Illegal: Immigrants Gather In Woodbury New York To Protest Use Of The Word “Illegal” To Describe The Illegal And Criminal Method Of Illegal Entry Into The United States

August 21, 2012

WOODBURY, NEW YORK – A small group of immigrants gathered in Woodbury Monday to protest the use of the word “illegal” to describe those who have entered the United States without documentation.

“By saying illegal, they’re assuming that we broke a criminal law,” said Jackeline Saavedra, 27, of Bay Shore, a Touro Law Center student who identified herself as undocumented. “Not everybody enters illegally.”

Coordinators said they prefer the phrase “undocumented immigrant.”

Osman Canales, 23, an immigrant rights advocate in Huntington who organized the protest, said using the word “illegal” criminalizes a whole community. “It’s a racist word against our community, so we’re just here to raise awareness,” he said.

The protest mirrored a larger effort nationwide to push media outlets and people in general to stop using the word “illegal” when referring to immigrants.

The “Drop The I-Word” campaign was organized by The Applied Research Center, a New York City-based racial justice think tank. Its goal, according to its news website, Colorlines.com, is to “eradicate the slur ‘illegals’ from everyday use and public discourse.”

Campaign coordinator Monica Novoa said that in two years, 14,000 people have signed the group’s pledge.

“Using a phrase like ‘illegal aliens’ or ‘illegals’ . . . reinforces the notion that you could treat another individual as less than a human being,” said Alina Das, assistant professor of clinical law at New York University. “One action — whether it’s a crime — shouldn’t be used to define a whole group of people or one individual.”

But Gallya Lahav, associate professor of political science at Stony Brook University, said the term “undocumented” has flaws.

“It’s a politically correct way of saying illegal,” she said. “What you’re also talking about in proper form are the real undocumented — asylum seekers — people who are fleeing for threats of their life or freedom.”

Still, the word “illegal” makes Elias Llivicura, 18, who described himself as undocumented, feel “uncomfortable.”

“We also have feelings too,” said Llivicura, of Bellport, who came to Long Island from Ecuador at age 8. “It makes me feel like I’m different from everybody else,” he said. “It makes me feel like really bad inside.”

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15 Year Old Texas Boy Charged With 9 Counts Of Murder After Crashing Van With Load Of Illegal Immigrants – Hidalgo County DA Rene Guerra Wants Him Tried As An Adult

April 17, 2012

PALMVIEW, TEXAS – A 15-year-old South Texas boy charged with nine counts of murder after he crashed a minivan packed with illegal immigrants, killing nine of them, cried and expressed remorse before a judge Monday, police said.

The boy, who is not being identified because he is a juvenile, appeared at a probable cause hearing at a juvenile detention facility. He was also charged with 17 counts of smuggling of a person causing serious bodily injury or death, and one count of evading.

Border Patrol agents pulled over the van last Tuesday night about 10 miles west of McAllen. As it stopped, one person jumped from the vehicle and ran. When agents pursued him the van sped off. It crashed just a few blocks away scattering a parking lot with bodies, backpacks and water bottles. The driver escaped, but was arrested two days later at his home.

Palmview Police worked with agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations to arrest six people suspected of involvement in the smuggling operation on charges related to harboring illegal immigrants. At least four of the six crash survivors were detained as material witnesses.

Through interviews with them they found the teen driver, said Palmview police Chief Chris Barrera.

“He wanted to come clean so he came out and gave us a statement,” Barrera said. “He explained to us exactly what had happened, what he had done.”

Palmview Detective Saul Uvalle, who attended the probable cause hearing, said the teen told the judge that if he didn’t drive the van they were going to kill his family. Uvalle said the teen didn’t say who “they” were. “He was very remorseful of what happened,” Uvalle said.

State prosecutors can pursue the felony murder charges because the deaths occurred during the commission of a felony, in this case evading Border Patrol. A judge will eventually decide whether the boy will be tried as an adult.

Hidalgo County District Attorney Rene Guerra said he planned to petition a judge to certify the boy so he can be tried as an adult.

“I’m going to be as aggressive as the law allows,” Guerra said.

According to a federal complaint filed last week, two suspects admitted after their arrests to participating in the smuggling of the illegal immigrants involved in the crash and those in the stash house. One said he was offered $40 per passenger to drive the van, but refused and instead put the 15-year-old in contact with the organization, the complaint says.

Guerra said that the adults involved must have understood the risks in getting a teenager with no driver’s license to undertake the job.

“When you have that kind of a situation where some people say that’s an accident, no, I’m sorry that’s not an ordinary accident,” Guerra said. “These are things that they know. That they can anticipate.”

At a children’s daycare center near where the crumpled van came to rest, passersby have created an impromptu memorial with dozens of candles, notes and religious icons. Lucy Moreno, 33, assistant director of the daycare, said Monday that the murder charges seemed too much for a juvenile.

As the parent of a 14-year-old, Moreno said she thought the boy “doesn’t have the maturity to think about how he was putting lives at risk.”

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Obama’s Drunk Driving Illegal Immigrant Uncle Prepares To Fight Deportation Home To Kenya

April 13, 2012

FRAMINGHAM, MASSACHUSETTS – President Obama’s illegal immigrant half-uncle is preparing to fight new efforts by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to deport him, myFOXboston.com reported Friday.

Onyango Obama met with immigration officials Thursday as they began the process of sending him back to Kenya, according to the Boston Herald.

He is required to regularly check in with immigration officials pending his removal, ICE spokesman Brian Hale was quoted as saying.

The Kenyan national, who is the half-brother of the President’s father, was ordered to leave the country in 1992 but never left.

His immigration status came to light after he was arrested in August last year for driving under the influence.

Onyango Obama was pulled over in Framingham, Mass., about 20 miles southwest of Boston, after making a sudden right turn at a stop sign and nearly colliding with a police cruiser. He initially denied being drunk but later admitted to having had “two beers.”

He had a blood-alcohol content of .14 percent, above the legal limit of 0.08.

Obama plans on fighting the deportation and has hired the same attorney who helped the President’s half-aunt win asylum in 2010, myFOXboston.com reported.

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President Obama’s Drunk Driving Illegal Immigrant Uncle Gets License Back In Massachusetts A Week After It Was Revoked

April 3, 2012

MASSACHUSETTS – Just a week after he copped a plea in a drunken-driving rap, President Obama’s illegal-alien uncle has landed a hardship driver’s license from the Registry of Motor Vehicles, making it perfectly legal for him to drive in Massachusetts — even though the feds say he doesn’t belong here.

Onyango Obama, 67, who lost his regular license for 45 days last week, scored his limited license yesterday from the Registry’s Wilmington branch, after convincing a hearing officer that life without wheels would have posed an undue hardship on his livelihood as a liquor-store manager. Obama bolstered his case with a letter from his employer, Conti Liquors, as well as proof that he’d enrolled in an alcohol-treatment program.

“He met all of the criteria,” RMV spokeswoman Sara Lavoie said.

Of the state’s decision to award Obama a license even though the federal government considers him an illegal alien, Lavoie would only say, “Registry business is based on Registry records.”

The license allows Obama to drive from noon to midnight.

The license award drew fire from one advocate of tough enforcement on illegals, Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson.

“Our democracy is predicated on law,” Hodgson said. “When we start to interpret these laws differently and manipulate them the way we want them to work for certain people, we start to send a mixed message to people that the law doesn’t really matter. Its subject to interpretation. You don’t have to follow the law. They find ways to justify it. We need the laws to be very clear. We need ‘no’ to mean ‘no’ again.”

Hodgson, along with sheriffs in Plymouth and Worcester counties, stood up for Secure Communities, a program that feeds local police fingerprint checks into federal databases to check the citizenship status of accused criminals. Gov. Deval Patrick has refused to enroll the state in the program.

Obama, a Kenyan national, lost his license last week after admitting in court that Framingham cops had sufficient evidence to convict him in an August OUI bust. His lawyer, P. Scott Bratton, said Obama has an immigration hearing next month.

A judge continued Obama’s OUI case without a finding for one year, meaning he’ll face no further punishment if he stays out of trouble. Obama is the half-brother of President Obama’s late father, and the older brother of Zeituni Onyango, who was granted asylum in 2010.

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Man Treated Like A “Criminal” By US As He Tries To Enter To Attend 10 Year Old Son’s Funeral – Story Goes On To Mention He Got The Boot For Being In US Illegally In 2007…

April 1, 2012

A Mexican national said he has been barred from entering the United States to bury his 10-year-old son, a U.S. citizen who died Tuesday in a house fire in northeastern Pennsylvania that killed three other people.

Attorneys for Fidelmar “Fidel” Merlos-Lopez are trying to win humanitarian parole so he can attend the funeral, but say U.S. Customs and Border Protection has rebuffed their efforts.

Damien Lopez died in a Shenandoah row house along with his cousin, aunt and 7-month-old half-brother. The funeral is set for Monday, with burial the next day.

“I told the customs officer that all I want is a permit to see my boy for one last time. They treat me as if I am a criminal,” Lopez, 34, a bus driver, said in an interview Saturday. “Right now, I need their support, and they are refusing to help me.”

Lopez has been waiting at the U.S.-Mexico border near Laredo, Texas, since the fire.

“He’s out of his mind. Can you imagine? Your son is dead in a fire and you can’t even get across. It’s clear they are giving us the runaround,” said Elizabeth Surin, his Philadelphia-based immigration lawyer.

A spokeswoman for the border agency did not return a phone message left at her office Saturday.

Lopez was a teenager when he entered the United States illegally in 1995 and wound up in Shenandoah, a blue-collar town with a large Hispanic population. He married a U.S. citizen who gave birth to Damien in 2002. He later divorced Damien’s mother and married his current wife, Danielle Lopez, who’s also a U.S. citizen.

In 2007, police in nearby Frackville stopped Lopez for running a red light and turned him over to immigration authorities. He agreed to leave the U.S. voluntarily and began the process of applying for legal permanent residence.

Surin, his immigration lawyer, said he was well on his way to getting his green card and rejoining his family in Shenandoah when tragedy struck.

“He’s trying to comply, trying to follow the rules of U.S. immigration law, but they are using that against him now. This whole thing is really heart-wrenching,” she said.

Humanitarian parole is granted to immigrants who have a compelling emergency that requires temporary entry into the United States. It is used sparingly: The government approves only about 25 percent of the 1,200 applications it gets each year.

Surin said Lopez qualifies. In fact, the Mexican husband of Tiffany Sanchez, the 29-year-old woman who died in the fire, was granted humanitarian parole to attend the funeral, she said.

Surin said border officials told her that Lopez was denied entry because he didn’t have a relationship with Damien. She said it’s just the opposite: Lopez shared partial custody of Damien and paid his ex-wife child support before leaving the United States.

Lopez, who worked as a mechanic in Shenandoah, said he was very close to his son.

“I have a video of him. I watch it often. Of when he graduated from kindergarten, you know how they do those parties. He was wearing his cap, a shirt and a tie,” Lopez said.

Though he hadn’t seen Damien in more than three years, they spoke over the phone twice a week.

“He used to tell me, ‘Come back, come back,'” he said. “I have been thinking that maybe it’s my fault because there may have been a reason he asked me that.”

His current wife said Lopez, who lives in Naucalpan de Juarez, a suburb of Mexico City, had been looking forward to returning to the United States. Now he’s desperate to get back, if only for a few days. But time is running out.

“I don’t think it’s fair,” said Danielle Lopez, 28, a hairdresser who was born and raised in Shenandoah. “It’s his child, his flesh and blood, his firstborn son. It’s horrible.”

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President Obama’s Illegal Immigrant Half Uncle Gets A Slap On The Wrist In Massachusetts Court For Drunk Driving

March 27, 2012

FRAMINGHAM, MASSACHUSETTS – Onyango Obama — the president’s illegal alien half uncle — admitted to sufficient facts today in his drunken driving bust and his case is being continued without a finding for one year — but he must surrender his license.

Obama, 67, was ordered to give up his license for 45 days, effective today, a Framingham District Court judge ruled. He left court without speaking to the press.

Obama had been waging an aggressive legal battle against Framingham cops ever since he was pulled over Aug. 24 for driving erratically and blowing 0.14 on a Breathalyzer. But his attorney today said it was time to move on.

“After a thorough review, we felt it was in his interests to end the matter without any further proceedings. He’s glad to have this behind him,” said Obama’s attorney P. Scott Bratton.

The attorney added that Obama wants to “get on with his life” and to “get on with his normal quiet existence in society.”

As for Obama’s illegal alien status, his attorney added the deportation proceedings were due to his failure to “renew immigration paperwork.” Bratton said he expects that to be resolved, but he did not elaborate.

When he was arrested by Framingham police, he suggested his first call should be to the White House. A spokesman for the president told the Herald that call was never made. He actually called his boss at Conti’s Liquors.

Obama, who has been living illegally in the United States for nearly 20 years, has returned to work at Conti Liquors in Framingham.

Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone, Jr. said Obama has accepted responsibility for the “essence” of the charges.

“By admitting to sufficient facts today to operating under the influence and failure to yield at an intersection, the defendant has admitted responsibility for the essence of the crime he committed and has now been held accountable for his actions,” Leone said.

The DA added Obama almost crashed into a Framingham police cruiser the night of the arrest. Once pulled over, the DA said Obama’s speech was slurred, “his eyes were red and glassy and there was an odor of alcohol coming from inside the motor vehicle.” Obama then failed several field sobriety tests and his blood alcohol was almost twice over the legal limit.

Obama was also put on probation for one year.

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US Immigrant Prison System “Deeply Flawed”

March 23, 2012

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – The current immigrant detention system in the United States is deeply flawed, and New Jersey’s newest detention facility offers proof that federal reforms are falling short, immigration advocates said Friday at a conference on the issue.

A report by a coalition of immigration rights groups and New York University’s law school focused on conditions at an immigration detention facility in Essex County as emblematic of problems with immigration detention system nationwide.

The report finds that despite the emphasis by President Barack Obama’s administration on reforming the civil detention system, facilities like the one in Essex County fail to meet several national detention standards for immigrants, issued in 2008 and 2011 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which cover everything from access to attorneys to recreation and health care.

“We feel this is only the tip of the iceberg of what’s occurring,” said Alina Das, co-director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at NYU’s law school, who worked on the report. “We’re very concerned about the conditions in New Jersey.”

In New Jersey, the report’s authors said they received more than 200 detainee grievances from the newly expanded detention facility at the Essex County Correctional Facility and nearby, privately operated Delaney Hall. Arguing that the facilities do not fully comply with ICE standards, the report documents problems with everything from access to legal assistance and worship services to adequate health care, food and other basic services for detainees.

The concern, Das said, is that federal immigration authorities have touted the new agreement between ICE and Essex County to expand detention bed space in the New York metropolitan area, as well as a new facility opened this month in Karnes City, Texas, as more humane, reform-minded facilities.

“Whatever Delaney Hall is, it’s not a model detention facility,” Das said.

ICE Spokesman Harold Ort said the agency has made “tremendous strides” toward reforming the immigration detention system, including the hiring of more than 40 detention services managers to increase oversight at detention facilities and conduct inspections and regular visits. The agency has also reduced the overall number of detention facilities from 370 to 255 nationwide, Ort said, and is committed to a closer working relationship with non-governmental groups to improve detainee treatment, as well was efficiency and oversight at detention facilities.

Alfaro Ortiz, the director of the Essex County Correctional Facility, disputed the report’s findings and said it was part of an ongoing campaign to discredit his facility. The county signed a new agreement with ICE in 2011 to increase the number of immigration detainees in the Essex jail and an adjoining privately run facility from about 500 to 1,250.

Ortiz insists the Essex facilities provide safe, humane and decent accommodations that provide closer access for detainees to family members and immigration lawyers. The jail is accredited by the National Commission for Correctional Health Care and has earned a 100 percent rating from the New Jersey Department of Corrections for the past four years, Ortiz added.

“We look forward to working with ICE to provide the detainees with the best service possible,” Ortiz said.

The conference on immigration detention, held at the Newark campus of Rutgers University, focused on eliminating mandatory detention altogether.

Immigrant under mandatory detention are classified as civil and not criminal detainees, and advocates have long argued that the majority are low-risk individuals who do not need to be detained in order to comply with deportation orders or court-related obligations.

Judy Rabinovitz, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants’ Rights Project who spoke at Friday’s conference, said much of the huge expansion in immigrant detention facilities was largely unnecessary, as the majority of immigrant detainees pose neither a danger nor a flight risk.

“A fundamental shift is needed in how we look at detention, and to see detention as a last resort,” she said.

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