Friday, November 27, 2009

I.C.E. News

"Transition to U.S. immigration law begins in the CNMI"
"The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced that at 12:01 a.m. (CNMI local time/GMT +10.) tomorrow, Nov. 28, the immigration laws of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) will be replaced by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and other U.S. immigration laws. The definition of “United States” in the INA simultaneously will be amended to include the CNMI-providing new privileges and easing restrictions to CNMI residents wishing to live and work in the United States.

Although U.S. immigration law applies to the CNMI beginning tomorrow, the CNMI will undergo a transition period with temporary measures ending Dec. 31, 2014, to allow for an orderly transition and give individuals time to identify an appropriate visa classification under the INA.

On May 8, 2008, the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (CNRA) was signed, extending certain provisions of U.S. immigration law to CNMI for the first time in history. Tomorrow's transition marks a major step in a series of DHS initiatives undertaken since the CNRA's signing to address the legal and operational needs for a smooth transition.

Five important rules to facilitate the transition were published in the Federal Register in 2009 to address key changes under the CNRA-including a CNMI-Guam Visa Waiver Program interim rule; an E-2 Nonimmigrant Status for Aliens in the CNMI with Long-Term Investor Status proposed rule; a CNMI Transitional Worker Classification interim rule; and an Application of Immigration Regulations to the CNMI 'conforming amendments' interim rule...

Recognizing that some unique situations would result as the CNMI transitions to U.S. immigration laws, the Secretary of Homeland Security may grant parole to applicants for admission on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.

Parole authority will be used in two specific situations in the CNMI: eligible Chinese and Russian nationals visiting for business or pleasure will be eligible for CBP-administered parole into the CNMI on a case-by-case basis; and certain impacted aliens-notably CNMI permanent residents and various categories of immediate relatives-will be eligible for USCIS-administered parole on a case-by-case basis.

The CNRA also contains two provisions that specifically impact the U.S. Territory of Guam: elimination of the current Guam Visa Waiver Program and creation of a new Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program, under which eligible nationals of program countries and geographic areas may be authorized to visit Guam and/or the CNMI for up to 45 days; and elimination of the statutory cap on the number of H nonimmigrant worker petitions that can be filed by employers in Guam and the CNMI.

Changes will be seen at the airports in the CNMI beginning tomorrow, when CBP will begin inspecting all passengers arriving on flights from outside the United States. CNMI authorities will continue to conduct customs inspections."

Read the complete story: http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/0911/091127washingtondc.htm


"ICE seizes 17,000 counterfeit items worth $643,000"

"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents last week seized more than 17,000 counterfeit items worth an estimated $643,000 from 21 businesses in the Twin Cities region.

The seized counterfeit items include: 11,827 articles of clothing; 1,569 accessories and pieces of jewelry; 3,524 bottles of perfume; 446 purses and wallets; 125 pieces of memorabilia; and 25 packages of AA batteries. The estimated street value of the items is more than $643,000. If the items had sold at the Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the genuine brand merchandise, the estimated value is more than $2,935,000.

The seized counterfeit items represent 129 name brands, including Air Jordan, BMW, Bu
rberry, Bvlgari, Coach, Chanel, Diesel, Dolce & Gabbana, Duracell, Estee Lauder, Hugo Boss, Issey Miyake, JLo, Givenchy, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, MLB, NBA, NFL, Nike, Prada, Rolex, Thierry Mugler, True Religion, Usher, Yves St. Laurent and others.

'The trafficking of counterfeit goods is a global enterprise that robs legitimate companies of billions of dollars in revenue every year,' said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Bloomington, Minn. 'What's more, these sales generate profits that often go to support other types of criminal activity. No one should ever consider this a victimless crime.'"

Read the full story: http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/0911/091125minneapolis.htm

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

US State Department: Global Human Trafficking on The Rise Due to Recession

This story was originally posted on CNN.com on November 6, 2009, as background to a coordinated effort by CNN and Oprah's Book Club in their presentation of a live web discussion that occurred on November 9, 2009, of a fictional book called, "Say You're One of Them."

"Recession boosts global human trafficking, report says"
By Elise Labott, CNN State Department Producer
November 6, 2009

"The global financial crisis has increased the worldwide trade in trafficked persons, says a State Department report released in June.

The State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report also says trafficking has increased in Africa and slaps six African nations on a blacklist of countries not meeting the minimum standard of combating trafficking.

The report, mandated by Congress, features data and statistics from 175 countries around the world regarding the amount of human trafficking that goes on within their borders.

The report cites the International Labor Organization, which estimates that at least 12.3 million adults and children are victims of forced labor, bonded labor and sex slavery each year.

'This is modern slavery. A crime that spans the globe, providing ruthless employers with endless supply of people to abuse for financial gain,' Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said as she announced the report. 'With this report, we hope to shine the light brightly on the scope and scale of modern slavery, so all governments can see where progress has been made and where more is needed.'

The report says the global economic crisis is boosting the demand for human trafficking because of a growing demand for cheap goods and services.

'A striking global demand for labor and a growing supply of workers willing to take ever greater risks for economic opportunities seem a recipe for increased forced labor cases of migrant workers and women in prostitution,' it says...

African countries Nigeria and Mauritius are praised in the report for making strong efforts to combat trafficking.

But six African nations -- Chad, Eritrea, Mauritania, Niger, Swaziland and Zimbabwe -- were put on the report's 'Tier 3' blacklist of countries whose efforts to combat trafficking are inadequate.

Most of the countries are 'source' and 'destination' countries, the report says, meaning trafficking victims both come from and are sent there. Most are trafficked throughout Africa, but many end up in the Middle East, it says.

Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Syria remain on the blacklist for another year, with the report saying they often become a destination for trafficked persons who are sold into domestic servitude. Other repeat offenders on the list include North Korea, Myanmar and Fiji.

The State Department also put Malaysia in the Tier 3 list, because of its trafficking of Burmese refugees.

The report cites information that Malaysian immigration officials sold refugees to traffickers operating along its border with Thailand. When the victims were unable to pay a ransom demanded by the traffickers, the report says, they were sold for labor and commercial sex exploitation.

The blacklisted countries are subject to U.S. sanctions if they don't make greater efforts to fight trafficking.

The Philippines, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Pakistan were added to a "watch list" because of what the report calls a worsening trafficking record in those countries. The 52 countries on the watch list have failed to to meet the minimum anti-trafficking standards but are making efforts to do so.

For the first time, countries that have been on the watch list for two years -- including China, Russia, India, Sri Lanka and Egypt -- will automatically be moved to the Tier 3 blacklist next year without a presidential waiver if they fail improve their trafficking record, the State Department said.

This year, the Justice Department also put out a report on U.S. efforts to combat trafficking efforts at home. In 2008, the FBI opened 132 trafficking investigations, made 139 arrests and obtained 94 convictions...

'Trafficking is a crime that involves every nation on Earth, and that includes our own,' [Secretary Clinton] said, calling trafficking a 'grave problem' in the United States.

For the first time, she said, the United States next year will rank its own efforts at combating trafficking along with the rest of the world. She expressed hope that it will be on the Tier 1 list of countries that are making robust efforts."
Read the complete article: http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/11/02/human.trafficking.report/index.html#cnnSTCText

Monday, November 23, 2009

US Issues Travel Warning for Travel to Chad

November 23, 2009
"The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Chad and recommends that American citizens avoid all travel to eastern Chad and the Chad/Central African Republic border area. This Warning is due to insecurity caused by recently increased levels of violent criminality, the continuing risk of clashes between Chadian government and rebel forces, and current political tension between Chad and Sudan. The U.S. Embassy in Chad has prohibited official government travel to eastern Chad without express authorization. American citizens affiliated with humanitarian relief efforts should review security precautions and consider measures to mitigate exposure to violent crime. American citizens residing in Chad should exercise extreme caution throughout the country. This replaces the Travel Warning for Chad dated June 02, 2008 to remind U.S. citizens of continuing security concerns in Chad...

Americans in Chad should closely monitor news media and the U.S. Embassy's website. The embassy webpage is http://ndjamena.usembassy.gov/

American citizens traveling to or resident in Chad should register with the U.S. Embassy by completing a registration form online and provide contact information and specific travel data if traveling outside the capital. Registration enables the Embassy to contact American citizens in case of emergency and provide updates on the security situation. The U.S. Embassy is located in N'Djamena on Avenue Felix Ebou; mailing address B.P. 413, telephone (including after hours emergencies): (235) 251-70-09; alternate numbers 251-62-11, 251-90-52, 251-92-33, 251-77-59, 251-92-18; fax (235) 251-56-54. Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. For further information, please consult the Country Specific Information for Chad and the Worldwide Caution, which are available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website at http://travel.state.gov."
Read the complete Warning: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_2876.html

"10 indicted in Chicago sham marriage conspiracy"

"An immigration attorney and five current and former Cook County Traffic Court employees were among those charged on Monday for allegedly arranging sham marriages to evade U.S. immigration laws. The charges resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

A federal grand jury returned a 14-count indictment last week that was unsealed Nov. 23 after ICE agents arrested five of the defendants. Among the 10 individuals charged are a Chicago immigration attorney and five current or former Cook County Traffic Court employees. However, the charges do not allege that their employment played any role in the alleged fraud scheme.

According to the indictment, Maria F. Cruz and others recruited U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, primarily Filipinos, who entered into at least 15 sham marriages to evade immigration laws. The foreign nationals paid Cruz about $3,000 each to arrange for them to marry U.S. citizens. Cruz allegedly promised U.S. citizens that in return for marrying a foreign national they would receive about $3,000 after the marriage and about $350 a month until the foreign national obtained U.S. citizenship.

Foreign nationals who marry U.S. citizens can become U.S. permanent residents - and ultimately obtain U.S. citizenship - but not if the marriage is identified as a sham solely to evade immigration laws."
Read the full story: http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/0911/091123chicago.htm

"Canada: Court Orders Refugee Board to Consider ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in Army Deserter’s Case"

By IAN AUSTEN
Published: November 20, 2009

"The Federal Court ruled Friday that a refugee board must consider the treatment of homosexuals by the United States military when examining the case of an Army deserter who is a lesbian. The court ordered the Immigration and Refugee Board to again review the case of the deserter, Bethany Lanae Smith, who fled the Army for Canada in 2007 shortly before being posted to Afghanistan. Her initial application for refugee status was rejected. Ms. Smith said that she had received hundreds of threats of violence and death while stationed in Fort Campbell, Ky., where a gay serviceman had been killed in 1999. Officers at the base denied her request for a discharge under the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy after she disclosed her sexual orientation."
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/21/world/americas/21briefs-Canada.html?ref=americas

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Travel Alert to Niger

NIGER
"The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the risks of travel to Niger due to threat of kidnapping, and recommends against all travel to Niger at this time. This Travel Alert expires February 28, 2010.

On December 14, 2008, two United Nations officials, former Canadian diplomats, were kidnapped by the terrorist group Al Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) while returning to Niamey after a visit to a Canadian-operated gold mine. On January 22, 2009, four Europeans were abducted by AQIM operatives along the Mali-Niger border as their tour group returned to Niamey from a cultural festival in the Malian town of Anderamboukane. On November 14, 2009, heavily armed individuals attempted to kidnap U.S. embassy employees in Tahoua.

In addition to the threat of kidnapping posed by extremists, a State of Alert is in effect for the region of Agadez, including the cities of Agadez, Arlit, and Iferouane. The State of Alert means that all travelers require Government of Niger permission for travel in and around these cities, and are liable to be stopped and held for questioning. Moreover, the Nigerien military has the authority to hold individuals for questioning, without cause, beyond the standard 48 hours that local law enforcement is authorized to hold an individual for questioning before rendering charges.

Conditions of insecurity persist throughout northern and western Niger, and armed groups operate with relative impunity throughout these border regions. In addition, conflict zones in northern Niger are strewn with landmines, further impeding travel. Please note that due to security concerns, U.S. government employees and official visitors are not permitted to travel outside of Niamey at this time.

The Department of State urges U.S. citizens traveling to or remaining in Niger despite this Travel Alert to take responsibility for their own safety and security. American citizens should keep abreast of local events, monitor local news sources, and maintain heightened situational awareness at all times.

The U.S. Embassy in Niamey is located on Rue des Ambassades. The Embassy’s mailing address is P.O. Box 11, 201 Niamey, Republic of Niger. The Embassy’s telephone number is (227) 20-72-26-61. For after-hours emergencies involving U.S. citizens, please call (227) 20-72-31-41. The Embassy's website is http://niamey.usembassy.gov/index.html.

Updated travel and security information for Niger may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. For additional information, please consult the Country Specific Information for Niger and the Worldwide Caution, which are available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website at http://travel.state.gov."
http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_4546.html

Travel Warnings

MALI
"The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Mali and continues to recommend against all travel to the north of the country due to kidnapping threats against Westerners. This replaces the Travel Warning for Mali dated August 31, 2009, to update security and threat information."
Read the full Warning: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_4566.html



SRI LANKA
"The Department of State warns U.S. citizens about the risks of travel to Sri Lanka due to continued security concerns, especially in the northernmost areas and most of its Eastern Province, as there are still uncleared landmines and potential for incidents by remnant members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Stability in the southern and western areas of the country has improved with the cessation of hostilities. The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to remain vigilant while traveling in Sri Lanka. This replaces the Travel Warning for Sri Lanka dated June 26, 2009 to update information on safety concerns in specific regions of the country, and potential problems for U.S. citizen travelers."
Read the full Warning: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_3011.html



NEPAL
"The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Nepal, and urges caution when traveling in that country. The Department of State remains concerned about the security situation in Nepal, and urges American citizens to obtain updated security information before they travel and to be prepared to change their plans on short notice. This replaces the Travel Warning for Nepal dated May 22, 2009 and updates safety and security information.

Political violence remains a problem in Nepal. Protests, demonstrations and disruptions continue to occur, often without advance notice. During demonstrations, protestors have used violence, including forcibly closing businesses, damaging vehicles, throwing rocks, and burning tires to block traffic. Given the nature, intensity, and unpredictability of disturbances, American citizens are urged to exercise special caution during times when demonstrations are announced, avoid areas where demonstrations are occurring or crowds are forming, avoid road travel, and maintain a low profile. Curfews can be announced with little or no advance notice. American citizens are urged to consult media sources and to register with the Embassy (see instructions below) for current security information."
Read the full Warning: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_927.html

News From I.C.E.

"National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center partners take part in international week of action on illegal pharmaceuticals"
ICE, CBP, FDA, DEA and USPIS target drugs sold illegally on the Internet
 
"An international week of action targeting the Internet sale of counterfeit and illicit medicines and its threat to public health has resulted in many arrests and the seizure of thousands of potentially harmful medical products across five continents.

In the United States, the partners of the Virginia-based National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) conducted operations from Nov. 16-20 at mail facilities throughout the United States, targeting counterfeit, substandard or tainted drugs coming into the United States.

Federal agents and officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) targeted over 7,000 suspect packages in New York, Newark, N.J., Miami, Memphis, Tenn., Louisville, Ky., Cincinnati and San Francisco resulting in 724 packages being detained for further examination. Of those, 48 have been formally seized to date.

In addition to these examinations, the FDA issued 22 Warning Letters about illegal activity occurring on 136 independent Web sites that are now posted on the FDA Web site. To date, 90 of those Web sites or domain names have been permanently suspended.

Involving a record 24 countries and co-ordinated under the umbrella of INTERPOL and the World Health Organization's (WHO) International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce (IMPACT), Operation Pangea II involved law enforcement agencies from the participating countries, as well as the Permanent Forum on International Pharmaceutical Crime (PFIPC), the Universal Postal Union (UPU) and the World Customs Organization (WCO).

During the operation, international Internet monitoring revealed 751 Web sites engaged in illegal activity, including some offering controlled or prescription-only drugs, 72 of which have now been taken down. Worldwide, more than 16,000 packages were inspected by regulators and customs, 995 packages were seized and nearly 167,000 illicit and counterfeit pills - including antibiotics, steroids, lifestyle drugs and diet pills, confiscated. A total of 22 individuals are under investigation for a range of offenses, including illegally selling and supplying unlicensed or prescription-only medicines."

Read the full story: http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/0911/091120washington.htm



"3 arrested for role in major San Diego-area human smuggling scheme
ICE, Border Patrol probe revealed ring cut holes in border fence to smuggle illegal aliens"
"Three defendants are in custody after federal agents executed a series of search and arrest warrants Tuesday targeting a local criminal organization that allegedly smuggled thousands of illegal aliens into the United States over the past several years.

The enforcement actions are the latest developments in a year-long joint investigation by agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Border Patrol assigned to the Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST).

According to court documents, the investigation uncovered a cross-border smuggling organization allegedly run by a San Diego man, Maurilio Mosley. The court documents claim Mosley and his brother Erik, who resides in Tijuana, hired drivers and foot guides, then trained those guides to smuggle illegal aliens into the United States using various methods, including cutting holes in the border fence. After the aliens reached the United States, the drivers transported them to several 'drop houses' in the South Bay area. The ring allegedly paid the guides and drivers as much as $1,800 for each group of illegal aliens they smuggled into the country.

As part of Tuesday's operation, ICE and Border Patrol agents, with assistance from the San Diego Sheriff's Department and California Highway Patrol, executed search warrants at several locations allegedly used by the organization to support the smuggling scheme, including the suspected ring leader's Chula Vista apartment and a National City business. Agents seized a variety of evidence at the sites, including five vehicles, nearly $18,000, numerous alien smuggling ledgers and nine counterfeit $100 bills."

Read the full story: http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/0911/091119sandiego.htm

"20th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child"

November 20, 2009

"The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the most comprehensive treaty on children's rights and was adopted on No­vember 20, 1989. The CRC has been ratified by every country in the world except the United States and Somalia (which has been a failed state without an effective government over the past two decades).

If ratified by the United States, the CRC would fill current gaps in U.S. laws, and provide all children in America with the same robust protections that chil­dren in 193 countries are already entitled to. The Convention would offer much-needed pro­tection to children at risk including minor­ity and poor children, children with disabilities and other vulnerable populations in areas such as access to quality education, health care, and protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation. The CRC also provides protections to children in conflict with the law especially those who are sentenced to life imprisonment without parole and children detained in juvenile detention facilities.

Twenty years after the adoption of the CRC and nearly fifteen years after it was signed by President Clinton, the Obama administration has an opportunity to bring the CRC to the Sen­ate for consent and approval. If ratified by the United States, the CRC would bolster existing pro­tections and foster U.S. commitment to and promotion of children's rights in the U.S and around the world."
http://www.aclu.org/human-rights/20th-anniversary-convention-rights-child

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shaniya's Plight Draws Attention to Child Trafficking in US and Abroad

"Expert: Child traffickers target runaways, 'throwaways'"
By Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN
November 18, 2009 1:48 p.m. EST
 

"Who killed 5-year-old Shaniya Davis? Her mother is charged with human trafficking, and many questions remain about what happened."
 
"It sounds like the plot of a crime drama or the scourge of a developing country, but human trafficking is a serious problem in the U.S. and America's children are frequent pawns, experts say.

The case of Antoinette Nicole Davis, a North Carolina mother accused of selling her 5-year-old daughter, Shaniya, into prostitution, highlights one of the most heinous -- albeit rare -- forms of trafficking within the U.S....

Polaris Project, a nonprofit organization that studies human trafficking, has more frequently seen cases in which children were sold by family members 'out of desperation in developing countries' such as Cambodia or sub-Saharan African nations, said executive director and CEO Mark Lagon.

'But it happens sometimes here,' he said.

More common in the United States are traffickers who exploit abused runaways or so-called 'throwaways' -- children abandoned by their parents and living on the streets, Lagon said.

'The trafficker plays the role of a father or loverboy who is offering care to the child, who is vulnerable,' he said, explaining that what begins as flattery and attention often turns to suggestions of prostitution.

The child, typically homeless and in need of food and shelter, can be manipulated into 'survival sex,' Lagon said. In other instances, the trafficker or pimp will get the child hooked on drugs and use their addiction as leverage...

In August, two bar owners and a manager in Long Island, New York, were charged with sex trafficking and alien harboring with victims as young as 17. A few days later, a husband and wife in Orange County, Florida, were charged with kidnapping a 15-year-old at gunpoint and forcing her to turn tricks.

In September, a U.S. Army private and three other men were indicted on charges of running a sex-trafficking businesses from a Millersville, Maryland, apartment. One of the prostitutes was 16.

No pleas have been entered in the Florida or Maryland cases. The three defendants in Long Island have pleaded not guilty.

While prostitution is a common impetus for trafficking children, Lagon said there are numerous examples of young men and women being forced into domestic servitude. Many times, he said, those victims are sexually abused as well."

Read the complete article: http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/11/18/domestic.child.trafficking/index.html

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bipartisan Action to End Travel Ban to Cuba

Howard Berman/Richard Lugar Bipartisan Team Call for End to Cuba Travel Ban
Steve Clemons
Publisher of "The Washington Note"


"Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Richard Lugar (R-IN) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) have jointly written a compelling case to end the travel ban for all Americans desiring to go to Cuba.

In fact, their piece, titled "Lift the Ban -- Let Americans Visit Cuba" really calls for ending travel restrictions on Americans going anywhere since Cuba is the only place in the world where America's democratic government restricts the travel freedom of its citizens...


The House bill to end the travel ban to Cuba has been led by Congressman Bill Delahunt (D-MA) on the Dem side and Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ) who often says that it's supposed to be Communist governments, not Democratic ones, that impose restrictions on their citizen's choices to travel. The House Bill now has 180 cosponsors comprised of both Republicans and Democrats.

The companion Senate bill has 34 Senate cosponsors. Informal whip counts put the House bill at 205 votes -- within striking distance of the 218 needed, and between 61-64 in the Senate."

Read the full blog: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-clemons/howard-bermanrichard-luga_b_360180.html

US Travel Warning for Algeria

November 16, 2009
"The State Department warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Algeria. This Travel Warning updates information on the current security situation in Algeria and the continuing threat posed by terrorism. This replaces the Travel Warning dated March 3, 2009.
The Department of State urges U.S. citizens who travel to Algeria to evaluate carefully the risks posed to their personal safety. Terrorist attacks, including bombings, false roadblocks, kidnappings, ambushes, and assassinations occur regularly, particularly in the Kabylie region of the country. Since early 2007, the use of suicide bomb attacks, particularly vehicle-borne attacks, has emerged as a terrorist tactic in Algeria, including in the capital. The group that claimed credit for the December 11, 2007, suicide car-bomb attacks in Algiers has pledged more attacks against foreign targets, and specifically against American targets.
The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid overland travel in Algeria. Americans who reside or travel in Algeria should take prudent security measures while in the country, including making provisions for reliable and experienced logistical support. Visitors to Algeria are advised to stay only in hotels where adequate security is provided. All visitors to Algeria should remain alert and adhere to prudent security practices such as avoiding predictable travel patterns and maintaining a low profile...

Americans living or traveling in Algeria are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Algiers through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Algeria. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy Algiers. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at 5 Chemin Cheikh Bachir El-Ibrahimi in the El Biar district of Algiers. The telephone number is [213] 770 08 20 00, which can also be reached after hours in the event of emergencies. The fax number is [213] 21 98 22 99.

Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.
For further information on general crime and security issues, U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State’s Country Specific Information on Algeria as well as the Worldwide Caution, available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website."

Read the complete Warning: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_929.html

I.C.E. News

"ICE initiative uses biometrics to enhance identification and removal of criminal aliens in Southeastern Michigan
Criminal and immigration records of all detainees to be checked"
 
"Law enforcement agencies in southeastern Michigan will benefit from a new initiative developed by the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Homeland Security (DHS) that modernizes the process used to accurately identify and remove dangerous criminal aliens from the community.
The initiative, Secure Communities, is administered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Secure Communities enables ICE to determine whether an individual arrested by a participating state or local law enforcement agency is a dangerous criminal alien and take the appropriate action to remove that individual from the community...

Formerly as part of the booking process, arrestees' fingerprints were taken and checked for criminal history information against the DOJ biometric system maintained by the FBI. With the implementation of Secure Communities Wayne County, the fingerprint information will now be simultaneously checked against both the FBI criminal history records and the biometrics-based immigration records maintained by the DHS.

If any fingerprints match those of someone in DHS's biometric system, the new automated process notifies ICE. ICE evaluates each case to determine the individual's immigration status and takes appropriate enforcement action after offenders complete their prison terms. Top priority is given to aliens who pose the greatest threat to public safety, such as those with prior convictions for major drug offenses, murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping."
Read the full story: http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/0911/091117detroit.htm


"Record foreign student attendance highlights DHS 'Open Doors' policy
Student visa program balances security, openness"

"WASHINGTON - The publication today of the 2009 Open Doors Report, the leading comprehensive account of international student enrollment throughout American institutions, shows that despite the global economic downturn, record numbers of international students are traveling to the United States to study at institutions of higher education.
Equally important, these numbers showcase the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Open Doors Policy of balancing efforts to secure the nation's student visa system while preserving the rich tradition of recruiting the best minds from around the world.
'More secure borders and ongoing openness are not mutually exclusive, and I think the success the United States is experiencing in attracting students from around the world proves this point,' said Lou Farrell, Director of the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP) within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 'The partnership ICE has developed with the academic community has been critical to our efforts, and we will need to maintain that partnership as our system continues to evolve.'
At more than 670,000, the latest surge in foreign students choosing the United States marks a rate of growth not seen since 1980 and continues a pattern of continuous growth over the past three years...

To learn more about the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, visit the website of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
For review a copy of the Open Doors Report, visit the website of the Institute of International Education."
Read the full story: http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/0911/091117washingtondc.htm



"Vietnamese predator nabbed by Joint Criminal Alien Removal Task Force in Mobile"

"MOBILE, Ala. - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) detention and removal officers arrested yesterday a Vietnamese national convicted of sexual abuse, forgery and misdemeanor battery.

Hung Hoang Nguyen, 50, was arrested as a result of a Joint Criminal Alien Removal Task Force (JCART) operation targeting sexual predators...

On April 30, 1979, Nguyen was convicted in Sebastian County, Ark., for first degree carnal abuse and received a sentence of five days in prison followed by three years in probation. On July 21, 1983, Nguyen was convicted in Benton County, Ark., for second degree forgery and received a sentence of three years probation. On May 6, 1992, Nguyen was convicted in Brevard County, Fla., for misdemeanor first degree battery and received a sentence of 20 days with a 10-day suspension....

The arrest of Nguyen was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers and foreign-national predators whose crimes make them deportable. Launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested almost 12,000 individuals through Operation Predator...

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com/."
Read the full story: http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/0911/091117mobile.htm

Monday, November 16, 2009

Napolitano: Overhaul Immigration Law Early Next Year

"Immigrant Bill Is Back on Table"
By MELANIE TROTTMAN
"Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called Friday for Congress to consider an overhaul of immigration law early next year, a move that could rekindle a divisive debate during an election year.

Ms. Napolitano said the immigration landscape has changed sharply since 2007, when attempts at a comprehensive overhaul failed because many members of Congress lacked confidence in the government's ability to enforce existing laws, she said. Immigration overhauls backed by the Bush administration and some congressional leaders from both parties foundered in part because critics portrayed them as rewarding illegal immigrants with 'amnesty' for violating U.S. law.
Since then, government statistics show a 23% drop in the number of illegal immigrants caught trying to enter the U.S. in the past year, and a 67% decline since 2000, a trend Ms. Napolitano attributed to the weak economy and stronger enforcement. The government has also stepped up efforts to audit employers' compliance with immigration laws, she said...
 
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D., Ill.), who will lead the effort to pass an immigration bill in the House, said he plans to introduce a bill in December, working with the Hispanic Congressional Caucus. 'There's going to be a big battle,' he said. Mr. Gutierrez disagreed with Ms. Napolitano's claim that more government enforcement has improved the chances of a comprehensive overhaul. 'We've always had strong enforcement,' he said.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), who will lead the overhaul effort in the Senate with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), said his office is working to produce 'a tough, fair bill' that can get 60 votes in the Senate. 'The administration has laid out a very ambitious agenda, but we are confident we can have a bipartisan immigration bill ready to go under whatever timeline the President thinks is best,' he said in a statement.

One of the toughest issues is likely to be what to do about millions of illegal immigrants already in the U.S. Ms. Napolitano called for a 'tough and fair pathway to earned legal status,' including 'registering, paying a fine, passing a criminal background check, fully paying all taxes and learning English.'

Not included in her list was a requirement that illegal immigrants leave the country, and re-apply for legal entry. In 2007, many members of Congress said they couldn't support a program of mass legalization in the face of opposition from constituents and activist groups critical of easing the road to legal immigration for those who had already violated the law."

Read the full story: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125816110639347917.html

Russia Makes it Harder for Foreign Professionals to Maintain, Get Work Visas

"Diploma Rule Adds to Foreigners’ Headaches"
16 November 2009
By Anatoly Medetsky

"President Dmitry Medvedev urged migration authorities to show more hospitality toward foreigners in his state-of-the-nation address last week, even as those same authorities start enforcing a diploma rule that affects most foreign professionals.
In his Thursday address, Medvedev mentioned visas when he spoke about the need to make working in Russia attractive in order to lure foreign researchers and businesspeople who can commercialize new inventions.
'They must be issued visas quickly and for a long period,' Medvedev said. 'We are interested in them, not the other way around.'
In speaking about researchers, Medvedev said officials must simplify the rules for recognizing foreign diplomas.

But migration officials, who have demanded that foreigners supply their diplomas proving their qualifications in order to obtain work permits for the past decade, started in September to also require that the diplomas be submitted with an apostille, a stamp from the foreigner’s Foreign Ministry that certifies the diploma’s authenticity to a foreign government.
Foreign white-collar workers now have to go back to their native countries or otherwise arrange to obtain these stamps.
The Cabinet demanded the use of apostilles in a decree issued back in 2006, said Ksenia Bortnik, coordinator of the migration committee with the Association of European Businesses. Immigration authorities largely overlooked the rule until September, when they began tightening the screws on policy, apparently seeking to make more jobs available to Russians, she said.
Apostilles can take two to eight weeks to get, adding another headache to the cumbersome process of hiring qualified foreign staff for companies investing in Russia, said Lyudmila Shiryayeva, a senior human capital manager at Ernst & Young. 'Any delay or new requirement may generate a catastrophe in this complicated process.'
Acquiring apostilles, which does not contradict international rules, also makes the process costlier, she said.
Problems include the fact that some specialists possess unique experience but have no diploma or have education certificates in lieu of diplomas, she said.
The Federal Migration Service required notarized copies of translated diplomas before the new requirement kicked in."

Read the complete article: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/diploma-rule-adds-to-foreigners-headaches/389524.html

Children Sent From Britain to Colonies to Relieve Post-WWII Social Services, Receive Apology From Australia

"Kevin Rudd, Australian PM, Apologizes For Kids Shipped From Britain To Colonies"
ROD McGUIRK and JILL LAWLESS



"When John Hennessey was 10 years old, he was sent from a war-weary Britain to an orphanage in Australia, where he was told food was plentiful and children rode kangaroos to school.
Instead, he was beaten and sexually abused, leaving him emotionally scarred and with a stutter that persists 60 years later.

'There's no other country in the world that has deported their children to the other side of the world and then abandoned them,' the 72-year-old said before an emotional ceremony Monday in Australia, where Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologized for his country's role in a shameful episode in British colonial history.
'They stole our innocence,' he added, calling his caretakers in Australia 'a ring of pedophiles.'

Rudd acknowledged the deep wounds inflicted by the programs that sent an estimated 150,000 British children to distant colonies – intending to ease pressure on post-World War II Britain's social services, provide orphaned or abandoned children with a fresh start and supply the empire with a sturdy supply of white workers. Rudd extended condolences to the 7,000 survivors of the programs who still live in Australia, many of whom grew up in institutions where they were physically and sexually abused or were sent to work as farm laborers.
'We are sorry,' Rudd said. 'Sorry that as children you were taken from your families and placed in institutions where so often you were abused. Sorry for the physical suffering, the emotional starvation and the cold absence of love, of tenderness, of care. Sorry for the tragedy – the absolute tragedy – of childhoods lost.'
The ceremony at Parliament House comes one day after the British government said Prime Minister Gordon Brown would apologize next year for the child migrant programs, which lasted from 1618 to 1967. After 1920, most of the children went to Australia.

Rudd also apologized to the 'forgotten Australians' – children who suffered while in state care during the last century. According to a 2004 Australian Senate report, more than 500,000 children were placed in foster homes, orphanages and other institutions during the 20th century. Many were emotionally, physically and sexually abused."

Read the full story: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/16/kevin-rudd-australian-pm_n_358896.html

Migrant Farm Workers to Florida's Publix Supermarket Chain: "Embrace Fair Wages"

"At St. Petersburg Publix, protesters march over farmworkers' pay"
By Dominick Tao, Times Staff Writer
Picture by Kathleen Flynn, Times
In Print: Monday, November 16, 2009


"The protesters were backing the Coalition of Immokalee workers, a community group made up of farmworkers from southwest Florida. In the past, the group has pressured large companies like McDonald's and Whole Foods to pay more for tomatoes harvested by migrant workers.

Now, the coalition has moved on to Florida's largest supermarket chain...

In short: The group wants Florida's green giant of grocery stores to pay its suppliers a penny more per pound of tomatoes picked, an increase that could represent a nearly twofold increase in farmworkers' daily wage.

Publix representatives hovered nearby. The company had cameramen capturing the action. St. Petersburg police officers also stood vigil, keeping the protest off Publix property, and the passing cars away from the protesters...

Publix representative Shannon Patten, who has been present at most of the coalition's supermarket protests around the state in recent weeks, said the workers' efforts are misplaced.

'It's a dispute between the farms and the farmworkers,' Patten said. 'We just don't get involved.'
Patten said Publix does not set the price of tomatoes and pays market value for its produce.

One of the farmworkers who had come from Southwest Florida for the protest, Silvia Perez, had strong words for the Fortune 500 company. 'Publix has two options. They can embrace fair wages, or buy from a harvest of shame,' Perez said."

Read the full story: http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/agriculture/at-st-petersburg-publix-protesters-march-over-farmworkers-pay/1051989

Plan International's Universal Birth Registration Campaign

"Registering the world's 'invisible' millions"
"A birth certificate is a fact of life for many. Yet there are millions of babies born each year who are never registered, depriving them of vital education and health care and leaving them vulnerable to abuse. Plan International has gone some way to reverse this situation, as the BBC's Penny Spiller explains."

"Without registration, it is difficult, if not impossible, to gain access to vital services such as health care, education and welfare support, says child rights organisation Plan International.
It also denies them the possibility of voting or getting legal aid.
Children without any record of identification are more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse such as human trafficking and prostitution, being forced into under-age marriages or into becoming child soldiers, the organisation adds.
However, this has now changed for some 40 million people in 32 countries over the past five years, thanks to a Plan International campaign called Universal Birth Registration (UBR).

Experts from around the world - from governments, non-governmental organisations and universities - have gathered in London for a two-day conference to discuss Plan's campaign, and consider ways to continue the work."

Read the full story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/8359477.stm

US President to China: Individual Rights and Freedoms are Universal

"Obama presses China over rights"
"US President Barack Obama has told China that individual rights and freedoms should be available to all."

"Mr Obama's visit has received minimal coverage in the Chinese media, with his arrival in Beijing mentioned in a report 25 minutes into state TV's evening news programme...
In his speech at the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, the US president praised China's efforts in lifting millions of people out of poverty, saying it was "unparalleled" in human history...


'We do not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation, but we also don't believe that the principles we stand for are unique to our nation,' he said.

'These freedoms of expression and worship, of access to information and political participation - we believe are universal rights.'

China is an authoritarian country in which there are no elections for the country's national leaders.
Media outlets and the internet are heavily censored, and those who speak out against the government are often imprisoned.

Mr Obama added: 'They should be available to all people, including ethnic and religious minorities, whether they are in the United States, China or any nation.'"

Read the full article:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8361471.stm

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mozambique Travel Alert

November 10, 2009
"The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens in Mozambique to the potential for violence following the official release of the October 28, 2009 general election results, which is now scheduled for November 12, 2009. This replaces the Travel Alert dated September 23, 2009 and expires on November 20.

The Embassy has received specific reports of localized civil unrest and violence in Gaza, Nampula, Sofala and Tete provinces. Past elections in Mozambique have featured violence in other areas of the country throughout the campaign season, the election, and especially in the days and weeks following the announcement of election results.

U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to Mozambique during this period are reminded to maintain a high level of security awareness at all times and avoid political rallies, demonstrations, and crowds of any kind. U.S. citizens should monitor the situation via local media sources, including TV and radio and via the internet.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet website (http://travel.state.gov), where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the World Wide Caution, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00am to 8:00pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Mozambique are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/, so they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Mozambique. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located in Maputo at 193 Avenida Kenneth Kaunda, telephone (258) 21 49 2797.

The after-hours telephone numbers for use in emergencies are (258) 21 49 0723 and 21 49 2797. The Consular Section's e-mail address is consularmaputo@state.gov. The Embassy's web site is http://maputo.usembassy.gov/. "

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_4579.html

US Travel Alert for Germany

November 12, 2009

"The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens that over the past few months, Al Qaeda has released videos threatening to conduct terrorist attacks against German interests. While these threats initially mentioned the German federal elections in September, Al Qaeda continues to threaten Germany. German authorities are taking these threats seriously and are actively investigating all threats. This Travel Alert replaces the Travel Alert issued on September 24, notes continuing threats to German interests, and expires on February 10, 2010.

The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to maintain good security practices at all times, and to maintain a heightened situational awareness and a low profile. Americans are advised to monitor local news reports and consider the level of security present when visiting public places or choosing hotels, restaurants, and entertainment and recreation venues.

The Department encourages U.S. citizens to read the current Worldwide Caution. It provides additional information on potential threats to U.S. citizens overseas, along with advice on how to reduce your vulnerability to such threats. Additional general information on residing and traveling abroad, including the latest Country Specific Information for Germany, may be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website.

Contact information for the U.S. Embassy in Berlin and U.S. Consulates in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Munich, and Leipzig may be found on the U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany’s website. All U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Germany are urged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel registration website.

Travelers may also obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States or outside the United States and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444."
http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_3241.html

Mexican National Returned to Mexico to Face Charges from Fatal Traffic Accident

"Mexican murder suspect handed over to Mexican authorities"
"A Mexican national wanted for vehicular homicide in his native country was turned over to representatives from the Mexican Attorney General's Office (PGR) at the border crossing in Nogales, Ariz., this morning by officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Pablo Cruz-Rojas, 28, is suspected of causing a fatal traffic accident while driving under the influence in the state of Nayarit, Mexico, in July 2008. Cruz, who allegedly killed two people and severely injured a third, posted bail and fled to the United States in August 2008.

In August 2009, the FBI in Bakersfield, Calif., contacted the local ICE Office of Investigations and advised that Cruz might be residing illegally in Bakersfield. On the same day, Bakersfield ICE agents arrested Cruz at his residence on immigration violations. Cruz was subsequently transferred to the Florence Detention Center in Florence, Ariz., where an immigration judge ordered him removed to Mexico on Nov. 3, 2009."

Read the full story: http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/0911/091112nogales.htm

Solidarity Union Suing South African Government for Discrimination of White Police

SA police sued for discrimination
Predominately white trade union Solidarity is taking South Africa's government to court, alleging racial discrimination in the police force.


It says the police service prefers to leave posts vacant rather than fill them with competent white officers, hindering the fight against crime.
After the end of white minority rule, affirmative action was introduced to help black people get jobs.

South Africa has one of the highest violent crime rates in the world.

The police service is currently under the spotlight after an officer shot dead a three-year-old boy.
The government has defended its "shoot-to-kill" policy, saying it will reduce crime.
It has not commented on the case brought by Solidarity.
Solidarity has filed nine cases against the South Africa Police Service (SAPS) and one against the prison service.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8358755.stm

Indonesia Assists Australia with Tamils Seeking Asyum

"Tamil asylum seekers leave ship"
"Twenty-two Sri Lankan asylum seekers have come ashore from an Australian customs ship anchored in Indonesia's waters, Indonesian officials have said."

"They were among 78 ethnic Tamils on the Oceanic Viking, moored off Bintan island near Singapore, who had refused to leave the ship.

The Oceanic Viking picked them up during its duties in Indonesia's maritime search zone last month.
The 22 men are being taken to Bintan to have their asylum claims processed.

The Tamils will be processed at an Australian-funded detention centre at Tanjung Pinang on Bintan.

Indonesia agreed to take the asylum seekers last month as part of an agreement with Australia to cope with an influx of migrants to both countries...
Immigration Minister Chris Evans said most of the Tamils could end up in Australia if their claims were found to be genuine.

An upsurge in asylum seekers arriving in Australia this year has prompted the opposition to claim the government has made the country a soft target for people smugglers."
Read the full article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8358892.stm

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I.C.E. News

"South Florida man sentenced to prison for possession of child pornography"
A 26-year-old Highlands County man was sentenced Monday to more than 15 years in federal prison for possession of child pornography following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation...

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers and foreign-national predators whose crimes make them deportable. Launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested almost 12,000 individuals through Operation Predator.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the NCMEC, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com/.
http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/0911/091110fortpierce.htm



"North Carolina man arrested for document fraud"
"A 43-year-old Dobson, N.C., man was arrested... for allegedly producing and selling fraudulent immigration, Social Security and North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicle documents.

The arrest followed an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles, License and Theft Bureau, Surry County Sheriff's Office and Stokes County Sheriff's Office...

Document fraud is the manufacture, sale or use of counterfeit identity documents, such as fake driver's licenses, birth certificates, Social Security cards, or passports, for immigration fraud or other criminal activity. Document fraud also includes efforts to obtain genuine identity documents through fraudulent means. These activities have helped illegal aliens, criminals and even terrorists evade detection and embed themselves in our society. Document fraud often supports the crime of benefit fraud.

To help eradicate this problem, ICE has 19 Document and Benefit Fraud Task Forces (DBFTFs). These DBTFs were established in April 2006 and focus on detecting, deterring and disrupting benefit and document fraud. Investigators from a variety of agencies with expertise in different aspects of document and benefit fraud collaborate with U.S. attorney's offices around the country to formulate a comprehensive approach in targeting the criminal organizations and the beneficiaries behind their fraudulent schemes."
http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/0911/091110charlotte.htm

Abduction Charges Dropped Against Father in Japan Custody Battle

"Charges dropped against American father in Japan custody battle
November 12, 2009"

CNN's Kyung Lah contributed to this report.
"Authorities have officially dropped all charges against an American who tried to snatch back his children from his ex-wife in Japan, the Fukuoka prosecutor's office said Thursday.
Charges had been technically "on hold" since Christopher Savoie was released from jail in October, though legal experts had said the move essentially meant the charges had already been dropped.

The prosecutor's office said at the time that Savoie was released after he promised not to take his children back to the United States "in this manner."
It was not clear whether he had a chance to see his children after his release.
Savoie, 38, a Tennessee native and naturalized Japanese citizen, allegedly abducted his children -- 8-year-old Isaac and 6-year-old Rebecca -- as his ex-wife walked them to school on September 28 in Yanagawa."
Read the full story: http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/11/11/japan.custody.battle/index.html

Monday, November 9, 2009

Supreme Court: Is a Life Sentence for a Juvenile 'Equat[ing] the Failings of a Minor with Those of an Adult' ?

Two cases may change the way teens are punished
By Bill Mears, CNN
November 9, 2009
 
"[A] grieving mother uses the memory of her murdered daughter to fight on behalf of victim rights. In his West Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, a paroled teenage killer uses his second chance to mentor at-risk youth. In these separate cases, both the criminals and their victims were juveniles.
Their stories provide the backdrop for an unrelated pair of upcoming Supreme Court appeals over whether juvenile offenders who commit violent felonies deserve tough prison sentences -- especially life without parole.
On Monday the justices will examine whether the Constitution's ban on 'cruel and unusual punishment' should be applied in such cases, and whether young minds, because of their age, have less culpability and greater potential to be reformed.

'These two cases are going to tell us a lot about how far the Supreme Court -- led by Justice [Anthony] Kennedy -- is willing to go in limiting a state's ability to impose incredibly tough sentences on either the young, or in some cases, the mentally retarded,' said Thomas Goldstein, co-founder of Scotusblog and a leading Washington attorney. 'How much is the Supreme Court willing to intervene here?'...

The Supreme Court in 2005 outlawed the death penalty for underage killers, marking a major change in 'national standards' over how to treat this class of offenders.
'It would be misguided to equate the failings of a minor with those of an adult, for a greater possibility exists that a minor's character deficiencies will be reformed,' Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the 5-4 majority.

Many juvenile justice advocates see promise in Kennedy's words, an indication that the court might apply such legal and moral standards in the non-capital context now before it.

On the other side, victims rights groups say a radical shift in the current juvenile justice system could destroy the legal finality many families seek in healing from tragedy of losing a loved one to violence."
Read the full story: http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/11/08/supreme.court.juvenile.justice/index.html

Birmingham Learning Disabled Parents Losing Children to Insufficient Children's Services

"Parents losing children in 'loaded system'
By Nick Lawrence
BBC Inside Out, Birmingham "

"Against a background of prejudice and out-of-date assessments, six out of 10 parents with learning disabilities are having their children removed for adoption, research by Bristol University suggests.

In Birmingham, where children's services were described as 'not fit for purpose' in a government report, social workers have told the BBC the system is loaded against the learning disabled who are more likely to lose their children than keep them.
A whistleblower in Birmingham City Council's social services department said: We frequently remove children from young mothers who continue to have children.' ...

Anna Marriott, a researcher at the Nora Fry institute based at Bristol University, said the system discriminated against the learning disabled.

She told the BBC: "Rather than looking for any actual evidence of problems with parents coping, (social workers) just assume the parent won't be able to cope.
'And rather than looking to put a support plan in place, they'll look to initiate child protection proceedings.' ...

Christine Spooner had two children removed from her care and placed for adoption by Birmingham Children's Services.
At the time her condition, Aspergers syndrome, had not been diagnosed.

She said: 'They didn't understand the person I was. They just seemed to look at the weakest parts, what I couldn't do. They didn't even try and think about what I could do'.

Support for learning disabled parents is available through organisations such as Citizen Advocacy South Birmingham (CASBA).

Specialist workers help to guide learning disabled parents through a complex legal process which can be emotionally draining.

CASBA serves the whole of South Birmingham but is staffed for only 58 hours per week.
Vice chair Sior Coleman said: "The harsh reality is that we don't have enough money.
'There is an understanding from the authorities that it's an important service, but it's seen as a luxury - as an add-on.'"
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/west_midlands/8344410.stm





 

Wanted: Babies for Rent

"Probe into baby 'lent to beggars'
By Habib Beary in Bangalore "

"Child welfare officials are investigating the case of a baby who was reportedly rented out to beggars in the southern Indian city of Bangalore.

A state child protection panel says it will file a police complaint once it gets more information from the parents.
The nanny reportedly told the parents she would "rent" the baby for 100 rupees ($2) a day to beggars who attract more sympathy with an infant. "
Read the full story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8349982.stm

Large Numbers of Young Egyptians Seek Life in Europe

"Why Egypt's young dream of life abroad

By Mahmoud al-Sayed and Dina al-Naggar

BBC Arabic service "



"Every day hundreds of Egyptians pay large amounts of money to smugglers to embark on an often perilous journey in unseaworthy boats to Europe, mainly via Libya.
Some never make it to their final destination, perishing at sea because the overcrowded boats capsized or sank in bad weather.
Yet despite the dangers many people don't seem to be put off. Some who made it to Europe but were later deported have even tried going back again.

In fact, according to a recent study by the Earth Centre for Studies almost half a million (460,000) Egyptians have successfully entered Europe illegally in the last decade, and 90,000 live in Italy alone.

Another study into attitudes towards migration by the Arabic Labour Organisation is equally revealing.

It found that 50% of students who take up postgraduate studies in Europe or the United States don't return to Egypt, meaning the country is losing some of its brightest and most talented pupils.

Two thousand young people took part in the study and when asked whether they would like to live and work abroad, 50% said yes. "
Read the full article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8342741.stm

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gun-Owner Privacy Rights vs. Full Disclosure in Adoptions

"NRA: Don't let adoption agencies ask about guns in homes
By Marc Caputo, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau
In Print: Thursday, November 5, 2009"

"The Nation Rifle Association is pushing legislation to ban adoption agencies from asking potential parents if they have guns and ammunition in the home.

NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer said adoption agencies are violating gun owners' rights by asking about firearms in an adoption form. She said any request about gun ownership from an agency connected with government is tantamount to establishing a gun registry.
'Gun registration is illegal in Florida,' Hammer said. 'An adoption agency has no right to subvert the privacy rights of gun owners.'

The issue flared up in Brevard County where a gun-owning couple took umbrage at a request from the Children's Home Society that they disclose if they had firearms before adopting a child.
The couple complained to a lawyer, who called Hammer. She said it would be easier to change the law than to sue.

A spokeswoman for the Children's Home Society, Liz Bruner, said the agency asks about guns because it was required to by the state Department of Children and Families.
'If they don't want us to ask about it, we won't,' Bruner said. 'We're trying to get an updated form to use, but there's a gray area over what (form) we can use.'

Bruner said that because the state child-welfare system is privatized, Children's Home Society is a subcontractor for a subcontractor and, therefore, communication with the state agency can be challenging.

DCF officials say they're not sure about what form the society is using and plan to make sure that all subcontractors are using the same forms. Some of the newer adoption forms don't ask prospective parents if they own guns."
Read the full article: http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/stateroundup/nra-dont-let-adoption-agencies-ask-about-guns-in-homes/1049430

End to "Widow's Penalty"

"New immigration law goes into effect; 'widow's penalty' ends

A new immigration law is now in effect, and this means new changes for Americans who marry foreign nationals.
Reporter: Melissa Tune"

"Under the old law, if a United States citizen married someone from outside the country and then died within two years of the marriage, the spouse was deported. Now the spouse can stay...
 
Up until October 29, 2009, the "widow's penalty" was in effect, meaning hundreds of people were forced to leave the states...

The new law removes the two-year marriage requirement, permitting widows and widowers of U.S. citizens to apply for a green card for themselves and on behalf of their foreign-born children. It is also retroactive. Anyone qualifying for relief can file a petition for permanent residency up to two years from October 29, 2009."
Read the full article: http://www.wrdw.com/politics/headlines/69023852.html

I.C.E. News

"6 South Florida residents indicted for immigration benefit fraud
Mastermind of scheme claimed to be an immigration consultant and attorney"
 
"Six South Florida residents were indicted on charges of conspiracy to induce and encourage aliens to remain in the United States and making false statements in applications for immigration benefits following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)...
 
The six defendants were charged with conspiracy, false statements, and inducing and encouraging aliens to remain in the United States. If convicted, they each face a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison...
 
In May 2007, ICE special agents in Fort Lauderdale began an investigation of Victor Abreu of Abreu & Associates, based on allegations that he was involved in immigration benefit fraud. Abreu and his employees were allegedly preparing false boilerplate immigration applications for illegal immigrants, including applications for employment authorization and employment visas.

According to the indictment, the defendants engaged in a scheme through which they solicited payments from illegal immigrants by falsely promising to assist them with immigration matters. The defendants would then prepare applications for the illegal immigrants, knowing that the immigrants were not entitled to the benefits sought. The scheme involved the preparation of benefit applications for at least 300 individuals from Argentina, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Venezuela, and Mexico, among other countries. After receiving payments, Abreu and his co-defendants prepared the false immigration documents. To execute the scheme, Abreu falsely purported to be an immigration attorney and consultant. As a result of the scheme, some of the illegal immigrants obtained legitimate work authorization cards and driver's licenses to which they were not lawfully entitled."


"Doctor arrested for falsifying results of prospective immigrants' medical exams
Charges stem from probe by ICE and California Medical Board "
"A Los Angeles doctor was arrested Tuesday on federal criminal charges for falsifying the results of medical exams and lab tests he claimed he performed on foreign nationals who needed the documentation to complete applications for immigrant visas...
'Aspiring immigrants are required to undergo a medical exam as part of the application process to ensure they don't have any medical conditions or diseases that might pose a public health threat,' said Miguel Unzueta, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Los Angeles. 'By allegedly giving some of his patients a clean bill of health without even examining them, this physician potentially put our communities at risk.'"
http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/0911/091103losangeles.htm

"A Minute for Madeleine

ICE partner in the Virtual Global Taskforce - Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre - asks the public to spread a new message"
 
"The United Kingdom's national law enforcement center for protecting children-the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre-has issued an online viral message aimed at anyone close to the person who was involved in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. The victim, 3-years old at the time, disappeared more than two years ago from a hotel in Portugal.

The person the police hope to connect with could be a relative, friend, work colleague or neighbor. Whoever they are, they have a secret that could reveal what happened to Madeleine and protect other children.
In order to increase the possibility of reaching that person, the CEOP Centre, supported by global law enforcement agencies that include U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), CEOP's partner in the Virtual Global Taskforce, is asking the public to help spread the message via the Internet.
CEOP has released a 60-second film that can be viewed at ceop.police.uk. The public is being asked to link to it and build it into their own online environments. The film also includes new age-progressed images that show Madeleine as she may look today.
 



INTERPOL, Europol and national police agencies from Australia, the United States, Canada, the United Arab Emirates and Europe are supporting the initiative. Specialist charities and NGO's, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), Missing Children Europe and the United Kingdom's charity Parents and Abducted Children Together (PACT) have all thrown their weight and expertise behind the initiative...

The message is available at ceop.police.uk in seven languages - English, Arabic, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish...

The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) is made up of law enforcement agencies from around the world working together to fight child abuse online. The aim of the VGT is to build an effective, international partnership of law enforcement agencies that helps to protect children from online child abuse. ICE is the U.S. representative to the VGT.

Other VGT members are Australian Federal Police, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, the Italian Postal and Communication Police Service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and INTERPOL.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com."
http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/0911/091103london.htm

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

President Obama Lifts Travel Ban to US for HIV Positive

President Obama issued the final rule on the travel ban yesterday.  The final rule will not go into effect until January 4, 2010.  The most relevant part of the final rule in the Federal Register states:

 "[T]he Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services (HHS), is amending its regulations to remove 'Human
Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection' from the definition of
communicable disease of public health significance and remove
references to 'HIV' from the scope of examinations for aliens.
Prior to this final rule, aliens with HIV infection were considered
to have a communicable disease of public health significance and were
thus inadmissible to the United States per the Immigration and
Nationality Act (INA)."

Read the complete final rule: http://frwebgate1.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/TEXTgate.cgi?WAISdocID=275617108193+22+1+0&WAISaction=retrieve

US DOS Travel Warning for Honduras

"October 20, 2009
The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the current unstable political and security situation in Honduras, and recommends that American citizens defer all non-essential travel to Honduras until further notice. This Travel Alert expires on December 20, 2009."
Read the full warning: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_4526.html

Travel Warning for US Citizens Traveling to, in India

"October 29, 2009
The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to continuing security concerns in India. The U.S. Government continues to receive information that terrorist groups may be planning attacks in India. Terrorists and their sympathizers have demonstrated their willingness and capability to attack targets where Americans or Westerners are known to congregate or visit. This replaces the Travel Alert dated September 12, 2009, and expires on January 28, 2010...

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Americans are also encouraged to read the Country Specific Information for India, available on the Embassy's website at http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov and also at http://travel.state.gov.

U.S. citizens with questions or concerns may contact the American Citizens Services Unit of the Embassy or the Consulates General for further information:
-- The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi is located at Shanti Path, Chanakya Puri 110021; telephone +91-11-2419-8000; fax +91-11-2419-8407. The Embassy's Internet home page address is http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov.

-- The U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai (Bombay) is located at Lincoln House, 78 Bhulabhai Desai Road, 400026, telephone +91-22-2363-3611; fax +91-22-2363-0350. The Internet home page address is

http://mumbai.usconsulate.gov.

-- The U.S. Consulate General in Chennai (Madras) is at 220 Anna Salai, Gemini Circle, 600006, telephone +91-44-2857-4000; fax +91-44-2811-2027. The Internet home page address is http://chennai.usconsulate.gov.


-- The U.S. Consulate General in Kolkata (Calcutta) is at 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, 700071; telephone +91-33-3984-2400; fax +91-33-2282-2335. The Internet home page address is http://kolkata.usconsulate.gov.


-- The U.S. Consulate General in Hyderabad is at Paigah Palace, 1-8-323, Chiran Fort Lane, Begumpet, Secunderabad 500 003; telephone: +91 (40) 4033-8300. The Internet home page address is http://hyderabad.usconsulate.gov/."

Read the complete warning at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_4398.html

Czech Republic Signs EU Lisbon Treaty

"EU reform treaty passes last test
The president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, has signed the EU's Lisbon Treaty, the final step in the charter's ratification.



The treaty was drawn up to streamline decision-making in the EU, and is a watered-down version of a draft EU constitution rejected four years ago.
Among its measures, it creates a European Council president and alters the way member states vote.
The treaty could now come into force as early as December.
The Lisbon Treaty's supporters say it will allow the EU to operate more efficiently and give it greater influence in world affairs.
Critics say it will cede too many national powers to Brussels."

Read the full story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8340664.stm

Former Serbian Leader Seeks Delay of Trial for War Crimes, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity

"Karadzic defiant at Hague hearing
Ex-Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has insisted he needs more time to prepare his defence, during his first appearance at his war crimes trial.

Mr Karadzic told a procedural hearing in The Hague that he had not been given the opportunity to go through vast amounts of prosecution documents.
He is representing himself and last week boycotted the start of his trial.

Presiding Judge O-Gon Kwon adjourned the trial, saying he would rule later in the week on how it will proceed."

Read the full story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8339833.stm