The Houston Chronicle Monday October 31, 2011 by Susan Carroll
The state has been unable to enforce a new law designed to increase the deportations of illegal immigrants from the Texas prison system amid concerns that federal immigration officials are unprepared to handle the anticipated influx of convicted criminals, state officials said.
Under the new law, which was scheduled to take effect Sept. 1, state prisoners who are granted parole and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials must either be deported or leave the country voluntarily - or risk being returned to state custody to serve out the remainder of their sentences...
ICE officials indicated this week that they need to hire a "few" more agents to process the expected increase in deportable prisoners coming out of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, but they have not indicated how many, Madden said.
He added that the state does not yet have a timeline for implementing the law. "Before we implement it, we need to make sure ICE will be able to handle the load we would possibly be sending them," Madden said.
ICE spokesman Gregory Palmore said the agency will work with the state and provide additional manpower and bed space if needed.
He said ICE has already absorbed a sharp uptick in the number of prisoners released from TDCJ custody - up about 28 percent since Oct. 1, the start of the fiscal year, compared with the same time period last year.
But ICE union officials in Texas warned that their operation in Huntsville, which processes state prisoners for deportation, is "treading water."
"If the state of Texas doubles or triples their releases on a given day, there is no way we will be able to keep up," said Tre Rebstock, president of the local ICE union.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
ABC 7 October 26, 2011Federal courts [sic. Hearing Officers of the EOIR are not Federal judges, e.g. Article III judges, but employees of the Executive Branch, specifically the Department of Justice.] in California have been more likely to allow immigrants to remain in the United States in recent years, despite a widespread perception that federal officials are cracking down and sending more people back to their native countries.During the first two years of the Obama administration, the number of immigrants ordered deported by the courts has declined nearly 10 percentage points, to nearly half off all cases handled in the California-based immigration courts, according to a new report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a nonpartisan group that tracks detailed government data.The shift has been most pronounced in San Diego, where 64 percent of cases resulted in deportation in 2009. This year, that number is down to 46 percent. Immigration courts in Los Angeles, Imperial and San Francisco counties, as well as in Lancaster, also have seen decreases in the percentage of cases that resulted in deportation since 2008.Immigration attorneys said they have noticed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been far more aggressive in its arrests, but the federal courts appear to be giving immigrants more time to sort out their cases and, therefore, avoid deportation for longer periods...Despite the recent trend, the decrease in the number of deportations appears to have stalled for some federal courts in California in the first 10 months of 2011, according to the clearinghouse.For example, Los Angeles immigration judges deported about 58 percent of their cases in 2008, dropping to about 38 percent in 2010. But the number of deportations for the first 10 months of 2011 was about 47 percent in Los Angeles-based immigration courts, the report showed. Imperial County also saw a small increase in the number of deportations for the first 10 months of 2011.
The New York Times February 8, 2010By Julia Preston February 8, 2010Responding to pleas from immigration judges and lawyers who say the nation’s immigration courts are faltering under a crushing caseload, the American Bar Association called Monday for Congress to scrap the current system and create a new, independent court for immigration cases.In a vote at its semiannual meeting in Orlando, Fla., the lawyers’ organization endorsed a recommendation for a separate immigration court system that would be similar to federal courts that decide tax cases...Immigration cases have become more complex, especially asylum cases, where immigrants are asking to remain in the United States because they claim to fear life-threatening violence if they return home. With the pace of their work accelerating, immigration judges often feel asylum hearings are “like holding death penalty cases in traffic court,” said Dana L. Marks, an immigration judge in San Francisco and the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges.“There have been increasing concerns about the propriety of housing a neutral court in the law enforcement arm of the government,” Judge Marks said.In the proposal adopted Monday, the bar association argued that immigration courts should be removed from the Department of Justice and set up as independent courts, still within the executive branch, under terms in Article I of the Constitution. The highest judges would be appointed by the president and approved by the Senate. The courts’ decisions would still be appealed to the federal appeals courts.Judges and lawyers said the independent courts would have greater credibility and more power to seek funds from Congress, leading to more resources for judges, shorter terms of detention for immigrants and fewer appeals to federal circuit courts, which are highly costly.
The Daily Caller October 27, 2011Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a House committee that she is “not aware” of any actions the Obama administration has taken against countries that will not accept back illegal immigrants in “deportation status,” some of whom have committed crimes. After a “six-month detention period,” the illegal immigrants are released within the United States.“Isn’t it true that if they are in a deportation status and their home country will not accept them, that you release them back into the communities based on a ruling?” asked Republican Rep. Sandy Adams of Florida on Wednesday during a House Judiciary Committee hearing.“Yeah, there’s a Supreme Court case called Zadvydas [vs. Davis], which is a due-process case, which, if the home country cannot accept or will not accept, gives us about a six-month detention period,” said Napolitano.“And in fact,” Rep. Adams continued, “some of these people have come back into the communities and committed heinous crimes, truly heinous … Section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act requires the government to sanction countries that refuse to repatriate by suspending issuance of immigrant or non-immigrant visas, or both, to nationals of the country until it takes aliens back.”“DHS is supposed to order or give the country that refuses to take back its aliens — the Secretary of State ‘shall order’ — that the visas to its citizens be suspended,” Adams concluded. ”How many have you recommended under Section 243(d)?”Napolitano answered, “We have not — what we have done is work with — there are countries that systemically refuse to accept their aliens back.
(d) Discontinuing Granting Visas to Nationals of Country Denying or Delaying Accepting Alien.-On being notified by the Attorney General that the government of a foreign country denies or unreasonably delays accepting an alien who is a citizen, subject, national, or resident of that country after the Attorney General asks whether the government will accept the alien under this section, the Secretary of State shall order consular officers in that foreign country to discontinue granting immigrant visas or nonimmigrant visas, or both, to citizens, subjects, nationals, and residents of that country until the Attorney General notifies the Secretary that the country has accepted the alien.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Accused Gulf Cartel Member Arrested in Port Isabel
October 26, 2011 KRGV.com
CHANNEL 5 NEWS (KRGV, 2010) BROWNSVILLE - An up-and-coming member of Mexico's Gulf Cartel is in federal custody in the Valley. Rafael Cardenas Vela will head to federal court later today. Cardenas is the nephew of cartel kingpin Osiel Cardenas-Guillen, who is now locked up in a supermax prison in Colorado.
Port Isabel police arrested Rafael Cardenas Vela last Thursday after they got a tip. Officers say Cardenas Vela was taken into custody as he was being driven to South Padre Island by two bodyguards. Officers also arrested the bodyguards.
An affidavit shows Cardenas Vela admitted to entering the country illegally by using another man's passport. He also allegedly confessed to smuggling tons of marijuana and cocaine into the U.S. Cardenas is facing charges of conspiracy to distribute narcotics and misuse of a visa.
Today he's expected to go before a federal judge in Brownsville for a detention and preliminary hearing. CHANNEL 5 NEWS has learned Cardenas has hired a lawyer from McAllen to represent him.
By Stephanie Zepelin October 25, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A group of former Border Patrol agents say routine checks at commercial transportation hubs are changing. This means the daily presence of Border Patrol agents at bus stations, train stations and airports is over...
“We are refining the way we operate by managing risk,” says Bill Brooks, southwest border field branch chief for Customs and Border Protection in Washington, D.C.
Brooks says agents will be at commercial transportation hubs if there is intelligence that indicates they need to be there.
Kent Lundgren, a former Border Patrol agent in El Paso, Miami and Puerto Rico and chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, says based on information from current agents and his experience in the agency, this is a change of policy.
“It is a change in policy with respect to transportation checks, yes,” says Lundgren.
Lundgren says this change takes away an important tool for Border Patrol officers. When we told him officials in Washington, D.C. say it's not a change in policy, Lundgren says, “Well, let's just say they're being less than candid because it is.”
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Alabama Immigration Law: Opponents Rally Around Deli Owner, Latino Workers by David Jamieson October 24, 2011But since late last week, Dubrinsky has witnessed an outpouring of support from a different set of strangers. After reading of Dubrinsky's plight, opponents of the new law have rallied around his deli, leading to one the busiest stretches at the restaurant that Dubrinsky can recall. He tells HuffPost that new diners have been driving from up to forty miles outside the city just to try his reuben and thank him for standing up for Latino workers."I've shaken more hands in the last two days than in the previous two years. It's been amazing," Dubrinsky said. "The restaurant has been pretty darn busy."One reader told HuffPost that her friend had visited Max's this weekend to show her solidarity, but it was so busy the woman had to go eat elsewhere. Another reader from Georgia told HuffPost that she and a group of friends were putting together a caravan to travel to Max's from Atlanta just for lunch.The restaurant's Facebook page has been inundated with fan requests from all over the country, Dubrinksy says. Rather than bashing him and his workers, visitors to the page have been telling the staff at the Jewish deli to stand tall: "Thanks for being a mensch, Max's Deli. Hang in there and I'll be bringing my very hungry teenagers to your deli the next time we're in town."
By Dan Schreiber SF Examiner October 24, 2011Allegations of voter manipulation by an independent committee working on behalf of Mayor Ed Lee are being investigated by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.Office spokeswoman Stephanie Ong Stillman said the investigation was prompted by information sent Friday by the Department of Elections...Yet Yee campaign worker Andy Li said that when he canvassed two apartment complexes earlier this month, he was told by several residents that they’d already returned ballots to their building managers. Li said the residents reported that Lee supporters came into their homes, showed a video about the mayor, then helped them fill out ballots.One of the buildings — a 60-unit apartment at 1303 Larkin Street — is managed by the Chinatown Community Development Center. The organization’s primary consultant, Rose Pak, and former executive director, Gordon Chin, were instrumental in the campaign to encourage Lee to run for a full mayoral term.Gen Fujioka, the center’s public policy manager, said building managers are strictly forbidden from “taking part in any electoral activity” and that he has contacted Yee’s campaign for more information about the claims, which he surmised were “based on some misunderstanding.”
Heather Knight, Chronicle Staff Writer San Francisco Chronicle August 29, 2011Shortly after Ed Lee became interim mayor in January, the rumor spread around Chinatown. When he announced earlier this month that he was running for a four-year term, the gossip began again. Lee, the whisperers said at banquets and festivals, was not a Lee at all.While the mayor vows he is really and truly a Lee, the hubbub offers a window into the fascinating world of Chinatown's powerful family associations, its sometimes heartbreaking history, and the significance and transience of its residents' surnames.This much is true: The mayor's full name is Edwin Mah Lee, and his father, Gok Suey Lee, was born in the Toishan district of Guandong province in southern China.This much is also true: As a Lee, the mayor is a member of the prominent Lee Family Association, the largest of dozens of family associations in Chinatown.Formed in the 1800s as social-service organizations for new immigrants, they're based on surnames that tell where in China one was born. There are roughly 10,000 Lees in San Francisco, an expected boost for the mayor at the ballot box...The Chinatown gossip has it that the mayor is trading on a powerful name that isn't his own - that his father was born a Mah or a Mar, variants of the same name, and immigrated to the United States as a "paper son," buying his way into a Lee family already established here.
2. Pussy protestors run with their tails between their legs.
3. Illegal alien drywallers hard at work at various business places in Frank H Ogawa Plaza.
4. Welfare cheats, layabouts and other scum head on home.
Monday, October 24, 2011
The Associated Press and The Bulletin October 24, 2011Deportations In The Northwest Slide 22 Percent by Manual ValdesEven so, and despite record-setting deportations nationally, the number of immigrants removed from the Pacific Northwest has dropped to its lowest levels in five years.New figures from the past fiscal year released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement show that 7,607 people were deported from Washington, Oregon and Alaska — a slide of 22 percent from 2010. Moreover, fiscal 2011’s figures are a 30 percent drop from 2008 when more than 10,900 people were removed from the area.
Local ICE officials declined to be interviewed for this story, but the office said in a statement that the drop in Northwest deportations is due to fewer transfers to the detention center in Tacoma, and because the office has seen an increase in non-detained immigration cases, in which those facing deportation are not incarcerated.“Generally, it takes considerably longer for the immigration courts to adjudicate non-detained cases, since, for a variety of reasons, detained aliens’ cases receive scheduling priority. Depending on the extent to which a case is appealed, it can take several years before a non-detained alien is actually removed,” the explanation read.
That goal shows in the Pacific Northwest numbers. Nearly 70 percent of people removed from the three-state jurisdiction in fiscal 2011 were considered convicted criminals by ICE, something the local office said has been consistent with the agency’s stated enforcement strategy.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
The Birmingham News October 12, 2011 By Roy L. WilliamsAlabama Restaurant Owners Say Some Legal Hispanic Workers Are Leaving As A Result Of The New Immigration LawSome Birmingham area restaurant owners say they are losing legal Hispanic workers as a result of the new immigration law, or they fear an exodus is possible.Steve Dubrinsky, owner of a Jewish deli in Inverness, said he has pleaded with his nine-member kitchen staff, all of them legal immigrants from Mexico, not to bolt. So far, all have stayed, but Dubrinsky said is fearful that they will leave in the wake of what has been called the nation's toughest immigration law."They are scared and I can't blame them," he said. "It is affecting a lot of restaurants. It's a mess."
Since the judges ruling, businesses in the construction and farming business have reported a big drop off in their Hispanic work force, and complained of job shortages due to a lack of Alabamians applying for openings. Opponents of the new law have said they will call on state lawmakers to help them find workers.Rusty Creel, co-owner of Michael's Steakhouse and Seafood restaurants in the Aloft Hotel in Homewood and outside the Riverchase Galleria, said he has lost two of his best employees, both kitchen workers with proper documentation, since a judge upheld the immigration law two weeks ago.Todd Becker, a co-owner of Frio en La Paz in Vestavia Hills and La Paz in Crestline, said both of his restaurants have lost a few workers who were legal and pay taxes, but had family members without proper documentation. He said the new rules are not affecting only restaurants that serve Latin cuisine."This law has caused us some major problems," Becker said "We're no different from the contractors and hotels that have leaned on Hispanic workers. I don't think the lawmakers who crafted this bill thought through the impact it would have on us as employers."
Dubrinsky, who has operated Max's Deli just off U.S. 280 in Cahaba Mall Shopping Center on Colonnade Parkway for four years, said all of his Hispanic employees have valid work documents.
"As far as I know, they are all legal," he said. "I'm not a private investigator. I could make assumptions and resort to racial profiling, but that would be unfair to them. "
Dubrinsky said he has posted ads courting workers with zero results. One woman he interviewed turned down the job despite above average salary, saying it would cause her to lose her food stamps and federal health care coverage.
"In her mind, she would be better off on government programs than working," Dubrinsky said. "There aren't Alabamians lining up to get these jobs. The kitchen area can be 125 degrees in the hot summer and not just anybody can handle that."
Not all restaurants have been affected by the new law. David Maluff, co-owner of the Birmingham-based Full Moon Bar-B-Que chain, said none of his restaurants' Hispanic workers have left."It hasn't hurt us at all," Maluff said "We run E-Verify and have not had any problems."
Saturday, October 22, 2011
MSNBC October 22, 2011It was just another schoolyard basketball game until a group of Hispanic seventh-graders defeated a group of boys from Alabama.The reaction was immediate, according to the Mexican mother of one of the winners, and rooted in the state's new law on illegal immigration."They told them, 'You shouldn't be winning. You should go back to Mexico,'" said the woman, who spoke through a translator last week and didn't want her name used. She and her son are in the country illegally.Spanish-speaking parents say their children are facing more bullying and taunts at school since Alabama's tough crackdown on illegal immigration took effect last month. Many blame the name-calling on fallout from the law, which has been widely covered in the news, discussed in some classrooms and debated around dinner tables.
U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, the lead federal prosecutor for north Alabama, said many Hispanic parents may be afraid to report bullying for fear of coming in contact with government officials. Under the law, authorities are supposed to detain suspected illegal immigrants found living in the state and hold them for federal immigration authorities.
Yet the Alabama Department of Education hasn't received any reports of bullying linked to the law, said spokeswoman Malissa Valdes, and it isn't tracking the issue to determine whether there could be a problem. Any parents who call the state with complaints would be referred to their child's principal, she said...Charles Warren is school superintendent DeKalb County, where about 18 percent of the 8,900 students enrolled in public schools are Hispanic. He doesn't see much tension between Hispanic students and others — Crossville High School has had a Hispanic homecoming queen the last two years, he said.Advertise | AdChoices"The kids get along great, it's the adults who are the problem," Warren said. "There are a lot of similarities to what went on back in the '50s and '60s with the civil rights movement. A lot of people are out of work now and they want to blame someone. I think the Hispanic people are catching a lot of that."
Friday, October 21, 2011
CNS News October 19, 2011(CNSNews.com) -- Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that under the administration’s policy of exercising “prosecutorial discretion” in the enforcement of the immigration laws, her department is currently authorizing some illegal aliens to work in the United States.Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, asked Napolitano: “According to the information from your department, some individuals who are given relief will obtain work authorizations. So people with no right to be in the country will be allowed to work here. Is that correct?”Napolitano said: “Well, senator, since around 1986 there has been a process where those who are technically unlawfully in the country may apply for work authorization. This goes to CIS [Citizenship and Immigration Services]. It's not an ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] or CBP [Customs and Border Protection] function. And those cases are reviewed by CIS in a case-by-case basis. So there’s no change in that process. Like I said, that goes back to the mid-80s that is contemplated now.”Sen. Grassley then asked, “But yes, some of them could have an opportunity to work here even though they are here illegally?”“Well, that happens now, senator,” said Napolitano.The three agencies she mentioned are all components of DHS.Although Napolitano did not specify what 1986 policy she was referring to in her response to Sen. Grassley, President Ronald Reagan signed the Simpson-Mazzoli Act into law in November of that year. The act applied to illegal aliens who requested a change of status within 18 months of the law's passage and who had come into the United States prior to Jan. 1, 1982, and had resided in America since that time.
According to the latest figures from the Department of Labor, the national unemployment rate is 9.1 percent and the number of unemployed persons has reached at least 14 million.In a June 17 memo, ICE Director John Morton ordered federal immigration officials to use "prosecutorial discretion" in deciding which illegal aliens to remove from the country.The purpose of the “prosecutorial discretion” policy is to remove the worst offenders while releasing others, particularly victims of domestic violence and other crimes; witnesses to crimes; or people who are charged with minor traffic violations.“Exercising favorable discretion, such as release from detention and deferral or a stay of removal generally will be appropriate,” Morton said, unless the unauthorized alien poses national security concerns, has a “serious criminal history,” poses a threat to public safety, is a human rights violator or is involved in “significant” immigration fraud.During Wednesday’s hearing, Napolitano mentioned that as a result of the “prosecutorial discretion” policy, the Obama administration will review “roughly 300,000” cases that are on the “master docket of what’s pending in immigration courts.”“The goal” of that process is “to administratively close some of the low priority cases so that we can facilitate handling the higher priority cases,” said Napolitano. That indicates that some illegal immigrants will be allowed to stay in the country because their cases will be closed.Although she did not rule out the possibility, Napolitano said that “absent unusual circumstances,” individuals with a final order of removal will not be eligible for relief once their case is reviewed.The review process is intended “for cases that are pending that are clogging up the docket and preventing us from getting to the higher priority cases,” said Napolitano.In defending the “prosecutorial discretion” policy, she told the Senate committee, “We can just remove anybody without any priorities and that would be one way to do it. Or the other way and the better way … is to say we want to focus on expediting the removal of those who are criminals; of those who are fugitives; of those who are repeat violators; of those who are recent entrants meaning within five years into the United States,” all of whom she referred to as “high priority” cases.“At some point in the process there needs to be decisions made about who is to be removed,” she said. “It cost in the neighborhood of $23,000 to $30,000 to actually remove somebody. That’s our cost, [it] doesn’t include Justice Department cost. The Congress gives us the ability to finance removals of 400,000 people a year.”
Napolitano pointed out that an “interagency group” is currently working on how to go about reviewing the estimated 300,000 cases. A “pilot” approach to reviewing the cases will start in “two to three weeks,” she said.“The pilot is not going to be one of these 6-to-12 months typical pilots,” she added. “It will be very short, and it’s designed to find logistical issues that happen when you’re trying to do (a) massive review of lots of cases all at the same time.”On Tuesday, the Obama administration announced that it removed a record 396,906 individuals in fiscal year 2011, which ended on Sept. 30. That number is about 3,000 below the 400,000 immigrants that congressionally allocated resources allows DHS to remove.The nearly 397,000 illegal aliens removed in fiscal 2011 includes 216,698 (55 percent) individuals who were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors.
In the course of today’s hearing, Sen. Grassley and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) accused Napolitano of inflating the numbers.Napolitano subsequently acknowledged that the fiscal 2011 removal numbers include immigrants deported in fiscal 2010. The reason for that, according to the secretary, is that DHS waits until the individual is verified to have left the country before counting them as a removal.Secretary Napolitano did not specify how many of the FY 2011 removals were from FY 2010.However, Sen. Sessions said, “I’m told that ICE carried over from last year 19,000 removals and they’re counting them this year, and it’s sort of a gimmick to making the removals look higher than they are.”
CNS News October 20, 2011(CNSNews.com) - Chris Crane, president of a union that represents Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, testified in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration last week that ICE agents have been told by ICE headquarters not to arrest illegal aliens who do not have a prior criminal conviction even if they are fugitives who have been ordered deported by an immigration judge or are individuals who have illegally re-entered the United States after being deported and thus have perpetrated a felony.“Aliens who could not be arrested included but were not limited to ICE fugitives that had been ordered deported by a federal immigration judge as well as aliens who had illegally re-entered the United States after deportation, a federal felony,” Crane, who is also an active-duty ICE agent, told the committee on Oct. 12.“ICE officers and agents also alleged that they were not permitted to arrest or even speak to confirmed or suspected illegal aliens encountered in the field during operations and were prohibited from running standard criminal record checks for wants and warrants,” Crane testified.Crane had previously testified about the matter in the subcommittee in late July.“When I last testified before the subcommittee on July 25, 2011, I reported among other things that ICE enforcement removal officers and agents in the field alleged that unwritten directives from ICE headquarters had been issued nationwide ordering officers not to arrest aliens unless it was confirmed that the alien had received a prior conviction for a criminal offense,” Crane told the committee last week.Since his July testimony, he said, his union has been working with the Judiciary Committee on the issue.“I would like to thank Chairman [Lamar] Smith and his staff for working with the union regarding this matter after the July 25 hearing,” said Crane. “Chairman Smith provided us with the opportunity to bring officers forward as witnesses. We were also able to turn over several internal ICE documents which appear to not only verify that these activities did in fact take place, but also named several senior level ICE managers allegedly involved in issuing the directives nationwide.“Second,” Crane testified, “I would like to address the impact and effectiveness of these type of orders. I have never heard of any law enforcement agency in the nation that prohibits its officers from even speaking to or interviewing individuals who are inside a house in which the officers are attempting to affect an arrest.“From a law enforcement standpoint what could be the possible benefit?” said Crane. “The only purpose for an order such as this is to prevent officers from making arrests which ICE leadership has allegedly stated is its goal. However, these directives not only prevent the arrest of non criminal aliens but also prevent the identification and arrest of very dangerous criminals, potentially individuals involved in terrorist activities.”Crane told the committee that he believed the ICE policy was putting both the public and ICE agents at risk.“It not only prevents officers from talking to and arresting persons who may be wanted for crimes but also individuals who are being victimized and in need of assistance,” said Crane. “Certainly, anyone can see that these practices are contrary to effective law enforcement practice and place the public at risk. Many officers will tell you that the majority of their best arrests, the arrests that most benefit public safety, come from unintended encounters with criminal aliens in the course of looking for a different target in the field.“Of course, these practices also place our officers at risk,” said Crane. “Nothing that I could ever say here today can capture the dynamics as they unfold when a door opens and our officers enter a house that they've never been in before. It's dangerous. Officers don't know who is in the house or what they are capable of doing. Problems often arise that require officers to remain in a house for extended periods. Officers on the scene must have the ability to provide for their own safety. They should never be prohibited from talking to people at the scene, conducting interviews as needed, running appropriate background checks, or even making additional arrests.”During an Oct. 19 hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about the information Crane had brought forward. Napolitano denied that agents were being told not to arrest fugitives and deportees who had re-entered the country.“What I'm hearing is that while claiming to arrest more criminal aliens, internal ICE documents show that DHS leadership has ordered field officers not to arrest fugitives and re-entries and leadership efforts to conceal this from the public has led to confusion in the field,” Sessions told Napolitano."Well if they say that, they're not reading it correctly because that's exactly not the case,” Napolitano said. “They can be arrested, but at some point in the process there need to be decisions made about who is to be removed."CNSNews.com recently reported that during fiscal years 2009 and 2010 ICE caught and released at least 28 Iranian who as of this January were considered fugitives in the U.S.--and that ICE would not say whether they were still fugitives as of the beginning of this week. Iran has been designated by the U.S. State Department as one of four state-sponsors of terrorism. The other three are Syria, Sudan, and Cuba.Chris Crane is president of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council 118 of the American Federation of Government Employees. The National ICE Council, according to written testimony Crane presented to the committee, represents about 7,200 ICE employees, who mostly work in ICE’s Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations. Crane said he had been an ICE officer since 2003. Before that, according to Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Elton Gallegly, Crane had served 11 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.During his time as an ICE agent, Crane told the subcommittee in his written testimony, he has worked in the Criminal Alien Program, which goes after aliens who have been charged with crimes by local or federal law enforcement, and also as part of a Fugitive Operations Team “whose primary function was to apprehend foreign nationals who had not departed the United States after receiving and Order of Deportation from a federal immigration judge.”
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Seattle Times October 19, 2011U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport denied entry Friday to 15 Russian engineers from Boeing's Moscow Design Center and sent them back to Russia.The incident caused the company to suspend U.S. travel for other engineers from Russia "until Boeing can determine the appropriate way to proceed," said spokesman Marc Birtel.According to the white-collar union at Boeing, the Society for Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), the engineers were not Boeing employees but lower-paid contractors.The union's communications director, Bill Dugovich, described the denial of entry as "fantastic news."He said SPEEA has asked the State Department for several years about the validity of Boeing's use of temporary-visitor visas, alleging that Russian contractors violate the terms by working for Boeing while in the U.S.
Boeing's Birtel said the company believes that "the engineers denied entry were traveling with the proper visas."
He said Boeing is working with CBP officials "to determine if additional information may be required for the engineers to be approved for entry in order to prevent a recurrence of this situation in the future."
CBP spokeswoman Jenny Burke, citing privacy laws, said the agency cannot disclose details of a specific case. But she confirmed that "15 people were allowed to withdraw their applications to enter the United States as they had not proven that they were admissible."Further details on what happened were provided by Rich Plunkett, SPEEA's director of strategic development. During questioning of the engineers on Friday, CBP officer John Hullett called Plunkett to consult about their status.Plunkett said Hullett told him that the Russians arrived with B-1 visas. In response, Plunkett informed him of the union's longtime concern on the issue.CBP's Burke said B-1 visas are most commonly issued to foreign businesspeople traveling for purposes of representing their products, taking orders, or attending seminars or training. Visas are issued by the State Department, and CBP enforces the immigration laws at U.S. entry points.With a B-1 visa, visitors may be admitted to the U.S. for a period of six months to a year. However they are not permitted to do paid work for a U.S. company.Burke said travelers presenting themselves for entry into the U.S. under a B-1 visa "are subject to an inspection and questioning as to their declared and documented intent for seeking admission."If through such questioning a B-1 visa visitor "is found to be entering for purposes of engaging in employment, he will be deemed inadmissible," she said.Plunkett said Hullett told him that under questioning at Sea-Tac at least some of the engineers said that they would be doing work for Boeing during their stay."We've had a multitude of reports of these engineers sitting side-by-side with our SPEEA-represented engineers doing the same work," Plunkett said.SPEEA estimates that Boeing has anywhere from 100 to 300 of these engineers here at a time, most of whom are contractors, not direct Boeing employees. They are paid less than engineers here, Dugovich said.Boeing's Birtel declined to say how many people the company has here already on B-1 visas."Boeing works diligently to comply with all rules and regulations concerning travel to and from the U.S. for its employees and for others who are working on Boeing projects," Birtel said.
A State Department spokeswoman contacted Wednesday afternoon had no immediate comment.
Wall Street Journal October 20, 2011The reeling housing market has come to this: To shore it up, two Senators are preparing to introduce a bipartisan bill Thursday that would give residence visas to foreigners who spend at least $500,000 to buy houses in the U.S.The provision is part of a larger package of immigration measures, co-authored by Sens. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Mike Lee (R., Utah), designed to spur more foreign investment in the U.S.Supporters of the bill, co-authored by Sen. Charles Schumer, say it would help make up for American buyers who are holding back.Foreigners have accounted for a growing share of home purchases in South Florida, Southern California, Arizona and other hard-hit markets. Chinese and Canadian buyers, among others, are taking advantage not only of big declines in U.S. home prices and reduced competition from Americans but also of favorable foreign exchange rates.To fuel this demand, the proposed measure would offer visas to any foreigner making a cash investment of at least $500,000 on residential real-estate—a single-family house, condo or townhouse. Applicants can spend the entire amount on one house or spend as little as $250,000 on a residence and invest the rest in other residential real estate, which can be rented out.The measure would complement existing visa programs that allow foreigners to enter the U.S. if they invest in new businesses that create jobs. Backers believe the initiative would help soak up an excess supply of inventory when many would-be American home buyers are holding back because they're concerned about their jobs or because they would have to take a big loss to sell their current house."This is a way to create more demand without costing the federal government a nickel," Sen. Schumer said in an interview.International buyers accounted for around $82 billion in U.S. residential real-estate sales for the year ending in March, up from $66 billion during the previous year period, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. Foreign buyers accounted for at least 5.5% of all home sales in Miami and 4.3% of Phoenix home sales during the month of July, according to MDA DataQuick.Foreigners immigrating to the U.S. with the new visa wouldn't be able to work here unless they obtained a regular work visa through the normal process. They'd be allowed to bring a spouse and any children under the age of 18 but they wouldn't be able to stay in the country legally on the new visa once they sold their properties.The provision would create visas that are separate from current programs so as to not displace anyone waiting for other visas. There would be no cap on the home-buyer visa program.Over the past year, Canadians accounted for one quarter of foreign home buyers, and buyers from China, Mexico, Great Britain, and India accounted for another quarter, according to the National Association of Realtors. For buyers from some countries, restrictive immigration rules are "a deterrent to purchase here, for sure," says Sally Daley, a real-estate agent in Vero Beach, Fla. She estimates that around one-third of her sales this year have gone to foreigners, an all-time high."Without them, we would be stagnant," says Ms. Daley. "They're hiring contractors, buying furniture, and they're also helping the market correct by getting inventory whittled down."In March, Harry Morrison, a Canadian from Lakefield, Ontario, bought a four-bedroom vacation home in a gated community in Vero Beach. "House prices were going down, and the exchange rate was quite favorable," said Mr. Morrison, who first bought a home there from Ms. Daley four years ago.While a special visa would allow Canadian buyers like Mr. Morrison to spend more time in the U.S., he said he isn't sure "what other benefit a visa would give me."The idea has some high-profile supporters, including Warren Buffett, who this summer floated the idea of encouraging more "rich immigrants" to buy homes. "If you wanted to change your immigration policy so that you let 500,000 families in but they have to have a significant net worth and everything, you'd solve things very quickly," Mr. Buffett said in an August interview with PBS's Charlie Rose.The measure could also help turn around buyer psychology, said mortgage-bond pioneer Lewis Ranieri. He said the program represented "triage" for a housing market that needs more fixes, even modest ones.But other industry executives greeted the proposal with skepticism. Foreign buyers "don't need an incentive" to buy homes, said Richard Smith, chief executive of Realogy Corp., which owns the Coldwell Banker and Century 21 real-estate brands. "We have a lot of Americans who are willing to buy. We just have to fix the economy."The measure may have a more targeted effect in exclusive markets like San Marino, Calif., that have become popular with foreigners. Easier immigration rules could be "tremendous" because of the difficulty many Chinese buyers have in obtaining visas, says Maggie Navarro, a local real-estate agent.Ms. Navarro recently sold a home for $1.67 million, around 8% above the asking price, to a Chinese national who works in the mining industry. She says nearly every listing she's put on the market in San Marino "has had at least one full price cash offer from a buyer from mainland China."
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
October 19, 2011 The Texas TribuneImmigration and Customs Enforcement announced this week it deported more immigrants during the 2011 fiscal year than it did in any year since the agency's 2003 inception. The total includes more than 216,700 people convicted of felonies and misdemeanors.ICE, the investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), removed about 397,000 people from the U.S. last fiscal year, up from 392,000 the year before, the previous high mark. The figures are in line with the Obama administration’s increased enforcement since 2009, which has resulted in more deportations and prosecutions in three years than President George W. Bush's administration accomplished in two terms.The enforcement has become a double-edged sword for Obama and his administration, which, despite the increases, continues to draw harsh criticism from Republican lawmakers who allege he is soft on illegal immigration. It has also angered advocacy groups that claim the administration has failed to reform the country’s flawed immigration system.U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, said after the ICE announcement that the administration was misleading the public and accused Obama of “cooking the books.”“The Obama administration continues to inflate its deportation numbers. The administration includes voluntary removals in its deportation statistics even though they impose no penalties on the offenders and make it easier for illegal immigrants to return to the U.S.,” said Smith, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “Under this administration, worksite enforcement has dropped 70 percent, making it easier for illegal immigrants to live and work in the U.S.”A DHS spokesman confirmed to the Tribune that voluntary removals are included in this year’s count. But the official said that has been the process since the Bush administration — and that a voluntary removal is essentially a plea an immigrant enters that admits guilt. The immigrant forgoes a formal immigration court process and is then is deported, which the government says saves the courts time and money.In June, Smith accused the administration of plotting “backdoor amnesty” and filed legislation to limit the president’s immigration-enforcement authority. Smith’s bill was in response to a memo issued that month by ICE Director John Morton directing prosecutors to use discretion when choosing which immigrants to target for deportation proceedings. He urged ICE staff to consider factors like the immigrant's education, their family situation, their criminal history and whether they pose a risk to the country’s national security. ICE announced in August it will review the 300,000 cases pending before the courts to determine who should be released and allowed to apply for work authorization.The DHS spokesman said the June memo, combined with a similar 2010 memo that prioritizes the deportation of criminal aliens, contributed to the increase in deportations last fiscal year. The agency has emphasized focusing the agency's resources on removing immigrants who have "broken criminal laws, recently crossed our border, repeatedly violated immigration law or are fugitives from immigration court,” according to DHS's website.Ninety percent of deportees in the last fiscal year fall under this category. According to ICE, about 55 percent of the immigrants removed were criminal offenders, 20 percent repeat immigration offenders, 12 percent were border removals and 5 percent were immigration fugitives.But despite ICE’s claim that the figures reflect a shift in strategy, immigrants’ rights groups questioned the numbers.“I think it’s weird to be boasting about having a record level of deportations at a time when we know the levels of immigration in this country are the lowest that they’ve been,” said Cristina Parker, the media coordinator for the Border Network for Human Rights. “That they have the highest level of deportations seemed incongruous to me.”The University Leadership Initiative, a student group at the University of Texas that advocates for passage of the DREAM Act, also admonished the administration."Every day this administration continues to separate families. Hundreds of thousands of innocent families have been needlessly torn, and thousands of parents taken from children,” said ULI member Ainee Athar. “As if the horrific memory of having a parent taken from them weren't enough, now the administration is bragging about that agony through a press release."