Saturday, January 28, 2006

Complaining of Crime Leads To Informant's Potential Deportation

According to the Greenwich Times, as also reported in New York Newsday on January 28, 2006, a man went to the Greenwich, Connecticut police to report he was being harassed and the police wound up running his name through a national database and turning him over to ICE for potential deportation. ICE took him into custody due to immigration violations -- the man was deported and re-entered without permission. In general, police are afraid that immigrants aren't reporting crimes because they're afraid of being deported. Sounds like there is reason to be afraid of being deported if you report a crime -- this man tried to report a crime and was put into detention for potential deportation.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Local NJ Police Turn Informant In For Deportation

A hotly debated issue is whether local police should be cooperating with federal immigration officials to try to deport people they come across. One bizarre facet to turning people in to immigration officials is when the local police turn informants in for deportation. It could possibly hurt the police's chances of getting information and leads from the public if they turn informants in for deportation.

There is a Bergen Record newspaper article on a Brazilian who is being deported after local police turned him in after he called them with information about an ongoing crime that led to two arrests.
On his tip, West Long Branch officers moved in on a Home Depot parking lot and seized two smugglers and a van full of hostages, including the sister. It seemed a superb example of citizen/police collaboration. But then the police turned their attention to Martins - and his immigration status. He admitted overstaying his visa. To his shock, local officers turned him over to immigration officials. Martins, 23, now faces deportation.
Update: as of January 2006, the case is on appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals, which has no deadline or prediction of when it will issue its decision.

This is in contrast to a story in an Arizona newspaper, where firefighters who helped give food and water to starving and exhausted undocumented immigrants did not detain the immigrants for the three hours that it took ICE to arrive in June 2005. The firefighters and police did not detain the immigrants because:
"The Police Department wants to keep as many lines of trust open as we can to the community," Phoenix police Detective Tony Morales said. "If we go out and sometimes enforce immigration laws, people will not call us to be witnesses or to report serious crimes." (Judi Villa, "Migrants had option to flee firefighters," The Arizona Republic, Jun. 14, 2005)
The story is unclear but it seems that even though the local department did not force the immigrants to wait, they comforted and fed the immigrants, who waited with the police officers for three hours. Then, ICE showed up and perhaps took them in for deportation.

Smuggling is still an area that the police need more information about. According to a Miami Herald story "Judge: Smugglers deserve tougher sentence for Cuban boy's death" (Jan. 24, 2006):
A federal judge served notice Tuesday that he may impose a tougher prison term than federal guidelines require for two Cuban migrant smugglers who pleaded guilty to organizing an illegal voyage that claimed the life of a 6-year-old boy. U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore told Alexander Gil Rodriguez, 25, and Luis Manuel Taboada Cabrera, 29, that he intended to impose a sentence harsher than the nearly six years called for under federal sentencing guidelines - between 57 and 71 months - because the Oct. 12 trip resulted in the death of young Julian Villasuso.
The issue of immigrants being afraid to report crimes to local police is also arising in California, where some local police are trying to get the training and authorization to enforce civil immigration violations while others, like the Los Angeles Police Department, refuse to:
For nearly three decades, the LAPD has enforced a strict policy prohibiting officers from stopping or questioning someone solely based on their immigration status. The policy, known as Special Order 40 and approved by then-Chief Daryl Gates, was part of an effort to improve relations between officers and illegal immigrants, who officials say were often afraid to report crimes or cooperate as witnesses. "It's not a matter of politics. It's a matter of practical policing," said LAPD Assistant Chief George Gascon. "If an undocumented woman is raped and doesn't report it, the suspect who raped that woman, remember, could be the suspect who rapes someone else's sister, mother or wife later." (Richard Winton and Daniel Yi, "Police Split on Plan for Migrant Checks," Los Angeles Times, Jan. 23, 2006)

ICE Guard Stole Immigrant Detainee's Money For Five Years

According to the Detroit Free Press, from 2000 to 2004, then-ICE officer Patrick Wynne stole approximately $300,000 from around 479 immigration detainees while he was supposed to be safeguarding their belongings while they were being detained during their deportation hearings. He worked at Monroe County jail, which is not surprising because ICE often houses immigration detainees in county prisons. Immigration detainees are not being imprisoned for crimes. They are just violators of civil rules, but ICE will detain many of them in the same prisons where criminals are jailed.

It is not surprising that the ICE officer said he did not see any of the detainees as a person, an individual, or a particular face. Instead, he remained distant and just saw them as bodies, detainees, and traffic. The government will try to return the property and money to the detainees, many of whom now are in Africa, Asia, Central America, and Europe.

ICE Awards Halliburton Subsidiary $385 Million

According to an MSN story:
Defense, engineering and construction services contractor Halliburton Co. on Tuesday said its KBR subsidiary received a five-year, $385 million contract from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement department.The pact provides for establishing temporary detention, processing and deportation facilities if there is "an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S.," Halliburton said.
The $385 million is a maximum figure over five years for this particular contract. Halliburton seems ideally situated to generate profits over any exaggeration of any fear of influx of immigrants, to the tune of millions of dollars.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Documentary Video on Equal Access to Healthcare and Courts

We are now working on a documentary video about equal access for those who do not speak English to the courts and to healthcare! Please contact us if you would like to participate in the making of the documentary.

Check back later for more information on the documentary video, including interviews, work-in-progress discussions, and future screenings. We will talk about the project at the New Jersey Immigration Policy Network's conference in January 2006.

Newark Immigration Building Waiting Times

We are going to post information about the long lines outside the Newark immigration building at 970 Broad Street based on unconfirmed reports from contributors. The building also holds the Newark immigration court, the USCIS examination officers, and the social security office.

New: The Third Circuit is aware of the long security lines outside of the immigration building in Newark, NJ. It calls the long lines "neither unexpected nor unavoidable." Easy for it to say! In the non-precedential decision of Yun Hui Lin v. Attorney General, No. 04-2805 (3d Cir. Apr. 14, 2005), an immigrant was ordered deported in absentia without ever hearing her asylum claim because she was late for her hearing. For her 9:00am appointment, she got to the Newark building at 10:15am and it took at least 45 minutes to get through what the Third Circuit called "lengthy security lines." The following data, however, suggest that the lengthy security lines are unexpected and unavoidable. They are unexpected because the length of the delay is wildly inconsistent. The delays are unavoidable because, well, there is no way to avoid the delay. That is, unless you are a judge, USCIS worker, ICE worker, ICE agent, DHS official, police officer, undercover detective, U.S. Attorney, security guard, cafeteria worker, IRS worker, daycare worker, building maintenance worker, office cleaning employee, or specially invited guest of a government employee.

The Newark Immigration Court's web site answers basic questions about coming to court. Nothing warns the public that they should expect lengthy security lines.

Please indicate the Date, Time of day, Minutes waited, and Line used outside the immigration building in Newark, New Jersey.

Data include:

Tuesday, March 22: 8:48am, waited 9 minutes.
Thursday, March 31: 8:30am, waited 23 minutes; 11:06am, waited 19 minutes; 1:01pm, waited 8 minutes
Wednesday, April 6: 2:00pm, waited 1 minute.
Thursday, April 7: 8:56am, waited 5 minutes.
Tuesday, April 19: 8:25am, waited 3 minutes.
Thursday, April 28: 8:55am, waited 3 minutes, used the right-entrance and directed to the Broad Street entrance.
Wednesday, June 8: 9:30am, waited 3 minutes.
DHS is putting up a fence all along the Broad Street side of the building. Not sure whether this will cause unexpected, unavoidable delays for entering the building.
Thursday, June 9: 8:58am, waited 15 minutes.
One of the entrances previously open to the public has not been closed and is for employees only. This may unexpectedly and unavoidably increase the wait time for the public to enter the building.
Tuesday, July 12: 9:47am, waited 17 minutes.
Thursday, July 14: 9:03am, waited 25 minutes
Wednesday, July 20: 8:56am, waited 11 minutes
Tuesday, July 26: 8:39am, waited 17 minutes
Thursday, July 28: 8:05am, waited around 25 minutes
Wednesday, August 24: 9:05am, waited around 7 minutes; 9:35am, waited around 5 minutes
Monday, August 29: 8:51am, waited 21 minutes
Thursday, September 1: 8:15am, waited 31 minutes (new record!); 10:56am, waited 2 minutes
Tuesday, September 6: 8:38am, waited 7 minutes; 10:39am, waited 4 minutes
Wednesday, September 8: 8:58am, waited 7 minutes
Tuesday, September 13: 3:45pm, waited 2 minutes
Wednesday, September 14: 8:44am, waited 9 minutes
Monday, September 19: 12:41pm, waited 3 minutes
Thursday, September 23: 2:35pm, waited 1 minute
September 27: 8:39am, waited 8 minutes
September 28: 8:31am, waited 3 minutes
September 30: 2:23pm, waited 1 minute
October 6: 1:58pm, waited 2 minutes
October 12: 8:52am, waited 9 minutes
October 18: 9:47am, waited 23 minutes
October 20: 12:41pm, waited 5 minutes
October 25: 9:21am, waited 19 minutes
October 26: 8:46am, waited 5 minutes
October 28: 11:06am, waited 2 minutes
November 1: 1:46pm, waited 2 minutes
November 3: 8:53am, waited 2 minutes; 3:07pm, waited 1 minute
November 4: 12:34pm, waited 1 minute
November 8: 2:25pm, waited 2 minutes
November 9: 8:20am, waited 2 minutes; 3:14pm, waited 2 minutes
November 10: 12:53pm, waited 1 minute
November 14: 2:43pm, waited 1 minute
November 16: 9:12am, waited 2 minutes; 3:02pm, no wait
January 19, 2006: court appearance arrived 8:39am and waited 28 minutes; (non-court appearance arrived 9:30am and waited 2 hours and 20 minutes)
June 1: Note, the officials have changed the entrance to the Broad Street entrance. The lines can be extremely long. Around 9am, the wait can be around 40-45 minutes. One time, at 9am, there were 200 people waiting to enter the building.

Emergency Health Alert for the Newark Immigration Building

Emergency Health Alert! for the immgration building at 970 Broad Street in Newark, New Jersey.

With freezing temperatures and dangerously high winds, waiting outdoors to get into a building can be dangerous to your health. Anyone visiting 970 Broad Street for immigration interviews, naturalization appointments, or immigration court should take severe precautions.

On January 19th, people had to wait nearly 2.5 hours (one person waited around 2 hours and 15 minutes) in a long line while there was frigid weather and high winds. Some people were on the verge of passing out.

That day, the guards made an exception for people trying to attend immigration court if they had proof of the court date with them. Some of those people only had to wait around 30 minutes in the frigid weather.

Please guard your health. It is also a good idea to practice for your immigration interviews by standing outside for 2 hours before trying to take a sample naturalization exam or answer questions about your immigration status. Make sure how well you answer questions inside the building does not suffer from waiting hours in the freezing cold.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

No Exhaustion Requirement For Constitutional Issues In Immigration Cases

I cannot explain why, but many immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals believe that they cannot make any ruling on whether their rules and regulations violate basic Constitutional rights. This means that if someone is unconstitutionally charged with a civil immigration violation, he must suffer through a lengthy, expensive immigration court case then go through another long, expensive appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals and then start a long, expensive appeal to a circuit court through a petition for review where he will for the first time have his constitutional right heard by a real judge. Incredible!

On the other hand, it means that if someone forgets to raise a constitutional issue in the courts below, the circuit court can't say it is his fault for not raising it. He can always say there was no point raising it before because the immigration court and BIA won't listen to it anyway. This can help if someone did not have a lawyer at his immigration court hearing and on appeal to the circuit court wants to argue that the immigration courts must give him a right to appointed counsel in immigration court.

A discussion of how this is not covered by the exhaustion doctrine is mentioned in Pasha v. Gonzales (7th Cir. Dec. 29, 2005).

Friday, January 13, 2006

Zulima V. Farber Nominated For NJ Attorney General

On January 11, 2006, Governor-elect Jon Corzine nominated Zulima V. Farber to become New Jersey Attorney General. Congratulations, Ms. Farber!

An important issue that Ms. Farber can address is whether the New Jersey Attorney General will force local police to enforce something that falls outside the criminal laws -- civil immigration violations. There are compelling arguments that the NJ Attorney General may not have such a power or that even if that power exists, it should not be used for civil immigration violations because the effect of forcing local police to turn everyone in to immigration officials would be to scare witnesses and victims of crimes away from reporting them to law enforcement.

It is this concern that has prompted Princeton Borough to try to limit local police involvement in civil immigration violations (while still being committed to enforcing all criminal laws related to alien smuggling and immigration).

In fact, one long-time New Jersey resident has even been turned over by local police to immigration officials for deportation just because they contacted him as the victim of a crime. Our country needs everyone's help, including immigrants who are crime victims, to try to fight crime. New Jersey's next attorney general has an opportunity to contribute to crime-fighting and protecting all New Jerseyans.

Monday, January 02, 2006

NJ Immigrant Becomes All-American Football Star

Penn State defensive end Tamba Hali is a 2005 All-American college football player and an immigrant who came to the United States when he was 10 years old after escaping from war-torn Liberia. He was lucky to escape from flying bullets, friends being killed, and the danger of being recruited to a brutal war by desperate rebels.

Mr. Hali's father was the first one to come to the United States, earning a master's degree at Farleigh Dickinson from 1978 to 1980 and carefully complied with his visa. After returning to Liberia, Mr. Hali's father came to the United States in 1985 and struggled for four years with all the paperwork and requirements from immigration officials before Mr. Hali could finally come to the U.S. in 1994. According to news articles, one difficulty was convincing the immigration agency that he truly was Mr. Hali's father. When the immigration service demanded a baptismal certificate, they complained that it was impossible to get it in the middle of a civil war. They finally agreed to take DNA tests for all three of the children, costing thousands of dollars.

The United States is a better place for allowing legal immigration and in this case (after years of difficulties) giving legal immigration status to a young boy who grew up in New Jersey to become an All-American college football player.

The Miami Herald and the Penn State Digital Collegian both wrote articles about Mr. Hali.