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Posts tagged ‘Customs and Border Protection’

The Department of State continues to violate our client’s rights as a U.S. citizen

On May 2, 2013, we received a response from the Department of State (“DOS”) on whether our client, Blanca Maria Alfaro, is entitled to a U.S. passport.

The Department of State’s response clearly shows that the question of whether one is a U.S. citizen is determined in an arbitrary and capricious manner.

Mrs. Alfaro submitted a valid Texas Birth Certificate. She submitted vaccination records  from her time in the United States up until the age of 5. She submitted the plane ticket she used to fly to El Salvador with her father in 1984. She also submitted proof that her mother is a U.S. citizen and that she currently lives in Texas. She also submitted a detailed sworn statement explaining the circumstances of her purported sworn statement in 1998, when she was deported by Customs and Border Protection.

There is also the fact that she was issued a valid U.S. passport two times and the fact that Immigration and Customs Enforcement found “probative evidence” that she was a U.S. citizen.

Despite the voluminous documentary evidence that Blanca Maria Alfaro submitted to the Department of State, the latter completely ignored almost every piece of evidence probative of her U.S. citizenship.

The Department of State did acknowledge that Mrs. Alfaro had a valid Texas Birth Certificate. However, the DOS discarded this fact as if it were irrelevant.  In other words, the DOS had a predetermined conclusion and cherry picked the evidence needed to make a negative determination.

Additionally, the Department of State did not inquire into the veracity of what Mrs. Alfaro claimed was a statement she made under duress from Customs and Border Protection officers.

Despite there clearly being a preponderance of evidence that Mrs. Alfaro was born in the United States and is therefore a U.S. citizen, the Deparment of State made a contrary determination.

Here is the pertinent excerpt from the determination:

The Department has determined that the totality of the evidence supports a finding that you are not a U.S. citizen or national. Therefore you are not entitled to a U.S. passport. The Department’s finding is based on the fact that one or more passports were issued to you based on representations made in your passport applications that you were born in the United States. However, new information obtained by the Department shows that you were born in El Salvador. Although your birth was timely registered in Texas, it was also registered in El Salvador. Additionally, you made a sworn statement in your native language (Spanish) that you were born in El Salvador and that your true name is Maria Mabell Alfaro.

Our U.S. citizen client’s story of illegal deportation and exile at the hands of the U.S. Government.

Below is the English translation of the Pilar Marerro’s article for La Opinion that was published today:

Blanca Alfaro, a U.S. citizen born in Houston, Texas,  with 3 of her children in El Salvador

Blanca Alfaro, a U.S. citizen born in Houston, Texas, with 3 of her children in El Salvador

Blanca Maria Alfaro, who is 33-years-old, has a birth certificate issued in Houston, Texas, vaccination documents from when she was a child, a social security card, and she has been issued two United States passports. But that has not been enough to dissuade the government of the United States from believing that she is lying and that in reality she is a Salvadoran who has tried to enter the country illegally.

Alfaro has had to retain at least two attorneys to represent her in in her intent to prove that she is a citizen of the United States, as her documents show. The path has been complicated and full of obstacles.

“I am from here. This is my country because I was born here”, said Alfaro in an interview by phone from the office of her attorney on Long Island, New York.

“The last time I entered through Hidalgo, a huge amount of officials detained me, and one pushed me into a room and later they interrogated me.”

On at least two occasions, once in 1998 at the Kennedy airport in New York and the other time in Hidalgo, Texas, she was detained and interrogated. On the last occasion, she was detained for eight days in Texas and another seven days at the La Salle Detention Facility in Jena, Louisiana.

In 1998, CBP confiscated her passport, which was recently issued in San Salvador, and deported her, but not before they interrogated her extensively, detaining her for hours and tying her feet and legs. Later, she was issued another passport and she was arrested again briefly when she traveled again to the United States in 1999. Subsequently, she entered the United States in 2001 and 2004 without any problems.

This Kafkasque comedy continued again in 2005 when she went to the United States embassy in El Salvador to request residency for her husband and four children, who live in that country. Again, her passport was confiscated for “not being a citizen”. Since 2006, the family has been working with attorneys to obtain another passport for her and in 2007 the Department of State advised her that they were investigating. To this moment, they have not informed her of a decision.

“How can they take 7 years to conduct an investigation like this one?”, said her attorney Bryan Johnson, of Long Island, New York.

Alfaro, according to her declaration and according to a copy of her birth certificate, provided by Johnson, was born in Houston in 1979 and lived there her first years of live until she reached the age of 5, when her father brought her to El Salvador, the country where her ancestors are from. There she has lived up until recently and there she married and had four children, who continue to reside in a household in La Union. Her husband is an farmer in the area.

On two occasions, Alfaro states that she was treated harshly and suspiciously by federal agents. “I do not know why they do not want me to come, if this is my country”, added the woman, whose oldest child now lives in the United States and who wants her husband and her other children to be able to come and live with them in the United States.

The attorney Johnson noted that after 14 days of being detained, that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recognized that there was evidence that she “was a citizen.”

Part of the problem stems from what happened in 1998, when Alfaro was 18-years-old and attempted to enter the U.S. with her United States Passport issued in San Salvador, she was interrogated for hours and her hands and feet were tied and they repeatedly insisted that she tell them “her real identity.” Exhausted, said Alfaro in a recent sworn statement, she gave them the name of her sister and they let her go, deporting her.

Nevertheless, after this, she received another passport and entered the United States two times without any problems.

“All of the evidence, which the authorities have had to have seen, indicates that she is a citizen of the United States”, said Johnson, who currently represents her. “In 1998 they did not believe her because she did speak any English. The problem was that there was not one bit of due process.

Blanca Alfaro is waiting to see if her latest request will bear fruit so that she is given her passport which, she alleges, she has a right to have.

United States citizens deported. 

On other occasions it has been reported that United States citizens have been deported by the authorities. Just this last week the New Yorker magazine published an extensive profile on the mentally disabled man named Mark Lyttle, who was deported to Mexico because of a “bureacratic error.”  The man had no Mexican ancestry and did not even speak Spanish yet he was detained for 51 days before being deported and wandered around Mexico and Central America for 125 days, before he was able to return to Texas. Finally, the government gave him monetary compensation without admitting wrongdoing.

Jaime Diez, an immigration attorney in South Texas, told La Opinion, that he has represented at least 10 cases in the area where individuals were persecuted by the authorities because they were delivered by midwives and not in hospitals, which is common in certain parts of Texas. “We have seen many cases where the government has confiscated passports and deported them or have forced them by intimidation to admit that they were not born here.”, said Diez. “I have at been successful in 10 cases but I have seen many more of these types of cases.”

According to TRAC, Transaction Records Acces Clearinghouse, an institution dedicated to the analysis of government data, the United States Government has issued orders to detain “suspected noncitizens” for more than 800 U.S. citizens between 2008 and 2012.