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Monthly Archives: October 2010

WOW: ICE is said to Have Deported a US Citizen!

Yes, you read that correctly that our Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is being accused of deporting a US citizen. This is a shock, but truthfully, it should not be too much of a surprise since deportations are at an all time high.

news article dated October 14, 2010 is stating that ICE coerced a Puerto Rican born US citizen into “admitting” that he is a Mexican citizen. Of course, all individuals born in Puerto Rico are US citizens by birth. This poor gentleman was actually flown to Mexico, where he remained for four months with no one to help him.

The news to take away from this story is that immigrants should be aware that ICE is using coercion techniques. If an immigrant is being questioned by ICE, it is of utmost importance to insist on an attorney being present. In this way, the coercion techniques can be stopped, or at the very least, reduced to a minimum.

US Visa Lottery Opens today

The US annual lottery is opening today and applicants have until noon time (Eastern daylight time) on November 3, 2010 to fill out and submit their application(s). There are 50,000 available, and if you think that your chances are slim, there is hope. I have met many people who now have green cards because they won the visa lottery – so take a chance.

A few notes of caution before you jump ahead. Be sure to fill out the form completely and leave no questions blank. If a question does not apply to you, mark not applicable or N/A in the space provided. Also, the Department of State has warned that there are many sites pretending to be the government site, but they are not associated with the US government.

There are no filing fees to file the US visa application. You can locate and read the form instructions at U.S. Department of State website OR direct filing at http://www.dvlottery.state.go

Good News for Asylum Applicants

TRAC, a trusted agency that analyzes data published by the US Federal government, has found that Immigration Judges are denying substantially fewer asylum requests. In fact, denial rates have reached the lowest level in the last 25 years. In this time of immigration enforcement, we are happy to see good news for asylum applicants.

For example, in 1986, almost 9 out of 10 asylum cases were denied by immigration judges. That is a huge number of denials! However, during the first 9 months of year 2010, only 5 out of each 10 cases were denied by immigration judges.

TRAC has concluded that there are significantly fewer denials because more asylum seekers are using attorneys and also because there are fewer individuals applying for asylum.

TRAC has also noted that one of the big problems for applicants seeking asylum is that there are disparities between judges. For example, some judges approve more cases than others, etc.

To read the article, please refer to this direct link: http://trac.syr.edu/whatsnew/email.100902.html

ICE Vows to Not Delay FOIA Request Appeals

Until recently, it was accepted by USCIS and ICE that Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) requests filed by immigrant applicants can take a while to get processed. It was not unusual for these requests to take 6 months or longer for immigrant applicants to obtain a copy of their file(s) from USCIS. Now, however, ICE is up to date on FOIA request appeals. They in fact have been burning the midnight oil to get caught up on FOIA appeals and have even made it a goal to keep current.

This new emphasis on FOIA request appeals being handled quickly by ICE, rather than USCIS, is to promote President Obama’s policy on having an “open government.” FOIA requests allow immigrant applicants to obtain a copy of their records from USCIS. From experience, we know that USCIS is allowed to withhold its own office notes and also documents relating to work performed by other government agencies, such as ICE. If an immigrant applicant is not satisfied with the copies he or she receives through the FOIA request as a result of incompleteness, he or she can file an appeal.

FOIA requests are often used by our law office to obtain a copy of a petition that a family member filed for a client of ours years ago and that we now need for the client to gain an immigration benefit, for example. While it is important for applicants to make copies of every document they send to USCIS, if the copy was not made or was lost, then filing a FOIA request is the proper way to obtain a copy from immigration. In our law office, we are sure to maintain client file copies for 10 years or more, to ensure that our clients for whom we filed applications will obtain a copy from us should they need one, and not through having to file a FOIA request.

The good news is that due to President Obama’s policy of having an open government, USCIS and ICE have listened and are working hard to make sure FOIA requests and FOIA appeals are handled in a more efficient manner. FOIA requests are an important tool that we use to protect the rights of our clients. We are happy that USCIS has decided to let ICE help in getting caught up so that the backlog can be decreased and even eliminated.