Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!!!

Have a Happy and Safe New Year's Eve!

U.S. Government Reaches Non-Prosecution Deal with Company Alleged to Have Employed Unauthorized Aliens

Justice Department and ICE reach $4.5 million agreement with Pilgrim's Pride

"The federal government and Pilgrim's Pride Corporation have reached a non-prosecution agreement to resolve an investigation involving the hiring and employment of unauthorized aliens at some of the company's Texas plants...

Under the terms of the agreement, Pilgrim's Pride agrees to pay $4.5 million and adopt more stringent immigration compliance practices to ensure that its work force is composed of employees legally entitled to work in the United States. In return, the U. S. Attorney's Office agrees to conclude its immigration-related investigation of Pilgrim's Pride and any current or former employees.

In a factual statement accompanying the agreement, the parties acknowledge that at the beginning of the investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had reason to believe that a substantial number of unauthorized aliens were employed at several Pilgrim's Pride plants. As part of that investigation, twenty-five unauthorized aliens were arrested in the Eastern District of Texas in December 2007 and charged with misuse of a Social Security Account number. In early 2008, a number of worksite enforcement actions were conducted by ICE at five Pilgrim's Pride plants in Texas, Florida, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Tennessee, resulting in the apprehension of approximately 338 unauthorized aliens. Thirty-eight illegal aliens were convicted in the Eastern District of Texas for misuse of a Social Security Account number.

Throughout the investigation, Pilgrim's Pride cooperated with the U. S. Attorney's Office and law enforcement agencies. In addition, Pilgrim's Pride implemented various measures designed to ensure a legal work force. As a result of this agreement, Pilgrim's Pride will continue to strengthen its workplace compliance programs and adopt measures recommended by ICE to identify and avoid the employment of unauthorized aliens. In reaching this agreement, Pilgrim's Pride did not admit to any criminal or civil misconduct. "

Read the full story: http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/0912/091230beaumont.htm

Suicides Increase Among Korean Immigrants in New York Region

"Suicides Soar Among New York Koreans"
By KIRK SEMPLE

"While the recession has scattered its distress widely, without regard for nationality, many Koreans and Korean-Americans in the New York area worry that it is taking a particularly heavy toll on their community.

The number of suicides reported to the local Korean Consulate General has more than doubled this year, to 15 from 6 last year, and there were 5 in 2007. All of the dead were Korean citizens, said the consulate, which does not keep statistics on Korean-Americans. The latest suicide came on Dec. 15, when a woman in her early 30s hanged herself in her home in Flushing, Queens, the consulate said.

The consul general, Kyungkeun Kim, said he believed that the actual total of suicides by Korean citizens might be more than twice as high. The Korea Times, a Korean-language newspaper published in the United States, reported in September that at least 36 Koreans and Korean-Americans in the New York region had taken their lives this year.

Money troubles have been the leading force behind the sharp rise, say Korean civic leaders and officials, who are alarmed by the trend.

Many Koreans place an extraordinary emphasis on academic and professional achievement, said Sung Min Yoon, the assistant project director at the Asian Outreach Clinic of the Child Center of New York. Failure to get into top colleges, perform well at school or climb the economic ladder can cause deep shame and embarrassment.

'We have a very inflexible mentality,' Mr. Yoon said.

Community groups have organized several suicide prevention seminars. The Korean-American director of a funeral home in Flushing that caters to Koreans sponsored two seminars, in New York City and New Jersey.

Koreans are by no means alone in their concern. An Irish-American community center in Yonkers held a series of mental health workshops in the fall after a spate of suicides among Irish immigrants.

The rise in suicides among Koreans in New York, however, mirrors an increase in South Korea, where the suicide rate last year was 26 per 100,000 people, up from 24.8 in 2007 and 21.8 in 2006, said Dr. Myung-Soo Lee, director of the Seoul Suicide Prevention Center.

This month, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reported that South Korea had the highest rate among its 30 member nations, based on 2006 statistics. A number of prominent South Koreans have killed themselves this year, including former President Roh Moo-hyun, who was implicated in a corruption investigation; Daul Kim, a top South Korean model; and Park Yong-oh, the former chairman of Doosan, South Korea’s oldest business conglomerate.

Some experts trace the increase in the suicide rate, in part, to the nation’s rapid transformation from an impoverished agrarian society to a booming industrial power. Traditional family support systems have fractured, age-old value systems have dissolved and materialism has flourished, they say. And those changes continue to steer the lives of recent emigrants to America."

Read the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/31/nyregion/31suicides.html?_r=1

Thailand Deports Hmong Refugees Back to Laos, Citing Illegal Entrys Based on Finances Not Fear of Persecution

"Thailand to deport 4,000 Hmong to Laos"

"Thailand deported about 450 Hmong refugees to Laos Monday and plans on evicting 3,900 more from a refugee camp, the government said.

The forced repatriation prompted concern from human rights groups who say the refugees risk persecution in Laos.

Many Hmong sided with the United States during the Vietnam War when the conflict spread to Laos.

When the Communists assumed power in 1975, thousands of Hmong fled to neighboring Thailand...

The Thai government says the Hmong at the Huay Nam Khao Camp in Petchabun province in the north had left Laos not for fear of persecution but for financial reasons. They entered Thailand illegally and could not claim political asylum, the government says.

On Monday, the Thai army put 448 Hmong on buses that were headed for Laos.

Many refused to leave peacefully, Army Col. Thana Jaruwat said on national television. If they did not comply, the army will have to 'enforce the law,' he said without elaborating."

Read the full article: http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/12/28/thailand.hmong.refugees/index.html

U.S. State Dep't Issues New Travel Alert for India

India
December 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. In addition, there continues to be a possibility of violence in the south-central Indian state of Andhra Pradesh over the contentious issue of creating a separate state within Andhra Pradesh. This Alert replaces the Travel Alerts dated October 29 and December 9, 2009, and expires on January 31, 2010...

There is also the possibility of violence in the south-central Indian state of Andhra Pradesh as civil unrest continues over the contentious issue of statehood for the Telangana region. The Department recommends that U.S. citizens defer all non-essential travel to Telangana and certain parts of Hyderabad (especially the Assembly and Secretariat, Osmania University, Panjagutta, and Ameerpet areas). The Telangana Region includes the districts of Rangareddi, Warangal, Medak, Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Adilabad, Khammam, Nalgonda, and Mahbubnagar. There has also been sporadic unrest in the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions, most notably in the cities of Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Guntur, Ongole, Kurnool, and Chittoor.

Andhra Pradesh continues to experience episodic civil unrest as pro- and anti-statehood political groups rally supporters to their respective causes. A number of strikes have shut down schools and businesses, making it at times difficult to obtain essentials such as gasoline. Protesters have targeted public transportation, attacking trains and burning numerous buses. Public transportation networks have been forced to shut down several times. There have been repeated clashes between police and protesters, damage to private property, and a number of deaths and injuries associated with the disturbances. Government security forces have been augmented in many parts of the state, especially in Hyderabad and in the Telangana region...

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 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 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 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 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."

Read the complete Alert: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_4624.html

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Failure to Revoke Terror Suspect's Visa Resulted in Near Attack on US Airliner

"Al-Qaida In The Arabian Peninsula Claims Responsibility For Attempted Airliner Attack"
Philip Elliott
Associated Press writers Jennifer Loven, Matt Lee, Eileen Sullivan, Lolita Baldor and Devlin Barrett in Washington; Pamela Hess in New York; Ed White in Detroit; Jon Gambrell in Lagos, Nigeria; Donna Abu-Nasr in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Mark Niesse in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, contributed to this report.


"President Barack Obama on Monday vowed to use 'every element of our national power' to keep Americans safe and said the failed Christmas Day plot to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner was "a serious reminder" of the need to continually adapt security measures against changing terrorist threats.

But even as Obama spoke, word came that a State Department warning had failed to trigger an effort to revoke the alleged attacker's visa. And officials in Yemen confirmed that the would-be bomber had been living in that country, where terrorist elements quickly sought to take credit for his actions.

The incident prompted stiffer airport boarding measures and authorities warned holiday travelers to expect extra delays as they return home this week and beyond.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, charged with trying to destroy an aircraft, is being held at the federal prison in Milan, Mich. A court hearing that had been scheduled for Monday to determine whether the government can get DNA from him was postponed until Jan. 8. No reason was given."

Read the full article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/28/al-qaida-in-the-arabian-p_n_405177.html

Engaged Gay Couple in Malawi Face 14 Years in Prison

"Malawi gay couple to face court after engagement"


"Two gay men arrested in Malawi after getting engaged are to be charged with gross public indecency, police say.

'We arrested them because they committed an offence; homosexuality in Malawi is illegal,' police spokesman Davie Chingwalu told the BBC.

Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza held a traditional engagement ceremony over the weekend - believed to be the first gay couple in Malawi to do so.

Homosexuality carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years in Malawi...

The BBC's Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre says the pair have been seen relaxing at the police station with Mr Tiwonge still wearing the dress he wore at the engagement party...

CEDEP's executive director, Gift Trapence, says the laws used to arrest the couple are invalid because they are against the Bill of Rights enshrined in the 1995 constitution.

'Even if you arrest them or charge them for 20 years, you cannot change their sexual orientation. They are what they are,' he told the BBC.

'So the issue is in a democratic era - if you are arresting people based on their sexual orientation, are you doing justice to the fundamental human rights of these individuals?' he said."

Read the full article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8433640.stm

Monday, December 28, 2009

Pastor Peddled Illegally Obtained Student Visas

"California pastor charged in visa fraud scheme

Foreign nationals allegedly paid defendant thousands for aid in illegally obtaining student visas"
 
"A Korea-born pastor who owns and operates a religious school in Fullerton, Calif., is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court Wednesday to answer to charges that he used the school as a front for an elaborate student visa fraud scheme, going so far as to hand out phony diplomas and stage graduation ceremonies.

Samuel Chai Cho Oh, 65, owner of California Union University (CUU), surrendered to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents Tuesday morning. Oh, who also serves as pastor of the Union Church housed on the CUU campus, is accused in a criminal complaint of conspiracy to commit visa fraud.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, a confidential source familiar with Oh's business dealings alleged the pastor collected $40,000 to $50,000 a month in fees from foreign "students" who received Form I-20s from CUU certifying their eligibility for academic study. The Form I-20 enables prospective students to go to a U.S. Embassy or consulate abroad and apply for a student visa. Until October, when its federal certification was revoked, CUU was authorized by the Department of Homeland Security to accept foreign students pursuing an education in religious and biblical studies, English as a Second Language (ESL) and Oriental medicine.

As part of the investigation, which began 10 months ago, ICE agents arrested and questioned more than 30 foreign nationals who stated they paid Oh fees ranging from $600 to more than $10,000 for documentation enabling them to fraudulently obtain student visas and, in some cases, bogus degrees. The 'students' acknowledged they never attended class, nor did they ever see any teachers or students on the CUU campus. In the case affidavit, one witness, who purportedly received his bachelor's degree in education from CUU, recounted how Oh staged a graduation ceremony at the campus in May, where students clad in caps and gowns, laughed as they received their phony diplomas."

Read the full story: http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/0912/091223santaana.htm

Saturday, December 26, 2009

California Judge Draws Attention to Pitfalls in Immigration Laws

Cal. Judge Blasts Immigration Laws

By ELIZABETH BANICKI

"A California district judge called the denial of three U.S. nonimmigrant visitors' applications for extended stay legal but 'absurd,' a 'testament to the bewildering traps that immigration laws set in the path of persons trying to comply with such laws.'"

Read the Minutes: http://www.courthousenews.com/2009/12/24/Stella.pdf

Thursday, December 24, 2009

US Department of State Issues New Travel Alert on New Visa Regulations for India

India - New Visa Regulations

December 23, 2009

"The Department of State wishes to alert U.S. citizens with Indian tourist visas about new regulations that may affect planned travel. Travelers are urged to review travel plans in light of these new regulations. This Travel Alert supplements the Travel Alerts for India dated October 29 and December 9, and expires on January 21, 2010.

Foreign tourists departing India with visitor (T) visas will now receive a stamp in their passports at the port of departure that indicates that the bearer will not be allowed to reenter India for two months, regardless of their length of stay or validity of the visa. Tourists who wish to return to India before the two-month period has passed must visit an Indian Embassy, High Commission, or Consulate abroad to present their case for reentry, and must provide documentation in support of the request. If approved, the traveler will receive a letter authorizing reentry to present at an Indian port of entry. Only one request for reentry may be made during a two-month interval. Tourists who have been granted permission to return to India may also be required to register with the nearest Foreigners Registration Office within 14 days of their return, regardless of the length of their stay. The procedures and requirements for registration can be complex. Travelers are advised to follow directions as stipulated on their visas regarding registration procedures irrespective of the visa category.

To date, these changes have mostly affected tourist (T) visa holders, but the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India have also received reports pertaining to other visa types and about inconsistent implementation of the new rules, which have not been widely publicized and are subject to change. Prior to traveling to or departing India, Americans who may be affected by these changes are urged to contact the nearest Indian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate overseas or Foreign Registration Office in India to determine proper procedures to follow...

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 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 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 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 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."

Read the full Alert: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_4620.html

Father and Son Finally Reunited in Brazil

"U.S. dad reunites with son in Brazil, ending custody battle"
December 24, 2009 8:21 a.m. EST

"Nine-year-old Sean Goldman arrived Thursday at the U.S. Consulate in Rio de Janeiro for a reunion with his father, David Goldman, ending a well-publicized international custody battle.

The Christmas Eve reunion of son and father comes after a five-year custody battle that involved U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and numerous Brazilian courtrooms.

'Sean Goldman is finally with his father David,' a consulate statement said. 'The U.S. Consulate is doing its utmost to assure that the reunion will be as smooth as possible.'

The boy arrived, wearing a yellow and green Brazil soccer jersey, and clutching his stepfather as he walked past a throng of reporters."

Read the full story: http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/12/24/brazil.custody/index.html

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Court to Brazilian Family: Child to be Relinquished to U.S. Dad by Thursday Morning

"Court orders Brazilian family to relinquish boy"

"A federal court has ordered a Brazilian family to turn over a 9-year-old boy to his U.S. father by Thursday morning.

The regional court in Rio de Janeiro issued a statement Wednesday afternoon announcing the order.

The ruling gives the family until 9 a.m. (6 a.m. ET; 1100 GMT) Thursday to relinquish the boy to his father, David Goldman.

Goldman, of Tinton Falls, New Jersey, won a big legal victory late Tuesday when Brazil's chief justice upheld a lower court's ruling that ordered his son, Sean, returned to him. The boy has lived in Brazil since Goldman's ex-wife took him to her native country in 2004. Last year she died in childbirth...

Goldman's lawyers were finalizing legal documents Wednesday morning and were fully expecting that the Brazilian family would turn over Sean as ordered, said U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Orna Blum, who is accompanying Goldman in Rio.

'We're hopeful that David and Sean will be reunited today,' Blum said.

There has been no word from the Brazilian family or its lawyer, however, and it is not clear if the boy is even in Rio de Janeiro.

Lawyers on both sides have said there was still a chance for the Brazilian family to appeal to Brazil's highest appeals court, though the chances of success seemed slight...

The fact that the chief justice ruled Sean should be with his father should take the steam out of any appeal from the Brazilian stepfather, himself a lawyer from a prominent family of Rio de Janeiro attorneys, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith...said law enforcement was on guard in case the Brazilian family did not transfer Sean. He said the international police agency Interpol had been notified to make sure Sean was not flown out of Brazil.

'When? When? When will Sean and I be able to go home, father and son?' Goldman asked in an interview aired Wednesday morning on the U.S. television network NBC.

Goldman, who has made more than 10 trips to Brazil in recent years, has said that until he is on a plane with his son heading to the U.S., he will not be convinced his battle is over.

Both the U.S. and Brazilian governments have said the matter clearly fell under the Hague Convention, which seeks to ensure that custody decisions are made by the courts in the country where a child originally lived — in this case, the United States...

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva...has said he would not intervene in the case, that it was purely a matter for Brazil's legal system."

Read the complete article: http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2009-12-23-brazil-custody_N.htm?csp=24&RM_Exclude=Juno

African Albino Man Granted Asylum in Spain

"Mali albino given Spanish asylum 'fled discrimination'"

By Sarah Rainsford
BBC News, Madrid

"Lawyers for a Malian albino man granted asylum in Spain have told the BBC he faced constant discrimination at home."


"Abdoulaye Coulibaly, 22, who arrived illegally by boat in the Spanish Canary Islands in April, says he also survived two kidnap attempts in 2007.

Cases of violence aimed at albinos are unusual in Mali, but there have been numerous cases of murder, kidnap and torture of albinos in East Africa.

Lawyers say Mr Coulibaly's case shows the problems are more widespread.

In Tanzania, witchdoctors sell good-luck potions made from the body parts of albino people for thousands of dollars...

Mr Coulibaly is the first albino man from Africa to be granted asylum by Spain.

His case was taken up by the Spanish refugee aid agency, CEAR.

'He found it difficult to get work in Mali and whenever anything went wrong in his town, people would blame him,' Kimi Aoki, a lawyer from CEAR in Las Palmas, told the BBC.

'They said he brought bad luck,' she said.

Mr Coulibaly was even blamed when the boat that carried the migrants to Spain from Africa got into difficulty.

Ms Aoki said he escaped two kidnap attempts with the help of people on the street...

It can take up to two years for the Spanish authorities to process an asylum application but Mr Coulibaly's case was completed in just nine months.

Surprised local lawyers call it a 'real success' and hope it can help other albino people who seek refuge here.

The asylum application of the only other African albino to do so previously was rejected and is currently under appeal. "

Read the full article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8428688.stm

U.S. Dad a Step Closer to Bringing Son Home from Brazil

Brazil high court lifts stay, allowing boy to return to U.S.
CNN's Mariano Castillo and Adam Reiss contributed to this report.

The chief justice of the Brazilian Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in favor of an American father in an international custody battle.

The ruling by Chief Justice Gilmar Mendes will reunite a 9-year-old boy with his father, David Goldman, who has been locked in a custody battle with the family of the boy's deceased mother.

Last week, a lower court unanimously upheld a decision ordering that Sean Goldman be returned to his father in New Jersey.

David Goldman arrived in Rio de Janeiro to reunite with his son, but one Supreme Court justice issued a stay, ordering Sean to remain with his Brazilian relatives until the high court could consider the case.

Mendes' decision lifted the stay, paving the way for Goldman to be reunited with his son.

Sean's grandmother, Silvana Bianchi, was expected to immediately file appeals to Tuesday's ruling.

In a letter to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Bianchi said that the legal process was overlooking the boy's own desires.

'I feel threatened by losing my grandson Sean because of international pressures that don't consider the interest of a 9-year-old child who passionately desires to remain among those that gave him comfort in the mother's death,' the letter states in part. 'They allege that the Hague Convention determined to hand him over immediately. I am not a lawyer. But what I know is that the Convention establishes as priority the interest of the child, and the child wasn't heard.' ...

While the chief justice was still studying the case, Brazilian Attorney General Luis Inacio Adams said the executive branch sides with Goldman.

'Once we stop cooperating and start breaking our treaties and international obligations, Brazil risks the chance of not having its own requests in the matters regarding international judicial help granted, based on the principle of international reciprocity,' Adams said Monday.

'Not releasing the minor into the custody of his father could bring sanctions against Brazil,' he added. 'It could damage Brazil's image before the international community.'"

Read the full story: http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/12/22/brazil.custody.battle/index.html

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Unaccompanied Minor Immigrants to Australia Moved from Christmas Island to Melbourne

"Young refugees taken off island"
DANIEL FLITTON

"THIRTY Afghan youths seeking asylum in Australia have been moved to the mainland from Christmas Island to reduce overcrowding in the island's detention centre.

The unaccompanied minors, all believed to be male, will remain in legal limbo while their asylum claims are processed by the Department of Immigration.

They will be held in a secure facility in Broadmeadows in Melbourne, where 10 Afghan boys were sent in September before receiving visas to stay.

The Christmas Island detention centre is so crowded that tents are being used to accommodate some of the 1432 people. The centre was designed for 800...

The Opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, said the Federal Government should not be watering down Australia's policy to process asylum seeker claims offshore.

'The Government should be seeking to identify alternative offshore processing options if they cannot accommodate people on Christmas Island,' Mr Morrison said.'  It sends an appalling message to people smugglers, which says that they can now get their customers all the way to the mainland.'

He also said the decision opened a ''murky legal area'' that could give rise to the prospect of asylum-seekers on the mainland challenging detention in the courts.

Refugee advocates welcomed the move of the Afghan youths, but questioned the need to keep them in detention.

'It's a commonsense and humane step to bring unaccompanied minors from what's really harsh and unnecessary treatment in remote detention on Christmas Island,' David Manne, co-ordinator of the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre, said.

'But I'm at a complete loss to understand why it is necessary to lock up in the suburbs of Melbourne children who fled persecution and are about to be granted protection.'

In a written statement to questions from the Herald, a spokesman for the Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, said bringing the Afghan youths to Melbourne allowed them to be given 'priority processing'."

Read the full article: http://www.smh.com.au/national/young-refugees-taken-off-island-20091222-lbsn.html

India Tightens Visa Rules

"US, UK protest as India gets tough on visas"

"The tightening of visa norms following the unearthing of terror missions of Lashkar jihadi David Coleman Headley has raised a storm of protests from countries such as UK and US.

The new rules, to be notified next week, will apply to anyone needing a visa to come to India, even those of Indian origin. Essentially, they will stop the current system where an Indian tourist visa doubled up as a business visa.

The new rules say that if you are in India on a tourist visa and have stayed for over 90 days, you need to take a two-month 'time-out' before returning.

This will hit hard thousands of foreign nationals living in India on long-term tourist visas. They prefer tourist visas to avoid the cumbersome process involved in securing a visa that can give them the right to residency.

There is another category which will be affected by the change in visa regime -- foreigners who arrive in India on tourist visas and use the country as the base for travel to nearby nations.

The change, prompted by the discovery of how Headley moved in and out of the country while plotting terror strikes against India, has caught many foreign tourists unawares, provoking howls of protest. The MEA too has asked the home ministry to reconsider these provisions, which are seen as drastic by many.

Headley was in India on a multiple-entry long-term visa when he charted out terror targets for Laskhar-e-Toiba. The videos prepared by him during his reccee of Mumbai were used by Lashkar terrorists in the 26/11 attack...

The British High Commission confirmed to TOI that a letter had been sent to the Indian government over the last two days, asking for a review of the proposed visa guidelines.

Officials later indicated they would be 'flexible' if, at the time of applying for a visa, the applicant tells the Indian visa officer that he will also be travelling to other countries in the region, using India as a hub. The visa will reflect the itinerary of the tourist, affording him more flexibility.

But it will entail, just like in any other country with multiple-entry visa norms, considerable paperwork. Here too, the discretion will lie with the visa officer concerned, which is always ground for irregularities.

Some government departments have questioned whether there is enough manpower to deal with the increased paperwork...

For Pakistan origin people from third countries, coming to India now will become a story of long waits because their visas will have to be processed by the home ministry in Delhi, which is not known for its efficiency or fast pace. This means Indian families with kin in Pakistan or other countries will find it difficult to have family events without going through interminable waits at the visa offices.

This would apply to people with third country passports but who have a Pakistani parent or even grandparent."

Read the full article: http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=5263545276014148911

Saturday, December 19, 2009

U.S. Dad's Legal Battles With Brazil Continue

"Brazil custody dad discouraged but determined"

"‘They brainwash him,’ David Goldman says of his son after latest court delay"
By Mike Celizic
TODAYshow.com contributor

"It was supposed to be the end of a five-year saga — the day a New Jersey father was finally allowed to take his 9-year-old son back home. Instead, it became another wrenching setback in an international custody battle that has engaged even the presidents of both the United States and Brazil.

'I’ve been down this road before,' a drawn and haggard David Goldman told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira Friday from Rio de Janeiro. 'I’ve been right here in front of this camera with the same view behind me, discouraged, disappointed, but no less determined to save my son'...

'It’s just something to expect the unexpected,' said Goldman. 'Until I’m on a plane with Sean, it’s not over. Until we’re back home in America with me and his family, it’s not over. Hopefully, we’re getting closer.'

On Friday, Goldman asked Brazil's attorney general to join his battle before the nation's Supreme Court, and a spokesman for the attorney general's office said the agency was looking into the request.

'We're evaluating how to proceed in this matter. A decision could be made today, or it could take more time than that,' the spokesman told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, as he was not authorized to discuss the case.

Goldman doesn't have a lot of time.

The Supreme Court adjourns for a two-month holiday break this weekend. If the entire court does not act to dismiss the injunction, court sources say, Goldman will have to wait until February to resume his battle."

Read the full article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34477085/ns/today-today_people/

Cambodia Deports Muslim Asylum-Seekers Back to China Despite Fears of Retribution Upon Their Return

"Cambodia to Expel Asylum Seekers"
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: December 19, 2009
 
"Cambodia deported a group of 20 Muslim asylum-seekers back to China on Saturday, despite the protests from the U.S. and the U.N., which rushed people to the airport in an attempt to physically prevent their expulsion.

As the Uighurs were put in a compound under constant guard in recent days, exile and rights groups grew increasingly nervous that Cambodia would give in to considerable pressure from Beijing, the Southeast Asian nation's largest foreign investor. The decision to expel them finally was announced on the eve of a visit from Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping.

Amnesty International warned the Uighurs could be tortured on their return to China, while analysts and exile groups said the deportation showed widespread problems with the refugee system at large.

The Uighurs, including two children, fled after ethnic rioting in July and slipped out of the country with the help of a secret missionary network in China. Their role in the rioting, China's worst communal violence in decades, remains unclear.

But China called them criminals, and Cambodia said it was deporting them because they had entered the country illegally. China's Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment Saturday night.

China has handed down at least 17 death sentences -- mostly to Uighurs -- over the summer violence between the ethnic minority and the majority Han Chinese. Exile groups say Uighurs have been rounded up in mass detentions since the rioting. Uighurs also complain the Chinese government has long restricted their rights, particularly clamping down on their practice of Islam.

Some countries have refused to send Uighurs -- such as those released from U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba -- back to China over concerns about retribution and abuse."

Read the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/12/19/world/AP-AS-Cambodia-Fleeing-Uighurs.html?_r=1

Friday, December 18, 2009

Guyanese Woman Indicted on Alien Smuggling and Conspiracy Charges

Guyanese national charged with smuggling Indian nationals into United States

A Guyanese national has been indicted on charges of conspiracy and alien smuggling in connection with her role in the smuggling or attempted smuggling of four Indian nationals into the United States following an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Investigations in Miami.

Annita Devi Gerald, aka Annita Rampersad, 52, was charged in a nine-count indictment filed on Wednesday by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Texas on charges of conspiracy, encouraging and inducing aliens to come to the United States for profit, and bringing aliens to the United States for profit. Gerald was arrested by ICE special agents in Houston on Nov. 17 and has been held without bond since that time.

In July 2008, ICE special agents in Miami obtained information that Gerald was the alleged leader of an alien smuggling organization and initiated an investigation.

According to the indictment, from approximately April 2009 to Nov. 17, Gerald and others conspired to smuggle four Indian nationals into the United States. Allegedly, Gerald and her co-conspirators fraudulently obtained Belizean visas for the Indian nationals and escorted them from India to Belize, moving through various countries in Central and South America. Gerald allegedly provided lodging for all four Indian nationals in Belize while further smuggling arrangements were made.

In August 2009, Gerald allegedly arranged transportation for one of the Indian nationals to cross the border from Belize into Mexico where he met with Gerald's co-conspirator, Dhanraj Samuel, 52, of Trinidad and Tobago, who escorted him through Mexico. In Monterrey, Mexico, Gerald's co-conspirator paid a Mexico-based smuggler to illegally transport the individual across the Mexico-U.S. border to Houston. After making these arrangements, Gerald's co-conspirator allegedly flew to Houston where the co-conspirator received the Indian national at a motel approximately 10 days later. The smugglers who delivered the Indian national to Gerald's co-conspirator in Houston allegedly demanded and received a smuggling payment prior to releasing him. The Indian national smuggled to Houston is currently being detained by ICE pending removal. The whereabouts of the other three Indian nationals allegedly harbored by Gerald in Belize is currently unknown.

On Aug. 25, ICE special agents arrested Gerald's co-conspirator, Dhanraj Samuel, in Pompano Beach, Fla. for violations of bringing aliens to the U.S. for profit and aiding and abetting and conspiracy.

If convicted, Gerald faces a maximum prison sentence of five years for conspiracy and 10 years for each of the four counts of encouraging and inducing aliens to come to the United States for profit. Additionally, she faces the maximum penalty for each of the four counts of bringing aliens to the United States for profit, which is 10 years for a first or second violation and 15 years for any other violation. She also faces a fine of up to $250,000.

The investigation was conducted by ICE's Office of Investigations in Miami and Houston, with the critical assistance of the ICE Attaché offices in El Salvador, Ecuador, Brazil, Singapore and Panama, as well as the ICE Office of Intelligence in Washington, and the Alien Smuggling Interdiction Unit of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Washington. El Salvadoran authorities, particularly the Direción General de Migración y Extranjería (El Salvador Immigrations) and the Grupo Especial de Investigaciones Nacionales e Internacionales (El Salvador Police-GEINI) also provided invaluable assistance.

Read the complete story: http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/0912/091217miami.htm

Thursday, December 17, 2009

More of the Same for U.S. Father Seeking to Regain Custody of Child in Brazil

"Brazilian top court rules boy stays for now"
"International court battle began after child’s Brazilian mother died in 2008"
 
"Brazil's Supreme Court delayed the return of a 9-year-old boy to his New Jersey father.


Thursday's ruling by Justice Marco Aurelio Mello agreed with a petition by the boy's Brazilian family that he should remain in Brazil until the court decides whether the child's own testimony should be heard in the case.

The ruling suspended a Wednesday judgment by a lower court ordering that David Goldman be given custody of his son, Sean. On Thursday, Goldman was met by a crush of reporters at the airport in Rio de Janeiro, where he was hopeful to return to the U.S. with the boy."

Read the full article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34464665/ns/world_news-americas?GT1=43001

Americans Adopting Fewer Children From Abroad

"Foreign adoptions by Americans hit 13-year low"

"The number of foreign children adopted by Americans plunged more than a quarter in the past year, reaching the lowest level since 1996 and leading adoption advocates to urge Congress to help reverse the trend.

Big declines were recorded for all three countries that provided the most adopted children in the previous fiscal year. In China and Russia, government officials have been trying to promote domestic adoptions, while in Guatemala, a once-bustling but highly corrupt international adoption industry was shut down while reforms are implemented.

Figures for fiscal year 2009, released by the State Department on Thursday, showed 12,753 adoptions from abroad, down from 17,438 in 2008 — a dip of 27% and nearly 45% lower than the all-time peak of 22,884 in 2004.

The last time there were fewer foreign adoptions to the U.S. was in 1996, when there were 11,340."

Read the full article: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-12-17-Adoptions_N.htm?csp=24&RM_Exclude=Juno

New Procedures Regarding Detention of Asylum Seekers Effective January 4, 2010

"ICE issues new procedures for asylum seekers as part of ongoing detention reform initiatives"

"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Secretary John Morton today announced that ICE will generally release from detention arriving asylum seekers who have a credible fear of persecution or torture if certain criteria are met-part of ICE's ongoing immigration detention reform efforts.

'ICE is committed to detention reform that ensures criminal and violent aliens remain in custody while establishing effective alternatives for non-violent, non-criminal detainees commensurate with the risk they present,' said Assistant Secretary Morton. 'These new parole procedures for asylum seekers will help ICE focus both on protecting against major threats to public safety and implementing common-sense detention policies.'

The revised guidelines announced today, effective Jan. 4, 2010, will permit parole from detention-which temporarily authorizes aliens to enter the United States without being formally admitted or granted immigration status-of aliens arriving at U.S. ports of entry who establish their identities, pose neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community, have a credible fear of persecution or torture, and have no additional factors that weigh against their release. The new guidelines also mandate that all such arriving aliens should automatically be considered for parole--a significant change from prior guidance that required aliens to request parole in writing.

In addition, the new policy adds heightened quality assurance safeguards, including monthly reporting by ICE field offices and headquarters analysis of parole rates and decision-making, as well as a review of compliance rates for paroled aliens.

U.S. immigration laws generally require aliens who arrive in the United States without valid entry documents to be immediately removed without further hearing; however, arriving aliens can pursue protection in the United States if they are first found by a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) asylum officer or an immigration judge to have a credible fear of persecution or torture in their home country.

When the policy becomes effective, USCIS asylum officers will explain the new process to arriving aliens who have been determined to have a credible fear of persecution or torture, including providing information regarding appropriate documentation the aliens may provide to help establish their eligibility for release."

http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/0912/091216washington.htm

US Diplomats, Military and Aid Workers Facing Visa Difficulties in Pakistan

"US diplomats in Pakistan visa row"
By M Ilyas Khan
BBC News, Islamabad

"US diplomats have complained that Pakistan is delaying the extension of visas of more than 100 US officials.

They say that those affected are engaged in diplomatic, military and aid services and may not be able to return to Pakistan after the Christmas break.

There are also reports of US diplomatic vehicles being repeatedly stopped and searched at Pakistani checkpoints.

But Pakistani foreign office spokesman Abdul Basit told the BBC there was 'no question of delaying tactics' on visas.

The claims come at a time when the US administration is calling for international support for its 'war on terror'.

The latest developments indicate a new low in US-Pakistan relations...

'At least 135 visas are being held up by the Pakistani authorities,' the chief spokesman of the US embassy in Pakistan, Richard Snelsire, told the BBC News website.
'Extensions of these visas have not been denied, but they are being delayed,' he said.

But Mr Basit said that Pakistan had good relations with the United States, so there was no question of any deliberate initiative to inconvenience the Americans.

'The delays may be due to procedural constraints,' he said.

'It happens in other countries as well. Many Pakistanis sometimes get visas very late, or are refused.'

The Associated Press news agency quoted an unnamed US diplomat as saying the visa clampdown and the US vehicle searches were a reaction to widespread anti-American sentiment in Pakistan, and were probably temporary...

US President Barack Obama signed into law a $7.5bn (£4.6bn) aid package for Pakistan last October for economic and social programmes.

Under the law, a large number of American workers must be deployed in Pakistan to carry out accounting and aid-monitoring procedures.

American diplomats believe this additional deployment may increase the strength of the US embassy staff from about 500 to nearly 800.

Various quarters in the Pakistani establishment have been critical of this impending increase in US diplomatic activity in the country.

The Pakistani army has also publicly criticised some provisions of the US aid package as 'intrusive meddling' in the country's internal affairs."

Read the full story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8418080.stm

Do Texas Schools Violate Federal Law By Granting In-State Tuition and Financial Aid to Undocumented Immigrant Students Over Nonresident U.S. Citizens?

"Anti-Immigration Group Sues Texas Colleges"
By CAMERON LANGFORD
 
"Texas colleges and universities are violating federal law by classifying 8,000 undocumented immigrant students as state residents and allowing them to pay discounted in-state tuition and receive financial aid, the Immigration Reform Coalition of Texas claims in Harris County Court.
Congress enacted legislation to prevent states from being more generous with tuition and aid to undocumented aliens than they are to U.S. citizens who come from other states, the coalition says. It claims Texas is defying this law by letting immigrants participate in state grant programs and pay state tuition rates.

'Texas law, which allows illegal aliens to qualify as Texas residents for purposes of tuition and financial aid but denies resident tuition and state financial aid to nonresident students, conflicts with both the plain language and the stated purpose of [federal law],' the complaint states.

Texas law allows immigrants whose parents, or they themselves, established a home in the state 1 year before the start of an academic term to qualify as residents, according to the complaint. In addition, undocumented immigrants who graduate from a Texas high school can quality as residents, the coalition says.

Defendants in what the coalition calls its 'taxpayers' complaint' include the State of Texas, state Comptroller Susan Combs, and the University of Houston System and its Chancellor Renu Khator. The Houston Community College System and its Chancellor Mary Spangler also are defendants, as are the Lone Star College System and Chancellor Richard Carpenter.

The coalition wants an order declaring that 'in Texas an illegal alien is not eligible for discounted in-state tuition or any form of state financial aid.'"

And it wants the defendants to produce all documents related to illegal immigrants within 50 days. The coalition is represented by Steven Smith of the Austin-based Texas Legal Foundation.
 
http://www.courthousenews.com/2009/12/17/Anti-Immigration_Group_Sues_Texas_Colleges.htm
 
Read the Petition: http://www.courthousenews.com/2009/12/17/Immig.pdf

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Brazilian Federal Court: Custody of Child to U.S. Dad

"Brazil court rules for U.S. dad seeking custody"
"Court battle began after boy's Brazilian mother died last year"
NBC News and news services
 
"A Brazilian federal court ruled Wednesday that a 9-year-old boy living in Brazil should be returned to his father in New Jersey.

The 3-0 ruling said the boy must be returned by Friday, but the family now in custody of the boy immediately filed an appeal and a stay is possible.

The court agreed with David Goldman that Sean Goldman belongs in New Jersey under an international treaty governing cross-border child abductions.

Brazil's supreme court ruled in June the case should be heard by the federal court in Rio.

The case began in 2004, when David Goldman's wife, Bruna Bianchi, took their then-4-year-old son Sean to her native Brazil.

Goldman, who planned to travel to Brazil on Wednesday, says it was to be a two-week vacation. But she stayed and so did the boy.

She eventually was divorced there and remarried. She died last year, but her new husband's family has sought to keep Sean."

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34447543/ns/world_news-americas?GT1=43001

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Death of an AIDS Activist and Human Rights Pioneer

"Dennis deLeon, AIDS Activist, Dies at 61"
By DENNIS HEVESI
Photo by Vio DeLucia
Published: December 14, 2009

"Dennis deLeon, a former New York City human rights commissioner who was one of the first city officials to announce that he was infected with the virus that causes AIDS and who later led one of the nation’s most influential advocacy groups for Latinos with AIDS, died Monday in Manhattan. He was 61...


Mr. deLeon had been human rights commissioner for three years when he disclosed his condition in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times in 1993. At the time, AIDS bore far more of a stigma than it does today, and he said he had been struggling about whether to go public.

'When I contemplated disclosure,' he wrote, 'I felt that my hope to continue contributing to society as a lawyer and human rights activist was threatened. Would I be evaluated on my merits if I sought to be a judge, a law professor, a law firm member or a governmental appointee?' ...

As commissioner, he had seen hundreds of cases in which H.I.V.-positive New Yorkers were shunned by colleagues and employers, he wrote.

'Often, the person is transferred into a meaningless position, passed over for advancement or fired,' he added. 'Such treatment is often made to appear superficially legitimate but is frequently revealed through investigation to be based on discrimination. Why should I put up with this?'

He would not. A year later, Mr. deLeon became president of the Latino Commission on AIDS, an organization that had a staff of two. It now has a staff of 45 and a budget of $5 million and works in partnership with 380 organizations around the county. Mr. deLeon was its president until a few months ago.

Under his leadership, the organization created a national Spanish-language clearinghouse for AIDS information, a network of prevention programs in Spanish-speaking churches, and committees with the mission of mobilizing gay Latinos as well as immigrants, women and inmates with AIDS. In 2003, the organization sponsored the first National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, a program that is now held annually on Oct. 15 in 40 states...

As commissioner, Mr. deLeon worked to calm disputes between blacks and Orthodox Jews in Crown Heights and Williamsburg, Brooklyn; blacks and Korean grocery owners in Flatbush, Brooklyn; and Dominicans and the police in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan...

Under Mr. deLeon, a human rights commission study found that many hospitals and clinics in the city were refusing to perform abortions on women infected with the AIDS virus. Investigators posing as patients made appointments at 50 health centers but were turned away from 20 clinics when they said they were H.I.V.-positive.

'To have this service denied to these women is really a crime,' Mr. deLeon said. ;No one wants to deal with these folks. We’re sending a message to the clinics that this is illegal, and we will pursue you.'”

Read the complete article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/15/nyregion/15deleon.html?hpw

Ninth Circuit Holds that CA's Failure to Fully Cover Costs of Children in Foster Care Violates Federal Child Welfare Act

"Circuit: Calif. Underpays Foster Care Providers"
By NICK DIVITO

"California underpays its foster care providers and is therefore in violation of the federal Child Welfare Act, the 9th Circuit ruled. The San Francisco-based panel said the state's payments of 80 percent or less of the actual cost of care is illegal and insufficient.

In determining whether California's 80 percent payment will 'cover the cost' of foster care group homes, the circuit decided that a lower court incorrectly determined that California was in compliance with the Child Welfare Act. 'The natural meaning of 'cover the cost' is to pay in full, not in part,' the panel wrote, adding that the 'state isn't doing this.'

The lawsuit was filed last year by the California Alliance of Child and Family Services, which represents group homes in California. It claimed that rate increases were withheld during 14 of the last 19 years, and the state was only funding care at 77 percent of costs.

'That percentage would have been even lower had another federal judge not recently blocked a proposed 10 percent reduction in reimbursements paid by the state,' Alliance said in a statement.

'This is the first time that a court has declared that a state must cover the cost of foster care if it receives federal funds under the Child Welfare Act,' Alliance Executive Director Carroll Schroeder said. 'While this isn't the final answer to our effort to properly fund the care to which these kids are entitled ... 80 percent isn't 'substantial' when it comes to providing for kids whose needs cannot be met in family settings because of behavioral issues or severe emotional trauma."

Read the complete article: http://www.courthousenews.com/2009/12/14/Circuit_Calif_Underpays_Foster_Care_Providers.htm
 
Read the Court's Opinion: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2009/12/14/08-16267.pdf

Monday, December 14, 2009

Canadian Court Repudiates Use of Controversial Security Certificate Issued to Deport Syrian-Born Canadian Resident

"Court strikes down security certificate against Almrei"
"Syrian-born man was arrested eight years ago on terror suspicions; Ottawa had been trying to deport him on seldom-used provision of immigration law"
Tu Thanh Ha
Toronto — Globe and Mail Update

"Syrian-born Toronto resident Hassan Almrei has been cleared of the security certificate issued by the Canadian government which labelled him an al-Qaeda operative and threatened him with deportation.

Today's Federal Court ruling is the latest blow to the controversial security-certificate system, which relies on secret evidence to detain and deport foreign residents.

Mr. Almrei's arrest in 2001 was justified but he's no longer a security threat, Mr. Justice Richard Mosley wrote in a 185-page ruling released this morning.

'There are no reasonable grounds to believe that Hassan Almrei is today a danger to the security of Canada . . . the certificate is not reasonable and must be quashed,' the judge wrote. "

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/court-strikes-down-security-certificate-against-almrei/article1399619/

Largest Percentages of Asylum Granted in Europe Last Year, from Iraq

"EU Asylum Totals 76,000"


"(CN) - A total of 76,000 people were granted asylum in Europe last year, with the largest percentage coming from Iraq. The EU's statistical agency said France, Germany and the United Kingdom accepted the largest number of asylum seekers. Mediterranean countries such as Greece and Spain accepted the fewest. Denmark accepted 890, compared to France with 11,500 and Spain with only 290 grants of asylum."

http://www.courthousenews.com/2009/12/14/Statistics.htm#EU_Asylum_Totals_76_000

Second Circuit Upholds Settlement Agreement in Class Action Case Claiming Bias in New York City Juvenile Dependencies

"Court Nixes Challenge to Child Services Settlement"
"The 2nd Circuit dismissed a challenge to a class-action settlement over New York's alleged practice of removing children from the homes of black and Latino parents or guardians without properly investigating allegations of abuse and neglect.

Nearly 11 years ago, People United for Children filed a class action against New York City, the city's Administration for Child Services, its commissioner and then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, claiming the city's child-removal policies discriminated against minorities and violated their constitutional, parental, privacy, cultural and religious rights.

In February 2007, U.S. District Judge Kevin Duffy approved the parties' settlement, which took steps to keep parents better informed and to eliminate potential bias. The city also agreed to pay nearly $100,000 in "incentive awards" to all but one named plaintiff.

The Manhattan-based federal appeals court upheld the settlement as "fair, adequate, and reasonable," despite the objections of two class members."
 
Read the Court's Decision: http://www.ca2.uscourts.gov/decisions/isysquery/bfa7ff21-e527-4b4a-b333-98e1984a753d/6/doc/07-2042-cv_opn.pdf#xml=http://www.ca2.uscourts.gov/decisions/isysquery/bfa7ff21-e527-4b4a-b333-98e1984a753d/6/hilite/

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Complaint: Workers Cheated Out of Money for Green Cards

Immigrant Workers Say They Were Scammed
By NICK DIVITO
 
"Workers says a construction company docked their paychecks for years, supposedly to help them get green cards, but never filed forms for legal residency. Thirteen Latino workers sued Northern Pipeline Construction; Creative Concepts, which Northern allegedly hired to help them immigrate; and Pomona, Calif. attorney Paul Schelly.

The plaintiffs claim Northern began docking them $20 per week in November 2002, increasing the payment to $25 in October 2005.

They say Northern introduced them to Creative Concepts in November 2002, and that "at that time Creative Concepts and Northern Pipeline represented to the plaintiffs that Northern Pipeline had contacted Creative Concepts to help plaintiffs immigrate to the United States."

Schelly sought labor certification for them in September 2003 and 'at the same time, Paul Schelly represented to the Immigration and Naturalization Service that he was the attorney or representative on behalf of each plaintiff,' according to the complaint in Clark County Court.

They say that in October 2007, the INS denied their applications for employment authorization. The claim that 'neither Northern Pipeline, Creative Concepts, nor Paul Schelly had ever filed an I-485 [petition for legal residency] for plaintiffs.'

They seek lost wages and punitive damages.

They are represented by Cal Potter."
 
Read the Complaint: http://www.courthousenews.com/2009/12/08/NoGreenCards.pdf

Dubai's Credit Crisis Likely to Lead to Layoffs for Foreign Workers

"Dubai crisis sparks job fears for migrant workers"
By Magdi Abdelhadi
BBC News, Dubai
 
"The large numbers of migrant workers in Dubai from Asia and the Middle East are likely to bear the brunt of the emirate's severe credit problems. For them Dubai had offered an escape from poverty in their home countries...

And now that one of Dubai's biggest government owned companies, Dubai World, is having trouble paying back its debt, there is renewed fear that more migrant workers could be sent home...

But in Dubai, residency depends on having a job or having a big bank account. If you don't have either, you can be sent home...

While everyone was scratching their heads trying to find out the likely impact if Dubai World defaults on debt repayment due on 14 December, Dubai itself was putting on an extravagant show to mark the United Arab Emirates National Day.

The flags were being flown everywhere. Even women in traditional black dresses had the colours embroidered on their headscarves...

The Dubai government has made it clear that it will not bail out its debt-stricken companies, insisting that although Dubai World is owned by the government, legally it is a separate business entity.

The next few days will see febrile negotiations between creditors and the Dubai government over how to settle this dispute.

One thing is certain though, says one analyst. Whatever the outcome of the negotiations, affected companies in Dubai will have to downsize - a euphemism, in this case, for laying off more foreign workers."

Read the full story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8400908.stm

Chinese National Uses Altered Fingerprints to Enter Japan Illegally

"'Fake fingerprint' Chinese woman fools Japan controls"

"A Chinese woman managed to enter Japan illegally by having plastic surgery to alter her fingerprints, thus fooling immigration controls, police claim.

Lin Rong, 27, had previously been deported from Japan for overstaying her visa. She was only discovered when she was arrested on separate charges.

Tokyo police said she had paid $15,000 (£9,000) to have the surgery in China.

It is Japan's first case of alleged biometric fraud, but police believe the practice may be widespread.
Japanese police suspect Chinese brokers of taking huge sums to modify fingerprints surgically.

Local media reports said Ms Lin had undergone surgery to swap the fingerprints from her right and left hands."

Read the full story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8400222.stm

Chinese Migrants to Australia Outnumber New Zealand or UK

"China now Australia's top source of immigrants"
"China has overtaken the UK and New Zealand as Australia's biggest source of immigrants, official figures reveal."



"The latest government figures show a record 6,350 people arrived from China in the four months to October.

China's new primacy was due largely to a fall in migration from the UK and New Zealand, as people there opt to hold on to jobs instead of moving to Australia...

British migration has also been affected by a cut in the number of skilled workers Australia allows to settle in the country.

Chinese migration, however, is dominated by family reunions and grew by 15% over the same period last year.

New Zealanders do not require visas to migrate to Australia and so the drop in migration from there is a direct response to economic conditions, demographer Graeme Hugo told the Sydney Morning Herald."

Read the full story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8401376.stm

Friday, December 4, 2009

Arizona Public Employees Must Report Undocumented Immigrants or Face Jail

"State Workers Can Be Jailed For Not Turning in Suspected Aliens"
By JAMIE ROSS
 
"The Arizona Supreme Court dismissed without prejudice a constitutional challenge of a new state law that requires public employees to report undocumented immigrants. The law, which took effect Nov. 24, states that any public employee or supervisor who fails to report known violations of federal immigration law is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by a $750 fine and 4 months in jail." 
 
Read the Arizona Supreme Court's Order: http://www.courthousenews.com/2009/12/04/AzImmig.pdf

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Report: Immigration Detention System Needs Overhaul

"Immigration Detention System Lapses Detailed"
By NINA BERNSTEIN
Photo by Luke Sharrett/The New York Times
Published: December 2, 2009

"Growing numbers of noncitizens, including legal immigrants, are held unnecessarily and transferred heedlessly in an expensive immigration detention system that denies many of them basic fairness, a bipartisan study group and a human rights organization concluded in reports released jointly on Wednesday.

Confirmation of some of their critical conclusions came separately from the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general, in an investigation that found detainee transfers by Immigration and Customs Enforcement were so haphazard that some detainees arrived at a new detention center without having been served a notice of why they were being held, or despite a high probability of being granted bond, or with pending criminal prosecutions or arrest warrants in the previous jurisdiction.


The bipartisan group, the Constitution Project, whose members include Asa Hutchinson, a former under secretary of homeland security, called for sweeping changes in agency policies and amendments to immigration law, including new access to government-appointed counsel for many of those facing deportation.

In its report, the human rights organization, Human Rights Watch, revealed government data showing 1.4 million detainee transfers from 1999 to 2008, most of them since 2006. The transfers are accelerating, the report found, with tens of thousands of longtime residents of cities like Philadelphia and Los Angeles being sent to remote immigration jails in Texas and Louisiana, far from legal counsel and the evidence that might help them win release."

Read the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/03/us/03immig.html?hpw

Arrests for Trafficking Nationally Not Catching Up With Numbers of Victims

"Despite Tough Law, Few Arrests for Sex Trafficking"
By JOSEPH BERGER
Published: December 3, 2009

"Despite a highly trumpeted New York State law in 2007 that enacted tough penalties for sex or labor trafficking, very few people have been prosecuted since it went into effect, according to state statistics.

In New York State, there have been 18 arrests and one conviction for trafficking since the law was signed by Gov. Eliot Spitzer and took effect in November 2007, according to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. There is one case pending in Manhattan, one in Queens and two in the Bronx.

The situation is not all that different in New Jersey or in roughly 30 states that have laws against human trafficking — defined as using fraud or force to exploit a person for sex or labor. A federal law passed in 2000 with lifetime prison penalties has resulted in 196 cases with convictions against 419 people, according to statistics from the United States Department of Justice.

The scale of those numbers contrasts starkly with the 14,500 to 17,500 people the State Department estimates are brought into the United States each year for forced labor or sex.

One typical recent case involved a 22-year-old woman from Mexico who said she was lured to New York by her boyfriend with a promise of a waitress’s job. She said she wound up working for his uncle in Queens as a roving prostitute, servicing 10 men a night across the five boroughs for $35 to $45 a trick.

Friendless, stranded on alien streets, frightened that the police would discover she was here illegally, she felt she had no choice, said the woman, who is pregnant and asked not to be named for fear of retribution.

'I felt so bad, so bad,' she said, drying tears as she spoke softly with the help of a translator. 'I didn’t know what I could do. I was alone.'

In July, the boyfriend was arrested after, she said, he beat her so brutally that she finally fled and sought out a stranger, who led her to the police. But he was charged only with a misdemeanor assault for domestic violence.

The Mexican woman said that had she been asked, she would have told the full story of how she had been intimidated into prostitution, but the police did not press her, and she did not volunteer anything because she was afraid the boyfriend might seek revenge against her family in Mexico. Her lawyers say they are now trying to get Queens prosecutors to upgrade the charges, something prosecutors say they will consider.

The police, experts say, should be asking an immigrant prostitute whether she was forced to work the streets, whether her passport was taken away, whether she was held somewhere against her will. Training sessions to focus on such questions have been held, including one Nov. 12 in Mount Kisco for 100 law enforcement officers and social service providers.

'If you’re looking at a frightened immigrant woman in a brothel, it doesn’t take a Ph.D. in political science to know what you’re dealing with,' said Dorchen Leidholdt, legal director for Sanctuary for Families, a Manhattan battered-women’s agency that is helping the Mexican woman. She runs across many police officers who do not know that a trafficking law exists, she said.

Read the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/04/nyregion/04trafficking.html?_r=1

Undocumented US Immigrant Mistakenly Named Paraguay's New York Consulate

"Paraguay named illegal immigrant to consular post"
By PEDRO SERVIN
Associated Press Writer
Associated Press Writer Cristian Salazar in New York contributed to this report.
 
"Paraguay named an undocumented U.S. immigrant to run its consulate in New York, discovering his illegal status only when the man returned home to get his diplomatic papers and was denied a U.S. visa.

Paraguay's foreign ministry acknowledged Wednesday that it was a mistake to name Augusto Noguera as the consulate's 'first official,' but said President Fernando Lugo annulled the decision as soon as he was informed of the U.S. Embassy's visa denial.

Vice Foreign Minister Manuel Maria Caceres told The Associated Press that the decision to name Noguera as a diplomat Sept. 21 was made in good faith since the ministry didn't know of his legal status in New York.
Despite the visa denial, Noguera tried to return to his wife and three U.S.-born children, ages 10, 9 and 3, by crossing into the U.S. near Tijuana, Mexico, was detained by U.S. officials and is being held in Chula Vista, California, Caceres said.

Paraguay's Los Angeles consul, Ruben Benitez, is arranging legal assistance for Noguera and making sure his family has what it needs. 'We are watching closely so that Noguera has a fair process,' Caceres said."

Read the full article: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/americas/AP/story/1361890.html

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

British Woman Pardoned from Thai Conviction, Returns to Bangkok

"Drug convict Sandra Gregory held at Bangkok airport"

"Sandra Gregory, the Briton jailed in Thailand for drug smuggling, has been held at Bangkok airport after trying to enter the country, the BBC understands.

The 44-year-old, of West Yorkshire, has texted friends in the UK to say she was refused entry to Thailand, despite having a valid visa.
She told them she expects to be deported within 48 hours.

In a text message she said: "I haven't eaten or slept for days. They're telling me I don't get to choose." ...

Gregory, of Sowerby Bridge, was caught with 86.9g of heroin inside a condom in her body at Bangkok airport in 1993.

The initial death sentence was commuted to 25 years imprisonment after she admitted the charge.

She spent four-and-a-half years in the notorious Klong Prem Prison - nicknamed the Bangkok Hilton - where she had been held in a room with 80 other women, before being transferred to a jail in Kent.
After receiving the royal pardon, she went on to gain a 2:1 honours degree in geography from Oxford University."

Read the complete  story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/west_yorkshire/8392004.stm

Chinese Government Cracks Down on Child Trafficking

"On the hunt for China's child snatchers"
"Over 2,000 trafficked children have been rescued since China's government began a crackdown on the trade in stolen children earlier this year.
But as the BBC's Damian Grammaticas reports from Beijing, many thousands of children are being snatched off the streets to be sold every year and most are never recovered."

"The demand for children is driven by a deep-seated preference in southern China for sons, boys to keep the family name alive who have a duty to care for aged parents.

And some parents are prepared to buy a stolen child if they can not have a boy of their own.
It is thought China's One Child Policy exacerbates the problem. Couples the law applies to who have a girl first cannot then legally have another child, so many turn to the traffickers to procure a boy...

The demand for children is driven by a deep-seated preference in southern China for sons, boys to keep the family name alive who have a duty to care for aged parents.

And some parents are prepared to buy a stolen child if they can not have a boy of their own.

It is thought China's One Child Policy exacerbates the problem. Couples the law applies to who have a girl first cannot then legally have another child, so many turn to the traffickers to procure a boy."

Read the complete story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8383424.stm