Archive for June, 2010

By Renee Loth
June 26, 2010
Boston Globe

FEW WOULD say that the tide is turning in the rancorous debate on immigration, but could it be that a sense of proportion is returning? In Massachusetts, some of the more extreme crackdowns on individ
Late last month, spooked by a Suffolk University poll, the Senate reversed an earlier vote essentially codifying rules that bar illegal immigrants from receiving most state benefits. Instead, it adopted a far more sweeping amendment pushed by Senate Republicans. There were panicky caucus meetings and fast-gavel approvals of the 22-page amendment. Some members complained they had not had sufficient time to read it. Others said they disliked some provisions but wanted to show “toughness’’ on the issue.

The Suffolk poll found a thumping 84 percent of respondents agreed that the Legislature should “force individuals to provide proof of citizenship or legal residency if they seek state benefits.’’ It’s too bad the poll didn’t also ask a few questions of fact, since it almost surely would have revealed a depth of ignorance among voters about current law. For example: Are illegal immigrants eligible for food stamps, welfare, health benefits, or in-state tuition rates in Massachusetts? (No.) Or, do illegal immigrants generally pay more in taxes than they use in government services? (Yes.)

Details, details. In its amendment, the Senate embraced an odd mix of burdensome mandate and ineffectual duplication. The measure would have set up a snitcher’s hotline within the attorney general’s office, and required the AG to investigate every tip about employers hiring illegal immigrants. Of course, this legislative intrusion into the executive branch provided no funding for the new legal and police work.

The amendment also would have required any company seeking a government contract (including from local cities and towns) to verify the immigration status of every one of its employees — even if they wouldn’t be working on that contract. The provision required use of a verification system that is costly, burdensome, and fraught with error. And it conflicted with the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which explicitly bars states from penalizing employers for hiring illegal immigrants. Even the US Chamber of Commerce, hardly a bleeding heart group, is suing the state of Arizona over a similar provision.

Happily, this lawsuit-in-the-making was also removed in the conference committee. What was included — and what will have the force of law after the budget is signed — are current agency practices in the departments of Transitional Assistance (welfare), Health and Human Services (Medicaid) and Unemployment Assistance. The agencies also are required to pursue cases of attempted fraud and report findings to the Legislature and governor.

Meanwhile, several recent cases have put a human face on the immigration issue. From the brilliant Harvard student who was illegally brought into the country by his mother at age 4, to the Homeland Security officer who faces five years in prison for hiring an undocumented cleaning lady, to the married couple who endured a forced separation of three years because immigration laws don’t recognize same-sex marriage, these cases make fair-minded people pause and consider. Each case is unique, but they all challenge the stereotype of invading hordes of criminal illegal immigrants depicted by opponents.

In sticking mostly to budget language that clarifies or reinforces existing rules, Massachusetts will be spared costly lawsuits — and Governor Patrick may be spared a politically risky veto. The state budget confirms what the US Supreme Court has found: that immigration law is the purview of the federal government. Now if only Congress could find a way to cool the rhetoric and debate the facts.
uals Before enraged citizens pillory legislators for “caving’’ on the immigration measures, they should review the facts. It’s actually good news that cooler heads prevailed in the conference committee, because both business and government would have been living with the consequences of the hastily-adopted amendment for a long time.
caught in the nation’s tangled immigration laws are getting a second look. And the most onerous provisions in a state budget amendment targeting illegal immigrants — and the businesses that might employ them — were stripped out this week in a conference committee.

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Man was not charged with deportable offense but got expelled anyway.

ASSOCIATED PRESS – Monday, June 14, 2010

WASHINGTON — A single tablet of an anti-anxiety drug got Jose Angel Carachuri-Rosendo 10 days in jail in Harris County and a quick deportation to his native Mexico.

Too quick, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court said Monday in a ruling that could affect thousands of legal immigrants who face deportation over minor criminal records.

The lone Xanax tablet that Carachuri-Rosendo had without a prescription was his second minor drug crime, a year after he received 20 days in jail for possessing less than two ounces of marijuana.

When the federal government began deportation proceedings, it said Carachuri-Rosendo could not appeal for leniency because his second conviction amounted to a serious, or aggravated, felony. But Justice John Paul Stevens said that although local prosecutors could have charged Carachuri-Rosendo with being a repeat offender, they didn’t, so he was not convicted of a crime that would have made his deportation automatic.

In the unanimous opinion, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote, “The conviction itself is the starting place, not what might have or could have been charged.”

“Carachuri-Rosendo, and others in his position, may now seek cancellation of removal and thereby avoid the harsh consequence of mandatory removal,” Stevens wrote for the court. He noted that immigrants may still be deported in such instances but that immigration judges have the discretion to allow people to remain in this country.

Alina Das, a supervising attorney with the immigrant rights clinic at the New York University law school, said Congress intended automatic deportation to apply to drug traffickers, not people convicted of simple possession crimes.

Carachuri-Rosendo, in his early 30s, had been in the United States legally since he was 5. His wife, four children, mother and two sisters all are U.S. citizens, Stevens said.

Geoffrey Hoffman, a law professor at the University of Houston who represented Carachuri-Rosendo throughout the deportation proceedings, said after the ruling that the Supreme Court had viewed the government’s argument as “too speculative and too far from removed from the intent of Congress.”

Hoffman said he was unsure if Carachuri-Rosendo, who is thought to be living in Mexico, was aware of the ruling, which he called a “victory for due process.”

He said attorneys were working with family members in the Houston area to locate Carachuri-Rosendo to determine the next step.

“My understanding is that we’re going to do everything we can to follow through with his case and continue to represent him in terms of getting him the remedy he deserves,” Hoffman said.

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By Maria Sacchetti

Boston Globe / June 12, 2010

A 19-year-old Harvard biology student, who has been in the United States unlawfully since he was 4 years old, was detained at a Texas airport this week and is fighting deportation to his native Mexico.

Eric Balderas, a sophomore on a full scholarship to Harvard, was detained Monday while preparing to board a flight back to Boston to spend the summer conducting research at the university. He had been visiting his mother in San Antonio, where he grew up and was valedictorian of his high school class.

Balderas said he had lost his Mexican passport and tried to board the flight using a consular card from the Mexican government and his Harvard identification. Instead, he said, airport security called immigration officials, who handcuffed and fingerprinted him and detained him for five hours before letting him go. He boarded a flight back to Boston the next day, pending a July 6 court date with an immigration judge, probably in Boston.

Yesterday, Balderas was shaken and fearful of being forced to return to a country he barely remembers. He hopes to finish school and become a cancer researcher.

“I’m very worried, to be honest,’’ he said in an interview. “I’m willing to fight this, of course. I’m just hanging in there.’’

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Brian P. Hale would not comment on Balderas’s case because of privacy laws, but he said ICE evaluates each case on an individual basis.

Balderas was arrested a year after Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard president, urged Congress to support the Dream Act, federal legislation that would allow immigrant youths to apply for legal residency, under certain conditions. Faust recently met with US Senator Scott Brown, in part to urge him to support the measure.

Yesterday, a Harvard spokeswoman praised Balderas and said he is an example of why Congress should pass the act.

“Eric Balderas has already demonstrated the discipline and work ethic required for rigorous university work and has, like so many of our undergraduates, expressed an interest in making a difference in the world,’’ said Harvard spokeswoman Christine Heenan. “These dedicated young people are vital to our nation’s future, and President Faust’s support of the Dream Act reflects Harvard’s commitment to access and opportunity for students like Eric.’’

The Dream Act would create a path to legal residency for youths who arrived before they turned 16 and have lived here for five years. They would have to complete two years of college or the military, among other requirements to qualify.

Opponents say it would reward students and their families who broke the law by entering the country illegally, but supporters point out that children had no say in their parents’ decision to bring them to the United States. The presidents of Harvard, Brown, Tufts, and other universities have backed the legislation, which has been stalled since 2001.

Yesterday, Balderas’s stunned friends and classmates rallied to his defense, joining a Facebook page and urging immigration officials to let him stay. They said he has tried to be a good citizen and stellar student.

Friends pointed out that Balderas barely remembers Mexico and considers English to be his first language.

“He’s like an American, but without documents,’’ said Mario Rodas, a member of the Student Immigrant Movement, which has been pushing for legal residency for immigrant youth. “These are the kind of people we need in this country, doing research for cancer.’’

Balderas said he is the son of a single mother who left an abusive husband and worked 12-hour days packing biscuits while raising him and his younger brother and sister in San Antonio. At home, he would baby sit his siblings while juggling homework.

“I honestly never thought I’d make it into college because of my status, but I just really enjoyed school too much and I gave it a shot,’’ he said. “I did strive for this.’’

Now he is at one of the world’s best universities, majoring in molecular and cellular biology.

But on Monday, as he sat handcuffed, he said he contemplated suicide at the thought of being sent back to Mexico. He does not remember his hometown of Ciudad Acuña, in the northern state of Coahuila. His family is in Texas.

“They just kept [asking] me if I had any other documents, that they were just trying to help me so that I can get on the plane,’’ he said, recalling his conversation with immigration officials. “But at that point I realized there was nothing that I could do, that anybody could do.’’

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Number 22
Volume IX
Washington, D.C.


1.  This bulletin summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers during July. Consular officers are required to report to the Department of State documentarily qualified applicants for numerically limited visas; U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security reports applicants for adjustment of status.  Allocations were made, to the extent possible under the numerical limitations, for the demand received by June 9th in the chronological order of the reported priority dates. If the demand could not be satisfied within the statutory or regulatory limits, the category or foreign state in which demand was excessive was deemed oversubscribed.  The cut-off date for an oversubscribed category is the priority date of the first applicant who could not be reached within the numerical limits.  Only applicants who have a priority date earlier than the cut-off date may be allotted a number.  Immediately that it becomes necessary during the monthly allocation process to retrogress a cut-off date, supplemental requests for numbers will be honored only if the priority date falls within the new cut-off date which has been announced in this bulletin.

2.  Section 201 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sets an annual minimum family-sponsored preference limit of 226,000.  The worldwide level for annual employment-based preference immigrants is at least 140,000.  Section 202 prescribes that the per-country limit for preference immigrants is set at 7% of the total annual family-sponsored and employment-based preference limits, i.e., 25,620.  The dependent area limit is set at 2%, or 7,320.

3.  Section 203 of the INA prescribes preference classes for allotment of immigrant visas as follows:


First:  Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Citizens:  23,400 plus any numbers not required for fourth preference.

Second:  Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents:  114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, and any unused first preference numbers:

A.  Spouses and Children:  77% of the overall second preference limitation, of which 75% are exempt from the per-country limit;

B.  Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older):  23% of the overall second preference limitation.

Third:  Married Sons and Daughters of Citizens:  23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences.

Fourth:  Brothers and Sisters of Adult Citizens:  65,000, plus any numbers not required by first three preferences.


First:    Priority Workers:  28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required for fourth and fifth preferences.

Second:  Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability:  28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required by first preference.

Third:  Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers:  28.6% of the worldwide level, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences, not more than 10,000 of which to “Other Workers”.  

Fourth:  Certain Special Immigrants:  7.1% of the worldwide level.

Fifth:  Employment Creation:  7.1% of the worldwide level, not less than 3,000 of which reserved for investors in a targeted rural or high-unemployment area, and 3,000 set aside for investors in regional centers by Sec. 610 of P.L. 102-395.

4.  INA Section 203(e) provides that family-sponsored and employment-based preference visas be issued to eligible immigrants in the order in which a petition in behalf of each has been filed.  Section 203(d) provides that spouses and children of preference immigrants are entitled to the same status, and the same order of consideration, if accompanying or following to join the principal.  The visa prorating provisions of Section 202(e) apply to allocations for a foreign state or dependent area when visa demand exceeds the per-country limit.  These provisions apply at present to the following oversubscribed chargeability areas:  CHINA-mainland born, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, INDIA, MEXICO, and PHILIPPINES.

5.  On the chart below, the listing of a date for any class indicates that the class is oversubscribed (see paragraph 1); “C” means current, i.e., numbers are available for all qualified applicants; and “U” means unavailable, i.e., no numbers are available.  (NOTE:  Numbers are available only for applicants whose priority date is earlier than the cut-off date listed below.)

Family All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed CHINA-mainland born DOMINICAN REPUBLIC INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st 01APR05 01APR05 01APR05 01APR05 01NOV92 01SEP95
2A 01JUL08 01JUL08 01JUN07 01JUL08 01JUN07 01JUL08
2B 01MAY03 01MAY03 01MAY03 01MAY03 15JUN92 01MAR00
3rd 01SEP01 01SEP01 01SEP01 01SEP01 01MAR92 01MAY93
4th 01JAN01 01JAN01 01JAN01 01JAN01 01MAR95 01APR89

*NOTE:  For July, 2A numbers EXEMPT from per-country limit are available to applicants from all countries with priority dates earlier than 01JUN07.  2A numbers SUBJECT to per-country limit are available to applicants chargeable to all countries EXCEPT the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC and MEXICO with priority dates beginning 01JUN07 and earlier than 01JUL08.  (All 2A numbers provided for the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC AND MEXICO are exempt from the per-country limit; there are no 2A numbers for the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC AND MEXICO subject to per-country limit.)

Employment- Based All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed CHINA- mainland born DOMINICAN REPUBLIC INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st C C C C C C
2nd C 22NOV05 C 01OCT05 C C
3rd 15AUG03 15AUG03 15AUG03 22NOV01 U 15AUG03
Other Workers 01JUN01 01JUN01 01JUN01 01JUN01 U 01JUN01
4th C C C C C C
Certain Religious Workers C C C C C C
5th C C C C C C
Targeted Employ-ment Areas/ Regional Centers C C C C C C
5th Pilot Programs C C C C C C

The Department of State has available a recorded message with visa availability information which can be heard at:  (area code 202) 663-1541.  This recording will be updated in the middle of each month with information on cut-off dates for the following month.

Employment Third Preference Other Workers Category:  Section 203(e) of the NACARA, as amended by Section 1(e) of Pub. L. 105-139, provides that once the Employment Third Preference Other Worker (EW) cut-off date has reached the priority date of the latest EW petition approved prior to November 19, 1997, the 10,000 EW numbers available for a fiscal year are to be reduced by up to 5,000 annually beginning in the following fiscal year.  This reduction is to be made for as long as necessary to offset adjustments under the NACARA program.  Since the EW cut-off date reached November 19, 1997 during Fiscal Year 2001, the reduction in the EW annual limit to 5,000 began in Fiscal Year 2002.


Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides a maximum of up to 55,000 immigrant visas each fiscal year to permit immigration opportunities for persons from countries other than the principal sources of current immigration to the United States.  The Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) passed by Congress in November 1997 stipulates that beginning with DV-99, and for as long as necessary, up to 5,000 of the 55,000 annually-allocated diversity visas will be made available for use under the NACARA program.  This reduction has resulted in the DV-2010 annual limit being reduced to 50,000.  DV visas are divided among six geographic regions.  No one country can receive more than seven percent of the available diversity visas in any one year.

For July, immigrant numbers in the DV category are available to qualified DV-2010 applicants chargeable to all regions/eligible countries as follows. When an allocation cut-off number is shown, visas are available only for applicants with DV regional lottery rank numbers BELOW the specified allocation cut-off number:

Region All DV Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed Separately  
AFRICA 54,100 Except:
Egypt: 24,500
Ethiopia: 25,100
Nigeria: 18,850
ASIA 23,500  
EUROPE 32,000  
OCEANIA 1,300  

Entitlement to immigrant status in the DV category lasts only through the end of the fiscal (visa) year for which the applicant is selected in the lottery.  The year of entitlement for all applicants registered for the DV-2010 program ends as of September 30, 2010.  DV visas may not be issued to DV-2010 applicants after that date.  Similarly, spouses and children accompanying or following to join DV-2010 principals are only entitled to derivative DV status until September 30, 2010.  DV visa availability through the very end of FY-2010 cannot be taken for granted.  Numbers could be exhausted prior to September 30.


For August, immigrant numbers in the DV category are available to qualified DV-2010 applicants chargeable to all regions/eligible countries as follows. When an allocation cut-off number is shown, visas are available only for applicants with DV regional lottery rank numbers BELOW the specified allocation cut-off number:

Region All DV Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed Separately  
AFRICA 64,300 Except:
Egypt: 26,000
Ethiopia: 25,625
Nigeria: 22,000
ASIA 28,700  


There continues to be extremely rapid forward movement of most Family preference cut-off dates.  This is a direct result of the lack of demand by potential applicants who have chosen not to pursue final action on their cases, or who may no longer be eligible for status.  The rapid movement provides the best opportunity to maximize number use under the FY-2010 annual numerical limitations.  Should applicants eventually decide to pursue action on their cases it will have a significant impact on the cut-off dates.  


As the end of the fiscal year approaches, it has been necessary to retrogress the Mexico Family Third and Fourth preference cut-off dates to keep visa issuances within the annual numerical limitations set by law.  It is anticipated that for October, the first month of the new fiscal year, these preferences will return to the latest cut-off dates reached during FY-2010.


Based on current indications of demand, the best case scenarios for cut-off dates which will be reached by the end of FY-2010 are as follows:

Employment First:  Current

Employment Second:

China and India:  March or April 2006

Employment Third:

Worldwide:    June through September 2004
China:        October through December 2003
India:        February 2002
Mexico:       Unavailable
Philippines:  June through September 2004

Employment Fourth

Worldwide:  It may be necessary to establish a cut-off date for September.

Employment Fifth:  Current

Please be advised that the above date ranges are only estimates which are subject to fluctuations in demand.  Continued heavy demand during recent months has reduced the estimated forward movements projected earlier in the year.  It is possible that some annual limits could be reached or that some preferences could retrogress prior to the end of the fiscal year.   Those categories with a “Current” projection will remain so for the foreseeable future.

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Associated Press


MIAMI — With their homeland ravaged by an earthquake, more than 50,000 Haitians have applied to legally stay and work in the U.S. and immigration advocates are urging others not to miss their chance.

The deadline to apply for temporary protected status is July 20. Only Haitians who were already living in the U.S. illegally when the earthquake struck Jan. 12 are eligible.

Temporary protected status, or TPS, allows immigrants from countries experiencing armed conflict or environmental disasters to stay and work in the U.S. for 18 months.

As of June 4, 51,881 applications have been processed, more than half of them in Florida, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. About 11 percent have been rejected for being incomplete or lacking the proper fee.

Federal officials initially said they expected about 100,000 to 200,000 Haitians to apply for temporary protected status. The government now says that’s actually the number of applications they can handle. They expect about 70,000 applications by mid-July.

Immigration advocates say some Haitians who are eligible won’t apply because they don’t have $470 for application fees, or because they fear stepping forward will only lead to trouble and deportation to Haiti.

“We understand this community is going through incredible hardship,” CIS spokeswoman Ana Santiago said. “We’re urging people to please register, because this is something that will help you deal with the situation.”

The Haitian community center Sant La in Miami offers small loans to some applicants. Others have been trying to save up the money before the deadline, instead of asking immigration officials for a fee waiver.

Executive Director Gepsie Metellus said some Haitians regard the offer of temporary protected status warily, believing the documentation just makes it easier to deport them later. They don’t see it leading to better paying jobs that can support their families in the U.S. and in Haiti.

“All we can do is debunk the myths that are out there,” Metellus said. “We encourage people to apply and point out that the government knows where you are now, and they’ve got bigger fish to fry.”

Manouse Jean of Miami said temporary protected status will be a relief from years of frequent relocations to elude immigration authorities after her appeal for asylum was denied. She fled Haiti’s political instability in 1999.

“I used to be afraid to work, to go walking in the streets. To catch the bus, my heart would be beating so fast,” the 33-year-old said Thursday after dropping off documents for her TPS application at the Archdiocese of Miami’s Catholic Legal Services.

She joined hundreds of people who packed a Haitian neighborhood church in January for information about temporary protected status. She hopes TPS also will allow her to pursue training for licensed practical nurses so she can find work caring for earthquake survivors if she eventually is deported to Haiti.

“If I can be an LPN, and if immigration sends me back, I will have something to survive with,” Jean said. “With TPS, I am happy. I’m not scared anymore.”

Haitians who miss the July deadline will not be able to apply again if the U.S. renews temporary protected status for Haiti, as it has for more than a decade for Central American countries that had to rebuild after a 1998 hurricane.

“If they don’t get in this time, they’re going to be sorry because the doors to this TPS will be closed to them forever,” Metellus said.

Haiti’s government and Haitian advocates in the U.S. for years pleaded for TPS after hurricanes, massive floods, food riots and political turmoil in the Caribbean country. Their pleas were denied, until the catastrophic earthquake five months ago.

Since then, the U.S. also temporarily stopped deporting Haitians, even those in detention. About 31,000 Haitians have orders to leave, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Haitian migrants interdicted at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard continue to be returned to their homeland; nearly 600 since October.

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June 10, 2010    U.S. Department of Justice


PHILADELPHIA—David Lynn, 35, of Holland, PA, was sentenced today to 40 months in prison for leading an asylum fraud scheme that netted him and five co-defendants millions of dollars in illegal profits, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. Lynn pleaded guilty, In October 2008, to one count of conspiracy, one count of visa/asylum fraud, one count of money laundering, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Lynn, who was charged with five co-defendants, ran a business that filed at least 380 bogus asylum applications for clients, between January 2003 and March 2007, charging an average of $8,000 for an application.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge R. Barclay Surrick ordered forfeiture in the amount of $1.7 million in cash and assets.

The case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Department of Labor Office of Inspector General’s Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of Inspector General for Housing and Urban Development; with support from the Citizenship and Immigration Services Office of Fraud Detection and National Security, Department of State Diplomatic Security Services, the Northampton Township Police Department, and the Upper Southampton Township police.

It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Terri A. Marinari.

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WASHINGTON—In light of Tropical Storm Agatha, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reminds Guatemalans of U.S. immigration benefits available to eligible Guatemalan nationals upon request.

USCIS understands that a natural disaster can affect an individual’s ability to establish or maintain lawful immigration status. Temporary relief measures available to eligible nationals of Guatemala may include:

  • The grant of an application for change or extension of nonimmigrant status on behalf of a Guatemalan national who is currently in the United States, even in cases where the request is submitted after the individual’s authorized period of admission has expired;
  • Re-parole of individuals granted parole by USCIS;
  • Extension of certain grants of advance parole, expedited processing of advance parole requests;
  • Expedited adjudication and approval, where possible, of requests for off-campus employment authorization due to severe economic hardship for F-1 students;
  • Expedited processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relative(s) of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs);
  • Expedited issuance of employment authorization where appropriate; and
  • Assistance to LPRs stranded overseas without documents in coordination with the Department of State.

For more information on USCIS humanitarian programs, visit www.uscis.gov or call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.

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The Wall Street Journal

By MIRIAM JORDAN    June 10, 2010

The nation’s immigration chief is proposing several fee increases for green cards and visas in an effort to plug a revenue shortfall at his agency, caused in part by a decline in applications.

The fee increases—proposed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas and likely to go into effect this summer after a public comment period—would be the first since 2007. They would raise by an average of 10% the cost of filing petitions for permanent legal residency and temporary residency for foreign skilled workers and foreign entrepreneurs.

The move could cause applications to rise as people rush to get their paperwork in ahead of the increase. Applications surged in 2007, although that fee increase was much sharper.

Among those who would be affected are U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents who are seeking to bring immediate relatives into the country. About 650,000 of these applications were filed in 2009. The proposed increase for these applications, to $420 from $355, is substantial in percentage terms—18%—but an increase of $65 is unlikely to deter many people, given the application’s purpose.

The proposed increases don’t change the cost of applying to become a U.S. citizen—$675. That fee went up 69% three years ago.

“This is certainly better than last time, when increases averaged 66%,” said Crystal Williams, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. But “we continue to be plagued with poor-quality service.”

Instead, fees for applications for H-1B, L and O visas, which are required of foreigners who come to the U.S. to work in jobs in high-tech companies, universities and the arts, would rise slightly. The fee for processing an application for the first step toward citizenship, a green card, would increase to $965 from $930, plus $85 for required electronic fingerprints, an increase of $5.

Other increases would be stiffer. For example, the initial cost to process a petition for a foreigner seeking to earn the right to live in the U.S. by investing at least $500,000 and creating at least 10 jobs, under a program known as EB-5, would rise to $1,500 from $1,435. But another fee associated with the program, which must be paid about two years later, would jump to $3,750 from $2,850.

Operators of so-called regional centers, projects designated to receive investment by the foreigner entrepreneurs, would have to pay $6,230 to qualify for those funds, according to the new fee structure. Currently, there is no fee.

Mr. Mayorkas said at a news conference that “we have worked hard to minimize the size of the proposed increase through budget cuts and other measures.” However, he said, revenue generated from fees in the last two years was much lower than projected, and revenue in fiscal year 2010, which ends Sept. 30, remains low.

While the agency received appropriations from Congress, budget cuts of approximately $160 million haven’t bridged the remaining gap between costs and anticipated revenue. The agency, which is required by law to recoup its expenses with fees, hopes to collect $200 million a year in new revenue as a result of the increases. It needs about $2.3 billion annually to operate, the director said.

Mr. Mayorkas has been traveling around the country to meet with business leaders, immigrant advocates and agency employees as he completes what he calls a “top-to-bottom review” of the agency ahead of an overhaul, which started with the creation of a new fraud detection unit.

The federal agency oversees most immigration benefits, including petitions for citizenship and green cards; employment, student and family visas; asylum; refugee status; and humanitarian relief.

A major fee increase in July 2007 triggered an avalanche of naturalization applications before it went into effect. The agency received 570,442 naturalization applications in fiscal 2009, compared with 1.4 million in fiscal 2007—when people were also rushing to get the paperwork in so they could vote in the coming presidential election, and anticipating new restrictions on immigration. Mr. Mayorkas attributed the drop in applications mainly to the economic downturn. 

Echoing a common grievance among immigration attorneys, Ms. Williams said that adjudicators who review applications often appear to use arbitrary standards and request clarifications that delay the processing of visas.

“It seems almost every application has a request for evidence that extends the time of the whole process,” she said.

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ICE – Immigration Customs Enforcement

June 3, 2010

ATLANTA, GA – Five individuals have been indicted by a federal grand jury in three separate indictments on charges of conspiring to induce undocumented aliens to enter and remain in the United States by providing them with employment, predominantly at Chinese restaurants, all for commercial gain, in a case being investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Investigations in Atlanta and the FBI.

Three additional individuals were arrested Thursday on criminal complaints and are expected to have their bond hearings and arraignments Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Janet F. King.

“We are focused on finding and penalizing employers who believe they can unfairly get ahead by cultivating illegal workplaces and by exploiting illegal aliens,” said ICE Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Andrews. “By joining forces with the FBI, we will continue rooting out this criminal activity. The message is clear: All employers must play by the rules.”

The three indictments were unsealed after ICE and FBI conducted joint field operations to arrest the defendants and execute search warrants yesterday and today. Named in the indictments as part of the criminal conspiracies are: Pili Chen, 55, of Tucker, Ga.; Ai Lin Fu, 40, of Norcross, Ga.; Chun Yan Lin, 44, of Chamblee, Ga.; Xiang Mei Ke, 32, of Duluth, Ga.; and Jing Xing Jiang, 42, of Lawrenceville, Ga. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

According to the charges and other information presented in court, Lin, Fu and Chen owned employment agencies named “New Fuzhou,” “Zhong Mei,” and “Lucky,” all in Chamblee, Ga., and conspired with others to transport and provide jobs to illegal aliens.

The agency owners primarily placed the illegal aliens mainly in restaurant jobs in South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Mississippi and Georgia. The employment agencies did not require or request any proof that the aliens had permission to be or work in the United States. The employment agencies allegedly advertised in Asian language newspapers and on the Internet. They charged the undocumented aliens a commission and transportation fee to place them in a restaurant or other job site and to drive them there. In some cases, they charged the restaurant owners, who deducted the fees from their illegal workers’ modest pay. Another individual arrested yesterday during the ICE/FBI joint enforcement operation, Chunbiao Xu, 33, of Norcross, Ga., now faces the same charges as the other employment agency defendants.

Co-conspirators Ke and Jiang owned and operated restaurants named “Hong Kong Super Buffet” in Gainesville, Ga., and “Fuji Buffet,” in Lawrenceville, Ga., where they used undocumented aliens brokered by the conspiring employment agencies. The restaurant owners often provided housing, sometimes in their own houses, to the workers in order to better monitor them and shield them from detection, and paid the workers in cash to avoid paying unemployment taxes. Also arrested yesterday were Liang Feng Chen, 32, and Sau Ting Cheng, 41, both of Duluth, Ga., who owned and operated “Grand Buffet and Grill,” a restaurant in Duluth, Ga., and were charged in criminal complaints with conspiracy to encourage and induce aliens to reside illegally in the United States.

Pili Chen also allegedly transported the undocumented aliens in a private vehicle from the employment agencies to the illegal job sites. The employment agencies used paid drivers to minimize contact between the undocumented aliens and the outside world, including law enforcement.

All defendants face federal charges of conspiring to induce undocumented aliens to enter and remain in the United States by providing them with employment, predominantly at Chinese restaurants, all for commercial gain. Fu faces additional charges of transporting aliens for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain, in reckless disregard of the fact that the aliens were in the United States and remained here in violation of the law. The transportation charge carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “These defendants allegedly provided jobs that frequently exploited the workers by subjecting them to long shifts, six days a week, often with substandard pay and living conditions. On top of that, the defendants took large deductions from the workers’ pay to reimburse themselves for the costs of the employment agencies’ illegal services.

FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Lamkin said, “Yesterday and today’s joint FBI/ICE operation should serve as notice to those individuals and businesses that traffic and exploit undocumented immigrants. The FBI remains committed to working with U.S. ICE agents as we enforce federal law.”

This joint ICE/FBI investigation continues.

During yesterday’s joint operation, 39 individuals were arrested administratively by ICE for being in violation of U.S. immigration law. They are currently in ICE custody pending immigration removal proceedings.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Susan Coppedge, Brian Pearce, Phyllis Clerk, Steve McClain, and Gerald Sachs are prosecuting the cases.

– ICE –

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Department of Justice

Office of Public Affairs
Friday, June 4, 2010

An Arlington, Texas, couple was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge John H. McBryde for forcing a Nigerian widow to perform domestic labor for them for more than eight years. Emmanuel Nnaji, 50, a naturalized citizen of the United States was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Ngozi Ihechere Nnaji, 40, a citizen of Nigeria, was sentenced to nine years in prison. The defendants were also ordered to pay $305,957.60 in restitution.

On Feb. 2, 2010, both defendants were convicted by a Ft. Worth, Texas, jury on all charges, including conspiracy to commit forced labor, forced labor, conspiracy to harbor an alien for financial gain, harboring an alien for financial gain, document servitude and false statements to an FBI agent.

According to evidence presented at trial, the victim, a widowed mother of six children, including a chronically ill child, was recruited in Nigeria with promises that her children would be cared for in exchange for her work in the United States.

Upon arrival in the United States, the defendants confiscated the victim’s passport and never returned it. For more than eight years, the victim cared for the defendants’ children day and night, and cooked and cleaned with no days off. The defendants did not allow the victim out unsupervised; prohibited her from speaking with her children on the phone unsupervised; and forbid her to make friends or converse with the defendants’ friends. According to evidence at trial, the victim also testified that Emmanuel Nnaji also sexually assaulted her. Although the victim was promised that her family would be cared for, her family received a total of about $300 over the eight years. When the victim asked to return to Nigeria, the defendants refused. The victim was ultimately rescued with the assistance of a Catholic priest.

“The involuntary servitude and mistreatment that this victim endured is intolerable in a nation founded on freedom and individual rights,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The prosecution of this case demonstrates the Justice Department’s commitment to punishing those who prey upon vulnerable victims and exploit them in modern day slavery.”

“The FBI is committed to aggressively pursuing and brining to justice the human traffickers who prey upon others who are only seeking to better their lives,” said Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Casey Jr., FBI Dallas. “The sentencing in this case sends a strong message to those who are engaged in this heinous form of modern day slavery that this practice will not be tolerated in our community.”

The case was investigated by the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Susan L. French and Michael J. Frank of the Civil Rights Division and its Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, with assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Michael Worley of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Texas. Refugee Services of Texas provided assistance to the victim following her rescue.

United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division

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