Saturday, July 8, 2006

INB 7/8/06: High-Tech Company Raided; Supreme Court Upholds Deportation

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 24 - July 8, 2006

1. High-Tech Company Raided
2. Supreme Court Upholds Deportation
3. Palestinian Gets Citizenship on Appeal

Immigration News Briefs is a weekly supplement to Weekly News Update on the Americas, published by Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; tel 212-674-9499; INB is also distributed free via email; contact to subscribe or unsubscribe. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is now archived at


Over three days from June 13 to 15, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents searched the offices of Sun Valley Technical Repair, a technology company based in Morgan Hill, California, and detained 12 suspected undocumented workers. ICE spokesperson Virginia Kice announced the arrests on June 20; the search warrant is sealed and company officials have declined to comment. The raid stems from a criminal investigation involving the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the investigative arm of the Defense Department's inspector general, the US Postal Service, the state Department of Motor Vehicles, Morgan Hill police and the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team, a partnership of 16 local, state and federal agencies that investigate large-scale high-tech crimes.

Kice said the government is seeking to deport the nine men and three women who were "potentially employed by the targeted business." One is from Nicaragua; the rest are from Mexico. Eight have been released from custody, some after posting bail. "We're looking into whether there were [willful] hiring violations by the business," said Kice. [San Francisco Chronicle 6/16/06, 6/21/06]


In an 8-1 decision on June 22, the US Supreme Court ruled that immigrants who return to the US after being deported are "continuous lawbreakers" who lose the right to remain in the US, even after they marry US citizens. The ruling came in the case of Humberto Fernandez-Vargas, a 53-year-old Mexican citizen who entered the US illegally in the 1970s and was then deported several times. He had been in the US continuously since 1982 and had applied for permanent legal residency after marrying a US citizen in 2001. He was arrested and deported to Mexico two years ago; his wife, Rita, continued the legal battle on his behalf.

The Court upheld a strict interpretation of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), which says that "an alien [who] reentered the United States illegally after having been removed" may not seek to have his or her case "reopened or reviewed. [He] is not eligible and may not apply for any relief, and the alien shall be removed at any time after the reentry."

Several courts had earlier taken the same position, while the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California had ruled that Congress did not mean to apply the 1996 law retroactively. The Supreme Court insisted that Congress meant the law to apply to every deported immigrant who had returned illegally to the US and remained here. Fernandez-Vargas "had an ample warning" of the law in 1996, and "he chose to remain after the new statute became effective," Justice David Souter wrote in Fernandez-Vargas vs. Gonzales.

The court did suggest that the outcome might be different for once-deported immigrants who married US citizens or applied to become legal residents before 1996. In the lone dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens said Fernandez-Vargas would have been eligible to stay in the US before the 1996 law was passed, so it was unfair to apply the law to him retroactively now. [Los Angeles Times 6/23/06; Washington Post 6/23/06]


On June 23, US District Judge Stephen Wilson in Los Angeles ruled that Palestinian immigrant Aiad Khaled Barakat should be allowed to become a naturalized US citizen. Barakat is one of the so-called "LA 8": seven Palestinians and a Kenyan whom the government arrested in 1987 and sought to deport for alleged associations with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). All eight have denied being PFLP members. The government initially tried to deport all eight of them, but in 1997 Barakat and another of the group were granted legal residency. Barakat's lawyers had appealed to the federal court after US immigration officials rejected his petition for citizenship last year; they claimed he lied in his citizenship interview about an association with PFLP leader Ali Kased.

Federal officials have 60 days to appeal the judge's ruling, but American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) staff attorney Ahilan Arulanantham, who litigated the case, said it was "extremely, very, very unlikely that they'll appeal." "The judge listened and found [Barakat] to be credible," said Arulanantham. "It was very fact-intensive testimony that would be very difficult to reverse on appeal." [AP 6/23/06; Los Angeles Times] Attorney Marc Van Der Hout, who represents several of the LA 8, said officials could theoretically try to deport Barakat in violation of Judge Wilson's orders, using a retroactive provision of the Patriot Act. "But...I don't think they're going to try to do that," he said. Barakat told Judge Wilson he needed to get citizenship soon so he could visit his ailing mother, who will turn 79 next month, then return to the US, where his children were born and raised.

If his petition for citizenship goes unchallenged, Barakat would become the first of the eight to become a citizen. Another of the eight, Basher Amer, has returned to Bethlehem in the West Bank. Michel Ibrahim Shehadeh and Khader Musa Hamide have green cards but are fighting deportation in immigration court over allegations that they financially supported terrorists by distributing a Palestinian magazine. Their cases were delayed last summer, with no indication of when they will be heard, Van Der Hout said. Hamide's Kenyan wife, Julie Mungai, is a permanent resident, as are Naim Sharif and Amjad Obeid, Barakat's attorneys said. Obeid's brother Ayman remains in the US on a work permit and is waiting for word on his application for permanent residency. [LAT 6/24/06]


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