[Recently by Thomas Allen: Mysticism vs. Politics: Refugee Industry Capturing Bush`s "Faith-Based Initiative"]
They now offer advice about how to use the latest in U.S. law to change status from illegal alien to permanent legal resident after arrival.
Using the Spanish-language media, Mexican consulates in California, Arizona, Texas and Illinois are advertising the benefits of the soon-to-be issued U-visa directly to individuals they know are in the U.S. illegally.
The "outreach" effort, known as "The Mexico Project", is currently a year-long pilot program of the Mexican government`s Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores and The Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CHRCL) in Los Angeles. If successful, the `Project` will be expanded to all 47 Mexican consulates in the U.S.
CHRCL is operated by immigration lawyer Peter Schey. Easily the most influential immigration litigator ever, Mr. Schey`s victories include Plyler V Doe and a judicial defeat of Prop 187 in district court which became law when Gray Davis refused to appeal the loss. Also, in Catholic Social Services v. Meese (113 S.Ct. 2485, U.S. Supreme Court), he obtained an amnesty for some 250,000 who had failed to qualify for the `86 Reagan amnesty. This case was settled by the Department of Homeland Security following fifteen years (!) of litigation.
In Lopez v. INS, Cv. No. 78-1912-WB(xJ) he expanded the right to legal counsel for persons arrested by the INS. This affects over 1 million individuals per year who now must be provided written advice of their legal rights, including their right to apply for political asylum, and, for certain nationalities, a period of time to consult with attorneys.
As if to parody the worst suspicions about those who call themselves "human rights" lawyers, the class action warrior (send him mail) brags in his resume that his "litigation against the federal government has resulted in the largest attorney fee awards in the country". Essentially, the U.S. taxpayer has paid for much of Mr. Schey`s yacht and million dollar home in the toney mid-Wilshire neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Now Mr. Schey has set his sights on the U-Visa.
Lucky clients of the Southern Poverty Law Center recently obtained a "deferred action" status, pending receipt of U-visas along with a ranch in a case that provided a fitting public debut for the new legal weapon.
Unfortunately, the story was barely covered in the MSM.
Still, I have a feeling the public may soon be learning more about the U-Visa.
A grab bag of immigration law under two new visas, the T-visa and the U-visa, has emerged from the quintessentially Clinton era Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (which includes the Violence Against Women Act of 2000).
Immigration lawyers reaching into this grab bag are finding almost anything they pull out can be applied to many of their clients.
Was your illegal alien client merely asked by someone to commit perjury, asked to participate in "conspiracy", solicited for "abusive sexual contact" or threatened with being held against her will? Does your client feel he or she is working under a labor agreement or contract that can be shown to be fraudulent?
If so, there may be a T or U visa waiting!
Click here [PDF] to see the welcome letter a T-Visa holder gets from the U.S. government. All of this—plus the T-Visa winner becomes a client of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)! This means access to refugee-specific government programs in addition to normal welfare programs—and, of course, it also means more federal contracting dollars for the refugee NGOs.
T-visas were first handed out in 2002. Implementing regulations for the U-visa have not been finalized, but about 2,000 "deferred action" papers have been issued pending implementation of the new visa. Like the T-Visa, it is a direct route to legal permanent residence for illegal aliens present in the U.S. who are "crime victims."
Some of the vague qualifying characteristics of victimhood are the same for the T and U visas. Applicants over the age of 18 must make a statement to the effect that they are willing to cooperate in a criminal investigation. There doesn`t have to be a conviction for a crime nor even an investigation to meet this qualification, just a stated willingness to talk if asked.
One of the main attractions of the U-Visa is that eligibility includes victims of domestic violence. It is this qualification that the "Mexico Project" has chosen to exploit.
A recent study of Latina immigrants in Washington, D.C., found that nearly half were in relationships abusive enough to qualify for a court`s protective order, according to Leslye Orloff, an immigration expert for the NOW Legal Defense Fund (from "Lifetime Prevalence of Violence Against Latina Immigrants: Legal and Policy Implications," NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, 2000) . Also, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found for an asylum applicant whose lawyers successfully argued that domestic violence in Mexico is "pervasive, officially tolerated, and in some areas, legally approved". (Aguirre-Cervantes v. INS, No. 99-70861, Mar. 21, 2001).
If more of these family values are not stopped from crossing the Rio Grande, the U.S. will have to nationalize the American family.
We can only hope the U-visa implementing regulations are slow in coming because the regulation writers are working out ways to blunt the "open floodgates" potential of the flaky new visa.
Meanwhile, as the "Mexico Project" nears the end of its pilot phase, Peter Schey has just announced a class action lawsuit against the U.S. government for failure to implement the visa fast enough.
Congresswomen Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tx), a supporter of the U-visa lawsuit, asks why it takes "five years to implement a law that Congress debated and implemented in a few months?"
Perhaps more debate was needed in the first place?
Of course, little is being debated on ways (like border control) to keep abusers away while the abused are given a free pass to stay in the U.S.
But then this never really was about concern for victims of domestic violence—if it were, the "Mexico Project" would be headquartered in, well… Mexico.
Thomas Allen (email him) is a recovering refugee worker.