Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Adoptive Parents Sue Adoption Agency for Failure to Fully Disclose Child's Medical Condition in International Adoption

"In Lawsuit on Adoption, Focus Is on Disclosure"

By PAM BELLUCK
Published: April 27, 2010

"Scores of complaints have been made in recent years against adoption agencies by people claiming they were inadequately informed or ill-prepared for problems their children turned out to have.

Many state laws and the Hague Convention now require agencies to disclose “reasonably available” records. But it can be unclear, especially in international cases, how assertive they are expected to be in getting such information.

The case of Chip and Julie Harshaw of Virginia Beach is, in some ways, the reverse of the now-familiar story of a Tennessee mother who put her Russian-born child on a plane home: The Harshaws are committed to raising their Russian son, even though they say they would not have adopted him had they known how severely impaired he was.

But when they decided to adopt, the Harshaws told their agency they could care only for a child with minimal health problems and “a good prognosis for normal development,” according to notes in the adoption agency’s paperwork.

They rejected one child because he had abuse-inflicted burns. But when a toddler in a Siberian orphanage appeared to fit their criteria, they brought the boy... home. “ ‘A beautiful, healthy, on-target, blond-haired boy’ was what they had quoted to us,” Ms. Harshaw said.

After the adoption in 2004, [the child] began showing “uncontrollable hyperactivity” and aggression, Ms. Harshaw said. He has threatened their 5-year-old biological daughter with a steak knife and a two-by-four, and held her underwater in a pool. Their 13-year-old biological son has felt so much stress that he has required therapy.

Therapeutic programs have ejected [the child] for kicking, biting, hitting and, most recently, on his 8th birthday, pulling out three of his teeth using a pen cap, fork or spoon.

Doctors finally diagnosed fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, brain damage and neuropsychiatric problems in [the child], whose I.Q. is 53. He was recently placed in an institution and is not expected to ever live independently, one of his doctors said.

The Harshaws are suing the agency, Bethany Christian Services, seeking compensation for the care [the child] will need.

After [the child]’s problems were diagnosed, the agency offered to end the adoption, to try placing [him] with another family. The Harshaws refused. “He’s not a dog; you don’t take him to a pound,” Ms. Harshaw said.

The family claims that Bethany indicated, inaccurately, that a Russian doctor working for the agency had examined [the child], and that Bethany gave them incomplete medical information when more detailed records were available. (Such records were produced by Bethany more than two years later.)

Bethany, which calls itself “the nation’s largest adoption agency,” disputes most of the claims.

“Bethany is a highly respected adoption agency that provided all the appropriate information for consideration by the Harshaws,” said Mark Zausmer, a lawyer for Bethany, based in Michigan. “Bethany provided this family counseling, extensive documentation, opportunities to consult with physicians, medical records and other materials from which they could fully evaluate how to proceed.” ...

Chuck Johnson, acting chief executive of the National Council for Adoption, an advocacy group, said, “There have been a growing number of families that have sued when they adopted a child from another country.”

Some lawsuits, Mr. Johnson said, come from families “expecting you to do the impossible when you did all you could,” but he said there had also been “agencies that have purposely concealed information.”

Issues of disclosure have drawn increasing attention in recent years. Lawsuits erupted in the 1980s over domestic adoptions in which histories of abuse and other problems were kept from adoptive parents.

“The philosophy was the blank slate, that adoption is a new start,” Professor Blair said. Now, she said, experts believe that “disclosure of health information is vital.”

As a result, many states enacted disclosure laws, followed by similar requirements in the Hague Convention, which apply to countries that ratify the treaty, as the United States did in 2008. Russia has signed the agreement but has not yet ratified it...

Dr. Ronald S. Federici, a neuropsychologist who diagnosed [the child]’s illness, said the full 10-page medical record the agency produced after the adoption, at the parents’ urging, would have shown that “the boy had fetal alcohol syndrome.”

The Harshaws hope the institution can stabilize [the child] enough to send him home; either way, he will need extensive lifetime care."

Read the complete article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/28/us/28adopt.html?pagewanted=1

China Lifts 20 Yr-Old Ban on Foreigners with HIV and AIDS

"China lifts ban barring entry to foreigners with HIV and AIDS"
By the CNN Wire StaffApril 27, 2010

"The Chinese government has lifted a 20-year-old rule that banned foreigners with HIV and AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and leprosy from entering the country, according to the country's state news agency.

State-run news agency Xinhua reported Tuesday that China's State Council decided to repeal the ban after realizing it did little to prevent the spread of disease and caused problems when the country was hosting international events.

The revision came days before the opening of the six-month Shanghai World Expo, which organizers expect will draw 70 million people. The government had previously lifted the ban temporarily for other large-scale events, including the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Xinhua said the health ministry estimates the number of people living with HIV in China had reached 740,000 by October 2009, with deaths caused by AIDS totaling 49,845 since the first case was reported in 1985.

China's decision comes several months after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention removed HIV infection from the list of diseases that prevent non-U.S. citizens from entering the country.

Until January, the U.S. was one of seven countries with laws barring entry of people with HIV, according to amfAR, an AIDS research organization."

 http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/04/27/china.aids/index.html

Iran Warns of National Crackdown on Suntanned Women

"Suntanned women to be arrested under Islamic dress code"

"Iran has warned suntanned women and girls who looked like "walking mannequins" will be arrested as part of a new drive to enforce the Islamic dress code."
by Damien McElroy and Ahmad Vahdat
27 Apr 2010
 
"Brig Hossien Sajedinia, Tehran's police chief, said a national crackdown on opposition sympathisers would be extended to women who have been deemed to be violating the spirit of Islamic laws. He said: "The public expects us to act firmly and swiftly if we see any social misbehaviour by women, and men, who defy our Islamic values. In some areas of north Tehran we can see many suntanned women and young girls who look like walking mannequins.

"We are not going to tolerate this situation and will first warn those found in this manner and then arrest and imprison them."

Iran's Islamic leadership has in recent weeks launched a scaremongering campaign to persuade the population that vice is sweeping the streets of the capital. National law stipulates that women wear headscarves and shape shrouding cloaks but many women, particularly in the capital, spend heavily on fashions that barely adhere to the regulations.

The announcement came shortly after Ayatollah Kazim Sadighi, a leading cleric, warned that women who dressed immodestly disturbed young men and the consequent agitation caused earthquakes."

Read the complete article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/7639728/Suntanned-women-to-be-arrested-under-Islamic-dress-code.html

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Iraq War Veteran Faces Denial of Citizenship Over Fraud

"Ekaterine Bautista, Iraq War Veteran, May Be Denied Citizenship"
By Anna Gorman, Los Angeles Times

"Just five days before Ekaterine Bautista planned to become an American citizen, she got a call from the federal government: Her swearing-in ceremony had been canceled pending further investigation.

Bautista was devastated. An illegal immigrant from Mexico, she had served six years in the U.S. military -- including a 13-month tour of duty in Iraq -- and was eligible to apply for naturalization under a decades-old law.

But approval of her case depended on the discretion of citizenship officials. Bautista had served in the military under a false identity, that of her U.S. citizen aunt, Rosalia Guerra Morelos.

She passed the civics exam, completed all the paperwork and received a letter telling her to show up at the Los Angeles Convention Center on March 31. Then the call came.

"Yeah, I made a mistake," Bautista, 35, said. "But if you look back at my records, I never did anything wrong in the military. On the contrary." ...

Like many other soldiers, Bautista decided to enlist just days after Sept. 11.

"It was a calling," said Bautista, who was a teenager when her mother brought her to the U.S. "I felt the need to join because it was the right thing to do, and also because of my daughter. I had to protect my daughter."

She called an Army recruiting office, but they told her that a Mexican passport wasn't enough and that she had to be a U.S. citizen or a green-card holder to enlist. So she asked her family for permission to use the identity of her aunt, a U.S. citizen who lived in Mexico. With their blessing, Bautista walked into a Montebello recruiting office and introduced herself as Rosalia Guerra Morelos. She presented a driver's license, birth certificate and Social Security number.

As part of the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act, noncitizens who serve in the military one year during peace time or one day during wartime are eligible to apply for fast-tracked citizenship. In 2002, President George W. Bush issued an executive order and invoked the wartime law as of Sept. 11, 2001.

Between September 2001 and March 2010, more than 58,000 men and women in the armed forces were naturalized, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The agency doesn't track how many were undocumented.

There have been similar cases to Bautista's, including that of Mexican illegal immigrant Liliana Plata, who bought a stolen Social Security card in Los Angeles so she could join the military and later became a decorated airman serving in Iraq as Cristina Alaniz. She was honorably discharged from the Air Force in 2003 after the real Alaniz discovered her identity had been stolen."

Read the complete article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/26/ekaterine-bautista-iraq-w_n_551806.html

Mexico Issues Travel Warning for its Citizens in Arizona

"Mexico Issues Travel Warning Over New Arizona Immigration Law"
 04-27-10

"Mexico's government is warning its citizens about travel to Arizona because of a tough new immigration law there.

The travel alert from the Foreign Relations Department urges Mexicans in Arizona to "act with prudence and respect the framework of local laws."

It says that the law's passage shows "an adverse political atmosphere for migrant communities and for all Mexican visitors."

It says that once the law takes effect, foreigners can be detained if they fail to carry immigration documents. While enforcement details are not yet clear, the alert says "it should be assumed that any Mexican citizen could be bothered and questioned for no other reason at any moment.""

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/27/mexico-issues-travel-warn_n_553211.html

New Arizona Immigration Law Causes Tension with Mexico

"Mexican President Slams New Arizona Immigration Law: 'Opens The Door To Intolerance, Hate'"
04-27-10

"Mexican President Felipe Calderon on Monday condemned Arizona's tough new immigration law as discriminatory and warned that relations with the U.S. border state will suffer.

The measure, which will make it a crime under state law to be an illegal immigrant, "opens the door to intolerance, hate, discrimination and abuse in law enforcement," Calderon said.

Calderon said he had instructed the Foreign Relations Department to double its efforts to protect the rights of Mexicans living in the United States and seek help from lawyers and immigration experts.

"Nobody can sit around with their arms crossed in the face of decisions that so clearly affect our countrymen," Calderon said in a speech at the Institute for Mexicans Abroad...

The government of the Mexican state of Sonora -- which borders Arizona -- announced it would not attend a cooperation meeting the two states have held annually for four decades. The meeting of the Sonora-Arizona Commission was set for June in Phoenix, Arizona.

"This is not about a breaking of relations with Arizona, but rather a way to protest the approval of the law," the state government said in a statement...

[President] Obama has called the Arizona law misguided and instructed the U.S. Justice Department to examine it to see if it's legal.

Supporters of the law say it is necessary to protect Arizonans from a litany of crimes that they contend are committed by illegal immigrants.

The law comes as relations between Mexico and the U.S. had been steadily warming.

Washington is a strong supporter of Calderon's military-led offensive against drug cartels, providing training and equipment under the $1.3 billion Merida Initiative. The Obama administration has earned praise from Mexico for repeatedly acknowledging that U.S. drug consumption is a large part of the problem.

Two weeks ago, Michelle Obama chose Haiti and Mexico for her first solo trip abroad as U.S. first lady. She nurtured a friendship with Mexican first lady Margarita Zavala, a vocal advocate for thousands of Mexican children who immigrate alone to the U.S. in search of their parents and are often deported unaccompanied.

The cooperation in the drug war had largely overshadowed lingering tensions between the two countries over immigration."

Read the complete article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/27/mexican-president-slams-n_n_553191.html

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Court Rules Brain-Damaged Mom's Parents Can Fight for Visitation Rights on her Behalf

"Court fight waged over brain-damaged mom's triplets"
By Shannon Black, In Session
April 22, 2010

"Abbie Dorn always wanted children, and in June 2006 she got her wish -- triplets. But during a difficult birth she suffered severe brain damage that took away her chance to raise them.

Now, her parents and former husband are locked in a legal battle over whether Dorn is capable of interacting with her children, and whether they should visit her.

On Tuesday, a judge in Los Angeles County Superior Court ruled that Abbie Dorn's parents have the right to fight for visitation rights on her behalf.

Abbie Dorn always wanted children, and in June 2006 she got her wish -- triplets. But during a difficult birth she suffered severe brain damage that took away her chance to raise them.

Now, her parents and former husband are locked in a legal battle over whether Dorn is capable of interacting with her children, and whether they should visit her.

On Tuesday, a judge in Los Angeles County Superior Court ruled that Abbie Dorn's parents have the right to fight for visitation rights on her behalf.

Abbie Dorn always wanted children, and in June 2006 she got her wish -- triplets. But during a difficult birth she suffered severe brain damage that took away her chance to raise them.

The ruling clears the way for a trial, scheduled for May 13. No matter who prevails, the case is likely to lead to years of appeals that could result in a legal landmark affecting the rights of mentally incapacitated parents.

 Dorn, 34, last had contact with triplets Esti, Reuvi and Yossi in October 2007, when they were toddlers. They will turn 4 on June 20.
 
Paul and Susan Cohen, a physician and former nurse, are conservators of Abbie Dorn's estate and care for their daughter full-time at their home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. A $7.8 million medical malpractice settlement funds her treatment.

Her former husband, Daniel Dorn, is raising the triplets in Los Angeles, California....

Daniel Dorn maintains that his former wife remains in a vegetative state. She is more than physically disabled, he contends in court papers, she is "neurologically incapacitated" and legally incompetent to make decisions involving her children....

Dorn, who is seeking child support from Abbie's estate, stated in court documents that he has not told the children what happened to their mother because they are too young to understand. He says he will consider taking the children to see Abbie when they are older -- if he receives medical evidence that she will be able to communicate with them.

The Cohens argue that if the children are properly prepared for the situation, the experience will not be detrimental. They have requested that the children see a psychologist to help prepare them."

Read the complete article: http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/04/22/california.triplets.visitation.lawsuits/index.html

Monday, April 19, 2010

Arkansas State Court Rules Arkansas Law Banning Unmarried People from Adopting or Fostering Unconstitutional

"Ark. Adoption Limits Unconstitutional"

"An Arkansas law banning unmarried couples from adopting and fostering children is unconstitutional, an Arkansas court ruled.

Judge Christopher Piazza of the Pulaski County Circuit Court ruled that Arkansas Act 1 "did not serve the State's interest in determining what is in the best interest of the child."

The group of plaintiffs who launched the challenge to Arkansas Act 1 included:

- A grandmother who was barred from adopting her own grandchild;

- A lesbian couple who had fostered and adopted a special-needs child before Act 1 was passed and wanted to do so again; and

- Several married couples who sought to arrange for friends or relatives to adopt their children in the event that they die or become incapacitated."

http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/04/19/26518.htm

Mexican Actress Charged with Marriage Fraud

"ICE arrests Mexican actress and 'husband' for entering into sham marriage"

"A Mexican national who has appeared in feature films and a Los Angeles man she married in June 2005 were arrested this morning on marriage fraud charges that alleged they entered into a sham marriage so the actor could obtain legal status in the United States.

Maria Fernanda Romero Martinez, a 28-year-old actor and model who uses the stage name Fernanda Romero, and Kent Ross, also 28, were arrested at their respective residences this morning by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The two were charged in a criminal complaint filed Thursday. According to the affidavit in support of that complaint, Romero paid Ross to "marry" her on June 12, 2005, but Romero and Ross never lived together as a couple. About one month after the marriage, Romero began dating fashion photographer Markus Klinko, and they lived together for several months. However, according to the affidavit, Romero and Klinko broke up, and Klinko eventually presented ICE with evidence that Romero was in a sham marriage.

Shortly after Romero and Ross were married, Romero filed an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) seeking to become a permanent resident and obtain a green card, based upon what she claimed was a lawful marriage to Ross. In support of this application, Romero and Ross filed several documents containing false statements, including assertions they lived at the same address, which was never the case. Romero also filed documents containing false statements about how long she had resided in the United States...

The charge of marriage fraud carries a statutory maximum penalty of five years in federal prison."
 
Read the complete story: http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/1004/100416losangeles.htm

Friday, April 16, 2010

U.S. Embassy in Moscow: No Official Notice of Adoption Freeze

"Russia offers no clarity on U.S.adoptions freeze"

"Russian and U.S. officials have given birthday gifts to the 8-year-old boy who was returned to Russia by his adoptive American mother...

Russia — which was angered by the boy's treatment — has sent conflicting signals about whether all adoptions to the U.S. are now suspended.

The Kremlin children's rights ombudsman said Friday that potential parents may still prepare the paperwork for adoptions but that courts will not hear U.S. adoption cases.

But the U.S. Embassy in Moscow says it hasn't received official notification of a freeze."

Read the complete article: http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2010-04-16-russia-adoptions_N.htm?csp=24&RM_Exclude=Juno

Nevada Foster Kids to State: Educate Foster Parents About Care, Provide Court Representation for Foster Kids

"Foster Kids Say County Shrugs at Abuses"
By NICK DIVITO
 
"Clark County's child welfare system shows "deliberate indifference to the health and safety of the children it is obligated to protect," 13 foster kids say in a federal class action. The National Center for Youth Law's 80-page complaint demands sweeping changes in the county's foster care system, and damages for the children.

It complains of physical, sexual and psychological abuse by foster parents, and neglect and indifference from caseworkers and other officials.

"Defendants' child welfare system routinely fails in its legal obligations, duties and responsibilities to foster children," the complaint states. "Although defendants have long been aware of these failures, in many instances their proposed solutions have been ineffective, and in many cases they have taken no action at all."

In one example, plaintiffs say a baby girl and her older brother were taken from their home and put into a foster home, where the little girl was locked in a closet and her brother was beaten for trying to help her.

When doctors got to the girl, she was dehydrated and had bruises on her forehead, cuts on her legs and a "diaper rash so severe that her buttocks were ulcerated and bleeding."

Another girl was bounced around 40 foster care settings in the 15 years she's been in the system, and was even returned to an aunt's home despite the girl's having reported abuse and neglect there...

More than 10 studies in the past 7 years have documented the department's failure to protect children from abuse in the foster care system, the complaint states.

A similar suit brought by the National Center for Youth Law in 2006 was dismissed after failing to get class-action status.

Plaintiffs want state and county agencies to put together plans that educate foster parents how to care for children and to appoint representatives for children in court, as required by state and federal law. They also want early intervention services provided to the county's foster children.

Listed as defendants are the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Director Michael Wilden; Diane Comeaux, administrator of the Nevada Division of Child and Family Services; Clark County Manager Virginia Clementine; and Tom Morton, director of the Clark County Department of Family Services."

Read the complete article: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/04/16/26458.htm

Read the Complaint: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/04/16/FosterKids.pdf

Arizona Immigration Bill Full of Questionable Provisions

"Arizona Immigration Bill Allows Fine for a 'Gesture or a Nod'"
By JAMIE ROSS
 
"An Arizona bill that gives local police departments the power to enforce immigration laws and conduct warrantless searches of vehicles if an officer has a "reasonable suspicion" that the occupants have no papers will return to the state Senate on Monday for reconciliation after both houses approved it. Among the bill's provisions: Workers may be fined if they seek work with a "gesture or a nod."

Civil libertarians denounce the bill as unconstitutional. Republicans - who accounted for all the "Yes" votes in the party-line, 35-21 vote in the Arizona House - say the bill is needed because the federal government is not doing its job.

Immigration is a federal concern and Draconian state and local laws attempting to regulate such - such as Farmers Branch, Texas' three attempts to make it illegal to rent apartments to undocumented people - have repeatedly been thrown out as unconstitutional. But that hasn't stopped Arizona from trying.

The bill, written by state Rep. Russell Pearce, requires police officers to determine the immigration status of a person if they have "reasonable suspicion" that the person is in the country illegally, and to check their status with the federal government.

It gives officers the right to conduct warrantless arrests of such people and to stop any car if they suspect that the driver committed a civil traffic violation and is smuggling humans.

It creates a new misdemeanor: failure to complete or carry an alien registration document, punishable by up to 6 months in jail time and a $500 fine for a first offense. A second offense is a felony with a $1,000 fine.

The bill also makes hiring day laborers a misdemeanor if the driver or worker block the "normal movement of traffic."

Workers may be fined if they solicit work verbally, or with a "gesture or a nod." ...

The ACLU released a 5-page analysis detailing its problems with the bill.

The bill is called the "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act."

"There are already laws on the books that address obstructing traffic, so adding this is unnecessary" said Soler Meetze. "The bill is targeting someone just for soliciting employment, which violates the day laborers' right to free speech."

Citizens who encourage "illegal aliens" to enter the country will be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine. Vehicles used to transport or hide undocumented immigrants will be impounded.

The bill gives any person the power to sue a city, town or county for failing to enforce it.

Police officers will be indemnified for costs and attorneys' fees connected with any lawsuits brought by citizens who were wrongfully questioned or arrested, unless the officer acted in bad faith.

Dan Stern, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which opposes immigration, called the bill "a no-nonsense, common-sense example of a state acting where the federal government is failing, a reaction to the inaction in Washington."

"Making it tough for illegal aliens to live and work in Arizona means that those illegal aliens already living in the state are more likely to self-deport, and it certainly reduces the incentive to come," Stern said in a statement.

Employers will be required to keep records of verification of eligibility for the duration of an employee's employment, or for at least three years, whichever is longer.

"Arizona is on the verge of enacting the most anti-immigrant legislation the country has seen in a generation," said Chris Newman, legal director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

"We are hopeful Governor [Jan] Brewer will consult with her legal counsel, issue a veto, and spare Arizona the expense of defending an unconstitutional, unwise, and odious bill in federal courts."

Brewer, a Republican, is not likely to do that.

Soler Meetze said it is "quite likely" that the bill will be challenged if passed since "it is a direct attempt to regulate immigration law."

The bill directs that any "noncitizens" arrested be transferred to federal custody after discharged from prison or fined for failing to carry identification. "

Read the complete article: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/04/16/26465.htm
 
Read the Senate Bill: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/04/16/AzSB1070.pdf

California Woman Sentenced to 5 Years for Human Trafficking

"Bay Area woman sentenced to 5 years in domestic worker forced labor case"

"Defendant also ordered to pay over $123,000 restitution"
 
"A Bay Area woman convicted of forcing a Peruvian woman to work as her nanny and domestic servant has been sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay the victim more than $123,000 in restitution.

Mabelle de la Rosa Dann, 46, was sentenced Wednesday on multiple federal charges, including forced labor, unlawful use of documents in furtherance of forced labor, harboring an illegal alien for private financial gain, visa fraud and conspiracy to commit visa fraud. The charges were the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Dann was convicted by a jury in October 2008 in the first human trafficking trial in the Northern District of California. During the trial, evidence showed Dann conspired with at least one other person to fraudulently obtain a visa for the victim and smuggle her into the United States from Peru in July 2006. Over the course of approximately 21 months, Dann forced the woman to cook, clean, and provide childcare in a small, one-bedroom apartment in Walnut Creek, Calif. Dann initially kept the victim working by falsely promising future payment.

Eventually, Dann confiscated the victim's passport and identification, telling her she would be falsely accused of theft if she fled. At no point did Dann pay the victim for her work. Ultimately the victim, who had never traveled outside of Peru and could not speak English at the time, escaped with the help of local residents and officials and parents at a local elementary school...

Dann remains free on bond. The Court ordered her to self-surrender June 30. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken also ordered the defendant to pay $123,740.34 in restitution to the victim, consisting of $109,340.34 in back pay and $14,400 in future counseling costs.

Anyone who suspects instances of human trafficking are encouraged to call the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888. Anonymous calls are welcome."

Read the complete story: http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/1004/100415oakland.htm

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Conspirator to Student Visa Fraud Scheme Pleads Guilty

"Orange County man linked to student visa fraud scheme involving 'imposter' test takers pleads guilty"

"An Orange County man pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to commit visa fraud for orchestrating a scheme to have imposters take college classes, exams and placement tests on behalf of dozens foreign students so they could maintain their lawful immigration status as foreign students.

Eamonn Daniel Higgins, 46, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., entered his plea in U.S. District Court Wednesday afternoon to the charge, which stemmed from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Higgins' sentencing is set for August 9 at 9:30 a.m. before Judge James V. Selna. Conspiracy to commit visa fraud carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Higgins was the central figure in a visa fraud scheme involving foreign students from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Kuwait, Turkey and Qatar who allegedly paid him and his associates thousands of dollars to take college classes, exams and placement tests on their behalf. The students were enrolled at institutions throughout Southern California, including several junior colleges and three California State University campuses.

According to court documents, Higgins received up to $1,500 to complete final examinations and other classroom work for the foreign students, and $1,000 for taking required English proficiency tests. The ICE investigation revealed Higgins used personal identifying information provided by the foreign students to obtain counterfeit California driver's licenses. Then he and his associates, posing as the foreign students, allegedly took the tests and examinations and attended the classes on the students' behalf. The conspiracy is believed to have begun in January 2002 and continued through mid-December of 2009.

In addition to Higgins, eight of the foreign students implicated in the case have also been charged with visa fraud. Their criminal cases are still pending."

Read the complete story: http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/1004/100414santaana.htm

TPS Registration Deadline for Haitians Approaching

"USCIS Reminds Haitians to Register for Temporary Protected Status - Update"
 
"U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reminds Haitian nationals that the registration deadline for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is fast approaching. Haitian nationals, who have continuously resided in the United States since Jan. 12, 2010 and who meet other TPS eligibility requirements, must file their applications for TPS no later than July 20, 2010. The TPS designation for Haiti will remain in effect through July 22, 2011.

Haitian nationals are advised to review their application packages carefully when applying for TPS. Details and procedures for applying for TPS are provided on the USCIS Web site and in the Federal Register notice announcing TPS for Haiti.

As of April 9, USCIS had received approximately 44,500 TPS application packages; however, more than 10 percent were rejected. The most common reasons for rejection are:

The application was not filed with appropriate fees or a fee waiver request.

The application was missing biographical information.

The applicant did not sign the appropriate forms (Forms I-821 and I-765).

The application was filed using an incorrect form.

If an application package is rejected during the initial intake process, the applicant may re-submit the corrected application by July 20, 2010. TPS forms are available on the USCIS Web site or by calling toll-free (800) 870-3676. For additional information, applicants may also contact the USCIS National Customer Service Center at (800) 375-5283.

For guidance and information on USCIS’ response to the earthquake in Haiti, please visit www.uscis.gov/haitianearthquake. Applicants requesting a fee waiver must comply with the requirements described on this page.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, visit www.uscis.gov."

http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=7d30bf4a26df7210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=68439c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD

U.S. Adoptions of Russian Children Temporarily Suspended

"Russia suspends U.S. adoptions"
By the CNN Wire Staff
April 15, 2010
CNN's Max Tkachenko contributed to this report.

"Russia has put an end to the adoption of children by American families until rules covering them can be hashed out with U.S. officials, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday.

"Further adoptions of Russian children by the American citizens, which at present has been suspended, will only be possible in case such an agreement is reached," said spokesman Andrei Nesterenko.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow said there's not too much reason for concern.

"I would say to American families that are in the process of adoption, not to worry too much," said John Beyrle, U.S. ambassador to Russia. "We're working on this and we really don't think that this will have any long-term effect on the ability of American families to adopt here."

A State Department team is heading to Moscow next week to work out an arrangement that would allow adoptions to continue, a senior U.S. official told CNN."

Read the complete article: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/04/15/russia.adoptions/index.html?hpt=T2

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Arizona Law Attempts to Regulate Immigration Enforcement

"Arizona Law Targets Immigrants"

"In a party-line vote, Arizona House Republicans on Tuesday approved a bill that would make it a crime for "aliens" to willfully fail to carry immigration documents, and allow people to sue police departments if they think the police are hindering enforcement of immigration laws.

The bill contains other measures to punish immigrants, such as prohibiting people from "blocking traffic" if they hire workers, or seek work, on street corners.

The bill must be sent back the state Senate, which approved a different version of it in February. Then it will undoubtedly be challenged as unconstitutional, as immigration is a federal concern.

All 35 Republicans in the Arizona House voted for the bill, which passed 35-21."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Debate Begins as to Adopted Child's Nationality

"Child in Adoption Case Is an American Citizen, Not Russian, Experts Say"
By DAMIEN CAVE and CLIFFORD J. LEVY
William Harless contributed reporting.
Published: April 12, 2010

"Russian officials and the sheriff in Shelbyville, Tenn., have both raised questions about whether the 7-year-old boy sent back to Moscow by his adoptive mother and grandmother last week is really a United States citizen.

But they appear to be wrong. Tennessee adoption lawyers and national experts said Monday that the boy became an American the day he reached American soil last September and that, legally, he should be returned to the United States.

“This child is a U.S. citizen,” said Chuck Johnson, acting chief executive of the National Council for Adoption, which is working with the State Department to place the boy if he returns. “The parental rights are still in effect.”

A tug-of-war over the boy’s nationality has begun. As prosecutors in Tennessee consider whether the adoptive mother, Torry Ann Hansen, and her mother, Nancy Hansen, will be charged with abandonment or neglect — and as new details emerged about their interactions with social workers — the international dispute over what will happen to the boy they named Justin has intensified.

On Monday, Russian officials said the American government had no right to be involved because the boy they call Artyom Savelyev was not an American citizen.

The federal children’s ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov, said at a news conference that Moscow health officials and child welfare officials disagreed over whether the boy should remain in Moscow, be adopted in Russia or be sent back to the orphanage in Russia’s Far East.

For any of that to happen, however, Ms. Hansen would first have to relinquish her rights, according to adoption lawyers in Tennessee."

Read the complete article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/13/us/13hansen.html?ref=us

Prospectivce Adoptive Parents Fearful Their Adoption Plans May be in Jeopardy

"In a Diplomatic Limbo While Waiting to Adopt"
By SARAH KERSHAW
Photo by Brad Chamness
Clifford J. Levy contributed reporting from Moscow
Published: April 12, 2010

"The largely unfathomable decision by one woman, Torry Ann Hansen, to send her adopted son ... back to his home country has not only touched off a diplomatic drama, it has also shaken the tight-knit community of would-be adoptive parents of Russian children, many now fearful that their own plans to adopt may have been irrevocably harmed.


Russia is the third-leading source of international adoptions for parents in the United States — with 1,586 last year, after China, with 3,001, and Ethiopia, with 2,277, according to State Department figures. An estimated 3,500 Russian children are in some stage of the adoption process with 3,000 American families, according to the Joint Council on International Children’s Services.

The reaction among prospective parents has ranged from incomprehension to rage at the woman whose actions sparked this development. Parents, including Mr. Wills, have fired off letters to the State Department and the United States Embassy in Russia, and many have weighed in on highly emotional debates on blogs and in chat rooms, their comments running the gamut from compassion for Ms. Hansen — who sent Justin back to Russia unaccompanied with a note that said the boy “is violent and has severe psychopathic issues” — to comments like “Does anybody else want to choke her?”

While the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, announced on Friday that he would propose suspending all adoptions of Russian children by Americans in response to Justin’s case, the Russian government has not yet formally put such a measure in place. Russian officials on Monday gave no indication when they might do so.

Still, it seemed likely that regional officials across Russia would slow down or even halt pending adoptions until they had more clarity on any new rules...

Larisa Mason, executive director of the International Assistance Group, based in Oakmont, Pa., and accredited in Russia, said that “for now, adoption continues, referrals are still coming. I cannot say what will happen tomorrow.”

Ms. Mason added: “People are extremely worried. Our phone lines are lighting up because this could jeopardize a lot of people’s adoptions.”

She said that much depended on how the United States deals with Ms. Hansen. “Russians are outraged that no charges have been filed against this woman,” she said.

The United States Embassy in Moscow announced on Monday that a delegation of high-level State Department officials would arrive in Russia for consultations with their Russian counterparts."

Read the complete article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/13/us/13adopt.html?hpw

Monday, April 12, 2010

H-1B Petitions for 2011 Still Being Accepted

"USCIS Continues to Accept FY 2011 H-1B Petitions"

"U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced it continues to accept H-1B nonimmigrant petitions subject to the Fiscal Year 2011 (FY 2011) cap. USCIS will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master’s degree or higher educational exemption.

USCIS has received approximately 13,500 H-1B petitions counting toward the 65,000 cap. The agency has received approximately 5,600 petitions for individuals with advanced degrees.

USCIS will provide regular updates on the processing of FY 2011 H-1B petitions. These updates and helpful filing information can be found at USCIS’ Web site. Should USCIS receive the necessary number of petitions to meet the cap, it will issue an update to advise the public, that the FY 2011 H-1B cap has been met as of a certain date (the “final receipt date”). The final receipt date will be based on the date USCIS physically receives the petition, not the date that the petition has been postmarked. The date USCIS informs the public that the cap has been reached may differ from the actual final receipt date...

H-1B in General: U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in fields, such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers."

Read the complete Notice: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=49d412db62fd7210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=68439c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD

US State Department Issues Travel Warning for Mexico

MEXICO

April 12, 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 the authorized departure of 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 has been extended until May 12. Family members of U.S. government personnel assigned to other areas of Mexico outside the Mexican border states are not affected by this departure measure. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning of March 14, 2010, to note the extension of authorized departure...

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/.

Consulates:
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).

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

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

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

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

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

Russia Considering Freezing U.S. Adoptions of Russian Children

"U.S. to urge Russia to keep adoptions after boy's return"
By the CNN Wire Staff

April 12, 2010
 
"Top officials from the U.S. State Department plan to travel to Moscow this week to push Russia to allow adoptions by U.S. families to continue.

The trip comes after a U.S. family sparked outrage by sending an adopted 7-year-old boy back to Russia alone. Officials in Moscow have threatened to halt all adoptions by U.S. families.

"We were certainly shocked, as was everybody, about the return of the child. We are hoping to work with the Russians to continue the adoptions of children," said Michael D. Kirby, principal deputy assistant for consular affairs.

"We have had over 50,000 children adopted from Russia. The vast majority are doing great here in the United States."

Families in the United States have adopted 14,079 children from Russia in the last five years, including 1,586 in 2009, according to the State Department...

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in an interview with ABC News, called the boy's return a "monstrous" act.

Kirby, speaking to CNN's "American Morning," said, "We have to talk about how we can follow up after the children are adopted. First, are the parents properly screened in the process? Are the agencies that are screening them doing all that they could do to ensure that they are prepared to be new parents?"

He added U.S. officials also must work with Russians "to make sure that the children themselves are also fully understanding what is going to happen to them as they move to a new country in a strange place.""

Read the complete story: http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/04/12/russia.adoption/index.html

Ninth Circuit Says Kenyan Woman Eligible to Challenge Deportation Based on Her Fear of Future Persecution

"Kenyan Woman Wins Deportation Ruling"
By ELIZABETH BANICKI
 
"An immigration judge relied on "too thin a reed" in refusing to let a 57-year-old Kenyan woman stay in the United States based on her claim that she faced persecution for supporting a Kenyan opposition group.

The immigration judge rejected the asylum bid of Ellinah Kalumu Mutuku after ruling that her request was too late, that her claims of past persecution were not credible, and that Kenya is no longer a dangerous place for members of the Democratic Party, a leading opposition party in the early 1990s.

Mutuku had worked for Lutheran World Relief, a Christian organization, and was an organizer and supporter of the Democratic Party in Kenya. She claimed that her house was burned down and she, her sister and her mother were harassed and beaten by armed men who belonged to the Kanu Party.

She was eventually forced to flee Kenya.

Mutuku appealed the immigration judge's findings, and a three-judge panel in Pasadena said Mutuku should be eligible to challenge her deportation based on her alleged fear of future persecution.

"The [immigration judge] relied heavily on the first sentence for the first paragraph of the State Department's 2002 Human Right's Country Report for Kenya which states that 'Kenya is a republic dominated by a strong presidency,'" Judge Harry Pregerson wrote. "This sentence is too thin a reed on which to deny Mutuku withholding of removal."

But the panel upheld dismissal of Mutuku's asylum bid and her claims under the Convention Against Torture."
 
http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/04/12/26325.htm 
 
Read the Opinion: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2010/04/09/05-73609.pdf

Friday, April 9, 2010

American Woman Sends Her Adopted Child Back to Russia

NATALIYA VASILYEVA and KRISTIN M. HALL
Associated Press writers Travis Loller in Nashville, Joshua Freed in Minneapolis and Matthew Barakat in McLean, Virginia, contributed to this report.
04/ 9/10

"A top Russian official urged Friday that all child adoptions by U.S. families be frozen after a woman from Tennessee put her 7-year-old adopted Russian grandson alone on a one-way flight back to his homeland.

The grandmother...told The Associated Press ... that she put the child on a plane to Russia with a note from her daughter. She said the family paid a man $200 to pick the boy up at the airport and take him to the Russian Education and Science Ministry.

She said that boy had been violent toward his mother in the U.S.

A previous string of U.S. adoptions gone wrong – including at least three in which children died – had already made Russian officials wary. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the latest incident the last straw.

The boy... arrived unaccompanied Thursday in Moscow on a United Airlines flight from Washington.

The Kremlin children's rights office said the boy... was carrying a letter from his adoptive mother... saying she was returning him due to severe psychological problems.

"This child is mentally unstable. He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues," the letter said.

The U.S. ambassador to Russia, John Beyrle, said he was "deeply shocked by the news" and "very angry that any family would act so callously toward a child that they had legally adopted." ...

The education ministry said it had decided to suspended the license of World Association for Children and Parents – a Renton, Washington-based agency that processed [the child's] adoption – for the duration of the probe.

Foreign Minister Lavrov said in televised remarks that the ministry would recommend that the U.S. and Russia hammer out an agreement before any new adoptions are allowed.

"We have taken the decision ... to suggest a freeze on any adoptions to American families until Russia and the USA sign an international agreement" on the conditions for adoptions and the obligations of host families, Lavrov was quoted as saying.

Lavrov said the U.S. had refused to negotiate such an accord in the past but "the recent event was the last straw.""

Read the complete article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/09/american-torryann-hansen-_n_531477.html

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Haiti to Resume Regular Processing of Intercountry Adoptions

"Special Humanitarian Parole Program for Haitian Orphans Draws to a Close at Request of Haitian Government

USCIS Update"
 
"The Haiti government has requested that the United States provide them with a final list of orphans being considered under the Special Humanitarian Parole Program for Haitian Orphans. As a result, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will stop accepting new requests for consideration under the special program as of April 14, 2010, and will resume regular processing of intercountry adoptions.

USCIS believes the vast majority of adoption requests for orphans who meet the criteria of the special program have already been submitted. Since January 18, USCIS has authorized parole for more than 1,000 orphans under the special program, and as of April 5, approximately 340 cases are still being considered. The unprecedented program included safeguards to ensure that each child granted parole was truly available for adoption and had been matched to a suitable U.S. citizen for adoption.

In response to the emergency situation in Haiti following the January 12 earthquake, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano authorized the use of parole for two specific and limited groups of Haitian children:

Children who either had full and final adoptions completed by their U.S. parents before the earthquake and who were legally confirmed as eligible for intercountry adoption by the government of Haiti.

Children who were far enough along in the adoption process that both the U.S. and Haitian governments could verify the identity and eligibility of the children for adoption, and the U.S. government could confirm the suitability of the adoptive parents.

Going forward, intercountry adoption cases involving Haitian orphans will again be processed through normal procedures. The government of Haiti has already begun accepting new documents for adoption cases and the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince has resumed regular processing.

More information about humanitarian parole and intercountry adoption is available online at www.uscis.gov/humanitarianparole and www.uscis.gov/adoptions, or by calling USCIS toll-free at (800) 375-5283."

http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=3e1cd474cb9d7210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=68439c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Defendants Enter Guilty Pleas in Sham Marriage Schemes

"Final defendants plead guilty in marriage fraud scheme"

"The final two defendants pleaded guilty Monday to charges in a Columbus-based marriage fraud scheme.

Hasan Salohutdinov, 28, of Dublin, Ohio, and a citizen of Uzbekistan, pleaded guilty in U. S. District Court here today to one count of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and present false statements to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents for his role in a scheme to arrange sham marriages between U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, primarily Eastern Europeans, in order to evade immigration laws. Elbek Saidjanov of Philadelphia, also a citizen of Uzbekistan, entered a plea of guilty today for having traveled to Columbus in order to enter into a sham marriage in February 2009.

Salohutdinov and Saidjanov are the last of eleven people indicted and arrested in December 2009 to enter guilty pleas."

Read the complete story: http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/1004/100405columbus.htm

Michigan County Requirement of Social Security Numbers for Marriage Licenses Challenged as Unconstitutional

"County Won't Let Mexicans Marry Gringos"
By ELIZABETH BANICKI
 
"Two U.S. citizens and the Mexican citizens they want to marry say a Michigan county unconstitutionally refused to issue them marriage licenses because one half of each couple has no Social Security number.

The federal class action claims that Kent County's demand for "documentary evidence of the reason why an applicant does not have a Social Security number" violates federal and state laws.

The two Doe couples say Kent County Clerk Mary Hollinrake's refusal to grant them marriage licenses violates the 14th Amendment, Michigan's civil rights law and the ruling of a Michigan appeals court - and they say it discriminates against Latinos, by design.

"If one or both couple seeking a marriage license does not have a Social Security number and if they do not provide one of two arbitrarily preselected reasons, along with supporting documentation, as to why they do not possess a Social Security number, then they will [be] denied a marriage license and therefore are prohibited from becoming married in Kent County," the class claims.

"Further, this policy and procedure illegally discriminates against individual[s] based upon their race and national origin, specifically Hispanics, many of whom reside in Kent County and do not have Social Security numbers[,] which constitutes a violation of their rights under Michigan's Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act."

The marriage license application contains an "Affidavit for not Providing Social Security Number on Affidavit for License to Marry," under which the couples, or individuals, have "to provide the reason why they do not possess a Social Security number."...

The class seeks declaratory judgment, an injunctions, costs and damages.

Lead counsel for the class is Robert Alvarez with the Law Offices of Jose Sandoval of Wyoming, Mich."
 
Read the complete article: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/04/05/26126.htm

Read the Complaint: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/04/05/marriage.pdf

Monday, April 5, 2010

Pope Could Face Prosecution During His Visit to UK

"Pope's Immunity Could Be Challenged In UK"
Paisley Dodds
Associated Press Writers Gregory Katz and Raphael Satter in London, Nicole Winfield in Rome and Daniel Woolls from Madrid contributed to this report.
04/ 4/10
 
"Protests are growing against Pope Benedict XVI's planned trip to Britain, where some lawyers question whether the Vatican's implicit statehood status should shield the pope from prosecution over sex crimes by pedophile priests.

More than 10,000 people have signed a petition on Downing Street's web site against the pope's 4-day visit to England and Scotland in September, which will cost U.K. taxpayers an estimated 15 million pounds ($22.5 million). The campaign has gained momentum as more Catholic sex abuse scandals have swept across Europe.

Although Benedict has not been accused of any crime, senior British lawyers are now examining whether the pope should have immunity as a head of state and whether he could be prosecuted under the principle of universal jurisdiction for an alleged systematic cover-up of sexual abuses by priests.

Universal jurisdiction – a concept in international law – allows judges to issue warrants for nearly any visitor accused of grievous crimes, no matter where they live. British judges have been more open to the concept than those in other countries.

Lawyers are divided over the immunity issue. Some argue that the Vatican isn't a true state, while others note the Vatican has national relations with about 170 countries, including Britain. The Vatican is also the only non-member to have permanent observer status at the U.N."

Read the complete article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/05/popes-immunity-could-be-c_n_525406.html

White House Invites Family In Florida Gay Adoption Ban Case to Easter Egg Roll

"Gay Family At Center Of Florida Ban On Gay Adoption Attends 2010 White House Easter Egg Roll"
04- 5-10

"A North Miami family at the center of a historic court case about Florida's ban on gay adoptions is attending the White House Easter Egg Roll today.

Frank Martin Gill, his partner, and their three children were invited by the White House to participate in the tradition.

For more than five years, Gill and his partner have raised two half brothers who were taken from their abusive birth parents. A Florida judge approved the couple's 2008 adoption of the brothers, ruling that Florida's ban on gay adoptions was unconstitutional. But the state appealed that decision and the family is awaiting a ruling from Florida's Third Court of Appeals...

Florida's 1977 law against gay adoptions is only law in the country that is an outright bans gay and lesbian parents from adopting, according to The Advocate.

In 2009, the White House sent tickets to the event to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered families. More than 100 gay families were expected to attend last year."

Read the full article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/05/gay-family-at-center-of-f_n_525420.html

British Couple Faces Jail and Deportation for Kissing in Dubai

"Dubai kissing couple face jail as appeal fails"
CNN's Yousef Rafayah contributed to this report.
April 4, 2010

"A Dubai appeals court judge has upheld the verdict against a British couple caught kissing in public.

Unless the couple makes a second appeal within 30 days, the court's decision Sunday means authorities will jail the couple for a month and then deport them. They will also be fined $300 for drinking alcohol.

Ayman Najafi and Charlotte Adams were arrested in November, accused of kissing and touching each other intimately in public -- violations of law against public indecency -- and consuming alcohol.

Najafi is a British man who lives and works in Dubai; Charlotte Adams is a British female tourist who was visiting the city-state at the time."

Read the complete article: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/04/04/dubai.kissing.couple.appeal/index.html?hpt=Sbin

Brazilian Grandmother Demands Visitation

"Grandmother denied visit to Sean Goldman"

"New Jersey father David Goldman says he will grant access ‘in time’"

"The grandmother of a boy brought from Brazil to his father's New Jersey home to resolve an international abduction case is complaining that she's not allowed to see the child.

Silvana Bianchi told Brazil's Globo TV on Sunday night that her grandson's human rights are being violated.

The Brazilian woman and her husband arrived in New Jersey last month with hopes of visiting 9-year-old Sean Goldman...

Goldman's lawyer, Patricia Apy, says the father is willing to give the boy's maternal grandparents access to the child in time, but he wants a mental health professional involved.

"We requested from Silvana and her husband in January that there be a process to deal with the ongoing family relationship, which is complex because David is getting to know Sean," Apy said.

"That was not a process that they were willing to be involved in."

The couple, who previously owned a home in New Jersey, arrived last month and met with David Goldman and a mental health professional.

Apy said that after that meeting didn't result in immediate visitation, the couple filed an emergency application to see the boy.

A judge denied that emergency request last week on grounds that it didn't qualify as an emergency — and planned a hearing on the visitation matter for May."

Read more: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/36178581/ns/today-today_people?gt1=43001#ixzz0kG3E1obZ

Friday, April 2, 2010

USCIS Gives Notice of Revised Forms I-600 and I-600A

"USCIS Announces Revised Forms I-600 and I-600A"

"U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced that it has published new versions of the Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, Form I-600 and the Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition, Form I-600A . The new date on the bottom of both forms is “12/30/09 N.” Due to the changes on the forms, previous versions will no longer be accepted after a 60 day transition period.

Beginning... April 1, 2010, until June 2, 2010, USCIS will provide a transition period during which previous versions of the forms will continue to be accepted. After June 2, 2010, only the 12/30/09 version of these forms may be used. If someone attempts to file any previous version of either form after June 2, 2010, USCIS will reject the filing. The rejected form, supporting evidence, and any filing fee will be returned with a copy of the 12/30/09 version so that the person can file using the correct form.

USCIS has modified the forms to be more user-friendly and to permit prospective adoptive parents to request accommodations for disabilities or impairments during interviews.

Prospective adoptive parents residing in the United States must continue to submit Forms I 600, I 600A, and all supporting documents to the USCIS Dallas Lockbox facility for initial processing."

Read the complete Notice: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=2680dffc7aab7210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=68439c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD

Supreme Court to Decide What Constitutes an "Aggravated Felony" Under Immigration Law

"High Court Considers Drug Deportation Case"
By ANNIE YOUDERIAN
 
"The Supreme Court on Wednesday considered whether a longtime legal permanent resident can be deported to his native Mexico after pleading guilty to two minor drug offenses: possession of less than two ounces of marijuana and possession of one prescription Xanax pill.

"Congress has taken a hard line over the past 20 years on criminal aliens, particularly recidivist criminal aliens," said Nicole Saharsky, an assistant to the solicitor general.

The government argued that Jose Angel Carachuri-Rosendo's second conviction, involving the Xanax tablet, constitutes an 'aggravated felony' under immigration law, because he could have been charged with recidivist drug possession, a crime that's 'punishable as a felony' under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

The Immigration and Nationality Act defines an aggravated felony to include any felony 'punishable' under the CSA.

"What controls is Congress' judgment," not the state's punishment, Saharsky said, urging the justices to uphold the 5th Circuit's ruling that Carachuri-Rosendo isn't eligible to stay in the United States...

But Washington lawyer Sri Srinivasan, arguing for Carachuri-Rosendo, said his client was never convicted as a recidivist at the state level, so his crimes can't constitute an aggravated felony. He argued that Carachuri-Rosendo should be allowed to seek relief from deportation "based on [his] connections and deep family ties to the country."

The Mexico native immigrated to the United States as a child and later got engaged to a U.S. citizen, with whom he has four children, all U.S. citizens. He is a longtime legal permanent resident."

Read the full article: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/03/31/26036.htm
 
Read the Oral Argument transcript: http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/09-60.pdf

Indiana Foster Parents Demand State Follow Federal Law in Allowances for Special Needs Kids

"Foster Parents Say Indiana Broke the Law"
By DAN MCCUE

"Foster parents say in a federal class action that Indiana is forcing them to give up 25 percent of their federally mandated per diem allowance for children with special needs, in violation of the Social Security Act. It's the latest in a series of class actions across the nation that accuse states of trying to balance their budgets on the backs of the vulnerable."

http://www.courthousenews.com/
 
Read the Complaint: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/04/02/FosterKids.pdf