By Atty. Emmanuel Samonte Tipon
Obama is enjoying Hawaii’s sunny weather playing golf with his Filipino buddy and eating shaved ice. On the other hand his ICE men are busy arresting Filipinos – not for aggravated felonies but simple immigration violations.
Take the case of a do-it-yourself Filipino whose adjustment of status application was rejected by USCIS. Reason? He did not fill in the blank for Alien Number. Instead of hiring a lawyer, his brother brought him to USCIS in Hawaii for advice. “Aha,” the officer must have exclaimed, looking at his I-94, “you should have gone home yesterday.” ICE agents handcuffed him and brought him to the Federal Detention Center, charging him with overstaying. It was only 12 hours. After three weeks in detention, his bond hearing was held. His brother represented him. He was required to put up $1,500. If the family had paid this amount to a competent lawyer in the first place to prepare the adjustment package, he would have avoided all this trouble. His brother was telling others “We do not have a problem with money. We have 8 houses.”
Another ICE victim was an overstaying Filipino student who was jailed for a week and placed in removal proceedings. He had celebrated Halloween with his girl friend and encountered a police roadblock checking for drunken drivers. He was charged with DUI. Since he was foreign born, the police forwarded his rap sheet to ICE, who checked his record and found out that his school adviser had reported him to USCIS for not carrying a full load of subjects. Hawaiian police do not need an Arizona-type law for them to inquire into the immigration status of people arrested. It appears that whenever an arrestee says he/she was born abroad, the police send their rap sheet to ICE. Let ICE do the checking.
Twenty Filipino family members, including wives and young children, were charged with fraud – claiming that their father who petitioned for them was alive although he was dead. Most were caught in a blitzkrieg-like raid. ICE agents simultaneously trooped to their homes, their places of work, and the airport where one was leaving to be with his dying wife and another was arriving after visiting relatives in the Philippines. A Filipino reported them according to ICE.
Another victim was a man undergoing divorce and defending himself from a temporary restraining order sought by his wife. While in court ICE men arrested him and brought him to FDC, charging him with fraud. The Immigration Judge asked if wanted to seek relief. He replied that he would just like to go home. To him, going home to the Philippines would be his relief. The Philippines would be heaven compared to the hell he had been experiencing from his wife who discovered that the reason he frequently went to the Philippines was to see his first wife whom he never divorced. Therefore, his marriage to the second wife who petitioned him was void. As the saying goes: “Hell hath known no fury like the fury of a woman scorned.”
Hawaii’s ICE chief, glancing in my direction during a conference of immigration lawyers, made an unsolicited remark “We are not targeting Filipinos.” I could have shot back: “You got to be kidding”.
“Happy New Year” to all our readers. I’m not kidding.