Saturday, October 1, 2011

ADVISORY: Conyers, Clarke to Host Immigration Forum on “ICE Enforcement in Sensitive Locations in Detroit”

(WASHINGTON) -- House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Congressman Hansen Clarke (D-Mich.) will hold a forum next Thursday, June 30th, at the Hope Academy in Detroit, Michigan on ICE’s recent enforcement actions at local elementary schools and against legal residents and U.S. citizens.  Representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Reform Immigration for America (RIFA), and individuals impacted by ICE’s actions will speak about the adverse impact such actions have had on the immigrant community in Detroit. 

WHAT:            Immigration Forum on “ICE Enforcement in Sensitive Locations in Detroit”

WHEN:            Thursday, June 30, 2011, 6:00 p.m.

WHERE:           Hope Academy, 10100 Grand River Avenue, Detroit, MI 48204

·         Congressman John Conyers Jr. (MI-14)
·         Congressman Hansen Clarke (MI-13)
·         Representatives from American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
·         Representatives from Reform Immigration for America (RIFA)
·         Community residents

*Participation list is likely to change.  Additional invited attendees are expected to confirm their participation at a later date.

And what do you think they do with the kids?  Find out here

Conyers: Limited Government Party Turns Out to Be a Party of the Unlimited

Conyers:  Limited Government Party Turns Out to Be a Party of the Unlimited
New Bill Authorizes Prolonged and Indefinite Detention With No Respect for the Rule of Law

(Washington) – Today, at a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on H.R. 1932, Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) criticized the bill as a massive, unconstitutional expansion of the government’s ability to detain immigrants for many years—even indefinitely—with little or no procedural protections at all.

“It is ironic that this bill comes from the Judiciary Committee leadership that should be protecting the Constitution and from the party that prides itself on limited government and the protection of individual liberty,” Conyers said.  “The Republican Party’s Pledge to America was all about ensuring limited government and fiscal responsibility.  Tea Party Patriots lists ‘Constitutionally Limited Government’ as a core value.  AndTeaParty.Org says its ‘non-negotiable core beliefs’ include: ‘Intrusive Government Stopped’ and ‘Government Must Be Downsized.’

“Under this bill, thousands of immigration detainees would become subject to mandatory detention—with no opportunity for a bond hearing—even if they pose no risk to the public and no risk of flight. 

“Ten years after the Supreme Court cautioned that the Constitution would permit extended detention of immigration detainees only in very narrow circumstances accompanied by strong procedural protections, H.R. 1932 allows immigration detainees to be held indefinitely simply by the stroke of the pen of the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“The writ of habeas corpus is a fundamental guarantee of the Constitution.  If H.R. 1932 becomes law, all habeas corpus petitions challenging the legality of mandatory, prolonged, and indefinite immigration detention would have to be filed in the District Court of the District of Columbia.  The only possible explanation for doing that would be to make it harder for a person who may not speak English, almost always has no lawyer, and is being detained in Arizona or Texas to get into court.

“We need to make sure that our detention and removal system works, so that we are holding the right people, under the right conditions, and for the right reasons.  And that we remove people from this country when they have gone through the process and received a final decision in their case.  But this bill will not advance any of those goals.  Instead, it will just increase our already enormous and expensive detention system and will remove or limit the few meaningful checks that still exist.”

Conyers Calls for Investigation of Constitutional and Civil Rights Abuses by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents From Detroit Field Office

Contact: Nicole Triplett, 202-226-5543                                                                                  
Date: April 15, 2011                   
Conyers Calls for Investigation of Constitutional and Civil Rights Abuses by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents From Detroit Field Office

(Washington)—Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement regarding allegations that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers working out of the Detroit Field Office are regularly violating constitutional and civil rights guarantees and ignoring ICE’s own policies and priorities.

“The allegations of abuse and legal violations raised by the Alliance for Immigrants Rights & Reform Michigan and media reports should be of concern to all Americans,” said Conyers.  “According to these reports, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have engaged in a pattern of warrantless searches, racial profiling, and unlawful detentions of U.S. citizens and immigrants alike.”

“ICE agents also have allegedly performed multiple immigration enforcement actions at Detroit-area schools, terrifying students, teachers, and parents.  If true, such actions would be in violation of long-standing and well-developed agency policy generally prohibiting enforcement actions at such sensitive community locations.  ICE has admitted that some of its recent actions appear to have been ‘inconsistent with policy and our standards and priorities’ and has called for a review.”

“I am encouraged that ICE will be conducting a review into these incidents and that ICE’s Director, John Morton, will be meeting with my staff and members of the community later today.  However, we must not minimize the seriousness of these allegations.  An alleged pattern of abuse and misconduct such as this requires an independent investigation.  Therefore, I will be asking that an independent entity such as the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General investigate these allegations.  I will also ask that the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility review the actions of individual officers and supervisory personnel to identify any misconduct and take all appropriate actions.  These thorough investigations must look not only into individual instances of misconduct, but also into the alleged pattern of abuses, so that we may uncover any underlying problems at the ICE Detroit Field Office that are at the root of the problem.  Real consequences must follow any findings of misconduct.”

“Parents should not be afraid to take their children to school, people should not be afraid that ICE will enter their homes without a warrant, and U.S. citizens should not be afraid that they will be subjected to racial profiling and unlawfully detained.”

Attached is the letter Congressman Conyers wrote to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Assistant Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility at the U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement Office, requesting an investigation of ICE’s Detroit Field Office.

Conyers: To Stay Globally Competitive, We Need to Keep the Best Talent Working With Us

Contact: Nicole Triplett, 202-226-5543                                                                                         
Thursday, March 31, 2011  
Conyers:  To Stay Globally Competitive, We Need to Keep the Best Talent Working With Us
More Green Cards Instead of Expanding the H1-B Visa Program Is the Better Solution for American Economy and Workers

(Washington)—Today, at the Immigration Subcommittee Hearing on “H-1B Visas: Designing a Program to Meet the Needs of the U.S. Economy and U.S. Workers,” House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Judiciary Democratic colleagues raised several questions on the best way to retain highly skilled foreign students who have been educated in the U.S. so they can compete for us instead of against us.

Mr. Conyers’ remarks from the hearing are below.

“Our American companies should have the opportunity to benefit from the expertise of the thousands of highly skilled foreign professionals who graduate from American universities every year. We are educating the smartest and brightest in the world, and despite many of their interests to stay in our country after graduation to work in their fields, we turn them away.  Seventy percent of engineering Ph.D. students in America are currently foreign-born, yet our outdated immigration laws force most of them to go back and compete against us from overseas.

“This is America.  It makes no sense to spend our resources educating and cultivating highly-skilled talent and turning around and ignoring ways to use the much-needed talent and specialized labor toward the growth of new jobs and industries here in our country.

“The solution to retaining American-educated foreign skilled labor does not lie in issuing more H-1b visas.  Among the many problems with H-1b visas, they are often used by outsourcing companies to outsource and off-shore jobs to other countries.  To stay globally competitive, we need to refocus our efforts and find ways to create more green cards.

“I propose three things to ensure American companies have access to the best and brightest professionals.  One, we must create more green cards for highly skilled professionals who graduate from American universities. 

“Second we need to raise wages in the H-1B program and improve portability of H-1B visas so that H-1B workers are not at the mercy of their employers.  H-1B workers frequently work at lower pay, and are their visa status is so tied to their employer that they are easily exploited.  These abuses drive down pay and conditions for all workers – foreign and American.  

“Finally, we need to be investing in science and math education in our high schools and universities.  If an employer needs the best and the brightest candidates to help develop the technologies of tomorrowthis Congress should not stand in their way.  But we should do everything in our power to ensure that companies need not look further than our borders for that talent.”


Conyers Initiates Investigation of Religious Profiling by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency in Michigan

Contact: Nicole Triplett, 202-226-5543 

Friday, March 25, 2011 

Conyers Initiates Investigation of Religious Profiling by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency in Michigan
(Detroit)—Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement regarding allegations charging the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) with improper and inappropriate interrogations singling out American-Islamic citizens. 

“The allegations of religious profiling raised by Michigan’s Council on American-Islamic Relations in Detroit yesterday should be of concern to all Americans,” said Conyers. “CAIR has alleged that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have engaged in a pattern of invasive body searches and interrogations concerning the religious beliefs of American-Islamic citizens while returning home from Canada.” 

In CAIR’s letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, CAIR described the interrogations as follows:

The passengers hand their passports to an agent. The passengers are immediately told to turn their vehicles off. Within seconds, their vehicles are surrounded by agents brandishing weapons in their direction, whether or not there are women and children in the car. In some instances, there are snipers. The men are thrown against their vehicles, handcuffed, and taken inside for questioning. An invasive and humiliating body search is performed, which many have described as sexual harassment. Some are left handcuffed for hours on end, in many cases standing upright. Others are left in a cell. At least a dozen Muslim women of Somali origin have also reported being subjected to invasive and humiliating searches at the border that they felt were inappropriate and a form of sexual harassment.

American Muslims crossing the border have reported in alarming numbers that they are being subjected to extensive inappropriate questioning pertaining to religion and religious practices. A number of questions appear to be most common:

1. Do you pray five times a day?

2. Which mosque do you pray at?

3. Do you pray your morning prayer at the mosque?

4. Who is the Imam (religious leader) at your mosque?

5. Who else prays at your mosque?

6. Which Muslim charities have you donated to?

7. Which Muslim countries have you traveled to?

8. During your travels to these countries, have you been approached by anyone suspicious?

9. What do you think of Anwar al-Awlacki?

10. Which Muslim organizations are you affiliated with?

11. Are you affiliated with any terrorist organizations?

12. Do you know any terrorists?

13. Are there terrorists in your mosques?

All in all, the process can take anywhere between two to ten hours. More disconcerting is that these same individuals report being subjected to the same mistreatment and inappropriate questioning each and every time they cross the border. 

“With federal hearings on radicalization and intense scrutiny by law enforcement of religious institutions, the American-Islamic community today is living in a climate that has the risk of producing a siege mentality,” said Conyers. “I am therefore contacting the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to initiate an investigation of these allegations, and I will be consulting Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas).”

“The American-Islamic community should know that the federal government will protect the interests of the community, while maintaining the appropriate focus on national security. These allegations of racial and religious profiling at the border are not new and have been supported by previous studies of the Government Accountability Office. For example, in 2000, the GAO found that the U.S. Customs’ patterns used to select airline passengers for more intrusive searches resulted in women and minorities being selected at rates that were not consistent with the rates of finding contraband.”