Friday, February 11, 2005

LEGAL HUBRIS

By William Fisher

Shortly before he left office, former Attorney General John Ashcroft told employees at the Department of Justice (DOJ) that America is “a freer nation than before because our families can live peacefully in their communities, our wives, daughters and mothers can travel the streets safely, and our children are turning away from illegal drugs.”

But it would be difficult to convince Rodi Alvarado that she is “freer”.

Mrs. Alvarado is a Guatemalan refugee who is at the center of a 10-year debate over whether battered women can successfully gain asylum in the U.S. Her case had been in the hands of Mr. Ashcroft, who said two years ago he would decide her fate. But just before he stepped down, he passed the responsibility to his successor, Alberto Gonzales, former White House Counsel.

Ashcroft decided neither to grant nor deny asylum to Alvarado. He said a decision should await new regulations from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which supervises most immigration matters. The DHS says its new regulations would make domestic abuse a valid legal basis for asylum-seekers. The government started working on such regulations many years ago, long before the DHS was created.

The DHS says it will not press for Mrs. Alvarado’s deportation regardless of how much longer it may take the agency to finalize the new regulations. Meanwhile, Mrs. Alvarado remains in legal limbo. Though she can remain in the U.S., that is only a partial victory since she cannot be reunited with her children, who remain in Guatemala.

Mrs. Alvarado’s husband, a former soldier in the Guatemalan military, brutally beat her over a period of 10 years while the Guatemalan police and courts ignored her repeated attempts to get help. When she ran away, her husband found her and beat her unconscious. Finally, in 1995, she fled to the U.S. in search of safety. She now works as a housekeeper at a convent in San Francisco.

Mrs. Alvarado’s case has created a firestorm of bipartisan criticism of U.S. Government immigration policies. Advocates for women and immigration rights had hoped Alvarado's situation would already have led to a change in U.S. policy to recognize asylum cases filed by victims of domestic violence. Clinton Administration Attorney General Janet Reno proposed such a change in her final hours in office in 2001.

With the change in administrations and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the proposal languished. Opponents have said new asylum rules would lead to a surge in claims, an assertion disputed by advocates.

Under U.S. law, asylum applicants have to show they can't go home because they face persecution because of religion, race, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. The regulation proposed by Reno would have allowed battered women to be considered members of a social group.

The Harvard Law School’s Immigration and Refugee Clinic Women’s Refugee Project, which filed a ‘friend of the court’ brief in the Alvarado case, said, “While we are disappointed that Attorney General Ashcroft did not follow the full recommendation of the Department of Homeland Security, and grant Mrs. Alvarado permanent asylum as he absolutely should have, we are encouraged that a basic regulatory framework -- at least in proposed form -- has been established which may allow for a principled approach to this issue." Nancy Kelly and Deborah Anker of Harvard said in a joint statement. "It is critical that women victims of violence be treated fairly and evenhandedly under U.S. law."

A coalition of organizations signed the Women Refugees Project's amicus brief and have supported Alvarado's efforts to obtain asylum. These organizations include the Center for Refugee Studies, Human Rights First and the Family Violence Prevention Fund, as well as Amnesty International-USA, the National Immigration, the Project of the National Lawyers Guild, the Women's Commission for Refugee Women & Children, and the Women’s Division of Human Rights Watch.

The Refugee Project says there is broad, bipartisan support for granting asylum to Alvarado, including from many conservative organizations and Republican
officeholders such as Concerned Women for America, World Relief, and U.S.
Republican Senators Sam Brownback of Kansas, Mike DeWine of Ohio, and Susan Collins and Olympia Snow of Maine.

Mrs. Alvarado’s case could well be complicated by political environment created by the ongoing congressional controversy over immigration and asylum. Last week, the House of Representatives passed the so-called REAL I.D. act. The bill would block states from issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, restrict asylum , and complete a controversial border fence between San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico. The White House said in a policy statement issued hours before debate began that the bill would "strengthen the ability of the United States to protect against terrorist entry into and activities within the United States."

But immigration advocates, groups supporting civil and privacy rights, and state government organizations opposed the bill. They said it would make it harder for those fleeing persecution to seek asylum in this country and would endanger public safety and national security by denying driver's licenses to millions of illegal immigrants.

The REAL-ID bill now goes to the U.S. Senate, where it is likely to face stiff bipartisan opposition. Sensenbrenner introduced a similar bill in the last session of Congress as part of the intelligence reorganization legislation designed to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, but immigration provisions were largely stripped from the final bill by the Senate as a compromise to assure passage of the broader legislation.

9 comments:

  1. I enjoyed reading through your blog. You have quite some interesting topics. To further expand your content on your blog, try visiting mine at Genealogy Search. Maybe it will help one of your visitors to find a relative from the past or to look up ancestors. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi,

    I have some really good websites below that can help you with credit repair and legal law forms.
    You can also check out the news section at "Latest Legal Articles"

    Preparing legal documents has never been easier
    with our library of forms, agreements, and checklists. It is valuable to small and growing businesses and entrepreneurs.

    Have you ever needed a legal form but didn't know where to get one? Have you ever wanted to cover yourself in a legal agreement or make sure that those you love are protected? FastLawForms.com is an easy to use online legal forms provider that can and will save you thousands of dollars of lawyer's fees every year.
    www.fastlawforms.com

    Repair your own credit , Credit Repair is an ongoing matter for many consumers. Consumers have paid up to $500 or more to credit repair companies who follow this same process to remove their credit errors. Without credit you can't get a car, travel, loan money, or even get mortgage.

    www.creditrepair.fastlawforms.com

    Have you been victimized by credit repair companies? Many companies promise or guarantee to clean up your credit report so you can get a car loan, a home mortgage, insurance, etc. In reality, they can't deliver what they promise. You pay them hundreds dollars in fees and these companies do nothing to improve your credit. Many of them just disappear.

    Everything a credit repair companies can do for you, you can do for yourself at no cost. No one can do a better job in repairing your own credit as you can. You are the only one responsible to make sure your credit report is accurate. Our guide will help you every step of the way.

    www.creditrepair.fastlawforms.com

    If your application for credit is denied due to information supplied by a credit bureau, the company you applied to must be liable to provide you with that credit bureau's contact information. Furthermore you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report if you've been denied credit within the last 60 days

    Disputing credit mistakes or outdated items is free. Just ask the credit reporting agency for a dispute form or submit your dispute in writing, attach any supporting documentation. Always send them a copy instead of the original

    www.creditrepair.fastlawforms.com Team


    Also checkout our sponsors at: www.paidtodrive.co.uk - Get Paid to Drive in UK ---- Only website on the internet that offers paid to drive companies exclusively in United Kingdom

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi thanks for your blog, I liked it! I also have a blog/site about auto insurance quote that covers auto insurance quote related stuff. Please feel free to visit.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi, Thanks for your interesting blog. Keep up the great work! I also have a site & blog about mortgage calc, please feel free to visit.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I just came across your blog and wanted to drop you a note telling you how impressed I was with the information you have posted here.
    I also have a web site & blog about atlanta car loan
    so I know what I'm talking about when I say your site is top-notch! Keep up the great work!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I just came across your blog and wanted to drop you a note telling you how impressed I was with the information you have posted here.
    I also have a web site & blog about mortgage rate calculator
    so I know what I'm talking about when I say your site is top-notch! Keep up the great work!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I was searching blogs,and I found your site.Please,
    accept my congratulations for your excellent work!
    If you have a moment, please visit my site:
    job service
    It pretty much covers job service related issues.
    Have a good day!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Shop, compare and save on your next home mortgage, refinance, auto loan, payday loan advance and even personal credit lines. Regardless of your prior credit, you can qualify for a better loan at a better rate by shopping and comparing our extensive site of lenders. Fill out a no obligation, simple one page application and get a FREE rate quote. We specialize in great low rates for those with poor or bad credit, even no credit at all. Good credit customers can expect the lowest rates available.

    Don't delay, come to www.nwcleasing.com and apply today and get an instant decision and lock in your lowest possible rate.

    ReplyDelete