Immigration Raids to Continue in US



In a political climate rife with contentious and emotional immigration debate, with coverage from everyone from NPR, to USA Today, to BuzzFeed covering the presidential election and the centralized issue of immigrating, U.S. Immigration has announced earlier this month that officials plan sweeping raids throughout May and June in an effort to deport immigrant families who have entered the country illegally.


According to statements from the Homeland Department the raids are part of a plan implemented in January of removals and targeting “convicted criminals and others who constitute threats to public safety and national security, as well as recent border crossers.” The department described the recent border crossers as those who were caught at the border after Jan. 1, 2014, “have been ordered removed by an immigration court, and have no pending appeal or pending claim for asylum or other humanitarian relief” under U.S. laws.


They have said that in all but emergency cases the Department of Homeland Security would avoid arresting migrants at “sensitive locations,” such as schools, hospitals, and places of worship. They are removing families that the administration says did not show up for their court appearances or those who have refused to comply with orders to leave the country. They also said that the raids are in response to a surge of undocumented immigrants from Central America. From CBS News: “Apprehensions at the southwest border are up, with 32,117 family units (a child with an adult family member) for fiscal 2016 through March, compared to 13,913 for the same time period in 2015. Similarly, in fiscal 2016 through March, 27,754 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the border, compared with 15,616 last year in the same period.”


However, all of this is ignoring the fact that the focus here is undocumented mothers and children. The Department of Homeland Security is is making targets out of women and children who should be protected rather than deported. These mothers and children from Central America are not coming here to work, they are coming here to flee the brutal and violent situation in their home countries. Instead of seeing these Central American immigrants as refugees or asylum seekers, we are currently treating them as undocumented workers smuggling themselves over the border. In fact, there are more and more cases of women walking across the border openly and appealing a case to stay to the Border Patrol agents.
From CNN: “Defending the raids, on Friday White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “If this serves to discourage people from considering to make this journey, that would be a good thing.” Still, nothing can change people’s minds when they are literally fleeing for their lives. The women and children targeted by the Obama administration are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, three countries that regularly rank among the world’s most dangerous nations. In these countries, forced gang conscription, sexual violence and homicides are a fact of daily life; one El Salvadoran dies every hour due to violence.”

Federal Authorities Make a Fake College To Catch Visa Scam

visa-applicationA fake university was recently created order to catch people suspected of running a visa scam. The university was called the University of Northern New Jersey, and while it was not real, it had a very convincing website. It claimed to offer “exceptional” education for students from other countries wishing to study in the U.S.

The federal authorities were behind this project, creating the phony university’s website in order to arrest 21 people on charges of conspiring to assist over 1,000 foreign people in fraudulently keeping or obtaining student or work visas. There is, however, one unexpected twist. The defendants who were arrested knew that the school was phony and so did the foreign people who allegedly pretended to be students at the university in order to remain in the U.S.

What they didn’t know was who was behind the fake school. This university was set up by undercover agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Most of the foreign “students” who benefitted from the visa scam were already in the U.S. on student visas. They have been identified and while they will not be prosecuted, they could face deportation.

The 21 people arrested were considered recruiters, employers, and brokers. These 21 people were charged with “conspiracy to commit visa fraud and to harbor aliens for profit”. The latter of the two charges carries up to 10 years in prison. Most of these defendants are in the U.S. legally, residing in New York, New Jersey and California. One lives in Georgia and another lives in Illinois.

The University of Northern New Jersey’s website was very elaborate, with appealing photos, a message from the “president”, and links to academic programs. The website stated that the “president” was a man named Dr. Steven Brunetti, Ph. D. The site even had a school seal which appeared to have been based on Princeton University’s seal, but the fake institution’s colors were green and bluish-purple instead of Princeton’s orange and black. The university even listed an address. This address was that of a real building about 15 miles outside of New York City in Cranford. The University’s site was taken down on the afternoon of Tuesday April 5, 2016.

You may be wondering how exactly the undercover agents caught the middlemen that are currently under arrest. The 21 people who are now arrested paid the undercover agents who were running the school to create paperwork that made it appear as if the foreign people were enrolled at the University of Northern New Jersey. This way, the students would be able to keep their visa status without going to class. Overall, the middlemen paid the undercover agents thousands of dollars.

This is not the only example of a fake school being created for visa-related purposes. Immigration officials have looked into hundreds of possibly fake schools in recent years. Some of these investigations have already led to charges. Officials at one school in Georgia and two schools in California have received prison sentences due to these investigations. One of these officials even received 16 years in prison for visa fraud in addition to other charges. This case differs from the other cases because the federal authorities created their own phony institution, but it reveals a phenomenon that is occurring throughout the country.

Immigrant Children Representing Themselves in Court

boy wearing tie


Recently, during federal court proceedings, Senior Justice Department official Jack H. Weil, (who, along with other responsibilities, is tasked with training other judges in proper procedure and conduct,) made a statement under oath that he believes three and four year old migrant children can learn immigration law well enough to be able to represent themselves in court, which would in turn save the citizens the costs of assigning taxpayer-funded attorneys to them.

“I’ve taught immigration law literally to 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds,” Weil said. “It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of patience. They get it. It’s not the most efficient, but it can be done.”

Obviously, the backlash to this statement from both legal experts, and child psychology experts, was immediate and disparaging. Obviously immigration law is a deep and complex branch of practice, and children of that age are still learning how to cooperate with other children and develop fine motor skills, let alone represent themselves in a court of law.

“I nearly fell off my chair when I read that deposition,” said Laurence Steinberg, a psychology professor at Temple University, who is a witness for the plaintiffs in the Seattle case. “Three- and 4-year-olds do not yet have logical reasoning abilities. It’s preposterous, frankly, to think they could be taught enough about immigration law to be able to represent themselves in court.”

This testimony from Justice Weil came out during a case that is arguing for legal representation for every indigent child who cannot afford a lawyer to represent themselves in court. Immigrant rights groups and the American Civil Liberties Union are both demanding that the courts be required to provide this. The Justice Department is contesting suit, and Weil has, in the aftermath of his statement receiving loud and virulent backlash, insisted that the statements that are being attributed to him do not “present an accurate assessment of my views on this topic” and are being “taken out of context.”

The ACLU officials are nonplused by this recant. “This is the person in charge of training immigration judges about how to treat children? And this is the witness the government puts forward to present their views as to how this is supposed to happen?” said ACLU deputy legal director of Southern California Ahilan Arulanantham, the attorney who questioned Weil under oath. “That is horrifying.”

According to statistics that were collected by the Justice Department, more than twenty thousand unaccompanied children that were involved in deportation proceedings that took place over the course of 18 months from July 2014, a whopping 42% of those children had no attorney. In many cases the children facing these charges do not speak English, and are relying on government-provided interpreters to understand what is happening to them, let alone to understand how to argue for themselves in court. Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and other Democrats recently introduced legislation stipulating that government-appointed counsel be afforded to all children in immigration court who had crossed the border alone or are victims of other duress such as abuse, torture or violence.


Obama Fights For Immigration Reform

Despite the fact that our country was founded by immigrants, America has always had a complex and tumultuous relationship with its newcomers. Yes, Emma Lazarus’s poem, “The New Colossus,” and its famous promise to take in the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” may be engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, but the truth is, over the past few hundred years, we’ve consistently taken measures to ensure that we are doing the exact opposite. These measures have made it very difficult for people who were not born in the USA to become naturalized citizens. From the Act of 1875, which banned convicts and prostitutes from entering the country, to a multitude of federal laws that have prevented various races and nationalities from obtaining American citizenship over the past few hundred years, the messaging of America’s personal brand has always been directly at odds with the actions of our federal government when it has come to taking in people from other countries who want to become naturalized Americans.

Unfortunately, we are still experiencing this phenomenon today. Even though President Obama unveiled his proposal for immigration reform – a proposal that sought to protect the rights and interests of the over 5 million law-abiding immigrants who reside in the US – 14 months ago, we are still awaiting the Supreme Court’s verdict on whether or not it will be put into practice. Thankfully, it was announced this week that the Supreme Court is finally ready to discuss President Obama’s plans for reform, and that the future of his proposal will be decided upon this term. The anticipated timeline of this decision is that it will be reached by summer of 2016, and, if the Court decides to move forward with Obama’s policy, then it will be implemented before he leaves office next year.

One component of the proposal, Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), would allow included residents – most commonly the parents of naturalized citizens who do not have American citizenship themselves – to apply for, and receive, “temporary residency,” which would come with the ability to apply for work authorization and some benefits. The other component would be an expansion of the 2012 Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which protects children and teenagers who were born outside of America but raised within its limits.

Since the President’s initial announcement, his proposal has been widely challenged by House Republicans and vocal opponents, who believe that with this suggestion for reform, President Obama has behaved unconstitutionally and with blatant disregard for the governmental checks and balances meant to limit a sitting President’s regulatory power. Still,  the Supreme Court’s announcement about bringing this immigration reform proposal to the floor and giving it the due diligence it should receive is good news for the millions of hardworking, honest residents of the US who contribute to America’s economy and well-being but are not being adequately recognized or compensated for their contributions today.

Texas Denying Birth Certificates to U.S. Born Children

Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Based on a federal judge’s ruling earlier this month, Texas can continue denying undocumented immigrants the ability to obtain birth certificates for their children born in the United States. There is no immediate relief while the legal issue is sorted out. In a complex case, the District Judge behind this current decision has gone on to explain the tough predicament he found himself in.

The US District Judge Robert Pitman did not give a preliminary injunction for the civil rights lawsuit which was filed back in May against the state of Texas. The suit began when the state decided to not adhere with the 14th Amendment which grants citizenship to anyone who is born on U.S soil irrespective of their parentage.

Citizenship for children born to illegal immigrants was raised as an issue during the primary debates and primary campaigns in November 2016, where the Republican candidate Donald Trump questioned how citizenship can be automatically granted and Jeb Bush was criticized heavily on his comments about the matter.

Two non-profit organizations, the Texas Civil Rights Project and the Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. filed a lawsuit on behalf of the 6 children & their parents who were immigrants. They were denied birth certificates because the parents did not have what the state considered proper identification. In some cases, parents attempted to present an official ID card, a matricula, which is issued through Mexican consulates as well as Mexican passport. But the lack of a U.S. visa makes it so that the state refuses to accept those forms of ID.

The groups which filed the lawsuit argued that the entitlement for birth certificates was one of the constitutional rights, which was being violated in Texas. In this case, Judge Pitman had to weigh whether or not to force the state to accept those forms of identification.

While the legal procedure is taking its course in the court, the group had asked the judge to give a preliminary injunction that will make the state take two forms of identification that the mother can easily provide to issue birth certificate to her children.

Judge Pitman acknowledged that the evidence that has been raised points to extremely grave concerns on how children who were born in the United States to immigrant parents are treated. But he also said that a preliminary injunction is a very extreme relief and he could not issue it without further exploring the case. Furthermore, the Judge has upheld that the State does have a right to ensure that the forms of identification that it accepts are reliable and valid.

2016 Presidential Election: Immigration Policy and Reform

This summer, candidates from both sides of the political spectrum, vying for their party’s support for the 2016 Presidential Election, have been vocal with their proposed policies on immigration. While the issue remains a hotly contested topic of conversation in the United States, for voters, the differing views of each candidate can make them difficult to decipher. With that in mind, here are the top Republican and Democratic candidates’ stances on immigration reform:


Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Clinton has remained largely liberal on immigration issues, and called for a “path to full and equal citizenship” during a Nevada rally. She also campaigned for the parents of undocumented immigrants that entered the U.S. as children to be legally allowed to remain in the country.

US Senator for Vermont Bernie Sanders

Sanders believes America is a “nation of immigrants,” and stands against the removal of undocumented people based on the traditional concept of the American Dream, supports allowing individuals to come to the States and seek better lives, and opposes the building of a border fence between the U.S. and Mexico.

Former Governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley

Candidate O’Malley prioritized shifting undocumented immigrants from the dark and into mainstream society, and signed an act into law that granted in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants in Maryland during his time as Governor.

Former US Virginia Senator Jim Webb

Webb believes in securing the border first, and supports a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the country later. He voted in favor of the DREAM Act in 2010, which aimed to provide legal residency to undocumented individuals brought into the country as children.


Businessman Donald Trump

Trump is campaigning for the building of a border fence between Mexico and the U.S., and his policy outlines that it should be paid for by the southern side. He proposes an immigration plan that supports employment, security and wages for American citizens, and wants to triple the number of Immigration and Customs Officers. Needless to say, his views on immigration policy have been the most controversial throughout the past months.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

Bush has sympathized with those who have entered the U.S. illegally in search of a better life, and believes in securing the border and providing a path for citizenship that is controlled, where undocumented immigrants work for their status, and are liable for fines for breaking the law.

US Senator Ted Cruz

Cruz also wants to enhance border security, while also opening up opportunities for skilled workers to come to the U.S., green card chances and preventing those with undocumented status from obtaining welfare support.

Businesswoman Carly Fiorina

Fiorina believes in awarding citizenship to immigrants that have “earned” it through legal entry and abiding by American laws, and wants to secure the border in order to begin mending current immigration problems in the U.S.

Tracking the Economic Benefits of Immigration Reform

Back in May, Francisco Lopez-Flores, a UCLA alumni, pitched the project “DACAMENT ME” to potential investors. The goal of DACAMENT ME is to track the economic benefits of immigration reform following 2012’s Executive Order by President Obama to implement DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). While DACAMENT ME has been gaining attention from beneficiaries of DACA as well as investors, one potential investor chalked Lopez-Flores’ project to a mere hobby telling him and his team to not waste their time with it.

However, for many students and young adults like Francisco, DACAMENT ME is far from a mere hobby. It is very personal. The executive order allows those individuals to acquire important documentation to obtain jobs, bank accounts and licenses in certain states. Needless to say, it was and still is met with heavy opposition and that is where DACAMENT ME hopes to help. A new member of the DACAMENT ME team, Kayleen Ports, explained the goal and use case of the project very well when she said that while activists have already attempted to make the emotional argument for immigration reform, a data driven argument is also needed.

The idea for DACAMENT ME came to Lopez-Flores when he noticed that after the implementation of DACA, his own wages increased since he no longer had to be paid under the table and was able to apply for steadier, higher paying jobs. After surveying over 200 students who benefited from DACA, Lopez-Flores and fellow UCLA students Stephanie Ramirez and Rudy Morales traveled to the White House where they presented their findings and analysis of DACA’s economic impact to key policymakers. By expanding their initial project for their Chicana/o studies class, Lopez-Flores and his team are hoping to use DACAMENT ME as a way to survey and track DACA recipients over a long period of time to show the positive effects that the policy has on the U.S. economy. Part of their findings demonstrated how recipients of DACA saw an average wage increase of nearly 100%. The research also showed that if the trend continues, it would add nearly $1.7 trillion to the U.S. economy.

Currently, DACAMENT ME is growing their team and working on a platform to turn DACAMENT ME into an official program at UCLA so that future students can continue participating. In May, apart from presenting the project to potential investors, the team won first place at the Latin@ Coder Summit hosted by Stanford University. The $1,000 price is being used to acquire the tools necessary to build the DACAMENT ME computer platform over the summer.

Immigration Law Post World War II

Abogado Aly immigration law reform

Abogado Aly Immigration Law

The passage of the Walter-McCarran Act in 1952 was the next major piece of immigration legislation. This act implemented a quota not on the origins of the U.S. population, but extended the quota to people with high skilled labor that the United States felt like they needed in their labor force. It also set up preferences towards relatives of U.S. residents. This was a fundamental change, implemented by the Truman administration, in immigration policy from national origins to family unification and labor needs. Finally, in 1965, President Kennedy amended the 1952 act as part of the civil rights legislation to completely eliminate the inherent racism in the old immigration policy. This new policy completely eliminated the national origins quota and granted  complete priority to family members of American citizens and other immigrants that had complete U.S. residence. This immigration policy was on a first come first serve basis, and annually allowed no more than 20,000 immigrants per country with a global limit of 290,000 immigrants. Eighty percent of the 290,000 limit were saved for close relatives of American citizens or residents, so it is obvious that family unification was the driving force for the 1965 immigration policy. This preference in family unification caused a decrease in the number of European immigrants and an increase in the number of Asian and Hispanic immigrants. This immigration policy is the policy that the United States has today, and this immigration policy is unique compared to other countries such as Canada, England and Japan.

In Canada, the early history of immigration policy is similar to that of the United States. In the mid to late 19th century, immigration policy in Canada was fairly open only restricting criminals and other extreme undesirables. There were not many immigrants coming to Canada before 1896, so Canada was actively seeking immigrants to tend to their large amounts of land. The Dominion Land Act was then established in 1872 which gave land in northwestern regions of Canada to any male over the age of 18 who in return had to promise to cultivate and take care of that land. At the turn of the century, Canada was trying to obtain low skilled labor to enter their vast agricultural sector in the Northwest region. Frank Oliver, a Canadian politician who represented a vast majority of the Northwest region, implemented the Canadian Immigration Act of 1910 that gave more power to the federal government and prohibited the entry “of immigrants belonging to any race deemed unsuited to the climate or requirements of Canada.” This new immigration policy became even more strict during and after the First World War.  Just like the United States, Canada’s immigration policy at the beginning of the 1920s became increasingly race oriented because of the rising world tensions. Canada’s immigration policy was split up into two groups: the preferred and the non-preferred. Since not many immigrants found incentives to immigrate to Canada, Canada implemented policies to incentivize immigration from England, America, and Western Europe. On the other hand, Canada also implemented numerous policies to keep the so-called “undesirable races,” in the eyes of the Canadians, out of their country.


Immigration Law Reform into the 20th Century

Abogado Aly History of Immigration ReformOpposition towards immigration began in the late 19th century as the immigrants coming into the United States (Irish Catholics, Germans, Chinese, Spanish) were ethnically different than the immigrants who had already established themselves (English Protestants). Eventually the opposition became strong enough to create   political pressures that called for immigration restrictions during the early 20th century.

Before 1875 immigration policy was never really discussed by the federal government  because there was nothing about immigration in the constitution. It was in 1875 when the US supreme court ruled that the federal government had complete control over immigration because it was the federal government’s  constitutional duty  to regulate international commerce.[1]  In 1882, the United States implemented its first two laws  to restrict immigration, The Chinese Exclusion Act, which suspended Chinese laborers from immigrating to the United States, and forced Chinese non-laborers to obtain authorization from their government. Second, Congress enacted and the President signed the Immigration Act which banned “convicts, prostitutes, lunatics, idiots, and those likely to become a public charge”[2] from entering the United States.  Up until the 1920s, a few more immigration laws were passed restricting the number of Japanese, Chinese, and women; even a Bureau of Immigration was established in 1891. The third wave of immigration was a period of the heaviest immigration to the United States, so the political pressures were mounting for a change in policy.

In the 1920s the Quota Law of 1921 and the Immigration Act of 1924 were implemented. These laws were significant in reducing the overall amount of immigration and skewed immigration towards the already settled immigrants of Britain, Ireland and other parts of northwestern Europe.[3] The Quota Law of 1921 legislated a maximum number of immigrants allowed per year. This maximum was limited at “three percent of the number of foreign-born persons of that nationality who lived in the United States in 1910”[4]. For example, if there were 100,000 immigrants from Ireland already in the United States, then only 3000 Irish people were allowed to immigrate to the United States that year. The Immigration Act of 1924 went a step further and reduced the number of foreign born to two percent for a three-year period while reducing its base year from 1910 to 1890.[5] This reduced the previous quota by half, and skewed the number of immigrants towards Irish, English, and German immigrants basically eliminating immigration from southern and eastern Europe. In 1929, immigration laws tightened again, reducing the quota even further and used the entire American population as its basis for ethnic origins causing there to be smaller percentages of immigrants from specific countries who were allowed into the United States.  By the end of the 1920s, immigration flow fell drastically from about 1 million per year to between 200,000 to 300,000 per year.[6] These quotas were implemented for the Eastern Hemisphere, whereas there was no real need for a quota on the Western Hemisphere because there was such a small amount of immigration from the West at this time.

Bureaucracy Laws Impede Immigration and Silicon Vally Growth

Abogado Aly Immigration LawImmigrating to the United States of America is not made easy by all of the laws an bureaucracies put in place. Many people in the United States are against amnesty and other forms of citizenship that allow illegal immigrants to stay in the United States. Their rational being that if the illegal immigrants want to stay in the United States, they should apply for a visa and wait until they are legally approved. This makes sense at first glance, but within the constructs of the law is an extremely untimely bureaucratic process that gives immigrants little hope of living legally in the United States anytime soon.

A recent study done by Forbes suggests that a computer programer from India has to wait 35 years, on average, if they want to live “legally” in the United States. Someone from Mexico with a high school diploma has to wait an average of 130 years! Complex rules and regulations are creating a difficult situation for both immigrants and the United States.

Studies show that immigrants make up most of the founders in Silicon Valley as they invent things twice as fast as native-born Americans. A lot of Sillicon Vally tech startups are feeling handcuffed by the US immigration policy as it becomes increasingly difficult to hire highly skilled immigrants. The tech startup industry is all about speed and efficiency. The US immigration process is too slow for the hiring processes of these growing startups, which limits their hiring abilities and thus limits competition.

Low skill and high skill is not a factor in the start-up rat race. Labor is a spectrum where all levels of labor are needed to keep up in the industry. These startup companies are hoping that the immigration laws become more relaxed so that they can hire who they need to hire.