Update On Singapore Asylum Grant — Grossman Law Reports That Amos Yee Remains Detained In Wisconsin Pending Possible DHS Appeal!

On March 27, 2017, Officers at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Chicago Field Office informed Grossman Law, LLC that Amos Yee will remain in detention despite the Honorable Immigration Judge’s asylum grant on March 24, 2017. Yee has been detained since December 17, 2016.

When ICE officers first detained Yee, they stated he would be released on parole and that ICE had no interest in keeping Yee detained for the pendency of his proceedings. Then, after release of the new Administration’s Executive Orders, ICE informed Grossman Law that they would not release Yee. Subsequently, after Yee’s merits hearing, ICE moved him to another detention facility without informing counsel about the transfer. Now, ICE officers are basing the decision to keep Yee detained on a potential, but not yet filed, appeal by the Department of Homeland Security.

Grossman Law has learned from the Assistant Field Office Director for ICE’s Chicago Field Office that “…detained aliens who are granted relief remain in custody during the pendency of an ICE appeal, except in extraordinary circumstances.” Additionally, Amos Yee informed us via telephone that other individuals he has met at the Dodge County facility, remain in detention despite a grant of asylum. The decision to deny Yee his freedom is not limited just to him, but to many others.

ICE’s decision to continue to detain individuals granted asylum, especially when there are no security concerns, brings up serious questions about this country’s compliance with basic principles of international law regarding the treatment of asylees. There is no provision under the Immigration and Nationality Act, or under any Presidential Executive Order, that justifies the continued detention of an individual who has been granted asylum and is deemed to be a refugee. The supposed pendency of the Department’s appeal is immaterial; Yee should have been released immediately after he was granted asylum.

As the American Immigration Lawyers Association notes:

“America’s immigration detention practices undermine the fundamental principles of due process and fairness, and require immediate systemic reform. Annually, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unnecessarily detains more than 400,000 people, including asylum seekers and other extremely vulnerable immigrants. Many detainees are held for prolonged periods despite the fact that they have strong ties to the United States and pose no threat to public safety.

Detention is extremely expensive, costing American taxpayers $2 billion per year. Proven alternatives to detention, by contrast, cost between 17 cents and $17 per day. Detention should be a last resort, used only when other means of supervision are not feasible, and only after a truly individualized assessment of someone’s public safety and flight risk.”

Grossman Law, LLC is renewing a request to release Yee on humanitarian parole and is exploring all other viable legal options.

For further Media inquiries on this case please contact:

ICE – Chicago Field Office: 312-347-2168

Melissa Chen – Movements
Email: mchen@movements.org
Cell: 857-285-0975

The American Immigration Lawyers Association can be reached at:
George Paul Tzamaras
AILA Senior Director, Strategic Communications and Outreach

Grossman Law, LLC
4922 Fairmont Avenue, Suite 200
Bethesda, Maryland 20814
Phone: (240) 403-0913
Website: www.GrossmanLawLLC.comAmos


Sadly, notwithstanding the equities here, my recollection of the “black letter law” is that the Immigration Judge’s order is not “final” during the appeal period unless appeal is immediately waived. If either party files an appeal, the order does not become final while the appeal is pending. In other words, it is as if the case were never completed; it remains a pending case while it is before the BIA, and the rules governing detention are basically the same as they are when the case is pending before the Immigration Court.

If the respondent had “entered” the U.S., the asylum grant could be viewed as a “changed circumstance” giving the Immigration Judge a basis to redetermine custody upon his or her own motion or upon the respondent’s request. But, Mr. Yee appears to be an “arriving alien.” Therefore under the somewhat arcane rules applying to such aliens, neither the Immigration Judge nor the BIA has jurisdiction to redetermine custody. Continuing custody is within the sole jurisdiction of the DHS, unless a U.S. District Court intervenes by habeas corpus and directs either the DHS or the Immigration Judge to conduct an individualized bond hearing.

Tough system. But, I doubt the Trump Administration is going to make it any easier for respondents to get released from detention.




US Immigration Judge Samuel Cole (CHI) Grants Asylum To Singapore Dissident


The AP reports in the NY Times:

“A blogger from Singapore who was jailed for his online posts blasting his government was granted asylum to remain in the United States, an immigration judge ruled.

Amos Yee, 18, has been detained by federal immigration authorities since December when he was taken into custody at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Attorneys said he could be released from a Wisconsin detention center as early as Monday.

Judge Samuel Cole issued a 13-page decision Friday, more than two weeks after Yee’s closed-door hearing on the asylum application.

“Yee has met his burden of showing that he suffered past persecution on account of his political opinion and has a well-founded fear of future persecution in Singapore,” Cole wrote.

Yee left Singapore with the intention of seeking asylum in the U.S. after being jailed for several weeks in 2015 and 2016. He was accused of hurting the religious feelings of Muslims and Christians in the multiethnic city-state. Yee is an atheist.

Many of his blog and social media posts criticized Singapore’s leaders. He created controversy in 2015 as the city-state was mourning the death of its first prime minister and he posted an expletive-laden video about Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew just after his death.

Such open criticism of political leaders is discouraged in Singapore. The case raised questions about free speech and censorship and has been closely watched abroad.

Cole said testimony during Yee’s hearing showed that while the Singapore government’s stated reason for punishing him involved religion, “its real purpose was to stifle Yee’s political speech.” He said Yee’s prison sentence was “unusually long and harsh” especially for his age.

Singapore’s government criticized the decision.”


Mr. Yee was successfully represented by Maryland immigration attorney Sandra Grossman of Grossman Law LLC.

As I have mentioned before in this blog, most fully litigated U.S. Immigration Court cases today, particularly those involving asylum or criminal law, involve exceptionally complex, and often sensitive, issues of law and fact which can’t be fairly resolved in a one to two hour time block. Yet, most of the Administration’s recent enforcement initiatives seem to assume that Immigration Court is an “assembly line” and that U.S. Immigration Judges are more or less “assembly line workers” who can be detailed to obscure locations on demand and perhaps required to work “night shifts” to keep the “deportation railroad running at full throttle.”

But, due process is not an assembly line operation. It usually takes time, expertise, careful scholarship, and detailed fact-finding for U.S. Immigration Judges to produce fair decisions that will pass muster upon judicial review in the Circuit Courts of Appeals. (I note that the Administration’s first, high-profile attempt to “ram” an immigration case — “Travel Ban 1.0” — through a Court of Appeals was spectacularly unsuccessful.)

These days, most individuals who are represented by competent counsel and reach the “Individual (Merits) Hearing” stage have at least some plausible defenses to removal. Indeed, a 2016 study by TRAC Immigration showed that more than half (57%)  of the total dispositions in U.S. Immigration Court favored the individual.  http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/435/

And, this was during the Obama Administration which already was prioritizing so-called “serious criminals.”  By expanding the “criminal alien” definition to include minor criminals and non-criminals, the Trump Administration will probably be taking on even more cases where it ultimately will fail to get a “final order of removal” unless concerted attempts are made to “game the system” to insure that individuals lose (for example, by denying individuals fair access to counsel or using prolonged detention in poor conditions as a device to persuade individuals to abandon their claims to remain in the US).



Grossman Law LLC Analyzes Impact Of Exec Orders On Migrants, Families!

Trump’s Executive Orders on Immigration
Yesterday, January 25, 2017, President Trump signed two Executive Orders on immigration, demonstrating that he will take a hard-line, no compromise, and enforcement only approach to handling our nation’s already broken immigration system. Through these Orders, the Trump Administration communicated the following priorities:
Border Wall: The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must immediately begin planning, designing, and constructing a physical wall along the nearly 2000-mile southern border. The U.S. (not Mexico) will pay for this wall at an estimated price tag of $6.5 million per mile. This is an unconscionable expenditure at a time when statistics show that the southern border is more secure than ever and illegal border crossings are at a 40-year low!

Increased Detention of Asylum Seekers and immigrants at the southern border: DHS is authorized to hire an additional 5000 Border Patrol Agents and build new detention facilities. DHS will no longer release asylum seekers on bond or electronic monitoring; instead, asylum-seekers will remain in jail while their cases are pending, and will have to gather evidence, prepare legal arguments, and present their cases while in detention. Not only will this be expensive ($125 per adult per day, or in the case of family detention, $343 per person per day), but it is inhumane. An estimated 88% of Central American women, children, and families crossing the Southern border have valid asylum claims. Subjecting them to prolonged detention further traumatizes them and violates this country’s proud tradition of welcoming those fleeing persecution.

Revised Removal Priorities: DHS is authorized to hire up to 10,000 additional immigration officers who will prioritize for removal individuals convicted of any criminal offense whatsoever, no matter how minor or insignificant. They will also prioritize for removal individuals who have open charges pending against them, even if they have not been found guilty by a judge or jury, and individuals who have never been charged or convicted of a crime, but whom an immigration officer believes may have committed a criminal act or may otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security. This vague and overbroad policy opens the door for rampant constitutional and civil rights violations. It also has the potential to expose both federal and deputized state and local agencies to frequent and protracted litigation.

Relatedly, the President has also Deputized State and Local Law Enforcement Officials to act as immigrant agents in apprehending, investigating, and detaining immigrants. Local jurisdictions currently have no legal obligation to assist with civil immigration enforcement, as immigration enforcement is the responsibility of the federal government alone. Forcing local police to act as immigration agents strains their already limited resources and reduces their ability to respond to and investigate crime. Importantly, this policy also deters immigrants who are victims of crime from coming forward and reporting criminal activity. By alienating our immigrant neighbors and over-taxing local police, this policy will make our communities even less safe.

Sanctuary Cities: President Trump pledges to end “sanctuary cities” (jurisdictions which protect the identity of non-criminal immigrant members of the community by refusing to share information about those individuals with federal immigration authorities). He has promised to end “sanctuary cities” by denying them Federal grants and funding. This move, too, jeopardizes the safety of all Americans. It undermines community policing efforts that encourage everyone to work with the police to prevent and solve crime. When immigrants distrust and fear local law enforcement, victims and key witnesses refuse to come forward out of fear of deportation.

Without a doubt, the impact of these directives will be substantial. Grossman Law is concerned that the President’s priorities skirt the long-established due process rights of all individuals, including immigrants, within our borders. Additionally, the attack on “sanctuary cities” will have the negative impact of further dividing our nation and the potential of increasing crime in our largest cities. Our nation’s history, prosperity and growth has been closely aligned with the prosperity and growth of immigrants. The executive orders, in large part, will work to destroy this proud history, and will have the consequence of instilling fear, rather than hope, into the hearts of deserving immigrants. This is “un-American” and misguided policy. Grossman Law will closely monitor the implementation of these Orders and will provide ongoing advice and counsel to our clients, and will continue organizing to ensure the protection of rights for all.

Grossman Law, LLC
4922 Fairmont Avenue, Suite 200
Bethesda, Maryland 20814
Phone: (240) 403-0913
Website: www.GrossmanLawLLC.com

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