Saturday, August 29, 2009

Important Deadline

USCIS Update: Expiration Date of Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9

WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that the Office of Management and Budget has extended its approval of Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) to Aug. 31, 2012. Consequently, USCIS has amended the form to reflect a new revision date of Aug. 7, 2009.
Employers may use the Form I-9 with the revision date of either Aug. 7, 2009 or Feb. 2, 2009. The revision dates are located on the bottom right-hand portion of the form.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Interesting News on Canadian Visas for Czechs

Click on the links below to see the full articles:

Czechs can apply for Canadian visas in Prague until mid-November
Prague - "Czechs will be able to apply for Canadian visas in Prague by placing their applications in the Canadian embassy's drop-box until November 13 and not only until mid-August as was planned originally, the embassy told CTK today."

Canada issues visas to 2503 Czechs in a month, three rejected
Prague - "Canada has issued 2503 visas to Czechs in the first month of renewed visa requirements and it only rejected three applicants, the Canadian embassy in Prague told CTK today."

News From I.C.E.

Fugitive on ICE's 'Most Wanted' list apprehended in Louisiana
HOUMA, La. - A local fugitive, who has been on the run since August 2005 after allegedly molesting a 10-year-old girl, was arrested Tuesday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents.

Seattle man pleads guilty to possession of child pornography
Defendant is former employee of Seattle Children's Theatre
SEATTLE - A former employee of the Seattle Children's Theater faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty today to possession of child pornography following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

15 arrested in international cocaine and marijuana smuggling conspiracy
SAN ANTONIO - Fifteen defendants were indicted and arrested Tuesday for their alleged roles in a San Antonio-based drug trafficking organization that smuggled cocaine and marijuana from Mexico into the United States. The arrests are the result of an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Student Megahed

After last weeks court decision denying the government's request to deport Youssef Megahed, this article was in today's St. Pete Times:

Youssef Megahed returns as a student to USF
By Kevin Graham, Times Staff Writer Posted: Aug 26, 2009 06:35 PM

TAMPA — Youssef Megahed has accomplished one goal as a free man: He once again is an active student at the University of South Florida.

On Wednesday, school officials confirmed his status as a current student for the fall semester.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Judge Orders Child to Remain in Florida Foster Care

Judge orders that runaway Christian-convert teen remain in Florida
By Michael Kruse, Times Staff Writer
Posted: Aug 21, 2009 03:00 PM

ORLANDO -- Rifqa Bary is staying in Florida.At least for now.Judge Daniel P. Dawson ordered Friday afternoon in a hearing that she be kept in Florida and scheduled an arraignment for a dependency proceeding for Sept. 3. He also ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to take the next two weeks to investigate allegations of abuse she’s made against her parents.

I.C.E. News

Drug trafficker sentenced to more than 8 years for lying about his citizenship
ORLANDO - A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) led investigation resulted in a significant criminal sentence for Carlos Guzman Tejeda, 23, a Dominican national that pled guilty to charges of knowingly importing a controlled substance.
"This case demonstrates how ICE and our federal law enforcement partners seek criminal prosecution of individuals who mislead law enforcement officials and tarnish the integrity of our immigration system," said Sue McCormick, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Tampa. "ICE is committed to enforcing our immigration and customs laws and will continue identify those that attempt to smuggle drugs into the United States and remove them from our streets."
Acting Director of the U.S. State Department's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Patrick Donovan said, "Passport and visa fraud are potential threats to our national security. U. S. passports and visas are among the most coveted documents in the world. Terrorists and criminals could use fraudulent passports and visas to enter the United States to commit acts of violence. Travel document fraud makes the United States more vulnerable to crime and terrorism, plain and simple."

2 plead guilty to importing 300 kilograms of cocaine into the U.S.
WEST PLAM BEACH, Fla. - Mark Pinder and Parson Exana pleaded guilty today for conspiring to import cocaine into the United States from the Bahamas. Both men face a minimum sentence of 10 years to life in prison and a fine of $4 million.
The guilty pleas are the result of a multi-agency effort between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Jupiter Police Department, the Boca Raton Police Department and the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

Former IRA militant deported to IrelandPol Brennan was convicted of transporting firearms and explosives for the Irish Republican Army
HARLINGEN, Texas - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported a former Irish Republican Army (IRA) militant and convicted criminal to Ireland on Friday.

Investigation of Gitmo Defense Lawyers

Gitmo Defense Lawyers Investigated For Giving Info To Detainees
DEVLIN BARRETT 08/20/09 11:41 PM

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is investigating whether Guantanamo Bay detainees charged with roles in the Sept. 11 attacks were improperly given photos of CIA officers or contractors, according to a person familiar with the investigation.
The investigation, headed by the Justice Department's counterespionage chief, John Dion, is trying to determine if military lawyers defending the detainees divulged classified information or compromised covert CIA officers, according to the person, who was not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Catholic Church Urges End to US Embargo Against Cuba

U.S. church leaders urge Obama to end Cuba embargo
Associated Press Writer

HAVANA -- A delegation of U.S. Roman Catholic Church leaders urged Barack Obama's administration Tuesday to seize what they called a rare political opportunity to lift the 47-year-old economic embargo against Cuba's communist government.
Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, Florida, said the U.S. church welcomed a recent move by Washington to relax travel restrictions on Cuban Americans with family in Cuba as well on the remittances they can send to those families. But he said there is much more to be done.

Women Still Discriminated Against in Japan According to UN

Japanese women 'still not equal'
By Roland Buerk BBC News, Tokyo

The UN noted many equality laws were already in place
A United Nations panel has urged Japan to take stronger measures to eliminate gender inequality.
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women said the country's efforts were "insufficient".

Children in Gaza Talk of Defending Themselves from Israel

Children seek to learn to defend themselves from Israel
Shell-shocked Gaza kids flock to martial arts

Salih al-Masri, a skinny nine-year-old in a red martial arts uniform, grits his teeth as he stands barefoot on shards of broken glass and recalls his family's plight during the war in Gaza."This sport makes me strong so I can defend myself, my family and my country from the Jews," he says, without betraying the slightest wince of pain.

Trips From US to Canada Down

Cross-border travel hits record low
Jennifer MacMillan
From Thursday's Globe and Mail Last updated on Friday, Aug. 21, 2009 03:56AM EDT

New passport rules are keeping Americans at home, with June numbers showing that travel to Canada from the United States fell to its lowest level since Statistics Canada started tracking cross-border trips in 1972.
The number of same-day car trips from the United States was down 26 per cent in June from May, while the overall number of U.S. tourists plummeted to about half of what it was five years ago.

No Deportation for Megahed

Government couldn't prove terrorism case against Megahed, judge rules
By Kevin Graham, Times Staff Writer Posted: Aug 21, 2009 09:43 AM
MIAMI — An immigration judge in Miami-Dade County said Friday morning that the government hadn't proved its case to deport Youssef Megahed on terrorism charges.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

UK Point System Faces Challenges

Migration points 'need changes'

The committee said the new system was working well
The new points-based immigration system for bringing in skilled workers from outside the EU needs strengthening, a group of economic advisers has said.
Earning thresholds should be raised and jobs advertised in the UK for longer, said the Migration Advisory Committee.

Megahed Deportation Case Continues

Computer evidence takes center stage in Youssef Megahed's deportation hearing
By Kevin Graham, Times Staff Writer Posted: Aug 19, 2009 02:13 PM

MIAMI — An immigration judge viewed nine video clips of combat rockets launching in the Middle East during a deportation hearing Wednesday for former University of South Florida student Youssef Megahed.
A federal judge refused to let a jury see the videos during Megahed's criminal trial.

Food Needed in Kenya

Kenya: U.N. Aid Group Notes Food Needs
Published: August 18, 2009

More than one million Kenyans affected by a prolonged drought are not getting the food aid they desperately need, the United Nations World Food Program said Tuesday. The agency already is providing emergency food aid to about 2.5 million people in Kenya, but an additional 1.3 million still need help, said Gabrielle Menezes, a spokeswoman for the program. She appealed to donors to help alleviate the shortfall.

Today's I.C.E. News

Houston immigration attorney sentenced for visa fraud and money laundering
HOUSTON - An immigration attorney was convicted and sentenced Tuesday for money laundering and conspiring to engage in visa fraud. The sentencing was announced by U.S. Attorney Tim Johnson, Southern District of Texas, and is the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Bay Area sham marriage broker sentenced to 19 months in prison
SAN FRANCISCO - Kwan Tsoi, also known as Joyce Cai, was sentenced in federal court today to 19 months in prison, and ordered to forfeit $250,000 in proceeds, for arranging fake marriages so her foreign national clients could obtain immigration benefits they did not qualify for.

Directors of Washington company plead guilty to felony immigration violations
Pair admits they allowed submission of false immigration forms for employees
SEATTLE - Two corporate directors of Yamato Engine Specialists in Bellingham, Wash., pleaded guilty today in federal court to aiding and abetting the use of a false statement on immigration employment forms, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

ICE and CBP seize more than 100 pounds of cocaine at Miami International Airport
MIAMI - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized more than 100 pounds of cocaine with a street value of approximately $3.8 million last night.

Florida man pleads guilty to illegal possession of firearms and drug charges
ORLANDO, Fla. - A Cuban national, 62, pleaded guilty today to illegally possessing a firearm and narcotics following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Orange County Sheriff's Office (OCSO) investigation.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

News From I.C.E.

Detainee passes away at Florida hospital
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - On Aug. 14, 2009, Huluf Guangule Negusse, a 24-year-old Ethiopian national being held with a final order of removal pending the receipt of his travel documents, passed away at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital (TMH) in Florida.
Negusse was admitted to TMH on Aug. 3, 2009, after he was found by Wakulla County Detention Facility staff following a suicide attempt. At the recommendation of a medical proxy, Negusse was removed from life support on August 14.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have notified the Ethiopian Consulate. Negusse has no known next of kin in the United States or in Ethiopia. Consistent with ICE protocol, the appropriate state health and local law enforcement agencies have been notified.

ICE identification of previously un-tracked detainee deaths highlights importance of detention reform
WASHINGTON - During an in-depth review of records related to individuals who have died in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody since October 2003, ICE has identified 10 individuals who were not previously included on the agency's list of detainee deaths. These 10 deaths occurred between FY 2004 and FY 2007.
In response, on Saturday, August 15, ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton directed an agency-wide review of all documents and databases to ensure the integrity of ICE's records on detainee deaths.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Today's Posts

Threats by Taliban May Sway Vote in Afghanistan
Published: August 16, 2009

TARAKAI, Afghanistan — A group of Taliban fighters made their announcement in the bazaar of a nearby village a few days ago, and the word spread fast: anyone caught voting in the presidential election will have his finger — the one inked for the ballot — cut off.

Afghan Husbands Win Right to Starve Wives
By Robert Mackey

Bowing to international pressure and unprecedented protests by hundreds of women on the streets of Kabul, the Afghan government promised in April to review a new law imposing severe restrictions on women in Shiite Muslim families.
Last week, though, Human Rights Watch discovered that a revised version of the Shiite Personal Status Law had been quietly put into effect at the end of July — meaning that Shiite men in Afghanistan now have the legal right to starve their wives if their sexual demands are not met and that Shiite women must obtain permission from their husbands to even leave their houses, “except in extreme circumstances.”

Millions Of Afghan Women Will Be Denied Vote Due To Female Staff Shortage
By Jerome Starkey in Kabul and Kim Sengupta The Independent

Millions of Afghan women will be denied their chance to vote in presidential elections this week because there aren't enough female officials to staff the women-only polling stations.
A desperate shortage of female staff is threatening to undermine the legitimacy of the elections, which are the pinnacle of western-led efforts to build a peaceful democracy. Strict cultural norms mean women can't vote in male-run stations.

Lone kids seek entry at border
Mon, August 17, 2009

TORONTO -- As many as four children a week are showing up without parents or loved ones at Niagara Falls border crossings to file refugee claims to stay in Canada, U.S. immigration workers say.
And some suspect unscrupulous consultants may be behind the scheme to send child refugees here for a hefty fee so that one day they can sponsor their parents. About 200 children are expected to seek asylum this year at Niagara crossings, officials said.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Posts From Around the World

Britain imposes direct rule of Turks and Caicos isles
(CNN) -- Britain says it has suspended the government of the Turks and Caicos Islands and imposed direct rule after allegations of systemic corruption and "serious dishonesty".

Extending the Horizon for Woman's Aid Projects in Afghanistan
Published: August 14, 2009
KABUL — Off the dust-coated Kote Sangi road in the Afghan capital stands a worn beige sign on stilts with blue painted letters advertising the Women’s World Market.

Canada: Court Orders Government to Seek Guantánamo Detainee
Published: August 14, 2009
The Federal Court of Appeal on Friday upheld a lower court ruling ordering the government to seek the return of a Canadian detainee from the American prison at Guantánamo Bay. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has refused to get involved in the case of the detainee, Omar Khadr, a Toronto native and the last western detainee held at the prison. Mr. Harper said the Justice Department would review the decision, which could be appealed to the Supreme Court. Mr. Khadr, 22, is one of the youngest people ever charged with war crimes. He was 15 when he was accused of killing an American soldier with a grenade during a 2002 battle in Afghanistan.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement News

DHS, DOJ, and Mexico announce initiative to bolster investigative cooperation
SAN ANTONIO - Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina-Mora, Mexican National Public Security System Executive Secretary Jorge Tello Peón, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Secretary John Morton and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Acting Director Kenneth E. Melson today signed a Letter of Intent to develop a coordinated and intelligence-driven response to the threat of cross border smuggling and trafficking of weapons and ammunition.

U.S. Department of State's Visa Bulletin for September 2009

Important August Deadline

USCIS Reminds Eligible Applicants under Ruiz-Diaz to File Adjustment of Status Application before End of August
WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reminds special immigrant religious workers, who have a pending or approved Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, (Form I-360), to file their Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, (Form I-485), on or before Aug. 31, 2009. Special immigrant religious workers who wish to file aForm I-360 petition with an I-485 application should also file on or before Aug. 31, 2009.

Friday, August 14, 2009

News From U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

ICE breaks up sex trafficking ring in Long Island
Owners and managers of two bars accused of sex trafficking and alien harboring

NEW YORK - Two owners and the manager of two bars in Long Island are under arrest following an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation. The three defendants are accused of trafficking young women and forcing them into prostitution.

50 indicted as part of national marriage fraud scheme
Individuals entered into sham marriages to gain citizenship

CINCINNATI - Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) today began locating and arresting 50 people named in 27 federal indictments charging them with participating in a Cincinnati-based scheme to arrange sham marriages in order to evade U.S. immigration laws. Those indicted include 23 people who are in the United States illegally and 27 U.S. citizens they married.
33 individuals were subsequently taken into federal custody.

Brazilian sentenced for illegally bringing aliens into the United States

SEATTLE - A Brazilian national was sentenced to five months in federal prison for bringing people into the United States illegally, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Student Held as Family Takes Citizenship Oath

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Family members of an Egyptian college student whom authorities call a terrorist are becoming American citizens just days before the U.S. plans to deport him.');

Published: August 14, 2009
Filed at 10:26 a.m. ET
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Family members of an Egyptian college student whom authorities call a terrorist are becoming American citizens just days before the U.S. plans to deport him.

Humanitarian or Aiding in Criminal Activity

By Taylor Gandossy

(CNN) -- An Arizona man caught leaving water bottles in the desert for illegal immigrants has been sentenced to 300 hours of community service and a year of probation, an aid group said.

Walt Staton was convicted in June of littering by leaving jugs of water in a wildlife refuge.

Walt Staton, a member of the group No More Deaths, left full water bottles in December in Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge for the illegal immigrants who routinely pass through the 18,000-acre refuge, according to court documents.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Immigration News

Iraqi Immigrants Struggle to Adjust to Life in U.S.

Published: August 12, 2009

Not long after the Iraq war began in 2003, Uday Hattem al-Ghanimi was accosted by several men outside the American military base where he managed a convenience store. They accused him of abetting the Americans, and one fired a pistol at his head.

Obama Sets Immigration Changes for 2010

Published: August 10, 2009

GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Flanked by his counterparts from Mexico and Canada, President Obama on Monday reiterated his commitment to pursuing comprehensive immigration reform, despite his packed political agenda and the staunch opposition such an initiative is likely to face.

Alejandro Mayorkas Sworn in as USCIS DirectorMayorkas Becomes Third Director to the World's Largest Immigration Service

WASHINGTON—Alejandro Mayorkas was sworn in today as the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during a ceremony at USCIS headquarters here. Mayorkas, a Cuban immigrant to the United States, comes to USCIS with a broad legal background and will lead the agency charged with running the nation’s immigration and naturalization system.

Clarification of Case Law

H-1B Visa Sponsors: Surprise! You're Being Audited
By Stephanie Overby August 12, 2009 09:34 AM ET

...Recently, the USCIS has begun making "surprise visits" to the U.S. work sites of companies that sponsor H-1B and L-1 visa holders, including some large U.S.-based financial services companies, says Elizabeth Espin Stern, a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of law firm Baker and McKenzie. USCIS assessors come with a checklist of questions designed to confirm the identity of the employer who petitioned for the visa and the visa beneficiary and to verify that both are in compliance with the terms and conditions of the visa.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Check Your Status

USCIS Update: Case Status Inquiries with the Service Centers

WASHINGTON - U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued instructions on making inquiries with the agency's four Service Centers. Customers, community-based organizations and liaison groups should follow this guidance when inquiring about case related issues. This new process standardizes customer service and streamlines processing of customer inquiries at USCIS Service Centers. The step-by-step instructions are as follows:

Classifieds: Jobs Wanted

New Graduates Finding Jobs in China (Mandarin Optional)
Published: August 10, 2009

BEIJING — Shanghai and Beijing are becoming new lands of opportunity for recent American college graduates who face unemployment nearing double digits at home.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Today's Positive Note...

Biggest-Ever Bauhaus Exhibition in Berlin

Published: July 26, 2009

BERLIN — It wasn’t a happy ending. Once celebrated as Europe’s leading art and design school, by early 1933 the Bauhaus was reduced to camping in a hastily converted telephone factory on the outskirts of Berlin and subsisting on handouts from its director, the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Denouncing it as “un-German,” the newly elected Nazi government forced the school to close.

It's All About Interpretation

New look at law could help immigrant's case
Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, August 3, 2009

Mario Sanchez was 22 and living in poverty in La Palma, Mexico, helping to support his parents and five brothers and sisters, when he entered the United States illegally in 1988, and found a job at an Oakland scrap-metal company. Five years later, he returned to Mexico, married his childhood sweetheart and paid a smuggler $1,000 to bring them back across the border.Read more:

Human Rights Violations Around the Globe

Police in India are guilty of widespread human rights violations, including beatings, torture and illegal killings, a new report alleges.
The US-based group Human Rights Watch says India's policing system facilitates and even encourages abuses.

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to name and shame countries and insurgents groups engaged in conflicts that lead to children being killed, maimed and raped.
The council resolution will expand a U.N. list that in March identified more than 60 governments and armed groups that recruit child soldiers.Read more:

"Unwilling Juvenile Suicide Bomber"

Monday, August 3, 2009

Serbs’ Claim of Kosovo Organ Ring Is Investigated

Published: August 3, 2009
PRAGUE — Europe’s leading human rights group began an investigation on Monday into Serb allegations that Serbian civilians were abducted in Kosovo during the Kosovo war of 1998-99 and taken to Albania, where their organs were extracted for sale before they were killed.

Children's News

On a Positive Note....

I've decided to include at least one positive post from a different culture to my blog each day. Today's positive note is a link to a post by Patrick Jarenwattananon entitled, "Listening Party, Party for Two: 'Cubano Be' + 'Cubano Bop,'" on NPR Music. Check it out:

Accelerated Route to British Citizenship

Saudi Women Can Now Work as Maids in Saudi Arabia