Antonio Vanegas has worked at a pita shop in the food court of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C., for three years, and recently joined 150 workers on a one-day strike to protest low wages and other labor law violations. He spoke at the protest and asked the federal government to be a “good landlord” and only house businesses that follow the laws of the land.
However, Vanegas ran into a bit of a problem: He’s an undocumented immigrant, his place of employment was housed in the same building as United States Customs and Boarder Protection and he is facing deportation after being apprehended by a federal office at work just a few days after his protest.
According to The Huffington Post.
“Vanegas said his immigration status was never an issue on the job -- at least until he claimed publicly that his boss had been violating labor law. Not long after that, he said, he was detained for four days, and now has an immigration hearing scheduled for August.
“'This country is a country of laws,’ Vanegas, 26, told HuffPost through an interpreter. ‘Regardless of my status, I should have some protections based on the labor laws that have been violated.’"
Venegas claims that he was paid under the table and below minimum wage, worked beyond federal overtime limits without compensation and simply wrote his hours on a piece of paper and was subsequently paid in cash.
The report continued, “During Vanegas' detainment, the Latino advocacy group Presente.org circulated an online petition calling the situation "outrageous."
Kyle de Beausset, senior campaigner with the group, told HuffPost he felt Vanegas was ultimately punished for doing a brave thing.
"When undocumented workers are trying to organize, they're threatened with deportation, and that keeps everyone's wages down," de Beausset said. "We're hopeful this will help people realize that when folks are here in the country and unable to organize, it hurts everyone."
Source: The Huffington Post
Here’s a statistic about President Obama that will probably accomplish the strange feat of angering his supporters and exciting his detractors. President Obama has deported more immigrants during his presidency than any other president in United States history. More than Reagan, Clinton, either Bush – you name it, he’s deported more than all of them.
Obama is winning the deportation race by a ridiculous margin, too. Through the first five years of his presidency, he’s deported more than twice as many people as George W. Bush had at the same point. Again, whether or not this is good news to you probably depends on your political views. Either way, it’s a surprising statistic for a president that has been accused by his political opponents of being sympathetic towards immigrants.
The eye-popping stat has received some attention around the web today. This makes sense given that today marks the one year anniversary of the immigration reform bill’s introduction in the House. Many, including the American Civil Liberties Union, speculate that Obama is being deliberately tough on immigration in order to give the Democrat-endorsed reform bill a chance to pass.
“Why has he been doing this?” the ACLU asks rhetorically. “Because President Obama wanted to prove to Congress that he wasn’t ‘soft on immigration,’ in the hopes that they would pass comprehensive immigration reform. So far, that plan hasn’t worked out too well.”
The immigration reform bill remains stalled out in the halls of Congress.
For a visual representation of the deportation numbers, check out this chart showing deportations from 2000-2011. Not only have deportations of criminals increased under President Obama, but deportations of non-criminals have as well. Despite winning an overwhelming majority of the Hispanic vote in the 2008 and 2012 elections, 59% of Hispanic voters disapprove of Obama’s handling of deportations.
Francisco Diaz Jr. is a U.S. citizen; he should not have been deported to Mexicali, Baja California; and he should be allowed to return to his family in Las Vegas. Those are the claims of his family and Las Vegas immigration attorney Rex Velasquez, according to a recent story in the Las Vegas Sun.
Diaz was originally deported in 1999 by an immigration judge. That judge cited his status as a registered permanent resident with multiple felony convictions as the reason for his deportation. The ruling came as a shock. Diaz, who was 25 at the time, had believed his entire life that he was a citizen.
He was born two months premature to his teenage mother, Adela Espana, in 1973 in Mexico. The girl, then 14 years old, was a U.S. citizen and was traveling to Mexico to see family.
According to U.S. law, a child born out of wedlock to a legal citizen acquires the mother’s citizenship at birth. When the young family returned to the U.S., Espana and Francisco Diaz Sr. declared their desire for the child to be a U.S. citizen. The elder Diaz was not a citizen, and they were informed by Immigration and Naturalization Services (now split into Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) that the child and the father should instead apply for permanent residency. The couple took the advice, and that decision has led to nothing but heartbreak for Espana ever since.
By age 16, Junior, as he is known to his family, began getting in trouble with the law. It was while he was in prison for cocaine possession in 1998 that he learned there may be a problem with his citizenship. By 1999, he had been deported. Since that time, he has been deported twice more, been in and out of prison, and been charged with defying deportation, a felony.
Public defenders have repeatedly tried to argue that had his mother not been directed to apply for a green card and officials had recognized Junior’s citizenship, deportation would never be a consequence for his criminal misdeeds.
Junior, who was recently severely beaten in Mexicali, now sits in a wheelchair and has said he is resigned to life south of the U.S. border.
“I met guys in prison who spent $40,000 on their immigration cases and they still lost,” he said.
His mother still hopes he can come back to Las Vegas and wires him $300 a month for living expenses and to help him mount a case for return.
Velasquez is helping with that case and has agreed to work on it pro bono.
“A case like this is one of those things that gets my adrenaline pumping, because everyone else has missed it, and I can’t believe that,” he said. “It’s just a shame, because it never should’ve happened in the first place.”
Junior is not the first U.S. citizen to be erroneously deported. In 2008, the Los Angeles Times ran a story about Pedro Guzman, a mentally handicapped U.S. citizen who was wrongly deported but allowed to return to be with his family. And in 2012, the ACLU announced that the U.S. government settled a case out of court with Mark Lyttle, another citizen who had undergone a similar experience.
Diaz applied for a passport at the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana last week with the help of Velasquez. If the passport is granted, it would signal the State Department’s acknowledgement of his citizenship and a possible fresh start.
On Monday a group of more than 30 undocumented immigrants attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border at the legal port of entry in San Diego. At least one of those who tried to cross has been deported back to Mexico according to the Huffington Post.
Dolores Lara has children still living in the U.S. and his participation in the mass crossing was part of a larger protest known as "Bring Them Home.” The campaign is organized by the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) and is meant to draw attention to the impact deportations have on immigrant families. The National Memo reports that the Obama administration has deported nearly 2 million immigrants to date.
Lara had worked in the fields of eastern Washington state for nearly a decade when he was stopped and taken into custody under suspicion of DUI three years ago. He was handed over to immigration authorities and eventually deported to his native Mexico. In Tijuana he has struggled to find work and has hoped to make it back to the U.S. to be with his family.
Those hopes have now been dashed as his request to re-enter the country through humanitarian parole or asylum have been denied.
"He decided to take that risk because he wanted to be with his children, with us,” his daughter Elizabeth told the Huffington Post.
She said she supported her father’s efforts to join the crossing as a protest because she didn’t want him risking his life by trying to cross illegally.
It is estimated that close to 100 other protesters will attempt to cross legally this week as part of the “Bring Them Home” campaign. The others who were detained with Lara are still being held as border authorities process their cases.
The first instance of a “Bring Them Home” protest crossing occurred last year when three immigrants — Lizbeth Mateo, Lulu Martinez and Marcos Saavedra — traveled to Mexico and attempted to comeback to the U.S. in July. They entered legally at Nogales, Ariz. and declared their status. They were accompanied by six others who had joined them in Mexico. The group was detained and became known as the “Dream Nine.” The nine applied for asylum and were released after authorities decided they had “credible fear” of returning to their home countries.
The crossings have increased as President Obama continues to be criticized by the Latino community over his deportation record.
"We're tired of hiding from the police, tired of being a business for this country, tired of President Obama's promises," José Hernández, whose daughter was among the protesters Monday, was quoted as saying by the Huffington Post.
President Barack Obama, last week, assured Latinos that information used to file for health insurance coverage under the nation’s new healthcare laws — sometimes called “Obamacare”— won’t be shared with other government agencies or lead to possible deportation.
Last year, a story in the National Journal reported that Latino families remained skeptical of the new healthcare laws. Many families, the story reported, are of mixed immigration status, meaning the children were born in this country and here legally while the parents were still considered illegal. Such a situation, it is believed, made parents reluctant to seek coverage for their children because they fear that information, revealed through the application process, could lead to their deportation and the family being torn apart.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a letter assuring people that the information would not be shared. Many, though, believe such assurances haven’t been enough.
"I think something from the president himself would be helpful,” Daniel Zingale was quoted as saying in the National Journal story. Zingale is senior vice president with California Endowment, an organization which has fought to get Latinos signed up for health coverage.
At last week’s town hall meeting, hosted by Telemundo and Univision, the president sought to provide that personal assurance. According to a story in the Weekly Standard, when asked, as part of the questioning, "Will we hear from you a pledge, a personal promise, that the information provided in the registration process will not be used for deportation purposes in this country?” Obama responded, “Aboslutely.”
In finishing up his answer, the president further reassured Latinos, particularly those in mixed-status families.
“So for everybody out there who is in a mixed family, there is no sharing of the data from the health care plan into immigration services,” the president said. “They should feel confident.”
Obama has faced skepticism from the Latino community recently as deportation efforts along the southern border of the country have increased. The Detroit Free Press reports that the president attempted to push back against those worries at the meeting, saying that he believes the Latino community knows, “I’ve got their back.”
A woman in McAllen, Texas, is facing deportation after being arrested for failing to get her son proper medical treatment for a broken foot, reports KGBT in Texas.
Mely Saldana’s 15-year-old son was injured in January during an argument with the boy’s step-father over what to watch on television. The altercation led to the teen's being pushed to the floor and landing in an awkward position on his foot.
Saldana, who is in the country illegally, did not take her son to the hospital because she feared being deported.
The woman did leave her husband and moved to a home in South McAllen where, with no money, she struggled to get by.
"She didn't have money and she was scared," a friend of Saldana’s, who did not want to be identified, told KGBT.
As the condition of the boy’s foot worsened, the mother took him to a masseuse and a doctor at a clinic. Both advised her that the foot was likely fractured. Unable to pay for further treatment and still scared to go to a hospital, the mother treated the broken foot with nothing but Tylenol for 25 days.
In extreme pain for days, the teen resorted to getting around on crutches. He was eventually taken to a nearby hospital and underwent surgery for a broken ankle on Feb. 13.
Upon investigation into the incident, Saldana was arrested for injury to a child and failing to report a felony. She was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement after posting bond and is facing deportation.
There is no news on the condition of the son and his foot. Similarly, there is no news on whether the step-father of the boy has been charged with a crime.
The situation casts new light on the plight of illegal immigrants who face abuse and neglect. The problem is of particular interest in Texas. In 2010, the Texas-based Center for Public Policy Priorities found the situation so dire that it used Texas as a case study to explore how the needs of abused children could be better addressed under existing laws.
A Pakistani exchange student, who has been in a coma in a Duluth, Minn. hospital, will not be deported, reports the Associated Press.
According to Pioneer Press, Shahzaib Bajwa has been hospitalized since a November car accident. He had been a student at University of Wisconsin-Superior and in the country on a student visa. That visa expires on Feb. 28.
Until Wednesday, Bajwa’s family was concerned that difficulty getting his visa renewed, coupled with his mounting hospital bills, would lead officials to have him deported back to Pakistan.
Bajwa’s bills amount to $350,000 so far and continue to grow every day. Bajwa’s brother, Shahraiz Bajwa, told NBC News that the hospital will not help convert the patient’s student visa to a medical one because they don’t believe the family can pay the bills.
“There is one doctor at this hospital who has put a lot of effort in sending my brother back, and he must be very heartbroken that we are still here. He is doing it because my brother is costing them money,” Shahraiz Bajwa said. “When we asked the hospital to convert his student visa into a medical visa, first they said they would help us. Then they took that offer from the table.”
“We are working collaboratively with Mr. Bajwa’s family and caregivers along with the U.S. and Pakistani governments to reach the best possible outcome for the patient and for his family,” hospital spokeswoman Maureen Talarico said in the same news story, adding she could not directly address Bajwa’s claims because of patient privacy laws.
The issue has shed new light on growing concerns of “medical repatriations.” Such maneuvers allow for de-facto deportations when a hospital is concerned an immigrant cannot pay medical bills. According to NBC, a 2012 study released by two advocacy groups tracked 800 such cases. In one case, a patient was removed through a hospital’s garbage-disposal doors. In another, a patient was flown to a foreign airport and abandoned on the tarmac.
Such a grim fate does not await Shahzaib Bajwa, it seems. His brother has said the family has been contacted by Pakistan’s consul general in Chicago. The office there told him that the expiring visa will no longer be problem. The consul general also informed the family that the exchange program’s insurance company will pay to move Bajwa to a long-term care facility and pay for his care for a short time. The family will have to pay expenses after that.
An online fundraising campaign the family launched last week has raised about $131,000.
Nearly half of immigrants who choose to fight their deportations are winning their cases. That is the analysis of a study conducted by the Transactional Records Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, reports website AllGov.com.
The Associated Press, reporting on the same study, points out that the government has been losing these deportation cases at an increasing rate since 2009. That number may be accelerating. In the 2013 fiscal year, the government won 52 percent of its cases. The success rate has dropped by two percent since the beginning of the 2014 budget year, with judges ruling in favor of nearly half of the defendants in the 42,816 cases heard so far.
The study also reveals that the location of the trial has a lot to do with the outcome. Defendants in Oregon, California and New York tend to be more successful. Oregon defendants have a success rate over 77 percent. If tried in Georgia, immigrants have only a 19 percent chance of beating the charges. Louisiana and Utah also have low success rates for defendants.
Fox News reports that in 2011, the government reviewed a backlog of some 300,000 cases. A good deal of those cases, some many years old, were eventually dismissed. Furthermore, in 2012, the Obama administration created a program called Deferred Action for Childhood that allowed some illegal immigrants to apply to stay in the country for two years on a work permit. Kathleen Campbell Walker, an immigration lawyer in Texas, told Fox that those and other reasons could be behind the government’s slouching success rate.
"The true implications of these numbers are murky and people shouldn't jump to conclusions yet," Walker said.
The study comes at a time when immigration is a hot topic in the nation. President Barack Obama pledged in his State of the Union address last month to use executive power to address many issues. The Senate passed a large immigration reform bill last year, but efforts in the House of Representatives to pass legislation have stalled.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have detained and may deport Edgar Javier Marin, an Ecuadorian immigrant from East Haven, Conn.
Marin, a legal resident, is a father, youth soccer coach and immigrant-rights advocate. His detainment and possible deportation likely stems from an incident with East Haven police on June 28, 2011.
On that day, Marin’s partner and mother of his child, Bianca Torres, had been involved in a car accident. Marin was on the scene to assist her. Police and a tow truck operator arrived and wanted her car towed to a police impound until the car was deemed safe to drive. Marin protested, stating he wanted to remove some tools from the car and possibly just have the car towed to his home. A physical altercation erupted that resulted in Marin's being stun-gunned by East Haven police officer Dennis Spaulding.
Accounts of the altercation differ, but many witnesses claim that the officer brutally beat Marin before using the stun gun. Others say the officer used justified force. Marin left the dust-up with a charge of assault on a police officer.
Instead of a lengthy legal battle, he chose to plead guilty to the charge in exchange for two years' probation.
“When it’s your word against the police’s word, the court will always side with the police,” said John Lugo, an organizer at La Unidad Latina en Accion, an immigrant advocacy group. “Two years on probation sounds a lot better than up to 10 years in prison.”
Officer Spaulding has since been convicted on multiple counts of civil rights abuses and was sentenced Jan. 23, to five years in prison by a federal judge. His conviction was not a result of the incident in 2011.
Supporters of Marin argue that he was unfairly targeted, even profiled, by the East Haven Police and Spaulding. Consequently, his guilty plea should have no bearing on his immigration status, they say. Furthermore, many in the community believe the East Haven Police turned him in to ICE.
Not so, says Police Lt. David Emerman.
“ICE was likely notified and began proceedings for deportation due to his felony conviction,” Emerman said. “However, it is not the police department that makes the notification after conviction.”
Alex Meyerovich, a Bridgeport, Conn. immigration attorney, said Marin has a long year in front of him while he fights deportation.
“It will come down to this man’s history,” Meyerovich added. “But this man will need both a good criminal defense attorney and an immigration lawyer who knows immigration issues.”
If convicted for egging in his luxurious Calabasas, Calif. neighborhood, pop star Justin Bieber could face deportation.
The Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department raided Bieber’s home Tuesday in search of surveillance footage that would serve as evidence of his participation.
After the search, one member of Bieber’s entourage was arrested on suspicion of cocaine possession.
The arrested man was later identified as Lil Za, or Xavier Smith, with bail set at $70,000.
"California does not take vandalism lightly,” L.A. based lawyer Anahita Sedaghatfar. “If the damage is $400 or more, the person can be charged with a felony and the person can face anywhere between one to three years in jail.”
If convicted, and because Bieber is not a U.S. citizen, he could be deported to Canada in a worst-case scenario.
However, it seems the teen heart throb wouldn’t take the news too harshly.
“You guys are evil,” Bieber said in a Rolling Stones interview in 2011. “Canada’s the best country in the world. We go to the doctor and we don’t need to worry about paying him, but here, your whole life, you’re broke because of medical bills.”