Monday, January 31, 2011

U.S. State Department Assists Americans Seeking to Evacuate from Egypt

"First Americans evacuated from Egypt"
By the CNN Wire Staff
January 31, 2011
"Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- The first of two charter planes carrying U.S. citizens out of chaotic Egypt landed Monday in Cyprus, the beginning of what could be a lengthy evacuation effort amid escalating unrest across the country...

With at least 2,400 people seeking evacuation as of Monday morning, getting all Americans out of the country could take some time, said Janice Jacobs, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for consular affairs.

"People should be prepared for a very long wait," Jacobs said.

The U.S. flights were part of a broadening effort by governments around the world to transport their citizens out of Egypt, where widespread demonstrations against the government have led to clashes between protesters and police, looting and other dangers.

So far, at least Canada, Australia, Thailand, Turkey, India and Israel have staged or announced evacuation flights. Mexico has also urged its citizens to consider leaving Egypt...

The State Department said Americans seeking flights out of the country should make their way to Cairo International Airport's HAJ Terminal 4, where U.S. government officials will arrange charter travel out of the country.

The flights will head to Turkey, Cyprus and Greece, according to the State Department...

Those seeking evacuation will be asked to sign documents promising they will reimburse the government for the flights, the State Department said.

Exact costs hadn't been determined, but a State Department official said the cost should be comparable to a one-way commercial flight from Egypt to the evacuation points. Citizens will be responsible for arranging their own travel from there, according to the government."

Read the complate article:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Potential Legal Inconsistencies When Using Alternative Reproduction

"In the Age of Alternative Reproduction, Who Are a Child's Parents?"
 Liz Mandarano
Family and Matrimonial Lawyer
January 29, 2011

"Thanks to modern medicine, more traditional and non-traditional couples and individuals are able to become parents through assisted reproductive methods, including anonymous and known sperm and/or egg donation, surrogacy, and second parent adoption. States have varying laws on sperm donor rights and responsibilities, the legality of surrogate motherhood contracts, recognition of same-sex marriages or civil unions, the need for court-approved adoptions, and whether second parent adoptions are available.

Because there are no reporting requirements by fertility clinics and sperm banks or any identifiers on birth certificates to calculate the number of children who are the product of home-based artificial inseminations, there are no clear statistics on the annual total of children born via sperm and egg donation (or a combination of the two) in the United States.

One would think given this increase that there would be legal uniformity as to parental and financial rights and responsibilities. In fact, state legislatures have mostly punted this hot-button issue, declining to readdress the definition of parentage in recent years and instead allowing their judicial systems to render inconsistent verdicts...

The inconsistencies create an enormous amount of uncertainty ranging from inheritance rights to child support and visitation. Additionally, there has been an increase in the questionable practice of commercially contracting with foreign surrogate mothers in countries such as India...

And just because one State supports one non-traditional parentage does not necessarily mean that it tolerates another."

Read the complete article:  

Friday, January 28, 2011

Custody Battle Over Religious Rearing of Child

"Hasidic Mom Sues For Custody As Dad Doesn't Keep Kosher"

"An exotic dancer-turned-Hasidic Jew is suing her ex-husband for full custody of their only son, claiming his father is sabotaging the boy's religious upbringing.
Elina Margolina and Nelson Derbigny met in 1995, when she worked as a dancer at the Admiral Theater gentleman's club on Chicago's Northwest Side. Derbigny was a manager at the Admiral, and the two fell in love and got married. They changed careers (Derbigny's now a real estate agent) and had a son, but were divorced in 2007.

During the proceedings, they decided on shared custody of their child. But Margolina is now pressing for full custody, claiming that Derbigny violated their agreement by refusing to raise the boy in the Jewish tradition.

His father counters that he should have full custody, as Margolina's religious beliefs have become too extreme for their son's well-being.

Margolina's new husband is a Hasidic Jew, according to an NBC Chicago report on the custody battle, and she is now also devoutly Hasidic. Hasidism is a relatively orthodox branch of Judaism that demands strict adherence to such practices as kosher eating and wearing of traditional garments."

Read the complete article:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Missouri Supreme Court Remands Case of Illegally Terminated Parental Rights of Immigrant Mother

"Missouri court rules immigrant's adoption rights terminated illegally"
By the CNN Wire Staff
January 26, 2011
"The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a lower court ruling that terminated the parental rights of a Guatemalan woman whose son, the woman says, was adopted without her consent while she was imprisoned following an immigration sting in 2007.

The court ruled that the state violated its laws in terminating the parental rights of Encarnacion Bail Romero, but the supreme court sent the case back to the lower court for retrial rather than return the boy to his biological mother.

"The trial court plainly erred by entering judgment on the adoption petition and terminating Mother's parental rights without complying with the investigation and reporting requirements ... ," Judge Patricia Breckenridge wrote in the court's principle opinion.

"The trial court's judgment terminating Mother's parental rights, allowing the adoption to proceed without Mother's consent to the adoption, and granting of the adoption, although supported by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence on the record, is reversed. The cause is remanded for a new trial in which Adoptive Parents and Mother will have the opportunity to present evidence on all claims in all counts of the petition that pertain to Mother.""

Read the complete article:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

"Selling the Girl Next Door" Tonight on CNN

"Judge finds hurdles to helping young victims of sex trafficking"
By Steve Turnham and Amber Lyon, CNN
January 23, 2011

"CNN Presents "Selling the Girl Next Door" Sunday, January 23 at 8 p.m. ET on CNN."

"Las Vegas, Nevada (CNN) -- Every week, Judge William Voy of the Clark County Juvenile Court in Las Vegas holds a special session for underage sex trafficking victims picked up by police in Las Vegas.

Most are runaways, controlled by pimps. And every week Voy faces the same problem: where to put them. Under the law they're considered victims.

The right thing to do is get them help, but most times he can't, because there's nowhere to put them...

According to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there are anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000 underage girls being sold for sex in America.

For those hundreds of thousands of girls, according to a Justice Department report released in the fall, there are 50 beds in facilities capable of dealing with their complex and deeply entrenched problems.

For five years, Voy has been trying to change that in his city by building a specialized residential home for the hundreds of girls who go through his court every year.

"It's not a detention center, it's not an institution," says Voy, showing us architectural drawings on a vacant lot where the house would be built. "It looks like another wealthy homeowner in Vegas, right? And that's what we want it to look like. These kids are messed up in a lot of different ways. And they need a lot of help."

He has private donors willing to pay for the building and the land, but Clark County has so far refused to come up with the $750,000 needed to staff the place with uniformed officers."

Read the complete article:

U.S. Adoptions of Nepalese Children in Limbo

"Despite Hurdles, Families Pursue Nepal Adoptions"
David Crary 01/22/11

"[On] Aug. 6 ... the U.S. government suspended adoptions of abandoned children from Nepal due to concerns about unreliable and fabricated documents such as birth certificates. As an example of the problems, U.S. officials cited a case where a child put up for adoption to America was being searched for by her Nepalese birth parents.

Pending adoptions by... about 80... U.S. families were put on hold and subjected to lengthy new investigations requiring the families to provide solid evidence that the children were indeed legitimate orphans. Many felt compelled to hire private investigators to make their case.

Some families abandoned their quest but more than 60 persevered. As of mid-January, 13 of them... had received U.S. visas for their children, but most are still in limbo after months of uncertainty, separations and financial stress...

Other countries – including Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy and Britain – preceded the U.S. in suspending adoptions from Nepal based on similar concerns.

Acknowledging some flaws, the Nepalese government has recently taken several steps to improve its adoption system – banning the adoption of street children, requiring better verification that a given child is an orphan, and tightening the oversight of organizations dealing with orphans. But there's no timeframe yet for when these and other possible reforms might prompt the U.S. and other countries to reauthorize adoptions.

In explaining its action, the State Department has cited one case in which a U.S. couple discovered that the Nepalese girl they were about to adopt from an orphanage was in fact being sought by her birth parents. It turned out that the girl and her brother had been placed at the orphanage by their father for temporary safekeeping and were not supposed to be put up for adoption."

Read the complete article:

Cuba Suspends Mail Service to U.S. Indefinitely

"Cuba: U.S. Mail Service To Cease"
Andrea Rodriguez   01/21/11

"HAVANA — Cuba suspended indefinitely all mail service to the United States on Friday, extending a ban announced in November and expanding it to cover letters as well as packages.

The move is a setback for relations between the two countries, enemies for more than half a century. It came just days after the Obama Administration announced it was easing travel restrictions on academics and church groups seeking to visit the island.

"Until further notice, we cannot continue to accept any type of delivery," Cuba's mail service, Correos de Cuba, said Friday in an announcement read over state television."

Read the complete article:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Victory for Coalition of Immokalee Farm Workers Likely Sets Precedent for Better Pay and Workplace Protections

"After Long Fight, Farmworkers in Florida Win an Increase in Pay"
Published: January 18, 2011

"IMMOKALEE, Fla. — After fighting for more than a decade for better wages, a group of Florida farmworkers has hashed out the final piece of an extraordinary agreement with local tomato growers and several big-name buyers, including the fast-food giants McDonald’s and Burger King, that will pay the pickers roughly a penny more for every pound of fruit they harvest.

Farm laborers are among the lowest-paid workers in the United States, and the agreement could add thousands of dollars to their income.

Though the hamburger chains and others agreed to the increase years ago, the money they have been paying — an estimated $2 million now held in an escrow account — could not be distributed to tomato pickers until the state’s largest trade association, which acts as a middleman, agreed to lift a ban preventing their farms from passing along the extra wages.

That happened in November, when the farmworkers’ group, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, a trade association, completed details of a code of conduct that included not only the wage improvement but also guarantees of increased workplace protections — like minimum-wage guarantees and a zero tolerance policy on forced and child labor — for the laborers.

Some labor experts said the agreement could set a precedent for improving working conditions and pay in other parts of the agriculture and food industries, nationally and worldwide."

Read the complete article:

Protests for Belarus Political Prisoners and Artists

"Hundreds Protest at Belarusian Embassy"

"More than 300 protesters gathered across the street from the Belarus Mission to the United Nations on Wednesday, one month after the disputed re-election of Alexander Lukashenko, the dictator of the former Soviet satellite. Organized by The Public Theater and Amnesty International, the protesters chanted in support of Belarus' dozens of political prisoners and The Belarus Free Theater, whose artists have been beaten and threatened with incarceration for staging plays that criticize political repression and social ills.

Cofounded by Natalia Koliada, The Belarus Free Theater recently staged two such plays, "Being Harold Pinter" and "Zone of Silence," at two Off-Broadway mainstays: The Public Theater, founded by Joseph Papp, and La Mama, whose founder Ellen Stewart died this month."

Read the complete article:

Another Former Leader Contemplates Return to Haiti

"Aristide 'ready' to return to Haiti, he says"
By the CNN Wire Staff

January 20, 2011

"Johannesburg (CNN) -- Haiti's former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, said he is "ready" to return to the country from South Africa "today, tomorrow, at any time." He did not offer any definite plans to go back to the ravaged country.

Aristide has been living in South Africa since fleeing Haiti during a violent uprising in 2004.

"Since my forced arrival in the Mother Continent six and a half years ago, the people of Haiti have never stopped calling for my return to Haiti," he said in a statement provided by South Africa's foreign ministry Thursday.

Aristide's lawyer in the United States said Wednesday that the former president did not have a passport, and the Haitian government will not issue him one.

"If he were free to leave and had a passport, he'd be on a plane tomorrow," said Ira Kurzban."

Read the complete article:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Reminder: Today is Deadline to Register for TPS

Today is the deadline for Haitian nationals to register for Temporary Protected Status. 

"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 Jan. 18, 2011. The TPS designation for Haiti will remain in effect through July 22, 2011...TPS forms are available on the USCIS website or by calling toll-free 1-800-870-3676. For additional information, applicants may also contact the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283."

Read the complete announcement:

Philippine Bill Aims to Make Annulment More Accessible To All

"Philippines eyes easier marriage annulment"
By Kate McGeown
January 18, 2011
BBC News, Manila

"A bill has been put forward in the Philippine Congress aimed at making it easier for poor people to get their marriages annulled.

The bill would make violence, infidelity and abandonment all grounds for annulment.

The Philippines is one of the few places in the world - alongside the Vatican and Malta - where divorce is still prohibited.

Annulments are currently too expensive for anyone but the rich to contemplate.

First, couples have to prove that their marriage licence is not valid or that one person is, in legal terms at least, psychologically incapacitated.

It is an expensive procedure, and Congressman Neri Colmenares says the system discriminates against those who cannot afford to hire lawyers and psychiatrists.

He wants the bill to be simplified, so that anyone who can prove their partner has been violent, abandoned the family home or is guilty of infidelity is automatically assumed to have a form of "psychological incapacity"."

Read the complete article:

British Judge Fines Hotel Owners for Refusing to Give a Room to a Gay Couple

"Peter & Hazelmary Bull, British Hotel Owners, Fined For Refusing Gay Couple A Room "

"LONDON — A British judge has fined a Christian couple for refusing to allow a gay couple the use of a double room at their hotel in southern England.

Judge Andrew Rutherford says Peter and Hazelmary Bull broke the law when they turned away Martyn Hall and his partner Steven Preddy in late 2008

Bull and his wife cited religious objections, but insisted their policy was not solely aimed at homosexuals but all unmarried couples.

Equality campaigners condemned the Bulls' decision.

In a written ruling at Bristol County Court on Tuesday, Rutherford awarded the gay couple 1,800 pounds (about $2,900) each in damages."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King

"'The Least of These' -- Martin Luther King's Advocacy for the Poor"
Albert Raboteau
January 16, 2011

"Martin Luther King Day memorials tend to celebrate King the Civil Rights leader, stressing his activism on behalf of interracial equality and reconciliation. We slight his emphasis on the link between racism and poverty and so neglect King the advocate of the poor. At the time of his assassination King was participating in the Memphis Sanitation Workers' struggle to achieve a decent wage while simultaneously planning the Poor People's Campaign. King's sermons, speeches and writings echo ancient Christian teachings on poverty and wealth, which may still serve as a resource for the contemporary struggle to overcome economic inequality. He was a 20th century exemplar of a very old tradition...

In 369 a severe drought followed by famine prompted [St.] Basil [of Caesarea] to preach a sermon on the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:16-18), the man who decides to tear down his barns and build new ones to hold his surplus grain. "But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be? So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." Basil elaborates:

"Who, then, is greedy? -- The one who does not remain content with self sufficiency. Who is the one who deprives others? The one who hoards what belongs to everyone. Are you not greedy? Are you not one who deprives others? You have received these things for stewardship, and have turned them into your own property! Is not the one who tears off what another is wearing called a clothes-robber? But the one who does not clothe the naked, when he was able to do so -- what other name does he deserve? The bread that you hold on to belongs to the hungry; the cloak you keep locked in your storeroom belongs to the naked; the shoe that is moldering in your possession belongs to the person with no shoes; the silver that you have buried belongs to the person in need. You do an injury to as many people as you might have helped with all these things!" ...

In 1956, King preached a sermon that echoed Basil's condemnation of greed: "God never intended for a group of people to live in superfluous, inordinate wealth while others live in abject, deadening poverty. God intends for all of His children to have the basic necessities of life, and He has left in this universe enough and to spare for that purpose. So I call upon you to bridge the gulf between abject poverty and superfluous wealth." In 1962, King preached, "I see hungry boys and girls in this nation and other nations and think about the fact that we spend more than a million dollars a day storing surplus food. And I say to myself 'I know where we can store that food free of charge - in the wrinkled stomachs of the millions of people in our nation and in this world who go to bed hungry at night.'" ...

[King] exhorted us to "move from being a thing-oriented, to a person-oriented" society."

Read the complete article:

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Exiled Former Dictator Unexpectedly Arrives in Haiti

"'Baby Doc' Duvalier returns to Haiti"
Jean Junior Osman, for CNN
January 16, 2011

"Port-Au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) -- Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, Haiti's former dictator, returned unexpectedly Sunday to the country after some 25 years in exile.

He arrived in the Haitian capital as the nation is grappling with a political crisis, sparked by fraud allegations in a presidential election. It was not immediately clear why the former leader returned.

Duvalier, wearing a dark suit and tie, greeted supporters at the busy Port-au-Prince airport. He had traveled with his wife.

The Duvalier family ruled Haiti for three decades starting in 1957, when Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier was elected president. He later declared himself president for life. When he died in 1971, he was succeeded by his 19-year-old son, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier.

The younger Duvalier held onto power for 15 years before a revolt forced him to flee the country. He has been living in France.

The United Nations restricted the movement of its staff in Port-au-Prince until further notice, or until the impact of Duvalier's arrival becomes clear, said Patrick Hanson, a security officer for the United Nations in Haiti.

While groups of people have gathered in various parts of the city, they are calm and no violence has been reported, he said."

Friday, January 14, 2011

Looser Travels Restrictions to Cuba Announced

"Obama ready to loosen travel restrictions to Cuba"

The Buzz
St. Petersburg Times Staff
January 14, 2011

"News is now official and affects religious groups, academic work, journalists and some others. It also opens the way for Tampa and other airports to provide direct flights to Cuba...

The White House news release:

Today, President Obama has directed the Secretaries of State, Treasury, and Homeland Security to take a series of steps to continue efforts to reach out to the Cuban people in support of their desire to freely determine their country’s future.

The President has directed that changes be made to regulations and policies governing: (1) purposeful travel; (2) non-family remittances; and (3) U.S. airports supporting licensed charter flights to and from Cuba. These measures will increase people-to-people contact; support civil society in Cuba; enhance the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people; and help promote their independence from Cuban authorities...

The directed changes described below will be enacted through modifications to existing Cuban Assets Control and Customs and Border Protection regulations and policies and will take effect upon publication of modified regulations in the Federal Register within 2 weeks.

Purposeful Travel. To enhance contact with the Cuban people and support civil society through purposeful travel, including religious, cultural, and educational travel, the President has directed that regulations and policies governing purposeful travel be modified to:

· Allow religious organizations to sponsor religious travel to Cuba under a general license.

· Facilitate educational exchanges by: allowing accredited institutions of higher education to sponsor travel to Cuba for course work for academic credit under a general license; allowing students to participate through academic institutions other than their own; and facilitating instructor support to include support from adjunct and part-time staff.

· Restore specific licensing of educational exchanges not involving academic study pursuant to a degree program under the auspices of an organization that sponsors and organizes people-to-people programs.

· Modify requirements for licensing academic exchanges to require that the proposed course of study be accepted for academic credit toward their undergraduate or graduate degree (rather than regulating the length of the academic exchange in Cuba).

· Allow specifically licensed academic institutions to sponsor or cosponsor academic seminars, conferences, and workshops related to Cuba and allow faculty, staff, and students to attend.

· Allow specific licensing to organize or conduct non-academic clinics and workshops in Cuba for the Cuban people.

· Allow specific licensing for a greater scope of journalistic activities.

Remittances. To help expand the economic independence of the Cuban people and to support a more vibrant Cuban civil society, the President has directed the regulations governing non-family remittances be modified to:

· Restore a general license category for any U.S. person to send remittances (up to $500 per quarter) to non-family members in Cuba to support private economic activity, among other purposes, subject to the limitation that they cannot be provided to senior Cuban government officials or senior members of the Cuban Communist Party.

· Create a general license for remittances to religious institutions in Cuba in support of religious activities.

No change will be made to the general license for family remittances.

U.S. Airports. To better serve those who seek to visit family in Cuba and engage in other licensed purposeful travel, the President has directed that regulations governing the eligibility of U.S. airports to serve as points of embarkation and return for licensed flights to Cuba be modified to:

· Allow all U.S. international airports to apply to provide services to licensed charters, provided such airports have adequate customs and immigration capabilities and a licensed travel service provider has expressed an interest in providing service to and from Cuba from that airport.

The modifications will not change the designation of airports in Cuba that are eligible to send or receive licensed charter flights to and from the United States."

Read the complete article:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A&E "Beyond Scared Straight" Series Begins Tonight

"Beyond Scared Straight"
(Series -- A&E, Thurs. Jan. 13, 10 p.m.)
By Brian Lowry

"More than 30 years after the original "Scared Straight!" won both an Oscar and Emmy, producer Arnold Shapiro has revived his documentary as an A&E series, without diluting much of its visceral impact. Once again, hardened convicts meet what might once have been called juvenile delinquents, seeking to give them an unappetizing taste of what prison life is like...
Opening with a 90-minute episode, "Beyond Scared Straight" adheres closely (albeit in truncated form) to the original format, which featured those from the Lifers program at Rahway prison in New Jersey.

After introducing the sometimes-cocky kids, teens who in some instances look even younger than their years, they're ushered into the prison, where the convicts paint a harrowing portrait of life on the inside.

In the premiere, girls visit a California women's prison in Chowchilla, where their tour guides are every bit as intimidating as at the men's facility in the second episode."

Read the complete review of the show:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Belarus Child's Custody in Limbo After Parents Arrested for Protesting

"Belarus boy in custody tug-of-war after arrests"
January 11, 2011

"A woman in Belarus is battling to prevent the authorities [from] taking custody of her infant grandson, whose parents are jailed opposition activists.

Lyutsina Khalip said [her grandson], aged three-and-a-half, "asks constantly where his mum and dad are".

His parents, Andrei Sannikov and Irina Khalip, were arrested after an opposition rally on 19 December at which police clashed with protesters.

Observers have said President Alexander Lukashenko's re-election was flawed.

Police arrested hundreds of people including opposition candidates in the capital Minsk after the election. Many are still being held at a KGB state security centre.

So far 31 have been charged in connection with the opposition protests, Interfax news agency reports...

Lyutsina Khalip, whose jailed daughter Irina is an investigative journalist, said she had had to prove to child welfare officers that she was capable of looking after Danil.

"They suggested that perhaps I wasn't well enough to look after him. I told them I had everything he needed. I applied to be his guardian," she told the Europe Today programme on the BBC World Service.

"In the last few days I've been running back and forth from place to place, to prove that I'm not mad, not taking drugs and don't have any sexual diseases.

"They now say I'm medically well enough," she said, but added that Danil had also undergone a medical check, including a blood test.

"They'll check where I live to see if it's suitable, then they'll decide my grandson's fate," she said."

Read the complete article:

Plight of Haitian Orphans in US One Year Later

"Most have homes, but some Haitian orphans still in shelters"
By Rose Arce and Soledad O'Brien, CNN
CNN's Alsye Shorland contributed to this report.
January 11, 2011

"In the middle of a snowstorm nearly a year ago, a planeload of 54 Haitian children landed in Pennsylvania as part of an airlift of orphans stranded by the powerful earthquake that devastated their country.

They were taken to Pittsburgh's Holy Family Institute, where they were thrilled by the flush toilets, running water and plentiful food, said the institute's president and CEO, Sister Linda Yankoski.

Their stay at the facility for troubled or abused children was supposed to be temporary, just until U.S. adoptive families took them in, she said.

Wednesday is the first anniversary of the Haiti quake, and by now most of those children have moved into adoptive homes, as have hundreds of others around the country who arrived in similar airlifts.

But many spent months in federal custody -- some even experiencing their second winter detained in shelters in Pennsylvania and Florida, still waiting for their lives in America to truly begin.

"They are confused, they feel rejected, they wonder what's going to happen to them and whether they are ever going to be with a family as they were promised," said Michelle Abarca, a lawyer with the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, which is representing some of the children who were taken to Miami.

"They faced rejection in Haiti, rejection here. It's all rejection."

The children's complex legal status unfolded because they were airlifted out of Haiti in the midst of a crisis, believed to be orphans in the process of being adopted by U.S. parents. The plan was to finish the adoptions in the United States, an unusual exception to international adoption protocol.

But once the children were in the United States, it quickly became clear not all of them were orphans already matched with U.S. families. Even for those who were, completing adoptions from so far away had obstacles...

In all, the United States granted 1,090 children, including the 54 in Pittsburgh, what it calls "humanitarian parole," effectively permission to enter and stay in the United States on special visas while their U.S. adoptive parents complete the paperwork here, rather than abroad as is usually required...

About 400 children immediately moved in with U.S. families trying to adopt them, said Jeffrey Kelley, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

But HHS ended up with custody of another 660 children as their complicated legal situation was sorted out. They were placed in foster homes or shelters used for children who enter the country illegally.

A string of government agencies was able to get most of them placed with adoptive parents or in foster homes in days. But a few dozen remained detained in shelters over the course of the year for a variety of reasons:

• Some children did not have firm commitments from U.S. adoptive parents.

• In about a dozen cases, the U.S. adoptive parents changed their minds and returned the children to shelters.

• In other cases, the biological parents in Haiti had not finished paperwork declaring they were giving up their children for adoption, or the paperwork was missing.

• The Haitian government slowed the adoption process further after one group of Americans was arrested for trying to illegally depart the country with children.

Eventually, one by one, all but 15 of the children moved in with families....

In Haiti, the number of children in need of new homes continues to grow, and the United States has reopened the door to new adoptions. The Maison des Enfants de Dieu orphanage featured in "Adopting Haiti" has filled up again with children destined for U.S. adoptions, this time to be completed in Haiti."

Read the complete article:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Naturalization Ceremonies

"2011 Martin Luther King Jr. Day Naturalization Ceremonies"

The USCIS has a list of various naturalization ceremonies that will be held from January 11 - 21, 2011.  Congratulations to all those becoming naturalized citizens!
Read the list of ceremonies:

Help HAITI Act of 2010

"USCIS Implements Help HAITI Act of 2010"

"U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)... announced the implementation of the Help HAITI Act of 2010. This new law authorizes USCIS to grant lawful permanent resident status to certain orphaned children from Haiti, who were paroled into the United States under the Haitian Orphan Parole Program after the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, visit"

Medical Disability Exception Form Revised for Naturalization Candidates

"USCIS Revises Form for Naturalization Candidates Seeking Medical Disability Exceptions"

"U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released today a revised Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, for individuals with disabilities who are seeking exceptions from the English and civics requirements for naturalization. USCIS will shortly be offering public information sessions on the revised form for medical professionals and other stakeholders.

The law requires naturalization applicants to demonstrate proficiency of U.S. civics and the English language. Individuals with certain disabilities or impairments may request exceptions from either or both of these statutory requirements...

In January, USCIS will begin hosting public information sessions to help medical professionals and other stakeholders understand the changes to Form N-648. Online videos will be available to explain how best to use the form. The interim guidance on the revised Form N-648 for USCIS personnel is currently available for public comment at

USCIS will accept the previous version of the Form N-648 for 90 days, from Dec. 22, 2010, until March 21, 2011. Beginning March 22, 2011, USCIS will only accept the current version of Form N-648, dated 9/24/2010.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, visit"
Read the full update:

Questions and Answers Regarding TPS for Somalia

"18-Month Extension of Temporary Protected Status for Somalia"
"Questions and Answers"

"The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 additional months, through Sept. 17, 2012, to eligible nationals of Somalia and people having no nationality who last habitually resided in Somalia. This extension does not apply to Somalis who entered the United States after Sept. 4, 2001. Certain nationals of Somalia who have not previously applied for TPS may be able to register under the late initial registration provisions. Further details on this extension of TPS for Somalia appear in the Federal Register Notice announcing the most recent extension.

The extension comes following a review of the conditions in Somalia undertaken over the past year by DHS and the Department of State. Based on this review, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has determined that an 18-month extension is necessary because conditions that prompted the 2001 TPS re-designation of Somalia continue, and the return of individuals with TPS to Somalia would pose a serious threat to their personal safety."

Read the news:

Happy New Year!

Happy 2011!

My New Year's resolution for 2011 is to return to posting on a regular basis!  Let's see.  This year my posts will be mostly informational posts regarding immigration and human rights issues, with special attention devoted to children.  Hope you find the information helpful, and have a wonderful new year.