Dream act

100,000 'dreamers' could lose 3-year work permits

PHOENIX — Raul Reynoso got a bonus when he renewed the federal work permit he received through President Obama's 2012 program granting protection from deportation to undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

He was expecting a two-year permit. Instead, his new permit doesn't expire for three years, until 2017...

Reynoso is one of more than 100,000 so-called "dreamers" who received three-year work permits under Obama's executive actions on immigration before U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen issued a preliminary injunction temporarily halting the programs in February.

Now Reynoso and the other dreamers are caught a bitter legal dispute over whether the Justice Department intentionally misled the judge by failing to disclose that the government had already started issuing three-year permits to some dreamers.

The revelation, which came to light after Hanen issued his injunction, has further incensed 26 states, including Arizona, that have filed a lawsuit seeking to block Obama's programs aimed at offering protection from deportation to an additional 4 million undocumented immigrants.

Hanen, who oversees the U.S. District Court in Brownsville, Texas, issued the injunction Feb. 16, just before the first of Obama's new programs was set to begin accepting applications on Feb. 18.

Now Reynoso and the others may have to give back the three-year permits if Hanen determines the Obama administration violated the injunction by failing to tell the judge that the government had already started issuing three-year permits before Obama's executive actions were scheduled to start.

That could leave dreamers such as Reynoso to reapply for two-year permits, or it could leave them with no work permits at all.

"Absolutely ... it's something to be concerned about," said Reynoso, who works as an insurance agent and came to the U.S. from Mexico when he was 6.

Obama announced on Nov. 20 that since Congress had failed to pass legislation reforming the nation's immigration system, he was going to use his executive authority to offer protection from deportation and work permits to about 4 million of the 12 million immigrants in the country illegally.

The president's actions included expanding his 2012 program for undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children by removing an age cap that limited the program to those under the age of 31. The actions also created a new program for undocumented parents with children who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.

The actions, spelled out in a memo issued by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, also said that effective Nov. 24, everyone approved for protection from deportation would receive three-year work permits instead of the two-year permits issued under the existing 2012 program.

Shortly afterward, Texas and 25 other states filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block Obama's programs from taking effect by arguing they were created illegally.

In the meantime, the government issued three-year work permits to 108,081 people, including Reynoso, from Nov. 24 until the injunction was issued. Those people had applied for protection from deportation under the existing program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

But Hanen didn't find that out until March 3, nearly two weeks after he issued his injunction, when Justice Department lawyers notified him in court papers.

The judge was furious. For weeks leading up to the Feb. 16 injunction, Justice Department lawyers had insisted that the government was not scheduled to start implementing Obama's programs until Feb. 18.

"So, like an idiot, I believed that," Hanen said during a testy court hearing March 19.

Ruling expected soon
Government lawyers contend it was simply an oversight. During the hearing, they told Hanen they were so focused on the start of the new deferred-action programs, they neglected to mention that the government had already started issuing three-year permits under the old program, which was not affected by Hanen's ruling.

But lawyers from the states want to know if the government intentionally withheld the information knowing that once the government started issuing three-year permits, it would be hard "to put the toothpaste back in the tube."

They contend the states have already suffered "irreparable injury" because undocumented immigrants can use their three-year work permits to get driver's licenses that also last for three years. That's because driver's licenses are issued for the length of time a person who receives deferred action can remain lawfully in the U.S.

Hanen is expected to rule any day on a motion filed by the states, asking him to force the Justice Department to turn over documents to determine if the government intentionally misled the court.

The judge said he will also decide whether he will order the government to revoke the three-year permits if he determines the government violated the injunction.

"He could order the government to take back the three-year permits and reissue two-year permits. He could do nothing. Or he could revoke them altogether," said Nora Preciado, a lawyer at the National Immigration Law Center, an advocacy organization in Los Angeles.

Hanen has already denied the Justice Department's request to lift the injunction and allow Obama's programs to go forward until the merits of the case can be decided. As a result, the Justice Department has filed a motion with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to lift Hanen's injunction.

Meanwhile, dreamers across the country are worried about losing their three-year permits...

He came to the U.S. from Mexico when he was 4. He graduated from the University of Houston in 2012 with a degree in political science.

Espinosa is now the executive director of Fiel Houston, a non-profit organization that helps undocumented immigrants apply for deferred action... Read more about 100,000 'dreamers' could lose 3-year work permits

15 immigrants protected from deportation arrested in sweep

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal agents in a sweep targeting the most dangerous criminal immigrants arrested 15 people who have been allowed to remain in the U.S. under President Barack Obama's executive action intended to protect children who came to the U.S. years ago with their parents, The Associated Press has learned.

Fourteen of the 15 had been convicted of a crime...

One of the eligibility requirements for the program is that immigrants not have a criminal history...

...eligibility is reserved for ambitious, young immigrants enrolled in school or who graduated and who would benefit American society...

Under the program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, more than 675,000 young immigrants since August 2012 have been granted a work permit and reprieve from deportation.

"With few fraud detection measures and effective background checks in place, it's no surprise that ICE arrested over a dozen DACA recipients last week, most of whom had already been convicted of a crime," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte. "I and other members of the House Judiciary Committee have expressed concern about this for years."...

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said the case "sheds light on what appears to be a haphazard and risky vetting process by an administration that is very interested in finding creative and possibly unconstitutional ways for people to stay in the country."...

"This was a targeted enforcement operation, aimed specifically at enhancing public safety," Saldana said. "It exemplifies our core mission, by taking dangerous criminals off the streets and removing them from the country we are addressing a very significant security and public safety vulnerability."

ICE agents arrested 2,059 convicted immigrants, including more than 1,000 people who had multiple convictions. More than 98 percent of those arrested in the week long operation were a top priority, Saldana said.

In November, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced new deportation priorities as part of Obama's planned expansion of programs to shield millions of immigrants from deportation.

The top priority includes immigrants suspected of being terrorists, gang members, convicted felons and those caught crossing the border illegally. The second priority includes immigrants convicted of three or more misdemeanors or a single serious misdemeanor, such as drunken driving or domestic violence.

Homeland Security Department documents say participation in the program can be revoked at any time. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which approves applications, reported to the House Judiciary Committee last year the government stripped that protection from 113 people as of August. The revocations included one case of gang membership, one aggravated assault, 11 driving-under-the-influence cases and 11 errors by USCIS, according to the committee.

Obama's planned expansion of the protection programs has been put on hold by a federal judge in Texas presiding over a lawsuit filed by 26 states to stop the effort. In February Judge Andrew Hanen temporarily blocked the expansion plans, which included granting protections and work permits to parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. On Thursday the U.S. government asked an appeals court to lift the temporary hold on the expansion Read more about 15 immigrants protected from deportation arrested in sweep

Undocumented youths face deportation if DACA status expires

A Catholic social advocacy group based in Southeast Portland is advising undocumented youths to take steps to renew their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status before it expires or face the threat of deportation.

Alexandra Blodget, an advocate for Catholic Charities, who is professionally trained in immigration law, said, “It’s important for anyone who knows their DACA is expiring in the coming months to understand that renewal is essential.”

“Without it, people will no longer have authorization to work in the U.S. and will not be lawfully present, which does carry the risk of detention and/or deportation,” she said.

DACA is a set of administrative procedures initiated by the Obama administration in 2012. It offers two years of protection against the threat of deportation to undocumented young people who met certain criteria.

A DACA Renewal Screening Night will take place from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6, at Catholic Charities, 2740 S.E. Powell Blvd. in Portland.

There will be $20 consultations provided with immigration attorneys and BIA (Board of Immigration Appeals) accredited representatives.

No appointments are necessary, and consultations will be available in English and Spanish.

Alice Lundell, a spokeswoman for Catholic Charities, said those who have been granted DACA and a work permit will see them expire after two years if they are not renewed.

People who received DACA in late 2012 or even 2013 need to be thinking now about renewal, she said.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is recommending that applicants should apply four to five months in advance of their status and work permit expiration, Lundell said.

In response to a demand for high-quality, low-cost legal advice about DACA renewal, a group of immigration law organizations has come together to offer help.

The screening night is a joint initiative of Immigrant Law Group, ICS, Catholic Charities, SOAR and Causa.

Renewal applicants should bring with them their work permits and copies of their original DACA applications if they have them.

Blodget said seeking advice from a qualified person is important.

“We would strongly encourage anyone planning for DACA renewal to get advice before they submit their application if they have any concerns, particularly if they’ve been arrested or convicted of an offense or had other involvement with law enforcement since first receiving DACA,” Blodget said.

“Anyone with questions can come to our event to get help,” she said.

For more information, contact Alice Lundell, Catholic Charities’ marketing and communications manager, at 503.688.2662 or alundell@catholiccharitiesoregon.org. Read more about Undocumented youths face deportation if DACA status expires

Eric Cantor to surrender House GOP leadership post in July

WASHINGTON — Repudiated at the polls, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor intends to resign his leadership post at the end of next month...

Lawmakers in both parties said the majority leader’s defeat and the prospect of a change within the Republican high command probably signal the demise of immigration legislation along the lines President Barack Obama is seeking....

One Republican said he feared the effects of Cantor’s defeat could be debilitating for the party and the government.

Interviewed on MSNBC, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said he was worried that Cantor’s stunning loss may lead to even more congressional gridlock. Asked if he thought immigration legislation was dead, he replied, “I’m concerned that Ted Cruz supporters, Rand Paul supporters, are going to use this as an excuse” to shut down the government...

Brat campaigned as a foe of immigration legislation, and said Cantor was likely to help immigrants living in the United States illegally gain amnesty if given a new term in the House...

The impact of Cantor’s surprise loss on the fate of immigration legislation in the current Congress seemed clear. Conservatives will now be emboldened in their opposition to legislation to create a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally, and party leaders who are sympathetic to such legislation will likely be less willing to try....

“The Republican Party has been completely swallowed by the tea party. I mean, any debate over whether the tea party controls the Republican Party has ended,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the Democratic national chair, said on MSNBC.

  Read more about Eric Cantor to surrender House GOP leadership post in July

Adelante Mujeres requests support for Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros, convicted in Forest Grove fatal crash

Adelante Mujeres is requesting additional support for Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros, the driver convicted of felony hit-and-run in the Oct. 20 crash that killed two young Forest Grove stepsisters.

...An immigration judge declined to grant her bond last month, a decision that keeps her in custody while her case plays out...

Now leaders of the Forest Grove nonprofit are asking...

1. Request that Kitzhaber pardon her felony convictions...

2. Request that federal legislators intervene ...

"Both letters and calls will be crucial to inspire our elected officials to do the right thing, and to assure them that we will stand behind them should they lend support to Cinthya," Cooke said.

Garcia-Cisneros...had temporary permission to be in the country under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program... The program does not allow for felony and some other convictions.

  Read more about Adelante Mujeres requests support for Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros, convicted in Forest Grove fatal crash

Harsh immigration realities set in for many 'dreamers'

WASHINGTON — Working as a Jack in the Box cashier, Marissa Cruz Santos breathed a sigh of relief last year when she qualified for an Obama administration program that defers deportation of young immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children.

With high expectations and a freshly minted work permit, Santos, 27, hit the job market, hoping to leverage her new status and a Cal State Fullerton degree into an entry-level office position. But after applying for several jobs near her Riverside home, Santos got only two interviews and no offers...

The (deferred action) program offered a two-year deportation deferral and work permits to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who came to the country illegally before age 16...

Many have been unable to take advantage of new opportunities because they lack a high school diploma or college degree, Gonzales said. He noted that the program did not make participants eligible for financial aid or in-state tuition in every state.

...Some have internalized the stigma of growing up in the country illegally and lack confidence during job interviews.

  Read more about Harsh immigration realities set in for many 'dreamers'

Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros, 19, sentenced to probation in Forest Grove fatal crash

A Washington County judge sentenced Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros, 19, to three years of probation in the Forest Grove fatal hit-and-run crash that killed two young stepsisters playing in a leaf pile...

Garcia-Cisneros learned of the crash minutes after it happened, but did not contact police to identify herself as the driver. Prosecutor Bracken McKey told Washington County jurors that the wreck itself was an accident, but Garcia-Cisneros' decision not to come forward was criminal...

Under state sentencing guidelines, Circuit Judge Rick Knapp had the option of imposing only probation or a maximum of three years in prison...
  Read more about Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros, 19, sentenced to probation in Forest Grove fatal crash

Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros, guilty in fatal hit and run, faces up to 3 years in prison

Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros sank to her chair after the verdict was read.

A Washington County jury unanimously found her guilty Wednesday on two counts of felony hit and run....

The prosecution agreed with the defense that Garcia-Cisneros did not mean to hit the girls. It was an accident. But Garcia-Cisneros’ failure to come forward and identify herself to police was not....

Police linked her to the crash through a tip from her neighbor, who spotted her sobbing and examining an SUV outside her house that night....

Garcia-Cisneros’ sentencing hearing was scheduled for Jan. 31. The judge could impose a minimum sentence of probation. McKey said Garcia-Cisneros faces a maximum of three years in prison, under state sentencing guidelines. The judge could choose to give her probation only. Read more about Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros, guilty in fatal hit and run, faces up to 3 years in prison

Jury convicts Garcia in accident that killed Forest Grove sisters

A jury has found Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros guilty on both counts of failing to perform the duties of a driver — a class C felony — in the accident that killed Abigail Robinson, 11, and Anna Dieter-Eckerdt, 6, of Forest Grove.

The sisters died after a car driven by Garcia (she does not use Cisneros) hit them while they were playing in a pile of fall leaves near their home on Main Street on Oct. 20, 2013.

Garcia will be sentenced at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Jan 31, in Washington County Circuit Court. She faces a sentence of probation to 16 to 18 months for each count. In addition, Garcia faces an immigration hold and almost-certain deportation, according to her immigration attorney and two other attorneys not connected with the case. She was brought to the United States illegally when she was 4, and is living here legally because of the Deferred Action Childhood Arrival program.

In closing arguments Wednesday morning, Senior Deputy District Attorney Bracken McKey made clear this was not a case of manslaughter or homicide. “There is no evidence in this case that would have led one to believe she intentionally ran over two children in the leaves.”

He detailed the Oregon law that requires an exchange of information — driver’s license, registration, proof of insurance, name and address — when an accident occurs and told jurors that disregarding any of the duties listed in the law would require a verdict of guilty. “The bottom line is this: you have an obligation to help somebody,” he said.

McKey returned to the moment Mario Garcia (he and Cinthya do not use the Cisneros) told his sister she had run over children in the leaf pile. “At that point, she had an obligation to return to the scene,” he said. “It is not only morally the right thing to do, but is also required by law.”

Defense counsel Ethan Levi attempted to soften the hearts of the jurors in his appeal. “Every day Cinthya Garcia has been in the Washington County Jail waiting for this trial. Cinthya Garcia has thought every day about those horrible events.” As he spoke, Susan Dieter-Robinson quickly left the courtroom.

He emphasized that due to her compromised mental state, Garcia did not cognitively understand that she had been involved in an accident. “This jury instruction makes it clear you have to know you are involved in an accident,” he pointed out, adding that you also had to know the accident caused injury.

In fact, he later stated, if someone called him after being involved in such an accident, he would read the law and advise his client that he didn’t think they had a duty to return.

Levi also focused on the youth of his client. “Imagine you are 18 years old, you are a kid, you are innocent, you are not that familiar with the law. You are not a person with sophistication, you are a person who just learned how to drive a car. You are still living in your father’s house.”

Levi also stated that according to the law, a driver may not be convicted under the theory that she failed to provide aid or arrange conveyance to a hospital unless she believed under the circumstances that she could render reasonable assistance. By the time Mario Garcia arrived home to tell his sister of the aftermath of the accident, paramedics were on site. Therefore, he said, there was no assistance that Garcia could appropriately render.

'She's a good person'

In rebuttal, McKey reminded jurors that although she is young, a person can obtain a driver’s license at age 16. He also noted that “We send young men and women to Afghanistan and we expect them to make life and death decisions every day at age 18,” adding that when they make a mistake in those duties, they are held responsible. “This is consistently an age of responsibility.”

McKey then used testimony for the defense against the young woman, reminding the jury that Garcia was tasked as the mother of this family, and was the eldest of the three involved.

As they watched the final day of trial, the family of Anna and Abigail was joined by their pastor, Rudy Tinoco, from Sonrise Church in Forest Grove. Two other pastors from the church were present, including one who sat and offered comfort to spectators on both sides of the case.

Jury members re-entered the courtroom after less than three hours of deliberation and looked directly at the judge. Susan Dieter-Robinson sat in the front row with her husband, nervously handling tissues. Tinoco sat next to Tom Robinson, taking the time to put his arm around the grieving father’s shoulder. At the opposite end of the bench, the father of Anna Dieter-Eckerdt, Randall Eckerdt, sat somberly with Jane Samuels, his fiancée.

Cinthya Garcia rose as Washington County Circuit Court Judge Rick Knapp read the guilty verdicts.

As the attorneys argued about the date of sentencing, Garcia sobbed. Her brother, Mario, sat quietly, showing no emotion.

“It’s a really sad case,” said McKey after the trial. Due to Garcia’s actions that night, the family wasn’t able to say goodbye to their children, he said. “The defendant is guilty, but that doesn’t bring back the kids.”

According to McKey, punishment could range from probation to 16 to 18 months for each count. In addition, Garcia faces an immigration hold and almost-certain deportation, according to her immigration attorney and two other attorneys not connected with the case.

She was brought to the U.S. illegally when she was 4 years old and is living in the U.S. legally only because of the Deferred Action Childhood Arrival program.

Nia Jarnica, a friend of Garcia, was distressed by the verdict. “I know her. She’s a good person. This was an accident. It could have happened to anybody.” Read more about Jury convicts Garcia in accident that killed Forest Grove sisters

Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros, charged in fatal hit-and-run: 'I kept telling myself that I didn't see anything.'

...When her younger brother later told her she might have struck two children, she “panicked,” she testified Tuesday.

Garcia-Cisneros, 19, is on trial in Circuit Court, facing two counts of felony hit and run in a deadly Forest Grove crash. Closing arguments are planned for Wednesday morning....

Police tied Garcia-Cisneros to the crash through a neighbor’s tip...

The next day, Oct. 21, she woke up thinking she’d had a nightmare, she said....

She ran errands with her boyfriend, 18-year-old Mario Echeverria. She was with him when he ran the SUV through a car wash, she said, without mentioning it to her. He pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution last month and is serving 13 months in prison....

  Read more about Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros, charged in fatal hit-and-run: 'I kept telling myself that I didn't see anything.'


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