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Thread: immigration articles thread

  1. #11

    ICE Will No Longer Sedate Deportees By PETER PRENGAMAN | Associated Press, Jan 12 2008

    LOS ANGELES -- U.S. immigration agents must not sedate deportees without a judge's permission, according to a policy change issued this week.

    Immigration officials have acknowledged that 56 deportees were given psychotropic drugs during a seven-month period in 2006 and 2007 even though most had no history of mental problems. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit over the practice in June.

    An internal U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement memo issued Wednesday and obtained Friday by The Associated Press said that effective immediately, agents must get a court order before administering drugs "to facilitate an alien's removal."

    "There are no exceptions to this policy," said the memo by John Torres, detention and removal director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    To get a sedation order from court, officials must show deportees have a history of physical resistance to being removed or are a danger to themselves.

    ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice verified the memo's authenticity.

    "Medical sedation will only be considered as a last resort," she said.

    The ACLU sued the agency to stop the practice, alleging it could constitute torture and violates the Bill of Rights and federal laws regarding the medical treatment of detainees.

    The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status and is still pending, came after a handful of immigrants in Southern California claimed to have been drugged or threatened with drugging while the government attempted to deport them.

    "We are very happy that the government recognized that their barbaric sedation policy was wrong," ACLU lawyer Ahilan Arulanantham said. "This has been a shameful chapter in the country's immigration history."

    Arulanantham said the ACLU would go forward with the lawsuit to learn more details about how sedation was used, who was drugged and to get a court ruling outlawing it in the future.

    Amadou Diouf, one of two plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said late Friday he was relieved that forced sedation would cease. Diouf, 32, alleges he was injected with psychotropic drugs in 2006 in a plane that was to return him to his native Senegal.

    "It was hard for me to believe they would drug people," said Diouf, who was ordered deported for overstaying a student visa. "It happened to me, and under the circumstances, it wasn't necessary."

    Diouf said escorting ICE agents gave him the injection after he asked to speak with the plane's pilot to tell him that he had a judge's order temporarily staying his deportation.

    Senate testimony last year revealed that 33 of 56 deportees involuntarily given psychotropic drugs had no history of psychological problems. They were given the medicine because of "combative behavior," said Julie Myers, assistant secretary of homeland security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

  2. #12
    [JURIST] US District Court Judge Alia Moses Ludlum of the Western District of Texas has ordered the City of Eagle Pass, Texas to temporarily turn over 233 acres of its land to the federal government so it can begin construction of a 670-mile fence on the border between the US and Mexico. Ludlum's ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by the US Department of Justice against the city Monday. The judge ordered the city to turn over the property by Tuesday. Last week, US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials said DHS is preparing over 100 court cases [JURIST report] against landowners along the US-Mexico border who have refused to allow construction of the border fence on their properties. AP has more.

    US President George W. Bush signed the Secure Fence Act of 2006 in October 2006. The legislation authorizes the construction of approximately 700 miles of fencing along the 2,000-mile US-Mexican border. Critics of the fence include locals in border communities, who feel that a border fence could interfere with irrigation, harm wildlife, and disrupt Mexican consumers and investors that positively contribute to the local economy. In May 2007, the International Boundary and Water Commission said that construction of the fence could violate a boundary treaty between the United States and Mexico.

  3. #13
    Associated Press, Jan 15 2008

    A convicted con man was charged with posing as a lawyer and offering to obtain green cards for immigrants "” some of whom now face deportation.

    Ross Stanley Berton, 60, pleaded not guilty on Jan. 7 to 31 felony counts, including grand theft and forgery, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney David Berger said Tuesday.

    He could face up to 25 years in state prison if convicted.

    A call to his attorney, Richard Sherman, seeking comment was not immediately returned Tuesday.

    Berton, who worked out of a lavish office in the mid-Wilshire area, took $129,000 in fees from a dozen clients who thought they were hiring him to obtain or extend their green cards, Berger said.

    In reality, "he charged an awful lot of money for doing absolutely nothing," Berger said.

    "He cultivated the image of being a high-powered attorney. He would tell the victims that he used to be a judge," the prosecutor said.

    Many of the clients held student and business visas and did nothing to extend them, believing their cases were being handled.

    "Their visas lapsed and they became over-stayers" and subject to deportation, Berger said.

    "They will have to see a real lawyer ... who can try to undo this awful situation," he said.

    The alleged scam ran from 2003 until his Jan. 4 arrest, Berger said.

    Berton also is accused of running a traffic school scheme in which eight clients paid as much as $1,000 in the belief that they were hiring a lawyer to fight traffic tickets. In reality, Berton would simply sign certificates showing they had completed a now-defunct traffic school, Berger said.

    Berton also is charged with stealing the identity of one traffic school client and using it to create an American Express credit card account, running up $80,000 in unpaid bills, Berger said.

    Berton has three previous convictions for a traffic school scam, a telemarketing scam and check fraud, authorities said.

  4. #14
    Chertoff: Longer Lines Coming to Borders
    Posted: 2008-01-17 17:17:18

    New border-crossing rules that take effect in two weeks will mean longer lines and stiffer demands for positive ID, including for Americans returning to the U.S., Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday.

    A driver's license won't be good enough to get you past a checkpoint at the Canadian border, Chertoff said. That will be a surprise to many people who routinely cross the border, but Chertoff bristled at criticism that such extra security would be inconvenient.

    "It's time to grow up and recognize that if we're serious about this threat, we've got to take reasonable, measured but nevertheless determined steps to getting better security," he said in an interview with The Associated Press.

    Thousands of people enter the U.S. through land crossings everyday. The biggest effect of the change will be at the Canadian border since it applies to both Canadians and Americans. Non-Americans coming in through Mexico already need extra documentation.

    Congressional critics representing Northern border states were anything but impressed with Chertoff's rhetoric.

    His department has proved incapable of implementing a 2004 law on border security, and Chertoff "frankly has as much credibility on telling people to 'grow up' as Geoffrey the Giraffe," said Rep. Tom Reynolds, a Buffalo-area Republican.

    Added Sen. Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican, "Secretary Chertoff's comments that those objecting to the plan need to 'grow up' indicates that the department still doesn't understand the practical effects of DHS policies on the everyday lives of border community residents."

    Under the new system, which takes effect Jan. 31, Americans and Canadians who are 19 or older will have to present proof of citizenship when they seek to enter the United States through a land or sea port of entry. A passport will be fine. Or a birth certificate coupled with some other ID such as a driver's license.

    Chertoff said he had been surprised to learn that simply stating "I am an American" and showing an ID card has been sufficient to get back into the country. "I don't think in this day and age we can afford the honor system for entering the United States," he said. "Regrettably, we live in a world in which people lie sometimes about their identity."

    For people other than Americans or Canadians, the rules at the northern border will be unchanged - passports and visas will still be required. The same goes for non-Americans at the Mexican border.

    Chertoff said longer lines at the border in the early days of the new policy are inevitable. "Until people get the message, there will be some delays," he said.

    He predicted that would change once people got used to the new system, and he said border agents would be flexible in applying the new rules at the beginning.

    Not moving to the new restrictions would be a tragic mistake, Chertoff said. "I can guarantee if we don't make this change, eventually there will come a time when someone will come across the border exploiting the vulnerabilities in the system and some bad stuff will happen. And then there'll be another 9/11 commission and we'll have people come saying 'Why didn't we do this?'"

    More than 8,000 different documents have been used to enter the United States, in some cases even library cards. The proof-of-citizenship requirement will greatly reduce the ability to sneak by border agents with fake papers, Chertoff said. Border agents will now accept about two dozen types of ID.

    Chertoff complained as recently as a year ago that checking birth certificates placed an "enormous burden" on agents because such documents come from thousands of jurisdictions and are hard to verify.

    The Bush administration envisions an eventual passport requirement for everyone crossing the border into the United States. Congress passed a travel requirements law in 2004 but is having second thoughts, particularly as Northern-state lawmakers argue the passport requirement will hurt tourism and trade.

    The law's requirements for air travelers in 2007 were followed by a massive backlog in passport applications, and some fear that will happen again this year as Homeland Security tries to go forward with the changes for land and sea crossings.

    Also beginning in February, people can apply for a passport card that will be smaller than a regular passport but will include security features.

    The 2004 law, passed in reaction to the Sept. 11 attacks, is called the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, designed to "get control" of the borders by verifying the citizenship and identity of everyone entering the U.S. by land, sea or air from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

    In June, Chertoff delayed the law's passport requirement for land and sea crossings until next summer. Congress has since pushed it back even further to June 2009, and Chertoff has been forced to settle for birth certificates combined with other forms of ID as proof of citizenship.

    On the Net:

    Department of Homeland Security:

  5. #15
    when they first come up with all this ,,this whole thing was about the land border... but now i guess not,,so i guess the ID card will still be good enough to cross the land borders

  6. #16
    Border Patrol to hire 6,000 by end of 2008

    By Amanda Miller - Staff writer

    Moving to the U.S. Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley Sector was a culture shock for Border Patrol Agent Frederick Mangona and his family.

    "Being so close to Mexico, the culture is very much influenced by the Mexican culture," Mangona said.

    But the Army veteran, husband and father prefers the slow pace of his south Texas lifestyle in coastal Corpus Christi over the fast pace he perceives in bigger cities.

    The Border Patrol is looking for more veterans like Mangona. The organization's goal is to grow by 6,000 agents, for a total force of about 18,000, by the end of 2008.

    About 6,000 National Guard troops are supplementing the Border Patrol's efforts along the southwest border.

    The Border Patrol's recruiting push comes during a high-profile time in border security, with lawmakers considering guest worker programs and a post-Sept. 11 emphasis on preventing suspected terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the U.S.

    It's a historic opportunity for service members leaving the military to enter jobs as federal law enforcement officers.

    Mangona is one of many veterans who have found careers with the Border Patrol. He's a native of the Philippines and joined the U.S. Army in 1992 as a permanent resident alien.

    He left the Army as a specialist serving with mechanized infantry units and later earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice along with his U.S. citizenship, a requirement to join the Border Patrol.

    "I encountered a Border Patrol agent in 2001, and I was just impressed by the professionalism "” and the ability to speak Spanish," said Mangona, who learned Spanish along with other non-Spanish-speakers at the Border Patrol Academy.

    Every new Border Patrol agent starts out along the southwest border "” those areas of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California closest to Mexico.

    That's why intense Spanish-language training is a big part of agents' experience at the 17-week Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, N.M. Agents must learn Spanish, but recruiters emphasize that Spanish proficiency is not a prerequisite to joining the force.

    Border Patrol's mission
    The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks resulted in changes for the Border Patrol. The security force became a part of the Homeland Security Department's U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.

    Reorganization came with a new "priority mission" "” to prevent terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the U.S.

    The new mission puts added pressure on Border Patrol agents already seeking to prevent illegal aliens and illegal contraband "” particularly drugs "” from crossing U.S. borders.

    "We have to be not only more vigilant, we have to look for more things," Border Patrol spokesman Todd Fraser said. "We have to be concerned with trucks carrying a lot of fertilizer or individuals carrying lab equipment. Before, we wouldn't have second-guessed it. Now, we have to second-guess it."

    Preventing people and drugs from entering the country illegally are still the biggest parts of a Border Patrol agent's job.

    The Border Patrol stopped more than one million people from entering the U.S. illegally in fiscal 2006 and seized more than 1.3 million pounds of marijuana and nearly 13,000 pounds of cocaine. The busiest area now is Border Patrol's Tucson Sector in Arizona.

    "Our entire mission has changed, but our goal is the same: border security," Fraser said.

    Becoming an agent
    If you're not already a member of a federal law enforcement agency such as the FBI or the Drug Enforcement Administration, then you must pass the Border Patrol exam and receive a tentative job offer letter prior to your 40th birthday. Military police don't qualify for the age waiver.

    For every 30 people who apply to take the Border Patrol's written exam, only one enters the Border Patrol Academy. Only about 40 percent of the applicants pass the exam.

    "It's a very difficult test," said Todd Bryant, acting assistant chief of Border Patrol's training and recruitment branch. Those who sign up for the test receive study guides, which they're strongly encouraged to use. "If you come in cold, though, your chances aren't good," Bryant said.

    The three-part exam tests applicants' logical reasoning skills and ability to learn a foreign language. Candidates are administered an "artificial language test," but a Spanish-language proficiency test is substituted for those who believe they're already proficient in Spanish. The exam also includes an assessment of what you've learned from past work experiences. The test takes about 4½ hours, Bryant said.

    Depending on the exam location or recruiting event an applicant attends, a medical exam and physical fitness test may be administered on the same day. To pass the physical fitness test, candidates must do 20 push-ups in 60 seconds, 25 sit-ups in 60 seconds and a 30-step-per-minute step test for five minutes. The medical exam and physical fitness test may also be scheduled for a later date, along with an **** interview before three experienced Border Patrol agents.

    "We'll ask questions about how you'd respond and react to certain scenarios based on real occurrences in Border Patrol. What would a reasonable person do in that scenario?" Bryant said.

    Once an applicant passes the written exam, medical exam, physical fitness test and **** interview, there's a drug test and background check. Investigators will interview friends, neighbors and employers "” "to make sure you are who you say you are."

    The entire process can take several months. You can request duty in one of Border Patrol's sectors along the southwest border, but you may not be assigned there. You'll find out whether your desired sector is available before you accept a job.

    If you accept, you're responsible for reporting to your initial duty station for a couple of days of paperwork. Next, you head to Border Patrol Academy in New Mexico; from that point through the duration of your academy training, Border Patrol pays for your room and board.

    Intense training
    Mangona compares Border Patrol Academy with his Army training.

    "Physically I would say it's about equal to the Army basic training," he said, "but it's a lot more academically challenging, not to mention that we all have to be proficient in Spanish when we graduate."

    The Spanish-language portion is considered the equivalent of two years of college-level Spanish.

    "It's everything you would need to know to conduct an interview," Bryant said.

    Recruits learn constitutional law, immigration law, close-quarters combat and driving techniques, among other subjects, at the academy.

    One or two groups of 50 recruits enter the Border Patrol Academy each week. They attend classes eight hours a day on weekdays, and most spend weekends studying and otherwise preparing for the coming week.

    After graduation comes five to seven months of field training in new agents' home sectors "” "to get you to a competent level," Bryant said.

    More tests follow at seven and 10 months after graduation to ensure recruits have retained what they learned at the academy.

    Agents are eligible to join the agents' union, the National Border Patrol Council, after two years of service, but they are not required to do so. As is customary within law enforcement unions, supervisors are not allowed membership.

    Military experience
    Senior Patrol Agent Adrian H. Arcides left the Marine Corps as a staff sergeant in 2000 after 13½ years of service. The former aircraft maintainer was drawn to the Border Patrol because of the likelihood he could work in his home state of Texas as well as the opportunity to apply his military time to his federal retirement.

    He's assigned to the same Rio Grande Valley Sector as Mangona.

    "I started off as a line agent, looking for terrorists, any type of illegal immigration, any type of smuggling "” whether it be narcotics or people," said Arcides, who now works as a recruiter.

    Arcides considers the Border Patrol a good opportunity for troops set to leave the service.

    "It's an easier transition for them going from one uniform to the next. Adventure is there as well," Arcides said.

    Arcides was able to "buy back" his time in the Marine Corps and apply those years to his Border Patrol retirement. He had the option of making a lump-sum payment of about $5,400 for his 13½ years in the Corps. That amount could also be deducted in $25 increments from his Border Patrol pay.

    When Arcides retires from Border Patrol after 20 years, his retirement checks will reflect 33½ years of service.

    The bad with the good
    Former Border Patrol agent and Marine Corps veteran Ray Harris couldn't do much more to promote the Border Patrol, even in retirement. A 13-year Marine Corps veteran who served as an avionics technician and later as an auditor, Harris took the Border Patrol exam as a gunnery sergeant, wearing his Marine Corps uniform, in 1980.

    Harris now runs, an unofficial Border Patrol Web site which he started in the 1990s, before the agency had a Web site of its own.

    "I think it's one of the best jobs in the world," Harris said to any service member considering applying to the Border Patrol. "Most military veterans find it to be a really good fit."

    But changes within the force are spurring T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, to caution those considering a career in the Border Patrol.

    "I bleed green, the color of the uniform," said Bonner, who represents about 7,000 members as union president. "The job was just an incredible occupational choice for me at the time I accepted it."

    But politics have crept into agents' day-to-day jobs in a number of ways, "some subtle and some not so subtle," Bonner said.

    Calls for immigration reform among U.S. lawmakers and activist groups historically have caused more illegal activity along the borders, especially when those tempted to cross illegally glimpse "the carrot of legal status," Bonner said.

    He also cites instances of Border Patrol agents being prosecuted for doing what Bonner considers their jobs.

    "The government of Mexico demands prosecution of our agents, and sadly our government goes along with those demands more often than not," Bonner said.

    Bonner alluded to the prosecution and subsequent convictions of two former Border Patrol agents following a February 2005 incident in which they fired on a Mexican citizen and later failed to report the shooting.

    The U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Texas, has issued a number of statements in an attempt to clarify what it deems "factual inaccuracies and unfounded criticism" regarding the case.

    National Border Patrol Council leaders in April publicized a no-confidence vote against Border Patrol Chief David V. Aguilar, listing 10 points including "promoting amnesty and a guest worker program" and operational issues such as the agency's vehicle pursuit policy.

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner W. Ralph Basham responded to the no-confidence vote in a written statement: "During a period of tremendous change and unprecedented financial and political support for the Border Patrol, Chief Aguilar has been a tireless advocate for agents on the frontline."

    Those considering the Border Patrol as their next career should do so "with their eyes wide open," Bonner said. "We need patriots to step forward who are willing to bend and in some cases break the rules to get the job done. It's going to expose you to discipline and sometimes prosecution. ... That doesn't mean it can't change."

    Border Patrol spokesman Fraser took exception to Bonner's statement.

    "Our motto is ˜Honor first.' The Border Patrol does not have any place in its ranks for individuals who are intentionally, purposely breaking the rules."

    Border Patrol pay
    Border Patrol agents may enter at one of three pay levels, depending on their academic and law-enforcement backgrounds.

    GL-5: $35,595

    Requires one of the following:

    "’ Substantial work experience in fields such as interviewing, claims adjusting, journalism or security.

    "’ A bachelor's degree.

    "’ A combination of education and experience.

    GL-7: $40,519

    Meets GL-5 requirements, as well as demonstrated the ability to:

    "’ Make arrests and exercise sound judgment using firearms.

    "’ Deal "courteously, tactfully and effectively" in law-enforcement matters.

    "’Quickly analyze information and act appropriately according to laws, court decisions and law-enforcement procedures.

    "’ Develop and maintain contact with a network of informants.

    GL-9: $45,189

    Meets GL-7 requirements, as well as demonstrated the ability to:

    "’ Develop cases, conduct interviews or interrogations, make apprehensions and arrests.

    "’ Prepare cases and appear as a professional witness in court.

    "’ Exercise sound judgment using firearms and conduct training or qualification exercises in the proper care and use of firearms.

    "’ Deal effectively with individuals in their detention, control or interrogation, and promote community outreach and public relations.

    "’ Analyze and disseminate intelligence information and data, and apply law enforcement concepts and techniques.

    "’ Develop and maintain a network of informants, social and political organizations, local law enforcement agencies, and citizens.

    "’ Use law-enforcement databases.

    "’ Prepare legal reports and documents concerning illegal activities.

    For a full list of qualifications, visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Web site. Click on "CBP Border Patrol "” Now Hiring," then on "CBP Border Patrol Entry Level Positions," and then on "Border Patrol Agent Fact Sheet."

    Voices of experience
    Agents shared their favorite reasons to work for the U.S. Border Patrol as well as the toughest parts of their job.

    Best part of the job:

    "I would say because we're not a 9-to-5 job. It's an opportunity to ... serve your country and try something new." (Todd Bryant, acting chief, Border Patrol's training and recruitment branch)

    "I'm not stuck behind a desk all the time. I can get out and go do different jobs." (Adrian H. Arcides, senior patrol agent and Marine Corps veteran)

    "Being able to work outside Β… with minimum supervision, dictating the pace of work I want to do during the day ... serving the country while having fun." (Frederick Mangona, Border Patrol agent and Army veteran)

    The reason to join:

    "Because border security is essential to the continuation of the sovereignty of our country." (T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council)

    Toughest part of the job:

    "Being under the [public's] microscope, especially now, when immigration is such a big issue." (Mangona)

    "When you come across a big group of people who are crossing illegally. You scare them because you come out of the brush in the middle of the night. They spread out from the group and end up separating. A young daughter or a young son is just left behind. The child is scared." (Arcides)

    Most common misconception:

    "That we sit in booths at the international crossings and ask people if they have anything to declare." (Todd Fraser, Border Patrol spokesman)
    "Until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes everywhere will be war"...................BOB MARLEY

  7. #17
    Originally posted by mike_2007:
    when they first come up with all this ,,this whole thing was about the land border... but now i guess not,,so i guess the ID card will still be good enough to cross the land borders
    Mike, thats always amazed me that you could go across the Mexican Border and the Canadian border just using your Drivers Licence, in the UK if we wanted to take the ferry across to France, belgium or Holland, we had to have a passport.

    So I think having to use a passport to cross the border is a good thing.

  8. #18
    By FRANK ELTMAN, Associated Press Writer
    Thu Jan 17, 6:35 PM ET

    RIVERHEAD, N.Y. - For months, the nurses complained that they were subject to demeaning and unfair working conditions "” not what they were promised when they came to America from the Philippines in search of a better life. So they abruptly quit.


    But in doing so, they put more than their careers at risk: Prosecutors hit them with criminal charges for allegedly jeopardizing the lives of terminally ill children they were in charge of watching.

    The 10 nurses and the attorney who advised them were charged with conspiracy and child endangerment in what defense lawyers say is an unprecedented use of criminal law in a labor dispute. If convicted of the misdemeanor offenses, they face up to a year in jail on each of 13 counts, and could lose their nursing licenses and be deported.

    The case has unfolded against the backdrop of a chronic nursing shortage in the United States. All of the defendants were from the Philippines, which exported 120,000 nurses last year.

    One defendant was a doctor back home and a top scorer on the country's medical board exams, but decided it was more lucrative to be a nurse in the United States. Others had respectable medical jobs back home and viewed their work in New York as a dream come true.

    "Coming to the United States is like the fulfillment of your nursing career," said Maria Theresa Ramos, who arrived on Long Island in 2004.

    The nurses are backed by several Filipino organizations in the U.S., as well as both the New York and California state nurses associations, which fear prosecuting nurses who quit their jobs could set a bad precedent.

    Prosecutors say the nurses' resignations "” without notice "” on April 7, 2006, jeopardized the lives of children at Avalon Gardens in Smithtown, where some of the patients are on ventilators and required constant monitoring.

    None of the patients suffered ill effects, but an indictment alleges the nurses knew their sudden resignations would make it difficult to find replacements. Their trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 28.

    The nurses claim that they were sent to work at facilities they never signed up for, and made to perform tasks they deemed demeaning and below their job descriptions. There were also disputes about scheduling and pay. Sixteen other nurses and one physical therapist also walked off the job at other facilities, but they were not charged because they did not care for terminally ill children.

    Lawyers for the 10 nurses say one of the nurses remained on-duty when resignation letters were submitted. They insist that the nurse "” Ramos "” stayed four hours past the scheduled end of her shift to ensure that the patients received proper care.

    The nurses contend they are facing prosecution because influential Democratic officials "” Sen. Charles Schumer and Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota "” took interest in the case at the behest of an attorney for Sentosa Health Care, which operates Avalon Gardens.

    The defense has asked Gov. Eliot Spitzer to appoint a special prosecutor, a request being considered in Albany.

    "If I could get a special prosecutor, I have no doubt that this case would be dismissed in a heartbeat," said defense attorney James Druker, a former federal prosecutor who represents all 10 nurses. "I just want somebody fair and independent."

    Spota opposes a special prosecutor and insists he exerted no special influence on the case.

    "Their reason for asking for a special prosecutor is they say I have a close personal, political and financial relationship with the owners of Sentosa," Spota said. "Wrong. I don't have any relationship."

    The case also has attracted attention in Manila, where hearings in the Senate and House of Representatives were held last month.

    After the nurses complained they were being mistreated, a suspension order was issued against a Sentosa Health Care affiliate in the Philippines. But the suspension was later lifted, and the nurses believe that decision was politically motivated because Schumer got involved.

    He sent letters in June 2006 to the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration and the Philippines Labor Secretary, and later to Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, asking that they meet with Sentosa representatives and then "take any actions that you consider appropriate."

    The POEA head, Rosalinda Baldoz, said the dismissal of the nurses' complaint was not the result of political influence.

    Defense attorneys noted that Schumer's Long Island finance chairman, attorney Howard Fensterman, also represents Sentosa. Fensterman's office referred calls to a public relations representative, who derided the allegation.

    "This is on its face and in its substance a pathetic smokescreen to divert attention from the fact that 10 nurses got up and left pediatric patients on ventilators in a deliberate act of labor sabotage," said Gary Lewi, speaking on behalf of Fensterman and Sentosa.

    Schumer said the letters were the result of his efforts to ease the nationwide shortage of nurses and to seek due process on behalf of a New York company. He said they had "no connection whatsoever" to political donations made by Sentosa executives.

    "There are many times that a company will call us up and say a foreign country is treating it unfairly. I regard it as part of my job to help New York companies," he said.

    Defense attorneys say they are perplexed why the case is proceeding to trial because two separate state-agency investigations cleared the 10 nurses. Spota said the legal standards for a prosecution differ from those of the state agencies.

    He said the nurses and their attorney had the chance to tell their side at a grand jury proceeding "” an unusual event in a misdemeanor case "” but all declined to testify.

    Ramos and the other nurses have since found employment elsewhere. She works at Stony Brook University Hospital, also on Long Island, but still tears up with emotions at the prospect of being criminally prosecuted.

    "It's really devastating for us. ...How can it happen in America?" she said.

    OK, there is a nursing shortage in the US, employer allegedly provided unsafe working conditions, yet the first ones to get prosecuted are the immigrants. Is there something wrong with this picture?
    "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." John Adams on Defense of the boston Massacre

  9. #19

    CHICAGO (AP) -- A widowed illegal immigrant who was allowed to stay in the U.S. to care for her paralyzed husband for 14 years faces deportation to France unless a congressman can win passage of a bill written especially for her.

    Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski introduced a private bill Wednesday on behalf of Corina Turcinovic, who has been detained by U.S. immigration officials since Dec. 28. A private bill is one that would provide benefits to specific individuals.

    Turcinovic, 43, overstayed a visa while taking care of her husband, Maro Turcinovic, who had been paralyzed from the neck down and died in 2004.

    Bills like the one Lipinski is pushing for Turcinovic pass ''fairly rarely,'' said Fred Tsao, the policy director at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

    ''It really depends how sympathetic the cases are,'' he said.

    Turcinovic lived on the city's South Side while taking care of her quadriplegic husband, an immigrant from Croatia. She has been held at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in northern Illinois and could be deported on Jan. 30, said her attorney, John Colbert.

    Lipinski's bill could stall Turcinovic's deportation order and eventually grant her permanent resident status, but it has to pass the House and Senate and be signed by the president.

    ''I do not condone the breaking of U.S. immigration law, but I believe that Mrs. Turcinovic's special situation merits reconsideration,'' Lipinski said in a statement.

    A vehicle struck Maro Turcinovic on a visit to the U.S. in 1990. He later won a seven-figure settlement in a medical malpractice suit against the hospital.

    Corina Turcinovic, of Bordeaux, France, immigrated to the U.S. on a visa waiver. The couple moved to Chicago and married, living off the settlement money and her savings.

    Corina Turcinovic lived legally in the U.S. for 14 years by applying for stays of deportation on the humanitarian grounds that she was her husband's caretaker.

    Maro Turcinovic was granted legal status and applied for citizenship. As part of his application, he was required to give fingerprints, but could not leave his home to do so because of his disability.

    Immigration officials were aware of the situation and resolved to accommodate him, but made a mistake by denying his application when Maro Turcinovic didn't show up for an immigration status hearing, Colbert said.

    If it wasn't for the error, Corina Turcinovic could have stayed in the country legally as the wife or widow of a U.S. citizen, Colbert said.

    Immigration officials declined to discuss details of the case.

    ''We have the file and we are currently exploring all legal options to rectify the case if there should be some legal avenue,'' said Marilu Cabrera, a Chicago spokeswoman for the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services.

    Because she had no legal avenue to stay in the U.S. after her husband's 2004 death, immigration officials considered Corina Turcinovic a fugitive and arrested her at home late last month.

  10. #20
    By MICHELLE ROBERTS | Associated Press, Jan 17

    SAN ANTONIO -- A methamphetamine dealer who gunned down a deputy during a traffic stop in Southern California. A man in Arizona who killed his ex-girlfriend's parents and brother and snatched his children. A man who suffocated his baby daughter and left her body in a toolbag on an expressway overpass near Chicago.

    Ordinarily, these would be death penalty cases. But these men fled to Mexico, thereby escaping the possibility of execution.

    The reason: Mexico refuses to send anyone back to the United States unless the U.S. gives assurances it won't seek the death penalty _ a 30-year-old policy that rankles some American prosecutors and enrages victims' families.

    "We find it extremely disturbing that the Mexican government would dictate to us, in Arizona, how we would enforce our laws at the same time they are complaining about our immigration laws," said Barnett Lotstein, special assistant to the prosecutor in Maricopa County, Ariz., which includes Phoenix.

    "Even in the most egregious cases, the Mexican authorities say, `No way,' and that's not justice. That's an interference of Mexican authorities in our judicial process in Arizona."

    It may be about to happen again: A Marine accused of murdering a pregnant comrade in North Carolina and burning her remains in his backyard is believed to have fled to Mexico. Prosecutors said they have not decided whether to seek the death penalty. But if the Marine is captured in Mexico, capital punishment will be off the table.

    Fugitives trying to escape the long arm of the law have been making a run for the border ever since frontier days, a practice romanticized in countless Hollywood Westerns.

    Mexico routinely returns fugitives to the U.S. to face justice. But under a 1978 treaty with the U.S., Mexico, which has no death penalty, will not extradite anyone facing possible execution. To get their hands on a fugitive, U.S. prosecutors must agree to seek no more than life in prison.

    Other countries, including France and Canada, also demand such "death assurances." But the problem is more common with Mexico, since it is often a quick drive from the crime scene for a large portion of the United States.

    "If you can get to Mexico _ if you have the means _ it's a way of escaping the death penalty," said Issac Unah, a University of North Carolina political science professor.

    The Justice Department said death assurances from foreign countries are fairly common, but it had no immediate numbers. State Department officials said Mexico extradited 73 suspects to the U.S. in 2007. Most were wanted on drug or murder charges.

    Lolita Parkinson, a spokeswoman for the Mexican Consulate in Houston, said Mexico opposes capital punishment on human rights grounds and has a particular obligation to protect the rights of people of Mexican descent who face prosecution in the U.S.

    The U.S. government typically pays more attention to those entering the country from Mexico than it does to those trying to leave the U.S. But Texas authorities have begun making checks of vehicles and drivers heading south on the 25 international bridges that connect the state to Mexico.

    The initiative, announced in October, was originally intended to catch drug smugglers taking cash or stolen cars into Mexico, but "we would hope it would be a deterrent for fugitives" as well, said Allison Castle, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry.

    In the North Carolina case, local authorities and the FBI are working with Mexican law enforcement to hunt down Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean, a 21-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen born in Mexico. He is accused of killing 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach in mid-December, months after she accused him of rape.

    Wanted posters and information on Laurean have been distributed to the Mexican media.

    Also recently, prosecutors in Dallas pledged not to seek the death penalty if Mexico extradites Ernesto Reyes, a man accused of killing and burning the body of a University of North Texas student last year. That extradition request is still pending.

    Last March, Teri March, the widow of a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy who was killed during a traffic stop in 2002, lashed out at Mexico's justice system as Jorge Arroyo Garcia was sentenced to life in prison in California after hiding out in Mexico.

    "Garcia hid and hid behind a system that was very broken," she said.

    John Walsh, host of TV's long-running "America's Most Wanted," which plans to devote Saturday's episode to the Marine case, said the delays and death-penalty compromises needed to get fugitives returned can be heartbreaking for victims' families

    "It's not about revenge. It's not so much about closure. It's about justice," he said.

    Lotstein, the prosecutor's assistant in Phoenix, said the county has agreed to drop the death penalty in a number of cases: "The option we have is absolutely no justice, or partial justice."

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