Saturday, July 7, 2012

If 'Unauthorized' is Good Enough for the Supreme Court...

Charles Garcia says the phrase "illegal immigrant" is a slur.  Ruben Navarrette disagrees.

The Supreme Court and I take different tacks altogether.

In Arizona et al. v. United States, the majority opinion consistently uses the term "unauthorized" to modify the words "alien," "worker," "employee" and "employment."  Only when quoting other sources - or older Supreme Court decisions - does the Court use the I-Word.

This is consistent with my suggestion, building on the work of many others, that "unauthorized" as a modifier is less pejorative and more accurate...not to mention consistent with the language used in federal statutes.

I also part ways with Navarrette on one other point: for the reasons I discuss in my post, I don't find the word "alien" to be offensive.

And both Navarrette and Garcia need correction on one point: while merely being in the United States without a visa, or overstaying one's visa, is not a crime, crossing into the U.S. without permission is, indeed, a federal misdemeanor crime, and sometimes a felony, depending on the circumstances.

In the end, fighting over labels is a distraction from the hard work of crafting a comprehensive solution that could moot the language dispute.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Special visas offer protection to immigrant victims

Brandon Wade/Special Contributor
Jenna Carl, Immigration and Legal Services case manager at Catholic Charities of Dallas, speaks about the importance of T and U visas and collaboration with local law enforcement during a news conference Wednesday in Irving.

Staff Writers
Published: 16 November 2011 11:10 PM

 IRVING — The young woman had endured the verbal abuse for years, but when her boyfriend turned his fists on her, she finally fled with their child.
Despite the woman’s unlawful immigration status in Texas, Dallas police and the Dallas County district attorney’s office helped her. Soon, Catholic Charities of Dallas was involved, too. Today, the woman — who is in her 20s and married to someone else — holds a “U” visa, one of more than 25,000 that have been given since 2009 to immigrant victims of domestic violence and other serious crimes, such as rape and assault.
“It didn’t seem possible that something good could come out of something so bad,” said the woman, who requested anonymity.
This week, federal immigration officials are in the Dallas area training nearly three dozen law enforcement and social-service agencies on the U visas, as well as a similar document known as a “T” visa. Both enable illegal immigrant crime victims to remain in the U.S. up to four years if they agree to work with authorities to solve the crimes.
Advocates had argued for years about the need for a program to help immigrant victims of serious crimes. In the last two fiscal years, the federal government has reached its annual cap of 10,000 for U visas. Last fiscal year, the government issued the most T visas ever for human-trafficking victims — 557.
The visas, though, are another point of controversy in the already-heated, often-partisan immigration debate.
Critics say illegal immigrants should receive no assistance, even if they are the victims of a crime. But supporters of the special visas believe the victims should be protected and that their assistance in catching violent criminals is crucial to keeping a community safe.
“We want everyone … to know what kind of help there is for immigrants who are crime victims,” said Lisa Kehl, the Dallas district director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The agency launched a public-awareness campaign in the area this week that features a confidential hotline for reporting trafficking crimes.
Officials also held a news conference Wednesday to provide the public with details about the programs.
Tapping down the fear many immigrants have of law enforcement agencies is a huge obstacle to getting help for people living and working off the grid, officials say. Many illegal immigrants do not report crimes to police for fear of deportation — which leads to more victimization and more unsolved crimes.
“Their lives are at risk by remaining a victim,” said Alysa Erichs, the acting special agent in charge with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Dallas.
With both the T and the U visas, certain family members of the visa-holder may also be granted legal protection to remain in the country. T and U visa-holders who are under 21 years of age may also apply for their parents or their siblings who are younger than 18.
Recipients of the T and U visas are eligible for employment.
To qualify, police or prosecutors have to verify that a crime actually occurred, to cut down on people attempting to trick the system.
“The prosecutor assigned to the case is typically the one sponsoring that the victim has been, or is being cooperative,” said Dallas County district attorney’s office spokeswoman Jamille Bradfield.
The Dallas Police Department “acts as a certifying agency for the petitioner,” said Lt. Scott Walton, department spokesman. “In that role, we do have criteria in place that helps ensure an offense did occur in Dallas and that the complainant is helping to further investigation.”
Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, said she agrees there is a need to protect legitimate crime victims but said the program is ripe for abuse.
“There are many people trying to launder their status by concocting false or frivolous stories of victimization,” she said. “Some police departments will not approve any requests because there have been so many attempts at abuse.”
She favors an audit of a random sampling of cases “in order to assess what kind of individuals are benefiting from the program.”
Vanna Slaughter, head of Immigration and Legal Services for Catholic Charities in Dallas, said in her work with the immigrant community, fraud with U visas is rare, mostly because the documentation required to get approval is so involved.
“Hospital records, police reports, transcripts from the jury trial, even newspaper articles can be included as corroboration that the person is a crime victim,” Slaughter said. “Even then, the service center can request additional evidence.”
The Mexican woman who used the U visa to protect her from her boyfriend’s violence said she believes in the value of the program.
“I didn’t just go through this so I could have a green card,” she said Wednesday during a telephone interview. “Having been a victim of domestic abuse, my main message is not to be afraid. They can be safe and they don’t have to live like that. They can come out of it.”
Hotline number
Contact the 24-hour confidential hotline at: 888-373-7888.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Asylum Victory: Gang-Related Violence

Paul S. Haar writes: "I thought that you and my colleagues would appreciate the recent (redacted) decision of Immigration Judge John Milo Bryant of the U.S. Immigration Court at Arlington, Virginia in which he applied the recent Fourth Circuit case of Crespin-Valladares in holding that family members of an individual who was the subject of gang-related violence constitute a protected social group meriting a grant of asylum for our client.  A hard-fought case and well-deserved victory."
Paul S. Haar, Esq.
Law Offices of Paul S. Haar
1150 Connecticut Ave., N.W.
Ninth Floor
Washington, D.C. 20036
Tel.: 202/862-4328

Fax: 202/862-4397



Monday, September 26, 2011

Breaking News: TRO Issued In H-2B Prevailing Wage Hike Lawsuit

"Based on the facts set forth in the motion, the complaint, supporting declarations and the memoranda, plaintiffs have sufficiently established that they meet the requirements for a temporary restraining order. Plaintiffs have demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits that neither defendant is authorized by statute to issue either the Final Wage Rule titled 'Wage Methodology for the Temporary non-Agricultural Employment H-2B Program" (76 Fed. Reg. 3452 (Jan. 19,2011)) or the Final Expediting Rule titled "Wage Methodology for the Temporary Non-Agricultural Employment H-2B Program; Amendment of Effective Date" (76 Fed. Reg. 45,667) (Aug. 1,2011 )), these rules are inconsistent with and prohibited by the Immigration and Nationality Act, these rules fail to comply with the Regulatory Flexibility Act, and these rules are arbitrary and capricious. Moreover, plaintiffs will be imminently and irreparably harmed if these ruled were to go into effect, in that certain plaintiff small businesses will be unable to continue employing H-2B employees and, as a result, will be unable to complete existing contracts, which then are likely to be taken over by competitors located in low-cost labor markets. This, in turn, will imperil the continued viability of plaintiff small businesses and create an economic impact on small entities that could exceed $100 million for the fourth quarter of 2011. In contrast, defendants will suffer no harm as a result of this Temporary Restraining Order. Thus, the public interest favors the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order to maintain the status quo until a preliminary injunction hearing is conducted, and this Temporary Restraining Order is granted with notice in order to avoid further harm to the plaintiffs."

Bayou Lawn & Landscape Services, et al., v. Solis, CASE NO.: 3:11cv445/MCRIEMT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, NORTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA, PENSACOLA DIVISION, Sept. 26, 2011.

BIB - Daily Edition Gets An Upgrade

Dear BIB - Daily Edition Readers,

Over the past six years you have elevated BIBDE from an obscure blog to a recognized "voice" in the immigration news world.  Now, I am pleased to announce that on Monday, October 3, 2011, BIBDE will "upgrade" and migrate to a new and much more powerful platform: the LexisNexis Immigration Law Community.  As you know, LexisNexis Matthew Bender has always been the sole sponsor of BIBDE, so "sponsorship" remains unchanged.  And whereas before I labored alone, now I will be joined by several skilled technical and legal professionals from LexisNexis and beyond.

The new Community features a variety of content and resources including all of the BIB - Daily Edition content.  The site will feature blogs, podcasts, and commentary from leading immigration law professionals alongside LexisNexis resources such as Immigration Law & Procedure, Bender's Immigration Bulletin and the entire lineup of LexisNexis Matthew Bender immigration publications.

With the launch of this new resource, we will be transitioning users of BIBDE to the LexisNexis Immigration Law Community where you will be able to view all of the same content and more.  BIBDE will redirect to the LexisNexis Immigration Law Community beginning on October 3, 2011.  On that Monday  you will also begin receiving Daily Email Newsletter Alerts from the Immigration Law Community.

The Alerts will contain the same BIB Daily content that you’ve been receiving with the opportunity to include additional content from the Immigration Law Community.

To add additional content to your Daily Newsletter Alert, you will first need to activate your Immigration Law Community account by resetting your password on the following page:  Please use the email address that is associated with your BIB -Daily Edition subscription.

Once you’ve entered your email address and clicked on the “Recover Password” button, you’ll receive a confirmation via email within 15 minutes.  The email confirmation will provide instruction on resetting your password and will direct you back to the Immigration Law Community where you can sign in using your email address and newly established password.

Once you have signed into the Immigration Law Community, you can navigate to the Newsletter page and add additional content to your alert from the Immigration Law Community as well as the other 17 LexisNexis Community sites.

(During this transition, should you have technical questions or problems, please write to Tracie Morris or Gregg Lawson:

We are excited to bring this new experience to you and we look forward to hearing your feedback.  Change can bring challenges, and the new platform is a work in progress, so please let me know how the transition is working for you, and how we can make your ILC experience more rewarding.

Many thanks,

Daniel M. Kowalski

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Asylum Victory in Chicago: trafficking; Congo, Belgium

Ashley Huebner writes: "On August 9th, 2011, the National Immigrant Justice Center and pro bono attorneys from the Chicago office of McDermott Will & Emery LLP obtained asylum for a woman from the Democratic Republic of the Congo based on the harm that she suffered as a victim of sex trafficking.  This decision was unique in that the majority of the harm that the client suffered occurred in Belgium, where the client was trafficked, and not in the DRC itself.  However, the judge found that this harm was a direct and inevitable consequence of having been trafficked from the DRC and therefore constituted persecution of the client in the DRC.  The judge further held that the client had been targeted for sex trafficking because of her membership in the particular social group of “young Congolese women who have participated in prostitution.”  Finally, the judge found that even if DHS had rebutted the presumption of future persecution, the client was still eligible for asylum because she would suffer “other serious harm” if she were returned to the DRC.  A redacted copy of the decision is attached."  Matter of X-, Aug. 9, 2011.

Ashley Huebner
Supervising Attorney, Asylum Project
National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC)
A Heartland Alliance Partner
T: 312-660-1303
F: 312-660-1506

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Unpub. BIA mandatory detention victory in Va.

Thomas K. Ragland writes: "Attached is a BIA decision I just received in a hard-fought case.  DHS charged my client, who was convicted in Virginia of misdemeanor attempted sexual battery, with aggravated felony “sexual abuse of a minor” – and insisted he was subject to mandatory detention.  I challenged the aggfel charge in Immigration Court, the IJ agreed and ordered release on $10K bond.  DHS appealed to the BIA and invoked the automatic stay at 8 CFR 1003.19(i)(2), ensuring he would not be released.  I filed a habeas petition in ED Va. and, one week later, DHS relented and withdrew the automatic stay.  My client was released but DHS aggressively litigated the BIA appeal.  Nearly a year and a half later, the BIA has dismissed DHS’s appeal, agreeing that the conviction is not an aggfel under proper application of the modified categorical approach and controlling Fourth Circuit law.  The BIA also agreed that DHS failed to prove my client is a danger to the community or a flight risk."  Matter of X-, Sept. 8, 2011.