U.S. DEPORTED 360 IMMIGRANTS IN 2013

The US government deported about 369,000 immigrants, including a number of Filipinos, during fiscal year 2013, according to new statistics from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released last month, showing a 10 percent drop from the previous year — the first since President Barack Obama took office in 2008. Nearly 60 percent (216,810) of the total deported immigrants, the year-end report (http://www.ice.gov/removal-statistics/index.htm) showed, had been previously convicted of a crime. But the new removal figures provoked Filipino-American groups and other advocates for immigrant rights, saying that the numbers are misleading and that they don’t add up on Obama’s promise to stop unnecessary deportations, while Congress remains deadlocked on comprehensive immigration reform that will give millions of undocumented immigrants a path to legalization. While it is true that the Obama administration deported criminals, advocates say, the report also revealed that it ousted 151,834 individuals without a criminal conviction. READ MORE BELOW..

ALSO: Aquino mum on TPS, leaves immigrants in the dark

While Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Filipinos has gained a strong U.S. bipartisan congressional support, the Philippine government has yet to lodge a formal request with the Obama administration, leaving in the dark many Filipinos who may benefit from it. According to several Filipino-American leaders here, since Nov. 19, after more than 20 U.S. senators and representatives called on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to designate the Philippines for TPS (http://lofgren.house.gov/uploads/TPS%20Philippines%20Final%20Letter.pdf), a number of letters from U.S.-based immigrant rights supporters and Filipino-American groups were sent to the Malacañang Palace, asking Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to make that written request — the first step in the TPS designation process. “There have been a lot of letters sent already to Malacañang, but we’re not sure how many of them have actually made it on the desk of Pres. Aquino,” said Filipino-American Melissa Chua, supervising attorney in the Immigrant Protection Unit of New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG). “This is certainly taking longer than we expect.”

ALSO: Activist takes risks fighting for US immigration reform

WASHINGTON, DC—Raymond Jose, 22, knows what it’s like to live in fear every day. He goes through each day knowing that his mother, father or sister could be taken away from him because they are undocumented immigrants. In a protest demanding comprehensive immigration reform that doesn’t separate families, Jose sat on the back of a deportation bus at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Phoenix, Arizona, in order to stop the deportation of the people on board.

ALSO: Infighting looms at High Court

BIG trouble could be brewing at the Supreme Court after its most senior member, Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, got a scolding from Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno during debates on the petition questioning the legality of the cybercrime law. An unimpeachable source of The Manila Times said Sereno shouted at Carpio during the Court’s last en banc deliberations in December. The source said Carpio wanted a more liberal interpretation of the cybercrime law, while Associate Justice Marvic Leonen proposed that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to be given “fangs in penalizing offenders of the law.” The Court insider said Sereno sided with Leonen, who is her close friend. The two justices were debating the draft ponencia of Justice Roberto Abad. While Carpio was speaking, Leonen kept butting in. At this point, Sereno admonished Carpio. “Justice Carpio keep quiet! Justice Leonen has the floor we should listen to him,” the source quoted the Chief Justice.
Sereno’s behavior is said to have shocked the other justices.


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS:

US deported around 369,000 immigrants in 2013


http://globalnation.inquirer.net/files/2013/09/Jose1.jpg
Raymond Jose speaks at a press conference across the Capitol after introduction of Senate bill providing millions a pathway to US citizenship, but would also enforce stricter deportation measures. PHOTO BY JASSIEL PEREZ. (UNITED WE DREAM)

NEW YORK, JANUARY 6, 2014 (INQUIRER) By Anthony Advincula - The US government deported about 369,000 immigrants, including a number of Filipinos, during fiscal year 2013, according to new statistics from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released last month, showing a 10 percent drop from the previous year — the first since President Barack Obama took office in 2008.

Nearly 60 percent (216,810) of the total deported immigrants, the year-end report (http://www.ice.gov/removal-statistics/index.htm) showed, had been previously convicted of a crime.

Of this number, ICE apprehended and deported 110,115 individuals with a crime conviction from within the country and another 106,695 at the border while attempting to unlawfully enter or re-enter the United States.

ICE officials described these figures as “meeting one or more immigration enforcement priorities” that the Obama administration announced two years ago, stating that his administration would no longer devote federal resources to deporting immigrants with “low priority cases,” including those without a criminal record and not a threat to national security.

“The 2013 numbers make clear that we are enforcing our nation’s laws in a smart and effective way, meeting our enforcement priorities by focusing on convicted criminals while also continuing to secure our nation’s borders,” John Sandweg, ICE acting director, said in a news release.

But the new removal figures provoked Filipino-American groups and other advocates for immigrant rights, saying that the numbers are misleading and that they don’t add up on Obama’s promise to stop unnecessary deportations, while Congress remains deadlocked on comprehensive immigration reform that will give millions of undocumented immigrants a path to legalization.

While it is true that the Obama administration deported criminals, advocates say, the report also revealed that it ousted 151,834 individuals without a criminal conviction.

Most of these immigrants only had immigration violations such as overstaying their visas, which is considered to be a civil offense, and those who are ignoring deportation orders.

“The government would claim that they have achieved its enforcement goal, and that they only look for criminals. That’s all rhetoric,” said Emelyn Tapaoan, a Filipino-American adjunct professor who teaches race and ethnic studies in New York and New Jersey universities. “If you’re undocumented, even with no criminal record, you have no immunity to deportation. That’s the truth.”

Pablo Alvarado, executive director of National Day Laborer Organizing Network, also looked at the deportation numbers with skepticism.

“It’s easy for the [Obama] administration to say that those deported fit their priorities when the White House has practically made sneezing a criminal act for immigrants,” Alvarado said. “These numbers may represent political calculus for the beltway but, for immigrant families, they represent our parents, siblings and loved ones.”

To date, the total number of deportations has reached to more than 1.9 million since Pres. Obama was first elected in 2008, the highest record by far for any U.S president.

Top 10 countries of removal

With 241,493 Mexicans deported from the United States in 2013, Mexico continued to be the leading country of origin for those who were removed, followed by other Latin American countries such Guatemala (47,769), Honduras (37,049), El Salvador (21,602), and the Dominican Republic (2,462).

The other countries in the Top 10 include Ecuador (1,616), Brazil (1,500), Colombia (1,429), Nicaragua (1,383), and Jamaica (1,119).

While the Philippines was not part of the list— and the year-end ICE report did not mention its ranking— the population of undocumented Filipinos (270,000) in the U.S. remains to be the second highest, slightly after Chinese (280,000), among the Asian groups.

Asian immigrants make up 11 percent of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, living and working in the shadows.

According to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, about 4 million people born in the Philippines now live in the United States, and that 1 of every 6 Filipino immigrants in the U.S. is undocumented, mostly in key cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Chicago.

“Usually, what we have seen in recent years, a number of Filipinos face deportation because they have criminal convictions,” said Joemar Miane, a Filipino-American immigration lawyer based in New York City. “Most of their cases involve domestic violence and DWI (driving while intoxicated).

He also said that some undocumented Filipinos, although they did not commit a crime, ran into immigration authorities, say, getting randomly inspected at an airport or on the train during their travel. In turn, they get arrested and deported.

In other cases, he says, there are Filipinos with no criminal record but overstayed their visas. After filing a green card application, they also end up under removal proceedings.

“Their application would alert enforcement officers,” Miane added, “and soon they will receive a notice to appear, known as NTA, before an immigration judge.”

NTA is the first step to removal proceedings.

Miane said that, to avoid deportation, Filipinos and any other immigrants— both undocumented and green card holders— must not commit a crime, even if it may appear to be minor.

“Ninety-nine percent of those who got caught driving while drunk, especially with no proper documentation, may get a deportation order,” Miane said. “It just pays to be a law-abiding person.”

Aquino mum on TPS, leaves immigrants in the dark By Anthony Advincula INQUIRER.net US Bureau 5:19 am | Saturday, December 14th, 2013

NEW YORK — While Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Filipinos has gained a strong U.S. bipartisan congressional support, the Philippine government has yet to lodge a formal request with the Obama administration, leaving in the dark many Filipinos who may benefit from it.

According to several Filipino-American leaders here, since Nov. 19, after more than 20 U.S. senators and representatives called on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to designate the Philippines for TPS (http://lofgren.house.gov/uploads/TPS Philippines Final Letter.pdf), a number of letters from U.S.-based immigrant rights supporters and Filipino-American groups were sent to the Malacañang Palace, asking Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to make that written request — the first step in the TPS designation process.

“There have been a lot of letters sent already to Malacañang, but we’re not sure how many of them have actually made it on the desk of Pres. Aquino,” said Filipino-American Melissa Chua, supervising attorney in the Immigrant Protection Unit of New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG). “This is certainly taking longer than we expect.”

With devastation of Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) in the Philippine islands, leaving more than 4,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands of people displaced, the Philippines meets the necessary requirements for TPS under Section 244 of the US Immigration and Nationality Act (http://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/ilink/docView/SLB/HTML/SLB/0-0-0-1/0-0-0-29/0-0-0-7238.html). Haiti, Syria Honduras, Nicaragua and Somalia are some of the countries currently designated with TPS in the United States.

However, even with an overwhelming backing of U.S. congress, the Homeland Security — the only U.S. government agency that could designate a country for TPS — cannot grant it for undocumented Filipinos and those who are on temporary non-immigrant visas (such as work, business, tourist and student visas) without the request from the Philippine government.

“In the case of Haiti, it took only a week after the earthquake there that Haitians were given TPS. It is a process that can happen quickly,” said Chua. “It seems to me that we only need to make Filipinos aware. This is a great opportunity, and I hope that this [slow action from the Philippine government] could just be an issue of education [on TPS].”

Meeting the criteria

If the Philippines granted TPS, undocumented Filipinos who meet the criteria could apply for temporary legal status and be given a work authorization, as well as may be able to obtain travel authorization. For those on temporary visas, they could legally extend their stay and work in the United States.

While it will not lead to a green card or permanent residency, those who will be afforded TPS would also get humanitarian form of relief from deportation or detention based on the individual’s immigration status, unless the person becomes ineligible or the country loses its TPS designation.

An individual convicted of any felony or two misdemeanors committed in the United States, or who fails to maintain continuous physical presence and residence in the country, is deemed ineligible for TPS.

“TPS would offer me and other Filipino workers a protection to work legally and without fear of deportation,” said Josie Gutierrez, who works as a nanny in New York City. “I want to ask the Aquino administration to request for TPS for the Filipino people, and I want to ask the Obama administration to approve it.”

Gutierrez, 53, who has been in the United States for 12 years, said that she sends $200 to her mother and $1,000 to her kids and siblings a month back home, in Biliran province, about 70 miles from Tacloban City — the hardest-hit area by Typhoon Yolanda.

When the storm wiped out Tacloban City, Gutierrez said that some of her cousins who lived there had lost their homes and livelihood. With almost no option, her cousins had to move in with her family in Biliran.

“The water was filled with debris and dead bodies. Nothing was left for them [cousins], even their clothes,” said Gutierrez. “Now, I am supporting 20 people back home.”

Cost-benefit analysis of TPS

Some Filipino-American leaders say that the biggest benefit the Philippines would get from TPS is the increase in the flow of remittances to the country during the recovery from Typhoon Yolanda. The World Bank (http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/BX.TRF.PWKR.DT.GD.ZS) says more than 10 percent of the Philippines’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) comes from remittances from Filipinos around the world — and a big chunk of it comes from Filipinos in the United States.

If TPS is not given, on the other hand, Filipinos who would have qualified will be forced to return to their homeland and, in turn, could exacerbate the economy affected by the storm and impose a great burden on restoration efforts.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) says that nearly half a million Filipinos could be eligible for TPS. However, the Homeland Security will specify the eligibility requirements, including time of residence of the applicant and effective date of TPS designation, which could last for a period of six to 18 months and can be extended, if conditions continue to support the designation.

For example, Hondurans received TPS in January 1999 and will expire in January 2015. As for Haitians, the TPS was first designated in July 2011 and will end, if not extended, in July next year.
(http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/temporary-protected-status-deferred-enforced-departure/temporary-protected-status)

“With eligibility requirements specified in the TPS designation, we can definitely see Filipinos who may be left out,” Chua added.

Mounting pressure, frustration

Almost a month after Typhoon Yolanda ripped through the Philippines, the frustration among Filipino-American leaders is building up and the pressure is mounting on Pres. Aquino to act on making formal TPS request for Filipinos in the United States.

On Wednesday, Filipino-American groups, lawyers and advocates, along with other civic organizations, in New York, California, Illinois and other states held a coordinated call to build awareness and push for TPS.

“We urge President Aquino to make this written request immediately to grant TPS for Filipinos,” said Rio Guerrero, member of the National Filipino American Lawyers Association during a press briefing in downtown Manhattan. “At this juncture, the Philippine government has not come up with any reasons why the written request has not been made yet— and this leaves us with speculations.”

Those speculations, according to some Filipino Americans here, include the Philippine government’s concern about the stigma that may be attached to a country designated with TPS, despite its economic benefit through remittances. Others say that the bureaucratic culture and politics in the Philippines create the hurdles.

But Guerrero said that he and fellow Filipino-American lawyers have reached out to the Philippine consulate in New York City and the Philippine embassy in Washington, D.C., hoping to find out the current status of the written request for TPS.

“Based on the information that we received, the decision rests with the Malacañang Palace,” he said. “They [consulate and embassy] are still waiting for a word from the Philippine government.”

Although, technically, the formal request is not a prerequisite to the designation of TPS, Guerrero says, the U.S. government has not ever granted TPS to any countries without it.

Lydia Amaya, a 61-year-old Filipino housekeeper who has been in the United States for almost two decades, is now getting more frustrated about the wait.

According to Amaya, she knows a number of Filipinos in the United States whose relatives back home have been going through a lot since Typhoon Yolanda. And getting TPS for their breadwinners, she adds, would bring a big relief for these Filipino families.

“I don’t know what’s keeping President Aquino from making the formal request for TPS, but I hope he would see the benefits of this to the Filipino people,” she said. “I think the big problem is the inefficiency in our government.”

EARLIER REPORT

Activist takes risks fighting for US immigration reform By Mary Tablante INQUIRER.net US Bureau 7:00 am | Thursday, September 19th, 2013


http://globalnation.inquirer.net/files/2013/09/Jose2.jpg
Raymond Jose (left) getting arrested in non-violent civil disobedience that stopped a deportation bus from leaving the Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Phoenix, Arizona. PHOTO BY CARLA CHAVARRIA. (ARIZONA DREAM ACT COALITION)

WASHINGTON, DC—Raymond Jose, 22, knows what it’s like to live in fear every day. He goes through each day knowing that his mother, father or sister could be taken away from him because they are undocumented immigrants.

In a protest demanding comprehensive immigration reform that doesn’t separate families, Jose sat on the back of a deportation bus at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Phoenix, Arizona, in order to stop the deportation of the people on board.

Federal agents threatened to use pepper spray, and law enforcement subsequently arrested Jose. But for him, the activism was worth the risk of both arrest and possible deportation.

Jose and another immigration rights activist, Jose Patino, were arrested around 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 22, but were released about one hour later. The next day, ICE let someone out from the bus who was of lower priority and the person was able to return to his family.

Message to Congress

“I definitely went in with the mind-set that this is something I have to do,” Jose said. “I feel that through civil disobedience the American public would see this is the pain our community goes through on a daily basis. It’s a message to Congress that they need to act now and stand up [for] families.”

Members from the largest youth-led immigration rights group in the US, United We Dream, participated in this act of civil disobedience. Jose works as the Washington, DC, organizer for the group.

A resident of Rockville, Maryland, Jose came to the US from the Philippines with his family when he was nine years old. He was not aware of his undocumented status until he started applying for college, when his parents informed him that because of his status, he could not accept scholarships.

Although Jose admits his family was initially upset to hear about his arrest, he said they understand why he did it. It’s difficult, he said, for most people in the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities to reveal that they are undocumented and to stand up for fair immigration reform, but his parents are slowly breaking out of their shell.

“If we stay silent and keep our heads down nothing’s going to change,” he said.

Becoming a leader

Someone who has seen Jose grow as an activist is his close friend, Yves Gomes, who works with the Maryland Dream Youth Committee.

“I’m very glad to see that [Jose has] been able to step up to leadership and he’s really seized it. He’s one of the best leaders,” Gomes said.

Gomes, who was born in India, said although one out of every 10 immigrants is of Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) descent, most people would never know that based on media coverage and turnouts at events.

“It just can’t be myself and [Jose] to represent our AAPI community in the [D.C., Maryland and Virginia] area,” Gomes said. “Our community is still very afraid and ashamed. It’s not a Latino issue or Asian issue; it’s a human issue.”

Immediate action needed

With debates over military action in Syria and the budget raging at the forefront, immigration reform could be pushed back to the end of the year, or even longer, but activists like Gomes stress the need for immediate action on the immigration issue.

“Our focus is to remind [legislators] that this issue is very urgent,” Gomes said. “It has to be done now. Every day we wait, every day we remain silent, thousands of people get deported from the country.”

Gomes continued: “My parents have been deported, I haven’t seen them for about five years. I want everything to see my parents here.”

Gomes added that Jose is adamant about fighting for his family to stay in the country. He observes how close Jose is to his family and he sees all of them work hard from day to day.

About families

“It’s not about us, it’s about our parents; it’s about our families,” Gomes said. “It’s about all the hardworking people who otherwise pay taxes do everything else, but aren’t American on paper.”

Jose hopes that some form of relief will be passed sometime this year addressing immigration. For the time being, he will continue empowering people in the DC, Maryland and Virginia areas who are facing deportation.

With United We Dream, Jose’s mission is to encourage people around the nation to share their immigration experiences and stand up for fair immigration reform. He will also continue meeting with legislators and doing lobby visits.

“We’re all trying to pursue the American Dream,” Jose said. “It’s time for this broken immigration system to be fixed.”

Infighting looms at High Court January 5, 2014 9:59 pm by JOMAR CANLAS SENIOR REPORTER


Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Chief Justice Antonio Carpio.

BIG trouble could be brewing at the Supreme Court after its most senior member, Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, got a scolding from Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno during debates on the petition questioning the legality of the cybercrime law.

An unimpeachable source of The Manila Times said Sereno shouted at Carpio during the Court’s last en banc deliberations in December.

The source said Carpio wanted a more liberal interpretation of the cybercrime law, while Associate Justice Marvic Leonen proposed that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to be given “fangs in penalizing offenders of the law.”

The Court insider said Sereno sided with Leonen, who is her close friend.

The two justices were debating the draft ponencia of Justice Roberto Abad. While Carpio was speaking, Leonen kept butting in.

At this point, Sereno admonished Carpio. “Justice Carpio keep quiet! Justice Leonen has the floor we should listen to him,” the source quoted the Chief Justice.

Sereno’s behavior is said to have shocked the other justices.

“Na-shock kami. Hindi namin akalain sigawan ni Meilou [Sereno’s nickname] si Tony [Carpio]. Walang gumawa kay Carpio ng ganun, si Sereno pa lang nakagawa noon,” the source said. [We were all shocked. We never imagined Meilou to shout at Tony. No one has ever done that to Carpio but Sereno].”

The source recalled that former Chief Justice Renato Corona treated Carpio with respect even if they were not in good terms.

“We knew that Chief Corona and Justice Carpio were at odds because of the chief justiceship issue but they never resorted to shouting matches. They can disagree without being disagreable,” the source said.

He said Carpio managed to keep his cool despite Sereno’s outburst.

“Justice Carpio did not react. He seldom reacts. But to shout at him in an en banc is to insult him,” the source said.

He said the other justices admired Carpio for not fighting back despite the rude treatment he got from Sereno.

A Court insider said they fear that Sereno may have dug her grave because she has officially declared war against Carpio.

Another source believes Carpio will not take the incident sitting down.

“Sereno had better watch out. Carpio may be quiet but he is dangerous. He will get back at her,” the source said.

Carpio is one of the founders of the Carpio Villaraza Cruz Marcelo law office, which is popularly known as “The Firm.” The law office became very powerful and influential in the appointment of several justices and judges, especially during the Arroyo administration.

The Manila Times learned that Sereno’s position was “brokered” by The Firm.

A magistrate said Sereno was introduced to President Benigno Aquino 3rd as the architect of the Philippines’ victory in the Piatco case in Singapore.

“But in truth, Sereno was just a legal researcher in the Piatco case. She was only tapped by her mentor, retired SC Justice Florentino Feliciano, to do the research and make annexes in the documents,” a source said.

Carpio reportedly approved of Sereno as a candidate for associate justice of the Supreme Court and the first appointee of Aquino at the High Court.

Carpio’s former law partner, Avelino “Nonong” Cruz, the lawyer of then Vice Presidential candidate Mar Roxas, allegedly lobbied for Sereno’s appointment.

Sereno was allegedly tasked to fight for Roxas in his election protest before the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, against Vice President Jejomar Binay.

“Sereno was a creation of The Firm, Carpio in particular. Now the tables have been turned. Sereno is the Chief Justice and Carpio is just the number two man in the Supreme Court,” the source added.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE