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  1. #1
    Senior Member Ratbstard's Avatar
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    For Bay Area immigrants facing imminent deportation, new Oba

    For Bay Area immigrants facing imminent deportation, new Obama policy offers no reprieve
    By Matt O'Brien
    Contra Costa Times
    Posted: 08/29/2011 04:30:41 PM PDT
    Updated: 08/29/2011 06:17:37 PM PDT

    CONCORD -- Less than two weeks ago, the Obama administration announced it would stop deporting many illegal immigrants who are not public safety threats. But Monday, Arturo Rengifo Jr., a college student and Peruvian citizen who is no one's idea of a threat, paced the floor in his Concord living room as he prepared to be shipped back to Lima on Tuesday.

    Rengifo, 24, who has lived in the United States since he was 6, is one of a number of immigrants in the Bay Area and around the country caught in a bureaucratic tangle: While the administration has announced its intent to change immigration policy, it hasn't yet implemented a new system, so planned deportations are proceeding.

    "The new policy is to not break families apart, but they're not budging on this," said Rengifo, who must leave the country along with his father, while his mother and brother will stay in the Bay Area. "For us to leave everything here would just be a big, big tragedy."

    The college student waited for hopeful news on his cell phone as his father, who suffers from depression, sat nervously on a sofa. His mother's voice shook as she contemplated what would happen to the family if she lost her son and husband of more than 30 years.

    "We've never depended on the government, we pay our taxes, we've never had problems with anybody," Emperatriz Rengifo said. "I don't know what I will do without them."

    The Department of Homeland Security announced more than a week ago that it will review 300,000 pending cases to prioritize deporting felons, but the agency clarified Monday that it has not begun the case-by-case reviews and will continue to enforce immigration law as it did before the announcement.

    "Because the working group is in the midst of designing the process for reviewing cases, no individual cases have been administratively closed or otherwise affected by the policy," the agency said.

    Eventually, a committee of federal lawyers and other officials from Homeland Security and the Department of Justice will review each pending case and focus "on the removal of criminal aliens, other aliens who pose a threat to public safety or national security, repeat immigration law violators, recent illegal border crossers, and immigration fugitives."

    Rengifo does not fall under any of those high-priority categories. The graduate of Ygnacio Valley High School has a clean record, studies at Diablo Valley College, works in customer relations at an AT&T store and helps his family run a day care service at their home. However, an immigration agent told him last week that he does not qualify for a reprieve because his father's long-standing plea for political asylum had already been litigated, and lost.

    Agents plan to escort the 69-year-old father and his son to San Francisco International Airport on Tuesday night, where the two men -- both named Arturo Rengifo -- will board a flight to Lima, splitting the family of four as Emperatriz Rengifo and the couple's older son remain in Concord.

    "My family is all I have," Arturo Rengifo Jr. said. "Without them, it's like we're falling apart. Imagining my mom by herself is really depressing."

    His mother's deportation is on hold because judges found her asylum testimony more credible than her husband's. Meanwhile, his older brother has a path to legal residency because he married a U.S. citizen.

    The imminent deportation of half the Rengifo family reflects ongoing confusion over the new Obama administration policy, which was made public Aug. 18 and celebrated by many immigration advocates because of the promise to drop thousands of low-priority cases. The administration also released new guidelines in June that instruct agents to reconsider deporting some immigrants, including high school graduates such as Rengifo who have lived in the U.S. since childhood, but immigration lawyers say those guidelines are not always followed.

    "According to (immigration agents), the Dream Act was denied and the kid is good to go," said Rhoda Wilkinson Domingo, the Rengifo family's lawyer. "He's had his bite of the apple is what they keep telling me."

    The Rengifos were not the only Bay Area family who cited the new Obama administration policy in pleading for a last-minute reprieve this week. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Monday detained Victor Rosales, of East Palo Alto, and planned to deport him to Guatemala. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-San Francisco, and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, asked federal officials to put his deportation on hold. The Board of Immigration Appeals denied the appeal on Monday afternoon but then, late in the day, the immigration agency granted him a 30-day stay.

    After fingerprinting him and getting ready to place him in detention, Rosales said immigration agents appeared annoyed at getting the late-afternoon call to release him, but his wife and 2-year-old son were overjoyed when he came out of custody.

    "I feel at peace, so relieved," said his wife, Idania Rosales-Picen.

    The Guatemalan man's wife had applied for political asylum because she had been abused by a former husband in Guatemala, but the family -- like the Rengifos -- recently lost their case at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The family's lawyer said that Rosales and his wife have a 1996 shoplifting conviction, making it less likely that their case would be reconsidered.

    San Francisco attorney Mark Silverman of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center said these cases might not be a good gauge of the new policy, since judges already had issued a final order of deportation for both Rosales and the Rengifos.

    "It's vague," Silverman said of the new policy. "It's hard to say how it is going to be implemented."

    He hoped that of the 300,000 cases being reviewed, at least a third of them would be administratively closed, but he said it might depend on the discretion of immigration agents, some of whom are likely to personally oppose the new mandate.

    Immigration control groups think the case-by-case review violates the will of Congress.

    "This goes way beyond just some regulatory changes," said Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. "Essentially, the administration has scrapped the existing immigration policies and made its own."

    Mehlman said immigration agents should be able to use discretion in "extenuating, unusual circumstances," but he argued that the new policy gives a blanket reprieve to entire categories of people who violated immigration laws.

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/california/ci_18782670
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Ratbstard's Avatar
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    Concord father and son get last-minute deportation reprieve
    insidebayarea.com
    By Matt O'Brien
    Contra Costa Times
    Posted: 08/30/2011 04:44:23 PM PDT
    Updated: 08/30/2011 05:47:05 PM PDT

    CONCORD -- A father and son set to be deported to Peru won a last-minute, temporary reprieve on Tuesday after an Illinois senator intervened on their behalf.

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement is delaying for a month the deportation of longtime Concord resident Arturo Rengifo, Sr., and his son, Arturo Rengifo, Jr.

    "My mom is able to relax more," said the 24-year-old son, who would have left his mother and older brother in Concord had he been forced to take the one-way flight to Lima on Tuesday night. "She can actually breathe now. Hopefully more good things will happen, and I will be able to stay in this country."

    The Rengifos are hoping a more lenient Obama administration deportation policy, announced on Aug. 18 but not yet implemented, could keep the family of four together in the Bay Area.

    "I have more hope now; I have more faith now. I didn't pack my bags," said Arturo Rengifo, Jr., a student at Diablo Valley College and customer service representative at an AT&T store in Richmond. His father is a janitor, and the parents run a day care business at their home.

    They applied for political asylum in the 1990s, but Arturo Rengifo, Sr., recently lost his case after several appeals.

    News of the 30-day stay came to the family Tuesday morning from the office of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., which had made calls to immigration officers on the family's behalf.

    "They just found out at 9 this morning they didn't have to leave at 10 tonight," said lawyer Rhoda Wilkinson Domingo. Before that, she said, the Rengifos "were having a meltdown."

    Later in the morning, an immigration officer confirmed the information with the family's lawyer, but agents said the father and son must buy another one-way plane ticket to Lima on Sept. 29.

    The 69-year-old father fears for his life in Peru, where he claims to have been threatened with violence by Shining Path guerrillas in the early 1990s.

    His son, having lived in the United States since he was 6, said he does not know what he would do in the South American country if he had to return.

    The family's lawyer saysÔĽŅ new Obama administration directives are reasons the Rengifos should stay. In mid-June, the director of immigration enforcement released a memorandum to agents instructing them to use more discretion in choosing which illegal immigrants to deport, taking special care in cases involving those brought to the country at a young age.

    The Department of Homeland Security and the White House made the policy changes more explicit on Aug. 18 when they announced they will review all 300,000 pending cases, speeding up the deportation of felons and other high-priority cases but dropping thousands of cases against immigrants who are not a public safety threat. They said Monday that the case-by-case reviews have not yet begun.

    Bay Area immigration lawyers have heard of a few anecdotal cases of immigration agents or judges halting a deportation since the June memo, and all of those involved illegal immigrants who are students or same-sex married spouses.

    "We've heard overwhelmingly that ICE had not changed its behavior since that memo," said Katy Chase, a lawyer with the Northern California chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "It remains to be seen whether the new announcement is a continuation of the prior, largely ineffective memo, or a real effort to correct the lack of enforcement of the memo. Time will tell."

    Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said at a breakfast forum Tuesday in Washington, D.C., that even after the agency implements the new policy, the rate of deportation of illegal immigrants will continue to be "very robust."

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/news/ci_18790685
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