Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chilean Earthquake Creates Major Tsunami Threat for Most of Pacific

"Tsunami spreads through Pacific after Chile quake"

"Nations around the Pacific Ocean are on full alert as a tsunami triggered by a 8.8 magnitude earthquake in central Chile brings higher than normal waves.

Tsunami warnings have been sounded in an area affecting about a quarter of the globe. At least five deaths were reported in one Chilean island group.

Waves are spreading from the epicentre and striking land across the region.

Warning systems have improved since the 2004 Indonesia quake sparked a tsunami that killed nearly 250,000 people.

Nations and regions affected by the Pacific 'Rim of Fire' have all sounded alerts, trying to estimate the anticipated time of arrival of any tsunami...

Large waves are reported to have struck Chile's Juan Fernandez island group, reaching halfway into one inhabited area and killing five people. Several more are missing.

Two aid ships are reported to be on their way.

Part of the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia were hit by a 4m (13ft) wave, but no casualties were reported, AFP news agency said...

In Tahiti, traffic was banned on roads less than 500m from sea, and residents on low-lying land were told to get to higher ground, but the first tsunami waves were smaller there, measuring only 36cm.

New Zealand has warned waves up to 3m could hit the main North and South Islands plus outlying islands.

Waves measuring 20cm hit the Chatham Islands, about 400 miles from the mainland, about 1905 GMT, but the Ministry of Civil Defence warned that 'the greatest wave heights will occur between six and 12 hours after the initial arrivals.'

American Samoa has urged residents to seek shelter, calling on coastal villagers to seek higher ground.

Sirens were sounded in Hawaii to alert residents to the tsunami threat several hours before waves were expected.

The first waves hit about 2200 GMT, after water began moving away from the shore at Hilo Bay on the Big Island before returning.

Officials predicted tsunami waves measuring about 8ft (2.5m) in Hawaii, and people have been rushing to stock up on food, water and petrol...

Australian officials warned of "possible dangerous waves, strong ocean currents and foreshore flooding" from Sydney to Brisbane.

Japan may be hit at 0300 GMT on Sunday, the country's meteorological agency said, calling for people to be fully alert.

California has also warned its coastal cities to prepare for possible tsunami waves, the first strike possibly around San Diego.

The Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu could also all be at risk."

Read the complete article:

Travel Warning for Central African Republic


February 26, 2010

"The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to the Central African Republic (CAR), and recommends against all but essential travel outside the capital, Bangui. Travelers in the CAR should exercise extreme caution. This replaces the Travel Warning of August 19, 2009, in light of the incursion of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in eastern CAR, and uncertainty surrounding the ongoing Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration process.

Armed rebel groups, bandits, and poachers present real dangers and the Central African government is unable to guarantee the safety of visitors in most parts of the country. There have been repeated attacks on Central African and expatriate travelers in the countryside. Poachers and armed men also pose a threat to game hunters in the north central CAR. The LRA poses a similar threat to hunters in eastern CAR...

U.S. citizens residing in, or planning to travel to, the CAR are strongly urged to register through the State Department’s Travel Registration website. U.S. citizens without internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in Bangui. By registering, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. While the Embassy’s ability to provide emergency consular services is limited, registration will enable electronic receipt of warden messages.

U.S. Embassy Bangui
Avenue David Dacko,
B.P. 924
Tel: (236) 2161-0200
Fax: (236) 2161-4494

Emergency after-hours telephone: (236) 7554-2276 and (236) 7550-1293

Americans may also obtain updated information from the U.S. Embassy in N'Djamena, Chad, at telephone (235) 51-70-09, 51-92-33 or 51-90-52; fax (235) 51-56-54;

Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.

For information on general crime and security issues, U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State’s Country Specific Information of Central African Republic as well as The Worldwide Caution located on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website."

Read the complete Warning:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Travel Alert for Mexico

Mexico - Security
February 22, 2010

"The Department of State has issued this Travel Alert to update security information for U.S. citizens traveling to and living in Mexico. It supersedes the Travel Alert for Mexico dated August 20, 2009, and expires on August 20, 2010.

For more detailed information on staying safe in Mexico, please see the Mexico Country Specific Information. Information on security and travel to popular tourist destinations is also provided in the publication: "Spring Break in Mexico- Know Before You Go!!"

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's internet web site at 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 from Mexico, a regular toll line at 001-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). American citizens traveling or residing overseas are encouraged to register with the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate on the State Department's travel registration website at

For any emergencies involving U.S. citizens in Mexico, please contact the U.S. Embassy or the closest U.S. Consulate. The U.S. Embassy is located in Mexico City at Paseo de la Reforma 305, Colonia Cuauhtemoc, telephone from the United States: 011-52-55-5080-2000; telephone within Mexico City: 5080-2000; telephone long distance within Mexico 01-55-5080-2000. You may also contact the Embassy by e-mail at: The Embassy's internet address is

Ciudad Juarez: Paseo de la Victoria 3650, tel. (011)(52)(656) 227-3000.

Guadalajara: Progreso 175, telephone (011)(52)(333) 268-2100.

Hermosillo: Avenida Monterrey 141, telephone (011)(52)(662) 289-3500.

Matamoros: Avenida Primera 2002, telephone (011)(52)(868) 812-4402.

Merida: Calle 60 no. 338-K x 29 y 31, Col. Alcala Martin, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico 97050, telephone (011)(52)(999) 942-5700 or 202-250-3711 (U.S. number).

Monterrey: Avenida Constitucion 411 Poniente, telephone (011)(52)(818) 047-3100.

Nogales: Calle San Jose, Nogales, Sonora, telephone (011)(52)(631) 311-8150.

Nuevo Laredo: Calle Allende 3330, col. Jardin, telephone (011)(52)(867) 714-0512.

Tijuana: Tapachula 96, telephone (011)(52)(664) 622-7400.

Consular Agencies:
Acapulco: Hotel Continental Emporio, Costera Miguel Aleman 121 - local 14, telephone (011)(52)(744) 484-0300 or (011)(52)(744) 469-0556.

Cabo San Lucas: Blvd. Marina local c-4, Plaza Nautica, col. Centro, telephone (011)(52)(624) 143-3566.

Cancún: Plaza Caracol two, second level, no. 320-323, Boulevard Kukulcan, km. 8.5, Zona Hotelera, telephone (011)(52)(998) 883-0272 or, 202-640-2511 (a U.S. number).

Ciudad Acuña: Closed until further notice.

Cozumel: Plaza Villa Mar en el Centro, Plaza Principal, (Parque Juárez between Melgar and 5th ave.) 2nd floor, locales #8 and 9, telephone (011)(52)(987) 872-4574 or, 202-459-4661 (a U.S. number).

Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo: Hotel Fontan, Blvd. Ixtapa, telephone (011)(52)(755) 553-2100.

Mazatlán: Playa Gaviotas #202, Zona Dorada, telephone (011)(52)(669) 916-5889.

Oaxaca: Macedonio Alcalá no. 407, interior 20, telephone (011)(52)(951) 514-3054, (011) (52)(951) 516-2853.

Piedras Negras: Abasolo #211, Zona Centro, Piedras Negras, Coah., Tel. (011)(52)(878) 782-5586.

Playa del Carmen: "The Palapa," Calle 1 Sur, between Avenida 15 and Avenida 20, telephone (011)(52)(984) 873-0303 or 202-370-6708(a U.S. number).

Puerto Vallarta: Paradise Plaza, Paseo de los Cocoteros #1, Local #4, Interior #17, Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, telephone (011)(52)(322) 222-0069.

Reynosa: Calle Monterrey #390, Esq. Sinaloa, Colonia Rodríguez, telephone: (011)(52)(899) 923 - 9331.

San Luis Potosí: Edificio "Las Terrazas", Avenida Venustiano Carranza 2076-41, Col. Polanco, telephone: (011)(52)(444) 811-7802/7803.

San Miguel de Allende: Dr. Hernandez Macias #72, telephone (011)(52)(415) 152-2357 or (011)(52)(415) 152-0068."

Read the  complete Alert:

USDS Issues Travel Warnings for Haiti and Yemen

February 25, 2010

"The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities. The Department recommends that American citizens defer non-essential travel to Yemen. American citizens remaining in Yemen despite this warning should monitor the U.S. Embassy website and should make contingency emergency plans. This replaces the Travel Warning for Yemen issued June 26, 2009.

The security threat level remains high due to terrorist activities in Yemen. The U.S. Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen closed on January 3 and 4, 2010, in response to ongoing threats by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to attack American interests in Yemen. Following the attempted attack aboard Northwest Airlines flight 253 on December 25, 2009, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) publicly claimed responsibility for the incident and stated that it was in response to what they described as American interference in Yemen. In the same statement, the group made threats against Westerners working in embassies and elsewhere, characterizing them as “unbelievers” and “crusaders.” On the morning of September 17, 2008, armed terrorists attacked the U.S. Embassy in Sana'a, Yemen. A number of explosions occurred in the vicinity of the Embassy's main gate. Several Yemeni security personnel and one Embassy security guard were killed, as were a few individuals waiting to gain entry to the Embassy, one of whom was a U.S. citizen...

U.S. citizens should register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a and enroll in the warden system (emergency alert network) to obtain updated information on travel and security in Yemen. This can be done online prior to arrival in Yemen at State Department's travel registration website.

The U.S. Embassy, Sana’a is located at Dhahr Himyar Zone, Sheraton Hotel District, P.O. Box 22347. The telephone number of the Consular Section is (967) (1) 755-2000, extension 2153 or 2266. For after-hours emergencies, please call (967) (1) 755-2000 (press zero for extension) or (967) 733-213-509. From time to time the Embassy may temporarily close or suspend public services for security reasons. Emergency assistance to U.S. citizens during non-business hours (or when public access is restricted) is available through Embassy duty personnel.

Current information on travel and security in Yemen may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States and Canada or, from outside the United States and Canada, 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 should consult the Country Specific Information for Yemen and the Worldwide Caution on the State Department's Internet site. Up-to-date information on security conditions can also be viewed at U.S. Embassy Sana’a's American Citizens Services web page."

Read the complete Warning:

February 22, 2010

"The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the situation in Haiti in the aftermath of a powerful earthquake, measuring 7.0 magnitude, that struck near Port-au-Prince on January 12. The Department of State has ordered the departure of all non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Haiti...

Those wishing to assist in Haiti relief efforts should be aware that despite their good intentions, travel to Haiti will increase the burden on a system already struggling to support those in need on the ground. Those wishing to volunteer their services are advised that Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are reporting that their capacity to absorb additional volunteers is limited. Cash donations are the most effective way to help the relief effort in Haiti. Cash allows established organizations to purchase the exact type and quantity of items needed to help those affected by the earthquake without having to pay the high costs associated with transporting physical donations to Haiti. Financial contributions can be transferred quickly and reduce the challenges posed by limited staff, equipment, and space. Cash donations support Haiti's local economy and ensure that culturally and environmentally appropriate assistance is rendered. The following website has information on how to assist in the Haiti earthquake relief effort:

U.S. citizens who intend to work for an organization involved in relief efforts in Haiti should be aware that living conditions are difficult, and the availability of food supplies, clean drinking water, and adequate shelter in Haiti is limited. U.S. citizens seeking work with a relief organization should ascertain before traveling to Haiti that the organization has the capability to provide food, water, and shelter for its paid and volunteer workers. All relief organizations should have in place a security plan for their personnel...

U.S. citizens who choose to travel to Haiti despite this Travel Warning are urged to register their travel through the State Department's travel registration website. The Embassy of the United States Port-au-Prince Haiti is located at Boulevard du 15 October, Tabarre 41, Tabarre, Haiti, telephone: (509) (2) 229-8000, facsimile: (509) (2) 229-8027, email: American Citizens Services Unit office hours are 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Consular Section is closed on U.S. and local holidays.

While the Embassy's ability to provide emergency consular services is limited, registration will enable receipt of warden messages via email. Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States, 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."

Read the complete Warning:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

UK Apologizes Over Former Child Migration Policy and Announces Establishment of Fund to Help Trace Families

"UK apologizes over 'shameful' child migration program"
February 24, 2010

"British Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologized on behalf of the UK government Wednesday over a controversial child migration policy which saw thousands of children separated from their families and sent to Australia and other Commonwealth countries.

The so-called 'Forgotten Australians' were British children brought up by impoverished families or living in care homes who were shipped to Australia with the promise of a better life.

But many ended up in institutions and orphanages, suffering abuse and forced labor. They later told of being kept in brutal conditions, being physically abused and being forced to work on farms. Many were wrongly told they were orphans, with brothers and sisters separated at dock side and sent to different parts of the country...

Brown also announced the establishment of a £6 million ($9.2 million) fund to help former child migrants trace their families.

Around 7,000 children between the ages of three and 14 were sent to Australia between the end of World War II and 1967 when the child migration program was abolished. Another 1,200 are estimated to have been sent to New Zealand, Canada and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Many young people over the age of 15 were also sent away."

Read the full article:

California Ordered to Increase Foster Care Rates 32 Percent to Comply with Federal Child Welfare Act

"California on Hook for Millions in Foster Care"

"A federal judge in San Francisco ordered the California Department of Social Services to increase by 32 percent the rates it pays to care for foster children in group homes, to comply with a 9th Circuit ruling that the state must cover the full cost of care, not just part of it.

U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel said the state must pay providers the new rate as of the 9th Circuit's Dec. 14, 2009 ruling, under the federal Child Welfare Act.

Fully funding care is expected to cost an additional $242 million a year, with responsibility shared by the state, counties and the federal government.

Judge Patel said the court will retain jurisdiction over the program until a new rate system is agreed upon and implemented.

'Judge Patel's ruling means that kids who need the level of care provided by group homes will finally receive the funding for care they need and deserve,' said Carroll Schroeder, executive director of the plaintiff California Alliance of Child and Family Services.

'Foster kids have essentially given the state a $1 billion gift since we first filed this case in 2006, and far more when you include the years of underfunding dating back to the start of the current rates system in 1991.'"

Read the complete story:

Eleventh Circuit Finds Credible Death Threat Sufficient to Meet Persecution Standard

"Guinean's Claims Rise to Persecution, Court Says"
"A Guinea native's claim that he was detained and beaten in his home country qualifies as persecution, the 11th Circuit ruled, breathing new life into his petition to stay in the United States.

In February 2001, Thierno Diallo was arrested at a meeting of the anti-government group Ready People of Guinea. Diallo was allegedly detained for 11 hours and threatened with execution before he escaped and fled the country.

The Board of Immigration Appeals upheld an immigration judge's ruling that the alleged brief detention and minor beating didn't meet the standards of persecution.

The Atlanta-based appeals court vacated and remanded, saying Diallo faced a credible death threat, made in person by soldiers who had the ability to carry out that threat.

'A credible death threat by a person who has the immediate ability to act on it constitutes persecution regardless of whether the threat is successfully carried out,' the three-judge panel wrote.

'We can see no reason why Diallo should have had to stay in his country -- awaiting his death at the hands of the soldiers who killed his brother -- to succeed on his claim of past persecution.'

And because Diallo experienced past persecution, there is a well-founded fear that he would experience future persecution, the court concluded."
Read the Opinion:

Monday, February 22, 2010

European Union "Condemns" Use of Passports in Killing of Hamas Leader

"European Union blasts 'theft' of citizens' identities"
February 22, 2010

"The European Union 'strongly condemns' the use of false EU passports in connection with the killing of a Hamas leader in Dubai last month, a top foreign policy official said Monday in Brussels, Belgium.

Baroness Catherine Ashton said the EU was concerned the killers had acquired false passports and credit cards 'through the theft of EU citizens' identities.'

She did not mention Israel in the statement, although foreign ministries in the countries whose passports were doctored called in Israeli ambassadors last week to discuss the issue...

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a founding member of the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, was killed in a Dubai hotel room last month. Dubai is one of the Gulf emirates comprising the United Arab Emirates...

The suspects had European passports -- one from France, three from Ireland, six from Britain, and one from Germany, according to police."

Read the full article:

Seattle Woman Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Immigration Fraud

"Seattle restaurateur sentenced for marriage fraud"

"The co-owner of a chain of local Thai restaurants was sentenced to six months in federal prison and two years of supervised release after an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) revealed that she had recruited U.S. citizens to enter into sham marriages with some of her employees and relatives.

Varee Bradford, 44, of Sammamish, Wash., pleaded guilty in October 2009 to one felony count of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud and three felony counts of fraud relating to immigration documents. Bradford and her husband co-own five Thai Ginger restaurants in the Seattle area.

According to Bradford's plea agreement, starting in 2002 and continuing for five years, Bradford offered to pay multiple U.S. citizen employees $20,000 if they agreed to marry a Thai national. The marriage would be used to help the 'spouse' gain legal status to live in the United States.

At one point during the investigation, Bradford asked an undercover ICE agent to enter into a sham marriage, offering him $20,000. The 'wife' was changed midway through the scheme when the original woman had to return to Thailand.

Bradford then introduced the undercover agent to a second Thai national, and counseled him on how to prepare for the immigration interview which is required to receive immigration benefits. She reassured him that the marriage had to last only two years...

In sentencing documents discussed at today's hearing, the prosecutor pointed out that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) had investigated Bradford for violations of overtime laws. The investigation concluded that she had required her employees to work more than 40 hours a week without additional compensation.

To settle the case, Bradford agreed to pay almost $80,000 in back wages to employees. Despite the outcome of the DOL investigation, the prosecutor noted that she "continued to flagrantly ignore the laws, by engaging in the marriage fraud scheme. She benefitted from the scheme."

Due to the fraudulent marriages, Bradford's employees were allowed to legally remain in the United States and work for Thai Ginger. This prevented Bradford from having to incur the expense of recruiting, hiring and training new employees."

Read the complete story:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

USCIS Revises Filing Instructions for Form I-824

"Change of Filing Location for Form I-824, Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition"

"U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ... announced revised filing instructions and addresses for applicants filing Form I-824, Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition. The new form is dated 12/11/09. The changes are part of an overall effort to transition the intake of benefit forms from USCIS local offices and Service Centers to USCIS Lockbox facilities. Centralizing form and fee intake to a Lockbox environment allows USCIS to provide customers with more efficient and effective initial processing of applications and fees.

Beginning February 19, 2010, applicants must file Form I-824 with a USCIS Lockbox facility, based on which Service Center or local office approved their original petition or application. Detailed guidance is available in the updated Form I-824 instructions...

After February 19, 2010, the Service Centers will return any incorrectly filed Form I-824 applications with instructions to send the application to the correct location.

When filing Form I-824 at a USCIS Lockbox facility, applicants may elect to receive an email and/or text message notifying them that USCIS has accepted their application. To receive notification, applicants must complete an E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance (Form G-1145), and attach it to the first page of their application."

Read the complete Notice:

Second Circuit Says Illegal Immigrant Cannot Accrue "Continuous Physical Presence" After Guilty Plea and Conviction for Illegal Entry Followed by Subsequent Departure

"Immigrant Can't Claim 'Continuous Presence'"

"An immigrant's illegal entry conviction and his subsequent return to Mexico interrupted his period of 'continuous physical presence' in the United States, making him ineligible to stay in the country, the 2nd Circuit ruled, addressing issues of first impression.

Jesus Ascencio-Rodriguez first came to the United States in 1989. Since then, he's traveled to and from Mexico several times, getting arrested at least four times by Border Patrol agents.

One such arrest resulted in a conviction for illegal entry and his voluntary removal.

But Ascencio-Rodriguez returned to the United States in 2004, again illegally, and was ordered deported four years later by the Department of Homeland Security.

He filed papers fighting the deportation, claiming he'd been in the country for more than 10 years.

The immigration judge and the Board of Appeals were not convinced. They said Ascencio-Rodriguez's conviction and subsequent departure to Mexico interrupted his continuous presence in the United States.

The 2nd Circuit agreed.

'To allow an alien to plead guilty to illegal entry, be convicted of the crime, leave the country, and yet continue to accrue 'continuous physical presence' time within the meaning of our immigration laws would be contrary to the objectives of those laws and the BIA's relevant decisions,' Judge Jose Cabranes wrote.

The court found Ascencio-Rodriguez ineligible for cancellation of removal and denied his petition for review."
Read the Opinion:

Fifth Circuit: Full Faith and Credit Requires Louisiana to Honor New York Adoption Decree by Gay Couple, and Issue Birth Certificate Listing Couple as Parents

"Gay Couple Wins Ruling on Son's Birth Certificate"
"The Louisiana registrar must issue a birth certificate listing a gay couple as the parents of an adopted son born in Shreveport, the 5th Circuit ruled.

The adoptive parents, Oren Adar and Mickey Ray Smith, were living in Connecticut when they obtained an emergency adoption decree in New York state court.

The couple then applied for a new birth certificate listing them as the parents of their adopted son, who was born in Louisiana.

Louisiana registrar Darlene W. Smith refused to issue the certificate, citing state laws barring unmarried couples from adopting children in Louisiana.

But the district court ordered Smith to issue the certificate, saying Louisiana owes 'full faith and credit' to the New York adoption decree.

The New Orleans-based appeals court agreed.

"Adar and Smith are the 'adoptive parents'" under Louisiana law, Judge Jacques Wiener Jr. wrote, and the state 'owes full faith and credit to the New York adoption decree that declares [the infant] to be the adopted child of Adar and Smith.'

Wiener added that Louisiana law 'does not vest the Registrar with the discretion to refuse to make a new, correct birth certificate for a Louisiana-born child' when the New York adoption decree 'indisputably satisfies' Louisiana requirements.

The court also rejected the registrar's attack on the couple's standing, saying their adopted son has the 'right to an accurate birth certificate.'"
Read the Opinion:

Friday, February 19, 2010

US and Cuba Continue Immigration Talks

"U.S.-Cuba immigration talks underway in Havana"

"U.S. and Cuban diplomats met in Havana on Friday for high-level talks on immigration, but the conversation was sure to turn to stickier issues, including the detention of an American contractor accused of spying.

The negotiations began just after 9 a.m. at an undisclosed location in Havana, said Gloria Berbena, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Interests Section, which Washington maintains here instead of an embassy.

The regularly scheduled talks come at a low point in relations between two Cold War enemies that have been at each other's throats for months about a range of issues, notably the Dec. 3 arrest of Alan Gross, a 60-year-old American contractor who was in Cuba on a program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development...

The American delegation in Havana was being led by Craig Kelly, deputy assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs and the most senior U.S. official to travel to Cuba in years. One of Kelly's subordinates, Bisa Williams, came in September for separate talks aimed at re-establishing direct mail service.

When she stayed on in Havana and held secret talks with Cuban officials, hopes were high that the breakthrough would herald a new relationship across the Florida Straits.

It didn't.

In fact, Cuba and the United States have been in a non-stop war of words since then over nearly every issue imaginable, from President Obama's performance at climate talks in Copenhagen, which Fidel Castro called 'deceitful' and 'demagogic,' to the U.S. relief effort in Haiti, which he termed an occupation.

Cuba was particularly angered by Washington's decision to continue including it on a list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Then there are the perennial issues such as Washington's insistence that Cuba open its political system to democratic changes and free jailed political prisoners, and Cuba's demand that Washington drop its 48-year trade embargo and stop meddling in what Havana considers its internal affairs...

The immigration talks began in 1994 but were suspended under Bush. They resumed in July and are meant to be held twice annually. The aim is to monitor adherence to a 16-year-old agreement under which the United States issues 20,000 emigration visas to Cubans per year."

Read the complete article:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

US Travel Warning for Saudi Arabia


February 18, 2010

"The Department of State warns U.S. citizens about the security situation in Saudi Arabia and reminds U.S. citizens of recommended security precautions. The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to consider carefully the risks of traveling to Saudi Arabia. There is an ongoing security threat due to the continued presence of terrorist groups, some affiliated with al Qaida, who may target Western interests, housing compounds, hotels, shopping areas and other facilities where Westerners congregate. These terrorist groups may employ a wide variety of tactics and also may target Saudi Government facilities and economic/commercial targets within the Kingdom. This updates and replaces the Travel Warning issued June 26, 2009, to note the authorized return of U.S. government dependents to the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh...

U.S. citizens who choose to visit Saudi Arabia are strongly urged to avoid staying in hotels or housing compounds that do not apply stringent security measures and also are advised to be aware of their surroundings when visiting commercial establishments frequented by Westerners. U.S. citizens also are advised to keep a low profile, vary times and routes of travel, exercise caution while driving, entering or exiting vehicles, and ensure that travel documents and visas are current and valid...

All travelers are encouraged to register their trip online through the Department of State's Internet Based Registration Service. Updated information on travel and security in Saudi Arabia may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 from within the United States and Canada or, from outside the United States and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays.) For additional information, consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Saudi Arabia, and Worldwide Caution. Â U.S. citizens who require emergency services may telephone the Embassy in Riyadh at (966) (1) 488-3800, the Consulate in Jeddah at (966) (2) 667-0080, or the Consulate in Dhahran at (966) (3) 330-3200."

Read the complete Warning:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

EU Suspends Preferential Trade Benefits From Sri Lanka Because of Human Rights Record

"EU punishes Sri Lanka for rights abuses "

"The European Union has decided to suspend Sri Lanka's preferential trade benefits because of concerns over the country's human rights record.

The Sri Lankan government has criticised the EU's decision.

It said it would intensify its efforts to engage in negotiations with Brussels to reverse the decision.

Sri Lanka's garments industry will be hit hardest, as it enjoys tax breaks to sell to retailers in Europe... The EU decision is set to take effect in six months' time, to give Sri Lanka a chance to address the 'shortcomings'.

Besides garments, fisheries products are the most important Sri Lankan exports to the EU under the scheme, the European Commission says...

It means that the trade benefits worth about $135m will be temporarily withdrawn in six months' time unless the EU's concerns are addressed.

The government is facing increasing international calls for an independent investigation into allegations of war crimes committed in the final stages of the war between security forces and Tamil Tiger rebels last year."

Read the complete article:

Guyanese Woman Admits to Assisting Undocumented Indians Illegally Enter US

"Guyanese national pleads guilty to smuggling Indian nationals into United States"

"Annita Devi Gerald, a Guyanese national, pleaded guilty to bringing an alien into the United States for commercial gain following an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE's) Office of Investigations in Miami.

Gerald, 52, pleaded guilty on Feb. 16 in Houston before U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Hughes. Gerald was sentenced yesterday and faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of three years with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine...

Gerald provided assistance to undocumented aliens from India in their efforts to illegally enter the United States. Gerald admitted that she and her co-conspirators prepared letters of invitation for several Indian nationals from a trading and agricultural company affiliated with Gerald. These letters falsely proclaimed the Indian nationals were farming experts whose expertise was needed for a project in Belize. The letters were used to assist the aliens in obtaining Belizean visas that enabled them to board aircraft and transit through numerous countries in route to the United States.

In July 2009, Gerald escorted two Indian nationals on a series of flights from Singapore to Belize. In addition, Gerald admitted to providing lodging for the aliens in Belize while they awaited additional smuggling arrangements including obtaining a Mexican immigration stamp for one alien's passport to facilitate domestic travel in Mexico and arranging for transportation from Belize to Mexico for one of the aliens.

Upon Gerald's direction, one of the aliens was smuggled into Mexico and then into the United States.

On Nov. 17, 2009, Gerald was arrested by ICE special agents in Houston on a criminal complaint charging her with conspiracy to commit alien smuggling."

Read the full story:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Motion to Reopen Deportable Offense Case Ruled Time-Barred Despite Lack of Basis for Removal

"Immigrant Loses Bid to Reopen Deportation Case"

"A Mexican immigrant who claimed that his felony drunk-driving conviction is no longer a deportable offense lost his bid to have his case reopened. The motion to reopen was 'unquestionably time-barred,' the 7th Circuit ruled, as it was filed more than six years late.

Manuel Antonio Munoz de Real said his 2001 conviction was no longer a proper basis for removal, according to intervening developments in the law.

But the immigration judge said she lacked jurisdiction to reopen his case, because Munoz de Real had already left the country.

Both the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Chicago-based federal appeals court affirmed, though the 7th Circuit based its ruling on the filing deadline...

Munoz de Real had 90 days to file, but waited more than six years.

'Munoz de Real has offered no basis to excuse a six-plus year delay in moving to reopen,' [U.S. District Judge Matthew] Kennelly concluded."

Read the complete article:

Sheriff Arpaio and His Officers Accused of Creating a "Culture of Hatred" Against Hispanics

"More Civil Rights Complaints Against Arpaio"
"Two more civil rights complaints against self-proclaimed 'America's Toughest Sheriff' Joe Arpaio and his officers cite a 'culture of hatred' of Hispanics, and racial profiling. One man claims a Maricopa County deputy ran him over and pinned him under his police car in front of the man's own home, then assaulted and arrested family members who tried to help him.

The other complaint claims that sheriff's officers in black ski masks beat a Hispanic woman on a 'crime sweep' of a business that had a contract with the county, then threw her in jail for two months without allowing her medical assistance for her injured teeth.

In that case, Celia Alvarez says she was jailed for two months without proper medical care after sheriff's made the 'crime sweep' on Handyman Maintenance.

In that raid, on Feb. 11, 2009, Alvarez says two deputies 'lifted her off her feet, and slammed her face into a wall,' injuring her teeth, jaw, face and head.

After Alvarez was interrogated and placed 'in a line with many other HMI employees, one of the deputies, completely unprovoked, violently struck' her on the arm with the metal part of a clipboard, she says. She was taken to county jail, where she was subjected to an 'invasive and embarrassing strip search' in front of many deputies.

She sought medical attention, but was told that 'her first opportunity for medical care would not occur for at least two weeks.' She says she was jailed for more than two months without proper medical attention - for so long that 'doctors have been unable to repair her condition even through surgery.' ...

In the other complaint, Armando Nido says he was driving home when Maricopa County Sheriff's Deputy James Carey tried to pull him over for a broken tail light. Carey 'illuminated his lights but did not run his siren,' says Nido, a U.S. citizen.

Nido says he 'slowly and cautiously proceeded to drive his vehicle home rather than immediately pull over' because he feared 'the pattern and practice that had been implemented and exhibited by' the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office toward people of Hispanic descent.

Nido says he parked in front of his home and got out to speak to Carey, who 'accelerated his own vehicle around the driver's side' of Nido's car, running him over.

Nido says he was trapped under the police car, unable to move, and Carey refused to help him or let his family help him. Nido says he 'remained trapped under the vehicle until fire and paramedics arrived,' with multiple broken bones and burns, all the while suffering verbal abuse from Carey.

After Carey ran him over, Nido says, his mother ran outside and pleaded to help her son, but Carey 'struck her in the chest, knocked her to the ground, handcuffed her and arrested her.'

Seeing the abuse, Nido's brother, Raul, began taking photos, and Carey and other deputies 'tackled him to the ground, took the camera, handcuffed him, lifted him by his cuffed arms, knocked him to the ground again, re-lifted him by his cuffed arms, and arrested him,' according to the complaint.

When a second brother, Rene Nido, sought to help his brother pinned under the car, Carey Tasered him, 'handcuffed him, lifted him by his cuffed arms, and arrested him.'"

Read the complete article:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ninth Circuit Says Not All Conduct Subject To California's Indecent Exposure Law Qualifies as a Crime of Moral Turpitude

"Nude Dancing Is Not Crime of Moral Turpitude"

"A Mexican immigrant's conviction for indecent exposure is not necessarily a crime of 'moral turpitude' warranting deportation, the 9th Circuit ruled Wednesday. The court cited nude dancing as an example of indecent exposure that's not so 'base, vile and depraved' as to 'shock the public conscience.'

Judge Stephen Reinhardt acknowledged that moral turpitude is a 'nebulous' term, but said it was clear that not all conduct banned by California's indecent exposure law falls under the definition of moral turpitude...

Victor Ocegueda Nunez has lived in the United States since 1993, is married and has three children, all of whom are U.S. citizens. In 2003 he was ordered to leave the country based on his illegal status.

He applied for cancellation of removal, claiming his deportation would cause extreme hardship for his wife and children.

The immigration judge found Nunez ineligible for relief based on his convictions for petty theft in 1995 and indecent exposure in 2003. Both were crimes of moral turpitude, the judge said, and two such convictions trigger deportation. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed.

But the 2-1 panel in San Francisco agreed with Nunez, saying his indecent exposure did not constitute a crime of moral turpitude or vile offensiveness.

Indecent exposure under California law 'is not categorically a crime involving moral turpitude,' Reinhardt ruled, and Nunez should not have been found ineligible for cancellation on those grounds.

'There is simply no overall agreement on many issues of morality in contemporary society,' he wrote, granting Nunez's petition for review."

Read the full article:
Read the Opinion:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sixth Circuit Says Suspicion of Political Affiliation a Protected Ground to Seek Asylum

"Algerian Man's Asylum Case Moves Forward"

"A man who was allegedly beaten by Algerian police for his suspected ties to a terrorist group can pursue his bid for U.S. asylum, the 6th Circuit ruled.

Algerian police allegedly suspected Mohamed Haider of being affiliated with the anti-government terrorist group GIA, or Armed Islamic Group, which had unsuccessfully tried to recruit him.

Despite refusing to join the militant group, Haider said he was repeatedly stopped by police and accused of working with terrorists. Police allegedly sexually and physically abused him in public and detained him for interrogations. Haider said they stole his clothes, beat him with a gun and punched him repeatedly.

The Cincinnati-based court ruled that a suspicion of political affiliation is a protected ground upon which to seek asylum. The court overturned an immigration judge's decision that Haider was ineligible for withholding of removal. The judge had ruled that the alleged abuse amounted to harassment, not torture, and questioned the credibility of Haider's account of the police beatings.

But Judge Karen Moore said the immigration judge 'failed to grasp the aggregate significance of Haider's encounters with the police' when the judge characterized it as mere harassment.

'These abuses cannot be characterized as isolated incidents or mere verbal harassment, and the officers' questions about the GIA make clear that they specifically targeted him,' Moore wrote...

The 6th Circuit remanded the case to the Board of Immigration Appeals to determine the credibility of Haider's testimony.

Dissenting Judge Danny Boggs said Haider could not seek asylum based on persecution for his political opinion.

'[V]ictimization by arbitrary thuggishness is decidedly not a protected ground,' Boggs wrote. 'There is simply no evidence that the police abused him on account of his imputed political opinion, as opposed to their belief that he was affiliated with a group that - regardless of its politics - engaged in the murder of civilians in a quest for power.'"
Read the complete article:
Read the Opinion:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Certification of Class of Current or Future Foster Children Upheld in Suit Against Oklahoma Commission for Human Services

"Okla. Foster Children Can Proceed With Class Action"

"The 10th Circuit upheld the certification of a class of about 10,000 current or future Oklahoma foster care children who say the state fails to protect them from abuse and neglect.

Nine unnamed foster children accused the Oklahoma Commission for Human Services of failing to protect foster children from abuse and neglect, assigning massive caseloads to child welfare workers, failing to adequately monitor the children, placing them in unsafe and overcrowded emergency shelters or foster homes, and bouncing the children from one bad home or shelter to another, depriving them of the chance to develop critical family relationships.

The Denver-based appeals court ruled that the children had successfully argued that, despite the proposed class' 'considerable diversity,' the state's alleged endemic problems create a 'risk of harm shared by the entire class.'

The foster children said the agency consistently fails to follow its own policy requiring caseworkers to visit children in the foster care program at least once per month. For the last five years, Oklahoma has placed among the three worst states in the nation for the abuse or neglect of children in foster care, they claimed. They also cited a report by the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth finding that 25 percent of the foster homes it reviewed had "serious safety issues and should never have been approved for placement by OKDHS in the first place."

Read the full article:
Read the Opinion:

UNICEF Declares 'Children's Emergency' in Haiti

"Kidnap fears spark Haiti ‘children’s emergency’"

"UNICEF warns lost kids may be kidnapped for adoption, sex abuse or labor
The head of UNICEF warned Tuesday that people may still be trying to smuggle children out of Haiti and said protecting youngsters who survived the earthquake is the top concern of the U.N. children's agency.

Ann Veneman said in an interview with The Associated Press that UNICEF is starting a program to identify children who lost or can't find their parents.

The group is also working with other groups to put children who are alone into facilities where they can receive food, water and psychological help, she said.

'This is a children's emergency,' she said.

Veneman, who visited Haiti last week, said in every humanitarian crisis there's a risk that children will be trafficked out of the country for sexual exploitation, adoption, child labor or other illegal purposes. In Haiti, she said, 'this is a big concern.'"

Read the complete article:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Trafficking Victims Forced into Sea by Smugglers, Rescued by Somalis

"Somalis rescue migrants in Gulf of Aden"

"Some 126 people have been rescued by Somali fishermen from the Gulf of Aden after human traffickers reportedly forced them into the sea at gunpoint.

The migrants, mostly from Somalia and Ethiopia, said they had set off from northern Somalia a week ago.

They said their boat had developed engine trouble and drifted for days before the people smugglers forced them into the sea. Six people are missing."

Read the full article:

First Circuit Affirms Qualified Immunity for Officer Who Questioned Immigrants During Traffic Stop

"Trooper Can't Be Sued for Questioning Immigrants"

"Rhode Island trooper who pulled over a van of workers had probable cause to ask the driver and passengers about their immigration status and then turn them over to immigration authorities, the 1st Circuit ruled.

In July 2006, trooper Thomas Chabot pulled the van over for failing to signal when changing lanes. Chabot asked the driver and passengers for identification and proof of U.S. citizenship. When they failed to produce any IDs, he escorted them to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Providence, R.I.

The driver and 11 passengers sued, claiming Chabot violated their constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Chabot and the Rhode Island State Police moved to dismiss on the basis of qualified immunity.

The federal appeals court in Boston upheld a lower court's ruling for Chabot, saying he had reason to question the group's immigration status. His inquiries amounted to "mere police questioning," Judge Juan Torruella ruled.

The three-judge panel added that Chabot's two pat-down searches of the van's driver were reasonable due to the safety concerns presented by the large group of unide
ntified people.

Also, Chabot's request that the van's driver follow him to the customs office was not unreasonable, the court ruled, because at least two passengers had admitted that they were in the country illegally.

'Because we find that Officer Chabot could reasonably have believed that he had sufficient facts to warrant first reasonable suspicion, and later, probable cause of immigration violations, we find that he is entitled to qualified immunity for all of the challenged actions,' Torruella concluded."
Read the Opinion:

State Department Issues New Travel Warning for Haiti


February 09, 2010

"The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the situation in Haiti in the aftermath of a powerful earthquake, measuring 7.0 magnitude, that struck Haiti near Port-au-Prince on January 12. The Department of State has ordered the departure of all non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Haiti...

The U.S Embassy has evacuated more than 15,000 U.S. citizens from Haiti and evacuation flights continue to depart the International Airport in Port-au-Prince. U.S. citizens wishing to depart Haiti should make their way to the airport between 4PM and 8PM. They are encouraged to bring their passport and identification, and any available food, water, and supplies, as facilities at the airport are limited. U.S. citizens in Haiti should contact friends and relatives outside of Haiti to inform them of their welfare.

The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince has assembled a task force at the Embassy which is taking calls as conditions permit. The Embassy is working to identify U.S. citizens in Haiti who need urgent assistance and to identify sources of assistance.

U.S. citizens are urged to contact the Embassy via email at to request assistance. U.S. citizens in Haiti may also call the Embassy's Consular Task Force at 509-2229-8942, 509-2229-8089, 509-2229-8322, or 509-2229-8672. The State Department in Washington, D.C., has also created a task force to monitor the emergency. Persons in the U.S. or Canada with information or inquiries about U.S. citizens in Haiti may contact the Haiti Task Force at 888-407-4747. Outside of the U.S. and Canada, call 202-501-4444. For further information and updates, please see the State Department's Consular Affairs website."

Read the full Warning:

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ninth Circuit Says Reversible Error Occurred in Denial of Tattooed Man Seeking Asylum

"Tattooed Immigrant Wins Asylum Review"

"Before deporting a convicted thief, immigration authorities must consider reports that El Salvadorian police and gangs harass, persecute and kill tattooed criminal deportees, the 9th Circuit ruled, reviving a heavily inked man's bid for asylum.

Gregory Stuart Aguilar-Ramos faces deportation based on his two convictions for second-degree robbery and petty theft with priors.

He sought asylum, claiming he feared that El Salvadorian police and gangs would target him because of his 'multiple tattoos' and 'status as a deportee from the United States,' according to the ruling.

An expert on policing and gangs in El Salvador testified that deportees like Aguilar face two to six years in jail, death or serious injury in prison, harassment by police or military patrols - even death by death squads, which reportedly operate "with the awareness of the government," the ruling states.

The immigration judge denied Aguilar's petition, citing his failure to prove that he likely faced torture in El Salvador. The Board of Immigration agreed.

But their decisions were overturned by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit, which ruled that the failure to consider country conditions 'constitutes reversible error.'"

Read the full article:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Americans Charged with Kidnapping 33 Children in Haiti

"U.S. missionaries charged with kidnapping in Haiti"
February 4, 2010
CNN's Karl Penhaul contributed to this report

"Ten Americans who were detained last week while trying to take 33 Haitian children out of the country were charged Thursday with kidnapping children and criminal association, a government official said.

The 10 were returned to jail in Port-au-Prince after their court hearing in the case Thursday, CNN's Karl Penhaul reported.

The Americans say they were just trying to help the children leave the earthquake-stricken country, but Haiti's prime minister has said that the group was kidnapping the children.

The Americans were turned back as they tried to take the children across the border into the Dominican Republic without proper documentation. They said they were going to house them in a converted hotel in that country and later move them to an orphanage they were building there...

Some of the detained Americans have said they thought they were helping orphans, but their interpreters told CNN Wednesday that they were present when group members spoke with the children's parents. Some parents in a village outside Port-au-Prince said they had willingly given their children over to the Americans, who promised them a better life, and who said they could see their children whenever they wanted to."

Read the full story:

Village of Riace, Italy Welcomes Refugees

"'City of the Future' Italian Village Welcomes Refugees with Open Arms"

Juliane von Mittlestaedt

"An Italian village is hoping to reverse its population decline by welcoming refugees from around the world. The immigrants get free room and board and are expected to work and learn Italian in return. The project is proving highly successful -- but the local Mafia aren't happy."

"Domenico Lucano, a 51-year-old man, is the mayor of Riace, Italy. The village -- with its three churches, two patron saints, sheep grazing on the surrounding hillsides and tangerine trees growing in the valleys -- is like a corn on the sole of the foot of the Calabria region.

Until recently, Riace was rapidly becoming a ghost town. People had left to find their luck elsewhere -- in Milan, Turin or Genoa, in Germany or the United States. Riace's population had shrunk so drastically that the village didn't even have a bar, a restaurant or a butcher's shop, and there weren't enough children to fill classes in the school. That was before Mayor Lucano decided to revive his village: with immigrants from Somalia, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq and Lebanon."

Read the full article:,1518,675772,00.html

10th Circuit Says Provision in Oklahoma's Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act Requiring Employee Eligibility Verification Is Not 'Expressly Pre-Empted' by Federal Law

"Court Rejects Bulk of Immigration Reform Law"

"The 10th Circuit on Tuesday largely upheld an order barring enforcement of Oklahoma's controversial immigration reform law, but ruled that a provision for verifying employees' work eligibility is now enforceable, as it's not 'expressly pre-empted' by federal law.

House Bill 1804 passed on an 84-14 vote in 2007 and was called 'perhaps the most meaningful' piece of immigration reform in the nation. Now dubbed the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, the law requires employers to verify employees' work eligibility and bans businesses that employ illegal immigrants from firing workers who are U.S. citizens. Companies must also withhold taxes for workers who don't have proper documentation.

A group of local chambers of commerce and trade associations challenged those provisions as pre-empted by federal law. They won a preliminary injunction in district court, and the Denver-based appeals court upheld most of that injunction.

'The Chambers ... are unlikely to succeed on the merits of their claims that (two of the challenged provisions) are expressly pre-empted' by the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act, Judge Carlos Lucero wrote.

But the three-judge panel said pre-emption might be an issue with a provision requiring employers to use the Basic Work Pilot program - a government-run Internet database - to verify employees' citizenship status."

Read the full article:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Norway Admits it Helped Children of Moroccan Olympian Secretly Leave Morocco

"Morocco Olympic champion's children 'not abducted'"

"The children of a Moroccan Olympic champion say they fled from his house and were smuggled out of the country with the help of Norwegian diplomats.
The case has sparked an international row, with Morocco demanding that Norway put its diplomats on trial.

The children of Khalid Skah, who won the 10,000m gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, have gone on Norwegian TV to say they left of their own free will.

Mr. Skah says they were kidnapped but Norway denies it was directly involved.

Tarik, who is 13, and Selma, 16, told the Norwegian news channel TV2 Nyhetskanalen they ran away from their father's house, in July 2009, after he became increasingly strict and locked them in their rooms.

They contacted their Norwegian mother, who had come to Morocco with the family in 2006, but left in 2007 when the relationship broke down.

She got in touch the Norwegian embassy, which arranged for the children to be picked up from the streets of the capital, Rabat, and taken to the Norwegian ambassador's residence, where they stayed until they could be smuggled out of the country on a yacht bound for Spain.

'It was our choice to flee,' Tarik said.

'We weren't allowed to live a normal life, we weren't allowed to go to school,' said Selma...

Norway admitted on Monday that one of its diplomats had helped hide the children, and two members of its special forces had taken them out of Morocco...

Morocco has accused Norwegian officials of breaking the Vienna Convention on diplomatic activity.

Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri, said: 'The Norwegian embassy gave itself the right to... mete out its own justice on the territory of a sovereign state in a private affair and beyond all rules and ethics.'

He said all the diplomats involved must be put on trial."

Read the full article:

Australia Calls for Balance in India's Reporting of Crimes Against Indian Nationals in Australia

"Don't cry racism for every attack, says Australia"
IANS, 3 February 2010
"Australia on Wednesday criticised the Indian media and called for 'some balance in reporting' after an Indian national who claimed to have been attacked was found to have accidentally set himself on fire while attempting to torch his car to falsely claim insurance.

Victoria state premier John Brumby and Australian High Commissioner in India Peter Varghese objected to the portrayal of the attacks against Indians as being racist and said it projected Australia in a negative light.

The comments came after police alleged that Jaspreet Singh, 29, who had on Jan 8 claimed he was set alight by unknown assailants near his home, had accidentally burnt himself while setting fire to his car for an insurance claim.

Jaspreet Singh, who said he was attacked in a Melbourne suburb, was charged with making a false report to the police and criminal damage with a view to gaining financial advantage...

He also referred to the death of Ranjodh Singh whose body was found on the side of a road in New South Wales on Dec 29 last year.

'I think the point needs to be made that the people who have been charged with that murder are both Indians,' Australian news agency AAP quoted Brumby as saying.

'And we've had this (Jaspreet Singh) case, which attracted a lot of attention in India, and police have charged an individual with setting fire to himself.'

'So I hope that there is some balance to the debate, some balance to the reporting in India and certainly to date that balance hasn't been there.'

In India, Australian envoy Peter Varghese said: 'Australia has zero tolerance for violence and zero tolerance for racism. Both are reflected in Australian law, and in the penalties the courts are handing out.'

Varghese said in a statement that the incident in which Jaspreet Singh claimed to have been set alight near his home in Melbourne was reported as a racist attack.

'It had done serious damage to Australia's image in India. It had fuelled the view that Indians had been singled out for racist attacks in Australia,' he said.

He said the Jaspreet Singh case, together with the arrest on Jan 29 of three Indians for the murder of Ranjodh Singh, should be a lesson to all not to cry 'racism' every time something bad happened to an Indian in Australia."

Read the complete article:

France Denies Citizenship to Man Because of His "Discriminatory Attitude Towards Women"

"Man Denied French Citizenship Because Wife Wears Veil"
Adam Taylor

"A Moroccan man has been denied French citizenship because he demanded his French wife wear a full-face Islamic veil, Reuters reports.

'It emerged during the inquiry and the interview process that this person forced his wife to wear the full veil, deprived her of freedom of movement with her face exposed and rejected the principles of secularism and equality between men and women,' France's Immigration Minister Eric Besson said in a statement Tuesday.

France's Le Figaro newspaper obtained a copy of the ruling, which has also been published in English by The Guardian:

'Monsieur X displays in an everyday manner a discriminatory attitude towards women, going as far as refusing to shake their hands and advocating the separation of boys and girls including, at home, of brothers and sisters,' the ruling read.

'The lifestyle he has chosen may be justified by religious precepts but is incompatible with the values of the Republic, notably the principle of equality of the sexes.'"

Read the full article:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

US State Department Issues Important Information to Students Traveling Abroad

"Safety Information for American Students Traveling Abroad"
Washington, DC
February 1, 2010

"As spring and summer breaks approach, many students are getting ready for a trip abroad. The majority of students traveling abroad will have safe and enjoyable adventures. However, even with the best-planned trips, things can go wrong.

Each year, more than 2,500 American citizens are arrested abroad – about half on narcotics charges, including possession of very small amounts of illegal substances.

Being arrested is not the only thing that can go wrong on a foreign vacation. U.S. citizens have been badly injured or have been killed in automobile accidents, falls, and other mishaps. Many of these incidents are related to alcohol and/or drug use. Other have been sexually assaulted or robbed because they found themselves in unfamiliar locales, were incapable of protecting themselves because of drug or alcohol use, or were the victims of a “date rape” drug.

The most common cause of death of U.S. citizens overseas, other than natural causes, is by motor vehicle accidents. Students traveling abroad should be aware that standards of safety overseas might be different from those in the United States, or non-existent.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs website for American students traveling overseas,, provides useful safety and travel information for students prior to their travel. Students are strongly urged to review the information on the site and sign up online at to receive the latest travel information from the Department of State. Signing up makes it possible for the State Department to contact the student traveler, if necessary, in case of a family emergency in the United States or because of a crisis in the foreign country.

Please see the Department of Homeland Security’s web site for more information on the requirements for a passport, passport card, or other approved document to reenter the United States after travel abroad."

Read the full posting for more information:

Some to Receive Corrected Notices of Approval to Replace Incorrect Notices Issued Between January 20-27, 2010

"USCIS to Issue Revised Approval Notices for Certain Forms I-129 and I-539"

"U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is alerting customers of certain Notices of Approval (Forms I-797) issued between Jan. 20 and Jan. 27, 2010, with incorrect or missing information. The form types impacted are Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) and Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-539).

USCIS has started mailing new approval notices with corrected information to affected I-129 petitioners and I-539 applicants. Petitioners and applicants who received incomplete or incorrect approval notices should not attempt to use them. USCIS estimates that approximately 500 incorrect Notices of Approval (Forms I-797) were issued."

Read the full posting:

Monday, February 1, 2010

USCUS Instructs on Orphan Screening in Haiti

"How to Schedule an Appointment for an Orphan Screening at the U.S. Embassy in Port au Prince"

"In response to the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is actively screening Haitian children for possible humanitarian parole if they fit into one of two special categories authorized by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano on Jan. 18, 2010. The specialized categories only apply to Haitian children who were adopted or were in the process of being adopted by American families prior to Jan.12. For additional information on the eligibility criteria for both categories, please review the 'Information for U.S. Citizens in the process of adopting a child from Haiti'"

See the entire posting:

Over 300 People Claim Same Address in Canadian Citizenship Fraud Case

"More than 300 people linked to suspected case of citizenship fraud"
From Monday's Globe and Mail
Published on Monday, Feb. 01, 2010

"More than 300 people who claimed to live at the same address in Mississauga are being investigated by the RCMP in what police suspect may be a massive case of citizenship fraud.

The case revolves around an address located in the same building as Palestine House, a Mississauga centre that offers language classes and settlement services to new immigrants and also acts as an advocate for Palestinian and Arab causes.

Citizenship judges were briefed on the file late last year and were warned to look for large numbers of immigration applicants claiming the same address, The Globe and Mail has learned...

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney didn't comment on this case specifically, but said he met recently with immigration enforcement officials who briefed him on the issue of citizenship fraud. He said it's a matter of increasing concern.

'There are a number of ongoing police investigations into this practice of people abroad hiring consultants to establish for them evidence of residency in Canada, to meet the three-year residency requirement, when, in point of fact, they are often living abroad most or all of that time,' Mr. Kenney said.

Pay scales in foreign countries that vary according to nationality are acting as a new kind of catalyst for this kind of fraud, he added. In places such as Dubai, for example, an employee with a Canadian passport can earn a substantial premium compared to those from poorer nations.

'The notion is that there's a more costly labour market in Western countries. If these people can get a Western passport then they move up the salary scale,' Mr. Kenney said."

Read the complete article:

Americans Detained for Attempting to Move Haitian Children to Dominican Republic without Haiti's Approval

"Detained Americans say they had good intentions in Haiti"
CNN's Karl Penhaul, Jill Dougherty and journalist Jessica Desvarieux contributed to this report.

"Ten Americans detained and accused of child trafficking in Haiti after they allegedly tried to bus 33 children into the Dominican Republic insist their effort was an attempt to get the children to a shelter.

But Haiti's prime minister said Sunday that the group was kidnapping the children.

'From what I know until now, this is a kidnapping case,' Jean-Max Bellerive told CNN. 'Who is doing it -- I don't know. What are the real objectives or activities -- I don't know. But that is kidnapping and it is more serious because it's involving children'he said.

'The children certainly were not fully willing to go, because in some cases, from what I heard, they were asking for their parents, they wanted to return to their parents.'...

The group of five men and five women said they were trying to move the children to the Dominican Republic in the aftermath of the January 12 earthquake that devastated parts of Haiti, flattening the capital and killing tens of thousands. But a Haitian judge has charged the 10 with child trafficking, they said.

The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince said Sunday that the Americans have been detained for 'alleged violations of Haitian laws related to immigration.'...

Government approval is needed for any Haitian children to leave the country, and the group acknowledged that the children have no passports.

Jeanne Bernard-Pierre, general director for Haiti's Institute of Social Welfare, said the children will be interviewed in the coming days to determine whether they have living relatives."

Read the complete article: