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DHS Censors Article Critical of ICE Chief Counsel of New York

Yesterday, I wrote an article in which I claimed that Wen-Ting Cheng, the Chief Counsel of ICE in New York, was a coward for not meeting with Danna, a severely disabled little girl who may lose her father to deportation.

To disseminate this article, I relied heavily upon Facebook.

I realized this morning that a person or persons reported the link to the article as abusive to Facebook, and likely to other sources.

Does facebook have a different standard for censorship if DHS is the reporting party? We think so.

Does Facebook have a different standard for censorship if DHS is the reporting party? We think so.

I was suspicious given that the article attracted 33 page loads in one day from a variety of IP addresses at DHS Headquarters.

I then went back over our logs for the day to see when Facebook visited our website. My findings are alarming, as the following photo demonstrates:

Facebook accounted for 4 out of 336 views to our website yesterday. Facebook visited only 2 minutes following a visitor from DHS Headquarters.

Facebook accounted for 4 out of 336 views to our website yesterday. Facebook visited only 2 minutes following a visitor from DHS Headquarters.

It is fairly obvious that DHS did not like the article I posted yesterday. So DHS reported it as abusive in retaliation for my unusually public criticism of a non-public DHS employee, NY Chief Counsel, Wen-Ting Cheng.

DHS probably would not have visited yesterday but for the fact that I sent the article to Wen-Ting Cheng in an email and she subsequently forwarded it to her superiors.

Big Brother is not just watching.

Cowardly Chief Counsel Refuses to Meet With Severely Disabled Daughter of Man Facing Deportation

Danna, a 5-year-old U.S. citizen with cerebral palsy, with the most important person in her life, her dad, Miguel.

Danna, a 5-year-old U.S. citizen with cerebral palsy, with the most important person in her life, her dad, Miguel.

NOTE: What follows is an excerpt of notes taken by Danna’s Neurologist while her dad was detained by ICE in 2011:

 “Here b/c Danna’s father has been detained for > week b/c here illegally and mom states that Danna calls for her father, and cries at night and wants to be held all the time. Mom is afraid that Danna will start to regress and lose all that she has gained. Danna refuses to do her therapy…”

END NOTE

Danna, who is the daughter of our client, Miguel, may well lose her father to deportation come his hearing on August 16, 2013.

Danna is 5 years old and has cerebral palsy. She was born extremely premature at 25 weeks. In those dark weeks following her birth, when Danna drifted from life to death, the voice of her father always brought her back. He was at her side, telling her she would make it. Danna and her Dad have been inseparable ever since.

If Miguel is deported, Danna’s life will be put at risk. When her father was detained by immigration in 2011, she was so upset that she stopped her daily physical and occupational therapy. Without her therapy, Danna will succumb to paralysis.

The Chief Counsel of ICE in New York, Wen-Ting Cheng, has denied several requests for the exercise of prosecutorial discretion for Miguel.  Why? Because the hypothetical danger that Miguel poses to the general public in the future because of two convictions for DUI is more important than the certain harm that Danna will suffer if her father is deported.

Recently Danna requested a meeting with Wen-Ting Cheng so that she could ask her in person to keep her father with her in the United States. I wrote on her behalf:

Given that Danna is the person who stands to lose most from her father’s removal, I think it is a good idea for you to see the full picture in terms of consequences of the decision to deny or grant prosecutorial discretion.

On June 17,  Ms. Cheng responded, making it clear that she did not want to see the consequences:

“I decline your request for an in person meeting with Danna Quiche.  I am well aware of her condition.  An in person meeting with this child is not likely to change my decision which I arrived at after careful consideration of all the factors at issue.  As you know, my office has  reviewed this matter several times.  Thank you.”

Ms. Cheng’s refusal to meet with Danna in person is cowardly. Lest one believe I am being unnecessarily antagonistic, let me explain.

Too often, ICE does not have to see the profound devastation its actions cause to humans, particularly the most vulnerable in our society.

Ms. Cheng did not have to see the tears in Danna’s eyes when she thought she would never see her Dad again.

Ms. Cheng did not have to see Danna howl through the night, unable to sleep, tortured that her father was gone. She did not have to watch Danna waste away, day by day, because her severe depression caused her to refuse therapy.

Similarly, Ms. Cheng does not have to see what will happen to Danna if her father is deported. She can forget about it. She can act like it never happened.

But if she meets Danna, this angelic little girl will be forever ingrained in her memory, like it is in mine. She will not be able to make this decision without a concrete cost to her conscience. And that is how it should be. Government officials should be required to witness the human cost of their actions. Step up, Ms. Cheng, and meet with Danna.

Wen-Ting Cheng refuses to meet with Danna, the 5-year-old U.S. citizen with cerebral palsy and daughter of Miguel, who is at risk of deportation.

NY ICE Chief Counsel, Wen-Ting Cheng, refuses to meet with Danna, the 5-year-old U.S. citizen with cerebral palsy and daughter of Miguel, who is at risk of deportation.

ICE willing to sentence severely disabled 4-year-old U.S. citizen girl to death or total paralysis for crime of her father.

Danna Palma is 4-years-old. She is a U.S. citizen and suffers from a severe form of Cerebral Palsy. She lives with her mom, dad and 5-year-old U.S. citizen sister, Shakira.

She cannot walk without both mechanical and human assistance. In order for her to maintain the ability to move, Danna must engage in daily occupational and physical therapy.

If she does not do her therapy, she risks becoming totally paralyzed.

The most important person in the world to Danna is her father, Miguel Palma.

In 2011, Miguel was arrested and convicted of his second DUI offense. Miguel was subsequently detained by ICE for approximately a month.

He eventually was released and served another month in jail for his arrest. On June 12, 2012, Miguel completed rehabilitation and has stayed clean since.

When Miguel was detained in 2011, Danna was devastated. She refused to do any of her therapy and did not sleep for two weeks straight.

Her ability to move regressed significantly. Since her dad’s return, she has returned to normal, participating in therapy on a regular basis.

I have met her three times now and can say that she is a very happy girl, playing with her sister and playfully calling me: “Abogado.”

If Miguel is deported to Peru, she will again be devastated. If she does not participate in therapy for a significant amount of time, she risks becoming totally paralyzed, which can also lead to death.

Given that Miguel is not eligible for a defense to removal, I submitted a request for prosecutorial discretion on his behalf to Immigration and Customs Enforcement so that he would not be at risk of being separated from Danna.

First, an Assistant Chief Counsel formally denied my request on September 17, 2012.

In a discussion prior to his decision, I asked him about the hardship that Danna would face if her dad was removed. He dismissed the concern, responding that: “He could have just gotten into the car with his daughter.”

Ultimately, Chief Counsel of New York declined to reverse the original ICE attorney’s decision to deny prosecutorial discretion.

Lastly, I requested ICE’s Office of the Principal Legal Adviser’s headquarters to review the New York office’s decision.  Today, they informed me that they would decline to disturb the original denial.

The evidence is irrefutable: If Miguel is removed from the United States, Danna will suffer exceptionally extreme hardship. She could become totally paralyzed or die.

ICE has the power to save Danna’s life by exercising prosecutorial discretion in favor of Miguel. Yet they refuse, citing “public safety” concerns. ICE has stated that they “sympathize” with Danna, but are not willing to act on this sympathy.

Danna is a U.S. citizen who deserves a voice to represent her interests. Her interests are inextricably linked with being with her father here in her home country, the United States.

Our federal government has more than just an obligation to enforce laws; they also have an obligation to consider what their enforcement actions will have on their own people.

Here, the answer is clear:

Danna’s life should trump that of a hypothetical danger that her father presents to the public. Anyone who has met this little girl and her family could not disagree.