For Immediate Release
September 29, 2011
Washington D.C. - Yesterday, Judge Sharon Blackburn failed to enjoin major portions of Alabama’s extreme anti-immigrant law, HB 56, leaving many dangerous sections open to implementation. Local police, for example, are required to act as federal immigration enforcement agents by demanding proof of legal status from anyone who appears to be foreign. Other provisions—that go further than Arizona’s law—insist public school administrators check the legal status of students and their parents and create confusing and burdensome new restrictions on contracts between the state government and immigrants and between private citizens and immigrants. It’s unclear how far the restrictions on contracts will go, but at a minimum they will limit access to housing and utilities for anyone who cannot produce the proper documentation.
Although supporters claim the law will solve the state’s economic problems and reduce crime, HB 56 will inflict greater economic damage to Alabama, costing the state millions to implement and defend. And the crime argument simply doesn't hold water. Since 1990, Alabama’s unauthorized population has risen from five thousand to 120 thousand. Yet the violent crime rate in the state has fallen by more than a third. Restrictive immigration laws have proven to reduce, not maximize, law enforcement effectiveness.
These kinds of laws also tend to have a chilling effect on state businesses that depend heavily on foreign talent and investments, such as Alabama’s automotive and emerging biotechnology and aerospace industries. The Korean automaker Hyundai, for example, has brought thousands of jobs to Montgomery. The German company ThyssenKrupp has built a $3.7 billion steel mill north of Mobile, Alabama, that will employ 2,700 workers when it is running at full capacity. HB 56 sends a clear and decidedly un-American message that many of these foreign workers who live and work in Alabama are illegal until proven legal; guilty until proven innocent.
Meanwhile, Alabama’s law enforcement agencies are struggling to fulfill current mandates in tough fiscal times. The additional burdens imposed by this law will hurt, not help, in fighting crime. Reports show the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office has already cut 20 percent or more of its budget this year, eliminating 145 deputy positions in order to make up the $3 million missing in this quarter's budget. According to Tuscaloosa (AL) Police Chief Steve Anderson, the new law will require officers to spend more time on basic traffic stops, not to mention potential court appearances, taking time away from solving real crimes and protecting communities.
Local schools and administrators will also have to bear the burden of enforcing Alabama’s draconian immigration law. The Principal of Crossville Elementary School in northeastern Alabama reportedly said, “We don’t have the personnel to do all the work that is needed to find out which parents are legal. That’s my biggest concern—putting it off on the schools to police illegal immigration. I don’t think school is the place to do that; we don’t have the resources.”
Alabama has just entered dangerous new territory and, in the process, dragged the rest of the country along for the ride. Those out-of-state politicians and organizations behind these state-level experiments with immigration policy will not lose anything more than a court battle. Sadly, it’s the people of Alabama—being used by anti-immigrant crusaders—who have the most to lose.
For a legal analysis of yeterday's court ruling see:
* What You Should Know About Initital Rulings on Alabama's Immigration Law (ImmigrationImpact.com, September 29, 2011)
For more information contact Wendy Sefsaf at email@example.com or 202-507-7524.
The Immigration Policy Center (IPC), established in 2003, is the policy arm of the American Immigration Council. IPC's mission is to shape a rational conversation on immigration and immigrant integration. Through its research and analysis, IPC provides policymakers, the media, and the general public with accurate information about the role of immigrants and immigration policy on U.S. society. IPC reports and materials are widely disseminated and relied upon by press and policy makers. IPC staff regularly serves as experts to leaders on Capitol Hill, opinion-makers and the media. IPC is a non-partisan organization that neither supports nor opposes any political party or candidate for office.
Division of the American Immigration Council.
August 27, 2011 - Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) Company is making final storm preparations to deal with the potential for significant equipment damage and extended customer outages as a result of Hurricane Irene.
"Our state has never before experienced a storm of this magnitude," said Ralph LaRossa, PSE&G president and COO. "PSE&G will have about 6,000 employees supporting the restoration effort, including 840 linemen and 540 tree contractors available to respond to outages once the hurricane pulls away. While our electric system has been recognized as the most reliable in the nation, we expect significant damage from the extraordinary wind and rain expected to pummel New Jersey this weekend. Full restoration could take between one and three weeks."
LaRossa added, "The safety of our customers and employees is first and foremost. We will begin restoring service as soon as conditions are safe to do so. We appreciate the patience and cooperation of our customers as we deal with what may be an unprecedented event."
In addition to widespread electric outages, PSE&G expects the heavy rain and predicted storm surge to result in gas outages. Water could enter the utility's gas distribution system, as well as flood customers' basements and gas appliances. Customers are reminded to call PSE&G to report gas odors, and contact their local fire department and municipal construction office to receive assistance in pumping the water out of their basements.
Electric crews work to restore power to the largest numbers of customers first, taking into account "priority" customers, such as hospitals, police stations, fire stations, water and sewer facilities, communications facilities (TV, radio, and telephone), and customers on life-sustaining medical equipment. At the same time, the utility restores power to homes and businesses, starting with the circuits serving the largest number of customers.
To report downed wires or power outages, customers should call PSE&G's Customer Service line at 1-800-436-PSEG. PSE&G uses an automated system to handle customer calls as efficiently as possible. Customers who get an automated response when calling PSE&G are encouraged to use it, as it is designed to route their calls to the right destination quickly. The system also provides the option to speak directly to a customer service representative. If you have specific information regarding damage to wires, transformers or poles, we ask that you speak with a representative to provide that information.
Customers with a handheld device, or who are at an alternate location with power, can also report power outages and view the status of their outage by logging in to My Account at pseg.com. General outage activity throughout our service territory is available online at www.pseg.com/outagecenter and updates are posted on pseg.com during severe weather.
If outages are widespread, the utility will activate its Twitter page to keep the public informed about our restoration progress. Sign up as a follower at http://twitter.com/psegoutageinfo to monitor restoration progress.
PSE&G offers the following important information for customers:
DOWNED POWER LINES
Heavy rain and strong winds can cause power lines to come down. Downed wires may appear dead but should always be considered "live." STAY AWAY FROM ALL DOWNED LINES . Do not approach or drive over a downed line and do not touch anything that it might be in contact with. Parents are urged to check for downed wires in areas where their children might play and to remind the children to stay far away from any wires. If a wire falls on a vehicle, passengers should stay in the vehicle until help arrives. To report a downed wire, call 1-800-436-PSEG and tell PSE&G the nearest cross street.
CUSTOMERS WITH LIFE-SUSTAINING EQUIPMENT
Individuals who rely on electricity to operate life-sustaining electronic equipment, such as a respirator or dialysis machine, should pre-register with PSE&G to receive priority attention in the event of an outage. To request the service, call PSE&G at 1-800-436-PSEG. They should also inform their rescue squads and fire departments of their needs, in case of emergency. Even though customers with life-sustaining equipment who have registered with PSE&G will receive priority attention during outages, they should also have emergency back-up equipment on hand, since immediate restoration cannot be guaranteed.
IF YOU LOSE POWER
First check your neighborhood. If you are the only one without power, check your fuse box for tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses. If that's not the problem, look outside at the wire between your house and the utility pole. If it is down, report it immediately to PSE&G.
If you lose power:
KEEP REFRIGERATOR AND FREEZER DOORS CLOSED. Food will stay frozen between 36 and 48 hours in a fully loaded freezer (24 hours in a half-full freezer).
Know how to open your garage door without the electric opener.
Remember, electric well and sump pumps will not operate.
Unplug all motor-driven appliances like refrigerators and freezers and sensitive electronic equipment (like TVs, microwaves and computers) to prevent a possible electrical overload when power is restored.
Leave one light switch on to indicate when power is restored.
IF YOU USE A PORTABLE ELECTRIC GENERATOR, CAREFULLY READ AND FOLLOW THE MANUAL THAT CAME WITH IT. Be sure your generator is UL-approved, installed by a licensed electrician and inspected by your local electrical inspector. There must be a way to physically disconnect your generator from utility lines. Customers who improperly install, operate or maintain a generator are responsible for any injury or damage suffered by themselves, their neighbors or utility workers.
Flooded basements can pose a genuine safety risk. Below are some steps you can take to help ensure your safety in the event of flooding:
Be cautious in flooded basements.
If customers lose electricity and their basement is flooded, notify PSE&G (1-800-436-7734) and call the local fire department to have the basement pumped. Stay away from the breaker box if it's in a flooded basement. And don't go into a flooded basement if energized wires are present.
If water is rising to the height of any gas appliance, the gas supply to the appliance should be turned off. If customers are unable to do so, please contact PSE&G or your local police or fire department for assistance. To restore gas service to appliances call PSE&G (1-800-436-7734) and have the appliances checked for safety and restored to proper operation.
Customers should call PSE&G (1-800-436-7734) immediately if they smell gas.
Mother Nature can be unpredictable. It's wise to have an emergency kit on hand year round. Here are some things to include:
A battery-powered radio.
A corded telephone (cordless phones will not work if the power is out)
Flashlights and extra fresh batteries.
A first-aid kit.
Bottled water and an adequate supply of non-perishable food.
A non-electric can opener.
Matches and candles with holders.
Extra blankets and sleeping bags.
A list of emergency phone numbers, including PSE&G's Customer Service line: 1-800-436-PSEG. Call this number to report power outages or downed wires.
The president-elect of Brazil had details of her health status investigated by the U.S. embassy in mid-2009, when she was suffering from lymphatic cancer.
Dilma Vana Rousseff, former chief of staff to President Lula and his hand-picked successor, won the presidential election earlier this year. She is slated to take over the presidency on January 1, 2011.
A socialist during her youth, Rousseff was deeply involved in the struggle against the military dictatorship following the 1964 coup d’état, although she denies being involved in any armed activities at the time. Rousseff was jailed and tortured between 1970 and 1972.
WikiLeaks documents published today show how closely the U.S. embassy followed the trajectory of Dilma and the Brazilian electoral process - which Hillary Clinton. U.S Secretary of State, described as "Byzantine."
The documents also reveal that former U.S. ambassador in Brasilia, John Danilovich, alleged that Rousseff "organized three bank robberies" when she was a member of the organization VAR-Palmares.
Rousseff began to draw the attention of the embassy when she took over as Lula’s chief of staff. A special report about her was drawn up and dispatched to Washington on May 22, 2005. Although "unclassified" the diplomatic cable raises a number of sensitive issues as well as makes some gaffes. One of the messages is titled: "((Joan of Arc of Subversion becomes Chief of Staff))" - in a reference to her prison nickname.
In the memo signed by U.S. ambassador John Danilovich, the diplomatic staff dredge up several allegations about Rousseff’s past: "Joining various underground groups, she organized three bank robberies and then co-founded the guerilla group "Armed Revolutionary Vanguard of Palmares". In 1969, she planned a legendary robbery popularized as the "Theft of Adhemar’s Safe". The operation broke into the Rio apartment of the lover of former-Sao Paulo Governor Adhemar de Barros, netting US$2.5 million that Adhemar had stashed there. Rousseff separated from her first husband, Claudio Linhares, who in January 1970 hijacked a plane to Cuba and remained there."
The embassy fails to note that Dilma has consistently denied any involvement in armed activities. But the cable does mention that Rousseff was in prison for more than three years and endured "22 days of brutal electro-shock torture."
Oddly, the diplomatic cable follows up these allegations with personal details that could have come straight out of a celebrity magazine: "She has a daughter, Paula, in Porto Alegre, where she spends her weekends. She enjoys movies and classical music. She has lost weight recently, reportedly after adopting President Lula’s diet."
The document also notes that Dilma "has a reputation as being stubborn, a tough negotiator, and detail-oriented" and reveals that U.S. companies were worried when she became Minister of Mines and Energy, but "now admit that she has done a competent job. In particular, they praise her for her willingness to listen and respond to their views, even when she is inclined to a different conclusion."
In another report, sent on June 19, 2009, titled: "How Sick is Dilma Rousseff?" U.S. ambassador Clifford Sobel reports to Washington on conversations about the health of the future president, including details of lymphatic cancer that she was suffering from: "She had lymph nodes under her left arm removed and began what was originally scheduled as a four month program of chemotherapy in April."
"By early June she had completed three chemotherapy sessions. In a June 18 meeting with a Washington visitor (septel), Rousseff looked well with good natural color and light make-up, and a top aide told the Ambassador that Rousseff was responding so well to chemotherapy that her sessions would be reduced from six to four, ending in late June.
Sobel writes: "Some analysts have noted that a "victory" over cancer will play in her favor and foster an image of her as a fighter and winner" noting that "Her doctors stated that her cancer was caught early and she has a 90 percent chance of a full recovery."
Sobel also speculates on the consequences of Roussef taking a turn for the worse. "Several possible scenarios could emerge from Dilma’s cancer. In one scenario, she and the PT inner circle might already know that she is much sicker than publicly revealed and too sick to be the candidate. In another, she might be well enough now to become the candidate but later be weakened by the illness and unable to campaign effectively."
"There is still a ten percent chance that Rousseff will face this scenario," Sobel writes, concluding that if that happens: "(I)t would probably mean the loss of the presidency for the Workers’ Party in 2010."
Reports submitted by the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia on the elections were deeply appreciated in Washingon. In a cable dated April 23, 2009, Clinton thanks Dale Prince, U.S. embassy officer for political affairs, for his "unique insights" into Brazil’s "Byzantine" electoral system. Clinton noted that this information was used in meetings for briefings with senior U.S. government, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Original link: http://wikileaks.org/What-the-US-thinks-of-Dilma.html
NEW YORK - Three alleged members of an international alien smuggling scheme were charged Tuesday with smuggling hundreds of aliens from China into the United States. The charges stem from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
HSI agents arrested Hak Tung Lam, 44, of Flushing, N.Y., Wen Wo Lam, 43, of Staten Island, N.Y., and Ying Yang, 30, of Flushing, for allegedly participating in smuggling more than 450 aliens into the United States. Hak Tung Lam, an immigration attorney who practiced in Manhattan, Wen Wo Lam, and Ying Yang allegedly served as legal advisors to alien smugglers by recommending ports of entry, advising on methods of avoiding detection, filing false immigration documents, and obtaining the release of detained aliens through fraud.
"As an officer of the court, Hak Tung Lam swore to uphold the laws and constitution of the United States. Instead, he used his training and education to allegedly perpetrate one of the most wide-ranging criminal fraud schemes that this office has ever investigated solely for his personal financial gain," said James T. Hayes, Jr., special agent in charge of HSI in New York. "HSI will continue to pursue those individuals who seek to take advantage of this country's legal immigration system for their own benefit and at the expense of others."
"For Hak Tung Lam, zealous representation of his clients - a group of international alien smugglers - allegedly meant assisting them in breaking the law," said Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney, Southern District of New York. "He and his co-defendants were allegedly responsible for facilitating a smuggling operation that brought hundreds of illegal aliens into this country and for preserving their phony legal status once they arrived. The profits were big, but the price they will now pay, if convicted, is much higher."
According to court documents, from October 2006 to February 2009, Hak Tung Lam worked with others to smuggle approximately 468 Chinese nationals into the United States. During that time, Lam provided legal and logistical advice to alien smugglers and made false immigration filings on behalf of the smuggled aliens. He earned close to $1 million for his participation in this smuggling ring. Earlier this summer, Lam was caught in an HSI undercover operation, providing advice and making false filings for an individual working for HSI whom Lam believed was in the business of alien smuggling. Wen Wo Lam and Ying Yang assisted Lam by, among other things, providing advice, collecting money, and coaching the aliens on what lies to include in their immigration filings.
Hak Tung Lam, Wen Wo Lam, and Ying Yang, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit alien smuggling. Hak Tung Lam is also charged with one count of alien smuggling. On the conspiracy count, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. On the substantive count, Hak Tung Lam faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security.
ICE is a 21st century law enforcement agency with broad responsibilities for a number of key homeland security priorities. For more information, visit www.ICE.gov. To report suspicious activity, call 1-866-347-2423.
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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
This year's Brazilian Day San Diego will once again take place in Pacific Beach (between Bayard Street and Everts Street) and is schedule for September 18th from 11a.m. to 7p.m.
PARADE & PERFORMANCE
The parade is a cultural extravaganza filled with contagious rhythms and exotic costumes. Various Brazilian and multicultural dance groups are accompanied by lively percussion bands and colorful floats. Music ensembles from Brazil will perform Bossa Nova, Samba, Forro, Axe, and Batucada. Performances of Brazilian and culturally diverse dance and art forms are sure to keep the audience moving to the beat.
A Brazilian Cultural Extravaganza
Free admission, Family Oriented, Non-alcoholic. Two stages with over 40 performances. Carnival parade featuring over 20 parade groups and floats, including Brazilian percussion groups, samba dancers groups, capoeira, community groups, and corporate groups. Produced by Capoeira Institute, Inc., a Non-Profit organization.
FLAVORS OF BRAZIL
Enjoy an array of traditional cuisine including Brazilian barbecue, feijoada and pastel. Also, taste the culinary favorites of Latin America, Asia, Europe and more. Vendors display authentic Brazilian and multicultural arts, crafts, jewelry, Souvenirs and clothing.
To ensure that the event will be a blast for the entire family, we will have a fun children's area with carnival rides, inflatable jumps, ballon artists, face painters and other entertainers.
Sponsor: CAPOEIRA INSTITUTE, INC.
Brazilian Day San Diego, is the largest fundraiser for Capoeira Institute, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides outreach programs for underprivileged children and teens. Its focus is to educate the community in Brazilian culture and Fine Arts, such as capoeira, samba, Afro-Brazilian dance and percussion.
The Amazonia Harvest Foundation is a Philanthropic Nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life of underprivileged populations of the Brazilian Amazon through focused sustainable harvest and micro-business initiatives that help create jobs and protect the Amazon Rainforest.
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August 18, 2011
Washington D.C. - Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would put guidelines in place across all immigration agencies to ensure that its enforcement priorities are focused on removing persons who are most dangerous to the country.
In a letter to Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and other senators who had requested that DHS consider deferring the removal of all DREAM Act eligible students, DHS announced that it would not categorically defer removal, but that persons who were not high priority targets for removal would have the opportunity to request prosecutorial discretion on a case by case basis. Low priority cases—previously identified in a prosecutorial discretion memo issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton on June 17—include persons who are not criminals and have been in the country since childhood, have strong community ties, are veterans or relatives of persons in the armed services, are caregivers, have serious health issues, are victims of crime or otherwise have a strong basis for remaining in the United States.
DHS announced the creation of a joint committee with the Department of Justice that will review nearly 300,000 cases currently in removal proceedings and determine which cases are low priority and can be administratively closed. In addition, agency-wide guidance will be issued to ICE, USCIS and CBP officers to ensure that they appropriately exercise discretion when determining whether a low priority case should be referred to immigration court.
Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center, stated:
The American Immigration Council welcomes DHS’s announcement today that it will attempt to put muscle behind new guidelines on prosecutorial discretion. We have long advocated for using the tools of the executive branch to do effective immigration enforcement that does not cripple families and our economy. The creation of an interagency working group and the expansion of prosecutorial discretion guidance is a critical step toward slowing down the deportation of immigrants who have so much to give to this country. However, only comprehensive immigration reform can permanently address the problems of our immigration system.
According to Melissa Crow, Director of the Legal Action Center:
Today’s announcement clearly indicates the Obama Administration’s commitment to implementing the expansive use of prosecutorial discretion authorized by the June 17th Morton Memo. As we closely monitor how these new announcements are implemented, DREAM students, military families, victims of crime, and many other individuals who pose no threat to public safety may receive a reprieve from removal. We hope that the forthcoming guidance will help to ensure that DHS field offices across the country use their enforcement resources in a way that meaningfully advances the agency’s priorities and prevents low priority cases from continuing to clog the court system.
For more information, please contact Seth Hoy at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 507-7509
For Immediate Release
August 19, 2011
Washington D.C.–Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that they are taking concrete steps to implement existing guidelines on prosecutorial discretion across the agency in an attempt to provide relief for low priority immigration cases. DHS also announced the creation of a committee which will review 300,000 immigration cases currently in removal proceedings to determine which cases are low priority and can be administratively closed. One of the factors in determining low priority cases is family relationships and community ties—factors the Administration said yesterday may apply to gay and lesbian families.
There are currently 36,000 same-sex bi-national couples in the United States, many of whom are routinely denied applications for lawful permanent residence and other relief from deportation due to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Enacted in 1996, DOMA prevents the federal government—including DHS—from recognizing marriages or civil unions of same-sex couples for purposes of receiving federal benefits. Although the Administration determined that parts of DOMA were unconstitutional, DHS is still denying immigration benefits to same-sex spouses of bi-national couples.
DHS’s recent announcement, however, suggests that the guidelines on prosecutorial discretion may provide temporary relief to gay and lesbian bi-national couples. On a conference call hosted by the American Immigration Council yesterday, a panel of experts discussed how the new policy may help gay and lesbian bi-national couples:
Mary Kenney, Senior Staff Attorney with the Council’s Legal Action Center, said:
"Immigration officers currently have the authority to exercise prosecutorial discretion, which essentially means that they have the authority to decide not to fully enforce immigration laws against an individual who is deserving of some relief but is not able to get it under any other law.
After DHS’s announcement, we’re really encouraged and hopeful [the guidelines] will provide relief to an even greater number of people than have previously received that relief. While it’s not a solution to the problems and the severe discrimination that DOMA has inflicted, it will hopefully set up a system for a much more comprehensive review of all cases which will give individuals an opportunity to really benefit on a much more systematic, equal playing field.”
Victoria Neilson, Legal Director for Immigration Equality, said:
"Immigration Equality, the American Immigration Council, and many senators and congress members have called upon the Administration to hold green card applications of gay and lesbian bi-national spouses in abeyance. As an agency, they have the authority to simply hold these applications and wait for the resolution of DOMA. Although the Administration said they will not do that, we’re continuing to push for that so gay and lesbian bi-national families will have a resolution for their situation."
Erwin de Leon, a Filipino native, Ph.D. candidate and spouse in a same-sex marriage, said:
"If it weren’t for DOMA and if my marriage was recognized by the federal government, [my husband] would have sponsored me and I would have my green card by now. As much as we consider America our home—our families are here, we realize that we may very well have to leave for Canada or some other country that would welcome us and would want us. And that means separation from our families, our communities, our church families. It also means that the U.S. loses two individuals who love this country a whole lot and have so much to give back. While DHS's announcements are encouraging, we need better laws that don't separate families and communities."
For more information on Immigration and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), read:
* Immigration and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): A Q&A Fact Check (August 2011)
For more resources on prosecutorial discretion, read:
For more information, please contact Seth Hoy at email@example.com or (202) 507-5709
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ocean Coast Cruises/Cruiseplanners is a premier agency that provides the total travel experience. Our experience for quality, service and highly competitive pricing for all ensures success for all your travel needs.
Ocean Coast Cruises/ Cruise Planners is a licensed, bonded and insured agency. We are members of CLIA(Cruise Line International Association). Our goal is to work extremely hard for our clients to ensure that your needs and experiences are met and that we exceed your expectations. We will design and build any vacation package request. We offer: Ocean Cruises, River Cruises, Land Packages/Hotels, Luxury Packages, Honemoon/Wedding Packages, Golf & Tennis Cruises, Corporate Reward Vacations and Church/Synagogue Cruises.
Cruising is the complete value package. With the addition of newer and more modern ships being introduced by the cruise lines each year, now is the time to schedule your dream vacation.
Ocean Coast Cruises/Cruise Planners is located in the New York City area and services the entire United States of America. Visit www.oceancoastcruises.com and see all the products and services available. Whether you are planning your first trip or are a seasoned traveler, OceanCoast Cruises/ Cruise Planners can help.
Our staff speaks Portuguese and Spanish.
Ocean Coast Cruises/Cruise Planners
31-12 45th Street, Suite 4 Astoria, NY 11103
Fax – 347-808-7100
Toll Free- 800-468-9010
Contact: Leia Kotick
Office: Toll Free 800-468-9010
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For Immediate Release
July 18, 2011
Washington D.C. - It has long been the case that those responsible for carrying out and enforcing our nation's laws do so with a measure of discretion and proportionality. Every day, law enforcement officials and judges exercise discretion in charging and sentencing decisions, weighing differing priorities and social values, and matching punishments with crimes. Consequently, minors are treated differently in the criminal system, and traffic violators and murderers receive different punishments. The use of judgment and proportionality is so ingrained in our legal system—with the exception of immigration law—that we take it for granted. Today, the need for discretion and proportionality is needed more than ever in our antiquated and over-burdened immigration system to ensure that the government spends its limited resources on high priority cases, and that immigrants who have a strong case for remaining in the U.S. are able to do so if current law provides for an avenue of relief.
To that end, a wide range of organizations, including the American Immigration Council, have been asking the Obama Administration to use its executive authority to exercise discretion in the immigration context. In June, Director John Morton of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a memo outlining new guidance on the use of prosecutorial discretion in a wide range of circumstances. The memo signals a greater commitment to using limited resources to enforce immigration law with an understanding of the need for measured action and fairness in the immigration context.
Unfortunately, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith has decided that the long accepted ideals of discretion and proportionality should not apply to immigration. Smith has introduced the “Hinder the Administration’s Legal Immigration Temptation Act” (HALT) of 2011, which attempts to invalidate the long tradition and legal authority of the executive branch to use its discretion and other powers to improve and implement laws. Apparently Smith believes a different administration will be worthy of such discretion because the bill would sunset on January 21, 2013—the day after the next inauguration. The HALT Act goes beyond limiting prosecutorial discretion and seeks to suspend long respected forms of immigration relief including Temporary Protected Status (TPS) (which was granted to Haitians after the recent devastating earthquakes) and family unity waivers (such as those that allow U.S. citizen military members to reunite with their undocumented spouses).
What’s most disappointing is that Chairman Smith has advocated for the use of prosecutorial discretion in the past. The New York Times recently noted:
Back in 1999, Mr. Smith was one of several members of Congress who wrote the attorney general and the head of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, arguing that ‘unfair’ deportations had caused ‘unjustifiable hardship’ for otherwise law-abiding immigrants who had jobs and families and close citizen relatives. ‘True hardship cases call for the exercise of discretion,’ the letter said.
Why the change in heart? Only Mr. Smith can answer that. However, as it becomes increasingly clear that large numbers of people are no longer migrating to the U.S., our focus must turn to those who are living, working, and raising families in America. The Administration's understaning that immigration agencies need to prioritize enforcement activities and exercise discretion when considering deportation should be encourage by Congress and the public.
For more information contact Wendy Sefsaf at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-507-7524.