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March 2009 Archives


Cuban Americans who have desired to travel to Cuba were restricted except for visits to spouses, children or parents and these visits were restricted to only once in 3 years and only for 14 days. Only $50 per day was permitted to be spent. Humanitarian visas were never authorized.On March 11, 2009 President Obama signed a new law, easing these travel restrictions. Now visits to aunts and uncles and cousins are possible as well as spouses, parents and children once now for every year for an unlimited time. Travelers to Cuba from America may spend up to $179 per day under this new regulation. Humanitarian visas may also be applied for such as a visit to a close friend in the hospital.


In Colorado, state officials and the Sheriff have used confidential tax documents to arrest people for illegally using social security numbers that did not belong to them. This is commonly done by undocumented aliens to enable them to work without them realizing they were appropriating a particular person’s social security number.The American Civil Liberties Union brought an action to stop this practice because it was an invasion of the privacy of thousands of tax payers whose records were seized from a tax preparer.This action by the Sheriff and state officials was an illegal fishing expedition, the Judge said. The government requires residents in the U.S. to pay taxes. Many undocumented aliens pay taxes to comply with obligations. Further arrests are now barred until the Judge makes a final ruling.


As many as 30,000 desperate illegal Haitians who are in the U.S. have been ordered deported by Immigration. This draconian program would separate them from their U.S. spouses and U.S. children. Immigration has not extended temporary protected status (TPS) to Haitians although it has done so for Salvadorians and Hondurans. TPS is granted to those nationals from countries in dire straits such as for disastrous mud slides, hurricanes or earthquakes. For Haiti to receive these deportees would render Haiti totally destabilized according to Haitian authorities. The Bush Administration has denied TPS to Haitians notwithstanding that Haiti has recently been devastated by political instability and natural disasters. The Immigration has maintained it has only been seeking criminals to deport. Unfortunately the truth is that Immigration has been seeking the arrest of Haitians who only entered without visas or who overstayed. In fact these raids and roundups have only resulted in tearing immigrant families apart: spouses from their U.S. citizen spouses and from their U.S. citizen children. These raids and round-up program has not resolved any Immigration problem, it has only terrified the Haitian community and their families. The Haitian government has refused to issue travel documents to Haitian deportees. As a result of the natural disaster, there has been a surge of Haitians trying to enter the U.S. who are fleeing their country. Haiti has said that tens of thousands of storm victims are plagued by a lack of facilities and shelter and that Haiti cannot sustain these refugees.


New York Assembly has recently passed legislation to restore judge’s discretion in cases that involve mere possession. This would eliminate hearings to have the prosecutor’s consent to allow judges to send persons to drug treatment programs instead of prison. The bill is now before the State Senate which is likely to approve it as well since the Senate is now controlled by Democrats. Prisoners who have been already sentenced may be able to apply for relief as well.This law may have an impact on immigration as well because under immigration law there are no provisions to allow a waiver for any controlled substance other than for fewer than 30 grams of marijuana. This reform could be a turn-around for the stringent immigration code that separates U.S. citizen children and U.S. citizen spouses from their foreign parent or spouse for the possession of a controlled substance even though miniscule for people who are not violent. Judges would have discretion to discriminate between hardened criminals or persons who should be in medical treatment.

Identity Theft

The Supreme Court of the U.S. heard arguments Wednesday February 25, 2009 about the degree of blame of an illegal immigrant who gave an employer a false social security card. The immigrant did not know the social security number belonged to a specific person. Immigrants who number in the millions do this to be able to work and not for the purpose of taking money out of someone else’s bank account or credit card.The immigrant in this case was an undocumented Mexican. He was arrested by Immigration and charged with aggravated identity theft. His defense was that he hadn’t known the social security number belonged to any specific person. He was sentenced to 2 years for an aggravated identity theft. He appealed, ultimately to the U.S. Supreme Court.The case raises the issue of whether the theft was done knowingly in the sense of that there was an intention to do harm to a specific person. The argument focuses on that fact that if the Immigrant chose a social security number that should refer to a specific person, there would be a penalty of 2 years in jail. If the social security number did not refer to a specific person, there would be no such penalty. The justices seemed to believe this was arbitrary and illogical. The Court’s concern should be to properly assess the degree of culpability, not allow immigrants to be intimidated and be pressured to agree to deportation.
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