Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service’

10th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Department of Homeland Security‘s United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is apparently compelling an Australian man, who is currently a partner in a same sex marriage with an American Citizen, to depart the USA. In order to provide further clarity on this situation it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the San Fransisco Chronicle, SFGate.com:

Citing the Defense of Marriage Act, the Obama administration denied immigration benefits to a married gay couple from San Francisco and ordered the expulsion of a man who is the primary caregiver to his AIDS-afflicted spouse. Bradford Wells, a U.S. citizen, and Anthony John Makk, a citizen of Australia, were married seven years ago in Massachusetts. They have lived together 19 years, mostly in an apartment in the Castro district. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services denied Makk’s application to be considered for permanent residency as a spouse of an American citizen, citing the 1996 law that denies all federal benefits to same-sex couples. The decision was issued July 26. Immigration Equality, a gay-rights group that is working with the couple, received the notice Friday and made it public Monday. Makk was ordered to depart the United States by Aug. 25. Makk is the sole caregiver for Wells, who has severe health problems…

The administration of this web log encourages interested readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to learn further details from this interesting story.

Frequent readers of this web log may recall that the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) preclude the federal government from recognizing a same sex marriage for purposes of distributing federal benefits. Therefore, same sex bi-national couples cannot acquire the same travel documents and visa benefits (such as the K-1 visa, CR-1 visa, or an IR-1 visa) as a different-sex couple notwithstanding the fact that the couple may be legally married in one of the State jurisdictions which legalize and/or solemnize such unions. It should be noted that legislation such as Representative Jerrold Nadler‘s Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) or the Respect for Marriage Act would rectify this situation to one degree or another. As of the time of this writing it remains to be seen whether this legislation will ultimately see enactment.

Meanwhile, in news of further interest to those who follow immigration matters; it recently came to this blogger’s attention that DHS has issued an announcement regarding a nationwide program to be administered by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (USICE, sometimes colloquially referred to as ICE). To provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the Washington Times, WashingtonTimes.com:

The District could be forced to participate in an immigration-enforcement program now that the federal government has issued a letter to states that voided their participation agreements and emphasized the program’s mandatory nature. The Department of Homeland Security sent the letter last week to governors of 39 states, including Maryland and Virginia, after three states expressed interest in opting out of their contracts with the federal Secure Communities program. The program allows U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to access fingerprints collected by state and local law enforcement and shared with the FBI. It was started in 2008 and has helped ICE identify and deport more than 86,000 convicted criminal aliens. “This is to avoid any further confusion,” ICE spokeswoman Nicole Navas said Monday. “We’ve made it clear. There’s no opting out.” DHS voided the agreements to clarify that they essentially served no purpose, and that states are required to remain in the program. Federal officials no longer will seek agreement with newly enrolled states and jurisdictions, and will simply notify them when they plan to implement the program…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

Matters pertaining to immigration can be difficult to understand especially in the context of the United States Constitution since many of the immigration-related powers of the American Legislature and Executive are plenary in nature. How such powers interact with States’ Rights can be difficult to ascertain as the legal principles involved can be quite subtle. In any case, the ultimate resolution of this issue remains to be seen. Hopefully, a solution will present itself which will prove amenable for all concerned.

For information related to United States immigration from Thailand please see: Legal.

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12th April 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that a 9th circuit decision in the United States Federal Court System regarding issues associated with the 4th Amendment as well as issues which could impact American agencies such as the United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (USICE, but sometimes referred to simply as ICE) has been handed down.  To quote directly from a recent article posted on Yahoo News at Yahoo.com:

If you can’t let a day go by without accessing your personal data and files, you’d better think twice about crossing the border back into the U.S. with your computer.  That’s because digital devices such as a laptop computer can be seized at the border without a warrant and sent to a secondary site for forensic inspection.

That ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last week is the second in less than a year that allows the U.S. government to conduct offsite searches of digital devices seized at the border without a warrant, Network World reported.

This could have big implications for business travelers, in particular, who are increasingly mobile and frequently carry laptops and other digital devices containing sensitive personal and company information across our borders. If your data reveals traces of criminality or illegal kinkiness when examined, your troubles will go way beyond temporary data denial.

This blogger has yet to take a great deal of exception with regard to American policy regarding the 4th Amendment at Ports of Entry in the United States of America as most occurrences that this blogger deals with in connection to such matters involve those who are not American Citizens, or for that matter sometimes not even lawful permanent residents or non-immigrants. Therefore, due to the wide latitude granted to Congress under their plenary authority regarding matters touching upon non-US Citizens and immigration policy it is difficult for this blogger to make cogent hypothetical arguments for people who have few, if any, rights under the American legal system. That said, when it comes to the search and seizure of American Citizens it is clear that Constitutional protections of Americans’ liberties must be taken into zealous consideration. The aforementioned article continued on Yahoo.com:

Writing for the majority, Judge Richard Tallman said, “The border search doctrine is not so rigid as to require the United States to equip every entry point — no matter how desolate or infrequently traveled — with inspectors and sophisticated forensics equipment.”

The administration of this blog highly encourages all readers to click upon the above cited hyperlinks to read more from this thought provoking story.

This blogger does not particularly take exception with the notion of the so-called “border search doctrine” per se, but this blogger has always felt as though little consideration has been accorded to the notion of the rights, privileges, and immunities of both United States Citizenship as well as underlying State Citizenship (if applicable to the individual being legally analyzed as some individuals come by their United States Citizenship either through operation of law or naturalization).

With all due respect to this Court as their decision had to be made pursuant to the unique set of law and facts available under the circumstances, this blogger’s “hackles get raised” anytime the issues associated with the fundamental rights, privileges, and immunities of United States Citizenship are at issue. Therefore, in order to shed more light upon this subject to the readership of this blog this blogger felt it might be enlightening to note some language from the introduction of the dissent in this case as quoted directly from Judge Betty B. Flecther:

I respectfully dissent. The “sticking point” of this case is not whether the Government’s authority “to subject incoming travelers to inspection for entry also permits the Government to transport property not yet cleared for entry away from the border to complete its search.” Maj. Op. at 4219-20. The real issue, as this case is framed by the government and the majority, is whether the Government has authority to seize an individual’s property in order to conduct an exhaustive search that takes days, weeks, or even months, with no reason to suspect that the property contains contraband.[1] In other words, the problem with this case is not that the Government searched Cotterman’s computer in Tucson as opposed to Lukeville. The problem is that the Government seized Cotterman’s laptop so it could conduct a computer forensic search, a time consuming and tremendously invasive process, without any particularized suspicion whatsoever. [emphasis added]

Those reading this blog are highly encouraged to click upon the links above to read the entire opinion as posted on Google Scholar.

Clearly, the ruling in this case could have a dramatic impact upon those individuals traveling in or through the United States of America. That said, it remains to be seen whether or not this case sees appeal to the United States Supreme Court and should such an appeal be heard: the opinion thereof.

For related information please see: Arrest Warrant.

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1st April 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that an attorney formerly associated with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (USICE, sometimes referred to by the acronym ICE) has received a criminal conviction which involves public corruption. To quote directly from the New York Paralegal Blog:

LOS ANGELES—A senior attorney with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was sentenced this morning to 212 months in federal prison for taking nearly one-half million dollars in bribes from immigrants who were promised immigration benefits that would allow them to remain in the United States.

ICE Assistant Chief Counsel Constantine Peter Kallas, 40, of Alta Loma, received the 17⅔-year sentence from United States District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Hatter ordered Kallas to pay $296,865 in restitution after fraudulently receiving worker’s compensation benefits.

“Mr. Kallas has received one of the longest sentences ever seen in a public corruption case,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “Mr. Kallas took in hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes—money he obtained by exploiting his knowledge of the immigration system. The lengthy sentence reflects the seriousness of the crimes, which were a wholesale violation of the public trust.”

Those interested in reading more are highly encouraged to click on the above hyperlinks to learn more.

It is unfortunate any time there is a situation where a public official is engaged in corruption. The case cited above is notable for the fact that the United States government is clearly not treating such cases as anything less than serious. Corruption is a concern for all polities around the world as corruption can undermine the very fabric of the political system in which it occurs. One of the most important aspects of the United States is the high ethical standard by which public servants must adhere. This blogger has personally found that public servants at the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS, and the US Embassy in Bangkok are all helpful and highly ethical, but not all government employees are up to such standards, as evidenced by the quotation above. However, there is a tendency among the public at large to view innocent and upstanding public servants through the same lens as the former attorney noted above. This would be a mistake, most public servants are ethical hard working people who are simply interested in doing the job they were retained to perform. Casting all public servants in the same light as the former ICE agent noted above would fail to take into account the significant contribution of the public servants currently providing valuable services to the American public.

For related information please see: USICE.

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18th December 2010

The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (USICE), an agency operating under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security, is tasked with enforcing the Immigration and Customs laws of the United States of America. This blogger recently came across a news release from the USICE which took note of the fact that an ICE investigation resulted in the conviction of a former FBI agent. To quote directly from the ICE.gov website:

DALLAS – A former special agent with the FBI in Dallas was sentenced on Wednesday by Chief U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater to two years probation and ordered to pay an $18,000 fine, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General.

Ann Cox, 49, of Rockwall, Texas, pleaded guilty in September to the misdemeanor offense of unlawfully employing aliens.

According to documents filed in the case, from at least August 1997 until December 2008, Cox operated a Schlotzky’s Deli in Rockwall. While operating the deli franchise, she hired and employed individuals knowing that they were not either admitted for permanent residence in the U.S. or authorized to be employed. The documents name a total of six such individuals.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Casey Jr. stated, “When FBI internal security procedures first detected the possibility that former Special Agent Cox may have committed this crime, I immediately referred this matter to our headquarters in Washington, D.C. Pursuant to established procedures within the Department of Justice, an investigation was then conducted by the Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with the full cooperation of the FBI. While it is disappointing that an FBI special agent chose to break the law, it is important for citizens to understand that the FBI has an unwavering commitment to take appropriate action when transgressions are committed by its employees, the overwhelming majority of whom are above reproach in their professional and personal conduct.”

For those unfamiliar with matters pertaining to United States Immigration law, it should be pointed out the American authorities take immigration matters seriously and it is becoming ever more apparent that law enforcement agencies are stringently enforcing immigration regulations especially in the area of unlawful employment. As can be seen from the above quotation, intentionally employing undocumented immigrants is a serious matter that can lead to harsh legal penalties. For this reason, it is prudent to ascertain the lawful status of those being employed by a business in the United States in order to be certain that those employed in the US are either US Citizens, lawful permanent residents, or have been granted employment authorization by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

For related information please see: US visa fraud.

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