The End of An Era For Homeland Security

Homeland Security Advisory System scale.

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It’s about time Homeland Security got rid of the color-coded terror alerts that helped protect our freedoms and preserve our liberties. Our lives are going to be empty and boring for a little while but I’m sure we’ll find something new and entertaining soon enough.

The Obama administration plans to replace the widely mocked color-coded terror warnings with a simpler, two-tier system: “imminent threat” or “elevated threat,” with more detailed information.

“The alerts will be specific to the threat,” a senior administration official told POLITICO. “They may ask you to take certain actions, or to look for specific suspicious behavior. And they will have an end date. …. [The Department of Homeland Security] will implement this new system on a clear and simple premise: When a threat develops that could impact the public, we will tell you. ”

Read more: (If you want to)

RIP: Terror Alerts

Revisiting CSPA and 'Aging Out'

This August, it would be 7 years since President Bush signed the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) into law. What is CSPA? It allows a child who has turned 21 and ‘aged out’ under an immigration petition to automatically be put in another category and retain her/his original priority date.

For example, if my citizen grandmother filed an application for us in January 2000 when I was 15 but it only got approved 8 years later when I was 23,  I would ‘age out’ and never have the ability to adjust status until my parents would re-file for me and wait another 8 years by the time I was 31 to reunite with them under the color of law. CSPA was supposed to change that to ensure that when the child (now an adult) ages out, s/he would retain the original filing date (January 2000) and be put in the appropriate category (from 2C to 2B-unmarried son and daughter of U.S. citizen).

USCIS refuses to budge and continues to deny family reunification.

Several lawsuits have been filed by parents who have been separated from their children. One of the top immigration lawyers in this country, Carl Shusterman discusses the lawsuit he has filed:

On June 23, 2008, we brought a lawsuit in Federal Court on behalf of Melvin’s mother and five other mothers who are separated from their sons and daughters despite the clear language of CSPA. The USCIS believes that to allow children like Melvin to use their original priority date would be tantamount to permitting them to cut in line.  To the agency, CSPA does nothing to lessen Melvin’s 19 year wait to become a permanent resident.

In September, the Government submitted a motion to dismiss our complaint. Since then, the government has requested that the Judge postpone deciding our case until the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) rules on similar cases which are pending before the Board.  The BIA has already decided two cases which interpret the words “appropriate category” and “original priority date” exactly as we do.  However, these cases are not binding precedents.

One of these cases is the Matter of Garcia (2003) that parents should use to SUE the USCIS.

Section 3 of the CSPA includes a new provision at INA § 203(h)(3) that states that if the age of a beneficiary is determined to be 21 years or older for purposes of INA §§ 203(a)(2) (petitions filed by LPRs) or 203(d) (derivative beneficiaries of family, employment and diversity visa petitions), “the alien’s petition shall automatically be converted to the appropriate category and the alien shall retain the original priority date issued upon receipt of the original petition.” 8 U.S.C. § 1153(h)(3)

It’s completely unacceptable that the USCIS interpretation of the Child Status Protection Act does nothing to keep families together and separates children from their parents.

More hearings are on the horizon. By the end of this year, ‘age-outs’ might be able to file for permanent residency using their original priority dates.

In the meantime, FUCK YOU DHS.

You know you are going to lose this one. It’s only a matter of time.

ICE Detaining Ukrainian Woman Willing and Paying to Leave the United States

This one should outrage every American taxpayer.

She served jail time for a conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. She had a detainer placed on her by ICE, so after she was done serving this time, ICE came to the jail and took her to Fairfax, VA to fill out paper-work on September 18, 2008.  She insisted that she wanted to leave as soon as possible and ICE happily agreed to expedite her paperwork to make sure she would be home by her birthday on November 15. They released her with an ankle monitoring bracelet and all was well. Or so they thought …

Her husband reports:

Almost immediately (the next Monday), we hand-delivered my wife’s passport to ICE, as they told us the lack of this document is the only thing that could prevent her from leaving quickly. And then we waited.  After a couple weeks we became a little worried that we’re still here, and so I started calling ICE.  Every day, I called and left messages and even started begging for someone to please do something, as we want to leave.  And we did want to leave.  I had quit my job, and we were coasting on whatever money I saved up for our new life.  The longer we wait, the less money we had. But wait we did.  And then we waited some more.

Why all the waiting? Oops, looks like ICE changed its mind and wanted her back in jail. Why? Well, she certainly was not a flight risk anywhere but back to Europe. They came to get her and put her in detention, not that they knew what they were doing.

None of the ICE people that came to my house really knew what was going on, they didn’t know why they were taking her, nor did they really know who she or me were but they knew they were there to take her.  We knew that she was finally flying to Europe, with me right behind her.

Next day she called me up from River Road jail.  She said they told her nothing.  The day after that she calls me again.  They told her nothing.  Same thing the next day, and the day following.  But eventually, ICE came and took her again to Hampton Roads Regional Jail.  Again, they told her nothing.  Next day, nothing, and eventually the next week: nothing.  Through this whole time, I was calling ICE every day and the only information I could get was “we’re getting her flight together”.  When I asked why they took her to jail, I was calmly explained to that it doesn’t really matter, because she is supposed to be in jail anyway.

Interesting evasion of the questions. Why release her into his custody when she is supposed to be in jail? So her husband buys and delivers an actual airline ticket on December 1, 2008 to the Fairfax, Virginia office and the real truth comes out.

The flight was for Nataliya Chorna, on Dec 18.  I also asked to speak to her case officer.  He wasn’t there, but “he’ll call you”.  They also took the ticket and said “it should be fine”.

Two silent days went by and so I drove to the ICE office again, and asked them what’s going on.  They checked the computers, and told me that on Dec.1, they sent the application for my wife’s travel documents to her jail.  “Why does she need travel documents?  You have her passport…”

“It says here it was misplaced.”

Misplaced seems to be an euphemism for lost when it comes to ICE, as the husband later realized. Still, he worked hard and got the Ukrainian consulate to provide travel documents granted that ICE sent in the application. What happened next?

Read More …

Testimony of Maher Arar – Extraordinary Rendition by U.S. Immigration Officials

This is the PITS. It is a gross violation of human rights, a misguided and miscalculated effort at WHO-KNOWS-WHAT?!

Published in the June 17 – Globe and Mail, Canada

On my way home to Canada from a family vacation in September of 2002, I was stopped and interrogated at JFK Airport in New York. Within two weeks, against my will, the U.S. government sent me to Syria, where I was tortured and detained for a year before being released back to Canada without any charge being filed against me.

Following a request by a U.S. congressman shortly after my release, the inspector-general of the Homeland Security Department launched an investigation. Early this month, Richard Skinner released a much-anticipated report on the actions of U.S. immigration officials surrounding the decision to send me to Syria.

Despite the limited scope of the investigation and the refusal by key decision-makers to be interviewed, the heavily redacted public version of the report points to the important fact that the decision to send me to Syria was made at the highest levels of President George W. Bush’s administration. The report found that the decision to send me to Syria was made before, and without regard for, the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s assessment that I would likely be tortured there.

Mr. Skinner’s report clearly establishes that what happened to me was a rendition in disguise. Mr. Skinner found that on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2002, the government prepared the “operations order” to remove me and sent flight clearances to Rome and Amman, so the United States could fly me on a private jet. These actions were taken before my six-hour interview with the INS concerning my fears of being tortured in Syria, before the INS concluded it was likely I would be tortured there and before the INS received supposed ambiguous “assurances” that I would be protected.

In other words, my fate had already been decided – the “immigration process” meant to safeguard me from torture was a sham.

So far, these high-level officials have evaded accountability and public scrutiny of their own wrongdoing by keeping me on their watch list, thereby attempting to keep the focus on me. The U.S. government claims to rely on classified information to keep me on the watch list – information that New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler has seen and called “nonsense,” and that Canadian Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day has seen and confirmed that it does not justify keeping me on a watch list.

The Canadian government has already apologized and launched a full public inquiry. It is only my hope that the U.S. government follows Ottawa’s example and rights its wrongs by at least conducting an independent investigation examining the actions of all officials who shipped me off to Syria like a parcel without regard for my basic human rights, international law or the U.S. Constitution.

I would like to commend the efforts of the U.S. House of Representatives foreign affairs and judiciary subcommittees trying to get to the bottom of what happened to me. I appreciate their courage in standing up for justice and reminding Mr. Bush’s administration that America is a country of the rule of law. It is my hope that through their persistence and good work, the full truth will eventually come out.