Update on the immigration crisis and surge of unaccompanied children coming to the U.S.

House Republicans did not make any significant progress to pass immigration reform.

House Republicans did not make any significant progress to pass immigration reform.

Late this spring, President Obama asked Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) Secretary, Jeh Johnson to hold off on a comprehensive report on how DHS manages deportations and what recommendations should be considered to cure the failures in the immigration system. The President delayed the report while House Republicans had the summer session of Congress to collect enough votes to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Congress failed to vote to pass reform and the border problem is worse.

House Republicans did not make any significant progress to pass immigration reform. Some political news contributors report that immigration reform is not likely to pass in the House due to the election of a tea party candidate, Dave Brat, replacing Eric Cantor (R) as House Majority Leader. “Eric Cantor is saying we should bring more folks into the country, increase the labor supply – and by doing so, lower wage rates for the working person,” Brat stated[1].

Members of Congress are holding a House Homeland Committee “field committee” hearing in McAllen, Texas last week to discuss options and plans to address the surge of Latin American children crossing the border. Rick Perry (R) Texas Governor, who will testify at the hearing called on President Obama to secure the south Texas border. Recent news reports that Texas is a main point of entry for more than 50,000 children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador who crossed the border in the Rio Grande Valley since October.[2]

The U.S. government response includes a request for funding to address the problems and an ad campaign to Spanish speaking viewers on both sides of the border.

President Obama is asking congress for more than $2 billion to better handle the surge of child immigrants arriving in the U.S. The money would be used to facilitate quicker deportations so the children can be reunited with families. Additionally, the requested funds would be used to enact tougher punishments for the human smugglers and to better screen and house the children being smuggled[3].

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is launching an advertising campaign warning that the trip to the U.S. is dangerous and when you arrive you will not be allowed to stay. Spanish language television ads targeting immigrants on both sides of the border. The ads state that “Those who risk such journeys could be easy prey for ‘coyotes’ and criminal organizations, be robbed or subjected to violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking or forced labor.[4]

Chicago immigration attorney, KiKi M. Mosley closely follows news and policy in immigration that affects the population of people fleeing violence and oppression in their home countries as they risk everything for a chance at a better life in the U.S.

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 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.

[1] NBC News, Eric Cantor a Casualty of Immigration Reform, by Mark Murray.

[2] USA Today, Child immigrant crisis prompts hearing at Texas border, by Rick Jervis, Jul. 3, 2014.

[3] The Wall Street Journal, Obama Seeks More Than $2 Billion in Border Control Funds, by Laura Meckler, Jun. 29, 2014.

[4] NBC News, Feds to Wage Ad Campaign to Stem Dangerous Treks to U.S. Border, by Suzanne Gamboa.

Advertisements

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.

 

USCIS and U.S. Senators respond with measures pushing for relief for victims of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda

The massive devastation and lack of resources to clean up and start recovery makes the Philippines seem like a lost cause. Filipinos who might otherwise consider visiting their friends and family in the U.S. may today be considering moving in with them, at least on a temporary basis, until they can get back on their feet.

Filipinos may find relief in applying for temporary protected status (“TPS”).

Philippine nationals in the U.S. are also concerned about being deported to a country no longer able to receive them. In response, the “American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”) and a growing list of lawmakers have been petitioning the federal government to grant TPS to Philippine nationals who are here on temporary visas or without legal status.[i]” The Department of Homeland Security designates TPS eligibility for countries when conditions prevent the safe return of their nationals. Conditions of this sort are ongoing wars, extraordinary conditions and natural disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan. The USCIS website[ii] contains a list of countries currently designated for TPS including: El Salvador; Haiti; Honduras; Nicaragua; Somalia; Sudan; South Sudan; and Syria.

Click/Tap (or copy and paste into your browser) the link to the petition page: Grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Filipinos in the US to Sustain the Flow of Yolanda/Haiyan Relief Support.

Twenty senators sent the Obama administration a letter urging the grant of TPS to Filipino nationals. The senators stated that the conditions make the victims of Typhoon Haiyan eligible for the TPS designation and they urge prompt action. The letter requests an automatic extension of visas in categories where feasible and the temporary suspension of deportations to the Philippines and the use of alternatives to detention[iii].

USCIS responds with offers of relief for eligible Filipinos.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) acted, within a week of the typhoon hitting the Philippines on the 7th of November. On the 15th of November, USCIS released its statement offering immigration relief for eligible and affected Filipino nationals. Below is the bullet point list of relief measures listed on the USCIS website[iv]:

  • Change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even when the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;
  • Extension of certain grants of parole made by USCIS;
  • Extension of certain grants of advance parole, and expedited processing of advance parole requests;
  • Expedited adjudication and approval, where possible, of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;
  • Expedited processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs);
  • Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications, where appropriate; and
  • Assistance to LPRs stranded overseas without immigration or travel documents, such as Permanent Resident Cards (Green Cards). USCIS and the Department of State will coordinate on these matters when the LPR is stranded in a place that has no local USCIS office.

If you are a Filipino in the U.S. and/or are seeking TPS for yourself or a friend or family member you may contact the Law Offices of KiKi M. Mosley for assistance in reviewing your current status and to apply for whatever relief for which you may be eligible.

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. 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.

Government shutdown: Many asylum courts are closed but USCIS is still processing applications and ICE is still making arrests.

Petitions for political asylum and non-emergency deportation cases are among the matters that could be delayed for months if the shutdown lasts more than a few days, according to immigration lawyers and advocates.

Petitions for political asylum and non-emergency deportation cases are among the matters that could be delayed for months if the shutdown lasts more than a few days, according to immigration lawyers and advocates.

Despite the temporary shutdown of the U.S. Government’s non-essential services, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) is processing applications and ICE officers are still making immigration arrests. Having said that, a recent ABC News article contains a list of ways the shutdown will affect immigration agencies, including immigration paperwork, enforcement, guarding the border, processing visas and passports and immigration courts. What few people might know is that USCIS is “almost entirely self-funded.” The article further explains that, “The fees they charge cover 95 percent of their budget, according to spokesperson Christopher Bentley.[i]

While immigration courts remain partly open, political asylum cases delayed which adds insult to injury to people already in a bad place.

“The shutdown is monumental for my clients most in need. Those who are in removal proceedings are facing years of further delay because only detained dockets are active and the asylum offices are greatly affected. These are the most vulnerable people in the immigration system.” Attorney KiKi M. Mosley.

Backups in asylum courts already make it difficult for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. seeking asylum from persecution in their home country. Currently 16 immigration courts are closed and 42 are still open, and 23 of them handle only detained immigrants. Reported in a recent Washington Post article, “The asylum process, advocates in the Washington area and elsewhere said, is especially backed up, with about 350,000 cases pending before immigration judges.[ii]” The article continues to report that delays in securing trial dates for asylum hearings could be months or years.

A Los Angeles attorney who works with the Public Counsel agency has a client who is a prime example of those victimized by the system: Mr. Didier Vakumba, 43, “a medical doctor who fled his native Congo five years ago after he said police jailed and brutalized him for revealing human rights atrocities to foreign monitors.”

Dr. Vakumba’s family and sick child with a brain tumor are now in limbo because the final judge’s signature is unavailable because the court was suspended due to the shutdown.

Doctor Vakumba and his family have spent several years waiting for his asylum petition to “work its way through the system.” While he’s been in California, his wife and children have not been with him and are in another country in Africa where they sought refuge. Vakumba’s petitions, under dubious circumstances, were approved by the immigration court to bring his family to the U.S. so his child with a brain tumor could receive emergency medical care. The shutdown brought everything to a halt and, because he is missing one more judge’s signature, from a court that has been suspended, Vakumba’s progress has also been suspended. “I am happy because I finally won my case, but I am frustrated, too,” Vakumba said Tuesday afternoon, speaking a mixture of French and Spanish. “I have been waiting a very long time to see my family.”

While many people say they are not affected by the current shutdown, some families like Dr. Vakumba’s are decimated over the tragedies in which they find themselves, waiting for stubborn politicians to agree on matters to get the country back on track and restore the hopes and dreams of asylum seekers. If you would like more information about the shutdown and how it may affect your asylum case or know someone seeking refuge, please be in touch with the Law Offices of KiKi M. Mosley.

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] ABC News: Here’s How the Shutdown Affects Immigration Services. By Ted Hesson, Oct. 1, 2013.

[ii] The Washington Post: Immigration courts remain partly open but political asylum cases delayed. By Pam Constable, Oct. 1, 2013.