Immigration Newsletter

Monday, August 30, 2010

Immigration backlog stirs move to release some U.S. detainees

Immigration backlog stirs move to release some U.S. detainees: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

from Shankar Vedentam at the Washington Post:

"The Obama administration is moving to release thousands of illegal immigrants detained at facilities across the country if the immigrants have a potential path to legal residency.
The move could affect as many as 17,000 immigrants who entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. It comes amid a push by ICE to focus on illegal immigrants who have committed crimes, rather than seek to deport all illegal immigrants. Officials say that the shift is needed to reduce massive clogs in the nation's immigration courts - where detainees wait for months or years before their cases are decided - and to use deportation as a tool for public safety."
This is a modest proposal that should not be getting the anti-immigrant crowd into a lather at all. Every year the immigration courts get more and more backlogged. Part of the reason is that Homeland Security chooses to put people into deportation even though they have an application pending with USCIS that could grant them legal status. Alternatively, many people find themselves in deportation proceedings and then decide they need an attorney - the attorney then files the proper applications for their status.

The immigration judges can decide many of these applications - but so can USCIS (administratively) - without clogging up the courts. If the government attorneys (working for Immigration & Customs Enforcement "ICE") decide to terminate deportation proceedings - then the case can go back before USCIS to be finished. This also allows for the potential immigrant to be let out of custody (otherwise known as jail).

The ICE attorneys are not going to be terminating the cases of persons with criminal records or prior deportations. If it turns out that the person is not approved for legal status...they go back into is not like a criminal trial that can subject to "double jeopardy" issues.

The only parties who should be moaning about this policy change are the municipalities and private corrections companies who make their money off holding non-criminal immigration detainees. I'm not about to shed any tears for them.

Immigrants on Trains Near Northern Border Detained -

Immigrants on Trains Near Northern Border Detained - "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

This NYT article by Nina Bernstein should be a comfort to those who still think that enforcement of immigration laws has not been a priority over the past decade. Most of the media attention is focused on the Southern border...and not without reason. The Not So Great Wall of America is being built there, and National Guard troops start arriving in AZ this week.

However, it should be noted that the Northern border is seeing increased enforcement as well. Even traveling on public transportation entirely within the United States can bring you into contact with the "Papers Please" Police. I am always a little surprised that Conservatives are not put off by the enormous level of spending that has gone into Homeland Security in general and immigration enforcement in particular. I guess being in favor of small government really all depends on what you think government should spend tax payer money on rather than the total amount of money being spent.

It might be surprising to some readers (considering that I am an immigration lawyer) but I do support having a large force of Customs and Border Patrol Agents as long as they have enough work to do at the border. The borders are long and, even though I am sympathetic to the reasons that many people have for trying to come here illegally, - those borders must be respected. I am not a fan, however, of having police performing intrusive searches on passengers on domestic rail and bus lines - I think Homeland Security gets into US citizens' business quite enough at the airport already.

There are border patrol checkpoints set up from time to time on the interstates in Northern New Hampshire and Vermont. I remember being stopped at one and being questioned a few years ago. I suppose I wouldn't have minded so much if the CBP agent didn't give me a hard time about my New England Patriots T-Shirt (obviously a Giants fan from Swanton Sector - oh the indignity!). Of course I am sure it went a lot easier for me than it would have for anyone who didn't have an I.D. on them or who might have spoken with a foreign accent.

I favor changing the immigration laws to make it easier and faster for people to come here legally. I think that increasing enforcement at the border to prevent illegal immigration is a logical part of such a policy. Unfortunately, from my perspective at least, it has been all enforcement and no improvement in the legal immigration process for the past decade or more.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Helping to build peace and prosperity in Rwanda by supporting education

Several months ago I joined the Board of Directors of a charity established here in New Hampshire called "Rest for the Nations Ministries".

Rest for the Nations raises money through charitable donations to pursue the vision of Pastor Manassee Ngendahayo. Pastor Mansassee grew up in the Eastern Congo region of Kivu on the Rwandan border. After the 1994 Rwanda Genocide he ministered to the Rwandan survivors who had lost loved ones and sometimes entire families to the violence. 

In the early part of this decade Pastor Manassee came to the United States. After establishing a home for his family here in New Hampshire and finding a church where he could continue his ministry, he looked for a means to help rebuild those broken families back in Rwanda (a country that had been torn apart by ethnic tensions and civil war).

Rest for the Nations has worked on many projects in the past few years - but this year a special focus has been placed on providing tuition assistance as well as assistance with school uniforms and supplies to school children in Rwanda.

Education is the key to promoting understanding, reconciliation and progress among the different ethnic groups in Rwanda. Only through educating the next generation to the fullest extent possible can the people of Rwanda unlearn the prejudices of the past and avoid repeating the mistakes that have lead to tragic violence more than once in the country's past. Rest for the Nations believes that promoting education for boys and girls in Rwanda is perhaps the best way to help the country to heal and move toward a future of greater cooperation and economic growth that will benefit all of the people of the country and the region.

If you are interested in learning more about the mission of Rest for the Nations Ministries - you can learn more by visiting their web site...I have provided a link below:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sheriff tells US to move detainees - The Boston Globe

Sheriff tells US to move detainees - The Boston Globe

By Maria Sacchetti
Globe Staff / August 20, 2010

The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department has ordered US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to remove all immigrant detainees from a Boston jail by Oct. 12, accusing the agency of a “staggering lack of communication and respect,’’ in a letter sent last week.
The letter accused ICE of failing to provide the sheriff’s office with audit reports, information about detainees’ complaints, and a report on a detainee’s death last year before it was released to the news media. Pedro Tavarez, a Dominican national facing deportation, died at age 49, and the federal investigation last month faulted Suffolk officials for waiting too long to take him to the hospital.
Suffolk’s letter also complained that ICE had failed to grant the jail’s request for an increase in the amount the agency reimburses it for housing federal detainees.

(click on the link above to read the rest of the article)
This is not encouraging news in any respect really or particularly surprising; the Suffolk Co. HOC wants more money per detainee, and ICE is apparently not responsive in cooperating or providing information to other persons or agencies. No shocking revelations there. Up here in New Hampshire - the state's largest County Correctional Facility in Manchester, NH doesn't hold immigration detainees either (and it is practically within walking distance of the ICE office). I have no opinion of who is at fault for these "failures to communicate" that result in local corrections not housing immigration detainees. I do, however, think it is a problem that persons who live in New England get shipped to for profit prisons in the southwest to wait for their cases to be heard.
Many people who are required to be detained by immigration law are not a danger to the community...the only reason to hold them in custody is to prevent them from running away. That can be a legitimate concern in some cases to be sure, but in this day and age there are alternatives to detention that could certainly save the government money and not place the entire breadth of the land mass of the United States as well as prison walls between non-citizens and their citizen family members.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Colbert Report on "Anchor Babies"

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Citizenship Down - Akhil Amar
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

Satire can often be funny - the fact that some of the most informed television news shows are to be found on Comedy Central and the like - is no laughing matter.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Attitude toward 'anchor babies' pulls anti-immigration crowd down to a new low: Connie Schultz |

Attitude toward 'anchor babies' pulls anti-immigration crowd down to a new low: Connie Schultz | "They call them 'anchor babies.'

Not 'God's children,' you understand. There'll be no celebrating these infants as the joyful proof that each was 'a baby, not a choice.' These precious little faces will not be smiling from a Right-to-Life billboard any time soon.

- Sent using Google Toolbar" photo by
Read Connie Schultz' commentary at the link above. I think she comes as close to anyone in print to capturing my utter disdain for the opportunistic hypocrisy, and downright un-American, mean spirited, racially-charged, baseness of the right-wing, gutter-politics on this issue.  (Not that I have any strong feelings about this)

Amend the Constitution to take rights away from the people - that's a wonderful Libertarian/Conservative idea!?! Maybe you read my previous posts about the economic and demographic necessity of increasing legal immigration and legalizing the undocumented who are already here and working. Now in addition to condemning us to a generation of an under-producing economy - the anti-immigrationistas think we should send our social compact back to the days before Reconstruction.

How about a little historical perspective:

The Republican Party was essentially founded in New Hampshire - primarily as an anti-slavery party. It was the Republican Party who was largely responsible for the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution that ensured that all persons born in the United States were citizens (so that African Americans could not be considered non-citizens because of their parents' previous status as slaves or because of their African ancestry).

But today it is more than OK for Republicans to promote withholding citizenship from babies born in the United States because of their parents' status as undocumented immigrants and their Latino ancestry? To see the Republican Party turned on its head to become the party of restricting individual liberties and rights based on parentage and race is so frustrating and outrageous that I have reached a point that I really have difficulty discussing these issues rationally.

Here is thorough review of the law on Birthright Citizenship for those with a keen interest to know more:

In my view, there is nothing left of the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln and Amos Tuck. The Political movement (perhaps begun here in NH) that once was the champion for the individual rights of the least powerful among us is a corpse that went cold many years ago. This call for a repeal of the 14th Amendment is just one more act of desecrating that venerable corpse.

I hope that someday, somebody will come along and lead the GOP back to its roots - because it has lost its way...until then I guess it is as Connie Schultz describes it "another round of Hate the Immigrant". 

As you can see I am tired of being "nice" or "politically correct" about this issue. If you believe the nonsense being put out there on repealing the 14th Amendment by so called Conservative commentators and the lick-spittle politicians who hang on their every word, then you are ignorant and need to educate yourself. Every time the majority takes a liberty or right away from someone in our society it becomes easier to take it away for any of us. This campaign is destructive, hateful, purely self-serving on the part of politicians and it cheapens our democracy. Say what you will in response - but do some research first.