President Obama’s $3.7B funding request is not on the calendar but other proposals are scheduled for hearings before summer break

Despite inaction on the President’s funding request, some other immigration proposals are on the schedule, courtesy of several House Republicans.

Despite inaction on the President’s funding request, some other immigration proposals are on the schedule, courtesy of several House Republicans.

As the final days and hours of the current legislative session wind down, it looks like there may not be any action on President Obama’s request for funding. The House will finish the current session on Friday, July 31, at which time members will be on summer break. The House of Representatives online schedule currently does not list any scheduled hearing next week on the President’s request for $3.7B border request. House Speaker, John Boehner, says he does not believe the funding request will go anywhere in the remaining time, “I would certainly hope so, but I don’t have as much optimism as I would like to have.” Boehner added, “There’s just been some comments made by our colleagues across the aisle that are going to make this much more difficult to deal with.[i]

Summary of President Obama’s $3.7B funding request:

The Washington Post published a graphic summary of President Obama’s request of $3.7 billion for “deterrence, enforcement, repatriation, public information campaigns and efforts to address the root causes of migration,” according to the article linked above.

Departments to receive funding under the current request for emergency relief:

  • Health and Human Services – $1.8B – care for unaccompanied children and refugee services;
  • Homeland Security – $1.536B – detention and removal, transportation, ICE enforcement, Customs and Border Patrol employee funding, border security task force programs and increased drone surveillance;
  • State Department – $300M – repair and strengthening of the borders and media campaigns in Mexico and Central America;
  • Justice Department – $64M – additional judges, expanded orientation program, legal representation of immigrants, immigration litigation lawyers for federal agencies.

Despite inaction on the President’s funding request, some other immigration proposals are on the schedule, courtesy of several House Republicans.

On Wednesday, July 29, the House Judiciary Committee, lead by Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) will host hearings on a proposed bill, (H.R. 5137), the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act, to end several of the current immigration policies enacted under President Obama’s administration, under the assumption that those policies are attracting undocumented immigrants to U.S. borders, according to a press release issued on July 17[ii].

A video on the House Judiciary Committee website claims President Obama has not taken sufficient action and that his plan to address the border crisis is nothing but smoke and mirrors: Watch Video. Whether there is enough bipartisan support for H.R. 5137 as a proposed solution to current and future immigration and border problems remains to be seen and it will likely be covered in the media next week.

Another currently scheduled hearing[iii] to take place on Friday, July 31, will be hosted by the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Subcommittee on Research and Technology. The hearing will focus on the technology that may be needed to secure U.S. borders.

Cable news shows love talking about all the legislative proposals, often regardless of the chances they will get enough votes to pass.

As members of Congress lend their support to the variety of proposed bills, you may wonder if they are making a good faith effort to pass legislation, or whether some of the bills simply provide an opportunity for debate and dialogue, which unfortunately turns into political gamesmanship and attack.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx), for example, would like to see the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program terminated, to send a message to people in Central America, “making it clear that we won’t give amnesty to those who are here illegally.[iv]

Beware of political chatter blaming current immigration problems on current policies.

Cruz may be errant in his statement however, in the sense that DACA does not apply to the people currently arriving on U.S. soil, fleeing grave danger in their home countries. To learn more about misconceptions about immigration law and policies and the current border surge, you may read our article, Immigration law and policy is complex and there are frequent misunderstandings on both sides of the fence. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley works diligently to follow the latest news on immigration reform and share valuable information.

Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the States of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues including DACA and related options for children arriving in the U.S. For more information about the law firm, please visit www.KiKisLaw.com, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter. You can also review Attorney Mosley’s endorsements on her Avvo profile.

 

[i] PBS.org, Recess looming, lawmakers appear stuck on Obama’s immigration funding request, By Rachel Wellford, Jul. 22, 2014.

[ii] U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, Chaffetz and Goodlatte Introduce Bill to Stop the Border Crisis, Jul. 17, 2014.

[iii] U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Subcommittee on Research and Technology.

[iv] See PBS.org article (FNi) above.

Immigration computer system is up and running as the system returns to 2014 after being stuck in the 80s after meltdown

The system was down for almost six weeks, leading many to question how a failure of this magnitude could happen.

The system was down for almost six weeks, leading many to question how a failure of this magnitude could happen.

In a recent press release[1], the American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”) spoke out to let people know the Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”) while, fixing the recent immigration court computer failure, is still badly underfunded. The EOIR is the federal office established to adjudicate immigration cases by “fairly, expeditiously, and uniformly interpreting and administering the Nation’s immigration laws.[2]” In this case, the EOIR was unable to do anything in a uniform manner with a failed computer system and lack of system failure preparedness.

When the system goes down the show comes to a halt and the calendars pile up.

A hardware failure caused most application of the EOIR computer system to shut down at the stroke of midnight April 12.  The system was down for almost six weeks, leading many to question how a failure of this magnitude could happen.  Data recovery specialists and teams worked to recover and restore data and applications according to news published on its website on May 19, 2014[3]. In restoring the system, IT teams worked to create new elements of information redundancy and monitoring to guard against future system issues.

Because of the computer failure, many immigrants in the court system have further rescheduled court dates in a backlogged system. AILA President Doug Stump stated, “We cheered the announcement this week that some initial fixes have been made. But the reality is that the breakdown delayed cases and created unnecessary bottlenecks.[4]

There are thousands of immigrant court respondents affected by the system failure.

The New York Post reported on the “computer meltdown” and noted how immigration courts had to use pen, paper and cassette tapes to manage cases manually without the computer system. Unable to access information on cases, some courts had to make decisions without full knowledge of particular cases before them.

Others did not get a pass or benefit of the doubt when the computers crashed. One immigration lawyer said it was like going back to the 80s. Lawyers were delayed and rescheduled, along with their clients when the system backlog prevented many from knowing if their case would actually be called when scheduled and if called, would anything be able to take place. This causes a huge problem for immigrant respondents with time sensitive matters and deadlines. A toll free phone number with case information has been playing the following message, “Due to system issues, the information on this has not been updated since midnight on April 12, 2014.[5]

What do you do if your case was delayed?

If your immigration court proceeding was affected and you either were not able to appear before the immigration court as scheduled or if nothing happened due to an inability to make an official record of proceedings you may need to take action with an attorney to file the necessary paperwork to assure you will receive a fair immigration hearing and due process allowed by law. Chicago immigration attorney, KiKi M. Mosley has been tracking this serious situation in and out of court and can help you if you have been affected by the immigration court system meltdown.

Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues including hearings before immigration courts and applications and procedures to correct clients’ records when things do not go as planned. For more information about the law firm, please visit www.KiKisLaw.com, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter. You can also review Attorney Mosley’s endorsements on her Avvo profile.

[1] AILA: Immigration Court Computer Failure Emphasizes Need for Increased Funding. Released May 21, 2014.

[2] The U.S. Department of Justice website for the Executive Office for Immigration Review: EOIR Home.

[3] The U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review, EOIR News of System Update, Monday, May 19, 2014.

[4] See AILA article above.

[5] Politico Blogs, Immigration court tech crash drags on. By Josh Gerstein, May 14, 2012.

Federal Court rules in suit involving mandatory detention without bond hearings.

All of the Plaintiffs were detained without bond hearings at the Northwest Detention Center (“NWDC”) located next to the Port of Tacoma, Washington. The mega facility with a capacity of 1,000 detainees opened in 2004 under DHS management until 2005 when the GEO Group received the contract to operate the facility for ICE. Several critics suggest contract prisons are profit centers.

All of the Plaintiffs were detained without bond hearings at the Northwest Detention Center (“NWDC”) located next to the Port of Tacoma, Washington. 

Three  Plaintiffs detained without bond in an ICE detention center in Tacoma, Washington recently prevailed in their lawsuit over the Department of Homeland Security’s (“DHS”) interpretation and enforcement of the mandatory detention statute that denies bond hearings for individual in pending removal proceedings.  The Court granted relief to the Plaintiffs, enjoined DHS from detaining the plaintiffs and clarified the meaning of the law, stating, “Here, there is no question that all class members will benefit equally from the court’s declaration that the government may not subject an alien to mandatory detention via Section 1226(c) unless the government took the alien into custody immediately upon his release from custody for an offense described in subparagraphs (1)(A) through (1)(D).[i]

The Plaintiffs were released from criminal sentences many years before being arrested and detained without bond hearings by ICE.

The Plaintiffs in this case are: Bassam Yusuf Khoury, a Palestinian and lawful permanent resident since 1976; Alvin Rodriguez Moya, a national of the Dominican Republic and U.S. lawful permanent resident since 1995; and Mr. Carrera, a Mexican national who has been in the U.S. since 1998.[ii]

The issue before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington concerned the way DHS interpreted the mandatory detention of criminal aliens. The law concerning the apprehension and detention of aliens, 8 U.S.C. 1226(c)(2), gives the federal government authority to “lock away certain aliens who are in removal proceedings, denying them bond hearings via the so-called “mandatory detention authority.[iii]

Many years after they were released by criminal courts to their families and communities, two of the Plaintiffs in this lawsuit, Mr. Khoury and Mr. Rodriguez, were arrested by ICE and held in mandatory detention, without bond hearings, for six months, from April 2013 through October 2013. The third Plaintiff, Mr. Carrera, was held for four months, from April 2013 through August 2013. The Supreme Court has commented in past cases that it may have Due Process concerns about detentions for six months when six weeks would be a more correct period of detention. [p3. Line 10] Without the availability of a bond hearing, the Plaintiffs did not have the opportunity to appear before the immigration court to plea for release back to their families and community pending removal proceedings.

The NWDC, the detention center in Tacoma, operates on a government contract, by GEO Group, who has been the subject of criticism.

All of the Plaintiffs were detained without bond hearings at the Northwest Detention Center (“NWDC”) located next to the Port of Tacoma, Washington. The mega facility with a capacity of 1,000 detainees opened in 2004 under DHS management until 2005 when the GEO Group received the contract to operate the facility for ICE. Several critics suggest contract prisons are profit centers. In an article published in the Huffington Post, the GEO Group was mentioned. “Their business model rests on incarceration, and their profits soared throughout the 1990s and 2000s as harsh sentencing laws, the War on Drugs, and tough immigration enforcement led to a dramatic rise in detention and incarceration.[iv]

When the Court interpreted the law, it clarified that mandatory detention is only allowed immediately upon release from custody for the underlying offense.

The length of time between release from jail sentences and the ICE arrest was upsetting to the court. Mr. Khoury was released in June 2011 from 30 days in jail on a drug charge; ICE arrested him in April 2013. Mr. Rodriguez served part of a three-year sentence and was released in August 2010; ICE arrested him in April 2013. More than two or three years, Mr. Carrera, who served a 60-day sentence, was released in February 2003, and more than ten years later ICE arrested him in April 2013.[v]

The Court clearly stated in its March 11, 2014, Order: “The government violates the law to the extent it continues to subject to mandatory detention aliens who it did not take into custody at the proper time. The court has no reason to expect that the government will not take appropriate action to end its violation of the law.[vi]

To learn more about mandatory detentions and removal proceedings, or if someone you know may be improperly held, you can call the Law Offices of KiKi M. Mosley for assistance. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law and litigation. For more information about the law firm, please tap/click here to visit the rest of the website, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter.

 

Decreases in deportation: less enforcement is not immigration reform, but appreciate the policy effort.

If ICE officials have more choices in enforcing immigration laws, who is not being deported?

If ICE officials have more choices in enforcing immigration laws, who is not being deported?

Under President Obama’s oversight, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) is deporting less undocumented immigrants in connection with its new policy limiting enforcement resources on, ““public safety, national security and border security,” said ICE spokeswoman Barbara Gonzales.[i]” “ICE has been vocal about the shift in our immigration-enforcement strategy,” she said. “Our removal numbers illustrate this.” The Center for Immigration Studies published their report in October 2013, titled, “Deportation Numbers Unwrapped. Raw Statistics Reveal the Real Story of ICE Enforcement in Decline,” and as to the source of information, CIS states, “This report examines data from a collection of mostly unpublished internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and ICE statistics, to provide an alternative evaluation of the administration’s record on immigration enforcement that is based on raw statistics rather than pre-packaged press kits.[ii]

If ICE officials have more choices in enforcing immigration laws, who is not being deported?

Central to the disagreement among Democrats and Republican lawmakers are many of the approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants who may, for all intents and purposes, live among U.S. citizens day to day without any call to consider their immigration or citizenship status. As indicated in the CIS report, a 2011 ICE memorandum directed officers, “not to arrest certain broad categories of illegal aliens, including minor criminals, long-time residents, students, parents, caregivers, and a long list of other excepted categories for whom there was otherwise no statutory basis for special treatment.” Despite a policy decreasing the number of new arrests and detentions, there are still thousands of the same people stuck in the immigration court system, waiting for asylum hearings, waiting in detention facilities, and waiting to move forward with life.

How will ICE officers determine who should be targeted for arrest and detention?

A policy directive suggesting ICE officers not arrest and detain the less threatening illegal immigrants to the U.S. does not guarantee any sense of safety for undocumented residents living in fear. Imagine you are driving around on a suspended drivers license and fear all it would take is for another driver to hit you to expose your illegal presence to a law enforcement officer. No, you probably should not drive on a suspended drivers license, but many do, and have little choice. The necessity to get yourself and family members to work or school, for instance, can create fear in undocumented immigrants who may wonder when their luck may run out and they are arrested and detained for not being present in the U.S. with a lawful immigration status.

President Obama said during his (re)election campaign(s) that he would work to provide undocumented residents with a pathway to citizenship. The decrease in the number of ICE arrests and deportations must give some people a feeling of safety. Meanwhile, critics of immigration reform must argue that an effort to reduce enforcement of out-of-date laws does not cure the underlying problem that those old laws do not reflect the spirit of the will of the people in the United States.

In the event you, a friend or family member is arrested and detained by ICE officers, you should immediately contact an attorney to learn what, if any, rights you or the detained person has, and how the detention and removal processes work and how the attorney can help.

The Law Office of KiKi M. Mosley, works to counsel and represent detained immigrants and file the proper petitions with immigration courts necessary to protect an undocumented man, woman or child. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues. For more information about the law firm, please tap/click here to visit the rest of the website, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter or Google Plus.


[i] Bloomberg Businessweek: Deportations Drop as Obama Pushes for New Immigration Law. By Michael C. Bender, Dec. 17, 2013.

Illinois is soon to issue Temporary Visitor Drivers Licenses to undocumented immigrants

The Secretary of State's office issues a Temporary Visitor Driver's License (TVDL) for non-citizens of the United States who have been granted temporary, legal entry into this country and are temporarily residing in the State of Illinois and ineligible for a Social Security number.

The Secretary of State’s office issues a Temporary Visitor Driver’s License (TVDL) for non-citizens of the United States who have been granted temporary, legal entry into this country and are temporarily residing in the State of Illinois and ineligible for a Social Security number.

On any given day, just over 4% of the population of the State of Illinois, 525,000 undocumented immigrants (according to a recent Chicago Sun-Times article[i]) drive to work, school, grocery stores, and so on, but without a driver’s license. Things in Illinois are about to change, however, and the Secretary of State’s new program, signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn on January 27, 2013[ii], will allow Illinois residents on their path to citizenship drive legally. Traffic stops and citations have plagued undocumented drivers for years, sometimes introducing these drivers to the criminal justice system and triggering the attention of ICE officers.

All it takes is a traffic stop for burned out license plate lights to trigger a myriad of legal troubles for hard working parents just trying to make their way in Chicagoland and feed their families and get them to school. Temporary workers and foreign students are already allowed temporary driving privileges. With the new law allowing for the issuance of a Temporary Visitor Driver’s License (TVDL), undocumented immigrant drivers will be able to buy automobile insurance as well.

Republican leaders backing the bill, as a safety measure, address the issue of undocumented drivers.

Bi-Partisan support for Senate Bill 597 led to the passage of the bill that made it law in the State of Illinois that undocumented immigrants will be allowed to apply for temporary drivers licenses. Written road and vision tests are required. The temporary license is not effective as identification, to vote, to board a plane, but simply for driving only. Illinois lawmakers made many revisions to the bill over time. Many supporters stated that the need for public safety and insured drivers is good for all drivers in Illinois. “I don’t want to get hit by someone who doesn’t have insurance,” said State Comptroller, Judy Barr Topinka. “They have to get to work, they have to get to school, they have to get to daycare,” Topinka said.

Learn more by visiting the Illinois Secretary of State website with additional information.

The Illinois Secretary of State, during a 10-month period after the law was passed in January, will, according to their website, “develop procedures for implementation of the legislation, such as what documents the applicant must present and which facilities will be issuing TVDLs to undocumented immigrants.” Here is a link you can click/tap here to learn more. Further, “The goal of the office is to ensure the program is implemented in a way that improves traffic safety, underscores the importance of driver’s license integrity and security, and provides the highest level of customer service,” states the Illinois Secretary of State website.

If you or a friend may be eligible to apply for a Temporary Visitor Drivers License, you may contact the Law Offices of KiKi M. Mosley for assistance in determining what needs to be done to obtain the license. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues. For more information about the law firm, please tap/click here to visit the rest of the website, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter or Google Plus.