Thursday, July 22, 2010

U.S. Citizen Allegedly Abused by U.S. and Honduras Immigration Authorities

"U.S. Jailed, Abused & Deported Citizen to More Abuse in Honduras"
"HOUSTON (CN) - In a perfect immigration nightmare, a U.S. citizen claims the Department of Homeland Security arrested her in her own home, imprisoned, threatened and intimidated her and denied her food, water and medication unless she admitted she was someone else. Then it deported her to Honduras, where she was immediately imprisoned as an illegal alien, held in prison for 3 weeks and sexually assaulted by "an officer of the Honduran government." Even after she returned home, she says, U.S. immigration agents continue to harass her and threaten to arrest her again.

Diane Williams, 35, "a natural-born citizen of the United States," claims she was arrested in her Houston home on Jan. 18, 2009, by "a Special Agent of the Department of Homeland Security-Immigration and Customs Enforcement (hereinafter 'ICE') by the name of Rolando Jimenez, and other unidentified ICE agents."

Williams says she showed the agents her Louisiana birth certificate, but they arrested her anyway, and accused her of Angelique Bethany Cortez Rodriguez, a citizen of Honduras. She claims the "ICE officers made no attempt whatsoever to verify the plaintiff's claim to U.S. citizenship," but took her to the prison run by the Corrections Corporation of America, on a contract with DHS.

The agents did this though she "repeatedly informed the arresting officers that she was a United States citizen and offered the names and contact numbers of several family members who could confirm her identity," Williams says.

Inside the CCA prison, Williams says, she was denied prescribed medications for seizures, asthma and emotional disorders. She says that after 3 days she was allowed to take medication for asthmas and seizures, "but was denied the medications for her emotional disorders by officials of the Public Health Service."

Also inside the prison, Williams says, she "was interviewed in a hostile, threatening and aggressive manner by various ICE officers including Rolando Jimenez, Tak Wong, and other unidentified officers."

..."Plaintiff was told by Officer Rolando Jimenez and Officer Tak Wong that she would be jailed for four years and still deported if she refused to admit that she was 'Angelique Bethany Cortez Rodriguez, and a citizen of Honduras."

Afraid of spending 4 years in prison, "and in an unstable mental state due to the denial of her medications," Williams says she signed the statement. Three weeks later she was deported to Honduras.

"Plaintiff did not have legal representation at any point during this process, and was effectively denied from seeking legal counsel due to her detention and repeated placement in solitary confinement," she says. Nor did ICE follow the proper procedure and ask the Honduran Consulate to verify her nationality - which would have short-circuited her ordeal, she says.

..."Shortly after arrival in Honduras, plaintiff was arrested by officials of the Honduran government as an alien and held in custody in that country for approximately three weeks.

"While detained by Honduran officials, she was denied bathing facilities, slept on the floor, was fed irregularly and was sexually assaulted by an officer of the Honduran government."

Finally, 72 days after her nightmare began, "On March 31, 2009, the U.S. Embassy in Honduras issued plaintiff a U.S. passport after receiving her birth certificate from her family in the United States and investigating to their satisfaction her claim to U.S. citizenship.

"She was given a loan by the U.S. Embassy in Honduras for half of the purchase price of a ticket to the United States (her family paid the other half), and returned legally to the United States through the Miami port of entry on March 31, 2009.

"After returning to the United States Plaintiff has been subject to continuing harassment and abuse by officers acting under the authority of ICE and other government agencies, in spite of demonstrating evidence of her status as a citizen of the United States, including the continued existence of an immigration warrant encouraging her arrest by any law enforcement agency in the United States." (Parentheses in complaint.)

Williams seeks damages from the United States of America for negligence, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, assault and malpractice.

She is represented by Lawrence Rushton of Bellaire, Texas."
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Read the Complaint:

DHS Gets Tough on H1-B Visa Processing

"DHS Won't Say What the Rules Are"

"WASHINGTON (CN) - The Department of Homeland Security has tightened the screws on the H-1B visa process for specialty occupations, refusing and revoking far more applications, and scheduling 25,000 worksite inspections this year. But DHS has provided a "near vacuum of publicly available information" on how to comply with this "heightened scrutiny," and didn't even provide its "Compliance Review Worksheet" in a legally required request for comments on it, the American Immigration Lawyers Association claims in Federal Court.

"The notice [in the Federal Register], which explained that the form would be used to record the results of on-site inspections of businesses, sought comments from the public. Yet the form itself was not attached to the notice or made available to the public for examination. Disclosure of this Compliance Review Worksheet has been sought by AILA and its nondisclosure forms part of the present FOIA dispute."

...The H-1B visa is for temporary foreign workers - "such as scientists, engineers, and computer programmers-in occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields.""

Read the complete article:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Children Accused of Witchcraft Endure Abuse

"Rise in African children accused of witchcraft"
July 17, 2010

"An increasing number of children are being accused of witchcraft in parts of Africa, the UN children's agency says.

Orphans, street children, albinos and the disabled are most at risk.

A new Unicef report warns that children accused of being witches - some as young as eight - have been been burned, beaten and even killed as punishment.

The belief that a child could be a witch is a relatively modern development, researchers say.

Until 10-20 years ago, it was women and the elderly who tended to be accused.

The agency says the rise in vulnerable children being abused in this way is linked to greater urbanisation in the continent and disruption caused by war.

The growing economic burden of raising children is also thought to be a factor.

The agency said there was little it could do about the belief in witchcraft itself, and that it was not trying to eradicate the practice. But it said violence against children was wrong, and that it would do everything it could to stop it...

Most of those accused of witchcraft are boys aged between eight to 14 - who often end up being attacked, tortured and sometimes killed.
Also, children have had petrol poured into their eyes or ears as a way of trying to exorcise "evil spirits" that healers believe have possessed them.

It is reported that some evangelical preachers have added to the problem by charging large sums for exorcisms. One was recently arrested in Nigeria after charging more than $250 for each procedure.

There has been no comprehensive study to suggest how widespread child witchcraft allegations are.

However Unicef's Regional Child Protection officer for West and Central Africa told the BBC more than 20,000 streetchildren had been accused of witchcraft in the DR Congo capital Kinshasa."

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7th Circuit Tells BIA to Look at the Facts in Reversal of Chinese Woman's Denial of Asylum

"Asylum Review Granted in 'One-Child' Policy Case"
"The 7th Circuit told immigration authorities to reconsider the asylum application of a Chinese woman who said family-planning officers pulled down her pants and tried to force urine from her for a pregnancy test required by China's one-child policy.

Qiu Ping Li's problems with the Chinese government began when she ignored a summons to her first required periodic pregnancy test. Officers forcibly brought her to the family planning office.

Li, then 18, refused to provide a urine sample, and claimed that family-planning staff "yanked down her pants and forced or tried to force urine from her," according to the ruling.

But Li's troubles weren't over. When her cousin was pregnant with a second child, Li said she tried to block family-planning officers from entering her house. She was allegedly jailed for three days and fed only one meal per day. Li said she contracted gastritis from the tainted food.

The Board of Immigration Appeals did not question the credibility of Li's story, but ruled that her alleged mistreatment did not amount to persecution.

Judge Richard Posner said the board failed to decide if Li's allegations amounted to persecution.

"Whether in China's prudish culture the pulling down of an 18-year-old girl's pants by officers who were using force to try to extract urine from her, jailing her until her family paid a fine equal to a third of her year's wages, and feeding her tainted food in the jail amounted to persecution is an issue in the first instance for the Board to decide," Posner wrote. "So far as we can determine from its orders, it has yet to decide it. First it overlooked the critical facts, and then it unconvincingly denied having overlooked them."

He granted Li's petition for review and sent her case back to the immigration board."
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ninth Circuit Recognizes Young Guatemalan Women As a "Particular Social Group" in Asylum Cases

"Asylum Victory for Guatemalan Women"

"The 9th Circuit opened the door for young Guatemalan women to seek asylum based on the alarming numbers of women who are allegedly tortured and murdered with impunity there -- a threat one asylum seeker calls "femicide."

A three-judge panel in San Francisco said immigration officials must consider recognizing young Guatemalan women as a "particular social group" for asylum purposes, given the claim that government officials in Guatemala turn a blind eye to the torture and murder of women.

An immigration judge said she was "sympathetic to the plight" of Lesly Yajayra Perdomo, a young asylum seeker from Guatemala, but declined to recognize women between the ages of 14 and 40 as a "particular social group."

The Board of Immigration Appeals agreed that the group was too broad to qualify as a protected social group.

On appeal, the 9th Circuit called the board's ruling "inconsistent with its own precedent and this court's case law."

Though the court has never directly tackled whether women, without some other defining characteristic, qualify as a social group for asylum purposes, it has recognized groups of young women from a certain tribe or clan. In those rulings, clan membership and ethnicity were not limiting factors.

"[W]e clearly acknowledged that women in a particular country, regardless of ethnicity or clan membership, could form a particular social group," Judge Richard Paez wrote."

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

NJ Supreme Court: Non-English Speaking Drivers to be Informed of DUI Test Refusal Consequences in Language They Understand

"N.J. court reverses DUI case"
By Laura Bruno, USA TODAY
July 13, 2010

"TRENTON, N.J. — Drivers in New Jersey who don't speak English must be informed of the consequences of refusing to take an alcohol breath test in a language they understand, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday.
 No other states require translations of the statement, though some, including New York and Washington, provide access to translators, and others, including New Jersey, have made some translations available by computer or in print, says Jeffrey Mandel, who filed a brief in support of the Marquez case for the state's Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

"I think other states are going to follow New Jersey's lead," Mandel says. "It should not logistically be an issue for police departments — every department has access to computers, with laptops in cars or at stations." The ruling does not require translators be available on short notice or allow for a "too drunk to understand" defense.

State Attorney General Paula Dow's office maintained state law did not require the statement to be understood, just that it be read. Spokesman Peter Aseltine says the decision gives immunity to any drunken driver who speaks a language that the officer is unable to identify or translate.

"There are over 150 different languages spoken in New Jersey," Aseltine says.

Since April, New Jersey has provided police with a website with the statement in audio and written form in 10 languages widely spoken in the state. State police have used the website at headquarters before administering the breath test, said a spokesman, Detective Brian Polite, but there are no statistics available as to how often.

Parsippany, N.J., Police Chief Michael Peckerman says that typically, all drivers charged with driving while impaired are read the statement at the station prior to police trying to administer the breath test. He could not say whether the foreign-language website had been used yet in Parsippany. He says he expects the case will result in more litigation as defense attorneys try to push the limits of the new ruling."

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Monday, July 12, 2010

California Former Foster Child Helps Teens Aging Out of System

"'The Teen Project' Helps Teenagers Aging Out of the Foster Care System"

"For 18-year-old California teen Carla, aging out of the foster care system meant facing life on the streets, with no where to go and no way to support herself. She is one of over 4,000 teenagers who age out of the foster system each year -- in California alone.

Luckily for Carla, The Teen Project was able to lend a hand. The organization was founded by Lauri Burns, a former foster care child who found herself homeless when she turned 18. Thanks to the organization, Carla has a new home, which she will share with other former foster children, as she attends beauty school to get her cosmetology degree."

Watch the video about Carla reported by Thelma Gutierrez of CNN:

NYU Criminal Law Center Files Amicus Brief in Arizona Immigration Case

"Arizona's Immigration Law is a Mine Field, NYU Law School Project Says in Amicus Brief"

"PHOENIX (CN) - Arizona's unconstitutional immigration law will "adversely and disproportionately impact a large segment of the state population," and "will drive a wedge between police officers and the immigrant communities they serve," the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law says in an amicus brief in Federal Court.

The Center, based at the New York University School of Law, filed its argument in support of the Department of Justice's challenge of the Arizona law.

The think tank claims that by forcing officers to act as immigration officials, "national security will suffer, as police officers lose valuable information that allows them to prevent and solve crime locally and to prevent terrorist acts against our nation."

It claims the law "threatens to undermine" the relationship between local law enforcement and the immigrant community "by making them fearful that interacting with police officers will result in deportation."

A good relationship with the community makes it easier for people to report illegal activities, and to cooperate with law enforcement, the Center says.

Since the law requires that police ask about immigration status if officers suspect that a person is in the United States illegally, people may refuse to report "suspicious activity or even a crime out of fear that doing so may trigger an immigration status inquiry into themselves or someone they know," the Center says. "In addition, even if they are here legally, individuals are not likely to come forward if an incident involves a loved one who is not.""

Read the complete article:
Read the Amicus Brief from The Center on the Administration of Criminal Law:

Star One Staffing Accused of Human Trafficking

"Agency Accused of Human Trafficking"

"WEST PALM BEACH (CN) - Thirteen Filipinos say the staffing agency that brought them to the United States forced them to work for virtually nothing under constant threat of deportation. After deducting for "severely overcrowded" housing and expenses, one worker says Star One Staffing paid her $1.50 for a month's work - and reprimanded her for eating noodles without permission.

Miami-based Star One treated the Filipino workers like indentured servants while they lived in its cramped dorms in Miami and New York, according to the federal complaint.

The workers claim Star One routinely threatened to have their visas revoked if they left the dorms without authorization.

Star One and its staff "also held critical immigration documents of some plaintiffs, deliberately increasing their sense of powerlessness to leave," according to the 72-page complaint.

The workers say Star One president Mary Jane Hague recruited 10 of them from their homes in the Philippines in the fall of 2006, promising them jobs at Miami-area country clubs.

Hague's husband at the time, nonparty Andrew Hague, a judge in Florida's 11th Circuit Court, went along on the recruiting trips and lent a sense of legitimacy to Star One's operation, the complaint states.

The workers say that after arriving in America under Star One's wing, they found that the agency's promises to pay them a fair wage and expedite their U.S. permanent resident status were empty.

Star One herded them into crowded homes "in which up to 40 workers resided," in one case, with almost 20 workers sleeping in a single room, according to the complaint...

Mary Hague told Courthouse News in a telephone interview that she had not been served and could not respond to the allegations before reading the complaint.

Her company has been sued in Federal Court at least three times in the past 10 years, accused of failing to pay overtime wages, court records show...

While these previous cases against Star One include accusations of minimum wage violations and illegal paycheck deductions, the human rights abuses alleged in the Florida suit set it apart.

The defendants in Florida are Star One International Staffing, Star One Staffing International, Roberto Villanueva, Lina Fernandez, Mary Jane Hague, John Carruthers, and Ruth Carruthers.

The plaintiffs seek damages for human trafficking, forced labor, fraud, unjust enrichment, racketeering, wire fraud, mail fraud, immigration document fraud, and labor law violations. They are represented by Gregory Schell with Florida Legal Services of Lake Worth."

Read the complete article:

Read the complaint:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cubans Indicted for Kidnapping Fellow Cubans Seeking to Come to US

"Cuban trio charged with kidnapping fellow Cubans after promises of freedom in Florida"

By Nandini Jayakrishna, Times Staff Writer
Friday, July 9, 2010

"TAMPA — Promised a secret trip to Florida, Armando Ismael Victores-Martinez left his native Cuba on a boat in hopes of joining his father in Tampa.

Instead, he and others aboard that boat in March 2009 found themselves in Mexico — and captives in a house.

Victores-Martinez was told that if he didn't find a way to pay $10,000, he would be beaten to death.

This tale helped a federal grand jury indict three Cuban nationals on charges they operated an international kidnapping ring, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa said Thursday.

Prosecutors say the three promised to bring Cubans with relatives in the United States to Florida, but instead held them in Mexico while demanding ransom from family members.

The number of victims and details about the discovery and arrest of the ring members are still unknown. The indictment took place in May, and was made public Thursday...

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, brothers Hector Daniel Camejo de la Flor, 23, and Carlos Martinez de la Flor, 32, worked with their uncle, Alexis Alberto Viltres Ramos, 42, to pull off the kidnappings.

Camejo de la Flor and his uncle operated out of Miami, while Martinez de la Flor kept the hostages at a house in Mexico, the U.S. Attorney's Office says.

In late March 2009, the kidnappers forced Victores-Martinez to call his father, Jose Armando Victores-Ruiz, according to the indictment.

After Camejo de la Flor and his uncle collected the ransom in Tampa, the indictment says, Victores-Martinez was brought to Texas and then to Florida a few weeks later."

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Child Custody and Perjury Claims Disrupt Adoption Case

"Calif. woman in child-custody battle with Ohio man"

"A Southern California woman faces the prospect of relinquishing a little girl she has been trying to adopt for 18 months while an Ohio court considers the biological father's custody claim, according to a court decision Friday.

A teleconference between judges and lawyers in Orange County, Calif., and Montgomery County, Ohio, determined that Ohio has jurisdiction in the case, said Stacey Doss, 45, of Rancho Santa Margarita.

Doss, a public relations consultant, has raised 2-year-old Vanessa since just after the girl's birth and has been trying to adopt the toddler for the last 18 months.

An attorney for the case and Doss said they have begun the process of filing an appeal. If an appeal fails, the girl will be taken to Ohio on July 16 and placed in foster care.

A July 29 hearing will determine whether the child can then be placed with her paternal grandmother.

Montgomery County Juvenile Court Administrative Judge Nick Kuntz says the California judge agreed to remove an order that the child remain in Orange County...

Doss, who is divorced, said Vanessa's birth mother contacted Doss' adoption agency in 2008 to give the child up for adoption. The women "clicked" and the child was due on Doss' father's birthday, which was another reason Doss thought they were a match.

The birth mother signed a document under penalty of perjury asserting that the biological father was out of the picture, Doss said. The mother said the child was the result of a one night stand.

On June 13, 2008, Vanessa was born and Doss flew out to meet her the next day. But the birth father filed a motion seeking custody of the newborn in Ohio before the adoption was completed.

In September, the father asked for a DNA test and the results came back positive. Since then, the issue was about jurisdiction, Doss said.

She said the man had four other children. Two children from a previous marriage were in his mother's custody and Vanessa's birth mother had custody of the other two.

"A blood relative does not make a parent," Doss said. "Her mother gave her to me for a reason."

Doss said she hasn't seen any effort to parent from the child's biological father either. In June 2009, she flew him out to California to see Vanessa but said he was more concerned with sightseeing than spending time with his daughter...

Doss has even sought studies by behavioral psychologists to see how being separated from Doss would affect the curly haired toddler.

Doss' family and friends have set up a website and Facebook page to ask for donations. More than 20 supporters picketed outside the courthouse during the conference call Friday.

Her mother, Carolyn Doss, 70, of Dana Point, said her daughter has dipped into her savings repeatedly to finance the custody battle and was threatened with foreclosure on her townhome twice."

 Read the complete article:

Travel Document Fees Go Up

"Passport fees going up next week"
By A. Pawlowski, CNN
July 7, 2010

"Get ready to open your wallet a little wider to satisfy your travel bug: It is soon going to cost more to apply for a new U.S. passport or renew an old one -- a move criticized by the public and some lawmakers.

Starting next Tuesday, adults applying for their first passport book will have 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, is rising from $45 to $55 for first-time applicants.)

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

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

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

Fees for passport book and cards for children also are set to rise...

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."

Read the complete article:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Seventh Circuit: Accused Must Be Given Opportunity to Confront Accuser Before Deportation

"Immigrant Wins Review in Sham Marriage Case"

"A Nicaraguan woman must be given the chance to confront her ex-husband, who claimed she paid him $1,000 to marry him for immigration benefits, the 7th Circuit ruled. "The best way to find out whether a subpoena will work is to issue one," Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote.

Manuela Malave faced deportation after her ex-husband, Jose Antonio Malave Cruz, told authorities that she had paid him to enter into a sham wedding.

When interviewed in 1997, Jose signed a statement asserting that "Manuela Gaula gave me $1,000 to marry her so she could get her green card."

Manuela denied this, but has been unable to locate Jose since the interview took place.

She claimed she was never given the chance to cross-examine Jose about the statements. The immigration judge "stated that a subpoena would be futile, because if Manuela had not found Jose in the last 10 years, she never would," according to the federal appeals court in Chicago.

"That's not a good reason," Easterbrook wrote.

"A prediction that a person can't be found, or that cross-examination won't be fruitful, is a poor reason to deny a litigant the statutory entitlement to cross-examine adverse witnesses," he said. "The best way to find out whether a subpoena will work is to issue one."

The court granted Manuela's petition for review and sent the case back to the immigration agency."
Read the Opinion: