Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Abuse Hotline in Germany to Handle Allegations Against Clergy

"Germany's Catholic Church launches sex abuse hotline"

"The Roman Catholic Church in Germany is launching a telephone hotline for victims of sexual abuse.

The helpline will be run from the western city of Trier. Its bishop has been appointed to handle any allegations made against clergy.

Hundreds of people have come forward saying they were abused by priests as children between the 1950s and 1980s.

The Pope has been accused of failing to act against a suspected sex abuser when he was archbishop of Munich.

The scandal has so far affected two-thirds of German dioceses, and the head of the country's Catholic Church has apologised over the accusations."

Read the complete article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8594158.stm

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

North Carolina Seafood Company Subject of Federal by Immigrant Workers

"Immigrant Labor"

"Capt. Charlie's Seafood, of Columbia, N.C., refused to reimburse legal immigrant workers for their expenses and subjected them to other abuses, a class action claims in Raleigh, N.C., Federal Court."
Read the Complaint: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/03/23/ImmigLabor.pdf

Friday, March 19, 2010

Man Indicted for Impersonating DHS Employee, Defrauding Illegal Aliens

"South Florida man who posed as immigration official indicted in immigration benefit fraud scheme"

"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents arrested a South Florida man on March 15 for his alleged involvement in an immigration benefit fraud scheme where he is alleged to have impersonated a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employee in an attempt to obtain money from illegal immigrants by falsely promising them immigration benefits to remain in the United States.

Parasharm Maharaj, aka Paris Maharaj, 66, of Sunrise, Fla., was indicted on March 9 in a six-count indictment charging him with mail fraud, presenting false immigration applications, encouraging illegal aliens to remain in the United States, and impersonation of a federal employee...

According to the indictment, from Aug. 2004 through Sept. 2005, Parasharm Maharaj engaged in a scheme to defraud in which he charged illegal immigrants approximately $4,000 each to file applications for immigration benefits on their behalf.

Maharaj submitted fraudulent employment authorization (Form I-765) and fraudulent applications for temporary permanent residence (Form I-687) on behalf of aliens, allegedly knowing the aliens were not entitled to receive the benefits sought. During the execution of his scheme to defraud, he falsely purported to be a DHS employee. The indictment alleges that Parasharm Maharaj received more than $60,000 from the illegal immigrants he defrauded...

If convicted, Maharaj faces a maximum term of 20 years in prison on each mail fraud charge, 10 years on each charge of presenting a false immigration application, 10 years on each charge of encouraging illegal aliens to remain in the United States, and three years in prison on the impersonating a federal employee charge. He made his initial appearance in federal court in Miami on March 16.
Anyone with information that someone may be falsely representing to be an immigration officer or other DHS employee, can report that information or suspicion to the ICE tipline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423)."

Read the full story: http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/1003/100317miami.htm

State Department Travel Warning for Kenya


March 16, 2010

"The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Kenya...

The U.S. Government continues to receive indications of potential terrorist threats aimed at U.S., Western, and Kenyan interests in Kenya...
Travelers should consult the Worldwide Caution for further information and details...

The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi has designated a portion of Kenya bordering Somalia and Ethiopia as “restricted without prior authorization” for purposes of travel by U.S. Government employees, contractors, grantees, and their dependents. Travelers should be aware that U.S. Embassy security personnel recently expanded the restricted area to include the Lamu district. This designation is based on reports of Somali-based armed groups that have on occasion crossed into Kenya to stage attacks or to commit crimes. This restriction does not apply to travelers not associated with the U.S. Government, but should be taken into account when planning travel. The restriction is in effect for the following areas:

All of Mandera District.

The entire area north and east of the town of Wajir, including travel on Highway C80 and areas east of C80 and an 80-kilometer wide band contiguous with the Somalia border. Travel to and within the towns of Wajir and Moyale remains unrestricted.

Within Garissa District, an 80-kilometer wide band contiguous with the Somalia border. Travel to and within the town of Dadaab remains unrestricted.

Within Ijara District, an 80-kilometer wide band contiguous with the Somalia border; Boni National Reserve.

Within Lamu District, a 60-kilometer wide band contiguous with the Somalia border. Towns and resorts within/contiguous to the Kiunga Marine Reserve are now included in the restricted area...

As recently as February 2010, U.S. nationals were victims of carjackings...
U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Kenya are encouraged to register through the State Department’s travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov. By registering, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. The U.S. Embassy is located on United Nations Avenue, Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya; telephone (254) (20) 363-6000; fax (254) (20) 363-6410. In the event of an after-hours emergency, the Embassy duty officer may be contacted at (254) (20) 363-6000. The Embassy home page is http://kenya.usembassy.gov.

Updated information on travel and security in Kenya may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. In conjunction with this Travel Warning, U.S. citizens traveling to Kenya should also consult the Country Specific Information for Kenya and the Worldwide Caution, which are available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website at http://travel.state.gov."

Read the complete Warning: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_923.html

Man Accused of Impersonating Immigration Attorney for Three Years

"Phony Attorney"

"Daveng Wee, 33, impersonated an immigration attorney for 3 years, and used the name of a real attorney to do it, federal prosecutors say in Manhattan. The Singapore native used seven aliases and lied on his own residency application, prosecutors say."

Read the Complaint: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/03/19/Atty.pdf

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ninth Circuit Says Gov't Failed to Establish Convicts Were Native American Under Major Crimes Act

"Court Vacates Convictions Based on Indian Heritage"

"The 9th Circuit vacated the convictions of two men with minimal Native American blood, saying they aren't Indian enough to be prosecuted under the Major Crimes Act, which addresses serious crimes committed by Indians in Indian country.

Gordon Ray Mann Jr. was convicted of one count of sexual abuse of a minor. He committed the crime at his home, which is within the boundaries of the Blackfeet reservation. Since 1987, Mann has been enrolled as a member of the Little Shell tribe of Chippewa Cree, a tribe that's recognized by the state of Montana but not by the federal government.

Mann argued that he should be acquitted on the ground that he's not a Native American under the Major Crimes Act.

His case was consolidated with that of Shane Medore Maggi, who was convicted in Montana for assault with a weapon.

According to the ruling, Maggi's 'degree of Indian blood is 1/64 from the Blackfeet tribe and 1/32 from the Cree tribe.' He isn't an enrolled member of any tribe, but has been prosecuted in the past in the Blackfeet tribal court. He sought acquittal on the same ground as Mann, but the district court denied both motions.

On appeal, the three-judge panel in Seattle ruled that 'the government did not establish facts sufficient to demonstrate tribal or government recognition of Maggi as an Indian.' ...

In Mann's case, the panel ruled that Mann should have been acquitted because he 'has no blood from a federally recognized tribe.'"
Read the complete article: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/03/18/25692.htm

Thousands of Illegal Armenian Immigrants May Be Expelled from Turkey

"Turkish PM threatens to expel Armenians"
Wed Mar 17, 2010
"Turkey's prime minister has threatened to expel thousands of illegal Armenian immigrants after U.S. and Swedish lawmakers passed votes branding World War One-era killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide.

Muslim Turkey, a NATO member and candidate to join the European Union, recalled its ambassadors to Washington and Stockholm earlier this month after the non-binding votes and warned they could hurt a fragile effort to reconcile with Christian Armenia after a century of hostility.

Asked about the votes in an interview with the BBC Turkish service that was broadcast late on Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said: 'There are currently 170,000 Armenians living in our country. Only 70,000 of them are Turkish citizens, but we are tolerating the remaining 100,000.'

'If necessary, I may have to tell these 100,000 to go back to their country because they are not my citizens. I don't have to keep them in my country.'

Commentators have said the U.S. vote could affect Washington's use of the Incirlik Air base in southeast Turkey, which provides vital logistical support for U.S. troops going to and from Iraq."

Read the complete article: http://in.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idINIndia-46991220100317?sp=true

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

ACLU Demands Disclosure of ICE and DHS Arrests of "Criminal Aliens"

"ACLU Questions DHS Arrest Statistics"


"The Immigration and Homeland Security departments refuse to release public documents about mass arrests of alleged 'criminal aliens' in the Imperial Valley. Immigration officials claim that 80 percent of the 286 people arrested in the 3-day 'enforcement surge' had 'prior convictions for serious or violent crimes,' but the ACLU says it has reason to doubt that.

The ACLU sued the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security in Federal Court, demanding documents on the 3-day roundup of immigrants in December 2009.

'ICE's enforcement operations ostensibly targeting 'criminal aliens' have historically resulted in a disproportionate number of arrests of individuals without any criminal records at all and of individuals with only minor criminal convictions,' the ACLU says.

The ACLU claims that 73 percent of the people arrested by ICE'S fugitive operations team between 2003 and 2008 had no criminal convictions. ICE's budget grew more than twentyfold in that time...

The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request on Dec. 19 and asked that it be expedited. So far, the only response it has received from ICE and DHS is that they refuse to expedite the process...

It is represented by Sean Riordan."
Read the full article: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/03/17/25630.htm
Read the Complaint: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/03/17/ICE.pdf

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Travel Alert for Chile


March 12, 2010

"This Travel Alert replaces the one issued on March 1, 2010 and provides updated information on airport services, areas to avoid, and contact information for travelers. This Travel Alert expires on April 11, 2010.

The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to avoid non-essential travel to those areas closest to the epicenter and most affected by the earthquake, including the cities of Concepcion, Talcahuano and Temuco and the coastal areas in Bio Bio and Maule districts.

Following more than a week operating out of temporary facilities, the Santiago International Airport reopened with a limited schedule of domestic and international flights on March 9, 2010. The Santiago airport is expected to be fully operational by March 22, 2010. All other regional airports are open and operating on normal schedules...

Americans living or traveling in Chile are encouraged to register with the State Department's travel registration website to obtain updated information on travel and security within Chile. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in Santiago. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.

U.S. Embassy Santiago
Avenida Andres Bello 2800, Las Condes
Santiago, Chile
Phone: 56-2-330 30 00
Fax: 56-2-330 30 05
After Hours Emergency Line: (56-2) 330-3000

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

U.S. citizens may also call the Office of Overseas Citizens Services in the United States for the latest travel information. The Office of Overseas Citizens Services can be reached from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Monday through Friday, by calling 1-888-407-4747 from within the United States and Canada, or by calling (202) 501-4444 from other countries."

Read the complete Travel Alert: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_4737.html

US State Department Travel Warnings

March 15, 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. This replaces the Travel Warning for Haiti dated February 22, 2010, and provides information on crime-related threats to U.S. citizens in Haiti.

The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Haiti...

U.S. citizens traveling to and residing in Haiti despite this warning are reminded that there remains a persistent danger of violent crime, including homicides and kidnappings. Since the January 12 earthquake, four American citizens have been murdered in Port-au-Prince. Most kidnappings are criminal in nature, and the kidnappers make no distinctions of nationality, race, gender, or age. Some kidnap victims have been killed, shot, sexually assaulted, or physically abused. While the capacity and capabilities of the Haitian National Police have improved since 2006, the presence of UN stabilization force (MINUSTAH) peacekeeping troops and UN-formed police units remain critical to maintaining an adequate level of security throughout the country. The lack of civil protections in Haiti, as well as the limited capability of local law enforcement to resolve crime, further compounds the security threat to American citizens.

While MINUSTAH remains fully deployed and is assisting the Government of Haiti in providing security, travel is always hazardous within Port-au-Prince. The Department of State has ordered the departure of all non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Haiti. Remaining U.S. Embassy personnel are under an Embassy-imposed curfew and must remain in their homes or in U.S. government facilities during the curfew. Some areas are off-limits to Embassy staff after dark, including downtown Port-au-Prince. The Embassy restricts travel by its staff to some areas outside of Port-au-Prince because of the prevailing road, weather, or security conditions. This may constrain our ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside Port-au-Prince. Demonstrations and violence may occasionally limit Embassy operations to emergency services, even within Port-au-Prince.

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: acspap@state.gov 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 full Warning: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_4632.html

March 14, 2010

"The Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens traveling to and living in Mexico of concerns about the security situation in Mexico, and that it has authorized the departure of the dependents of U.S. government personnel from U.S. consulates in the Northern Mexican border cities of Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Matamoros until April 12. Family members of US Government personnel assigned to other areas of Mexico outside the Mexican border states are not affected by this departure measure. This Travel Warning supercedes the Travel Alert dated February 22, 2010, and announces the authorized departure of some dependents and updates security incidents...

Mexican drug cartels are engaged in violent conflict - both among themselves and with Mexican security services - for control of narcotics trafficking routes along the U.S.-Mexico border. To combat violence, the government of Mexico has deployed military troops throughout the country. U.S. citizens should cooperate fully with official checkpoints when traveling on Mexican highways.

Some recent confrontations between Mexican authorities and drug cartel members have resembled small-unit combat, with cartels employing automatic weapons and grenades. Large firefights have taken place in towns and cities across Mexico, but occur mostly in northern Mexico, including Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana, Chihuahua City, Nogales, Matamoros, Reynosa and Monterrey. During some of these incidents, U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area. The U.S. Mission in Mexico currently restricts its U.S. government employees’ travel within the state of Durango, the northwest quadrant of the state of Chihuahua and an area southeast of Ciudad Juarez, and all parts of the state of Coahuila south of Mexican Highways 25 and 22 and the Alamos River. This restriction was implemented in light of a recent increase in assaults, murders, and kidnappings in those three states...

The situation in the state of Chihuahua, specifically Ciudad Juarez, is of special concern. The U.S. Consulate General recommends that American citizens defer non-essential travel to the Guadalupe Bravo area southeast of Ciudad Juarez and to the northwest quarter of the state of Chihuahua including the city of Nuevo Casas Grandes and surrounding communities. From the United States, these areas are often reached through the Columbus, NM, and Fabens and Fort Hancock, TX, ports of entry. In both areas, American citizens have been victims of drug-related violence...

U.S. citizens traveling throughout Mexico should exercise caution in unfamiliar areas and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Bystanders have been injured or killed in violent attacks in cities across the country, demonstrating the heightened risk of violence in public places. In recent years, dozens of U.S. citizens living in Mexico have been kidnapped and most of their cases remain unsolved. U.S. citizens who believe they are being targeted for kidnapping or other crimes should notify Mexican law enforcement officials and the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City or the nearest U.S. consulate as soon as possible. Any U.S. visitor who suspects they are a target should consider returning to the United States immediately. U.S. citizens should be aware that many cases of violent crime are never resolved by Mexican law enforcement, and the U.S. government has no authority to investigate crimes committed in Mexico.

U.S. citizens should make every attempt to travel on main roads during daylight hours, particularly the toll ('cuota') roads, which generally are more secure. When warranted, the U.S. Embassy and consulates advise their employees as well as private U.S. citizens to avoid certain areas, abstain from driving on certain roads because of dangerous conditions or criminal activity, or recommend driving during daylight hours only. When this happens, the Embassy or the affected consulate will alert the local U.S. citizen Warden network and post the information on their respective websites, indicating the nature of the concern and the expected time period for which the restriction will remain in place.

U.S. citizen visitors are encouraged to stay in the well-known tourist areas. Travelers should leave their itinerary with a friend or family member not traveling with them, avoid traveling alone, and check with their cellular phone service providers prior to departure to confirm that their cell phone is capable of roaming on GSM or 3G international networks. Do not display expensive-looking jewelry, large amounts of money, or other valuable items. Travelers to remote or isolated hunting or fishing venues should be aware of their distance from appropriate medical, law enforcement, and consular services in an emergency situation...

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's internet web site at http://travel.state.gov/ where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or, for callers 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 https://travelregistration.state.gov/.

For any emergencies involving U.S. citizens in Mexico, please contact the U.S. Embassy or the closest U.S. Consulate. The numbers provided below for the Embassy and Consulates are available around the clock. 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: ACSMexicoCity@state.gov The Embassy's internet address is http://www.usembassy-mexico.gov/.

Ciudad Juarez: Paseo de la Victoria 3650, tel. (011)(52)(656) 227-3000. http://ciudadjuarez.usconsulate.gov/.

Guadalajara: Progreso 175, telephone (011)(52)(333) 268-2100. http://guadalajara.usconsulate.gov/.

Hermosillo: Avenida Monterrey 141, telephone (011)(52)(662) 289-3500. http://hermosillo.usconsulate.gov/.

Matamoros: Avenida Primera 2002, telephone (011)(52)(868) 812-4402. http://matamoros.usconsulate.gov/.

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). http://merida.usconsulate.gov/.

Monterrey: Avenida Constitucion 411 Poniente, telephone (011)(52)(818) 047-3100. http://monterrey.usconsulate.gov/.

Nogales: Calle San Jose, Nogales, Sonora, telephone (011)(52)(631) 311-8150. http://nogales.usconsulate.gov/.

Nuevo Laredo: Calle Allende 3330, col. Jardin, telephone (011)(52)(867) 714-0512. http://nuevolaredo.usconsulate.gov/.

Tijuana: Tapachula 96, telephone (011)(52)(664) 622-7400. http://tijuana.usconsulate.gov/service.html.

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)."

Read the complete Warning: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_4755.html

Chinese Government Gives No Info on Whereabouts of Chinese Human Rights Lawyer

"Mystery of missing Chinese lawyer Gao Zhisheng deepens"
By Michael Bristow
BBC News, Beijing

"The mystery surrounding the disappearance of Chinese rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng continues following comments from China's foreign minister.

Yang Jiechi said the well-known lawyer had been sentenced after being charged with subverting state power.

But it was not immediately clear whether that referred to an old charge, or a new one brought against Mr Gao.

There has been growing international concern about the activist, who disappeared more than a year ago.

Mr Yang was speaking at a news conference in Beijing, held with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who is currently visiting China.

No clarification

Mr Yang said: 'Gao Zhisheng has been sentenced on the charge of subverting state power.'

The Chinese foreign minister denied a suggestion that Mr Gao had been tortured, saying that his rights had been protected.

He said he hoped foreigners would respect China's judicial system.

'We are willing to have human rights dialogue with the UK and other countries on the basis of mutual respect and non-interference in each other's internal affairs,' Mr Yang added.

Mr Miliband said that he had raised the lawyer's case with the Chinese government...

Mr Gao went missing at the beginning of last year. He was believed to be in police custody, but no-one knows for sure.

His case is unusual because there has been little official word on what has happened to him - apart from several contradictory comments from Chinese officials.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said earlier this year that Mr Gao was 'where he should be'.

Last month, China's embassy in Washington told a US-based human rights group, the Dui Hua Foundation, said Mr Gao was working in Urumqi, a city in the far west of the country."

Read the complete article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8569797.stm

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Australia Criticizes Human Smugglers Who Put Asylum Seekers Lives at Risk

"32 asylum seekers rescued off Australian coast"
March 12, 2010

"Australia rescued 32 people seeking asylum this week after spotting them floating on boats off the country's northwest coast.

The asylum seekers were spotted on two different boats Thursday sailing near the Tiwi Islands, the Australian Ministry of Home Affairs said. The group said they wanted to come to Australia.

The two separate rescues highlights the problem of smugglers taking asylum seekers on these dangerous trips, Australian officials said.

'People smuggling is a deplorable act with organizers putting innocent people's lives at risk. The Australian government is pleased that the group is safe,' said Brendan O' Connor, minister for home affairs.

Australian officials did not say what country the asylum seekers were from. In the past, Australian officials have strongly criticized human traffickers."

Read the complete article: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/03/12/australia.asylum.seekers.rescue/index.html?hpt=Sbin

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Federal Judge Refuses to Dismiss Mexican Housekeeper's Suit Against Employers that Smuggled Her to US then Made Her Work for Free

"Judge Allows Maid's Enslavement Claims"
"A federal judge in San Diego refused to dismiss a Mexican housekeeper's claim that a married couple paid coyotes to smuggle her into the United States, where they held her captive for six years and forced her to work more than 100 hours a week in their home.

Samad and Yvonne Attisha allegedly had their secretary hire coyotes, or human smugglers, to smuggle Rosa Romero Hernandez into the United States in 2002 for $1,500. She says she had to work for free for a year to pay off her transportation fee.

The Attishas put her to work 'cooking, cleaning, babysitting, doing laundry, yard work and all housekeeping duties,' according to the lawsuit Hernandez filed last October.

She allegedly worked more than 100 hours a week, seven days a week, for less than minimum wage.

The Attishas claimed that most of Hernandez's claims were filed too late, but Chief U.S. District Judge Irma Gonzalez pointed out that, assuming the claims are true, Hernandez wasn't able to sue while she was under the Attishas' control.

'Plaintiff alleges she was confined to defendants' house, unable to leave and, consequently, unable to pursue any legal remedies available to her because of circumstances beyond her control.'

Hernandez has filed suit less than two years after her rescue and less than eight years after she was first brought to the Attishas' home. Given the allegations, the lawsuit fell 'well within' the statutes of limitations, Gonzalez ruled."
Read the Court's Denial of the Motion to Dismiss: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/03/10/Attisha.pdf

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ninth Circuit Says BIA Failed to Apply "Disfavored Group" Analysis in Case of Christian Indonesian Petitioning for Asylum

"Christian Indonesians Are a 'Disfavored Group'"

"A Protestant Indonesian family might not be deported after the 9th Circuit granted their petition for review, saying the Board of Immigration Appeals failed to recognize that 'Christians in Indonesia are a disfavored group,' the targets of violence and persecution by Muslim extremists.

Riori Tampubolon and Erlinda Silitonga entered the United States on tourist visas and married in 1995. They have two children, 12 and 14, both U.S. citizens.

The Pasadena-based appeals court agreed with the immigration judge and the BIA that the couple waited too long to apply for asylum.

But the court said the couple might be eligible for withholding of removal based on their Christian faith. Indonesia is nearly 90 percent Muslim; Protestant Christians account for 6 percent of the country's population...

'The Indonesian government's support of, or at the very least, acquiescence in, militant expressions of Islam has subjected Christians to violent persecution in Indonesia,' [Judge Harry] Pregerson wrote.

Christian churches have been burned, bombed, and vandalized by Muslim extremists, and Muslim extremists allegedly threatened to kill people who attended Silitonga's sister's church in 2000.

The judges said the record clearly shows that Christian Indonesians are a disfavored group. Because the BIA failed to apply disfavored group analysis to the petitioners' withholding claim, the court granted the couple's petition for review and remanded."
Read the complete article: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/03/10/25435.htm
Read the Opinion: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2010/03/09/06-70811.pdf

Monday, March 8, 2010

California Man Charged with Conspiring to Commit Fraud Involving Foreign Students

"Orange County man charged with running sophisticated student visa fraud scheme"

"An Orange County man surrendered to federal authorities Monday morning after being charged with conspiracy for allegedly orchestrating a visa fraud scheme involving dozens of foreign students enrolled at institutions throughout Southern California, including several junior colleges and three California State University campuses.

Foreign students from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Kuwait, Turkey, and Qatar allegedly paid thousands of dollars to the defendant and his associates to take college classes, exams and placement tests on their behalf so they could maintain their lawful immigration status as foreign students.

Eamon Daniel Higgins, 46, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., appeared in U.S. District Court to answer to a criminal information accusing him of one count of conspiring to commit visa fraud. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Higgins' trial is slated to begin May 4.

Monday morning as Higgins made his initial court appearance, ICE agents fanned out across Orange and Los Angeles counties, arresting 16 of the foreign students linked to the investigation. Of those, six were taken into custody on criminal charges for committing visa fraud. The remaining 10 individuals were arrested on administrative immigration violations and will be placed in removal proceedings. In addition, ICE agents encountered six other foreign students with ties to the case who were instructed to come in for further questioning...

According to the charging document unsealed today, Higgins received up to $1,500 to complete final examinations and other classroom work for foreign students, and $1,000 for taking required English proficiency tests. Higgins allegedly recruited associates to take exams as well.

The court document states that Higgins used personal identifying information provided by the foreign students to obtain counterfeit California driver's licenses. Then the defendant and his associates, posing as the foreign students, allegedly took the tests and examinations and attended the classes on the students' behalf. According to the court document, the conspiracy is believed to have begun in January 2002 and continued through mid-December of 2009.

In December 2009, ICE agents executed a federal search warrant at Higgins' residence in Laguna Niguel. There, agents seized a computer, along with dozens of fraudulent California identification documents and numerous college exam documents. A forensic analysis of the computer and related evidence revealed more than 100 foreign students who may have participated in the fraud scheme. Of those, ICE determined 47 are still in the United States."

Read the full story: http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/1003/100308santaana.htm

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Passport Fee Hikes Possible by April

"Proposed passport fee hikes draw ire"
By A. Pawlowski, CNN
March 4, 2010

"Get ready to open your wallet a little wider to satisfy your travel bug: It may soon cost more to apply for a new U.S. passport or renew an old one, and the news is not sitting well with some lawmakers.

The State Department is proposing fee hikes that would require adults applying for their first passport book to pay $135 -- a 35 percent increase from the current $100 fee.

(The cost of the wallet-size passport card, which Americans can use on certain trips closer to home, would rise from $45 to $55 for first-time applicants.)

Want to add more visa pages to your passport book? It's free now, but you would have to shell out $82 under the proposed fee schedule.

The renewal fee for passport books would rise to $110 -- up from the current $75.

There's even a new fee if you'd like to formally renounce your U.S. citizenship -- it costs nothing now, but the price tag would be $450 if the proposal is approved.

Officials recommended the hikes after a study found the current fee structure wasn't covering the government's costs for the services, the State Department said in the proposal outlined in the Federal Register...

The State Department intends to implement the proposed fee hikes "as soon as practicable" after it considers feedback from the public, but Sprague said the fees probably would not go into effect before April. You can weigh in and submit your comments via an online form until March 11.

You also may want to apply for or renew your passport now. The State Department is anticipating that there might be a rush of passport applications from people trying to beat any possible fee hikes and it's ready to handle it, Sprague said."

Read the complete article: http://www.cnn.com/2010/TRAVEL/03/04/passport.fees/index.html

Passport Day

"Passport Day in the USA"
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 2, 2010

"On Saturday, March 27, the Department of State will celebrate its 2nd annual “Passport Day in the USA.” U.S. citizens throughout the country can apply for a passport at any one of the 23 regional passport agencies without an appointment. With spring break and summer vacation right around the corner, now is the time to start making travel plans and apply for a passport...

On March 27, all passport agencies will be open and accepting passport book and passport card applications from 10 am to 3 pm, with no need to schedule an appointment. For this day only, U.S. citizens without urgent travel plans may apply directly at a regional passport agency and both routine and expedited processing service may be requested.

Many passport acceptance facilities around the country will also be hosting Passport Day in the USA events. U.S. citizens can visit www.travel.state.gov to find a participating passport acceptance facility near them and the event details. This website also contains complete passport information about what is needed to apply for a passport, as well as the application fees and processing times. U.S. citizens may also call the National Passport Information Center toll-free at 1-877-487-2778.

Please note that since June 1, 2009 U.S. citizens have been required to present a passport book, passport card, or other travel document approved by the U.S. government when entering the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda at land borders and sea ports of entry. Additional information on travel requirements is available at www.getyouhome.gov."

Read the complete Notice: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2010/03/137674.htm

Supreme Court to Determine Immunity of Foreign Officials under "Federal Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976" and "Torture Victim Protection Act"

"Somali Prime Minister's Immunity Before Justices"

"In a case closely watched by foreign officials, the immunity of a former Somali prime minister involved in widespread killing, torture, and rape was put to question in the Supreme Court Wednesday. The ousted official had fled to the United States and was then sued in Virginia by his victims.

Defendant Mohamed Ali Samantar held several prominent positions in the oppressive Somalian government during the 1980s, serving as the vice president, as the minister of defense and as the prime minister. When the government was overthrown in 1991, Samantar fled to Kenya, then Italy, and finally settled in the United States, where he was sued by torture victims...

The court must now decide whether the Federal Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 includes foreign officials when it immunizes 'agencies and instrumentalities' of a foreign country from being sued. And if foreign officials are immune under that act, the question would still turn on whether the Torture Victim Protection Act passed later would undo those immunities...

Shay Dvoretzky, a partner at Jones Day, represented Samantar. He argued that the immunity of "agencies and instrumentalities" of a foreign country includes foreign officials because they act on the state's behalf. He said this means the laws applied to the country and its officials are indistinguishable.

'U.S. courts are not the ultimate arbiters of foreign law,' he said.

Patricia Millett, a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, represented the victims, and was supported by the Obama administration. She said that foreign officials are not immune from being sued because the immunities act is only meant to protect the foreign country, not individuals. And she said that the vulnerable Samantar is liable under the torture victim act...

The district court granted Samantar's motion to dismiss the case, holding that claims against a foreign official equate to claims against the country, but the 4th Circuit reversed. It held that holding that individuals are not immune and if they were, Samantar is not because he is no longer a member of the Somali government."
Read the full article: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/03/03/25230.htm

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Notices Go Out to Businesses to Verify Compliance with Employment Eligibility Laws

"ICE serves 180 audit notices to businesses in 5 states"

"Employment records will be screened for compliance with federal law"
"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is issuing Notices of Inspection (NOIs) to 180 businesses in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee. The notices alert business owners that ICE will be inspecting their hiring records to determine whether or not they are complying with employment eligibility verification laws and regulations...
Employers are required to complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This form requires employers to review and record the individual's identity document(s) and determine whether the document(s) reasonably appear to be genuine and related to the individual."
Read the complete story: http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/1003/100302neworleans.htm

Supreme Court Hears Case About Negligence in Care of Imprisoned Immigrant

"Justices Hear Case of Immigrant's Suffering"
"Before the court was the issue of whether hospital workers and administrators could be held personally responsible for negligence in the care provided to... Francisco Castaneda.

His daughter stepped in to continue the lawsuit [after his death], claiming that a doctor, the hospital administrator and the government violated her dad's constitutional rights to due process and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment while he was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

Despite Castaneda's lesion, he was scheduled for a biopsy 10 months after seeking care, but was released from federal custody before the appointment.

Yanira Castaneda, the daughter, relies on a 1971 ruling in Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics that allows direct action against federal officers who violate a person's constitutional rights.

The ruling, however, came in the absence of legislation authorizing the suit, even following a change to the Federal Tort Claims Act mandating that awards won against the United States 'shall be exclusive of any other civil action or proceeding' in cases for injuries from medical treatment by a federal health service employee.

But Castaneda claims Congress amended the act to exclude immunity for violations of a person's constitutional rights, although Congress did not reference the act it was amending, she maintains...

The United States has already accepted responsibility for the malpractice, but an award has yet to be set.

A suit against the government can only result in a maximum of $250,000 in damages, under California law, and the case would not be subject to a jury trial. A suit against the individuals could be more rewarding for the plaintiffs.

Elaine Goldenberg from Jenner & Block defended the hospital workers. She said they were acting in the scope of their employment, making them immune to personal suits. She also said Congress was clear in its efforts to immunize its employees.

Conal Doyle from Willoughby Doyle represented the daughter. He argued that unless Congress specifically immunized employees from constitutional suits, then such immunity doesn't apply. He also said that the tort law includes a provision to insure a government employee against lawsuits, and that this means Congress did not mean to immunize its employees because immune employees would not need such insurance.

But Kennedy suggested that the individuals should not be liable. 'The nature of immunity clauses are to make the employees secure against unforeseen causes of action as well as foreseen,' he said...

The district court allowed the personal suits to continue and the Ninth Circuit affirmed."
Read the full article: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/03/02/25190.htm
Read the transcript of the Oral Argument: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/03/02/supremes%20immigrant.pdf

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Second Circuit says BIA Erred in Denying Ivory Coast Woman's Asylum Petition

"Alleged Mutilation Victim Wins U.S. Asylum Appeal"

"The Board of Immigration Appeals must reconsider the asylum petition of an Ivory Coast native and alleged genital mutilation victim who claimed she was jailed and beaten based on her ethnicity, Islamic beliefs and political ties.

Nan Marie Kone claimed to have been the victim of forced genital mutilation when she was 8 years old...

She said she continues to suffer with 'painful and disorganized periods' and a 'very painful pregnancy and delivery,' and fears her daughters would face the same fate if her family gets deported to the Ivory Coast.

She also claims to have been persecuted for her participation in the political opposition group Rally of the Republicans (RDR). She was allegedly thrown in jail for 10 days, 'during which time she was beaten daily, denied drinking water and required to walk naked in front of the guards, one of whom attempted to rape her,' the ruling states.

Kone said the guards threatened to catch and kill her if she continued to support the RDR.

She also claimed that her father was killed at a mosque stormed by armed supporters of the Ivory Coast's president, and that the government bombed Dioula towns in 2004, killing more than 250 people.

Kone is both a Muslim and a Dioula, the country's second-largest ethnic group.

The 2nd Circuit in Manhattan ruled that the Board of Immigration Appeals 'doubly erred' in affirming the immigration judge's refusal to grant Kone U.S. asylum.

'First, the agency inappropriately rebutted the presumption of future persecution to which Kone was entitled based solely on Kone's voluntary return trips to her native country,' Judge Gerald Lynch wrote.

'Second, even if the burden were on Kone to prove a likelihood of future persecution, the agency's adverse credibility determination on this point is corrupted by reliance upon an erroneous factual finding and the failure to adequately consider the relevant circumstances.'

The court granted Kone's petition for review, noting that her case can be treated as a bid for humanitarian asylum, which doesn't require proof of a well-founded fear of future persecution."
Read the full article: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/03/01/25139.htm
Read the Opinion: http://www.ca2.uscourts.gov/decisions/isysquery/5ac65e6a-83e5-4a61-a851-14fa8d21be10/2/doc/08-1445-ag_opn.pdf

Monday, March 1, 2010

New Law in Puerto Rico Invalidates Previously Issued Birth Certificates as of July 1

"Law Nullifying Puerto Ricans' Birth Certificates Shocks Many"
The Associated Press
Published: Saturday, February 27, 2010

"A law enacted by Puerto Rico in December mainly to combat identity theft invalidates as of July 1 all previously issued Puerto Rican birth certificates. That means more than a third of the 4.1 million people of Puerto Rican descent living in the 50 states must arrange to get new certificates.

The change catches many unaware.

Julissa Flores, 33, of Orlando said she knew nothing about Puerto Rico's law.

'I was planning a trip and, now, I don't know,' she said. 'Do I need to go get a passport? If my birth certificate is invalid, am I stuck here?'

People born in Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth, are U.S. citizens at birth. Anyone using a stolen Puerto Rico birth certificate could enter and move about the U.S. more easily, which could also pose security problems.

Puerto Rico's legislature passed the law after raids last March broke up a criminal ring that had stolen thousands of birth certificates and other identifying documents from several different schools in Puerto Rico...

Thus far, there seems to be little effort by the U.S. or Puerto Rican governments to educate the 1.5 million people born in Puerto Rico and living on the mainland about the new law.

Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., has been getting a steady stream of calls about the law at his district office. Serrano - who must replace his birth certificate, too - said he is trying to provide answers without triggering a panic.

'No one has thought about what effect this could have, if any, on those of us born in Puerto Rico who now reside in the 50 states,' Serrano said.

McClintock said a news conference held in Puerto Rico in December did not draw national media attention he hoped would spread the word. He noted there is no deadline for getting a new birth certificate. After July 1, the government will issue a temporary, 15-day certificate for those who need a birth certificate in an emergency.

The State and Homeland Security departments are deciding what to do for passport applicants with invalid birth certificates, State Department spokeswoman Adriana Gallegos said...

Conchita Vallecillo, 66, of Fairfax, Va., read about the new law in a Puerto Rico newspaper. She thought her age exempted her. 'I didn't think we would be affected, so it's one of those things that you don't pay attention to,' said Vallecillo, whose husband and four children also were born in Puerto Rico.

There is no exemption for age."

Read the complete article: http://www.theledger.com/article/20100227/NEWS/2275051?p=3&tc=pg