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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

NY TIMES: US JAILING HAITIANS IT AIRLIFTED TO THE US

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Nina Bernstein, one of the  country's best immigration reporters, has a front page story in this morning's Times regarding 30 survivors of the January Haiti earthquake who were airlifted by Marines to the United States and are now sitting in detentions centers in Florida. According to the Times, these individuals were pulled from the rubble and were seeking food, safety or medical care at the airport in Port-au-Prince. When aftershocks struck, the Marines quickly evacuated people via military transports and did not bother with immigration processing.

Because these individuals landed without visas, they were taken by DHS into custody and they have been awaiting deportation ever since. None have criminal records. Advocates have been pushing to have the detainees released to citizen relatives in the US, but have not had any success. According to the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (run by Cheryl Little, who I recently presented with on an immigration panel), the detainees are not receiving mental health care despite the trauma they have suffered.

Given that there are only 30 individuals involved, the pragmatic (and decent) way to handle the matter is to offer humanitarian parole status and allow these individuals to be released and work. The status is different than the Temporary Protected Status granted to Haitians in the US when the earthquake struck, but it could be basically run in parallel with similar benefits.

DHS officials told the Times that the group is being detained to deter others who would seek to enter the US illegally. But that makes little sense since the group was brought here by the US military. I'm laying odds the group will now quickly be released because of Bernstein's report. This is the latest in a string of cases where DHS has only done the right thing once a reporter brought the story to the public's attention, something that itself raises troubling questions beyond the facts of each report.

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  1. Another Voice's Avatar
    This story is like the cubans in the 80's all over again.
  2. James's Avatar
    Dont they have even half a brain? It seems as if they are in a world of their own with unlimited power. Common Sense please
  3. George Chell's Avatar
    "Dont they have even half a brain? It seems as if they are in a world of their own with unlimited power. Common Sense please."

    I am more pissed at Obama. What the hell is he doing? Why are we paying him $400,000.

  4. James's Avatar
    I am almost 100% sure that there is a sign in front of every DHS building that says : "To ensure your protection from yet unknown/fabricated threats please leave your firearms, eye glasses, brains and your heart at the door before entering this building. Anyone found in violation will be persecuted"
  5. Adi's Avatar
    "Why are we paying him $400,000"

    Because he was best, who could twist and break his words on issues without us feeling bad about it. Point in case, his latest offshore drilling stance. Don't know what other promises of his campaign days are going to be broken. Cannot believe such a huge difference between candidate Obama and president Obama. On immigration I sincerely do not expect any effort on his part.
  6. My 2 cents's Avatar
    I agree with Adi that's why I am looking forward to the mid term elections with Dems losing a lot of seats to bring Obama back to the immigration issue if he seeks re-election.
  7. LFWF's Avatar
    i don't know if I agree with either of you.
    Governing is different from campaigning. There are practical realities. For the Dems and Obama, CIR is not feasible this year. That is reality. You have a choice now (hypothetically, if you can vote), either keep with those who truly support a CIR and hope that they will be able to get it done next year or go make the other side powerful out of sheer spite. Don't forget where the new pubs will stand on this- their base is in a rabid crazy spiral.
  8. George Chell's Avatar
    "I agree with Adi that's why I am looking forward to the mid term elections with Dems losing a lot of seats to bring Obama back to the immigration issue if he seeks re-election."

    We need a loss of 40-42 seats..to get rid of the major immigrant reform phobe in the admin...Rahm Immanuel.
  9. James's Avatar
    Mr 2 Cents.
    Ok so what you are looking forward to is Dems loosing seats. who do you think they will loose them to? Repubs and all their crazy nutjob tea baggers, right wing crazies, overzealous fundamentalists, racists. You think they will ease the passage of CIR for you? Those crazies dont even want a legal black president in their midst and they are doing every thing in their power to undermine him. Just look at the hate filled rhetoric and the repugnant lies they spread during the HCR debates.
    If they win even a few seats, they will claim "victory" for their crazy views, anymore and you can start packing your bags and kiss your american dream goodbye.
    Be careful what you wish for. For the good of the country and indeed for the world, I hope the repubs get soundly defeated and they deserve.
  10. Sid's Avatar
    "Because he was best, who could twist and break his words on issues without us feeling bad about it. Point in case, his latest offshore drilling stance. Don't know what other promises of his campaign days are going to be broken. Cannot believe such a huge difference between candidate Obama and president Obama. On immigration I sincerely do not expect any effort on his part."

    Lifting the ban on offshore drilling was a great idea. He has called the "drill baby drill" brigade's bluff. Let's see how quickly they are able to ramp up the domestic oil production and achieve energy independence.

    If Obama had the kind of majorities that FDR enjoyed, he would be doing all the things that he promised. The fact is that the Democrats in the Congress are almost as corrupt as the Republicans that they replaced. That's a simple fact that many fail to grasp. Obama is doing what he can to get some things done. He has certainly made a few mistakes - sitting back and letting the Congress take charge of the healthcare reform was a glaring one. Not selling the stimulus well was another. Lifting the ban on offshore drilling was not one of them.

    His problem is that he felt that the campaign was over in 2008 and he could just sit in the White House and solve problems with other intellectuals. He needs to get out more and sell his reforms better. Republicans have certainly won the messaging war so far.

    I would love to see CIR get passed but if I were an American I would be really pissed if the Congress were to bring it up now instead of tackling financial reform and do more to create jobs. Hispanics are not the only people who vote. There are several white Democrat and Independent voters who would be pissed if CIR gets passed in this economy.
  11. Adi's Avatar
    "Lifting the ban on offshore drilling was a great idea."

    I am all for drilling anywhere and I am not fan of polar bears. Get every drop of oil/gas out of earth and we will use it. My point is to point out flipping on promises made during campaign. Imagine the situation of people who actually voted on the issue and now see him just betraying them. Did he not think about this issue while running for president? His exact words
    "when I'm president, I intend to keep in place the moratorium here in Florida and around the country that prevents oil companies from drilling off Florida's coasts. That's how we can protect our coastline and still make the investments that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and bring down gas prices for good."
  12. Sid's Avatar
    "I am all for drilling anywhere and I am not fan of polar bears. Get every drop of oil/gas out of earth and we will use it. My point is to point out flipping on promises made during campaign. Imagine the situation of people who actually voted on the issue and now see him just betraying them. Did he not think about this issue while running for president? "

    People who voted on the issue will eventually see what informed people already know. That no one is going to drill anywhere. Drill, baby, drill was simply a catchy slogan aimed at the ignorant people who live in this country. In reality, the returns from offshore drilling are not going to be good enough to justify significant investment in it. If the US had been sitting on an offshore oil mine, oil companies would have gotten to it more than 50 years ago. Whether the environmentalists like Obama or not, the alternatives in the Republicans should scare the hell out of them. Purists will never be satisfied even if they get everything they want. Obama has to deal with the reality that most people in this country think that climate change is a hoax.
  13. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    "Get every drop of oil/gas out of earth and we will use it. "

    And what are you going to do AFTER? You will have your whole economy built on oil/gas, and now the fuel is gone. Just sayin'
  14. USC's Avatar
    Jack, any comments on the drilling discussion?
  15. Adi's Avatar
    "And what are you going to do AFTER? You will have your whole economy built on oil/gas, and now the fuel is gone. Just sayin"

    don't fix something that ain't broken. Fossil fuel is so cheap that it does not justify alternative energy. Oil has to reach $200 and demand has to keep up, to justify economy of sun, wind etc. Even then, when demand for solar panels, wind turbines increase, cost increases as well. And that is main reason for its low acceptance.
  16. USC's Avatar
    This story is appalling. Greg spoke about the USCIS adopting "Yes, we can", unfortunately, the INS is more about the "culture of no" than anything else. Obama should clean out of this department and conduct a Saturday Night Massacre of his own. Get rid of all INS employees and start afresh. With the recession there are plenty of out of work people who would love a job. Then maybe I will get around to calling them the USCIS.
  17. LFWF's Avatar
    Drilling will allow them to place a cost on carbon.Without giving up something that cannot happen. And without putting cost to carbon, forget about making alternative energy profitable. There are no funds for alternative energy development right now because there is no path to profitability. Level the playing field and the funds will come.

    So people, think a bit before spouting off. Sometimes you have to give a little to get a lot. Of course, if you prefer the loony right because Obama can't give you everything you want...be my guest. The consequences will follow.
  18. LFWF's Avatar
    We need a loss of 40-42 seats..to get rid of the major immigrant reform phobe in the admin...Rahm Immanuel.

    Posted by: George Chell | April 01, 2010 at 11:31 AM


    Your inability to see the big picture is quite astounding. A loss of 40 seats may get Rahm the shove...or not, but it will certainly kill CIR for now.
  19. James's Avatar
    "We need a loss of 40-42 seats..to get rid of the major immigrant reform phobe in the admin...Rahm Immanuel."

    The usually thoughtful George, didnt think through this time. Loss of 40-42 seats, would mean Repubs would proclaim from the roof tops about "American people have spoken", would mean that Sean Hannity, Glen Beck, Rush, Faux News have succeeded in brainwashing people, would mean that lies work, would mean that the far right can further plunge America into chaos.

    Is that what you really want George? an even more chaotic environment that what we had under W?
  20. George Chell's Avatar
    "The usually thoughtful George, didnt think through this time. Loss of 40-42 seats, would mean Repubs would proclaim from the roof tops about "American people have spoken", would mean that Sean Hannity, Glen Beck, Rush, Faux News have succeeded in brainwashing people, would mean that lies work, would mean that the far right can further plunge America into chaos."

    They wont be able to run much with a one seat majority. It will be 218-217 GOP. They will keep screaming...that is all!
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