Monday, December 31, 2012

The Fiscal Year 2012 for ICE: Removal Numbers, Key Priorities & New National Detainer Guidance

Director John Morton of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently announced the FY 2012 year-end removal numbers, highlighting the continued enforcement and removal of convicted criminals of serious offenses from the country.  Overall, ICE’s Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) removed 409,849 individuals, of which ninety-six percent (96%) fell into a priority category – a record high for the agency.  Of the 409,849 total individuals removed, 225,390, approximately fifty-five percent (55%), were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors - nearly double the amount of removals in FY 2008.

ICE also issued new national detainer guidance, which limits the use of detainers to individuals who meet the department’s enforcement priorities and restricts the use of detainers against individuals arrested for minor misdemeanor offenses.  Director Morton highlighted the need to further focus resources on the most serious criminal offenders with the following statement;

“In order to further enhance our ability to focus enforcement efforts on serious offenders, we are changing who ICE will issue detainers against.  While the FY 2012 removals indicate that we continue to make progress in focusing resources on criminal and priority aliens, with more convicted criminals being removed from the country than ever before, we are constantly looking for ways to ensure that we are doing everything we can to utilize our resources in a way that maximizes public safety.”
The implementation of this directive will include the continued use of investigations and programs, such as Operation Cross Check and ICE’s expanded collaboration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, to target criminal aliens and to remove recent border crossers.  Furthermore, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano has directed ICE to focus its resources on key priorities in all aspects of its immigration enforcement efforts which include; the identification and removal of those that have broken criminal laws, threats to national security and repeat violators of immigration law.

The article can be read in its entirety here and the charts on removal statistics can be viewed on ICE’s immigration enforcement web page.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

The Current State of License Validity

Los Angeles, California – December 19, 2011

In a continued effort to investigate and prosecute organizations who illicitly sell or distribute false identification documents, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) shut down two websites, and, who offered state and international driver licenses and identification cards.

Ramin Bibian, 47 of Tarzana, plead guilty in federal court to transferring false identification documents through his websites, following the HSI-led multi-agency Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force. Through his websites, “Customers could add special features to their identification cards, such as holograms, magnetic encoded strips and high definition printing similar to that used by state agencies” to which Bibian admitted that he knew his customers would use in place of legitimately-issued state identification cards.

Identification cards have become a key issue for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), especially following their recent announcement that the E-Verify system now checks driver’s license and ID cards from the state of Florida when presented as a List B document for an employee’s Form I-9.  Furthermore, ICE/HSI recently dismantled a Fresno-area counterfeit document mill producing fraudulent Social Security cards and alien registration cards.

Bibian is scheduled for sentencing on March 19, 2013, before District Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco facing a maximum statutory penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  

Read the full press release here and Contact Us for more information on how to protect your organization against fraudulent identification document with our error-detecting electronic I-9 and E-Verify solutions.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

How Mishandled I-9s Lead to Legal Action

Over the past few weeks, the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Office (OCAHO) has administered numerous decisions regarding penalty amount reductions for employers.  The employer we will focus on for this post is Barnett Taylor (dba Burger King) located in Phoenix, Arizona.

Background Information

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began its inquiry with a “Notice of Inspection and Administrative Subpoena on December 10, 2007 requesting I-9s for all its current employees and for former employees in accordance with the I-9 mandatory retention requirements.”  Over the course of the next two years, ICE issued a Notice of Suspect Documents on August 28, 2009 and continued with a Notice of Intent to Fine (NIF) on December 16, 2009.
The retention of Form I-9s proved to be a major problem for Barnett Taylor.  The case document states that William Marshall, the General Manager at the time, was “confused about the I-9 retention requirements and discarded the forms.”  The document went on to state that; “the I-9s were placed in a box in Marshall’s office for temporary storage and inadvertently disposed of as garbage by an unidentified worker who was cleaning the office.”

Potential Legal Action

The mishandling of Form I-9s by the Barnett Taylor General Manager propelled the company into an investigation led by ICE regarding the retention requirements based on the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which could end up seeing the employer being fined $77,835.00 in penalties.

Barnett Taylor claimed in defense that the I-9s speak for themselves and that omissions in the required attestation in Section 1 can be cured by entries in Section 2.  The law is clearly defined and OCAHO rejected this defense, saying “When an employee does not check a box in section 1 and does not enter an alien number on the appropriate line, the employer has failed to ensure that the employee properly completed section 1.”

What You Can Do
Contact our experts to find out how we can help transition your paper I-9 forms into our seamless error-detecting electronic I-9 database to prevent further errors and possible legal action.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

ICE/HSI Dismantles Fresno-Area Counterfeit Document Mill

Fresno, CA – December 18, 2012

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested two Fresno-area residents on December 4, 2012 from an investigation based on the allegation that they were operating a fraudulent document mill.

The article, released yesterday on the ICE website, states “The defendants took photographs and biographical information from the customers and used the information to produce fraudulent Social Security cards and alien registration cards, also known as “green cards.””

The suspects, “Antonio Mora-Cruz, 45, and Soledad Vargas-Herrera, 59, both of Madera, were arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Shelia K. Oberto on a 12-count indictment charging them with conspiring to produce and sell false identification documents.”

If they are convicted, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, which is the same penalty previously seen in our ”ICE Dismantles 2 Major Fresno-area Phony Document Mills” blog post.

Contact our experts for more information on how to protect your company against fraudulent identification documents.

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DHS Immigrant Fee Update

A recently published article conducted by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) outlines the potential loss of $166,000,000 in U.S. Government funds, based on the government's own figures, due to an error in implementation of the September 24, 2010 Immigrant Fee.  The article clarifies how this lack of implementation has cost the U.S. Government by stating; 

The fee could have been collected as early as September 24, 2010, but wasn’t because of a lack of coordination between the Department of State and DHS; that error has cost the U.S. Government $166,000,000 based on the government’s own figures, indicating that typically 36,000 immigrants a month come from overseas, and that there was a 28-month gap between the fee’s authorization and its first planned collection.
An outline of the Immigrant Fee can be found on our previous blog post and for more information visit the USCIS website or Contact Us for the latest on immigration reform.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will implement a new fee, effective February 1, 2013, for all foreign nationals seeking permanent residence in the United States and individuals seeking an immigrant visa.  Applicants will still have to pay the DHS visa application processing fee in conjunction with the new $165 immigrant fee through the USCIS website.

The new immigrant fee aims to cover the cost of USCIS staff time to handle, file and maintain the immigrant visa package as well as the cost of producing and delivering the permanent resident card.  The fee was established from the September 24, 2010 final rule developed by the DHS and USCIS to recover the costs of processing immigrant visas in the United States.

According to the USCIS website:

Inter-country Adoptions
The fee does not apply to those entering the United States under intercountry adoptions programs.
Children admitted into the United States under the Orphan or Hague Adoptions Process are currently exempt from paying the USCIS Immigrant Fee; however, USCIS will consider the cost of processing immigrant visas issued by the DOS for the Orphan and Hague process the next time there is an adjustment to the fee schedule.
When and How to Pay the Fee
Applicants must pay this fee online through the USCIS website. Applicants should submit payments after they receive their visa package from DOS and before they depart for the United States.
Applicants can electronically submit the fee by answering the questions on the USCIS website by providing their:
·         checking account information, or
·         debit or credit card information.
All check payments must be drawn on a U.S. bank.
If the applicant is unable to make this payment, another person can make this payment on the applicant’s behalf.
Failure to Pay
The applicant will not receive a green card until the required USCIS Immigrant fee is paid.
Failure to pay does not affect the lawful status of the applicant. While the applicant can use their Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Form I-94, Arrival and Departure Record, for one year to document they are a lawful permanent resident, once that I-94 stamp expires, the applicant will need to possess a green card as evidence of their lawful permanent resident status.
The announcement in its entirety can be read on the USCIS website while the official statement can be viewed here.

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