When Immigration Matters

Government Shutdown-What happens to Immigration Services?

Posted by Michael Pollak on Tue, Oct 01, 2013 @ 1:33 PM

 Dept. of Homeland Security, ICE, USCISCIS Ombudsman: The CIS
Ombudsman's Office will be closed
and will not be accepting any inquiries
through their online case intake system.

DOL:
OFLC functions are not "excepted" from a shutdown and its employees would be
placed in furlough status should a lapse in appropriated funds occur.
Consequently, in the event of a government shutdown, OFLC will neither accept
nor process any applications or related materials (such as audit responses), it
receives, including Labor Condition Applications, Applications for Prevailing
Wage Determination, Applications for Temporary Employment Certification, or
Applications for Permanent Employment Certification. OFLC's web site, including
the iCERT Visa Portal System and the PERM system, would become static and unable
to process any requests or allow authorized users to access their online
accounts.

DOL's Office of Administrative Law Judges will be unable
to perform any case-related activities
, including conducting hearings.
Hearings that have been previously scheduled will therefore be cancelled prior
to the date of the hearing, and they will not be rescheduled for hearing until
an appropriations bill or continuing resolution takes effect.

DHS: Due to the lapse in federal, DHS’s
website will not be actively managed
.

DOS: The Department will continue as many normal operations
as possible; operating status and available funding will need to be monitored
continuously and closely, and planning for a lapse in appropriations must be
continued. Review their “Guidance
on Operations”
for more information.

EOIR: EOIR has indicated that its response to a potential
shutdown is the same as it was in 2011. EOIR has been advised to "put its
shutdown plans in place." As with other agencies, personnel who are not
considered "essential" will be furloughed. EOIR has indicated that the detained
docket would likely be considered an essential function and would therefore be
able to continue in operation.

Update from EOIR on October 1, 2013: Court functions that support the
detained caseload will continue, but other functions are suspended. The Board of
Immigration Appeals (BIA) is processing emergency stay requests as well as cases
where the alien is detained, including case appeals, motions, federal court
remands, and bonds. Please review their
notice for more information
.

ICE: From ICE Community Outreach - ICE detention and
enforcement operations shall continue. ICE chief counsel trail attorneys will
still work on the detained docket only during a shutdown. Please coordinate with
your local Chief Counsel Office on more specifics. The ICE Community and
Detainee Helpline will remain operational.

USCIS: All USCIS
offices worldwide are open
and individuals should report to interviews and
appointments as scheduled. E-Verify is currently unavailable due to a government
shutdown.

McDonald's Franchisee Pays $400k for Hiring Undocumented Manager

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Sat, Nov 03, 2012 @ 10:19 AM

WICHITA, KAN. – A local McDonald's Franchisee has agreed to plead guilty to an immigration charge after a federal investigation showed that the manager of one of its McDonald’s restaurants in Wichita was an undocumented worker, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom announced on October 31, 2012.

McCalla Corporation, a McDonald’s franchisee with offices at 9342 E. Central in Wichita, was charged today with one felony count of knowingly accepting a fraudulent identification document offered as proof that an employee was eligible to work. As part of the plea agreement, the corporation has agreed to pay a $300,000 fine, and an additional $100,000 forfeiture judgment.

The case is the second time in two months that a Kansas company has been charged with knowingly employing undocumented workers. In the other case, the owners of two hotels in Overland Park, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., were charged with knowingly hiring undocumented workers for housekeeping jobs.

I-9, USCIS“Employment is the primary driving force behind illegal immigration,” Grissom said. “I’m calling on all Kansas employers to strengthen their hiring practices and to help us safeguard this nation by hiring and maintaining a lawful workforce.”

Employers that try to cut costs and gain an economic advantage over competitors by means of unlawful hiring practices are causing problems in Kansas and across the nation, Grissom said.

“Businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers are putting us all at risk,” said U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom. “They are creating a marketplace for unauthorized workers who may resort to presenting false documents to gain employment, completing applications for fraudulent benefits and even stealing the identities of legal U.S. workers.”

According to an agent’s affidavit filed in federal court, the investigation began in February 2011 when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security received information that McCalla Corporation employed undocumented workers. McCalla Corporation owns McDonald’s restaurants in Wichita at 1630 S. Hillside, 11989 E. Kellogg, 501 E. Pawnee, 1219 S. Rock Road, 2418 S. Seneca and 1645 S. Webb Road.

In its agreement to plead guilty, McCalla Corporation admitted that in March 2011 the company’s director of operations became aware that one of its store managers was using a Social Security number not assigned to her. He told the McDonald’s store manager she needed to provide him new documents to confirm her eligibility to work.

Two days later, the store manager presented a resident alien identification card. The director of operations knew the new card was not genuine. He knew that it takes weeks, not just two days, for a foreign national to obtain a resident alien card. Nevertheless, he updated the store manager’s paperwork and McCalla Corporation took no further action concerning her employment. The store manager continued working as a store manager from May 2009 to September 2012.

Grissom said he expects McCalla Corporation to enter the guilty plea within the next three weeks, as the court’s schedule permits.
“ICE is committed to holding businesses accountable when they knowingly hire or retain illegal workers,” said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Chicago. “Employers who willfully violate our nation’s hiring laws gain an unfair economic advantage over law abiding competitors. Our goal is to protect job opportunities for the nation’s legal workers and level the playing field for those businesses that play by the rules.”

For more information about how employers can help with immigration enforcement, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Web site at www.uscis.gov and click on E-verify.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations investigated with the assistance of the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson is prosecuting.

Fifth Circuit Holds Immigrants Can Pursue Cases From Outside the USA

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Mon, Oct 01, 2012 @ 5:33 PM

ICE, department of homeland security, removalLast week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected the government’s ongoing attempt to bar noncitizens from seeking reopening and reconsideration of their cases from outside the United States. Ruling in two companion cases, the court found that the “departure bar”—a regulation barring noncitizens from pursuing their cases after departure or deportation— is unlawful. In so doing, the court adopted arguments offered by the American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center (LAC) and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) in an amicus brief to the court. These decisions are an important step toward ensuring that all noncitizens are afforded the opportunity to fully present their cases to an immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals.

In the first of the two cases, Lari v. Holder, the court struck down the departure bar in the context of a motion to reconsider. Mr. Lari was represented by Matthew Hoppock of Dunn and Davison, LLC. The LAC and NIPNLG filed an amicus brief and argued in support of Mr. Lari. In the second case, Garcia Carias v. Holder, the court struck down the departure bar in the context of a motion to reopen. Mr. Garcia Carias was represented by Boston College’s Post-Deportation Human Rights Project and Nixon Peabody LLP.  

The LAC and NIPNLG have coordinated post-departure litigation nationwide. To date, nine circuit courts have rejected the departure bar. Nonetheless, the Board of Immigration Appeals continues to deny certain motions (including some involving asylum applicants) where ICE deported the noncitizen before the motion was decided. The LAC and NIPNLG are working to prevent the government’s attempted end run around the favorable court decisions. 

DHS Indicts Hotel Owners for Hiring Undocumented Workers

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Fri, Sep 14, 2012 @ 10:25 AM
ICE, I-9, USCISThe owners of an Overland Park, Kan., hotel have been indicted on charges of knowingly hiring undocumented aliens who were paid less than other employees, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.

Munir Ahmad Chaudary, 51, and his wife, Rhonda R. Bridge, 40, both of Overland Park, are charged with the following crimes:

– One count of conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for personal gain.
– Five counts of harboring undocumented aliens for personal gain.
– Four counts of wire fraud.

The government is seeking to forfeit the proceeds of the crimes including two hotels the couple owns: The Clarion Hotel at 7000 W. 108th St. in Overland Park, and the Clarion Hotel at 11828 NW Plaza Circle in Kansas City, Mo.

“The grand jury’s indictment alleges these defendants knew they were hiring undocumented workers,” Grissom said. “They paid the undocumented workers less and they paid them in cash. Their economic motive was to cut their costs and to get an advantage on other hotels that abided by the law.”

In addition to the charges against the owners, one of the employees is being charged. Syed Naqvy, 34, Overland Park, Kan., a desk clerk, is charged with one count of making a false statement to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and one count of failing to depart from the United States as ordered.

None of the other undocumented workers is being arrested, Grissom said. They have been interviewed by immigration officials, who will decide what to do about their immigration status after the case has been concluded, Grissom said.

“This prosecution is aimed at unscrupulous employers who are a driving force behind illegal immigration,” Grissom said.

The indictment alleges that in December 2011 investigators from DHS Homeland Security Investigations and the Kansas Department of Revenue received information that the two Clarion hotels were employing undocumented aliens. Investigators interviewed hotel employees and learned that most of them were unlawfully in the United States.

In June 2012, an undercover agent took a job as a housekeeper at the Clarion hotel in Overland Park. The agent made it clear to Chaudary and Bridge when he was hired that he was unlawfully in the United States and had no documents allowing him to be employed, according to the indictment.

The agent learned that Chaudary and Bridge, through their business holdings including Rhonda & Son’s Inc., and Mac & Sons LLC, paid employees who they believed were illegally in the United States a lower hourly rate than other employees. When the undercover agent asked Chaudary why he was paid less, Chaudary told him it was because nothing was being withheld from wages to employees who were illegal.

The indictment alleges Chaudary, Bridge and their business holdings lowered their operating costs because:
– Illegal workers were paid less than other workers.
– The defendants did not pay the employer’s share of Social Security payments.
– The defendants did not pay workers compensation, unemployment insurance or other benefits.

Upon conviction, the alleged crimes carry the following penalties:

Conspiracy to harbor aliens: A maximum penalty of five years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000.
Harboring illegal aliens for financial gain: A maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000 on each count.
Wire fraud: A maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000 on each count.
Making a false statement to the government: A maximum penalty of five years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000.
Failing to depart the United States as ordered: A maximum penalty of four years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000.

The government is seeking to forfeit the proceeds of the crimes including two hotels the couple owns: The Clarion Hotel at 7000 W. 108th St. in Overland Park, and the Clarion Hotel at 11828 NW Plaza Circle in Kansas City, Mo." - DOJ, Sept. 11, 2012.

"We want to send a very clear message. ... We are going to enforce immigration laws, and we are going to enforce them equally," Grissom said in a news conference in Kansas City, Kan.  "We're not going to enforce them merely on the backs of (undocumented workers). We are going to go after the people hiring them."  That symbolizes a switch from years past when employees often were the target.  The indictment marks the government's first attempt to seize a hotel in Kansas in a case involving undocumented workers."

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDOR) investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson is prosecuting.

In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.

 

US. Customs no longer providing admission stamps for students

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Fri, Sep 07, 2012 @ 10:15 AM
As of Aug. 10, 2012, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) no longer provides admission stamps on Forms I-20/DS-2019 for prospective and returning international students and scholars (traveling with F, M, and J visas) seeking admission to the United States. This change makes CBP processes consistent with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s (USCIS) recent change to stop stamping Forms I-20/DS-2019.
International student visitor moves through CBP processing
USCIS implemented this change as part of the launch of its online immigration benefits system, USCIS Electronic Immigration System, as it transforms the agency from a paper-based system to an online environment. ( USCIS Electronic Immigration System )

Although placing an admission stamp on Forms I-20/DS-2019 has been a longstanding practice at CBP, it is not required. While the admission stamps on Forms I-20/DS-2019 are not indicators of lawful status or academic program duration, some state and federal benefit granting agencies have required international students and scholars to present stamped versions. State requirements vary.

If a state benefit granting agency rejects an unstamped Form I-20/DS-2019, applicants may make an appointment with USCIS online through InfoPass and take their Form I-20/DS-2019 to their local USCIS office to be stamped. ( InfoPass ) This transitional step will end on Nov. 21, 2012.

International students and scholars who encounter issues with their state or federal benefit applications should continue to contact the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) at (703) 603-3400 or [email protected].

 

Do Immigrants Have the Right To Counsel before ICE, CBP and USCIS?

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Sun, Jun 03, 2012 @ 10:05 AM

uscis"On May 31, 2012, in an effort to improve access to counsel before CBP, ICE and USCIS, the LAC and Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights released the report, Behind Closed Doors: An Overview of DHS Restrictions on Access to Counsel (docs/Behind_Closed_Doors_5-31-12.pdf). The report describes restrictions on access to legal representation before DHS, provides a legal landscape, and offers recommendations designed to combat DHS’s harmful practices. It also addresses recent changes to USCIS guidance that are intended to expand access to legal representation.  The report includes anecdotes from immigration attorneys across the country indicating that CBP, ICE and USCIS often interfere with noncitizens’ access to counsel in benefits interviews, interrogations, and other types of administrative proceedings outside of immigration court. Depending on the context, immigration officers completely bar attorney participation, impose unwarranted restrictions on access to legal counsel, or strongly discourage noncitizens from seeking legal representation at their own expense." IAC Legal Action Center, May 31, 2012.

"On behalf of their client, the American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC), students from the Penn State Law Center for Immigrants’ Rights contributed to the production of a report on immigrant access to legal counsel released today. Behind Closed Doors: An overview of DHS Restrictions on Access to Counsel concludes that the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration agencies — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) — often interfere with noncitizens’ access to counsel in benefits interviews, interrogations, and other types of administrative proceedings outside of immigration court.

“This project allowed students to work with the LAC, which has long advocated for increased access to counsel in immigration proceedings. The immigration statute explicitly provides that a noncitizen has a right to counsel during deportation (now "removal") proceedings at his own expense, but does not provide noncitizens with government-paid counsel,” said Professor Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, director of the Center for Immigrant’s Rights. “Less understood but significant is the role of counsel in immigration proceedings before the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which is why the Center wanted to collaborate with LAC to produce a related white paper addressing the major legal and policy issues.”  

 Over the course of two semesters, a team of four law students at the Center reviewed legal documents, conducted additional research, analyzed more than 100 surveys by attorneys, interviewed attorneys about their experiences with access to counsel, and contributed to the drafting of this report and its recommendations.  The white paper articulates the legal and policy standards governing an individual’s right to counsel in various non-removal settings in order to provide a framework for understanding the rights of represented individuals as well as the agency culture that continues to limit and deny representation in encounters before DHS.  “The paper  illustrates how current DHS practices do not comply with existing law and/or apply restrictive interpretations of the law that are not good policy,” Wadhia said. Included in the paper are recommendations to DHS and other federal agencies for improving access to counsel.

 Stephen Coccorese ’12 one of the students working on the project said, “This was a great opportunity to work on an important and emerging issue in immigration law that could have a substantial real-world impact.”

 Heather Hoechst ’12 also was pleased to work on a project which will have an effect on practitioners of immigration law. “It also helped me  improve other skills which will serve me well in practice. I was able to hone my communication skills, learn more about interpersonal working relationships, and be exposed to an environment requiring professionalism and cooperation." Sara Hart ’12 and Elizabeth Boul ’12 also were part of the team that produced the final report." - Penn State Law, May 30, 2012. 

Immigration: OPLA releases New Memo on Prosecutorial Discretion

Posted by Michael Pollak on Thu, Nov 17, 2011 @ 5:11 PM

ICE; Department of Homeland SecurityToday, November 17, 2011,  the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) released a new memorandum relating to Prosecutorial Discretion and Immigration Enforcement.  See docs/OPLA memo.pdf.  The purpose of the memorandum is to ensure that that Immigration Courts follow the civil enforcement priorities laid out in the June 17, 2011 Morton memorandum.

OPLA announces in this memorandum that it will conduct a review of incoming and pending cases on the immigration court docket in each Office of Chief Counsel (OCC).  These cases fall into three categories.  1) Cases in which Notices to Appear have not been filed; 2) all cases on the Master Docket  and 3) all cases set for merit hearings up to seven months from the date of the memorandum. 

This review is estimated to take 2 months.  This November 17th memorandum calls for each Office of Chief Counsel to establish a standard operating procedure to review the above categories of cases.  The Memorandum states that it does not replace the Morton memorandum, “which remains the cornerstone for assessing whether prosecutorial discretion is appropriate any circumstance". 

ICE has also released two companion memoranda relating to the next steps in implementing prosecutorial discretion and guidance for ICE attorneys in determining prosecutorial discretion. See  /Ice companion memo.pdf and docs/next steps for implementing prosecutorial discretion.pdf

Immigration | ICE I-9 Rule Allows Electronic Signatures & Storage

Posted by Michael Pollak on Thu, Aug 05, 2010 @ 9:00 AM

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has issued a final rule, effective August 23, 2010, providing that employers and recruiters or referrers for a fee who are required to complete and retain the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) may sign the form electronically and retain it in an electronic format. The final rule makes minor changes to an interim final rule promulgated in 2006.

DHSThe final rule's supplementary information notes that the completed I-9 form is not filed with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) but is retained by the employer, who must make it available for inspection upon a request by ICE investigators or other authorized federal officials. Employers must keep the I-9 in their own files for three years after the date of hire of the employee or one year after the date that employment is terminated, whichever is later. Recruiters or referrers for a fee must keep each I-9 for three years after the date of hire. Failure to properly complete and retain each I-9 may subject the employer or recruiter or referrer for a fee to civil money penalties.

Among other things, the final rule clarifies that:

  • Employers must complete the I-9 within three business (not calendar) days;
  • Employers may use paper, electronic systems, or a combination of paper and electronic systems;
  • Employers may change electronic storage systems as long as the systems meet the performance requirements of the regulations;
  • Employers need not retain audit trails recording each time an I-9 is electronically viewed, but only when the I-9 is created, completed, updated, modified, altered, or corrected; and
  •  Employers may provide or transmit a confirmation of an I-9 transaction, but are not required to do so unless the employee requests a copy.

Immigration questions?  We have answers.  Free phone consultation available 800-969-5529 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              800-969-5529      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

ICE Enforcing Fine In Immigration case

Posted by Michael Pollak on Wed, Dec 09, 2009 @ 9:52 AM

DETROIT - Applied Plastic Products, a Detroit-area company accused of failing to properly complete nearly 100 eligibility forms for workers is being pursued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement "ICE".  The violations were uncovered in a March 2009 audit and a fine was levied in April.

 "These violations include failing to ... ensure that an employee attests to the fact that he is authorized to work in the U.S., and failure to review proper employee documents to ensure work eligibility," ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls said Tuesday.  "There were no charges lodged for knowingly hiring" illegal immigrants, he said.

ICE proposed a $41,360 fine in April. The company didn't oppose the penalty within 30 days, and the federal government now wants the money.  The government filed a lawsuit last month in federal court in Detroit. The company has until Jan. 11 to respond.
Under immigration law, employers must verify the eligibility of workers on so-called I-9 forms.  "Applied Plastic was given the opportunity to correct these errors prior to being fined and failed to do so," Walls said.

Immigration Question

ICE to Audit I-9 Employment Verification Forms For 1000 Employers

Posted by Michael Pollak on Fri, Nov 20, 2009 @ 7:19 AM

Today, the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") announced that it would begin delivering I-9 audit notices immediately to approximately 1,000 employers across the country associated with critical infrastructure. It seems that the notices will primarily consist of subpoenas for I-9 employee verification forms and supporting documents.  Employers that receive audit notices should make sure that they are aware of the deadline to submit responses to ICE

Employers should contact their immigration counsel as soon as possible to review the subpoena and coordinate their responses.  Employers should also avoid any detailed conversation with ICE representatives concerning their workplace processes and/or I-9 verification procedures.  

Immigration Question

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