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  1. COURT ORDERS FEDERAL IMMIGRATION JAIL TO OFFER PAROLE AND BOND HEARINGS FOR ASYLUM SEEKERS

    by , 11-20-2017 at 11:55 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    November 20, 2017 – A federal court on Friday night ordered the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia, New York to stop detaining asylum-seekers without a fair opportunity for release on parole or bond while awaiting asylum hearings. The New York Civil Liberties Union and the International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center originally filed suit in July over the practice at the state’s largest immigration detention facility.

    People who arrive at the nation’s borders seeking asylum are entitled to be considered for release on parole while awaiting their asylum hearings. However, federal immigration officials at Batavia effectively stopped granting parole in late January after the election of President Trump, leaving dozens of people who fled violence and persecution to languish in jail. As one Batavia official told a detainee, asylum-seekers had a “one in a million” chance of getting parole after Trump became president.

    “People who came to the U.S. border seeking only refuge will no longer suffer indefinite confinement in New York's largest immigration detention facility,” said Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “Asylum-seekers deserve, and will now get, the chance to be with loved ones while awaiting their asylum hearings. This win is a strong rebuke to the Trump administration’s campaign against immigrants.”

    The district court ordered the government “immediately” to redo the parole process for asylum-seekers held at Batavia. Under the order, asylum-seekers will be notified of the availability of parole in a language they understand, be given a parole interview with an immigration officer, be provided an explanation for their parole decision and be informed they can seek reconsideration if parole is initially denied. Asylum-seekers who have already had their parole denied will have the opportunity for their parole requests to be readjudicated. The injunction also ordered bond hearings for those detained at Batavia for six months or more.

    "We are thrilled that the court recognized that the asylum-seekers detained at Batavia deserve a fair chance at freedom,” said Mariko Hirose, litigation director at IRAP. “These are people who have had to flee horrific conditions at home and this ruling allows them a chance at reuniting with family and friends here while their immigration cases continue."
    Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford granted Friday’s preliminary injunction in recognition of the severe physical and psychological harms of prolonged detention. In particular, incarceration prevents many asylum-seekers from adequately preparing for their asylum hearings ¬ proceedings that could determine whether they must return to their countries of origin, where they may face threats to their lives.

    "We applaud Judge Wolford's recognition that ICE must comply with its own policies and procedures,” said NYCLU Staff Attorney and lead counsel Aadhithi Padmanabhan. “What makes ICE's conduct at Batavia such a travesty is that the agency was not following its own internal guidelines, all while government lawyers in D.C. recently told the Supreme Court that these procedures are followed to a T."

    "I fled persecution in Somalia and came to America because people all around the world think of this country as a beacon of hope,” said named petitioner, Hanad Abdi. “But during the ten months I was imprisoned at Batavia, not knowing why I was jailed or how I could get out, I felt hopeless. Because of the judge's decision, others will not have to suffer like I did. The government will have to follow the law just like everyone else."

    “I fled Cuba where I was a political prisoner and came to America seeking freedom,” said named petitioner Johan Barrios Ramos. “I was shocked when I got here and asked for asylum but was instead put in jail. I am so happy that the court said there are limits on ICE’s authority to detain people like me."

    "My health got worse and worse in ICE custody while I waited for my hearing,” said class member Saikou Touray of Gambia. “I felt increasingly desperate because no one ever explained to me why I was denied parole or what I could do to get out of detention. Now I can be with my family and get the medical treatment I needed all along."

    In addition to Dunn, Hirose and Padmanabhan, counsel on the case include NYCLU staff attorneys Robert Hodgson and Paige Austin, NYCLU legal fellow Scout Katovich, paralegal Andrea Barrientos and Data & Policy Analyst Michelle Shames; IRAP staff on the case include Staff Attorney Deepa Alagesan, paralegal Casey Smith, and volunteer Sofia Calatrava.
  2. Statistics of Asylum Denial Rates by Immigration Judge Updated to 2017

    by , 11-20-2017 at 08:59 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    Via Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC):

    The asylum denial rates are calculated, after further validity checking by TRAC, from the internal files TRAC obtains directly from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). These files record the outcome of each case decided by the Immigration Court. The bibliographic information was collected from a variety of official sources including press releases, testimony, other biographical information released by the Department of Justice, and responses received to specific TRAC inquiries.

    Click here to view the records.
  3. A Distorted Argument Based on Fear Against Family Immigration and the Visa Lottery by the Head of a FAIR Affiliated Group, Part !. Roger Algase

    Dale Wilcox, the general director and general counsel of the Immigration Law Reform Law Institute, has published an article in The Hill laying out arguments against both the diversity visa lottery and family immigration (which he calls by the pejorative term "chain migration"). The article is entitled:"The visa lottery and chain migration both give Americans the shaft."

    http://thehill.com/opinion/immigrati...cans-the-shaft

    This article is worth examining in some detail, because it is a classic example of how the arguments against family immigration and the visa lottery, both of which benefit immigrants primarily from non-white parts of the world, are based on distortion and fear, rather than objective facts.

    While there is no evidence that Mr. Wilcox is himself a white nationalist, and I do not intend to make any such suggestion, the organization he heads, according to a note at the end of his article, is listed by ballotpedia.org as a supporting organization for FAIR, (Federation for Immigration Reform)

    https://ballotpedia.org/Immigration_..._Law_Institute

    According to an investigative report by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), FAIR was founded by an avowed white supremacist, John Tanton, and several of its officers or staff members have allegedly been connected with white supremacist advocates or groups over the years.

    https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-h...gration-reform

    With the above as background, let us look at the arguments which Mr. Wilcox advances against family immigration and the diversity visa lottery.

    First, Wilcox tries to tie both "chain migration" and the visa lottery to the New York City terror attack, even though tens of millions millions of peaceful, law abiding immigrants have come to the US through family visas and contributed to American society over the past 50 years, and the sqme can be said for more than a million immigrants, mostly from Asia, Africa and Latin America, who have come to the US through the DV lottery since it was established in 1994 (as the successor to the AA-1 lottery which was mainly limited to white Europeans and which FAIR never complained about, to the best of my knowledge).

    There is no evidence whatsoever that the DV lottery is a vehicle for terrorists or that it is used by terrorists. The NYC suspect had no terror connections when he entered with a DV visa as a child or young person, and he was evident;y radicalized in the US.

    Wilcox claims that the suspect brought 23 relatives with him to the United States. Aside from the fact that this is not the way the DV lottery works, since beneficiaries can only bring their spouses or children, Wilcox does not cite any alleged wrongdoing by any of the "23 relatives" that the NYC suspect allegedly brought with him.

    No one assumes that the relatives of the Las Vegas shooting massacre suspect are all mass murderers themselves, or that all white American-born males have violent criminal propensities just because the mass killer suspect did. Why should similar assumptions be made about DV or family visa immigrants?

    And yet Wilcox says that the charge that DV and family immigration are "irresponsible gateways for dangerous individuals to enter the country and harm Americans" is "legitimate"

    It is not legitimate.

    Wilcox, then, seizing on what he does not show to be anything more than isolated instances, claims that both the green card lottery and family immigration in general are subject to fraud and abuse. This is a time-worn argument against immigration in general that immigration opponents have been using for the past half century, ever since the 1965 reform that abolished the Europe-only immigration quotas of the 1924 "national origins" law was enacted.

    I will look at this argument in more detail in a forthcoming comment.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    algaselex@gmail.com

    Updated 11-20-2017 at 10:45 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  4. Trump's Border Wall is Racially Divisive and "Environmentally Catastrophic". But It Will Benefit Americans - Wall Street CEO's. Roger Algase

    The following comment has been revised and expanded as of November 18 at 9:26 pm.

    One of the main arguments in favor of Trump's anti immigrant agenda is that ramping up deportations (such as in the case of CBP guards who recently waited outside a hospital room to arrest an undocumented 10 year old Mexican girl with cerebral palsy); barring certain grandparents of Muslim US citizens from entering the US (as Trump's DOJ unsuccessfully argued in favor of doing in federal circuit courts); backing the RAISE Act (which would cut off most family and less skilled immigration from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America); while at the same time Trump seeks to reduce or eliminate H-1B and other high skilled immigration (mainly from Asia) through his "Hire American" executive order, are all meant to benefit Americans.

    This is based on the false and demagogic propositions, which Trump has urged from the time that he began his candidacy with a vicious attack against Mexican immigrants as "criminals", "rapists" and drug dealers up to the present moment, that the interests of "immigrants" (by which he means primarily Latin American, Asian, Middle Eastern and African immigrants - see vox.com article below) and American citizens are inherently opposed to each other; and that immigrants are to blame for most, if not all, of America's problems.

    https://www.vox.com/2016/6/14/119205...igrants-muslim

    There is no greater sign of Trump's antagonism and contempt toward Latin American and other non-white immigrants than Trump's pet project, his Mexican border Wall. The Wall, even though as yet unfunded, has become a symbol of his policy of inflaming racial tensions and exploiting racial prejudices, just as the Berlin Wall was a symbol of Communist tyranny and the Warsaw Ghetto Wall was a symbol of Nazi genocide against the Jewish people.

    In addition to being a symbol of racial hatred and humiliation, Trump's Wall has also been labelled as "environmentally catastrophic" by thinkprogress.org, because it would cross through wildlife refuges and national parks, and require waiving dozens of environmental protection laws in the affected areas, including the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Air Act.

    https://thinkprogress.org/border-com...-25266cc2b216/

    But Trump claims that the Wall, like the rest of his anti-immigrant agenda, will benefit the American people.

    Which Americans might those be? Certainly not the landowners along the American side of the border who are suing the federal government to stop the Wall's destruction of their property.

    Certainly not ordinary working class and middle class Americans, whose minimum wage and union rights are being bitterly opposed by Trump and his GOP supporters, even as they push for legislation which would cause tens of millions of average Americans to lose their health insurance and pay higher income taxes.

    http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-bl...y-thinks-about

    But surely there must be some Americans who are benefiting from Trump's Wall, which is the most prominent symbol of his attempt to move America back in the direction of the 1924 white Europeans only immigration regime which governed US immigration policy for the next forty years until it was finally abolished in 1965.

    But who are these lucky American citizens who will not only benefit from Trump's Mexican Border Wall, but may actually reap a huge bonanza from it? Where can we find them?

    The answer is not so mysterious. We can find the people who may stand to make millions off of the Border Wall - on Wall Street and in the boardrooms of other big companies which are investing heavily in a company which is engaged in build a prototype for Trump's Wall.

    According to a November 16 article in alternet.org, this company is called Sterling Construction, and it is receiving financing not only from a company owned by far-right billionaire and Trump backer Robert Mercer, but also by BlackRock, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. The latter two companies are also, according to the same story, big financial supporters of the private prison industry, which incarcerates thousands of immigrants in what has been called "nightmarish conditions".

    https://www.salon.com/2017/05/16/pri...shows_partner/

    For further details, see:

    Wall Street Stands to Make a Killing From Building Trump's Border Wall: Report: Hate is profitable for the Mercers, BlackRock, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo


    http://www.alternet.org/immigration/...er-wall-report

    The Alternet article also warns about "a growing alignment between the financial elite and the white nationalist right". ilw.com readers may recall another country where a similar "alignment" took place - in 1930's Germany.

    Trump has often been accused of making untruthful statements about immigrants and immigration. But when he says that the American people will benefit from his Border Wall, no one can claim that he is misleading the public. Trump is absolutely right - as long as we are clear about which Americans will be benefiting the most.

    Just in case there are still any doubts about who these Americans are, Alternet quotes one immigration advocate, Ana Maria Archila of the Center for Popular Democracy, as follows:

    "It's always been clear that Trump's border wall had no real benefit or justification - and now it's clear that it could serve to further enrich his wealthy friends."


    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    algaselex@gmail.com


    Updated 11-18-2017 at 10:38 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  5. Trump's "Hire American" Executive Order is Clearly Against the Law in Many Instances. Why Hasn't it Been Challenged in Court? Roger Algase

    This post will begin a serious of comments devoted to the issue of whether current administration policies are consistent with the obligation of USCIS and other immigration agencies to provide fair decisions on employment-based petitions, based on the applicable laws and regulations, rather than on whether the president would prefer a specific result in keeping with his "Buy American, Hire American" executive order.

    As recent ilw.com articles by other attorneys have shown, this issue has been particularly acute this year in the area of H-1B petitions and the hurricane of RFE responses, in many cases of highly questionable competence and objectivity - something which I have also been facing and which I will write about more specifically in upcoming comments.

    But by way of introduction to this topic, I will start with a very basic question: Is the president's "Hire American" immigration policy consistent with the law?

    There are great number of employment based non-immigrant visas (I will leave a discussion of employment-based green card categories for later). A few of them contain requirements intended to benefit US workers specifically - notably in the H-1B prevailing wage and LCA regulations, and in the job creation requirements of E-2 and EB-5 investment visas.

    But, except for the H-1B regulations requiring "H-1B dependent" employers or "willful violators" to recruit US workers first, and for H-2B visas which specifically require a Labor Certification, there are no NIV categories which specifically require US employers to reject a foreign worker in order to "Hire American".

    Despite that fact that Trump's "Hire American" order has no basis in law as a general matter, and actually conflicts with the INA in instances such as the above, USCIS is now issuing RFE's and denials in petitions where the obvious motivation seems to be to prevent US employer from hiring foreign workers on any pretext imaginable, as in a November 15 Immigration Daily article by Cora-Ann V. Pestaina, Esq. dealing with refusal to accept valid expert opinion letters; or, in some of my own cases, outrageously incompetent, distorted or even self-contradictory USCIS interpretations of the crucially important OOH Handbook which make fair and objective H-1B adjudications all but impossible.

    Since the "Hire American" executive order is very arguably encouraging, if not actually directing, such skewed and distorted USCIS decision-making, isn't the time ripe for a court challenge of this order, just as the legality of his Muslim ban immigration order was challenged (on other grounds, of course), with a considerable amount of success to date?

    If the president is allowed to continue to write his own immigration laws or dictate immigration policies through executive orders, especially ones that contradict existing law, without going to Congress for authorization, America's immigration system will be in serious trouble. So will our democracy.
    ___________________________________
    Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been helping clients from diverse parts of the world with H-1B petitions and other employment and family-based immigration applications for more than 35 years. Roger's email address is algaselex@gmail.com

    Updated 11-16-2017 at 04:26 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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