FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Class Action Lawsuit against L.A. Fitness over Unfair Cancellation Charges to Go Forward:
Judge Denies L.A. Fitness’s Motion to Dismiss.
September 4, 2012 - Today, Senior Judge William H. Walls of the United States District Court in Newark issued an order denying L.A. Fitness’smotion to dismiss Martina, et al. v. L.A. Fitness, a putative class action lawsuit charging that the company's cancellation policiesare designed to induce gym members to pay dues for additional months after notifying the company of their wish to cancel their memberships. The lawsuit alleges that L.A. Fitness violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act, by adopting a cancellation policy that requires gym members to cancel services at least 30 days prior to the next billing cycle, does not permit in-person or telephone cancellations, and requires prepayment of the last months’ membership.
Judge Walls ruled that the L.A. Fitness’s policies alleged in the complaint could constitute “unconscionable commercial practices” prohibited by the Consumer Fraud Act, noting that“[t]he cancellation policy contains an extra month’s cost that may catch many consumers off guard at the end of their membership.” Judge Walls also noted that L.A. Fitness’s policies of accepting cancellations only by mail “fall[s] short of good faith: members cannot terminate membership by phone, online, or even in person at the very location where they joined… In this day and age, narrowly restricting the mode of cancellation in such a manner suggests an intent to place barriers in the process.”
The lawsuit was filed in February by the Wolf Law Firm, LLC of North Brunswick on behalf of the plaintiff, Sophia Martina and all other New Jersey consumers who have been subject to L.A. Fitness’s cancellation policies. The complaint asserts that those polices violate the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and Truth in Consumer Contract, Notice and Warranty Act, and seeks monetary damages under those statutes for all effected New Jersey consumers. The complaint also seeks an injunction that would prohibit L.A. Fitness from continuing its unlawful cancellation fee policies in New Jersey.
The Wolf Law Firm, LLC
1520 U.S. Hwy 130, Suite 101
North Brunswick, NJ 08904
By Letisia Marquez
Beneficiaries of the DREAM Act, a bill that would grant certain undocumented students and military service members permanent residency in the U.S. and provide a path to citizenship, could contribute trillions to the nation's economy over the next four decades, according to a new study by researchers at UCLA's North American Integration and Development Center.
The study estimates that if 825,000 undocumented youths obtain legal status under the legislation, they would generate $1.4 trillion in income over a 40-year period. If 2.1 million undocumented immigrants become legalized, they would contribute $3.6 trillion in income to the economy over the same period.
"No DREAMers Left Behind: The Economic Potential of DREAM Act Beneficiaries" uses data from an earlier report by the nonprofit Migration Policy Institute, which estimated that 825,000 undocumented youths were very likely to meet all the bill's requirements, which include stipulations that undocumented immigrants must have attended college or served in the military for a minimum of two years while maintaining good moral character.
Two million undocumented immigrants who are between the ages of 18 and 34 could eventually become eligible for the DREAM Act.
"This analysis shows that it is clearly in the nation's interest to enhance the possibilities that as many youth as possible take advantage of the DREAM Act and thus increase the potential benefit to the overall economy," the study's authors write.
"DREAMers make up a highly educated and potentially high-income earning group that can contribute billions of dollars to the U.S. economy across diverse industries," they add.
The report was authored by Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, the center's director and an associate professor of Chicano studies at UCLA; Paule Cruz Takash, the center's research director; and a group of undergraduate students and one alumna.
The full study can be found at
Less than two weeks ago, idreamact.com opened its web site to provide up to date information and news about Obama’s “Dream Act.” All those that register receives, for free, updates and news about the dream act program as the Department of Homeland Security announces it.
What makes the site most attractive to all dreamers is the automated form preparation system which creates a PDF file complete with all the forms required as well as detailed instructions for each applicant to follow. After the final regulations are announced, each registered dreamer, will be given the opportunity to use the form processing service. When the Dream Act application package is filed with the immigration service the filing fee must be attached. The final package includes a cover letter to the Service detailing everything that is included. It will come with appropriate mailing labels. Every idreamact member will file their own application complete with proof of their eligibility.
After filing, a filing fee receipt and a notice for fingerprints will be sent to you. It includes the date for fingerprinting. In a few months you will receive an employment authorization documents. You may or may not receive a notice for an interview.
From the moment the announcement was made, dreamers began to register at the rate of 2 or 3 per minute.
Brazilian web designer, Joa Vianna, the creator of the award winning video sharing site, vejatv.com, designed the site and its database. But a non-lawyer could not have properly designed a site involving law; it needed the supervision and instruction of an experienced immigration attorney.
Joao Vianna teamed up with immigration attorney Moses Apsan, who wrote the copy for the site and was fundamental in designing the forms processing system. Brazilian born Moses Apsan emigrated from Brazil when he was seven and is the past president of the Federal Bar Association (New Jersey Chapter from 1997 to 2002) with over 28 years of experience in all aspects of U.S. Immigration & Citizenship Laws.
Jornal.us contacted attorney Apsan and asked what was his intent in creating this web site. It’s evident that many cannot afford the fees charged by attorneys and turn to non licensed people and organizations that offer assistance in the preparation of these legal documents. He commented as follows: “ During the term of my practice many clients complained of bad experiences with Notarios and Immigration Consultants. It's not that people involved in these business are inherently bad or evil, but most form preparers have none or limited knowledge of the immigration laws and its subtleties. Yes, anyone can fill out some forms, but do they understand the underlying reason for the questions asked? Can they see potential legal problems and warn the client of the consequences or know how to correct the problem? The answer is simply, no! An application for benefits under the new rule must be carefully prepared. Some errors can be corrected, but others can never be taken back. idreamact was designed to protect the applicants from making a mistake that could extend the time to complete the process. Whether or not a Dreamer joins the idreamact.com site, they must carefully chose their form preparer. Make sure that the one you chose is a licensed lawyer or registered non-profit agency."
According to Joao Vianna, "The intitial registration verifies if you are potentially qualified to register with the new regulation. applicant are able review their application and modify it as necessary. Only when the forms are completed correctly and reviewed by the applicant, will the program permit the forms to be printed."
For more information go to: iDreamAct.com and apsanlaw.com
For Immediate Release
Chicken Little in the Voting Booth
The Non-Existent Problem of Non-Citizen “Voter Fraud”
July 13, 2012
Washington, D.C. – Without much evidence to support their claim, legislators across the country have introduced a string of restrictive voter ID laws with the intention of curbing “voter fraud.” The only problem is that there is no problem. Election experts agree that modern-day voter fraud is a very rare occurrence in the U.S., leaving many to speculate that supporters of these restrictive laws are using “voter fraud” legislation to disenfranchise large groups of voters—i.e. racial minorities, immigrants, and low-income voters—who may vote for the “wrong” candidate.
Today, the Immigration Policy Center releases an updated Fact Check that dispels the myth of voter fraud and provides much-needed context to this “solution in search of a problem”:
To read the Fact Check in its entirety, see:
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.
For Immediate Release
July 11, 2012 - BRASILIA, Brazil - Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner David V. Aguilar and Assistant Secretary for International Affairs Alan Bersin today traveled to Brazil where they met with international counterparts to discuss joint efforts to combat human trafficking, enhance aviation and global supply chain security, and facilitate legitimate trade and travel.
"Brazil is one of the United States' most steadfast allies and partners when it comes to protecting our hemisphere from evolving threats," said Secretary Napolitano. "We're pleased to be working with our Brazilian counterparts on efforts to both ensure national security and facilitate economic security."
In Brasilia, Secretary Napolitano participated in a signing of a Joint Statement on Global Supply Chain Security with Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega and Director of Customs Carlos Alberto Freitas Barreto; an agreement on combating human trafficking with President of the Brazilian Supreme Federal Court and Chief Justice Carlos Ayres Britto; a Statement of Intent to establish a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) Working Group with Foreign Minister Antonio de Aguiar Patriota; and an Joint Statement of Intent on Civil Aviation Security with Minister of Civil Aviation Wagner Bittencourt.
Foreign visitors to the U.S. spent more than $150 billion in 2011 on travel and tourism-related goods and services. VWP facilitates this trade and travel, enabling nationals of 36 participating countries to travel to the U.S. for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.
During the meetings, Secretary Napolitano underscored DHS' commitment to ensuring a safer, more secure, and more resilient global supply chain. The international community has made significant progress in protecting the global supply chain through Program Global Shield, which was launched in 2011 in collaboration with the World Customs Organization, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and Interpol. As part of Program Global Shield, 90 participating nations and international organizations—including Brazil—share information in an unprecedented law enforcement effort aimed at combating the theft or illegal diversion of chemicals that can be used to make Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). As of July 2012, Program Global Shield has accounted for 41 seizures of chemical precursors totaling more than 126 metric tons related to the illicit diversion of these chemicals.
Later, in São Paulo, Brazil, Secretary Napolitano will meet with the Council of Americas, American Chamber of Commerce and other local officials before traveling to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on July 12-13 to meet with President Leonel Fernandez and Dominican officials to discuss law enforcement cooperation and ongoing efforts to combat illicit trafficking. Secretary Napolitano will later travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico on July 13, and meet with Governor Luis Fortuño, Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, and DHS officials stationed in Puerto Rico.
DHS Press Office
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 12, 2012 - The iDreamAct.com website announced today that anyone interested in receiving up to date information on the recent announcement by the Obama administration for their simplified version of the Dream Act will be able to register on their site.
On Friday June 16, 2012 President Obama’s administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children with no criminal record.
It was also announced today that the site has developed an online forms preparation system that will assist any qualified individual to prepare and file their application.
Qualified individuals will be offered the benefit of using a lawyer or do-it-yourself without a lawyer. The cost for both services will be announced as soon as the final regulation has been established.
The webmaster of this site Moses Apsan, an immigration attorney with over 28 years of experience commented that "There are many young people that cannot afford the benefit of hiring a law firm and instead turn to unscrupulous unlicensed notarios or immigration consultants which in many cases create problems for the applicants. It is my concept that instead of turning to these non licensed individual, any qualified applicant will be able to process their case simply and easily by using the idreamact.com website without the cost of hiring a lawyer. If they prefer to have a lawfirm represent them they have that option."
Benefits of Registering with idreamact.com
1. You will receive updates of all the latest news and information;
2. As soon as the final rules are available you will be informed;
3. You will be able to prepare all the forms necessary for for filing right on this site;
4. You will be able to use our law firm to process your case or;
5. You will be able to prepare the forms and receive the instructions on how to file and process your case without a lawyer.
File the Dream Act application with a lawyer or do-it-yourself (DIY or prose). Your choice. You will be informed of all the cost involved as soon as the final rules are available.
For more information go to idreamact.com or apsanlaw.com.
Posted by Alejandro Mayorkas, Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
July 3, 2012 - Every day, USCIS receives thousands of paper applications for immigration benefits - more than 6 million each year. For generations, we have received, reviewed, shipped, and stored paper applications and files throughout our agency. This paper-based process consumes a great deal of resources and employee time.
USCIS, the world’s largest immigration benefits agency, reached a significant milestone on May 22, 2012 with the launch of our new electronic immigration system, USCIS ELIS. USCIS ELIS allows applicants and their attorneys and accredited representatives to create an online account and submit and track their immigration benefit requests 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Currently, individuals applying to change or extend their nonimmigrant status, Form I-539, can use the system. We will roll out additional form types and functions over time until all USCIS applications and petitions can be processed through the system. USCIS ELIS also has enhanced tools to combat fraud and safeguard national security.
Not long ago, we received our 1,000th electronically-filed application through USCIS ELIS. We have also seen a commensurate drop in the number of paper Form I-539 applications submitted since the system’s launch. USCIS ELIS has already delivered for our early users the timeliness, convenience, and added security of a more modern immigration system.
While its use is not mandatory, I encourage all individuals who are eligible to file Form I-539 to use USCIS ELIS. We continue to build this system for our customers, our dedicated workforce, and our federal partners. Your feedback is important as we prepare future releases of USCIS ELIS to meet your needs today and into the future. Please visit the USCIS ELIS Web page to learn more about USCIS ELIS and its benefits, and please share your user story with us here in our comments section or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to your comments as we continue to modernize our agency.
July 3, 2012
USCIS to Welcome More Than 4,000 New Citizens
WASHINGTON— U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will commemorate America’s 236th birthday by welcoming more than 4,000 new citizens during special naturalization ceremonies held from June 28 through July 10 across the United States and overseas.
View a list of 2012 Independence Day naturalization ceremonies within the News section of our website.
For Immediate Release
June 30, 2012
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
FACT SHEET: The Affordable Care Act: Secure Health Coverage for the Middle Class
The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act ensures hard-working, middle class families will get the security they deserve and protects every American from the worst insurance company abuses. This law was also specifically designed to give States the resources and flexibility they need to tailor their approach to their unique needs. With the uncertainty about the Court’s decision behind us, it’s now time to focus on implementing this law in a smart and non-bureaucratic way that works for the middle class.
Benefits and Protections for the Middle Class: The Affordable Care Act includes numerous provisions to keep health care costs low, promote prevention, and hold insurance companies accountable. If you’re one of the 250 million Americans who already have health care – whether through private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid – the Affordable Care Act is already making your coverage more secure.
If you are one of the 30 million Americans who don’t yet have health insurance, starting in 2014 this law will offer you an array of quality, affordable, private health insurance plans to choose from. If you need care, you will finally have the same opportunity to get quality, affordable coverage as everyone else.
Coverage for Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions: A major impact of the Court's decision is that 129 million people with pre-existing conditions will have the security of affordable health coverage. Starting in 2014, insurance companies can no longer charge you more, carve out benefits, or deny you coverage altogether because you have cancer or diabetes or simply because you are a woman. To make these protections affordable, people with and without pre-existing conditions should be insured, since everyone at some time needs health care.
Tax Credits for Middle Class Families and Small Businesses: Millions of Americans will soon be eligible for tax credits to ensure that their health insurance is affordable. Under today’s ruling, having health insurance is and will continue to be a choice. If you can’t afford insurance or you’re a small business that wants to provide affordable insurance to your employees, you’ll get tax credits that make coverage affordable. But starting in 2014, if you can afford insurance and you choose not to purchase it, the taxpayers will no longer subsidize your care for free. The Court’s ruling today allows Congress to hold the projected 1% of Americans who will be able to afford health insurance but will choose not to buy it responsible for that choice. Many small businesses are already receiving tax credits so they can afford to offer quality health care to their employees. To date, 360,000 businesses that employ 2 million workers have already benefitted from the small business tax cuts in the law. And once the Affordable Care Act takes full effect, about 18 million individuals and families will get tax credits for health insurance coverage averaging about $4,000 apiece.
Support for State Implementation of Affordable Insurance Exchanges: With the uncertainty of the Court decision behind us, we will step up our work with States to implement Affordable Insurance Exchanges. Exchanges are new marketplaces, starting in 2014, that will allow individuals and small businesses to compare and choose private health plans. Each State will take the lead in designing its own menu of options. Already, 34 States including the District of Columbia have received 100 percent Federally funded grants to build Exchanges. The use of Exchange grants includes support for activities related to running Exchanges in their start-up year.
States can also implement their own brand of reform through Innovation Waivers starting in 2017. If States can come up with even better ways of covering people at the same quality and low cost, this law allows them to do so. The Administration supports bipartisan legislation to allow States to start such Waivers in 2014.
Moving Forward, Not Back: No political party has a monopoly on good ideas, and the President will work with anyone to provide basic security for middle class families and end the worst insurance company abuses. But rather than refight old partisan battles by starting over on health care and repealing basic protections that provide security for the middle class, Congress needs to work together to focus on the economy and creating jobs. Right now, Congress should act on the President’s concrete plans to create an economy built to last by reducing the deficit in a balanced way and investing in education, clean energy, infrastructure, and innovation.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PHOENIX – A Brazilian woman wanted in her native country as a suspect in a child trafficking investigation was deported and turned over to Brazilian federal police Wednesday by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Phoenix.
Vania Maria Plasse, 47, of Governador Valaderes, Brazil, was repatriated to Brazil aboard a commercial aircraft under escort by ERO agents. Plasse, who was previously held in immigration detention in Arizona, was turned over to Brazilian authorities at Guarulhos International Airport in Sao Paulo Wednesday morning. She is charged in a criminal arrest warrant issued in April 2011 by a Brazilian federal judge related to a child trafficking investigation.
"Plasse's return to Brazil to face criminal charges is the result of close international cooperation between ICE personnel in Arizona, our ICE attaché staff in Brazil and Brazilian law enforcement," said Katrina S. Kane, field office director of ERO Phoenix. "ICE is committed to working closely with our law enforcement partners here and abroad to ensure these individuals are identified and brought to justice."
Plasse was first encountered by U.S. authorities January 12, 2011, when she was arrested by agents with the U.S. Border Patrol's Tucson Sector after entering the U.S. illegally near Nogales. Plasse was subsequently issued a notice to appear before an immigration judge and transferred to ICE custody, where she was placed in immigration detention at the Eloy Detention Center while undergoing removal proceedings.
In April 2011, the ICE attaché office at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia notified ICE officials in Arizona that Brazilian authorities had just issued an arrest warrant for Plasse related to a child trafficking investigation. Assistant Chief Counsel Ryan Goldstein from ICE's Office of the Chief Counsel Phoenix handled the ensuing immigration court litigation and in May 2012, an immigration judge with the Department of Justice's Executive Office for Immigration Review ordered Plasse deported.
Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed about 455 foreign fugitives from the United States who were being sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with ICE's Office of International Affairs, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.