Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘US Customs’

10th November 2016

In light of recent events in the United States election and the campaign promises made by the now President-elect, it seems appropriate to assume that Immigration matters will likely come to the forefront of American political discussion. For this reason, this blogger finds it relevant to provide an overview of the Immigration apparatus and how the components function.

In order to understand U.S. Immigration matters and the enforcement of U.S. Immigration law one must first understand the Department of Homeland Security. This Department oversees most of the Immigration matters arising in the United States (The Department of State deals with matters pertaining to US visas issued abroad, for more information on the role DOS plays in the immigration process please check out the many pages on this blog dedicated to Consular Processing information).

There are three agencies under the jurisdiction of DHS which deal with different aspects of Immigration law and policy. The first agency that many intending immigrant will no doubt have had dealings with is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service or USCIS. This agency is tasked with adjudicating petitions for immigration benefits such as immigrant visas, work visas, and certain temporary stay visas. Furthermore, the USCIS also adjudicates I-601 waivers of inadmissibility as well as I-212 waivers for those who have previously been subjected to expedited removal. Those wishing to travel from abroad to the United States on some sort of immigrant or work authorized visa will likely have contact with USCIS.

Another component of DHS which deals with Immigration is the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service or USICE. USICE is often the agency tasked with ascertaining the legal status of foreign nationals physically present in the USA and if found to be present in the USA illegally USICE agents are tasked with apprehending such individuals and placing them in deportation proceedings.

Finally, there is the United States Customs and Border Protection Service or USCBP. In the US visa process, USCBP is arguably the most overlooked yet one of the most significant agencies an intending immigrant will deal with. Unbeknownst to most, notwithstanding the issuance of a valid visa, USCBP has the authority to turn away any alien attempting to enter the USA. In actual practice, an alien with a validly issued visa is unlikely to be refused admission at a port of entry, but it can happen. In most cases such refusal is due to a belief on the part of a USCBP officer that an alien attempting to enter the USA on a non-immigrant visa in fact has immigrant intent. This happens frequently to tourist visa holders who are attempting to conduct a so-called visa run in order to remain in the USA. In those cases involving immigrant spouses of US citizens holding visas such as the K-3, the CR-1, or the IR-1 refusal to admit the alien spouse is quite rare. The same can be said for foreign fiancees of US Citizens holding a K-1 visa, but the fact that USCBP has plenary power to turn away any alien seeking admission should not be forgotten.

Meanwhile in an interesting article in The Intercept, it was noted that certain documents have come to light which apparently show that although USCBP has traditionally recognized law enforcement functions (especially with respect to Customs matters) they also work with the FBI in matters not routinely thought of when pondering USCBP’s role. To quote directly from the aforementioned article:

“It is no surprise that law enforcement closely monitors border crossings for criminals or terror suspects. The initiatives described in these documents, however, are explicitly about gathering intelligence, not enforcing the law. A person doesn’t have to be connected to an active investigation or criminal suspect in order to be flagged; the FBI might want them for their potential to provide general intelligence on a given country, region, or group. The goal, according to an FBI presentation on an initiative at Boston’s Logan Airport, is “looking for ‘good guys’ not ‘bad guys.’”

Although immigration matters are often viewed as a “boring” aspect of the United States bureaucracy it should be noted that agents of the Department of Homeland Security play a significant role in maintaining the security of the USA and assist even in the gathering of intelligence.

Although the ultimate policies of the new administration regarding immigration matters remain to be seen it seems logical to infer that should the administration wish to make the immigration process more difficult for foreign nationals, then the sophisticated mechanisms mentioned above would likely have the capacity to make certain that such a course of events actually transpires.

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25th March 2011

Those following this blog or the many other sources of information available on the World Wide Web may have, no doubt, noticed the impact of the recent tragedy in Japan and the unfolding events springing therefrom. The tragic plight of the Japanese people was further highlighted recently by what appears to be a trend among many nations in their refusal to allow imports of foodstuffs from Japan. To quote directly from the website NAMnewsnetwork.org:

TOKYO, March 24 (NNN-BSS) — Australia, Canada and Singapore joined a list of countries shunning Japanese food imports Thursday as radioactive steam wafted anew from a disaster-struck nuclear plant, straining nerves in Tokyo.

The grim toll of dead and missing from Japan’s monster quake and tsunami on March 11 topped 25,000, as hundreds of thousands remained huddled in evacuation shelters and fears grew in the megacity of Tokyo over water safety.

The damage to the Fukushima nuclear plant from the tectonic calamity and a series of explosions has stoked global anxiety. The United States and Hong Kong have already restricted Japanese food, and France wants the EU to do the same.

The administration of this blog highly encourage readers to click on the above hyperlinks to read further about the situation in Japan. As the situation becomes more dire in Japan it would appear that even Japan’s key allies are unable to allow importation of possibly dangerous food products. The authorities in the Kingdom of Thailand appear to be taking preventative measures regarding importation of possibly tainted food as well. To quote directly from Bloomberg.com:

Thailand will check all fruit and vegetable imports from Japan’s main island, Honshu, before allowing their sale and will randomly screen other products such as fish, Pipat Yingseri, secretary-general of the Thai Food and Drug Administration, told a media conference today. The country hadn’t found any abnormal contamination since checks started in mid-March, he said.

As Thai, Hong Kong, Chinese, American, Australian, Canadian, and Singaporean authorities place restrictions on food imports, speculation abounds as to the response from other countries in the Asia-Pacific region as well as member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In discussions regarding the ramifications of the Japanese Crisis it may be best to remember the human elements which are constantly present in all of these regulatory and policy calculations.

As the situation in Japan continues to have global implications it remains to be seen how the various governments and international organizations around the world will react both politically and economically. One thing is clear, the crisis in Japan has the potential to completely reshape the geopolitical situation in Asia from both an economic as well as political perspective. How this change will impact both Thailand and the ASEAN community will be of increasing interest to the administration of this web log.

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