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Posts tagged ‘U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’

Report: Immigrants Improve in Fighting Deportation.


Immigrants facing deportation are increasingly finding success in immigration courts, according to a new analysis of court data.

Nearly half of immigrants facing deportation have won their cases in the last year, according to the Transactional Records Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, which collects and studies federal prosecution records.

The government has been losing more deportation cases each year since 2009.

The analysis published Thursday does not say how many deportation cases Immigration and Customs Enforcement, whose lawyers represent the government in immigration courts, successfully appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals. The government can appeal immigration court rulings to the Board of Immigration Appeals, part of the Justice Department.

Since the start of the 2014 budget year in October, immigration judges ruled in favor of immigrants in about half of the 42,816 cases heard, TRAC reported. In 2013 the government won about 52 percent of the cases.

Immigrants in California, New York and Oregon have been most successful recently, while judges in Georgia, Louisiana and Utah have sided more often with the government, according to TRAC.

“ICE’s enforcement strategies and policies are designed to prioritize its resources on public safety, national security and border security threats,” said ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen. “ICE continues to focus on sensible, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes the removal of criminal aliens and those apprehended at the border while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States.”

Immigration supporters accuse the Obama administration of deporting too many people, but Republicans say the president is too lenient on immigrants living in the country illegally. Nearly 2 million immigrants have been removed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement under President Barack Obama.

It’s unclear what has prompted judges to side with a growing number of immigrants fighting to stay in the country. Immigration laws have not changed in recent years, but the Obama administration has changed how it enforces immigration laws.

In 2011, the government reviewed hundreds of thousands of cases pending in immigration courts. The effort was designed to curtail the backlog of more than 300,000 pending cases. Tens of thousands of cases were eventually dismissed, but there are now more than 360,000 cases pending, according to TRAC.

And the Obama administration has since issued policy orders directing immigration authorities to exercise discretion when deciding which immigrants living in the country illegally should be deported. Then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said discretion should be used for immigrants who didn’t pose a threat to national security or public safety.

In 2012 Obama also created a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to allow tens of thousands of young immigrants living in the United States illegally to apply to stay in the country for up to two years and get a work permit.

Kathleen Campbell Walker, an El Paso, Texas, immigration lawyer, said it may be too soon to know what the TRAC data means for immigration enforcement. She said immigration court backlogs mean cases now being heard by immigration judges could be years old. And though immigration laws have not changed in recent years, some immigrants may be more successful in arguing that they should be allowed to stay in the country based on those discretion memos.

“The true implications of these numbers are murky and people shouldn’t jump to conclusions yet,” Walker said.

Obama pledged during both of his presidential campaigns to overhaul the country’s immigration laws.

The Democratic-led Senate passed a wide-ranging bill last year but similar legislation has stalled in the Republican-controlled House.

Last month, House Republicans announced immigration principles that touched on both border security and the fate of the more than 11 million immigrants thought to be living in the United States illegally. A week later, however, House Speaker John Boehner said it would be difficult for an immigration bill to pass this year.

“The American people, including many of our members, don’t trust that the reform we’re talking about will be implemented as it was intended to be,” Boehner told reporters at his weekly news conference earlier this month.

The administration has made several immigration policy changes in recent years and during his State of the Union address last month, Obama pledged to keep using his authority to address a variety of issues that Congress hasn’t addressed.

 

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Latinos Shun Obamacare Over Deportation Fears.


Image: Latinos Shun Obamacare Over Deportation Fears

Elva Garcia gets help signing up for health insurance through the Affordable Care act at a Miami Enrollment Assistance Centeron December 23, 2013 in Miami, Fla. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Latinos are wary of signing up for Obamacare because of fears that the information they provide might be used to deport them or members of their family.

“They’re scared,” Ledy Ordonez, 43, who lives in Fremont, Calif., told the San Francisco Chronicle. She has a clothing and jewelry stand at a farmer’s market in Oakland. “They’re afraid if they put in an application for their children … they’ll get deported.”

While enrollment figures are not available yet from the Obama administration, healthcare advocates say fewer Hispanics are enrolling in the Affordable Care Act because of such concerns.

“These families are just very fearful whether it’s true or not,” Hilda Martinez, a manager for the California Endowment‘s “Get Covered” campaign, told the National Journal. “We don’t have any reason to doubt the administration.”

California Endowment has spent millions of dollars on outreach efforts in Spanish. With such a large Hispanic population, many in California would rather risk health issues than deportation, the Journal reports.

More than 1.9 million illegal immigrants have been deported since President Barack Obama took office, including more than 368,000 people this fiscal year, according to the Journal, even though that is down from 409,000 in fiscal 2012.

About 397,000 illegals were deported in fiscal 2011.

In addition, more than 52 million Hispanics live in the United States, making up one of the youngest, fastest-growing demographics in the country.

Talks on immigration reform have stalled in Washington, but U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has provided assurances by letter that any information submitted with Obamacare applications would not be used for enforcement purposes.

That’s not enough, Daniel Zingale, California Endowment’s senior vice president, told the Chronicle. “I think something from the president himself would be helpful,” he said.

“There’s this fear in the community that isn’t just going to go away with a letter,” Martinez told the Journal.

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ries:

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Todd Beamon

US Illegal Immigrant Deportations Fall to 1% in 2013.


Image: US Illegal Immigrant Deportations Fall to 1% in 2013An activist protesting deportations blocks the front gate of a building that houses federal immigration authorities in Atlanta on Nov. 19.

By Courtney Coren

Just 1 percent of  illegal immigrants living in the United States last year were deported  — a dramatic 25 percent drop from the previous year — a change the Obama Administration says is on purpose due to a shift in focus.

The administration cites putting more focus on border security, those that have just recently crossed and illegal immigrants with steep criminal records as opposed to those who are living in the United States peacefully.

As a result, in fiscal 2013 ended Sept. 30, only 133,551 illegal immigrants living in the country were deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs EnforcementThe Washington Times reported.

“Increasing border security is a top priority, and the results you see today clearly illustrate our ongoing commitment to this goal,” said John Sandweg, the acting director of ICE.

There also has been a 10 percent drop in deportations when border and interior deportations are combined. In 2013, a total of 368,644 interior and border illegal immigrants were deported, compared with almost 410,000 in 2012.

It is the lowest number of deportations since President Barack Obama took office.

However, neither side of the immigration debate is happy with these numbers.

Immigration rights advocates say that over 2 million illegal immigrants have been deported since Obama became president — many of which they allege were inhumane since many of those deported are parents of young children.

“How much longer do we have to stand by and watch our families get torn apart by unscrupulous immigration agents?” asked Eddie Carmona of the Campaign for Citizenship.

Activists take issue with Sandweg’s claim that a large majority of those deported were criminals.

Pablo Alvarado of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network said that “this White House has practically made sneezing a criminal act for immigrants.”

Those who want more enforcement of immigration laws question why the deportations are so low since Homeland Security actually had a 10 percent increase in its deportation budget last year.

Sandweg said that not all illegal immigrants are from Mexico, and they are expensive to deport.

“This information further reveals that the administration has been manipulating its figures to mislead the public,” said Stephen Miller, spokesman for Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. “The administration’s catch-and-release policy not only needlessly jeopardizes public safety but undermines the wages and employment of struggling workers.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Obamacare Enrollment by Latinos Hurt by Immigration Law Concerns.


Image: Obamacare Enrollment by Latinos Hurt by Immigration Law Concerns

Concerns among Hispanics that signing up for medical insurance under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law may draw the scrutiny of immigration authorities has hurt enrollment, according to advocates of the policy.Convincing Latinos to enroll could be crucial to the law’s success, and supporters of Obama’s signature domestic policy are aiming their campaign at the 10.2 million Latinos eligible for the new insurance plans or the expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor.

As a group, Latinos are younger than the overall population in the United States and signing them up in large numbers under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act could help offset the costs of covering older and sicker people.

But the enrollment effort appears to be falling short. In California, home to the largest Latino population in the country, only 13 percent of enrollees on the state’s online marketplace called Covered California identified themselves as Hispanic, despite accounting for about 38 percent of the population, the state said last week.

Ironically, polls have consistently shown Latinos are more supportive of the law, commonly called Obamacare, than the general public. A September survey from the Pew Research Center found 61 percent of Hispanics had a favorable view of the law compared to 29 percent among whites.

The law, passed in 2010, established online insurance exchanges, or marketplaces so that millions of uninsured people could enroll for private healthcare plans.

The Obama administration has not released figures on enrollment by ethnicity, but so far officials are not optimistic about Latino turnout.

“I would not be surprised if those numbers aren’t what we want them to be right now,” said Mayra Alvarez, associate director of minority health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

IMMIGRATION LAW ENFORCEMENT

The sign-up campaign may be stalling in part due to the administration’s vigorous enforcement of immigration laws. The administration deported a record number of people during Obama’s first term, according to Pew Research Center data.

While Obama has backed a bill that offers a pathway to citizenship for many of the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, his administration increased deportations to nearly 410,000 people in 2012, almost double the number in 2003.

Obamacare supporters say fear of immigration enforcement is a particular concern in Hispanic families where one spouse is a U.S. citizen or legal resident and married to an undocumented person, or where both parents are undocumented immigrants but their children have citizenship.

“A lot of mixed-status families are afraid that if they enroll, that the government will come and divide up their family through deportation,” said Daniel Zingale, senior vice president at the California Endowment, a health foundation.

One couple who last month came to a Los Angeles event by the group Vision y Compromiso demonstrates the types of problems these families face, said program manager Hugo Ramirez. The organization, dedicated to improving the health of the Hispanic community, received funding through Covered California to promote Obamacare.

The undocumented parents, a father who is a construction worker and a mother who works as a house cleaner, feared information they might submit to enroll their three children in Covered California could be used against them by U.S. immigration officials, Ramirez said.

An advocate advised the couple they would not risk running afoul of immigration authorities, but that in enrolling their children and providing details on the family’s earnings, they would have to begin paying income taxes despite being undocumented, Ramirez said. The couple seemed inclined to buy coverage for their children, ages 17 and younger, he said.

The administration has sought to defuse immigration concerns, which had been flagged by community leaders before the six-month open enrollment period began on Oct. 1. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said in October that personal information submitted by insurance shoppers would not be used for immigration enforcement.

Minnesota’s exchange, MNSure, said it has found that even when mixed-status Latino families were prepared to sign up, some hesitated in submitting information needed to verify the identity of the member seeking insurance online.

“This is on our radar and we are communicating with our navigators about this issue,” said MNSure spokeswoman Jenni Bowring-McDonough.

HOME INTERNET ACCESS LESS LIKELY

When it comes to enrollment, technology issues have also proven a barrier.

The Spanish-language version of the federal online exchange, CuidadoDeSalud.gov, was not running until December.

The federal website, HealthCare.gov, which serves 36 states, was hobbled by technology problems in October and much of November and fell short of enrollment expectations.

California, one of 14 states with its own website, has boasted that it works far better than the federal portal, but even with the technology working well, other issues may hinder enrollment.

Latino families, because of lower household income and other factors, are less likely to have home internet connections, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center study, making them more dependent on outside help from enrollment navigators to shop for the new plans.

Ricardo Hernandez, 20, a Los Angeles-area resident, is uninsured and eager to obtain coverage through Covered California, but he lives with his sister in a house that has no internet connection. He has called the exchange’s hotline seven times but has been unable to reach someone.

“It’s rare when I have access to computer,” said Hernandez, a part-time gas station attendant. “I just feel like a bother constantly to have to ask a friend or a neighbor to use their computer.”

The troubles seen in California run even deeper in Florida and Texas, two states with large Hispanic populations. Both states declined to set up their own websites and shoppers need to use the federal government portal.

U.S. Representative Loretta Sanchez, a California Democrat, said her state was “all on board to say we need to make it work, and our numbers are still low in the Latino community and they should be high.” Sanchez described Texas as “thumbing their nose at the president and saying we’re not going to help you, yes outreach may be lacking.”

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Deportations Plunge as Obama Immigration Law Push Stalls.


Image: Deportations Plunge as Obama Immigration Law Push Stalls

Protesters rally at an immigrant detention center in Elizabeth, New Jersey on Dec. 10.

The Obama administration has cut back on deporting undocumented immigrants, with forced departures on track to drop more than 10 percent from last year, the first annual decline in more than a decade.

In his first term, President Barack Obama highlighted record deportations to show he was getting tough on immigration enforcement, which Republicans and even some Democrats have demanded as a condition for overhauling existing laws.

The last fiscal year was different. The U.S. deported 343,020 people in the U.S. illegally from Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 7, 2013, the most recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement data show. If that pace continued through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year, removals would reach a six-year low.

The drop, which comes as Obama faces growing criticism from Hispanics over deportations, is a result of a new policy of focusing limited enforcement resources “on public safety, national security and border security,” ICE spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez said. “ICE has been vocal about the shift in our immigration-enforcement strategy,” she said. “Our removal numbers illustrate this.”

Legislation to revamp the U.S. immigration system is stalled because of resistance from Republicans in the House of Representatives. Republican lawmakers opposed to changes backed by both Obama and former President George W. Bush, including offering a path to citizenship to the country’s estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants, have demanded tougher enforcement before considering new legislation.

Pushing Back

Yet as deportations climbed to a record 409,900 last year, Obama has faced pushback from the Democratic Party’s Hispanic backers, who helped provide his victory margin in two elections. There have also been protests from immigration activists, most recently at a speech he gave last month in San Francisco.

“He’s going to continue to be confronted,” Representative Luis Gutierrez said of Obama, a fellow Illinois Democrat. “You can’t say you’re going to protect the undocumented and give them a pathway to citizenship, and then deport them in unprecedented numbers.”

Even with the decline this year, about 1.93 million people have been deported during Obama’s five years in office. That approaches Bush’s eight-year total and is almost as many as in the 108 years between the administrations of Presidents Benjamin Harrison, when Department of Homeland Security records begin, and Bill Clinton.

Contractors Benefit

What’s more, a decline in deportations doesn’t necessarily mean fewer people will be locked up.

In 2009, a Democratic-controlled Congress set a minimum on how many undocumented immigrants should be detained each day pending hearings. It’s now 34,000, up from about 20,000 in 2005.

Even a broad immigration bill approved by the Senate this year — which creates a road to citizenship for undocumented workers — would “increase the prison population by about 14,000 inmates annually by 2018” due to more spending on enforcement, a congressional cost-estimate projected.

That may have a positive effect on companies that the government increasingly relies on to detain those being held for deportation hearings, if it becomes law, said Kevin Campbell, who tracks private prison companies for Avondale Partners, a Nashville-based financial-services company.

“You think about immigration reform and you intuitively think that means less people prosecuted for immigration offenses, but it seems like it will be just the opposite,” Campbell said.

The surge in deportations has benefited companies such as Boca Raton, Florida-based GEO Group Inc., which runs prisons in five countries. ICE accounted for 17 percent of the company’s $1.48 billion in revenue last year, up from 11 percent of $1.04 billion in revenue in 2008, according to company filings.

Policy Changes

Campbell and ICE officials said the drop in deportations stems from changes the administration started making in 2011.

In a departure from Bush’s policies, which emphasized raids on businesses suspected of hiring undocumented immigrants, then- ICE Director John Morton said deportations should focus on “national security, public safety and border security.”

Morton discouraged agents from detaining young immigrants, crime victims and “individuals pursuing legitimate civil rights complaints.”

This “prosecutorial discretion” accounted for 16,300 immigration court cases being closed in 2013, according to data compiled for Bloomberg by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. That’s up from 9,700 last year.

About 58 percent of deportations in 2013 were of “criminals,” ICE data show. In 2008, it was 31 percent.

More Exemptions

The list of exemptions has continued to grow.

In June 2012, five months before his re-election, Obama exempted from deportation certain undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Last month, the Department of Homeland Security halted deportations for families of U.S. military members because of the “stress and anxiety” that possible forced removals puts on those in the Armed Services.

The change has provoked administration critics.

“These are policies that severely restrict ICE agents from arresting and charging illegal aliens,” said Jessica Vaughn, policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, which opposes increased immigration.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, said during a Dec. 3 hearing that the changes “push executive power beyond all limits.”

“President Obama is the first president since Richard Nixon to ignore a duly enacted law simply because he disagrees with it,” he said.

‘Prosecutorial Discretion’

The president isn’t ignoring the law, White House press secretary Jay Carney said yesterday.

“We have to enforce the law,” he said. “There is prosecutorial discretion, and that is applied. The focus is on those who’ve committed felonies.”

That approach, he said, is “not a replacement for comprehensive immigration reform.”

Advocates for the Senate bill want Obama to do more. This month, 29 House Democrats, including Gutierrez, signed a letter calling on Obama to suspend deportations.

That has backing from the AFL-CIO. The federation of labor unions with 13 million members spent at least $6.4 million supporting Obama in his 2012 re-election campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

“The president has the authority and the ability to ease this crisis,” said Ana Avendano, director of immigration and community action at the AFL-CIO.

Facing Protests

Obama was interrupted at an immigration rally on Nov. 25 in San Francisco when Ju Hong, a college student standing on the riser behind him, yelled that the president has “power to stop deportations for all.”

“Actually, I don’t,” Obama replied. “If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so. But we’re also a nation of laws.”

The bill that the Senate passed in June with bipartisan support has stalled in the House, where Republican Speaker John Boehner said on Nov. 13 that he has “no intention” of considering it.

That doesn’t mean attempts to change the law are dead. Boehner said he prefers passing parts of the legislation separately, and Obama has said he’s willing to support that approach.

New Hire

Boehner this month hired Rebecca Tallent, who as the Bipartisan Policy Center’s director of immigration policy helped on immigration bills as a staff member for Senator John McCain and former Representative Jim Kolbe. The two Republicans supported easing immigration laws.

With an average of about 1,000 deportations a day this year, that means more than 165,000 immigrants have been removed from the country since the Senate bill passed.

“We just want the chance to be able to work,” said Rebeca Nolasco, a 21-year-old who received deferred action and whose mother, Diana Ramos, is in an Arizona detention center facing deportation. “It doesn’t harm anyone.”
© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Obama Amnesty Program for Young Illegals Finds Few Enrollees.


More than a year after the Obama administration implemented a program to let young illegal immigrants stay in the country for at least two years, it is still encountering troubles with enrollment.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which started in August 2012, prevents many undocumented immigrants between the ages of 15 and 32 from being deported and allows them to work legally for two years, after which they can renew their status.

But the number of applications has significantly dwindled in recent months—only about half of the 1.1 million who could be eligible have applied—even in states with high immigrant populations, reports The New York Times.

While 74 percent of those eligible in North Carolina and 63 percent of those eligible in Georgia had signed up, the rate was 34 percent in New York and 35 percent in Florida, according to the newspaper.

A study published by the Migration Policy Institute in August found that the participation rate also varies by nationality; it was 66 percent among Mexicans, 59 percent among Hondurans and 55 percent among Brazilians, but only 16 percent among Filipinos, 14 percent among Dominicans and less than 9 percent among Chinese.

Analysts have attributed some of the regional differences to factors such as the enforcement of immigration laws and access to public transportation.

Applicants must also meet certain conditions, including proof they are enrolled in school, have a high school diploma or the equivalent, or have been honorably discharged from the military.

One of the strongest attempts to find those who are eligible is being made in New York City, where a coalition of immigrant advocacy groups, with $18 million in funding from the City Council, has launched a major outreach effort.

“This came about because we were all disappointed with the uptake,” Jeanne Mullgrav, commissioner for the Department of Youth and Community Services, which is overseeing the project, told the Times.

Those who are on the ground have their work cut out for them. It is like “chipping away at the ice,” said Susan Pan, a legal fellow at Atlas: DIY, an advocacy group, adding, “Trust is extremely critical.”

But experts have also identified several other potential obstacles, including questions about what paperwork can be used to apply and a lack of resources for local organizations serving immigrants who don’t speak English or Spanish, reports the Associated Press. 

There are also questions about the efficacy of the application process itself. “In California, school systems were overloaded with transcript requests. People wanted copies of their leases from landlords, of their health records. Every part of society was triggered,” Marielena Hincapie, head of the National Immigration Law Center, told the AP.

Although House Speaker John Boehner has said the lower chamber will not take up a comprehensive immigration bill this year, if Congress does address the question of a path to citizenship for the 11 million people already living in the country illegally, the deferred action program could offer some lessons.

“Getting a glimpse into the future is pretty daunting,” Michael Petrucelli, a former acting director at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told the AP.

“It’s a great reason to look at whether you have effective processes in place now,” he added.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Lisa Barron

Goodlatte: Obama Family Immigrant Directive ‘Poisons’ Debate.


The Obama administration’s directive to keep illegal immigrant parents of minor children in the United States “poisons the debate” on immigration reform, Virginia Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte argues.

On Friday, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department issued a policy saying that immigration agents should try not to arrest and deport illegals who have minor children, reports The Washington Times.

Instead, agents should use “prosecutorial discretion” to avoid detaining parents, and if the parents end up being detained they should be able to visit their children and take part in family court hearings.

Editor’s Note: Weird Trick Adds $1,000 to Your Social Security Checks 

But Goodlatte, who chairs the House Judiciary committee, said the new directive “poisons the debate surrounding immigration reform” while showing the administration doesn’t take fixing immigration laws seriously.

President Obama has once again abused his authority and unilaterally refused to enforce our current immigration laws by directing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to stop removing broad categories of unlawful immigrants,” Goodlatte said in a statement.

“The primary reason why our immigration system is broken today is because our immigration laws have largely been ignored by past and present administrations. It’s imperative that we prevent this from happening again by taking away the enforcement ‘on/off’ switch from the president.”

The new directive is being praised by civil rights groups, and is the latest of a series of guidelines being issued as Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano works on priorities about who will be detained or deported.

There are only funds to deport about 400,000 illegal immigrants a year, Napolitano said, out of the estimated 11 million living in the United States. Setting such guidelines allows the United States to focus deportation efforts on serious criminals, she has said.

Napolitano last year issued the “Dreamers” policy, which allowed tentative legal status for young illegals brought in as children, and since that time, more than 430,000 of them have had their legal status approved.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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