Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 7, No. 9 - February 28, 2004
[Immigration News Briefs (INB), a weekly English-language summary of US
immigration news, is forwarded out to the email list of the Coalition for
the Human Rights of Immigrants (CHRI).]
1. Virginia Admissions Lawsuit Proceeds
2. Supreme Court to Hear Deport Cases
3. Supreme Court to Consider Detention
4. Five Die on Texas Border
Immigration News Briefs is a weekly supplement to Weekly News
Update on the Americas, published by Nicaragua Solidarity
Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; tel 212-674-9499;
fax 212-674-9139; wnu@...
. INB is also distributed free via
email (see below).
*1. VIRGINIA ADMISSIONS LAWSUIT PROCEEDS
On Feb. 25, US District Judge T.S. Ellis III ruled that
Virginia's colleges and universities may deny admission to
students on the basis that they lack legal immigration status.
However, Ellis declined to dismiss a lawsuit against seven
Virginia schools, saying the plaintiffs have a right to try to
prove whether the institutions are using federal standards to
identify applicants who are in the US illegally. "It is clear
that denying illegal aliens admission to public colleges and
universities simply removes another public incentive for illegal
immigration," Ellis wrote. Immigrant advocates filed the suit
last Sept. 3 in US District Court in Alexandria on behalf of
several unnamed undocumented students [see INB 9/6/04]. The
colleges are represented by Virginia Attorney General Jerry
Kilgore, who issued a 2002 memo to the state's public colleges
and universities, urging them to deny admission to out-of-status
immigrants. [Washington Post 2/26/04] On Feb. 5 of this year, the
Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill barring public
universities from admitting undocumented students. The measure is
pending in the state Senate. Governor Mark Warner opposes it.
[Virginian-Pilot (Hampton Roads) 2/6/04]
*2. SUPREME COURT TO HEAR DEPORT CASES
On Feb. 23, the US Supreme Court said it would hear an appeal in
the fall on the deportation of Minneapolis resident Keyse Jama, a
Somali immigrant. The court will consider whether immigrants can
be deported to countries which have no government to accept them.
Attorney John Lunseth of Minneapolis said the government wants to
fly Jama to Somalia, where "he would become a stateless person
with no travel documents or identity papers in a war-torn region
with no central government." The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in
St. Louis ruled 2-1 last May 27 that Jama could be sent back to
Somalia; on Sept. 17, in a separate case, the 9th Circuit Court
of Appeals in San Francisco barred deportations to Somalia
because there is no functioning government there [see INB
5/30/03, 9/19/03, 10/31/03].
The Supreme Court said on Feb. 23 that it would also consider the
deportation case of Josue Leocal, a Haitian immigrant who lived
for nearly 20 years in the Miami area. The court will address the
question of whether a lawful permanent resident who causes an
injury while driving drunk is committing an "aggravated felony,"
which triggers deportation proceedings. The US government
deported Leocal in 2002 after he served a two-year prison
sentence for causing "serious bodily injury" while driving under
the influence of alcohol. Leocal had no prior arrests. The 11th
Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta held that it lacked
jurisdiction to consider Leocal's appeal of a Board of
Immigration Appeals (BIA) decision. Several federal appeals
courts have ruled that drunk driving offenses cannot be
considered crimes of violence unless there is proof of criminal
intent. [AP 2/23/04; New York Times 2/24/04]
*3. SUPREME COURT TO CONSIDER DETENTION
On Jan. 16, the Supreme Court said it will decide whether the US
government can indefinitely detain foreign nationals who have
been deemed "inadmissible" or "excludable" and who cannot be
removed from the US. The case is a habeas suit brought by Daniel
Benitez, a Cuban national who came to the US during the 1980
Mariel boatlift and who has been in immigration detention for
In its June 2001 Zadvydas v. Davis ruling, the Supreme Court
barred the indefinite detention of immigrants who were ordered
deported but cannot be removed from the US because no country
will accept them. In that ruling, the court said "aliens who have
not yet gained initial admission to this country would present a
very different question." The government claims that aliens
deemed "inadmissible" are in a separate legal category from
admitted aliens, even if they were granted "parolee" status and
lived freely in US society for years. Benitez argues that the
Zadvydas ruling makes no distinction between resident aliens and
those deemed "inadmissible." At least two federal appeals courts
have upheld that interpretation, while the 11th Circuit Court of
Appeals in Atlanta ruled against Benitez, arguing that the
Zadvydas decision only applies to "resident aliens."
The Supreme Court has ordered expedited consideration of the
case, Benitez v. Wallis (No. 03-7434); oral arguments will take
place in April and a decision is likely by July. A total of 2,269
"inadmissible" or "excludable" immigrants--including 920 Mariel
Cubans--are in detention, and more than half of them have been
held for more than six months, according to the Department of
Homeland Security's Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(BICE or ICE). [New York Times 1/17/04; Washington Post 1/17/04]
*4. FIVE DIE ON TEXAS BORDER
At least five migrants have drowned so far in 2004 while trying
to cross the Rio Grande (Rio Bravo) river from Mexico into Texas.
The first was Jose de Jesus Iracheta, whose body was found Jan. 6
near Nuevo Laredo, in Mexico's Tamaulipas state. Between January
1993 and December 2003, the bodies of 1,023 people were found in
the Tamaulipas section of the river, according to a count kept by
the Tamaulipas-based Center for Border Studies and the Promotion
of Human Rights. [Enlinea Directa (Tamaulipas) 2/22/04]
Immigration News Briefs (INB), a weekly English-language summary of US
immigration news, is forwarded out to the email list of the Coalition for
the Human Rights of Immigrants (CHRI). If you receive INB as a forwarded
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Immigration News Briefs (INB), un resumen semanal en ingles de noticias
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