The Case on Prosecutorial Discretion

Here is a case about prosecutorial discretion. Julio Tellez is an undocumented immigrant currently residing in Hamilton, Cleveland. The federal government through the Department of Homeland Security and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement sought for deportation of Tellez. As a response, Tellez through counsel sought for dismissal of the order for deportation claiming the case falls within prosecutorial discretion. This petition was heard by the court and held the stay of the order for deportation pending review. Tellez’s record includes being brought to the United States as a child and a misdemeanor attempted theft charge when he was 18 years old. Tellez claims to have paid his dues for the offense. The theory that Tellez’s case falls within the prosecutorial discretion concept stems from the two memoranda issued by ICE Director John Morton. In the memoranda, cases similar to Tellez’s are a low priority in deportation enforcement. The lawyer of Tellez though is not optimistic for stay of deportation. The next option would be to appeal the order of deportation and request for deferred-action status for his client. This status would allow Tellez to remain in the United States for one year and this status is...

HALT to the DREAM ACT

For beneficiaries of the DREAM Act, the HALT Act is an ominous cloud on otherwise bright and clear horizon. Undocumented young people have benefited from the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act for it allows them to be educated throughout the United States public education system regardless of their status. Other provisions of this controversial bill to conservatives are that it prevents youth from being deported if they go to college. This bill last went to the floor for votes last Sept 21, 2010 and was defeated with a Senate filibuster. While it was reintroduced in May 11, the future of this bill seems to be grinding to a halt. The Hinder the Administrations Legalization Act or HALT Act is currently under discussion in the Senate. The HALT act effectively prevents and prohibits the discretionary interpretation of immigration law. As such, the power to declare deportation relief is suspended under very limited exceptions. These include humanitarian reasons such as the person’s life is in imminent danger if deported and for those currently incarcerated by federal, state or national agencies for law enforcement reasons. If the HALT Act becomes law, undocumented youth would be deported without availability of appeal. The current administration has been the high water mark for deportations than any other presidency. According to reports, in 2010 alone, there were 392,862 individuals have been deported between October 2009 and September 2010. This number is an equal apportionment of criminal immigrants and non-criminal ones. The increasing number was due to the efficiency of the Secure Communities Program. This system exchanged information between local, state and federal law...

Judge Decides on Controversial Alabama Law

US District Judge Sharon Blackburn has promulgated her decision on the Alabama anti-immigration law HB 56. She has upheld major provisions of the measure that allows state law enforcement agents to question and detain without bail individuals suspected to be an undocumented immigrant. A further provision upheld requires Alabama public school authorities to verify the legal status of children going to their schools. In response, civil rights groups and the US Justice Department have filed an emergency petition to stay implementation of the law. They have also sought an injunction to be issued by the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals pending the filing of their appeal. Mary Bauer, Legal Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center called the decision “a dark day for Alabama.” She further added, “This decision not only places Alabama on the wrong side of history but also demonstrates that the rights and freedoms so fundamental to our nation and its history can be manipulated by hate and political agendas – at least for a time.” Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed the law last June, hailed the decision of the court. His office has fully supported the law similar to Arizona’s SB 1070 and intends to enforce the provisions of the law. This decision by Judge Blackburn is a departure from other federal judge decisions where most anti-immigrant provisions were blocked. This trend was observed in Georgia, Utah, Indiana and Arizona. Not all provisions of HB 56 were upheld. Judge Blackburn disallowed provisions barring undocumented immigrants from seeking employment or enrolment in public colleges. She also disallowed the provision that makes harboring, transporting or shielding...

Protestors Not To Be Deported

In North Carolina, ten individuals, all of them undocumented were arrested and subsequently released on both. The Mecklenburg Sheriff’s Office said that in consonance with its internal policy, it screens everyone arrested. Out of the fifteen protestors arrested, ten were found to be undocumented aliens. All ten undocumented aliens did not have criminal records and the ICE did not request for detainers to be placed on the arrested individuals. All ten would be appearing in court in October to face misdemeanor charges of civil disobedience and impeding traffic. Detainers are requests issued by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials on local officials to hold undocumented individuals while immigration decides on whether these would be subject to removal proceedings. Domenic Powell, spokesperson for the North Carolina Dream Team, lauded the ten arrested individuals as all of them knowingly risked deportation because of their illegal status. The North Carolina Dream Team is a youth group that seeks benefits under the failed DREAM Act, such as allowing undocumented youth the opportunity to gain legal status after completion of two years of college or service in the...

Cook County Passes Pro-Immigrant Rights Ordinance

The Cook County Board of Commissioners recently passed an immigrant rights ordinance last September 7 with a ten to five vote. The ordinance aims to free suspected undocumented aliens incarcerated throughout the county for misdemeanor offenses. This blanket release goes against the grain of holding immigrants as requested by the federal authorities. The ordinance also requires the federal government to pay back Cook County for expenses incurred for holding undocumented aliens that would be subject to immigration review. Without the reimbursement, the county would not honor these requests to hold. Furthermore, immigration officials are prohibited to have access aliens detained by the county without a criminal warrant. The said ordinance is to be made effective immediately. The reason for such decision is the cost of holding these individuals for federal authorities amounting to $15 million per year or around $143 per day per detainee. With a shortfall of $300 million, it is a cost cutting move rather than an immigration move. Undocumented immigrants are often held for several days until federal authorities interview them even for minor offenses such as traffic violations and disorderly conduct. According to County Commissioner Jesus Garcia, “In America, we don’t detain people without probable cause. That would violate constitutional guarantees like due process and equal protection. But these detainers are not based on probable cause and they have been imposed on U.S. citizens, including veterans, by mistake.” Another cause for the ordinance is the recent federal ruling in Indiana that determined Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers as voluntary requests and not criminal warrants. The county is protecting itself with the ordinance, as there are...

E-Verify Divisive Rather Than Cooperative

A new proposal in the Springfield Sister Cities Association Board has caused a rift between members of the community. The proposal, which requires business in the governed area to use the E-Verify system has been met with protests by other members of the community. Members of the Latino community have called the proposal biased and even racist. Because of the racial profiling involved, many legal immigrants have been placed on bad light regarding the legality of their stay in the United States. The proposal was brought forth by the Ozarks Minutemen after an initiative petition of 2,100 signatures was filed with the board. The community is awaiting with bated breath as to the outcome of the voting on the board, as many see that there is an even split in the supporters and oppositionists to the measure. Despite the lofty aims, the measure has already been tainted. This sentiment is echoed in other communities. In another area, Western North Carolina has become simmering cauldron of immigration sentiment. This stems from current federal laws that have been used by the sheriff’s department to deport over four hundred individuals from the area in the last three years. Advocates for the Latino community though has criticized the program as individuals legally in the country without criminal backgrounds have been subjected to arrest and review. The law specifically allows police officers to arrest illegal immigrants with criminal backgrounds and subject them to incarceration and removal proceedings. The program is Secure Communities. Despite the lofty aims, innocent individuals who have no criminal records and have established community ties with legal employment have also been...

Immigration Reform Called in DUI Victim Memorial

Last Aug.20, 2011, Matthew J. Denice was riding his motorcycle when a car struck him and dragged his body for quarter of a mile. While his body lay on the pavement, he was run over by the car that struck him. The driver of the car was Nicholas Guaman, a native of Ecuador. He has a previous record for burglary and assault of a police officer. He is now in custody pending charges of motor vehicle homicide, DUI and driving without a license. One of the residents, Verne Thayer said during the memorial service, “All of this could have been prevented if we just enforced the laws we have.” She added, “It’s wrong, just wrong, because our politicians want to be politically correct. If Guaman had been deported the first time, these people would still have their son.” This was the landscape the death of Denice has brought upon the community. One of the major flashpoints is Governor Davel Patrick’s continued refusal to be part of Secure Communities, the federal program that requires police officers to submit criminal suspect’s fingerprints to a federal database. With the submission, illegal immigrants can be weeded out. For his part, Patrick has made granting state privileges to illegal immigrants as part of his platform. His rationale is that crimes should be handled separately from immigration issues and has continuously called for immigration reform. On another note, the uncle of President Obama was recently arrested for DUI. Like Guaman, Onyango Obama was an illegal alien. What has made the case more sensational is that the elder Obama had a Social Security Number despite not...

The Alabama Law Verdict Postponed

After much legal wrangling and posturing, a federal judge has issued the injunction that blocks the enforcement of the much-maligned Alabama law on illegal immigration. The injunction was issued as the judge wanted more time to decide if the said state law was not unconstitutional. The order was issued by US District Judge Sharon L. Blackburn and would become effective after Thursday. The stay was lauded by Republican leaders as they still are hoping that one of the toughest laws on illegal immigrants would still remain in force and effect after the judicial review. Judge Blackburn’s order did not say if the law was not unconstitutional nor did she provide a preview as to what aspects of the questioned law would be removed. What her stay order said was that she needed more time to review the petitions filed by the Federal Government through the Justice Department, private interest groups as well as private individuals as to the claims that the law encroaches on federal power. She added that she would provide a ruling by Sept 28 and her order would remain effective until Sept 29. There are many similar laws passed in other states, such as Arizona, Utah, Indiana and Georgia. When the laws were submitted for judicial review, federal judges have declared the laws or provisions contained therein as unconstitutional. The Alabama law criminalizes private citizens that assist an illegal immigrant by giving them a ride, a job, a residence or some other form of assistance. This is one part of the law that local church leaders would hamper their public ministry and service. The law further...

Obama’s Uncle Arrested for DUI

In Massachusetts, the uncle of President Barack Obama has been charged for driving under the influence. Onyango Obama was arrested in Framingham after police arrested him after making a rolling stop on a corner, nearly causing a cruiser to bump into his SUV. He is the brother of Zeituni Onyango, the president’s aunt who last year won the right to stay in the United States after a deportation order was issued against her. The problem is, the presidential uncle is an illegal immigrant, without the proper paperwork for a legal stay in the country. When given is obligatory phone call, Obama said, “I think I will call the White House.” He is currently being held without bail on a detention order issued by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Many immigration pundits are closely monitoring the case as the main character is a known relative of the President and is an illegal...

Mexico Declares Net Migration Return

According to the latest government census from the Mexican government, the number of Mexican emigrants have opted to return to their homeland from the United States has increased over the last half decade to nearly one million. Mr. Rene Zenteno Quintero, the deputy secretary of Population, Migration and Religious Affairs, said in a press conference that this figure was 2.7 times higher than the last census taken in 2000. He also noted that the number of Mexicans seeking to immigrate to the United States has gone down. There is currently a net zero balance between emigrants and immigrants returning to Mexico. He called this a historic moment. The office attributed the situation to a number of factors, such as the U.S. recession since 2008 and lower expectations for economic recovery. The situation has been exacerbated with the hostile environment toward illegal immigrants. He called out the over a million deportees that the Obama administration has sent together with the negativity espoused on immigrants both in the media and in communities. This sentiment is echoed by activist groups that work with immigrant communities. They noted the promises made by the then Obama campaign to enact a comprehensive immigration reform policy that upon assumption to office remains to be just another campaign promise unfulfilled. These activists also noted the greater militarisation under the Obama presidency. This together with the greatest number of deportees since the 1930’s serves as a cooling effect for Mexicans seeking greener pastures in the United States. It is hoped that the next presidential election would be beneficial for the immigrant community as a whole, not just Mexicans....