Monday, January 23, 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

US Citizen Deported to Jamaica in 2005, Court Ruling Yesterday Gives Him A Way Back Home

According to a Ninth Circuit decision issued yesterday, Linden Winston Graham has presented material evidence that he was born on the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix and is thus a US citizen. The Ninth Circuit, for the reasons stated in the screen shot above, has thus remanded his case to a district court in Arizona, as well as suggested that the court consider returning Mr. Graham from Jamaica at government expense.

Here's an excerpt from a Jamaican newspaper in 2007, describing his ordeal after arriving, stateless, in a foreign country and then being locked up:

Graham, 48, appeared in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court yesterday after attorney Peter Champagnie filed a writ of habeus corpus on his behalf on Tuesday.

He told the court he was deported to Jamaica after serving nine years for a gun-related crime in a high security prison in Arizona, United States last year, but upon his arrival in Kingston it was discovered that he was not Jamaican.

"We questioned him and found out that he knew nothing about Jamaica. We are satisfied that he is not Jamaican," a police officer told the court yesterday.

For more on the case's background, from 2007, please read here.

Please note that the court is pointing out that the government is "unable or unwilling" to produce the only evidence that could support its position that Linden Winston Graham is an alias of Winston George Graham. Nonetheless, absent this evidence, an immigration judge and the BIA deported the guy! Especially because Mr. Graham is asserting he was born in the United States, the burden of proof to show otherwise would be on the government. Yet it appears that it had none, just the word of an ICE attorney and the black box of their data collection.

(A Department of Homeland Security database matches records with similar names and dates of birth; since the database contains millions of files, such a process will generate false positives. This is not "evidence" of anything but government stupidity and a poor understanding of probability on the part of the EOIR attorneys evaluating the case.)

Mr. Graham's plight, an egregious civil rights violation, is another reason for the courts to recognize that anyone in detention has a constitutional right to an attorney, and that if the respondent cannot afford this, then the government will appoint one.

The only difference between Mr. Graham and Jakadrian Turner is that she was a teenage girl. Both were born in the United States and both were deported on flimsy grounds that would never stand up in a real court for more than two seconds.

Now that the public is starting to pick up on the fact that the government deporting of US citizens is part of the deportation regime, there should be less complacency about continuing to make Mr. Graham fight for his citizenship. Instead of paying tens of thousands of dollars to keep a US citizen out, Janet Napolitano should be sending a first class plane ticket for Mr. Graham's immediate return to the United States.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Of Course ICE Is Deporting Teenage Americans Who Speak No Spanish To Colombia

[document cut here for size, letter dated October 20, 2010]

(Entire settlement here.)

The horrifying experience of Jakadrian Turner, a 14 year-old U.S. citizen who speaks no Spanish but who was deported to Colombia in April, 2011, will come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the systematic law-breaking by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, and the failure of the Department of Justice to do anything about it.

Rennison Castillo is an army veteran ICE held for nine months even though he had provided documentation of his U.S. citizenship, a claim acknowledged in an apology written by U.S. Assistant Attorney Phil Lynch in October, 2010 as part of the public settlement that included as well $400,000 and Mr. Lynch's reassurances that ICE had new procedures in place to "avoid this happening again to a fellow U.S. [c]itizen."

If ICE is going to hold an Army vet and ignore his pleas for nine months, what chance does a 14 year old girl have of having ICE agents respect her U.S. citizenship?

Mr. Lynch's good intentions notwithstanding, since October, 2010 several cases have been documented of ICE doing not only detaining, but deporting their fellow U.S. citizens, including the still ongoing experiences of a teenager whose human not to mention civil rights were so egregiously violated. This is because ICE is just not used to following the law -- but it is used to bullying people and deporting the evidence.

Another lawsuit settlement ICE appears to have recently violated is Perez-Funez v. District Director, a 1985 case that, according to Maricela Garcia, and according to a USCIS regulation, prohibits ICE from entering into "agreements from unaccompanied children unless they were first given notice of their rights and put in contact with a relative or a nonprofit organization," actions that appear not to have occurred.

Once again, U.S. citizens are the 900 pound gorilla in the mine: if even U.S. citizens are having their rights violated, then we are learning quite a bit about the unlawful treatment of everyone else, for instance, the 15 year-old detained boy who I recently heard via a digital recording in an immigration court for proceedings in Oakdale that deported Andres Robles, a U.S. citizen, in 2008.

The adjudicator who heard the case, John Duck, Jr., presiding over the Oakdale detained docket, never bothered to stop the proceedings to ask the boy if he had spoken with his family about his agreement to be deported, or had been in touch with a nonprofit. This teenager had no criminal convictions, nor did most of the respondents for that master calendar hearing when they agreed to their removal.

Coincidentally all the Notices to Appear announced in the court that day in Oakdale only listed entry dates if they were more recent than ten years; for the majority the date was simply "unknown" and the adjudicator who presided did nothing to ascertain the approximate range of the pro se respondents' entry into the United States much less explain the possibility of relief. (My inference was that if people had been here more than ten years the ICE agents simply omitted this information and the respondents, who had no understanding of what was going on, would not object when the NTA information was reviewed.)

If Mr. Lynch wants to make good on his assurances to Mr. Castillo, then he might want to investigate the ICE agents who deported Ms. Turner for false imprisonment and kidnapping, as well as the possibility of travel document fraud -- how does Ms. Turner make it into Colombia without a passport or any identifying information she is from there, including speaking Spanish?

For "U.S. Government Unlawfully Detaining and Deporting U.S. Citizens as Aliens," Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law, please go here (115 pp).

UPDATE January 6, 2012: My interview today on "Democracy Now" on the subject of Ms. Turner's deportation and that of other U.S. citizens.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

EOIR Fails to File Change of Its Own Chicago Address With Itself

The EOIR issued an official announcement on December 1, 2011 indicating a move on December 7. but it never bothered to change its own web page to reflect this.


The above is a screen shot from the court listings on the Executive Office of Immigration Review web page for January 3, 2012, almost one month after the courts moved to...


Well, it's sort of the correct address. The EOIR announcement does not explain the complicated scheduling for the detained dockets. Most of these hearings will be moved to the Van Buren address but some individual hearings for the detained docket heard by Eliza Klein will continue to be held at the old address at 536 Clark Street, something that the EOIR has not publicized.

The point of pointing this out is not simply to provide accurate information to people doing google searches or to embarrass the EOIR, which has not updated its webpage since November, 2011, despite a federal regulation requiring the immediate posting of accurate agency information. In addition, it is to highlight how easy it is for people to disseminate inaccurate addresses without this being evidence of fraud or deceit. If a respondent does not file a change of address form within five days of moving, the result could be enforcement of a deportation order in absentia.

The fact that the federal government cannot maintain its own accurate address with itself suggests that deporting people who fail to do this is, well, a bit kooky.

Perhaps the EOIR told respondents where to show up? Maybe, but not according to the pro se respondents who appeared in the court hearings I attended today. They had run the 8+ long blocks from the old EOIR address in 20 degree weather, a fact that came out when the immigration judge asked a master calendar group to make sure to keep the court posted on any change of address. One guy said he received the notice about the hearing today but it had given a different address. When the IJ said the court had mailed out 17,000 announcements of their new location, the response from the five men was that they never received it and one asked what he should do in case the court moves again before his next hearing. (The IJ said she would make a note of the problem and was quite understanding of their plight.)

Also due to the move, the ICE attorney didn't have most of the files, repeatedly responding to inquiries from the IJ by stating that the office was in chaos. Not that the immigration attorneys were much better.

The IJ showed patience with the ICE attorney and the respondents' attorneys -- many of whom also were unprepared -- and simply pushed things back. (In one case it was because the attorney of record was in jail.) The calendar is so clogged up that cases were moved into late 2013 and even 2014, the delays perhaps not that different from ICE using its discretion to close the cases, a procedure that was not implemented once today, even though most of the respondents lacked any criminal records and many had entered legally and were pursuing adjustments of their status through Citizenship and Immigration Services.
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