Posts Tagged ‘Deportation’

Ghosts Amongst Us: Obama’s Legacy of Trauma

September 16, 2011

A crisp, nascent autumn breeze whistles through the air. A young girl, of 5-years-old, waits with her mother for the school bus to whisk her away to her first-ever day of school.

She is nervous, not wanting to leave the comfortable confines of her home, where her parents have doted on her from since she can remember.

“When will daddy be back?”, the girl asks her mother. “He went home. Don’t worry, honey, he will be back soon.”, the mother says, fighting back tears in a futile effort to shield her daughter from the truth, a truth that is cutting her up inside: her father is gone, perhaps forever.

This young family of three was achieving the dream that so many associate with the United States of America: food on the table, a small but well-kept house, and a supreme confidence that no goal is too far out of reach.

The dream suffered a fatal blow when the girl’s father was deported to Honduras just a few weeks ago.

The Stunning Hypocrisy of the Obama Administration         

With the 2012 presidential elections imminent, President Obama’s approval rating has plummeted precipitously, dropping to a lowly 38 % as recently as August of this year. When Obama was first elected, he consistently promised he would pass immigration reform. This likely helped him get elected, as many Latinos voted for precisely because of these promises.

According a pew report, 67% of  Hispanic voters cast their ballot for Obama in the 2008 presidential elections. And these votes were important to his eventual victory.

Shortly after the election, a NY Times article stated that:

“Latino voters shifted in huge numbers away from Republicans to vote for Senator Barack Obama…providing the votes that gave him unexpectedly large margins of victory in three battleground states: Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada.”

So far, Barack Obama has done nothing to fulfill the promises he made in 2008. Rather, he has arguably done the opposite: under his watch, immigrants have been deported in record numbers. His explanation up until recently has revealed a man who is stunningly transparent in revealing why what he says does not comport with what he does.

When pressed on why no reform has been passed, Mr. Obama delivers the predictable: “I can’t do it by myself. We’re going to have to change the laws of Congress.” The latter admission of defeat is in sharp contrast to his oft-flowery rhetoric:

Comprehensive immigration reform is not only an economic imperative or a security imperative, it is also a moral imperative. (emphasis added)

Voting Time

The 2012 Presidential Elections are upon us, and the Obama Administration has made a public about-face on whether only Congress can stop deportations.

First, on June 17, 2011, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued an internal memorandum listing various factors that should be considered in deciding whether to exercise prosecutorial discretion. In other words, when not to deport an immigrant, even if ICE is legally able to do so.

Specifically, the memo addressed several stages of immigration enforcement, including when to deport an immigrant who already has an order and when to put an immigrant into deportation proceedings before the immigration court.

Second, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a public announcement via a letter Janet Napolitano wrote to Senator Dick Durbin, stating that the factors enumerated in the June 17 memorandum were already being implemented. Importantly, the letter stated:

Together with the Department of Justice (DOJ), we have initiated an inter-agency working group to a case-by-case review of all individuals currently in removal proceedings to ensure that they constitute our highest priorities.

In this same letter, Secretary Napolitano added: “the working group will issue guidance on how to provide for appropriate discretionary consideration to be given to compelling cases involving a final order of removal.”

These two announcements conflict with what reality is for many immigrants, particularly those who have been here for many years but have final orders of removal.

The Immigration Police: Blind Enforcement

Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) is the branch of ICE that executes final orders of removal. Once an immigrant is detained, ERO will immediately begin the process of deportation. Consulate visits, a travel document, and a charter flight back. All within a couple of weeks, sometimes even sooner.

Without an attorney (extremely expensive, given that substantial time is required to try to stop a deportation at this stage), ERO will rarely exercise discretion; the only time that it will is if a woman is pregnant, or the immigrant is the sole caretaker of a child, or if a child is seriously ill.

Notwithstanding the latter examples, ERO will deport anyone with a final order, criminal history or not.

I have personally seen several examples of immigrants being deported, even though they had extraordinary equities in their favor. What are these equities? One such example: Many have several U.S. citizen children; presence in the United States for over 10 years; and no criminal history. Yet this matters naught to ERO. There is no “prioritizing” of whether an immigrant will be deported once placed in the custody of ERO. It’s a machine.

“We get them in, and we deport them. Sorry, nothing we can do.”, one such officer commented to me.

From my own experience, there has been no discernible difference between whether the Obama administration’s announcement has made a change in immigration enforcement policy.

In removal proceedings, when an immigrant is still before an judge, discretion will and has been exercised, but whether this is a change from the past is not clear.

What is clear is that at the ERO level business is as brisk as usual.

It is of no import to the “moral imperative” touting Barack Obama that an agency under his control has and continues to leave an indelible legacy of trauma upon thousands of families.

In the end, as it so often is in the United States, the moral is superseded by the irrepressible need for our “leaders” to wrestle for the reins of power at the expense of human lives.

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Mark Lyttle: A U.S. Citizen kidnapped and deported with impunity by ICE

October 25, 2010

Mark Lyttle, a U.S. Citizen, was kidnapped and illegally deported by U.S. Government

The United States Government kidnapped and deported Mark Lyttle, a United States Citizen. The ACLU filed a lawsuit against Mr. Lyttle’s tormentors on October 13th, 2010.

The complaint narrates Mark Lyttle’s odyssey with a comprehensive, compelling factual story. Here is an excerpt:

On or about August 22, 2008, Mr. Lyttle was booked into NCI to begin serving his sentence for the misdemeanor crime…On or about September 2, 2008, while in the custody of the North Carolina Department of Corrections (“DOC”), Mr. Lyttle was “apprehended” by ICE Agent Robert Kendall and thereafter interrogated by ICE Agent D. Faucette. At the time of the interrogation, Agent Faucette was aware that Mr. Lyttle was cognitively impaired and that he had, among other things, bipolar disorder…

On or about September 4, 2008, Agent Faucette or an ICE agent acting on Agent Faucette’s behalf or at her direction, performed a search…Numerous records produced as a result of these computerized database searches revealed that Mr. Lyttle was a U.S. citizen with a valid Social Security number.(emphasis added)

Disregarding the overwhelming record evidence of Mr. Lyttle’s U.S.citizenship, as well as his significant mental disabilities, on or about September 5,2008, Agent Caputo signed a “Warrant for Arrest of Alien”…to take Mr. Lyttle into custody so that he might be processed for removal as “an alien in the country in violation of the immigration laws.”

From October 28th, 2008 to until he was flown to the U.S./Mexico border and deported on December 18th, 2008, the U.S. government unlawfully detained Mark Lyttle. After being deported, Mark Lyttle was deported yet again, this time to Honduras by Mexican authorities.

In Honduras, officials arrested Mr. Lyttle and placed him in an immigration camp. From there, he was transferred to a Honduran jail, where he allegedly(more like likely), suffered mental and physical abuse by prison guards.

Mr. Lyttle was also incarcerated in Nicaragua. Ultimately, he found a competent embassy employee in Guatemala who listened to him, performed a search of information given by Mr. Lyttle, and issued him a passport and arranged for his return to the United States on April 22nd, 2009.

Mr. Lyttle spoke no Spanish and must have gone through much suffering in his odyssey throughout Mexico and Central America. His suffering was a direct consequence of the criminal conduct of a several actors in Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE).

Specifically, ICE agents committed the federal crime of kidnapping. 18 U.S.C. §§ 1201(a)1:

(a)Whoever unlawfully seizes, confines, inveigles, decoys, kidnaps, abducts…when—

1. the person is willfully transported in interstate or foreign commerce…

3. any such act against the person is done within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States as defined in section 46501 of title 49;

Mark Lyttle was unlawfully seized and willfully transported in interstate commerce and possibly foreign commerce when he was (the gov’t use of aircraft to transport Mr. Lyttle falls under special aircraft jurisdiction) flown from Georgia to Texas for deportation.

Yet the Obama administration has issued no explanation or apology to Mark Lyttle.

Reading the complaint, there is little doubt that Mr. Lyttle will receive monetary compensation for the hell that the U.S. government put him through.

Yet this will not prevent future crimes committed by ICE against United States Citizens like Mr. Lyttle. The agents that recklessly caused Mark Lyttle to be illegally detained and deported do not have to pay out of their pocket. At best, the agents will be fired or reprimanded with a memo or some such method.

In other words, the perpetrators of this crime have acted with impunity. Criminal statutes such as 18 U.S.C 1201 are created with severe penalties–up to life imprisonment–so that the public will be deterred from committing the proscribed act, in this instance kidnapping. Federal prosecutors should follow the laws they are charged with enforcing, especially as the severity of the crime increases.

Kidnapping is a high crime in of itself. When the kidnappers are agents of the federal government, the importance of deterrence becomes greater.  With the full weight of the United States Government behind a criminal, the potential for grave wrongs borders the limitless.

Yet the Obama administration has done nothing to address this serious crime that occurred under its watch. No criminal charges were brought against the responsible agents. This is a terrible omen, one that creates serious doubts as to how many other Mark Lyttles there have been and will continue to be.

In essence, the inaction of Obama & Co. leads to a disturbing conclusion: he nor those in his administration are concerned with  the  basic constitutional rights guaranteed to United States Citizens.

Obama is an accomplice to the unlawful kidnapping and exile of thousands of U.S. citizens

September 27, 2010

You probably have not heard of Mark Lyttle, a U.S. citizen, kidnapped by the United States Government and subsequently wrongly exiled to Mexico. From Jacqueline Stevens, professor and author of States without Nations

Mark Lyttle, 31, born in Salisbury, North Carolina, was exhausted and traumatized, but he insisted on talking tonight…

In the language of the DHS Mark was “ordered removed” as a noncitizen on December 9, 2008. That’s a bureaucratic euphemism for what really happened: Mark’s government kidnapped him, rendered him stateless, dropped him off in Mexico, and four months later, after he was kicked out of Mexico to Honduras, and from Honduras to Guatemala via Nicaragua, bought him a Big Mac before arresting him again in the United States.

Mark Lyttle spoke no Spanish, yet was deported to Mexico. As a result of this crime committed by the U.S. government, Lyttle was deported from Mexico as well, and ended up spending time in a luxurious Honduran jail. of Honduras.

After a monumental effort on his behalf by his family in the U.S. and journalist Jacqueline Stevens,  Mark Lyttle’s horrific odyssey reached the light of day. Unfortunately for many U.S. citizens–those with no family, mental-illnesses, or a run of bad luck–there are likely thousands of them who, at this very moment,  are wrongfully exiled from the United States.

In order to stem this miscarriage of justice, the misguided decisions of the United States Supreme Court must be revisited.

The Supreme Court, in INS v. Lopez-Mendoza 468 U.S. 1032 (1984) held that:

“A deportation proceeding is a purely civil action to determine a person’s eligibility to remain in this country…Consistent with the civil nature of a deportation proceeding, various protections that apply in the context of a criminal trial do not apply in a deportation hearing.”

One of those protections that do not apply to a deportation hearing is the right to appointed counsel i.e. the government provides counsel to indigent defendants.

But what about the due process concerns for indigent U.S. citizens who are regularly wrongfully detained and deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE)? (In 2009, 4000 and 2000 U.S. citizens were estimated to have been detained and deported, respectively.)

The deportation of a U.S. citizen  is, indeed, not punishment in the traditional sense of wrong committed, gov’t served retribution; it is a crime committed by the government. The due process clause of the 5th amendment is designed to protect the liberty interests of those within the United States.

As the Supreme Court has interpreted the 5th amendment, and as the U.S. government has applied that interpretation into action, the due process clause has failed, miserably, at protecting the liberty interests of at least 4000 United States citizens in 2009 alone.

With mandated counsel, this egregious crimes committed by the United States government could at the very least be curtailed significantly.

Ultimately, however, until there is a major overhaul of the immigration laws of the United States, including a reduction of the current myopia of immigration enforcement, these crimes will undoubtedly continue to some extent.

A crucial point in this, as it relates to immigration reform, is that the Obama administration can immediately act to limit the grossly negligent actions of ICE, yet all we hear are flimsy excuses about how he must “enforce the law” because if he doesn’t,  “more illegals will keep coming.”

Well what about the enforcement of the highest law of the land, the constitution. Does that mean nothing to Obama? It would appear that every day that passes with another empty rhetorical flourish that, no, Obama cares not for justice.

Governor Paterson May End Senseless Deportations

May 4, 2010

Uplifting immigration news, from the New York Times:

ALBANY — Gov. David A. Paterson announced on Monday that the state would accelerate consideration and granting of pardons to legal immigrants for old or minor criminal convictions, in an effort to prevent them from being deported.

The move sets up a confrontation between the governor and federalimmigration officials, who have taken more aggressive action to increase deportations in recent years. Immigration lawyers on both sides called the step extraordinary and said it could ultimately affect thousands of people in New York.

“Some of our immigration laws, particularly with respect to deportation, are embarrassingly and wrongly inflexible,” Mr. Paterson said in a speech on Monday at an annual gathering of the state’s top judges. “In New York we believe in renewal,” he added. “In New York, we believe in rehabilitation.”

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Revoking Citizenship:Republican Demagoguery

February 19, 2010

Gary Miller, a Republic congressman from California, is proposing a new bill that would abolish birthright citizenship:

The measure would limit birthright citizenship to children born to at least one parent who is either a citizen, lawful permanent resident or actively serving in the U.S. military. The legislation would only apply prospectively and would not affect the citizenship status of people born before the bill’s enactment.

This bill is not likely to pass, as Democrats control congress and are staunchly against any bill of this sort. Even if it was passed, it would likely be unconstitutional because it directly contradicts the 14th amendment. Which is good. But it portends  potential disastrous effects.  The rationale behind the bill indicates a motive: to play on the misinformed, virulent anti-immigrant groups and change the winds of power from Democratic to Republican.

Mistruth

Rep. Howard McKeon R. Santa Clarita, a co-sponsor of the bill, makes a dubious conclusion:

There’s an incentive for people to come here and quickly have a baby,…Since the baby is a citizen, it’s harder to send the family back to where they came from if they came illegally. Now you have a citizen and it would split up the family.”

I have news for you, Mr. McKeon: you are an idiot. I don’t say this nonchalantly; I really mean it.

Here’s a quick example. A woman and man, both from Mexico, immigrate to the United States without authorization. They are both 25 years old. They have a child, who becomes a citizen. It is strikingly easy to “deport” the parents, along with the U.S.C. child(allowing for the fact that deportation in general is problematic because of the near impossibility of thorough apprehension).

There are only two principal avenues in which the U.S.C. child can obtain status for its undocumented parent(s): 1) Cancellation of Removal and 2) petitioning for their parents when they reach the age of 21. Both methods are extremely difficult to satisfy.

1. As I have mentioned in a previous post, Cancellation of Removal requires that the undocumented parent(s) have been here for at least 10 years, and even more stringent of a requirement is this: “establishes that removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to the alien’s spouse, parent, or child, who is a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence.”

The “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” portion is very, very difficult to prove. i.e. stating that economic and educational opportunities for the U.S.C. child are worse in Mexico than the United States is not enough. The likely outcome is that the whole family returns to Mexico; foster care is the only other alternative in this situation and I’d imagine most parents do not want to abandon their children to a stranger.

2. The 25 year old parents wait until their U.S.C. child reaches the age of 21. The child then petitions to get her parents legalized. Problem: Under the Illegal Immigration and Reform act of 1996, a individual who has accrued more than one year of unlawful presence and entered without inspection(illegally)would  never be able to get their green card. The parents would be what they were before their child reached 21, undocumented. There is a waiver available for the denial of the application, but, like cancellation of removal, the applicant would have to show an extreme hardship to the U.S.C. child, which would be difficult considering that the child in this instance is already an adult of 21 years old.

The Consequences

The Republican bill is well below any sort of respectable honesty. The two laws discussed above are already designed to address the purported dangers of “anchor babies”. The new law’s purpose is belied by its practical effect–all it would do if passed is negatively affect the children of undocumented immigrant and, significantly, further exacerbate the immigration problem as well as undercut our society’s stability.

Revoking the citizenship of children born to undocumented immigrants would not make them “easier” to deport than any other undocumented immigrant present in the U.S.  It would prevent, like the stridently anti-welfare for any reason republicans like to say, the issuance of benefits, such as welfare and healthcare. But the drawbacks would be much greater than any potential positive impact–a permanent, de jure, slave-like underclass. The children, who were once citizens, and able to contribute to society, would be relegated to menial labor. Or they may resort to crime, which probably would cost taxpayers a lot, not just in the pocket but in basic quality of life.

But why address the issue of Immigration with legislation that would worsen the problem existent in the first place? Power. Specifically, to retake control from the Democrats.

The anti-immigrant/tea party movement churns over the ocean of hate inherent in humans, gaining momentum by exacting their unattainable goal of “deportation of all the illegals” at the misinformed and struggling American public. They are not some fringe that we can write off as crazy and thus ignore. Republicans like Gary Miller and Howard McKeon are most likely well aware of this and they are plugging into this outlet of hate to catapult themselves to new heights of power;  they are not concerned with improving America for all.

The above politics-over-legislating-reasonable-laws is evident from John Mccain’s recent silence on Comprehensive Immigration Reform. As Patrick Young, from Longislandwins, points out:

McCain, who faces challenges by two candidates tied to the anti-immigrant wing of the Arizona Republican Party, is in a disturbingly precarious position for a former Republican standard bearer.

Think back. John Mccain was one of the leading proponents of reasonable immigration reform under the Bush years. Now, paralyzed by the vitriole of the anti-immigrants, he is silent. If this populist Republican strategy does not stop, Immigration Reform will not only be dead but the current system will fall into a state of deterioration. Illegal Immigration will continue, yet everyone will be worse off. Spotty, ineffective ICE raids will spike and subsequent deportations as well. But the problem will remain–millions of fellow humans living in the shadows. Only this time, those shadows will pulsate with the specter of hate.