Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Most illegal immigrants deported last year were criminals

The U.S. deported nearly 400,000 illegal immigrants last year, and an increasing number of them were convicted criminals, according to figures set for release Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security.
Deportations have been on the rise for the past decade, and the 396,906 illegal immigrants deported in fiscal year 2011 is the highest number yet, according to the figures.
Under the Obama administration, Homeland Security issued new priorities to focus deportations on convicted criminals, people who pose threats to national security and repeated border-crossers. Last year, 55% of those deported were convicted criminals, the highest percentage in nearly a decade.

Monday, October 17, 2011

No Right to Free Counsel

While individuals facing criminal charges have a right to free counsel if they cannot afford hiring their own, individuals detained by immigration enforcement officials do not. 

Immigration detainees are provided with contact information for non – profit organizations in their area that can provide free or low cost services.  However if they cannot find an organization to take on their case or they cannot afford an attorney, they will enter the intimidating walls of the immigration court alone and unprepared. 

This steadfast rule may at times save taxpayers money however there are times that this rule contributes more to the debt of this country.  By example, many immigrant detainees head to court and are afforded multiple hearings and multiple opportunities to make their case, obtain counsel, obtain the proper documentation a process that gets expensive and time consuming.  Furthermore, while this process is lengthened many sit in detainment again costing taxpayers more and more money.  Perhaps a better policy than no right to free counsel would be a policy that allows for free counsel in cases where there was an obvious need.  For example, a child who cannot communicate properly, an adult with a disability or a case extreme in nature.   A better policy must be designed to ensure detainees are receiving the proper guidance as to the United States immigration procedures, rules, and documentation requirements so that cases can be dealt with in a more cost efficient and humanitarian manner.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The human aspect of immigration*

For some reason, I haven’t been able to get the topic of children and immigration out of my mind the last few days.
It all got started with an article I read about the repercussions of the draconian immigration laws passed in Alabama less than two weeks ago. Basically, undocumented parents are keeping their children from school, fearing a new law that requires schools to check the immigration status of each student.
Then, I started reading what should be required reading for every single person in this country, a book called “Enrique’s Journey” by Pulitzer-prize winner Sonia Nazario. The book tells the story of an immigrant teenager’s journey from Honduras to the United States in search of his mother –who’d left him behind when he was a child to search for a better future in America. 

To call the book heart wrenching would be a disservice. Even as a journalist who’s covered immigration for a while – including spending time on the border between Guatemala and Mexico where many of these immigrants’ journeys get started – I was astounded by the brutality and inhumane treatment these children face along the way. But I was also in awe of the relenting drive these children have to make it across the border, alone, to be reunited with their mothers.
Unfortunately, many of them don’t make it. Some die, some are maimed and handicapped for life and some just can’t get past all the obstacles they face, including corrupt immigration agents, gangsters, rapists, robbers, thirst, hunger and repeated deportations.
One of the reasons I haven’t been able to get the topic out of my mind is that I’m a mom now and any time I read about children and immigration, I immediately picture myself and my kids having to deal with some of these horrifying issues. I simply cannot fathom ever being separated from my kids, but extreme poverty and a sense of hopelessness can surely make you do all kinds of things.
Along the same lines, I can’t imagine always living in fear – and thus in the shadows – unable to give my children any kind of stability because of a broken immigration system.
Maybe if we all stopped for a minute to look at the subject of immigration from a human standpoint instead of a political one, things might be a bit different.
Roxana A. Soto is an Emmy-winning Peruvian-born, Denver-based bilingual journalist and the co-founder of SpanglishBaby.com.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Obama asks AC to block AL's immigration law enactment

The Obama administration asked an appeals court on Friday to block the enforcement of Alabama's strict immigration law -- widely considered to be the toughest in the nation -- arguing it invites discrimination against foreign-born citizens and legal immigrants and is at odds with federal policy.
The Justice Department filed the challenge to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. It claimed Alabama's new law "is highly likely to expose persons lawfully in the United States, including school children, to new difficulties in routine dealings."

The overhaul allows authorities to question people suspected of being in the country illegally and hold them without bond. It also lets officials check the immigration status of students in public schools.
A federal judge in Alabama upheld those two key aspects of the law, which have already taken effect.
Those provisions that took effect are what help make the Alabama law stricter than similar laws passed in Arizona, Utah, Indiana and Georgia. Other federal judges have blocked all or parts of the laws in those states.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Friday that President Obama has been clear on his position that "efforts to address the issue of America's broken immigration system through a patchwork of state laws will only create more problems than it solves."
Alabama shrugged off the appeal.
"The fact that the Department of Justice has appealed comes as no surprise," Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said. "I remain committed to seeing that this law is fully implemented. We will continue to defend this law against any and all challenges."
Immigration became a hot issue in Alabama over the past decade as the state's Hispanic population grew by 145 percent to about 185,600. While the group still represents only about 4 percent of the population, some counties in north Alabama have large Spanish-speaking communities and schools where most of the students are Hispanic.
The Justice Department's appeal said parts of the law conflict with federal rules, and that "attempts to drive aliens `off the grid' will only impede the removal process established by federal law." It also said the legislation could impact diplomatic relations with foreign countries.
"Alabama is not in a position to answer to other nations for the consequences of its policy," it said. "That is the responsibility of the federal government, which speaks for all the states and must ensure that the consequences of one state's foray in to the realm of immigration law are not visited upon the nation as a whole."
It also said requiring officers to report people without adequate credentials to federal immigration officials "unnecessarily diverts resources from federal enforcement priorities and precludes state and local officials from working in true cooperation with federal officials."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Yesterday Alabama’s Governor Robert Bentley signed the HB56 law into effect.  This law has already begun to terrify the state’s illegal aliens and in turn will slow down growth in education and business and begin to build a wall between the people that live within its borders.  The law ensures that the state’s resources go directly to those residents that legally reside in the state but it is also the first step in alienating a group of people that want to live within its borders, want to work within its borders and help the state grow. 
It takes just one law to begin the alienation process of a group of people.  It takes just one law to allow local police and reasonable suspicion to stop anyone that appears to be Hispanic and ask for their immigration papers. 

First we single them out, we identify them, and then we deport them. Sound familiar?  When Hitler came into power he first singled out the Jews for draining the nation of its resources, then he implemented curfews, then soldiers could stop anyone on the street that appeared to be Jewish to ask for their identification.  Then millions of Jews were deported, brutalized and murdered. 

Alabama’s new law is a dangerous slippery slope into a deportation movement that may have the United States looking back in embarrassment.

Read the CNN article which provides a good overview of the fears that this law has already sprouted in Alabama. 

Monday, October 3, 2011


The Supreme Court 2011-2012 term is about to begin.  On the schedule are various issues from health care reform to prisoner related appeals.  Out of the forty nine appeals on the docket, one of major importance to those in the immigration field is Arizona v. U.S., a case which highlights the issues of states enacting laws regarding immigration enforcement. 

On appeal in Arizona v. U.S., is whether or not states have the authority to enforce immigration matters or whether those matters are restricted to the federal government.  The highly debated Arizona SB 1070 includes provisions which raise legitimate concerns of racial profiling.  For example, it would allow state police to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws and allow warrantless arrests if there is probable cause the offense would make a person removable from the United States. 

Arizona’s SB 1070 was arguably the driving force for 50 state legislatures in 2011 to introduce bills or resolutions that were immigration related.  The Supreme Court’s final decision on the matter will help clear up a lot of cross country debates. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Widow(er)s of deceased U.S. Citizens must file I-360 Visa Petition by OCTOBER 28, 2011.

USCIS Reminder:  Widow(er)s of deceased U.S. Citizens must file I-360 Visa Petition by OCTOBER 28, 2011.

If your US Citizen Spouse passed away less than two years after you were married and you have not since remarried, you may be eligible for a US Visa.  You may be able to file the form I-360 for Special Immigrant classification as a widow(er) but you must do so by OCTOBER 28, 2011. 

Form I-360 is commonly used to classify an alien as :

1. Amerasian;
2. A Widow(er)
3. A Battered or Abused Spouse or Child of a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident;  
4. A special immigrant such as: : A. Religious Worker; B. Panama Canal Company Employee, Canal Zone Government Employee, U.S. Government in the Canal Zone Employee; C. Physician; D. International Organization Employee or Family Member; E. Juvenile Court Dependent; F. Armed Forces Member; G. Afghanistan or Iraq national who supported the U.S. Armed Forces as a translator; H. Iraq national who worked for or on behalf of the U.S. Government in Iraq or I. an Afghan national who worked for or on behalf of the U.S. Government in Afghanistan.

The form can be seen on the USCIS website by clicking here