THE U.S. IMMIGRATION NEWSLETTER IS PUBLISHED BY AN INDEPENDENT ORGANIZATION.
New York, July 2011
The United States Immigration Newsletter
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Married Couple Performed Illegal Green Card Service
Baltimore, MD: A married couple in Baltimore has had their assets frozen by a federal judge for allegedly scamming immigrants for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Federal Trade Commission accuses the couple of illegally selling immigration services to hundreds of Latino immigrants in the area. Court documents suggest that the couple, ages 70 and 66, took money from more than 800 immigrants for immigration services, such as filing green card applications. According to the court documents the couple lied about their credentials, and was not authorized to perform the services they sold. In addition, the couple is said to have done a poor job, causing many of the applications that they filed to be rejected because they were incomplete or filed too late. The couple is now under a restraining order. This means that $850,000 of their assets has been frozen, and the couple is unable to conduct their immigration business. The case is filed under a new national initiative to prevent immigration scams. The new initiative particularly aims for what is known has “notaries,” who falsely claim to be certified to assist immigrants with applications for visa, green card or citizenship. According to the Department of Justice, there are currently dozens of similar cases under investigation. The lawyer of the Baltimore couple says the couple admits providing the services, but that they didn’t know it was illegal. He also says that the couple is well regarded in the Latino community.
No Deportation Yet, for Alleged War Criminal
Roanoke, VA: An immigrant from Bosnia-Herzegovina, who is a veteran of the war in former Yugoslavia during the early 1990s, awaits trial home at home in Virginia; accused of war crimes as well as immigration violations. Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and hypertension, the 52-year-old man is allowed by a federal judge to continue his treatment for both physical mental problems in his Virginia home. According to a recent charge, the Bosnia-Herzegovina man tried to hide his involvement with the Croatian military when he applied for refugee and citizenship in the United States. The two charges include an unlawful application for naturalization, and making a false statement at a naturalization interview. The case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) under the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and if he is convicted, the 52-year-old could face up to 15 years in jail. According to an ICE press release, the Virginia man was a guard at the Rabic detention camp in Bosnia-Herzegovina. ICE says in the press release that the man abused the Serbian civilians that were detained in the camp, and that he treated them inhumanely. Assistant U.S. Attorney Pat Hogeboom says that if the former guard is convicted on any of the two charges, he will seek to have him deported to Bosnia-Herzegovina to stand trial for war crimes. An agent with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement says Bosnia-Herzegovina sought to have the Virginia man extradited as early as 2002, adding that it is standard procedure for the U.S. government to confirm that there is basis for the charges before someone is extradited.
Nigerian Man Won a Green Card, and Lost it Again
Denton, TX: A computer glitch has caused the results of this year’s green card lottery, or the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, to be invalidated. The reason was that that the computer failure caused the results of the draw to not be as random as they should have been. This means that 22,000 people that a couple of weeks earlier had been selected to be offered green cards, are now being told that they will not get to become permanent residents after all; at least not this time. Many of the previously selected lottery winners were devastated when they learned that the results of the lottery were invalidated. Some had already sold property to move to the United States. Now those who thought that they had won are suing the U.S. Department of State, hoping that a settlement will allow them the opportunity to stay in the United States as permanent residents. Ugoo Anieto is one of the 22,000 who recently won and lost a green card. Since Anieto was 18, he has entered the lottery 13 times and lost every time. This year, the 14th time, he thought for two weeks that he had won, and he says it was a good feeling while it lasted. He worries for the others who thought that they had won the lottery, saying that they are not asking for much, merely for opportunity. The Diversity Visa Lottery Program is possibly the most famous lottery in the world. Each year millions of people who wish to immigrate to the United States participate, hoping for a new future in the U.S. Each year, 50,000 are selected for permanent resident status. The U.S. Department of State says they hope to post the results of the new greencard lottery draw in mid July.
-Impossible to Opt Out of Immigration Status Program
Washington, D.C.: The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says it is technically impossible for individual states to not participate in the Secure Communities program. The program compares fingerprints collected by local law enforcement with federal databases in an effort to locate and deport people who are in the United States illegally. When the Secure Communities program was originally launched in 2008, states â€“ as well as members of congress â€“ were under the impression that the program was voluntary, as ICE, under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), asked states to sign the agreement to participate in Secure Communities. Now, an explanation on ICE’s website says that states cannot chose to not participate. The website also expresses regret that earlier statements given by ICE have led some to believe that Secure Communities was a voluntary program. Even though ICE says it’s impossible, several states last year refused to participate in Secure Communities. Legislators in California are currently working to make their state join those states, along with Illinois, Massachusetts and New York; all opting out in the past few months. The National Day Laborer Organizing Network has gotten access to an internal Department of Homeland Security that says Secure Communities will be voluntary until someone tries to up out. The states that wish to not participate, and other critics, say that ICE uses the program to target illegal immigrants that are guilty only of minor offences, and that this undermines the trust between residents and law enforcement agencies.
New Law to help Military Relatives get Green Card
San Antonio, TX: A measure introduced in the U.S. Senate would make it easier for family of service members on active duty to obtain permanent resident status in the United States without leaving the county first. Robert Menendez, who is a democrat U.S. senator representing the state of New Jersey, has re-introduced the Military Families Act, which would specifically instruct the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that immediate family of military on active duty would qualify to apply for green card without leaving the U.S. A current measure, called Parole in Place, already allows the USCIS to grant parole for “urgent humanitarian reasons” making it possible for some military spouses to get their green card application processed while they remain in the U.S. However, today the measure is discretionary, which means that it is up to the particular USCIS office to decide whether to make use of the parole in place measure. According to immigration lawyers, the measure is applied differently in different parts of the United States. One San Antonio service member that did two tours of duty in Iraq explains that he spent much of the time abroad worrying about his wife who was in the U.S. illegally. To apply for permanent resident status, his wife would have to go to a U.S. consulate in Ciudad JuÃ¡rez, a dangerous part of Mexico. Eventually the family’s lawyer told them about Parole in Place, and the military wife was able to remain in the United States and still get a green card. The lawyer says his clients in other parts of the country have found it nearly impossible to get the immigration authorities to use the same measure. If the new law passes, the USCIS could still deny green cards to spouses and family of active duty service members, but they would have to have good reasons for denial.
U.S. Spends $90 Billion to Stop Illegal Immigration at the Border
Hidalgo, TX: In the past ten years the United States government has spent $90 billion on the attempts to secure the border between the U.S. and Mexico. The focus on strengthening the security of the U.S.-Mexican border began after the terrorist attacks in 2001. Soon after the attacks, President George Bush introduced the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that would be in charge of sealing off the border to illegal immigrants, initially to keep Americans safe from terrorism. Later the threat of terror from Mexico got to be less of a concern, and the new focus was to stem the flow of illegal drugs passing from south to north. According to the Associated Press, the $90 billion spent in the past ten years have contributed to a significant reduction in the number of illegal immigrants crossing the border. However, it seems that the terrorist threat has changed little, and the flow of drugs across the border seems almost constant. A decade ago, 1.6 million illegal immigrants were caught by the border patrol. That’s more than three times as many as last year, when 463,000 were caught. The drop in illegal immigration is partly due to the economic recession, but there is also evidence that fewer try to cross the border illegally. Even though record amounts of illegal drugs were seized at the border last year, the amount of drugs in U.S. streets remains unchanged, because Mexican drug lords answer by sending more drugs. Last month the Department of Justice announced that the total cost of illegal drugs to the U.S. society amounts to as much as $193 billion every year.
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