Archive for September, 2009

Health Care and Illegal Immigrants

September 10, 2009

Last night during Pres. Obama’s speech on health care to the joint session of Congress, when President Obama said that the new plan would not cover illegal immigrants, Republican Senator Joe Wilson from  South Carolina could not hold back and shouted “You lie.” Without going into the fact that this was totally disrespectful, and not the way any US Congressman should behave, and reminiscent of those town hall meetings where conservatives just wanted to shout down any debate, we can safely assume that Mr. Joe Wilson hates illegal immigrants.

For the record, Obama’s administration is much harder on illegal immigrants than Bush’.

The E verify program has been extended in Obama’s time to encompass ALL federal contractors. The ICE crackdowns on illegal workers are much harder and frequent than the previous regime. For the first time, the money used to prevent fraud on H-1B categories is being utilized to see if any employer is violating the terms of the H-1B visa. And the health care bill in Congress now SPECIFICALLY prohibits illegal immigrants from the bill.

Yes, illegal immigrants are here.  They work for us. Many pay taxes and get sick. Most of them wind up in emergencies when they have something serious. The price tag for that is staggering? So what does Republicans like Joe Wilson want to do? Make the illlegal workers work in out kitchens, our gardens, and as soon as they become sick, deport them post haste? Are we becoming Nazis ?
Contact Houston Immigration Lawyer, Annie Banerjee, for more information.

Killing the Innocent in Texas

September 6, 2009

Today I am ashamed to be a lawyer from Texas. The recent issue of the New Yorker had a story about one confirmed case where the State of Texas put an innocent man to death. Mostly because the Texas Board of Parole and Pardon did not READ a forensic report in the man’s file!

Cameron Todd Willingham woke up one December morning in 1991 to his house burning in fire. He was found by a neighbor in the porch with soot on his chest, screaming, “My babies are burning up.” Even though by fireman’s accounts, he tried disparately to run into the burning house and save his three children, he could not. The fire was too intense and the firemen restrained him. His children died. The forensic report from Texas said that the fire was intentionally caused by Mr. Willingham. The Defense Attorney wanted him to plead guilty for a life sentence, but Mr. Willingham said he would not plead guilty to a crime he did not commit. This was taken by the Court to be a sign of unrepentance, and he was, like so many others in Texas put on death row.

However the forensic report was based on witchcraft and had NO scientific merit. Dr. Gerald Hurst, a Nationally acclaimed forensic expert studied his file pro bono and concluded that there was NO WAY the fire could have been started intentionally. He concluded that the forensic evidence in Wigginham’s trial was based on “junk Science.” But the members on the Texas Board of Pardon and Parole did not even bother to read the Hurst report!

Texas has the highest death penalty rate than any other democracy. We put God knows how many innocent people to death. How are we different from North Korea, Iran or China? And if we are the same, how can we morally criticize those countries?

From all over the world people come to the United States as a beckon of freedom and liberty. We don’t hesitate to lecture to other countries whenever we see any breach of freedom. Yet we put innocent people to death! Shame on Texas and shame on all the lawyers who are licensed to practice in this State.  And that includes me.

Contact Houston Immigration Lawyer, Annie Banerjee, for more information.

Due Process at Consulates

September 2, 2009

Stories of unfair US Consular Decisions abound. People meet all the requirements of getting a particular visa, and the consulate officer denies the visa based on his or her innate prejudices. The denied applicant can almost always do nothing.

The petitioning entity in the US can usually appeal to a Congressman or Senator, who can demand the reason for the denial. However previously the Consulate did not have to give a reason for that denial under the Consular non reviewability doctrine. Under the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, The Government cannot deny any person in the United States any rights without due process.  This usually means a hearing from the applicant and a right of the applicant to defend himself. This due process was denied to individuals who were not “in” the United States. Furthermore, a Consulate decision, no matter how egregious, was not reviewable by a Federal Court in the United States.

The Appellate Court in New York (2nd Circuit) changed that in Ramadan v Napolitano. The Court held that Federal Courts have the right to review Consulate decisions, and that Consulate posts need to provide an opportunity for individuals to explain their case.  This case involved a Muslim Scholar, Mr. Ramadan who was denied a visitor’s visa on the basis of the fact that he contributed money to a terrorist group that had ties to Hamas. However the contributions were made between 1998 and 2002.  The US did not designate this group as a terrorist group until August 2003.  Therefore Mr. Ramadan could not have known that he was making contributions to a terrorist group.

It is yet to be seen what influence this case will have in Consulates such as Chennai, which has the distinction of having the highest visa denials.  Will they provide the applicants with a hearing, and if so, is this hearing going to be of any length of time to be meaningful? Additionally, many people applying for visas all over the world have limited English knowledge, and may be made to sign papers which does not state the truth.

The Rule of Law is a high ideal and although most consulate officers follow it, many are still governed by innate prejudices against little people, little corporations. Yet these are the very people that the Constitution seeks to protect. Additionally these little individuals will not have the resources to appeal their case in an US Court of Law. At the very least, maybe the documents required to prove that an applicant has the “facially legitimate and bona fide” rights to a visa, will be the same for employees of big Corporations and little start up corporations. At least this is a step in the right direction.

Contact Houston Immigration Lawyer, Annie Banerjee, for more information