In an astonishing statement today, Attorney General Ashcroft announced a series of measures that, when fully implemented later this year, will require an undetermined number of non-immigrant visa holders in the US (including businessmen, tourists, and students) to report and register on a regular basis with the INS.
ILW.COM received a letter today from the National Immigration Forum detailing the background behind the proposal (see below). The statement from the Department of Justice (DOJ) can be seen by clicking here.
A possible reason behind this move is to deflect the criticism recently directed at the administration by members of Congress over alleged intelligence failures concerning the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
While this regulation will initially affect nationals of certain middle eastern countries, it is likely to eventually affect many others - as the DOJ Statement says that the fingerprinting, photographing and registration requirements will be imposed on, inter alia, "aliens identified by INS inspectors upon specific criteria to be established by the Department of Justice."
To justify this action, the DOJ suggested that many European countries have long required such reporting and registration (a specific example given by the DOJ was that aliens in Germany must carry their registration papers on their person at all times). Attorney General Ashcroft is reputed to be a strong supporter of the 2nd amendment and the rights of gun owners, which rights are completely absent in many European countries. We hope he will see the parallels here - the US is the land of the free, examples of police state policies in Europe or elsewhere have no rightful place in arguments offered in the US.
Although the Attorney General is proposing this as a national security measure, it is doubtful that any individual with the intention to commit terrorist activity is likely to report or register. Reacting to today's startling news, Senator Kennedy said "I fear this proposal will open a shameful chapter in our history that we as a nation will come to regret."
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DOJ Proposes Rule Requiring Individuals With Final Removal Order To Surrender
Cyrus D. Mehta writes "the new proposed supplementary rules have a number of harsh provisions such as retroactivity, the denial of discretionary forms of relief such as asylum, and the length of the surrender period."
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Immigration Law News
BALCA Says Rebuttal To NOF Must Include Information Requested By CO
In the Matter of Lawson Philpott Hill, No. 2001-INA-00063 (BALCA Apr. 22, 2002), the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals said that the Employer's rebuttal failed to provide the information requested by the Certifying Officer in the Notice of Findings, and that it is well settled that that an employer's failure to provide documentation reasonably requested by the Certifying Officer will result in a denial of labor certification.
Rep. Tancredo On Immigration
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Fee Amendment Introduced
Sen. Murray (D-WA) introduced an amendment to the supplemental appropriations bill to exempt certain ports from immigration inspection fees.
DOJ OIG Report
The Office of Inspector General of the Department of Justice issued its semi-annual report to Congress. We have excerpted the relevant portions including discussions on the Visa Waiver Program, the INS's National Customer Service Center Telephone Information Service, bribery, extortion, impersonation of federal officers and the terrorists who were issued visas.
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Certain Visitors To Be Fingerprinted And Tracked
The Washington Post reported that Attorney General Ashcroft announced "new measures, requiring visitors to be fingerprinted and photographed at the border, would mostly affect those from Muslim and Middle Eastern counties." The article quotes "Judy Golub of the American Immigration Lawyers Association said it could be the first step toward requiring all visitors — and perhaps all citizens — to carry government identification cards."
ABA Actions On Immigration
The President of the American Bar Association (ABA) sent a letter to Congress concerning the bill to abolish the INS (S. 2444). The ABA President also spoke at the Immigration Judges Conference. The ABA also released a document titled "Best practices for immigration proceedings involving alien child respondents."
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Letters to the Editor
Today the Attorney General announced the creation of a National Security Entry-Exit Registration System that is aimed at keeping tabs on non-immigrant visa holders in the United States. The plan was announced as a proposed regulation with a thirty-day comment period. However, Attorney General Ashcroft's demeanor in announcing its creation communicated his intention to steamroll forward, despite what will be formidable and heated opposition.
The following groups would be affected:
All nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, and Syria who are here on non-immigrant visas;
Certain non-immigrant visa-holders from other countries that are determined to pose an "elevated national security risk" by the State Department and the INS; and
Certain foreign national non-immigrant visa-holders whom the Justice Department wants closer tabs on pursuant to yet-undetermined criteria.
This plan involves three components:
Additional screening at the border/port of entry for certain individuals. Fingerprints and photos will be taken from these individuals, along with other personal data, when they present themselves for admission to the U.S. The fingerprints will be run through intelligence and criminal records databases to identify people who are wanted criminals or suspected terrorists and keep them from entering the country.
"Registration" with the INS and period monitoring of these individuals. After 30 days in the United States and then on an annual basis, certain non-immigrant aliens will be required to present themselves at an INS office. The INS will conduct a review of the alien to ensure that he is complying with the terms of his visa and residing where he said he would reside upon entry into the U.S. Additionally, these aliens will be required to report address changes to the INS within ten days of moving. Registration will also be mandatory for non-immigrant aliens currently in the U.S. that are classified in one of the above-mentioned groups. A subset of these "registered aliens" will also be required to report their exit from the U.S. to the INS.
Mechanisms to catch and punish those who do not comply with this system. For those aliens who are required to register and do not do so, the plan contains severe consequences for non-compliance. Their names, along with fingerprints and photos (as available), will be entered into the National Crime Information Center database of wanted individuals. Any law enforcement officer who subsequently comes into contact with this individual and runs his information through NCIC will see that the alien is wanted by the INS and will hold this individual until the INS can take custody of him. At this point, likely consequences will be incarceration and deportation, punishments more appropriately reserved for true criminals. Those registrants that are required, but fail to, report their exit from the U.S. will be deemed ineligible to return to this country.
This new DOJ plan dovetails with an earlier proposal that was being floated in the Department, based on an Office of Legal Counsel opinion that apparently finds "inherent authority" for state and local police to enforce civil immigration law. In his announcement today on the Registration System, Attorney General Ashcroft said that for this "narrow mission" it is within the inherent authority of state and local police to enforce criminal and civil immigration laws, but that the "DOJ is not planning to seek additional support beyond this narrow mission."
The Attorney General is attempting to sell this plan by stating that it is similar to procedures in place in European countries, and was mandated by Congress in calling for the full implementation of an entry-exit control system. These assertions, however, are insulting and erroneous once you peel away the mask. The Europe Community is currently battling a revival of anti-immigrant sentiment and many of its countries also require citizens to carry national ID cards, hardly making Europe the example the United States-as a nation of immigrants and a nation that respects individual privacy rights-should aspire to emulate. Moreover, the entry-exit system mandated by Congress is significantly different than that being proposed by the Attorney General today. The system called for by Congress is merely a database containing arrival and departure data from machine-readable visas, passports, and arrival-departure records-not fingerprints and photos-and is not limited to certain foreign nationals or individuals from certain countries as the Ashcroft plan proposes in such a discriminatory fashion.
Members of Congress and immigrant advocates have responded with disgust and outrage to the Attorney General's latest proposal, one that undermines the very values this nation is supposedly fighting to preserve. Attached you will find statements from Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Representative John Conyers (D-MI), and the National Immigration Forum, attacking this plan for what it is: a smoke screen to make the American public feel safer but with no tangible national security benefit.
As Frank Sharry says in the Forum's press statement: "These heavy-handed tactics seem more like the old Soviet Union and South Africa, or the present day Iraq and China, not the land of the free and home of the brave. Instead of wasting law enforcement resources on innocent people, the Department of Justice should focus on tracking known and suspected terrorists more effectively. Indeed, the timing of this announcement is suspicious, given the recent focus on FBI and intelligence agency failures."
National Immigration Forum
During the past 3 months we have experienced service center errors, lack of response to Fedex letters to directors, ridiculous RFE's, and, in general, total apathy and not even acknowledgements from Washington INS officials. We get approvals for names on I-129 supplements but not the one on the face of the I-129. Or we get approvals in the reverse of this. An RFE requesting the status of the I-129 when the I-539 was tied to it. (We have the I-539 approved but not the I-129 !!) Two years to adjudicate I-485 EB petitions. Six to nine months to adjudicate I-140's. And so on and so on. The AILA convention is about to commence. How about a loud voice of dissatisfaction continuously applied to all of the INS officials who are in attendance ? The CSC is the worst of the four.
Law Office of Manny Singh
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