WASHINGTON -- As one of the first Latinos in the nation to endorse Barack Obama, Democratic state Sen. Gilbert Cedillo of Los Angeles campaigned hard for the president, but he's disappointed now.
The reason: Obama has yet to do anything on a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws, as he promised to do when he ran for president.
"I think he's in danger of breaking the spirit of solidarity and hope," Cedillo said. "More than a broken promise, it's the danger of breaking people's sense of hope in the Latino community."
While the president carried the Latino vote by large margins 15 months ago, many Republicans are out to capitalize on Latino dissatisfaction with Obama and Washington's Democratic leaders. They think that could help them immensely in the 2010 elections.
Republican candidates will gain ground from Latinos once Latinos realize "that what the Democrats offer is just a bunch of empty promises," said Hector Barajas, a communications consultant for the California State Senate Republican Caucus.
He noted that the president spent only about 10 seconds on immigration at the very end of his State of the Union speech last month. Barajas said the issue had been particularly hot on Spanish talk radio ever since Obama gave that speech.
"It's what didn't happen," Barajas said. "I mean, he spent more time talking about gays in the military than he did about providing some immigration reform plan."
The White House said that it remained committed to passing a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws.
White House spokesman Adam Abrams said the president wanted to sign a bill that strengthened border enforcement and cracked down on employers "who exploit undocumented workers to undercut American workers." He also said the president wanted to resolve the status of 12 million people who were in the U.S. illegally, "that they should have to register, pay a penalty for breaking the law and meet other obligations of legal immigrants such as paying taxes, or leave the country."
"The president told members of both parties that if they can fashion a plan to deal with these problems, he is eager to work with them to get it done," Abrams said.
Jaime Regalado, the executive director of the Pat Brown Institute, a nonprofit public-policy center at California State University, Los Angeles, said Democrats, particularly the president, faced "a scary situation."
"It's really a colossal hassle for the administration, that there is so much impatience from so many groups - including Latinos - that are hell-bent on having an immigration reform package in 2010, an election year," he said. "It's difficult in any season in any year, but this is a very precarious year for Obama."
Regalado said Republicans were exploiting the issue "with good reason," because it was a no-win situation for Democrats: They lose votes from Latinos if they don't come up with a comprehensive solution to immigration, or they lose votes from more conservative members of their base if they do.
"It's fraught with political peril," he said. "There's no question about that."
Cedillo, who campaigned for Obama in California, Texas and Nevada and debated on his behalf on Spanish radio, said the president and Democratic leaders needed to show Latinos that they were committed to them "not only during the campaign, but after the election."
He predicted that Latinos will provide the determining vote in every upcoming presidential election. Obama was hugely popular among Latinos, receiving 75 percent of the more than 10 million votes they cast in the 2008 presidential election.
Stepped-up immigration enforcement is overloading U.S.immigration courts and undermining the ability of judges to rule fairly because they are under growing pressure to decide cases quickly, experts say.
The flood of cases is creating backlogs that, at least in Phoenix, will take years for judges to decide whether immigrants facing deportation can legally stay in the U.S., according to an examination by The Arizona Republic.
"There is a huge pressure to run through (cases) to maintain their dockets," said Gerald Burns, a Chandler immigration lawyer and chairman of the American Immigration Lawyers Association Arizona chapter. "They have an immense pressure to keep their dockets in check."
Although the long waits could aid some immigrants with weak cases who hope immigration reform arrives before their hearings do, for many others the delays also can hurt their cases. A witness could move, or a family member with ties to the U.S. could die.
The consequences aren't as simple as just being forced to return to their home country. Deported migrants can be separated from wives and children in the U.S. And those denied asylum could face persecution, torture or even death.
The immigration courts' judges essentially decide whether the immigrants who appear before them can stay and live legally in the United States or must be deported. The judges aren't part of the federal judiciary. Instead, they work for the Justice Department, which is part of the government's executive branch. Prosecutors work for the Department of Homeland Security, which is also part of the executive branch.
That makes them not truly independent, which also could add to pressure to move cases quickly, said Eli Kantor, an immigration lawyer in Beverly Hills.
In Phoenix, deportation and asylum cases are divided among three judges. Typically, migrants appearing before the court were arrested for a minor crime and taken to jail.
In the Maricopa County jails, officials check the immigration status of everyone during the booking process. Suspected illegal immigrants charged with serious crimes are turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and held in detention centers for possible deportation after their criminal cases are resolved.
Those charged with minor crimes are often turned over to ICE, and many agree to leave voluntarily. Those who choose to fight deportation are often released on bond and given a notice to appear in immigration court.
Take Guillermo Chavez, for example. The 32-year-old Phoenix man said he was arrested by Phoenix police following an accident on Sept. 1. Chavez said he was picking up his daughter at school in north Phoenix when another driver hit his parked truck.
"The police came right away and asked for my license," Chavez said. "I didn't have one, so they arrested me. It's that simple."
Chavez, a native of Oaxaca, Mexico, said Maricopa County sheriff's officials checked his immigration status when he was booked into jail and discovered he was in the country illegally. After spending 10 days in the county's Durango Jail and 20 days in a detention center in Florence, Chavez posted a $4,000 bond for his release. Later he received a notice to appear in immigration court to face removal proceedings.
"My kids were born here, and I want a better future for them," Chavez said. "That is why I want to fight my case."
Most of the cases before the immigration courts involve parents like Chavez who have been living in the U.S. for more than 10 years and have U.S. citizen children. Those two factors make them eligible for "cancellation of removal." To win their cases, immigrants must prove to a judge that their deportation would cause "exceptional and extremely unusual hardship" to a U.S. citizen spouse, parent or child.
Immigration lawyers say the legal standard is extremely difficult to meet, especially if judges are rushing through cases. Exceptional hardship could include, for example, a U.S. relative with serious medical problems.
There is also a cap that limits the total number of cancellation of removal orders nationwide to fewer than 4,000 annually.
Nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the U.S., about 460,000 in Arizona, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Despite the challenges, a growing number of illegal immigrants facing deportation are taking their chances in court rather than leaving voluntarily, immigration lawyers say.
For some immigrants, there is an upside to the long waits.
Uberclein Velasquez Palacios is an example.
Last summer, the 18-year-old said a Phoenix police officer arrested him while he was riding his bike in south Phoenix and booked him into jail for not having a light and valid ID. Jail officials determined he was in the country illegally and notified ICE. He was issued a notice to appear in court after he decided to fight deportation.
A lawyer told Velasquez he has a weak case because he doesn't qualify for cancellation of removal. Even though he has been living here illegally since he was 3, he doesn't have any direct relatives who are U.S. citizens.
For most immigrants, however, the longer their deportation cases are pending, the greater the chance something could go wrong, said Maria Jones, a Phoenix immigration lawyer and chairwoman of the Arizona Bar Association's immigration section.
Paperwork can be lost. Neighbors and friends who might help prove time in the U.S. can move away. A U.S. citizen relative needed to qualify for cancellation of removal could die, something that has happened to at least one of Jones' clients.
Immigrants can apply for work permits and driver's licenses while their cases are pending, Jones said. But their lives are in limbo. And they also run the risk of being stopped by police again, turned over to ICE and detained.
"They are living with that fear all the time," Jones said.
A 15-month study released in June by the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice concluded that immigration judges can no longer function properly because of the crush of new cases.
"Sometimes delay works to the advantage of an individual, and sometimes delay has adverse effects," Executive Director Malcolm Rich said. "But from a policy perspective, it says we have a court system that is in trouble and is dysfunctional."
While the number of immigration-court judges in Phoenix has remained the same in recent years, the number of cases has soared.
Last fiscal year, the Phoenix court received 4,867 new cases, up 12 percent from the previous year and up 49 percent from 2007. The cases include bonds, motions and removal proceedings.
The volume of cases is up nationally, as well. In total, the nation's 58 immigration courts received 351,477 new cases in fiscal 2008, the most recent year available, up 5 percent from 2007.
The increase in cases stems from the federal government's crackdown on illegal immigration. The government has hired thousands of new Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in recent years to enforce immigration laws. It also has enlisted local law-enforcement agencies to help identify and arrest illegal immigrants.
The crackdowns have been especially intense in Arizona.
Hundreds of the new Border Patrol and ICE agents have been assigned to Arizona to arrest and deport illegal immigrants, contributing to the growing caseloads. Although most illegal immigrants caught at the border are quickly returned, others choose to fight to stay.
In 2006, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio also launched a crackdown on illegal immigration that intensified the next year after he signed a dual agreement with ICE that let deputies on the street and sheriff's officials in the jails double as federal immigration agents.
In October 2009, the federal government revoked the street portion of the agreement, but deputies continue to turn over to ICE immigration violators encountered during traffic stops and crime sweeps. More than 24,000 suspected illegal immigrants were turned over to ICE from Oct. 27, 2008, to Oct. 31, 2009, as a result of the immigration enforcement at the Maricopa County jail.
What's more, the Mesa, Phoenix and Florence police departments, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Pinal, Pima and Yavapai county sheriff's departments all have signed agreements recently with ICE that allow designated officers and deputies to identify and arrest illegal immigrants as part of crime investigations.
The crush of new cases is delaying deportation rulings by years.
In early January, Judge Wendell Hollis, one of the three Phoenix immigration judges, didn't have room on his calendar to schedule final hearings for people seeking cancellation of removal until October 2011, 22 months later.
Judge Lamonte Freerks was backed up until December 2012, nearly three years later.
John Richardson, the senior judge, had the fullest calendar. In January, he was scheduling final hearings in August 2013.
The caseload before the judges hit a 10-year high on April 30, according to researchers at Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which The Republic commissioned to analyze a decade's worth of court data. The 3,728 pending cases as of that date represented a 155 percent increase.
Nationally, according to the Syracuse analysis, the total number of pending cases in immigration courts in the past 10 years grew 64 percent.
In 2006, then-U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales called for hiring more immigration judges to handle the growing number of cases.
That year, the Justice Department had 228 judges for 55 immigration courts nationwide. The department has since hired 44 new judges, but 31 judges retired or left, according to the Justice Department.
This year, it plans to hire 46 more: 28 new judges and 18 to fill vacancies.
Justice Department officials responding to requests for comment about the long waits for deportation hearings said in an e-mail that immigration courts do not have a "backlog" because "all cases are scheduled to be heard before an immigration judge." They did not elaborate.
Federal rules prohibit judges from discussing the matter themselves with reporters.
Critics say hiring more judges should be just a start.
Just last Monday, the American Bar Association called on Congress to create an independent court for immigration cases because the current system is overwhelmed by an exploding caseload.
Said Rich of the Chicago advocacy group: "The immigration courts are basically dealing with life and death issues but with the resources of traffic court."
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or 602-444-8312.
azcentral.com via Jornal.us
Washington D.C. - The Immigration Policy Center has compiled research which shows that immigrants, Latinos, and Asians are an important part of Alaska's economy, labor force, and tax base. Immigrants and their children are a growing economic and political force as consumers, taxpayers, and entrepreneurs. With the nation working towards economic recovery, immigrants and their children will continue to play a key role in shaping the economic and political future of states like the Last Frontier.
DENVER – Opas Sinprasong, age 51, of Boulder, Colorado, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on February 10, 2010 on charges of defrauding his foreign national employees, harboring illegal aliens, and other immigration and tax related charges. Sinprasong voluntarily surrendered yesterday. He then made his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Denver, where he was advised of the charges pending against him. His next scheduled appearance in U.S. District Court in Denver is on February 17, 2010 for arraignment and a detention hearing.
According to the indictment, Opas Sinprasong was a citizen of Thailand who was in the United States on a E2 Non-Immigrant Principal Investor status. While in the United States he ran Thai and Japanese restaurants in Boulder, Louisville, and Broomfield, doing business as Siamese Plate and Sumidas, and Siamese Plate on the go.
From 2001 through 2008, Sinprasong sponsored Thai nationals’ admission to the United States as specialty workers for his restaurants. He claimed in immigration applications that these workers possessed specialized skills that were essential to the efficient operation of his businesses. The Thai employees were admitted to the U.S. for a term of two years, which could be extended for an indefinite number of two-year terms.
Sinprasong required all Thai employees to enter into a two-year employment contract. The terms of employment per the contract included:
* Employees are to pay the defendant a “bond” of 50,000 Thai baht (approximately $1,500 U.S. dollars). The “bond” was a substantial amount of money to the Thai employees.
* Employees were liable to the defendant for a penalty of 600,000 Thai baht (approximately $18,000 U.S. dollars) if the employee violated a term of the contract or caused damage to Sinprasong. The employee was required to obtain a personal guarantor in Thailand, who entered into a contract with the defendant making the guarantor liable for the penalty if the employee violated a term of the contract or caused damages.
* Required employees to pay the defendant a $3,000 dollar “visa preparation fee” which employees were to pay after arriving in the United States, in addition to other fees.
Sinprasong typically directed them to start work at his restaurants upon arrival to the U.S. and he paid them “under-the-table” while deducting portions of the $3,000 “visa preparation fee” and other fees from the payment check. Once these fees had been fully paid through such deductions, which typically took between three and four months, the defendant helped the Thai employees obtain Social Security numbers and then started to report a portion of their wages and placed them on the official payroll of the restaurants.
The indictment continues that the defendant devised a scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Thai employees. As part of the scheme, Sinprasong used a duel payroll system whereby he concealed from his payroll records the substantial overtime hours he directed the Thai employees to work, which was typically between 26 and 32 hours of overtime each week. As a result, Sinprasong failed to report all of the wages paid to the Thai employees and failed to pay the Thai employees the overtime wages required by federal law. The defendant filed employer’s quarterly federal tax returns with the IRS as required, but the returns were materially false in that they failed to report the total wages paid to the Thai employees. By failing to report all of the wages paid to the Thai employees, the defendant evaded paying the employer’s portion of the Social Security and Medicare taxes due and owing on the unreported wages.
The indictment also alleges that Sinprasong filed false immigration applications and harbored illegal aliens.
“Mr. Sinprasong took advantage of vulnerable people, while at the same time lying to and defrauding our government,” said U.S. Attorney David Gaouette. “Such criminal conduct cannot be tolerated.”
“Greed is the primary reason anyone unlawfully harbors illegal aliens,” said Kumar Kibble, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Denver. “These criminals either cheat the aliens they harbor and/or they cheat their competitors. ICE works closely with our law enforcement partners to identify these individuals and their suspected crimes, and ultimately bring them to justice.” Kibble oversees a four-state area which includes Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.
“IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) understands these types of crimes have a real impact on the employees of the business and CI is committed to working with our other law enforcement partners to ensure these illegal activities are investigated and brought to justice,” said Special Agent in Charge Christopher M. Sigerson for IRS Criminal Investigation.
If convicted, the defendant faces not more than 20 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine for each count of wire fraud. He faces not more than 5 years imprisonment, and up to a $250,000 fine for each count of failure to pay employee federal payroll taxes. Sinprasong faces not more than 10 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine for each count of false swearing in an immigration matter. Lastly, the defendant faces not more than 10 years imprisonment and a fine of not more than $250,000 for each count of harboring illegal aliens. Finally, the indictment seeks forfeiture of property.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the IRS Criminal Investigation Denver Field Office.
Sinprasong is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Hearty, who is the section chief of the Major Crimes Section and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Ivan Gardzelewski.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and a defendant has the right to be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
A new report says the percentage of homeowners late with mortgage payments hit another record during the last three months of 2009, and the pace at which they fell behind took a turn for the worse.
The credit reporting agency TransUnion said 6.89 percent of mortgage payments were 60 or more days past due in the fourth quarter of 2009. That's up from 4.58 percent in the final three months of 2008. The old record delinquency rate was 6.25 percent in the third quarter of 2009.
The latest report marked the 12th consecutive quarter - equal to three full years - that delinquency rates have risen from the previous year.
More worrisome was that the quarter-to-quarter trend veered higher after declining in each of the previous three quarters.
The Board of Immigration Appeals was closed February 5-11, 2010, due to extreme weather conditions in the Washington, DC, area. On this occasion, the Board will apply a temporary "grace period" for the following filings:
(1) the filing was due on any date from Friday, February 5, 2010, to Thursday, February 18, 2010, and
(2) the filing was received on or before February 19, 2010.
The grace period will apply automatically. No request or documentation is required.
Filings that arrive after February 19, 2010, are subject to normal filing deadlines. If weather is an issue for any of those filings, parties should consult the BIA Practice Manual, Chapter 3.1(b)(v), on page 34 ("Natural or manmade disasters"). The BIA Practice Manual is available on-line at www.justice.gov/eoir (under the links for both "Virtual Law Library" and "Statistics and Publications").
AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 10021560 (posted Feb. 15, 2010) via Jornal.us
On February 13, 2010 Miss Brasil USA and her friends will be joining the festivities of the New York City Brazilian Carnival at the Hudson Terrace in New York City..
The Carnival of Brazil, spelled Carnaval in Portugese, is an annual festival in Brazil held forty days before Easter. The Carnival is the most beloved holiday in Brazil.
Carnival celebration is exciting and mysterious as people don colorful masks and parade around the city. Residents gathered on the streets surrounded by beating of drums and vibrating music. The celebrations lasts three days ending in a carnival. Tourists come from allover the world to join the Carnaval.
This year the New York City Brazilian Carnival features Brazilian singer Márcio Mendes, Master of Ceremonies José Paulo the Samba School União da Ilha of Manhattan, the beautiful mulata dancers and the Mix Brasil Band, The production is organized by Caca Santos, president of Epoca Enterprises, who officiates the yearly Miss Brasil USA pageant.
The party will be held at Club Hudson Terrace, located at 621 W 46th St., in New York City. Miss Brasil USA 2007 will be there along with many of her friends to enjoy the celebrations. Party begins at 9 p.m. and ends 4 p.m.
Bring your mask and join the fun!
Limited spaces available so get your tickets early. For more information contact in New Jersey tel.: (862) 218-9663 and (973) 755-2432. In New York contact (646) 807-8310.