KWBU by Rebecca Fogel
Great story about Raul Ortiz and the social media efforts to prevent his deportation.
KWBU by Rebecca Fogel
Great story about Raul Ortiz and the social media efforts to prevent his deportation.
Please sign the END Petition for Raul Ortiz-Garcia who will be deported on January 9, 2013, unless ICE exercised prosecutorial discretion.
Waco Tribune-Herald by Cindy V. Culp
A Central Texas teen whose deportation battle rallied local immigration advocates learned Friday he can stay in the United States.
Daniel Perez, who graduated from high school in nearby Coolidge in May, might be the first person in the area to benefit from an executive order President Barack Obama signed in June.
The order creates a way for certain teens and young adults in the country illegally to receive permission to stay here.
Waco immigration attorney Susan Nelson, who represents Perez, said she has not heard of any other local residents who have received relief from the program yet.
Most eligible immigrants couldn't submit an application to the "deferred action" program until Wednesday, when it was officially launched.
But because Perez was already in deportation proceedings, Nelson was able to make a plea on his behalf shortly after Obama signed the order.
"I was really excited when I opened the letter from ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and saw it was something positive," Nelson said Friday. "I've been running around kind of goofy all afternoon."
Perez, 19, was not available for comment Friday afternoon. But he previously told the Tribune-Herald he dreaded the idea of being sent to Mexico. He has lived in the United States since he was 5 years old and has not been to Mexico since then, he said.
Perez planned to attend Navarro College to study automotive mechanics. But his life dropped into limbo in July 2010 when he was arrested with a group of friends who got into a fight. Although he was a bystander and charges were never filed against him, the incident put him on ICE's radar.
This spring, the Waco DREAM Alliance began advocacy work to help Perez and a Waco high school student in a similar situation. The group, which formed in 2010 to advocate for a law that would have created a path to citizenship for certain young immigrants, held a petition drive for the boys and were poised to initiate other efforts to try to stop their deportation.
But the strategy changed when Obama signed the executive order. Nelson quickly submitted applications for both Perez and the other teen, 19-year old Luis Ortiz, who also graduated from high school in May.
Ortiz came to the attention of authorities after being arrested for drag racing, a Class B misdemeanor. Under the program rules, young immigrants may still qualify even if they have a few misdemeanor convictions.
"I'm hoping we'll hear back on his (application) soon," Nelson said.
Those accepted into the new program get permission to live and work here for a two-year period, with the possibility of ongoing renewal. Perez must still apply for a work permit, Nelson said, but she expects that process to go smoothly because he has been granted the right to live here.
To qualify, immigrants must be younger than age 31 and have been brought to the United States as a child. They must also be in school or have graduated from high school, obtained a GED or been honorably discharged from the U.S. military. They must be generally free of criminal convictions.
The Immigration Policy Center estimates 1.4 million immigrants nation-wide meet that criteria. That includes 4,110 people in U.S. Congressional District 17, which includes McLennan County.
Daniel's dad is still in removal proceedings because he picked Daniel up at the ICE office (Daniel was 17 at the time). Please sign the petition asking DHS to dismiss Daniel's dad's case.
Texas Tribune by Julian Aguilar
A year after the Obama administration announced it would prioritize the government’s resources on criminals when selecting which illegal immigrants to deport, the backlog in immigration courts has swelled to new highs for Texas and the nation as a whole.
Immigration lawyers say the numbers show that the government is not following through on its directive and becoming more efficient with deportation proceedings, but federal officials say that the figures aren’t telling the whole story.
Federal data compiled from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, or TRAC, a data research and distribution organization at the University of Syracuse, shows that through June, more than 314,000 cases awaited a resolution nationally, a 5.6 percent increase from 2011 and a 20 percent increase from 2010. Immigration courts in Houston and San Antonio represent Texas’ largest dockets, with 11,390 and 9,220 cases pending, respectively. That is followed by courts in El Paso and Dallas, which have 6,380 and 4,915 cases pending, respectively.
The data shows that Texas ranks third nationally — with about 36,840 cases awaiting a resolution — rising from its fourth-place standing two years ago. The state trails California and New York, whose courts have 77,200 and 47,200 cases pending, respectively. In Texas, about 32,840 immigrants are being detained solely on immigration-related charges, and about 3,470 — or 9.4 percent of those with pending cases — have some other criminal violation or have been deemed a threat to national security, according to the data.
That is above the national average of 8 percent but still stands contrary with what the Morton memo was supposed to do, immigration lawyers argue. The memo, issued in June 2011, asked federal prosecutors to take into consideration the illegal immigrant’s education in the U.S. and whether he or she has graduated from high school and attended college before placing that person in deportation proceedings.
Officials were also directed to consider whether the illegal immigrant is the child or spouse of a U.S. citizen, has an immediate relative who has served in the military or is a primary caretaker of someone who is ill, in addition to the conditions in the person’s home country and the circumstances upon that person’s arrival in the U.S. — specifically if the person came as a young child. The illegal immigrant’s criminal history and whether he or she poses a risk to the country’s national security is also to be considered, as is any history of prior removal.
Attorneys say the memo has had little — if any — effect on the immigrants they represent before immigration judges. They say that some of their clients — who fall under the criteria outlined in the memo — are still being placed in deportation proceedings. The federal government, however, defends it practices and said instead that TRAC handpicked its data to suit its agenda.
* * *
Despite ICE data not being included in the assessments, attorneys still argue that the Morton memo guidelines, which irked conservative leaders and led some to accuse the Obama administration of championing “backdoor” amnesty, have had little positive effect on illegal immigrants who they say fall under the memo’s guidelines for prosecutorial discretion.
“I think it would be fair to say that the immigration bar is not seeing the results of the Morton memo on pending court cases,” said Laura Lichter, the president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “We believe that the cases that are remaining in immigration proceedings still do not accurately reflect what should be priority cases.”
Lichter acknowledged ICE has increased its criminal immigrant deportations, but she said that it has also expanded its pool of who falls into that category.
An example, she said, is the immigrant who lived in the U.S. for more than a decade, returned home briefly for a funeral or family emergency, then was detained upon his or her return.
“They will classify that person as a recent entrant,” Lichter said. “I appreciate the fact that they are trying to make sure that their actual removals reflect their true priorities, but they have made the bucket so big it’s hard to fall in to the bucket.”
Jacqueline Watson, an immigration attorney in Austin, said she has had one case out of an active 117 dismissed since the memo was issued, but even that action she could not credit to the guidelines.
“I have had the case closed because the trial attorney didn’t oppose my motion but not affirmatively because of deferred action,” she said. The memo, she concludes, hasn’t helped her clients, which include a mother of five children, who are U.S. citizens, a couple with no criminal history and two American children.
“I can’t say where the lack of communication is, but I can say for sure that at the trial attorney level, we’ve been met with this [explanation]: 'This case doesn’t fit; this case doesn’t deserve deferred action,’ when it’s clear that the Morton memo was made for these kind of people,” she said.
[On June 19, 2012], DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano testified before the House Judiciary Committee and, as expected, defended the administration’s use of prosecutorial discretion and recently announced deferred action policies for qualified DREAMers—fielding questions and accusations from those who would rather take Napolitano to task than focus on creating smart, humane, and effective immigration policies.
* * *
Once again, Secretary Napolitano clarified that deferred action for DREAMers is not “amnesty,” and does not provide green cards or any other legal status that would put them on a path to citizenship. President Obama did not issue an “executive order,” and Napolitano’s memo was completely in line with the Constitution and decades of precedent. She again explained that, like all law enforcement agencies, DHS exercises prosecutorial discretion, of which deferred action is a subset, to be able to focus resources on its priorities—serious criminals, threats to national security, recent border crossers, and repeat immigration violators.
Napolitano also mentioned that additional guidelines on the deferred action program would be available on August 1, and applications would be available beginning on August 15. There will be an application fee, but the amount of the fee is yet unknown.
Please sign the petition for Raul Ortiz, father of Luis Ortiz, who is in removal proceedings because his son was arrested for Racing on the Highway at age 17. When Raul went to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in Waco, Texas, to pick up Luis, he was placed in removal proceedings. See my earlier post on Raul's case.
On Wednesday, June 27, 2012, Raul Ortiz appeared in immigration court and admitted the charges against him -- he is present in the U.S. without authorization. His son, Luis, should be eligible to have his removal deferred for 2 years and gain a work authorization through the Deferred Action policy announced on June 15th. Unfortunately, for the father who picked him up at the ICE office, there will be no choice but to leave the country next year if ICE cannot be persuaded to exercise prosecutorial discretion and close his case. The San Antonio Office of Chief Counsel has rejected our request (twice).
Deferred action for Luis will be bittersweet if his actions result in separation from his father. Luis has applied to Texas State Technical College in the fall and hopes to be able to study mechanics. Without Raul's financial and emotional support Luis will be working to survive and not to educate himself.
Raul has not been in Mexico since 1998. His life and family are here in Waco, Texas.
Please help us appeal to a higher authority and petition DHS and ICE to close Raul's case.
Washington Post by Eli Saslow
A Virginia teenager who was scheduled to be deported a few days after her high school graduation earned a last-minute reprieve Monday afternoon. Heydi Mejia, 18, and her mother, Dora Aldana, 40, were granted a one-year deferral by the Department of Homeland Security.
Mejia and Aldana, the subjects of a story in The Washington Post on Monday, were prepared to leave for Guatemala this week. Mejia was 4 when her mother brought her to the United States across the Rio Grande, and she graduated with honors from Meadowbrook High School in Richmond on Friday. She had planned to go to college, until immigration officials came to her family’s two-bedroom apartment in December, turning her senior year into a countdown to deportation.
The one-year reprieve allows her a chance to enroll in college and get a part-time job in cosmetology, as she had planned. Her attorney, Ricky Malik, has filed a motion with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to reopen her case, which could lead to a dismissal of the deportation order or a longer deferral.
“It has been an overwhelming week, for sure,” Mejia said Monday. “I’ve had every emotion, and now I just feel so relieved and so lucky.
Washington Post by Eli Saslow
A salutatorian from Texas was granted a last-minute reprieve after 2,000 people rallied on her behalf. A valedictorian in Miami avoided deportation in March by collecting 100,000 signatures and traveling to Washington for a news conference with a Republican congressman.
But what happens when you’re ranked No. 22 at a suburban high school outside Richmond, where politicians haven’t responded to your calls and school officials aren’t sure whether to spell your name Heydi or Heidi?
DREAMer Heydi Mejia is scheduled to be deported to Guatemala soon. Read her story in the Washington Post.
New York Times by Julia Preston
After seven months of an ambitious review by the Obama administration of all deportations before the nation’s immigration courts, very few of them have been halted, disappointing immigrants President Obama hopes to court for his re-election bid.
Under the review of more than 411,000 deportation cases, the first of its kind, fewer than 2 percent have been closed so far. The numbers fall far short of expectations raised among immigrants, including many Latinos, when top administration officials announced they would comb through backlogged court dockets to close cases where the immigrants had strong family ties to this country and no criminal records.
Department of Homeland Security officials say the review has been slowed by bureaucratic delays with criminal background checks of the immigrants. They said many thousands more deportations could be suspended in coming months.
Immigrant leaders and Democratic lawmakers said the review was faltering because the administration was offering too little help to too few immigrants who would qualify. Even when prosecutors close their cases, immigrants are left in legal limbo, without immigration status or authorization to work.
* * *
Homeland Security department officials said the new figures revealed a trend indicating that many fewer illegal immigrants who have families here and no criminal records will end up in immigration court in the future. In a little-noticed change of policy, they said, immigrants who apply through legal channels for immigration status and are denied will no longer be automatically placed in deportation. That change led to a sharp drop in new deportation cases this year.
New York Times Editorial
President Obama has been an overachiever on immigration enforcement, far outpacing his predecessor, George W. Bush, in swiftly racking up a million deportations. But on the other crucial part of reform — getting undocumented immigrants right with the law — Mr. Obama talks a lot but has done far too little.
We don’t minimize the political obstacles, although the president could certainly have pushed a lot harder. Congressional Republicans are determined to block the comprehensive immigration overhaul Mr. Obama promised for his first term. They have even blocked the Dream Act, which would legalize potentially hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people who were brought here as children and demonstrate their good citizenship by going to college or serving in the military.
There is one important thing Mr. Obama could do right now to give these young people hope: He could use his executive authority to halt deportations of those who would be eligible for the Dream Act.
Young immigrant advocates, through an inspiring series of protests, marches and other lobbying efforts, have built a strong case for both temporary protection and legalization. On May 28 they sent Mr. Obama a letter, signed by more than 90 immigration-law professors, explaining the ways he could grant these young people “administrative relief” while they wait for Congress to do the right thing.
The White House has been insisting that only Congress can pass the Dream Act, and that it can offer deportation relief only on a case-by-case basis. But the professors point persuasively to other presidents’ use of executive authority to protect groups for humanitarian reasons, as when Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton shielded Cubans and Haitians from deportation. The Obama administration has done so, with orphans after Haiti’s earthquake.
Mr. Obama’s reticence in the face of restrictionist fervor has preserved a dismal status quo. The Dream Act is one small measure of relief that most Americans would support and young immigrants need. Mr. Obama should do everything he can to protect these young people now.