4

    Please email your letters to or post them directly as "Comment" below.
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