Friday, September 28, 2012

M.C. Law Group Opens Office in Stamford, CT

M.C. Law Group has opened a new branch in Stamford, Connecticut. The full-service law firm is experienced in all areas of U.S. immigration and nationality law. In addition, the firm also handles cases in a wide variety of legal matters including family law and divorce cases, criminal matters, tax preparation and tax resolution, and business law cases.

The Stamford branch, located at 39 Clovelly Road, is the third branch for this growing law firm. Two additional branches are located in Waterbury and Hartford, and the firm is based in Bridgeport.

Follow the link below to learn more about the new branch, M.C. Law Group, and its legal services.

Stamford Immigration Lawyer in Connecticut

Mexican National Arrested for Attempt to Smuggle 17 Aliens in Cabin Cruiser

A Mexican man made his initial appearance in federal court Wednesday, September 19, 2012, on charges stemming from his alleged role in an effort to smuggle seven Mexican nationals into the United States from Mexico onboard a cabin cruiser that came ashore near San Clemente the morning of Monday, September 17, 2012. The incident remains under investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Jesus Quinones-Chavez, 57, of Turron, Cohuila, Mexico, is accused of bringing illegal aliens into the United States in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court-Central District of California.

Quinones' arrest occurred after a dispatcher at the California State Parks Service alerted U.S. Border Patrol agents in San Clemente the morning of Monday, September 17, 2012, that a vessel had run aground on the beach in the Cyprus Shore area of San Clemente. Border Patrol agents searched the area and discovered a beached 24-foot Bayliner cabin cruiser and apprehended seven people, including Quinones, who were soaking wet and covered in sand. An eighth individual eluded arrest. One man was later taken to a local hospital.

Investigators assigned to HSI's Los Angeles Border Enforcement Security Task Force responded to the scene and interviewed a local resident who had witnessed the boat come ashore. Additional interviews with the members of the smuggling load revealed they had each paid fees ranging from $7,000 to $12,000 to be smuggled from Puerto Nuevo, Baja California, to Newport Beach in the cabin cruiser, which allegedly was piloted by Quinones.

"Investigators are seeing an increase in the use of pleasure boats to smuggle humans and drugs into the United States," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of HSI Los Angeles. "Smugglers use the cabins on these boats to attempt to conceal people and contraband, unlike the open pangas that have traditionally been used in maritime smuggling attempts along the California coast. Law enforcement is alert to this new tactic and we encourage the public to be vigilant and report suspicious pleasure boat activity to authorities."

So far this fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2011, through Sept. 6, 2012), there have been more than 190 occurrences of maritime smuggling in Southern California. Of those, 112 were human smuggling events.

Maritime security efforts off the California coastline are being overseen by the Department of Homeland Security's Central California Maritime Agency Coordination Group. The group is comprised of HSI; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the U.S. Coast Guard; and several state and local law enforcement agencies. The state and local partners include the California Highway Patrol; the California Department of Parks and Recreation; the sheriff's departments of Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties; and the Los Angeles and Long Beach police departments. The group is also receiving substantial assistance from members of the California National Guard's Counterdrug Program.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Russian National Pleads Guilty for Immigration Bribe Attempts

A Russian national pleaded guilty to bribery following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).

Klara Rayymkulova, 51, a Russian national, knowingly and intentionally offered $5,000 to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer to commit and aid in the committing of immigration fraud.

On May 1, 2011, Rayymkulova arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport, in Queens, N.Y., aboard Turkish Airlines from Istanbul, Turkey. Rayymkulova was traveling with her adult daughter and an adult male, and possessed a B1-B2 non-immigrant visa. Upon arrival for inspection, Rayymkulova presented to CBP inspectors a fraudulent business invitation letter. The date on the letter was altered, it referred to Rayymkulova as a male, and the phone number listed for the business was disconnected.

According to court documents, after questioning by a Russian speaking CBP inspector, Rayymkulova admitted the letter was fraudulent and that she had paid for the letter. During the processing, Rayymkulova offered the Russian speaking CBP inspector an unspecified amount of money so that she might remain in the United States. The CBP inspector terminated the interview and advised supervisors of Rayymkulova's offer.

During an interview with a ICE OPR special agent, Rayymkulova again reiterated an offer of money to remain in the United States and offered $5,000 for her release, and offered another $5,000 for her daughter's release that she would send from Russia.

Rayymkulova will be sentenced December 21, 2012. She faces a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

This case is being prosecuted by the U.S Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Temporary Protected Status Period Extended for Haiti

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has extended Haiti’s Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The Department of Homeland Security published a notice in the Federal Register announcing this decision the week of Monday, September 24, 2012.
The Federal Register notice provides additional guidance on:
*               Who is eligible for TPS;
*               How to re-register if you have TPS;
*               When to begin filing TPS applications;
*               How to request an Employment Authorization Document (EAD);
*               Six-month automatic extension of current EADs;
*               TPS fees and fee waiver procedures; and
*               Other TPS-related information.
NOTE: The 60-day re-registration period for current Haiti TPS beneficiaries will begin on the day the Federal Register notice publishes.  Individuals who have not continuously resided in the United States since Jan. 12, 2011 will not be eligible.

Monday, September 24, 2012

USCIS Announces "Citizenship Corners" for L.A. Libraries

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced Wednesday, September 19, 2012, a new initiative to provide the Los Angeles Public Library's 73 locations with citizenship resources and training for library staff. This initiative further expands upon the agency and city’s partnership announced in January 2010 to strengthen and enhance local immigrant integration efforts. 
“Today we take a further step to expand citizenship resources for immigrants in Los Angeles by providing information about the naturalization process in libraries,” said Mayorkas. “We are proud to yet again partner with Mayor Villaraigosa and the City of Los Angeles on this important initiative and to support immigrants on their journey to become American citizens.”
 Some highlights of this new initiative include:
*               Training for library personnel on the naturalization process and available USCIS resources;
*               Designating space in each library as ‘citizenship corners,’ which will contain citizenship material and resources;
*               Offering a list of non-profit groups providing naturalization assistance in the local community; and
*               Providing access to library community rooms for citizenship and English language classes.
As the second largest city in the country, Los Angeles is home to immigrants from more than 140 countries who speak 224 languages. The State of California is home to nearly 3.4 million permanent residents, 2.5 million of whom are estimated to be eligible to apply for naturalization. 
“This joint initiative expands our efforts to educate the city’s immigrant community about citizenship and establishes our libraries as local citizenship information centers,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “We are excited about the opportunity to support the many immigrants and their families that hope to one day achieve their goal of U.S. citizenship.”
USCIS and the City of Los Angeles first established a partnership when they signed a Letter of Agreement for a two-year pilot project. Originally scheduled to conclude in January 2012, the two parties renewed the agreement for an additional year in April 2012.

Friday, September 21, 2012

"America's Most Wanted" and ICE Catch Two Sex Traffickers

"America's Most Wanted," the television show famously known for helping law enforcement catch some of the country's most hardened criminals, featured Eric Bell on its June 11, 2011 edition.

It is a mother's worst nightmare. Her child ends up in the hands of a monster – sold for sex and treated like a commodity. That's what happened to four young girls, all between 15 and 17 years old, when they met Eric Bell in 2009 and 2010.

That nightmare came to an end Tuesday, September 18, 2012, when Bell and his co-conspirator, Neang Prom, were sentenced to 30 years and three years in federal prison, respectively, on sex trafficking charges. The sentencing resulted from a nearly two-year investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FBI and the Clearwater Human Trafficking Task Force.

The girls who worked for them knew them as Santana (Bell) and Pocahontas (Prom). The pair preyed on the young and the weak, targeting runaways who had nowhere else to turn. Their victims trusted them, but that trust soon turned to fear. Bell raped and snapped digital images of his victims. He and Prom also marketed the young girls as 18-year-old escorts on websites. The victims were forced to perform sexual acts for fees, never receiving any of the proceeds from prostitution.

"I trusted them with my life, and they took it for granted," said one of the victims in court Monday. "Being forced into prostitution hurt me. I try to forget about it, but I can't. Even now, I think it is okay to sell my body. And it hurts every time I do it. It feels like I am selling my soul to the devil."

The case began after a victim shared statements with a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office detective that indicated she was a victim of sex trafficking. After interviewing her, a detective from the sheriff's office began an Internet search to see if he could track down Pocahontas, who was associated with several Craigslist advertisements and a MySpace account. Investigators linked the ads featuring Pocahontas to an Internet Protocol address used by Prom.

After that, special agents from HSI, the FBI and the Clearwater Human Trafficking Task Force conducted surveillance at Bell and Prom's residence. In July 2010, they executed a federal search warrant at the residence and seized numerous items including firearms, ammunition, body armor, digital cameras, cell phones, computers and more. Searches of the cameras and computers revealed numerous pornographic/sexually explicit photos of the minor victims.

"Bell tried to barricade himself in the attic of his residence to avoid being arrested when we executed the search warrant," said Sue McCormick, special agent in charge of HSI Tampa. "Our law enforcement partners had to resort to using tear gas so we could arrest him."

Bell, upon his arrest, was interviewed by an HSI and FBI special agent, but subsequently skipped town after making bail. 

In January 2011, a criminal complaint was filed in federal court against Bell and Prom for a variety of charges, ranging from production of child pornography to aiding and abetting the sex trafficking of a minor.

HSI and FBI special agents arrested Bell Aug. 31, 2011, in Parsippany, N.J. In February, he pleaded guilty to sex trafficking minors, and in May, Prom pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in the sex trafficking of minors.

"Human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes our special agents investigate. This case was particularly unnerving because it involved the sex trafficking of minors," said McCormick. "Thanks to the efforts of HSI, the Clearwater Human Trafficking Task Force and the FBI, Eric Bell can no longer exploit young girls for his own gain."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

USCIS to Hold Engagement Session for Chinese Speakers

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will conduct a national Chinese-language engagement on how to petition for an immediate relative on Thursday, October 18, 2012 from 2:00 PM - 3:30PM (Eastern Standard Time),  hosted by the Public Engagement Division of the Customer Service and Public Engagement Directorate. 
This engagement is part of a series called “Jiao Liu” — meaning “engagement” in Chinese. It is modeled after the agency’s successful quarterly Spanish-language “Enlaces,” and expands USCIS's ongoing efforts to engage directly with its customers to provide information and answer questions about benefits and services. 
Each “Jiao Liu” will focus on a specific immigration or citizenship topic and includes a Q&A session with USCIS officials. The theme of the October 18 session is "How to Petition for an Immediate Relative." Individuals can participate in person, or via teleconference or live Web stream. USCIS officials and subject matter experts fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese will facilitate the event. USCIS will not offer legal advice during these engagements. 
Ways to participate on October 18, 2012:
*               In-person: USCIS District Office in New York, 26 Federal Plaza, Room 3-310, New York, NY 10278
*                       NOTE: If attending in-person at our New York District Office, we recommend that you arrive 30 minutes before the session begins for check-in and seating purposes.  
*               Via Teleconference: 1-888-989-4980; Passcode: Jiao liu;
*               Via live Web stream at
For more information on this event, please email USCIS at and write "Jiao liu" in the subject line.

Information About USCIS Jiao Liu Session

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

USCIS Announces $5 Million in Grants for Immigrant Civic Integration Programs

As part of its celebration of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on Monday, September 17, 2012, the award of approximately $5 million in grants designed to promote immigrant civic integration and prepare permanent residents for citizenship. Thirty-one immigrant-serving organizations from 21 states and the District of Columbia will receive federal funding to support citizenship preparation services for permanent residents through September 2014. 
Since the program began in October 2009, USCIS’s Citizenship and Integration Grant Program has helped more than 38,000 permanent residents in 30 states and the District of Columbia prepare for citizenship. Through Sept. 30, 2014, USCIS anticipates that an additional 26,000 permanent residents will receive citizenship preparation services as a result of the grants.
“With this grant program, USCIS continues its support for eligible permanent residents on the path to citizenship,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. “By expanding the availability of high-quality citizenship preparation services in communities across the country, this funding helps thousands of permanent residents pursue their goal of U.S. citizenship.” 
USCIS granted the awards through a competitive funding opportunity to organizations that will provide both citizenship instruction to prepare permanent residents for the civics and English components of the naturalization test, and naturalization application services within the scope of the authorized practice of immigration law. 
The Citizenship and Integration Grant Program is part of a multifaceted effort to provide citizenship-preparation resources, and support and information to immigrants and immigrant-serving organizations. USCIS complements this grant program with its Citizenship Resource Center, a centralized Web resource that provides learning materials to help permanent residents prepare for the naturalization process, and the Citizenship Public Education and Awareness Initiative, a multilingual initiative designed to raise awareness of the rights, responsibilities and importance of U.S. citizenship among the estimated 8.5 million permanent residents nationwide eligible to apply for naturalization.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

36 Criminal Aliens Arrested During ICE Gulf Coast Target Operation

As part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) ongoing commitment to prioritizing the removal of criminal aliens and egregious immigration law violators, 36 convicted criminal aliens, immigration fugitives and immigration violators were arrested during a five-day operation in the Gulf Coast area.

The operation concluded Sunday, September 16, 2012, and was conducted by ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Fugitive Operations Teams.

Of the 36 arrested, 19 had convictions for crimes such as: aggravated assault, burglary, battery on a law enforcement officer, identity theft, possessing cocaine, battery, forgery, fraud, driving under the influence and domestic violence.

Five of the 36 were immigration fugitives who had been previously ordered to leave the country but failed to depart; four of those are convicted criminals in addition to having outstanding deportation orders. Six of the 36 – including five convicted criminals – had been previously deported. Illegally re-entering the United States after deportation is a felony offense.

The 33 men and three women arrested during this operation were from: Mexico (23), Honduras (3), Guatemala (5), Vietnam (1), Thailand (1), Czech Republic (1), Iran (1) and Cuba (1). Most of those arrested, 13, were in the Pensacola area; additional arrests were made in the following northwestern Florida cities: Ft. Walton Beach (5), Navarre (7), Defuniak Springs (3) and Santa Rosa Beach. Seven arrests were also made near Mobile, Ala.

"These arrests of convicted criminals and repeat immigration violators demonstrate ICE's ongoing commitment to public safety," said Scott Sutterfield, acting field office director of ERO New Orleans. "When ICE prioritizes these individuals for arrest, our officers and agents work tirelessly to pursue the leads."

Among the convicted criminal aliens arrested were:

·                             A 32-year-old Honduran national who was previously deported from the United States and illegally re-entered. He was previously convicted of burglary, robbery, theft and has a domestic violence case pending. He was arrested Thursday in Ft. Walton Beach and remains in ICE custody pending removal to Honduras.

·                             A 32-year-old Mexican national who was previously convicted of felony battery and giving false information to law enforcement. He was arrested Wednesday in Pensacola and remains in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.

·                             A 41-year-old Vietnamese national who was previously convicted of aggravated assault with great bodily harm and felony battery with a weapon. He was arrested Wednesday in Pensacola and remains in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.

"We continuously focus on improving the safety of all of our communities by conducting these targeted enforcement actions," said Michael Meade, acting field office director of ERO Miami
These arrests were coordinated with ICE's National Fugitive Operations Program (NFOP), which is responsible for investigating, locating, arresting and removing at-large criminal aliens and immigration fugitives – aliens who have ignored final orders of deportation handed down by the nation's immigration courts. ICE's Fugitive Operations Teams give top priority to cases involving aliens who pose a threat to national security and public safety, including members of transnational street gangs and child sex offenders.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Business Owner Sentenced for Employing Illegal Aliens

A local man and his company were sentenced Thursday, September 13, 2012, in federal court to forfeitures and probation following their visa fraud guilty pleas. The sentences resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General.

Robert Brake, 33, of Byrnes Mill, Mo., along with his company, Brake Landscaping & Lawncare Inc., pleaded guilty in June to misdemeanor charges of employing illegal aliens. Brake Landscaping & Lawncare Inc. is located in the 3500 block of Gratiot Street in St. Louis.

The company pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud. Brake and his company were sentenced to two years of probation. The company paid $145,000 in forfeitures.

The H-2B non-immigrant visa program permits employers to hire aliens to enter the United States to perform temporary, non-agricultural services on a one-time, seasonal, peak-load or intermittent basis. The number of H-2B visas available each fiscal year is limited and in high demand.

According to court documents, between March 2007 and February 2010, Robert Brake and his company illegally sub-contracted H-2B workers to an associate on a weekly basis at a profit of more than $2 per hour per alien. To facilitate illegally employing temporary H–2B visa workers throughout the year, Brake Landscaping employees were hired by another company owned by Robert Brake, Brake Snow and Ice Removal, which artificially created a need for temporary or seasonal workers that didn't actually exist.

Assisting in this investigation were the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Friday, September 14, 2012

USCIS ELIS and e-Filing Payment Systems Unavailable Until Sept. 17

USCIS Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS) will undergo scheduled maintenance from Sept. 14 at 8 pm to Sept. 16 at 8:30 pm EDT and will not be available during this time.
Payment processing for e-Filing will be unavailable from 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, to midnight on Sunday, Sept.16, 2012, because of maintenance. Customers will be able to access the system but not process payments for forms during this time.
The USCIS regrets any inconvenience and recommends that customers plan accordingly.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

ICE Target Operation Arrests 37 Criminal Aliens in Chicago Area

As part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) ongoing commitment to prioritizing the removal of criminal aliens and egregious immigration law violators, 37 convicted criminal aliens, immigration fugitives and immigration violators were arrested during a three-day operation in the Chicago area.

This operation concluded Sunday, September 9, 2012, and was conducted by ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Fugitive Operations Teams.

Of the 37 arrested, 31 had convictions for crimes such as: homicide, carrying a concealed weapon, identity theft, possessing cocaine, illegally using a weapon, battery, forgery, aggravated drunken driving and domestic violence. Twelve of the 37 were immigration fugitives who had been previously ordered to leave the country but failed to depart; 11 of those are convicted criminals in addition to having outstanding deportation orders. Six of the 37 – including three convicted criminals – had been previously deported and illegally re-entered the United States, which is a felony.

Following is the nationality breakdown of the 37 men who were arrested during this operation:

Mexico (34), Poland (1), Guatemala (1) and Trinidad (1). Chicago had the most arrests (10); additional arrests were made in the following northern Illinois cities: Aurora (2), Berwyn (1), Bolingbrook (1), Calumet (2), Elgin (8), Hoffman Estates (1), Huntley (1), Joliet (2), Palatine (4), Round Lake Beach (1) and West Chicago (1).

Three arrests were also made in Hammond, Ind.

Following are summaries of three individuals arrested during this operation:

·                             A 48-year-old Mexican national was twice deported from the United States and illegally re-entered. He was previously convicted of battery/bodily harm, unlawfully using a weapon, disorderly conduct and illegally re-entering the United States. He was arrested Sept. 7 in Palatine and remains in ICE custody pending removal to Mexico.

·                             A 54-year-old Polish national was twice deported to Poland and was previously convicted of second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to eight years in prison. He also has three prior convictions for drunken driving, and a conviction for retail theft. He was arrested Sept. 9 in Chicago and remains in ICE custody. He will be presented for criminal prosecution for illegally re-entering the United States after being deported.

·                             A 35-year-old Mexican national was previously convicted of possessing drugs, theft and attempting deceptive practices. He was arrested Sept. 8 in Round Lake Beach and remains in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.

"These latest arrests of convicted criminals and egregious immigration violators underscore ICE's ongoing commitment to public safety," said Ricardo Wong, field office director of ERO Chicago. "By conducting targeted enforcement actions like this operation, we immediately improve the safety of our communities."

These arrests were coordinated with ICE's National Fugitive Operations Program (NFOP), which is responsible for investigating, locating, arresting and removing at-large criminal aliens and immigration fugitives – aliens who have ignored final orders of deportation handed down by the nation's immigration courts. ICE's Fugitive Operations Teams give top priority to cases involving aliens who pose a threat to national security and public safety, including members of transnational street gangs and child sex offenders.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Criminal Alien Wanted for Homicide in Albania is Deported

An Albanian national residing in Dedham, Mass., who was wanted in his home country on murder charges, was turned over to Albanian law enforcement authorities the morning of September 11, 2012, at the Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza in Tirana, Albania. He was removed from the United States by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Sokrat Stambolliu, 45, aka Albert Kapllanaj, was arrested by ERO officers March 10, 2011, as he attempted to register as a convicted sex offender at the Dedham Police Department. He had remained in ERO custody until his removal September 11, 2012.

ERO was contacted by the U.S. Marshals Service in early March 2011, requesting assistance in locating Stambolliu, who was the subject of an Interpol Red Notice for "willful homicide" in Albania.

An Interpol Red Notice is used to alert law enforcement agencies in member countries that arrest warrants have been issued and extradition will be sought for the fugitives. Being the subject of this type of notice is not a presumption of guilt. Interpol is the world's largest international police organization with 190 member countries. It serves as a facilitator of international police cooperation.

At the time of his arrest, Stambolliu admitted to being in the United States unlawfully. He was arrested on administrative immigration violations, and placed in removal proceedings. An immigration judge with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) ordered him removed from the United States June 14, 2011. However, the case was appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). The BIA dismissed the appeal, and he was served a final order of deportation May 31, 2012.

Stambolliu was previously arrested in 2002 in Boston for the alleged rape of a child. In 2003, he was indicted in Suffolk (Mass.) Superior Court, and convicted in 2005 of attempted rape of child.

"Thanks to our excellent partnership with the U.S. Marshals Service, we have ensured that this individual will be prosecuted for his alleged crimes in Albania," said Dorothy Herrera-Niles, field office director for ERO Boston. Herrera-Niles oversees ERO throughout New England. "His arrest and removal should serve as a reminder to foreign fugitives who mistakenly believe they can elude justice by fleeing to this country. ICE will continue to work closely with its foreign law enforcement counterparts not only to ensure that criminals are held accountable for their actions, but to safeguard the rights of law-abiding citizens here and overseas."

Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 455 foreign fugitives from the United States who were being sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with ICE's Office of International Affairs, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Atlanta Man Sentenced to 80 Years for Human Trafficking

A 37-year-old Douglasville, Ga., man will spend the rest of his life in prison after he was found guilty of six counts of human trafficking, two counts of aggravated child molestation, enticing a child for indecent purposes and pandering by compulsion.

Steven Donald Lemery was sentenced to 80 years in prison Wednesday, September 5, 2012, by Douglas County Superior Court Judge David. T. Emerson.

The investigation resulting in Lemery's conviction was conducted by the Douglas County Sheriff's Office with significant assistance provided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

According to evidence presented at court, Lemery is a former Atlanta go-go dancer who lured victims as young as 15 years old to his home for sexual purposes, in some cases pimping them out for homosexual prostitution. Victims testified that they were held in Lemery's home and not allowed to leave. They were plied with drugs and alcohol and were made to participate in sex acts.

One victim described being forced into prostitution, where he was held down and burned at a client's house as they attempted to rape him.

"The horrific crimes perpetrated against these victims, two of whom were 15-year-old children, cannot be allowed to stand in a civil society," said Brock D. Nicholson, special agent in charge of HSI Atlanta. "HSI was proud to support the Douglas County Sheriff in this investigation. Thanks to the hard work of law enforcement and the aggressive prosecution by the Douglas County District Attorney's Office, Mr. Lemery will never again have the freedom to victimize another child."

A co-defendant in Lemery's case, Christopher Andrew Lynch, received a 30-year sentence in March after pleading guilty to two counts of sexual exploitation of a child, pimping a victim under the age of 18 and pandering by compulsion.

Douglas County Assistant District Attorney Rachel Ackley prosecuted both cases on behalf of Douglas County District Attorney David McDade.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Three Men Indicted for Bribing Immigration Officials

Three men, two from Atlanta and one from New York, appeared in federal court Thursday, September 6, 2012, on charges that they conspired to bribe a federal immigration official in return for assistance with their immigration status, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).

A federal grand jury indicted Hakeem Omar, 30, Ibrahim Barrie, 31, and Samuel Bolay, 24, Aug. 21 for conspiracy and bribery, and OPR special agents arrested all three men Sept. 5.

"These defendants are charged with attempting to circumvent the immigration process by offering bribes to a federal agent," said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. "The integrity of our immigration process has important implications for the security of our communities, and this case shows that we will take efforts to subvert this process seriously."

"The ICE Office of Professional Responsibility considers bribery of our employees an extremely serious offense, as these actions can potentially undermine the security of our nation. We swiftly investigate all bribery attempts and take appropriate enforcement action when warranted," said David P. D'Amato, special agent in charge of OPR for the Southeast Region.

According to information presented in court: Beginning in September 2010, and continuing until at least July, Omar, Barrie and Bolay paid bribes to an OPR special agent who was working in an undercover capacity, in exchange for immigration and other benefits.

Over a two-year period, the defendants paid thousands of dollars to the undercover special agent for what they believed was assistance with their immigration status in the United States, including naturalization assistance and obtaining a permanent resident card, commonly known as a green card.

The indictment charges Omar, Barrie and Bolay with conspiracy to commit bribery, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a maximum fine of $250,000. In addition, each defendant is charged with separate bribery counts related to each bribe paid by him, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 15 years and a maximum fine of $250,000, or three times the equivalent of their bribes, whichever is greater.

Lastly, defendant Omar, a naturalized citizen, also faces a charge of naturalization fraud, for which he faces 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. If convicted, all defendants likely face removal from the United States. In determining the actual sentence, the court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government's burden to prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Immigration Fee Waivers: Part III

Forms with Fee Exemptions
*               USCIS has determined that some applications and petitions should be designated as fee exempt. Please reference the G-1055, USCIS Fee Schedule, or specific form instructions for more information regarding application and petition fees.
Fee Waiver Requests for Initial Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Registration

Your TPS application is received before the registration deadline, and your Request for Individual Fee Waiver, Form I-912 (or a written request) is denied,
You may re-file your application with the required fee or a new fee waiver request, on or before the registration deadline.        
Your TPS application package is received on or before the registration deadline, and your Request for Individual Fee Waiver, Form I-912 (or a written request) is denied on or after the registration date,
You will be given 45 days to re-file your application package and required fee or a new fee waiver request. Your application package will be considered timely filed provided the application package is received within 45 days of the date on the fee waiver denial notice.
Your resubmitted TPS application package is received after the registration deadline, and it contains a new Request for Individual Fee Waiver, Form I-912 (or a written request) that is later denied,
Your application will be rejected and you will not be able to register for TPS due to the expiration of the registration period.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Immigration Fee Waivers: Part II

Forms Eligible for Fee Waiver
You may request a fee waiver based on an inability to pay for the following:

1. General Fee Waivers: I-90, I-191, I-751, I-765 (excluding category (c)(33)), I-817, I-821, I-881, N-300, N-336, N-400, N-470, N-565, N-600, N-600K; and

2. Humanitarian Fee Waivers: any fees associated with the filing of any benefit request by a VAWA self-petitioner or an alien who has or is requesting a T visa or U visa; is a battered spouse of A, G, E–3, or H nonimmigrant, or a battered spouse or child of a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen; or has Temporary Protected Status. This would include filings not otherwise eligible for a fee waiver or eligible only for a conditional fee waiver such as Forms I-212, I-485, I-539, and I-601.

3. Conditional Fee Waivers: If not listed above, you may request a fee waiver subject to the following conditions:

a. I-131 – only if applying for humanitarian parole (i.e., only for persons located overseas who are applying for an Advance Parole Document, Application Type “e” or “f” in Part 2);

b. I-290B – only if the underlying application was fee exempt, the fee was waived, or it was eligible for a fee waiver; and

c. In addition, an applicant who does not have to show he or she will not become a public charge for admission or adjustment of status purposes according to section 212(a)(4) of the INA may request a waiver of the following fees: 
*               I-192, 
*               I-193, 
*               I-485 (This would include but not be limited to an I-485 from an Afghan or Iraqi interpreter who has received a Special Immigrant Visa, a “Registry” applicant, an asylee, Special Immigrant Juvenile, an application under the Cuban Adjustment Act, the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act, and the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act, or similar provision, or; a Lautenberg Parolee), and 
*               I-601.
4. Biometric services in connection with any application or petition, regardless of whether it is listed above.

NOTE: Granting of a fee waiver is at the sole discretion of USCIS.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Immigration Fee Waivers: Part I

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is funded largely by application and petition fees. Waiving a fee transfers the cost of processing the application and petition for free to others through higher fees. However, we recognize that some individuals may not be able to pay the filing fee. This page contains an introduction to the USCIS fee waiver policies and procedures and links to more specific guidelines.
Fee Waiver Guidance
USCIS developed Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, in an effort to facilitate the fee waiver request process. USCIS will continue to consider applicant-generated fee waiver requests (i.e., those not submitted on Form I-912) that comply with 8 CFR 103.7(c). Form I-912 instructions give information on the methodology that USCIS uses to make a decision on a fee waiver request, whether the request is submitted on Form I-912 or via an applicant-generated written statement requesting a fee waiver. The instructions provide applicants with guidance on properly completing Form I-912 and submitting supporting documentation.
The review of any fee waiver request will follow a series of steps to determine whether the applicant’s income level or financial condition makes him or her eligible for the fee waiver.
Step 1. Are you receiving a means-tested benefit?  This step instructs an applicant about various acceptable means-tested benefits and the kinds of acceptable evidence used to document the receipt of a means-tested benefits. This step also outlines which family members will be considered as eligible for a fee waiver based upon the primary applicant’s receipt of a means-tested benefit. If you are receiving a means-tested benefit and you have provided sufficient evidence with your fee waiver request, your fee waiver will normally be approved and no further information is required.
Step 2. Is your household income at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines at the time of filing? This step instructs an applicant about what is acceptable evidence in determining household income. It also specifies what family members should be included when determining household size. If you have provided sufficient evidence that your household income is at or below the 150 % threshold, your fee waiver will normally be approved.
Step 3. Do you have some financial hardship situation that you would want USCIS to consider when determining eligibility for a fee waiver? This step allows an applicant to list any special circumstances that USCIS should consider in addition to income such as extraordinary expenses and liabilities.