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Posts tagged ‘Nassau’

Latinos at Higher Risk From Domestic Violence in Suffolk County

On immigration,  Suffolk County is probably best known for the hate crime murder of Marcel Lucero.

Many have commented on how the political leadership of then-County Executive Steve Levy, which was routinely racist and anti-immigrant, contributed to a climate of hate against Latinos in the County. The problem was so serious that the Justice Department launched an investigation into the Suffolk County Police Department’s handling of Latino hate crime complaints.

The Justice Department focused on the SCPD’s handling of hate crime reports and when it was permissible for officers to ask a suspect or victim about their immigration status.

The SCPD was not investigated for its severe deficiency in protecting Spanish-speaking victims of domestic violence.

A first-hand account  provides a vivid illustration of a system that endangers the lives of Latina/o domestic violence victims.

A woman was grabbed and violently pushed to the ground by her live-in boyfriend. She was in pain from the fall and scared for her life. She called 911 to ask for help.

Several officers responded to the woman’s call. However, none of the officers spoke Spanish and the woman did not speak English. Her boyfriend spoke English. The police officers did not offer to provide a professional interpreter. The police did not arrest the boyfriend that night. Further, the police report made no mention of the woman’s allegations of physical abuse.

The boyfriend returned hours later to again threaten and physically abuse the woman.

She called the police a second time. This time, however, she insisted that an interpreter be available over the phone. Despite having an interpreter, and despite her wish to have him arrested, the police left a second time and wrote up another report that made no mention of physical abuse. The police did not even bother to separate the boyfriend from the woman.

Again, the boyfriend piled on the physical and verbal abuse. Again, the woman called the police. Again, the police did nothing. Actually, they did do something: they told her that if she wanted her boyfriend to be arrested, they would have to arrest her as well.

Scared and ignored by the police, the woman turned to me (I’m not a police officer or have I ever been)  for help. I, too, was ignored. The woman was told that she had to go to the same department of police officers who had just hours ago told her that she would be arrested if she pressed charges against her boyfriend.

The police would not make the trip to my office because they were in a different geographical region in the County although they still belong to the same entity: The Suffolk County Police Department. Given that the police already did not do their job properly and even contributed to the fear underlying the abuse, it is unreasonable to require a domestic violence victim to ask them for help.

Yes, there is a family offense protection order available. However, a victim whose life is in imminent danger may not know or have the option to avail themselves of this protection. There should be an immediate law enforcement alternative for victims of domestic violence if there is reasonable suspicion that the police improperly failed to take action at the original point of contact with the complainant.

An example of when an alternative should be available is when the police did not have a Spanish-speaking officer available to speak to a complainant who only spoke Spanish.

Who should be the alternative? The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. As the Suffolk County DA’s office  policy stands now, a victim cannot press charges through their office.  The DA will only prosecute a crime if it is sent to them by the SCPD. This policy is dangerous and exposes the most vulnerable victims to police officer errors or misconduct.

Nassau, the bordering county, already has a system in place where victims and others can lodge a complaint directly with the District Attorney’s Office. This system prioritizes the public’s safety over that of police misconduct or mistakes.

The policy of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office gives far too much power to the police. It  appoints them as sole arbiter of whether a suspect should be arrested and charged with a crime.

Steve Bellone, the new County Executive, promised to change Suffolk’s anti-immigrant and anti-Latino/a culture. He should start by advocating for a policy where the community’s most vulnerable victims can report crimes directly to  the District Attorney’s Office.

New Year, New Immigration Rule

The New Year brings great news, primarily for spouses of U.S. citizens who are residing here in the U.S.

Today, Secretary of Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced the posting of a final rule for the provisional waiver process which would benefit certain immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.  This rule, which was proposed nearly a year ago on January 6, 2012, will finally be published tomorrow and USCIS will begin receiving applications on March 4, 2013.

As we have written in this blog on numerous occasions, spouses of U.S. citizens who entered the United States without inspection are caught in a conundrum:  they are usually subject to a ten-year  bar for unlawful presence in the U.S., but cannot benefit from their approved relative petition by a U.S. citizen spouse without leaving the country.  Once they try to re-enter, they trigger the unlawful presence bars and cannot come back without a waiver.  Many just decide that it is not worth the risk leaving the U.S. and having their waiver applications denied, and consequently waiting years to be reunited with their loved ones.  So they have been waiting for a change.  Today, that change has finally been announced.

Immediate relatives include spouses of U.S. citizens, unmarried children of U.S. citizens whose parents applied for them before age 21, and parents of U.S. citizens 21 years or older.  This category of people will be able to apply for a provisional waiver of unlawful presence here in the U.S., and if approved, leave with some security that they will be able to re-enter the United States.  To qualify for the waiver, they  have to demonstrate “extreme hardship” to their U.S. citizen spouse or parents.  In effect, then, the only immediate relatives who could benefit from this rule are spouses of U.S. citizens, 18-20 year old children of U.S. citizens, and older children of U.S. citizens who are subject to the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA).

More great news follows: immediate relatives who are in removal proceedings and receive an administrative closure of their case can also apply for a provisional waiver here in the U.S.  The provisional waiver will be the same cost, $585, and it may be re-filed based on the same family petition.  DHS will work with the Department of State to coordinate the decision on the I-601 waiver with the consular interview, to prevent delays.

Individuals who want to apply for the provisional waiver should consult with an attorney, especially if they have any criminal issues.  If USCIS deems individuals a public security threat, they will share information received with ICE for enforcement purposes.

Vote Undocumented Immigrants as Time’s Person of the Year Because They Are America.

Time magazine is having its annual contest on who the Person of the Year for 2012 should be.

You can vote, “definitely”, HERE.

Why?

Because Undocumented Immigrants represent what America is all about. They are our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.

The immigration laws have changed but the people have not.

Undocumented Immigrants

By Howard Chua-EoanMonday, Nov. 26, 2012
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GIAN PAUL LOZZA FOR TIME

What do you think?

Should Undocumented Immigrants be TIME’s Person of the Year 2012?
DefinitelyNo Way

An invisible population stepped forward on June 15, 2012, to stake its claim to the American Dream. On that day, President Obama declared that certain undocumented immigrants — a group simply labeled “illegal” by many — would not be subjected to deportation, under broad-ranging conditions. Suddenly the logjam of immigration reform shifted, as more than 1 million undocumented young people who had been in the country for the past five years found themselves with new opportunities. What is more, the sympathies of other groups of people who have undocumented relatives — and thus are mindful of their plight — may have clearly shifted to a President on a campaign for re-election, as evidenced by the preponderance of Hispanic and Asian-American voters casting their ballots for Obama. Chastened by the results of the vote, the GOP has warmed to a legislative fix, increasing chances of comprehensive reform.