US Immigration News



New York, August 2009


Washington, D.C. – On August 6, 2009 the Obama administration announced that it plans to change policies regarding how the country detains immigration violators. Immigration detention centers have been under fire recently, for the mistreatment of detainees as well as providing inadequate medical care. The exact details regarding proposed changes to immigration detention centers are not clear, and it can take up to several years before any changes are in effect. However, details that are known include a plan to offer a centralized authority over immigration detention centers, as well as to offer increased oversight of immigration detention centers, in order to ensure the humane treatment of prisoners as well as adequate medical care. One immediate change announced by the Obama administration is that families will no longer be sent to the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, an immigration detention facility near Austin Texas, which has been subject to lawsuits and claims of inhumane treatment.

Monterey, CA – The Security Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, claimed comprehensive immigration reform is a top priority of the Department and will begin drafting legislation on behalf of the Obama administration. Among the changes that Ms. Napolitano has already made include a significant reduction in immigration raids at workplace processing plants, an activity that came into fruition under George W. Bush’s administration. Instead of targeting those that are not eligible to work in the United States, the current administration is placing more emphasis on fining and penalizing the employers who knowingly hire undocumented immigrants. Ms. Napolitano seeks to offer tougher enforcement at U.S. borders and to create more secure driver’s licenses in an effort to prevent terrorist attacks. In addition, under the current DHS administration, deportations of widowed immigrants have been thwarted, and pathways to facilitate easy processing for abused women seeking asylum in the U.S. are being created.

San Diego, CA – Two recently released studies indicate that immigration to the United States is declining, and the state of California is losing popularity as the destination of choice for most immigrants. More specifically, illegal immigration from Mexico has slowed down, with only 662,000 Mexicans apprehended by Border Patrol in 2008. This is 40 percent less than one of the highest years for apprehension of Mexican immigrants which was 1 million in 2004. Many analysts believe that there are two likely explanations for the decrease in immigration to the U.S. from Mexico. First, fewer Mexicans are trying to enter the U.S. illegally due to the downturn in the U.S. economy. Most immigrants come to the U.S. for jobs, and with fewer employment opportunities available, the desire to immigrate to the United States also decreases. California appears to be losing allure among immigrants to the United States, with Stanislaus County reporting a “leveling off” of its immigrant community. In 2007, 25.8% of the county was made up of illegal and legal immigrants, which is not much of a change from 25% in 2000.

Phoenix, AZ – According to reports, hundreds of United States citizens have been wrongly detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Some of these American detainees have even been incorrectly deported. By law, immigration authorities only have jurisdiction over non-American citizens, and American citizens cannot be deported. Legally, once an individual is placed in detention for a suspected immigration violation, the responsibility rests on them to prove their citizenship. However, immigration detainees don’t have certain legal protections that U.S. inmates have such as a right to legal counsel. Furthermore, many of the U.S. citizens who ended up in immigration custody have difficulty proving their citizenship, such as those who were born abroad and acquired custody through an American-born or naturalized parent, or those with mental health problems. In addition, many of the inmates are poor and cannot afford a lawyer. An increasing amount of people have commented how these detentions are unconstitutional. An attorney at San Francisco’s Asian Law Caucus states “The constitution is the same that applies to U.S.-born citizens as to naturalized citizens.” When asked about American citizens who end up in immigration deportation, Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security Secretary stated “If there’s an error made, we want to rectify it as soon as possible.”

Gainesville, GA – In some cities, business owners must prove U.S. Citizenship or lawful permanent resident status before they are able to obtain a business license. These new regulations are the result of advocacy on behalf of some state groups such as the Georgia Municipal Association, which advocates for local governments to require proof of lawful immigration status. The Association cites the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act of 2007, which states that “if you provide a public benefit, the citizenship of the person receiving the benefit needs to be verified.” There has been deliberation over whether a business license is a public benefit; since a “business license” is essentially a tax, but according to the Georgia attorney general “…we want cities to be in compliance with the law, so one of our recommendations was it just may be better to pass the law.”

Washington, D.C. – A national worker ID card has been proposed to help ensure the work eligibility of employees. With the increased enforcement of employers who knowingly hire illegal workers, the National Worker ID will likely assist employers in remaining legally compliant. The card would contain the individual’s fingerprints and other biometric data, and would essentially be a fraudulent-proof ID so that employers could easily depict workers who are authorized to work in the United States. According to Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y) the worker ID card has far-reaching implications: “The ID will make it easy for employers to avoid [hiring] undocumented workers, which will allow for tough sanctions against employers who break the law, which will lead to no jobs being available for illegal immigrants, which will stop illegal immigration.” The idea of the national Worker ID card will most likely be presented in the fall of 2009.
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Washington, D.C. – On August 6, 2009 the Obama administration announced that it plans to change policies regarding how the country detains immigration violators. Immigration detention centers have been under fire recently, for the mistreatment of detainees as well as providing inadequate medical care. The exact details regarding proposed changes to immigration detention centers are not clear, and it can take up to several years before any changes are in effect. However, details that are known include a plan to offer a centralized authority over immigration detention centers, as well as to offer increased oversight of immigration detention centers, in order to ensure the humane treatment of prisoners as well as adequate medical care. One immediate change announced by the Obama administration is that families will no longer be sent to the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, an immigration detention facility near Austin Texas, which has been subject to lawsuits and claims of inhumane treatment.

Authorities dismiss charges against Kenyan fighting deportation

The Kansas City Star
Tue, Apr. 21, 2009

Kenya’s David Kihuha wins round one-Keep him in your prayers

The federal government has done an about-face in the case of the reluctant Kenyan fighting deportation.
Federal prosecutors unexpectedly asked a judge Tuesday to withdraw felony charges against former Olathe resident David Kihuha for refusing a deportation order. The judge also approved a motion withdrawing a request to sedate Kihuha for the flight home.
The reversal came at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) lawyers two days after an article about the unusual case appeared in The Kansas City Star.
The saga began late last year when immigration and customs officials took the unusual step of turning the case over to the U.S. attorney in Kansas, after ICE agents were unable to get the fighting, biting Kenyan onto a one-way flight home.
According to federal prosecutors, Kihuha — who overstayed his student visa — went to extraordinary lengths to avoid deportation, including covering himself in his own excrement. The U.S. attorney then indicted him for refusing deportation and, at ICE’s request, asked a federal judge to order him sedated.
But the practice of sedating deportees, often used by ICE until last year, came under fire and was all but stopped by an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit. Now ICE won’t attempt sedation without a court order.
Ahilan Arulanantham, the ACLU lawyer who sued to halt the agency’s sedation practices, said Tuesday the Kihuha case underscored the government’s confusion about the proper procedures for sedating deportees and the need for legislation to control the practice.
Now Kihuha’s case goes back to ICE, where it began, and agency officials are not saying how they plan to proceed.
Kihuha has been in federal custody nearly two years. All he wants, he said Tuesday, is to get out of jail and be allowed to finally present his case for asylum because of violence in his homeland.
Source-Kansas City Star

U.S. Govt asks Court to sedate Kenyan before Deportation.
By Associated Press
April 19, 2009

The US government is requesting a federal court for permission to sedate a Kenyan who has been in the U.S. for 13 years on an expired student visa and then send him back to Nairobi.

But David Kihuha says he would rather stay in the federal prison in Leavenworth than go back to Kenya and face possible violence there.

Immigration agents tried twice last year to deport the 36-year-old, but he bit, spit and covered himself in his own excrement, according to government records. He also chewed up a head covering known as a "spit mask."

The government noted that commercial pilots "will not accept a violent, feces-besmeared passenger."

So officals want to give him a sedative and put him on a plane, which civil rights groups say violates his human rights.


Kenyan fights deportation from US

Tuesday, 21st April 2009

What do you do about a Kenyan with an expired visa who just won’t go back home?

In the curious case of Mr David Kihuha, the US government wants to resume a rarely used and controversial practice and sedate him, then put him on a one-way flight to Nairobi.

But that has proven to be difficult, at best.

Indeed, the case of the 36-year-old Kenyan, a former Olathe resident, has frustrated federal prosecutors, hobbled the government’s deportation system and led to the unusual tactic of indicting Kihuha on federal felonies for, in essence, refusing to leave.

As the drama plays out in a US District Court in Kansas, Kihuha remains in a cell in Leavenworth, and he has made it abundantly clear he prefers prison in America to freedom in Kenya.

Fearful that returning home could be dangerous, Kihuha — who has been in the US for 13 years on an expired student visa — sought asylum because of alleged violence in Kenya.

"That is the fuel that feeds his intransigence," said Melody Evans, his federal public defender, in court.

Denied asylum

"Whatever his circumstance here, it cannot be worse than what he faces at home," wrote Evans, who declined to comment further on the case.

How determined is Kihuha?

Since he was denied asylum, Kihuha has used every means available to avoid deportation.

Twice last year, when immigration agents tried to deport him, Kihuha managed a last-minute reprieve.

He bit, spat and, according to government records, managed to "cover himself in his own excrement."

He also chewed up a head covering known as a ‘spit mask’.

"I told them I did not want to go. I told them to take me back to jail," said Kihuha in a telephone interview from his cell.

Belabouring the obvious, the government noted in court filings that commercial pilots "will not accept a violent, faeces-besmeared passenger who chews off protective clothing and spits and bites."

The government’s frustration with Kihuha is evident in documents filed after his indictment last year.

"Dumping the defendant out the door of a plane with a parachute is not practical or diplomatically prudent," noted the government at one point.

As for his methods, government said, he has "crafted a relatively painless plot" to stay in the US.

Those who know him say Kihuha is no poster child for the sympathetic immigrant. And since going to jail, he has become so obsessed with remaining here that he has reportedly become unpredictable and unco-operative, even with those who are trying to help him.

While Kihuha is ‘no picnic’ to have in prison, the government says, "he is not mentally ill, and his behaviour is "generally acceptable."

But detention for more than 20 months in four different facilities has not been any picnic for Kihuha, either.

He has been segregated in a federal holding facility in Leavenworth and confined to his cell for up to 24 hours a day. At one point Kihuha allegedly sabotaged his toilet, forcing him into the all-too-familiar situation of having to live with his own excrement.

"It is really quite unfair," said Kihuha "because when you don’t know much about the law, they take advantage of you".

Source-The Standard

Cabinet reshuffle looms
Sunday, 5th October 2008
By Isaac Ongiri
The axe is set to fall on some Cabinet Ministers while some MPs are eyed for appointment into Government in President Kibaki’s first shuffle of the Grand Coalition Government.

Michuki: Could move to the Finance docket

Sources in Government and in both PNU and ODM say the looming shuffle could come as early as by the end of the week, with hurdles that were holding the President’s hand now out of the way.

The Sotik and Bomet by-elections are now out of the way leaving the President free to make appointments to replace the ministers who lost their lives. The Kriegler commission that had been feared to harbour the potential to rattle the coalition is also dispensed with, emerging with the spotlight shed on the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK).
Coalition Clause
The Cabinet changes details are said to have already been crafted by the President and his co-principal Prime Minister Raila Odinga in accordance with a Coalition clause that says both parties must be involved in a Cabinet reshuffle.
Raila left for France on Saturday and is expected back by Friday.

Bett: A possible beneficiary in Rift Valley

Sources on both sides say the shuffle that touches both parties is a delicate act tailored to woo back waning loyalty from different regions for both principals and to crack the whip in others.

Those who are on the crosshairs are said to be a Cabinet Minister from The Coast who could lose his seat. The replacement will also likely come from the region.
A second casualty from the Coast is said to be an assistant minister who is among those who have been dissenting against President Kibaki.
A Cabinet Minister who also been in the rebellious bandwagon is also targeted for demotion from a plum docket to a backwater portfolio.
Chopping Block
An assistant Minister from Nyanza, accused behind the scenes by his colleagues of privately hosting PNU bigwigs in his constituency, is also said to be on the chopping block.

Kones: Could join Government

Former Finance Minister Amos Kimunya is likely to be by-passed by the shuffle since the Justice Cockar Commission that has been probing the sale of the Grand Regency hotel is yet to wind up.

Rebellion in Meru and the South Rift regions have been brewing against the President and the Prime Minister respectively, and the two regions are expected to be key beneficiaries in a move meant to address discontent in the two vote-rich regions.
Sources in Government said Environment Minister John Michuki who has been acting at Treasury could be handed the Finance.
Kimunya’s Cabinet slot is likely to go to an MP from Meru region. The Cabinet, slot according to one MP from Meru, has been the subject of discussions between Meru MPs and a clique of PNU Cabinet ministers as a means of stemming the tide against PNU in the region.
Quit PNU

Munya: May reap from regional balancing

Recently four of the eight Meru MPs who had announced they had quit PNU and were planning to form their party rescinded their decision and rejoined the party.

MP Peter Munya who led the ‘prodigal team’ is said to be a likely Cabinet beneficiary.
Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi held talks with the MPs to discuss their relationship with the party before the MPs openly demanded the vacant Cabinet slot at treasury.
But Kiraitu declined to confirm meeting the Meru MPs to discuss PNU issues.
"I have not met any MPs to discuss PNU matters, but all the MPs in the region are my colleagues and we are working together for the benefit of the region," Kiraitu said.
Meru region was given only one Cabinet slot with two assistant ministerial positions and politicians from the region have been grumbling over what they term President Kibaki’s isolation of the region that has consistently voted for him since 1992.
In the South Rift where resentment for Raila has been bubbling, three MPs, from Kericho, Bomet, Bureti and Molo districts could be elevated to the Government with one getting a full ministerial post while the others walk into assistant ministers offices.
Ainamoi MP Benjamin Langat said the region would appreciate any attempt to address the Cabinet imbalance in favour of the South Rift.
Political Rumours
"We have just heard rumours about what you are asking, but we shall appreciate any appointments in the name of the South Rift," he said when asked if MPs from the region have any information on the pending shuffle.
Assistant Ministers Charles Keter, MPs Franklin Bett (Bureti), Beatrice Kones (MP-elect Bomet), Dr Julius Kones (Konoin) and Zakayo Cheruiyot (Kuresoi) are among those touted as possible regional beneficiaries of the upcoming government re-organisation.

Keter: Among likely beneficiaries in Rift Valley

Ministries of Roads left vacant following the death of the late Kipkalia Kones and that of Finance, which fell vacant after Kimunya resigned and assistant ministerial slots at Home Affairs formerly held by the late Lorna Laboso are currently vacant.

Sources in ODM said the party big wigs from Nyanza would not mind handing over one assistant minister’s seat to the South Rift to dilute the imbalance that had seen Nyanza have an upper hand in the Cabinet.
Nyanza has Ministers James Orengo, Anyang Nyong’o, Dalmas Otieno and Otieno Kajwang’ all in plum ministries, besides the Prime Minister.
It also emerged that some Cabinet ministers have been lobbying the two Principals to be considered in the shift.
Two top Party of National Unity (PNU) ministers are said to be lobbying for the transfer of some ODM ministers from dockets with grassroots network saying they were campaigning or the Prime minister every time they visited PNU strongholds.
Director of Presidential Press Service (PPS) Mr Isaiah Kabira last night declined to comment of the pending reshuffle.
"I cannot comment on anything, all I can tell you is that Cabinet business is running as usual, there will be the normal meeting on Thursday," said Mr Kabira
Cabinet shuffle in the Kibaki era are often announced through late evening dispatches released by the PPS or read by the President on live KBC TV telecast.

Help Line/Prayer Request

D.C. Restaurateurs Claim President-Elect for Kenya

(By Kevin Clark — The Washington Post)
Sunday, November 9, 2008;
William and Alice Mukabane run the District’s only Kenyan restaurant, where African immigrant customers see Barack Obama as one of their own. (By Kevin Clark

The first time she saw Barack Obama, Alice Mukabane knew. "You see it right away," she says, "the qualities of a Kenyan. His firmness reminds me of the people back home who, when they say, ‘We want,’ they get. And his humbleness — our people are very humble."
"He’s a good listener, like Kenyans," adds her husband, William, who, with Alice, runs Safari DC, the Washington area’s only Kenyan restaurant.
More than any other politician of his generation, President-elect Obama is a vessel for the aspirations of people who otherwise have little in common. Black Americans listen to him and hear the cadences and promise of the church. Young people see an open, flexible agent of social change. Folks who are skeptical of government latch onto Obama’s stern calls for parental responsibility, even as those who expect more from Washington on, say, health care, hear promises of more paternalism.
Inside Safari DC on Georgia Avenue NW, naturally enough, immigrants from Kenya and other African countries see Obama as one of their own. Here, he is considered every bit as much Kenyan as he is Chicagoan or Hawaiian. That the next president has only visited his father’s native land briefly and had only the most fleeting of relationships with his African parent is utterly irrelevant.
"We would pick him out on the street — no question, a Kenyan," says William, who immigrated 31 years ago and opened this business in 1998 after college in Buffalo and a long series of jobs as a cook in Washington restaurants.
The back bar at Safari DC has been dubbed "Obama Corner," festooned with posters and photos of Barack and his wife, Michelle. CNN blares round-the-clock, and the customers at the bar flit from loud debates about foreign policy to playful gossip about the next first lady’s clothing and child-rearing philosophy.
"I’ve learned a lot from Michelle," says Alice, who has two adult daughters, one a teacher in Kenya, the other a student at Montgomery College. "I’ve learned that your destination determines you. Most of our people, when someone insults your husband, you jump right on that person. That’s where we mess up. I give Michelle great credit for that firm control, that example of standing behind your husband without bad words or anger."
It took William Mukabane many years to persuade his intended to come join him in the United States; she was wary of leaving a place where children knew they had to study hard and carry their share of the domestic workload, to come to a place where it seemed that children thought of themselves as their parents’ equals.
"We believe in disciplining kids," Alice says. "Back there, my neighbor could cane me if I’m a child doing something wrong, and that’s fine with my mother. Here, that’s going over the line. Here, children take what they have for granted. With Obama, I believe he understands responsibility and work. That’s how he got to where he is. If anyone else was going 10 miles, he had to go 15 miles."
The Mukabanes realize that despite accolades that border on hero worship, Obama cannot possibly do even a quarter of what many hope he’ll accomplish.
"Everyone’s expectations are so high," William says. "It’s going to take time."
The restaurateurs hope the new president might want a taste of his ancestral home. "I’ll make him a salmon," Alice says, "grilled and seasoned with African spices that we bring back from Kenya. Or a baked tilapia," the kitchen’s special, smothered in onions, tomatoes, cilantro and spices.
The couple would tell the first family about their own transformation into Americans, about Alice’s belief that "no matter what you want to do, you can do it here if you work hard and if you handle yourself right. It’s not just work — you will get nowhere if you don’t understand that you have to also deny yourself some things, some pleasures, and open yourself to other people. That’s how your dreams come true in America, and that’s how Obama made it, too."
Presidents collect political capital not by winning everyone over to their policies, but through the ineffable process of getting people of differing, even opposing views to believe that this leader knows them — that somehow, he is theirs.
On that score, Obama has an almost ridiculous head start — not only at home, where he has transformed millions of alienated Americans into optimists, but around the world.
Europeans speak of him as a restoration of the American ideal. Muslims are confronted head-on with an American social and political mobility that they’ve long been told doesn’t really exist.
And in Kenya, where Thursday was declared a national holiday in honor of Obama, the president-elect is now the ultimate local-kid-made-good.
"The older generation is struggling to understand," Alice says. "But the younger people are coming together with different tribes, intermarrying, not seeing color. Judge people as they behave, not as they dress. Welcome them for who they are and you might be surprised."
Source-The Washington Post

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