Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cuba's Decree 217 Allows for Deportation of Cuban Citizens from Havana

"Cuban migrants illegal in their own country"
By David Ariosto, CNN
May 19, 2010

""I was caught because I was an illegal," explained a bicycle taxi driver as he gripped the rusted blue handle-bars of his vehicle in Havana's Central Park. "And because I'd been here several times before, I was deported back."

But the driver working his trade in the capital city did not arrive in Cuba from another country. Instead he is among the thousands who have come from rural provinces in search of work and a place to live -- but who have been deported back because of "Decree 217."

The 1997 law restricts rural migration to Havana, making this taxi driver an illegal resident in his own capital city.

"If you're illegal you can't be here in Havana," said the driver, originally from Cuba's eastern Holguin province. "You don't have an address here in Havana." ...

The law's passage through the island's rubber-stamp legislature came just six years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the hardship that brought to Cuba during what it called the "special period."

Economic conditions were generally worse at the eastern end of the island, according to Cuba analyst Edward Gonzalez, a professor emeritus at the University of California Los Angeles.

"[The eastern region] has always been the less affluent, impoverished part of the island," he said, "heavily dependent upon agriculture, less on tourism, and also happens to be more black and mulatto."

The effort to keep migrants out and prevent overcrowding in Havana may have resulted in police discrimination against darker-skinned Cubans presumed more likely to be illegal, Gonzalez said.

"The government deported tens of thousands of people or forcibly removed them from Havana to other parts of the island," said Daniel Wilkinson, America's deputy director at Human Rights Watch. "It's just one in a series of laws that place severe restrictions on Cubans [and] how they live, where they live, and where they work.""

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

US and Russia Adoption Agreement Near Completion

"Official: U.S.-Russia adoption agreement to be finalized"
CNN's Charley Keyes contributed to this report.

"A draft agreement on international adoptions between the United States and Russia will be finalized by Friday, Moscow's children's rights commissioner said Wednesday.

After it is finalized, the agreement will be forwarded to the Russian Health and Education ministries and the Cabinet of Ministers, said the commissioner, Pavel Astakhov. If approved by the Cabinet, a signing date will be scheduled, he said. The final copy would be signed by Russia's Education Ministry and the U.S. State Department or Department of Justice, he added.

Under the proposed agreement, the number of U.S. adoption agencies dealing with Russian children will be diminished, he said.

"We will reduce the number of U.S. adoption agencies accredited in Russia," Astakhov said. Only those agencies that are accredited in the United States and compliant with the requirements of the Hague convention on international adoptions will be allowed to continue working in Russia, he said.

In addition, he said, "independent adoptions" will be abolished altogether. The draft agreement envisions setting up a joint Russian-American body with the authority to check out any U.S. family adopting a Russian child, Astakhov said."
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Ninth Circuit: Hardship to an Unborn Child Not a Bsais for Cancellation of Removal

"Immigrant Loses Claim of Hardship to Unborn Child"

"The 9th Circuit refused to expand the term "child" in denying the hardship petition of an Indian man who claimed his unborn daughter qualified as a relative.

A three-judge panel denied Rana Partap's bid to stay in the United States, saying the court "simply does not contemplate the cancellation of removal based on the hardship to be suffered by a 'de facto' child.""

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

California District Court Finds That INS Violated its Own Regulations in Refusing to Provide Plaintiff All Evidence Used to Determine Denial of Asylum

"Afghan Wins Review of Daughter's Asylum Case"

"Immigration authorities violated their own regulations by refusing to disclose the x-rays on which they based their refusal to grant asylum to an Afghan immigrant's daughter, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled.

Abdul Haq Ghafoori and his wife fled Afghanistan and were granted U.S. asylum in November 2000. Their daughter, Eida, had been unable to join them and remained in Pakistan, where the family lived after fleeing Afghanistan in the early 1990s.

Under federal immigration law, the child of an immigrant granted asylum is entitled to the same status, but it's up to the parent to prove that his child was 21 or younger when he first applied for asylum.

Ghafoori said his daughter was 13 in 2000, when he applied for asylum, but he was unable to produce a birth certificate or medical, church or school records to back up his claim. Instead, he offered other evidence, including copies of Eida's passport, a letter from her high-school principal, a family friend's affidavit, family photographs and money transfer documents showing that he and his wife still supported their daughter financially.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) approved the petition and forwarded it to the American Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Before issuing a visa, the embassy made Eida undergo a "bone-age assessment" at the Aziz Medical Center, which pegged Eida at "25 years of age or more," according to a doctor's letter.

INS told Ghafoori that it would reject asylum for his daughter unless he filed a rebuttal within 30 days. The agency sent him a copy of the doctor's letter, but not the actual x-rays.

His attorney, Gail Nevius, scrambled to obtain copies of the x-rays, but neither the Nebraska Service Center nor the embassy in Islamabad could produce them.

Ghafoori's asylum petition for his daughter was subsequently denied as "abandoned" in February 2005.

Ghafoori then hired attorney Tyler Gerking to help him get copies of the x-rays and fight the INS' decision. Gerking's records request bounced from the Nebraska Service Center to the Pakistani medical center to the embassy to immigration offices in New Delhi and back to the Nebraska Service Center, where the search began.

"Plaintiff's counsel therefore concluded that further requests to obtain the x-rays would remain futile," the ruling states.

Ghafoori sued immigration officials in federal court, claiming they violated their own procedures by basing their denial of his petition on x-rays that were never provided to him.

The officials filed a cross-motion to dismiss, arguing that Ghafoori failed to submit his rebuttal within 30 days.

U.S. District Judge Thelton E. Henderson ordered immigration authorities to reconsider the petition and base their decision "only on evidence disclosed to plaintiff."

Regulations unambiguously require the agency to let Ghafoori inspect all evidence "which constitutes the bases for the decision," except classified information, Henderson said.

He rejected the government's claim that INS met its obligations by providing a copy of the doctor's letter.

"That reading is irreconcilable with the regulations," Henderson wrote. "Divorcing the doctor's analysis from the medical records on which he relied creates an impossible burden for any petition attempting to rebut his conclusion." "
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US Citizen in Mexico Denied Passport to Return to US

"80-Year-Old Widow Is 'Trapped in Mexico'"

"An 80-year-old widow who was born in Los Angeles says she is "trapped in Mexico and unable to return to the United States" because State Department officials "red flagged" and denied her passport application, with no explanation. Maria Celia Lopez sued Hillary Clinton and her creatures in Federal Court.

Lopez says she was born in Watts, Calif., on Dec. 26, 1929. She says she was baptized in Los Angeles in 1930, and a Texas court issued her a delayed birth certificate in 1991. She is registered to vote in Midland, where she lives, or lived, with her son.

Lopez says she applied for a passport in 2007, supplemented the application at the State Department's request in 2008, and was rejected.

She was given no explanation, other than that "the State Department had 'red-flagged' the passport application, and that plaintiff should be 'getting a denial and a return of her original documents.'"

Lopez says she had to go to Mexico in May-June 2009 "due to an illness in the family" and now she is trapped there."

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Ninth Circuit: Prisoner's Suit Against Jewish Organization Incorporates State Agency That Delegated Duty

"Court Revives Prisoner's Suit Over Jewish Services"


"The 9th Circuit reinstated the constitutional claims of a Washington state prisoner who says he was denied Jewish material and services because he failed to prove that he's Jewish.

Dennis Florer claimed that Congregation Pidyon Shevuyim N.A., an organization hired to provide Jewish services to inmates, and its president, Gary Friedman, were the gatekeepers for all Jewish materials and services for the Washington Department of Corrections.

Their input allegedly determined whether inmates like Florer would receive proper kosher meals, Torahs, Jewish calendars, consultations with rabbis and other requested items or services.

Florer claims the congregation and Friedman only provided Jewish services to prisoners who had Jewish mothers or had been formally converted to Judaism.

Because Florer failed to prove that he was actually Jewish, he said his requests for Jewish items and services were denied.

He sued Congregation Shevuyim, Friedman and a Jewish outreach program called Jewish Prisoners Service International, alleging violations of the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez dismissed the complaint, saying Florer failed to name a "state actor," even though he offered evidence that the Department of Corrections deferred to Congregation in deciding which prisoners are Jewish and thus entitled to its services.

The Seattle-based appellate panel reversed, ruling that Congregation "acted under the color of state law" in making the judgment call on who was Jewish enough...

"[A]lthough Congregation's decision to limit Florer's access to religious materials may have had a religious component, that characteristic does not alter that Congregation's conduct was a direct delegation of the DOC's constitutional duty to provide appropriate access to religious materials."

The court revived Florer's claims and remanded."

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N.Y. Man Charged with Smuggling Undocumented Aliens from Peru

"Alleged Alien Smuggler Could Get Life"

"Federal prosecutors say a man smuggled three undocumented aliens from Peru to Mahopac, N.Y., where he lived, and planned to have sex with one of them, who was 12 years old.

George Vieria, 38, is being held without bail after his Friday indictment on three counts of alien smuggling and one count of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

Prosecutors also charged Vieria with one count of copyright infringement, claiming that he reproduced and distributed a DVD box set.

Vieria faces a life sentence if convicted of all charges."

Friday, May 7, 2010

Motion to Halt American Adoption of Russian Children Denied

"Russia Votes To Let U.S. Adoptions Continue"
05/ 7/10

"Russia's parliament on Friday defeated a motion that would have prevented Americans from adopting Russian children.

The motion was put forward in reaction to the case of ... an 8-year-old Russian boy sent back to Moscow alone last month by his adoptive mother in Tennessee. The mother claimed the boy was violent and that the orphanage had lied about his condition. Russian physicians said they found no mental issues with the boy...

A motion to freeze all adoptions to the U.S. pending the signing of such an agreement fell 98 votes short Friday in the State Duma, the lower house.

After a month of conflicting signals, Education Minister Andrei Fursenko confirmed earlier this week that Russia had not suspended U.S. adoptions, which he said required legislation to be passed by parliament or a presidential act.

The dominant Kremlin-friendly party, United Russia, voted against Friday's motion, saying it did not make sense given Americans' willingness to discuss an agreement.

"If an agreement is not signed, we will be the first to submit a freeze bill to parliament," deputy Natalya Karpova said."

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Family of Immigrant Medically Neglected Loses Fight to Sue Federal Employees

"Immigrant's Family Loses High Court Battle"

"The justices unanimously blocked a lawsuit filed by Francisco Castaneda's estate, accusing a Public Health Service doctor of repeatedly refusing to order a biopsy of a bleeding lesion on Castaneda's penis, first reported in March 2006.

Castaneda told medical personnel at the San Diego Correctional Facility that the irregular, raised lesion on his penis was growing, and that it frequently bled and oozed discharge, according to his family.

The lesion became so painful that it interfered with his urination, defecation and sleep. But Dr. Esther Hui, a PHS employee, allegedly refused to order a biopsy, despite repeated recommendations to do so, because she deemed the procedure "elective in nature."

Castaneda was instead given ibuprofen, antibiotics, laxatives and an extra weekly allotment of boxer shorts.

A week after he was released from custody on Feb. 5, 2007, a biopsy revealed that he had penile cancer. His penis was amputated, and Castaneda underwent chemotherapy that was ultimately unsuccessful. He died in February 2008 at the age of 36.

A federal judge called the government's actions "beyond cruel and unusual," and the 9th Circuit agreed that the estate could sue Hui and health services administrator Stephen Gonsalves.

Arguments before the Supreme Court hinged on whether a change to the Federal Tort Claims Act bars the estate from suing federal employees in what's known as a Bivens action, which allows direct action against federal officers who violate someone's constitutional rights.

"Based on the plain language ... we conclude that PHS officers and employees are not personally subject to Bivens actions for harms arising out of such conduct," Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote. ...

Monday's ruling shuts down the estate's claims against Hui and Gonsalves."

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Seventh Circuit: Man Wins Asylum Appeal Because BIA Failed to Adequately Consider Hardships and Persecution of Chinese Citizens who Violate "One-Child Policy"

"Man Wins Asylum Review on China's 1-Child Policy"
"The 7th Circuit ordered immigration officials to reconsider the asylum claims of a Chinese man whose mother and aunt were forcibly sterilized for defying China's strict population control laws.

The federal appeals court in Chicago called the Board of Immigration Appeals' review "woefully inadequate," saying it failed to consider the "cumulative significance" of the hardships and persecution leveled against Chinese citizens who resist the government's one-child policy.

Shi Chen was the fifth child born to a rural family of subsistence farmers. He is one of millions of members of a disenfranchised subculture in China known as the hei haiz, those born illegally and so not allowed to be listed as official members of their families. The hei haiz are denied state-provided schooling, heath care, food allowances and many of the other rights of Chinese citizenship, including in many cases the right to marry and have a family, hold a job and own property, according to the ruling.

As a penalty for Chen's birth, the state sterilized his mother against her will. Before that, his aunt was forced to abort an illegal pregnancy in its ninth month and was also sterilized.

Chen's parents paid large sums to keep him school until he was 17, when he left China for the United States and applied for asylum.

He argued that he would be persecuted if returned to China because of his family's resistance to the one-child policy and his membership "in social groups that include his family and the hei haizi."

An immigration judge denied Chen's petition, and the appeals board affirmed, rejecting Chen's claim that he had a well-founded fear of future persecution and that he would be targeted for sterilization himself.

Chen appealed to the 7th Circuit, which found that the board had given his claims an "incomplete" review and had made too much of the fact that he was able to obtain a passport and leave China...

The panel vacated the BIA's ruling and remanded."
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