DHS Announces Imposition of Visa Sanctions on Burundi

Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in coordination with the Department of State, announced the imposition of visa sanctions on Burundi due to lack of cooperation in accepting its citizens and nationals ordered removed from the United States.


Burundi Has Failed to Accept Return of Nationals Subject to Removal Orders

Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in coordination with the Department of State, announced the imposition of visa sanctions on Burundi due to lack of cooperation in accepting its citizens and nationals ordered removed from the United States.

Pursuant to his authority under Section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf notified Secretary of State Michael Pompeo that the Government of Burundi has denied or unreasonably delayed accepting its citizens and nationals ordered removed from the United States.

As a result, Secretary of State Pompeo has ordered consular officers to implement visa restrictions on certain categories of visa applicants. The suspension will remain in place until the Secretary of Homeland Security notifies the Secretary of State that cooperation on removals has improved to an acceptable level.

The decision to sanction a recalcitrant country is not taken lightly.

DHS makes significant efforts, in collaboration with the Department of State, to encourage countries to accept the prompt, lawful return of their citizens or nationals who are subject to removal from the United States. Those efforts include diplomatic communications at the highest levels of government.

The U.S. Government stands ready to renew efforts with the Government of Burundi to facilitate the removal of Burundian nationals subject to final orders of removal.

As a general matter, countries that refuse to issue travel documents frustrate the United States’ removal process as enacted by Congress in the INA, and such countries also fail to meet their international obligations to take back their nationals who have been ordered removed.

“This announcement is about ensuring the safety of the American people and upholding the rule of law. Given that Burundi has failed to cooperate with the United States on these serious matters of immigration and public safety, we have no choice but to impose sanctions. As the leadership changes for Burundi, we’re hopeful for a renewed commitment to cooperation between our nations for the benefit of each country’s citizens. We look forward to future discussions to resolve this ongoing issue,” said Secretary Chad F. Wolf.

Further, based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Zadvydas v. Davis, with narrow exceptions, aliens with final orders of removal, including aliens determined to pose a threat to the community or considered a flight risk, may not be detained beyond a presumptively reasonable period of six months if there is no “significant likelihood of removal in the reasonably foreseeable future.”

By delaying or refusing to issue travel documents to their citizens and nationals, the most common of which is a passport, countries that refuse to accept their citizens and nationals within that period have forced U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release thousands of dangerous criminals into communities across the United States. Without a travel document issued by an alien’s home country to confirm identity and nationality, ICE cannot complete the removal process, with very limited exceptions.

Due to lack of travel document issuance, ICE continues to be compelled to release Burundian nationals into U.S. communities, some with serious criminal convictions, including violent offenses and drug convictions.

Specific sanctions effective June 12, 2020 are listed below:

As of June 12, 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura, Burundi has discontinued issuance of all nonimmigrant visas (NIVs) for Burundian citizens and nationals applying in Burundi except for A1, A2, C2, G1, G2, G3, G4, NATO1, NATO2, NATO3, NATO4, NATO5, and NATO6 visas, and other whose travel is covered by Section 11 of the U.N. Headquarters Agreement, subject to limited exceptions.

DHS.gov (June 2020) DHS Announces Imposition of Visa Sanctions on Burundi

ICE responds to recent media coverage regarding family residential centers


On April 24, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was directed by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to make every effort to promptly and safely release juvenile aliens who have suitable custodians and who are not a flight risk or a danger to themselves or others.

The court recognized that parents, not the government, should decide whether the juvenile should be released to a sponsor.

To comply with this order, ICE was required to check with each of the juveniles – and their parents – in custody at family residential centers (FRCs) to make individual parole determinations with respect to those juveniles.

To comply with the court-ordered deadline of May 15, ICE again interviewed nearly 300 individuals at the FRCs using a form developed almost three years ago to comply with another order from the same court.

This form, which has been recently circulating in media outlets, was submitted to the court December 1, 2017, and has since been available as part of the court’s public record.

This process is not new, and ICE has continually complied with the court’s order to conduct parole reviews of minors.

Despite misrepresentations, this form is nothing more than an internal worksheet used to document answers to questions regarding parole. In compliance with the judge’s order last week, some officers asked the individuals to initial or sign at the bottom of each page to verify that these were in fact their responses.

It is not a legally binding document and does not convey any legal implications on the family unit.

ICE continues to explore all options to ensure it acts in compliance with the court’s order which applies only to juvenile aliens, and not to their parents.

Parole can be denied based on flight risk or danger to self or others. Further, the court recognized that ICE need not release juvenile aliens whose parents waive their court-ordered option to be released to a sponsor.

This court-ordered option has been incorrectly reported as a change in policy. This is simply false. ICE has merely been conducting routine parole review consistent with the law, existing practice, and the court’s order.

ICE does not maintain custody of unaccompanied minors but does house family units (minors and their parent or legal guardian) at one of three FRCs.

ICE’s custodial determinations are conducted pursuant to its statutory and regulatory authorities, and in compliance with U.S. Department of Homeland Security and ICE policies and binding decisions from federal courts, including the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California’s most recent decision in Flores v. Barr, No. 85-4544 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 24, 2020).

Family units who come into ICE custody at an FRC and who pass an initial credible fear interview are generally released from custody in fewer than 20 days.

Consistent with President Trump’s executive order dated June 20, 2018, it is the policy of the administration to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with the law and available resources.

ICE adheres to the laws enacted by Congress and to decisions issued by federal courts with respect to the care and custody of minor children and family units.

As of May 19, 348 individuals are housed at FRCs.

ICE.gov (May 2020) ICE responds to recent media coverage regarding family residential centers

Tennessee man ordered removed to Germany based on service as a concentration camp guard during WWII

A U.S. Immigration Judge in Memphis, Tennessee has issued a removal order against a German citizen and Tennessee resident, based on his service in Nazi Germany in 1945 as an armed guard of concentration camp prisoners in the Neuengamme Concentration Camp system (Neuengamme).


A U.S. Immigration Judge in Memphis, Tennessee has issued a removal order against a German citizen and Tennessee resident, based on his service in Nazi Germany in 1945 as an armed guard of concentration camp prisoners in the Neuengamme Concentration Camp system (Neuengamme).

After a two-day trial, U.S. Immigration Judge Rebecca L. Holt issued her opinion finding Friedrich Karl Berger removable under the Immigration and Nationality Act because his “willing service as an armed guard of prisoners at a concentration camp where persecution took place” constituted assistance in Nazi-sponsored persecution. The court found that Berger served at a Neuengamme sub-camp near Meppen, Germany, and that the prisoners there included “Jews, Poles, Russians, Danes, Dutch, Latvians, French, Italians, and political opponents” of the Nazis.

Judge Holt found that Meppen prisoners were held during the winter of 1945 in “atrocious” conditions and were exploited for outdoor forced labor, working “to the point of exhaustion and death.” The court further found, and Berger admitted, that he guarded prisoners to prevent them from escaping during their dawn-to-dusk workday, and on their way to and from the worksites.

At the end of March 1945, with the advance of British and Canadian forces, the Nazis abandoned Meppen. The court found that Berger helped guard the prisoners during their forcible evacuation to the Neuengamme main camp – a nearly two-week trip under inhumane conditions which claimed the lives of some 70 prisoners.

Mr. Berger, of Oak Ridge, Tenn., could not immediately be reached for comment. He told The Washington Post on Thursday that he was ordered to work in the camp, was there for a short time and did not carry a weapon. In the United States, he said, he had made a living building wire-stripping machines.

“After 75 years, this is ridiculous. I cannot believe it,” he told The Post, adding, “You’re forcing me out of my home.”

“This case is but one example of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) commitment to ensuring that the United States will not serve as a safe haven for human rights violators and war criminals,” said David C. Shaw, Assistant Director, National Security Investigations Division, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), who oversees the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center. “We will continue to pursue these types of cases so that justice may be served.”

“Berger was part of the SS machinery of oppression that kept concentration camp prisoners in atrocious conditions of confinement,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division. “This ruling shows the Department’s continued commitment to obtaining a measure of justice, however late, for the victims of wartime Nazi persecution.”

The investigation was initiated by DOJ’s Human Rights and Special Prosecution Section (HRSP) and was conducted in partnership with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center and HSI’s Nashville Special Agent in Charge office.

“The investigation of human rights violations and those who engage in these heinous acts, continues to be a focus for Homeland Security Investigations and this successful outcome is an example of those efforts” stated Jerry C. Templet Jr, Special Agent in Charge, HSI Nashville.

The removal case was jointly tried by attorneys in ICE New Orleans Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (Memphis), and attorneys from DOJ’s HRSP, with the assistance of the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center.

Established in 2009, ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center furthers ICE’s efforts to identify, locate and prosecute human rights abusers in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, female genital mutilation and the use or recruitment of child soldiers. The HRVWCC leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, lawyers, intelligence and research specialists, historians and analysts who direct the agency’s broader enforcement efforts against these offenders.

Since 2003, ICE has arrested more than 450 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders against and physically removed 1034 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 160 such individuals from the United States.

Currently, HSI has more than 180 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,640 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, The HRVWCC has issued more than 76,000 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped over 315 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the U.S.

Currently, HSI has more than 180 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,640 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, The HRVWCC has issued more than 76,000 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped over 315 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the U.S.

Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to call the ICE tip line at: 1-866-DHS-2423 (1-866-347-2423).

Callers may remain anonymous.

ICE.gov (March, 2020) Tennessee man ordered removed to Germany based on service as a concentration camp guard during WWII

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DHS Implements Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security today implemented the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule. Under the final rule, DHS will look at the factors required under the law by Congress, like an alien’s age, health, family status, assets, resources, and financial status, education and skills, among others, in order to determine whether the alien is likely at any time to become a public charge.


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security today implemented the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule. Under the final rule, DHS will look at the factors required under the law by Congress, like an alien’s age, health, family status, assets, resources, and financial status, education and skills, among others, in order to determine whether the alien is likely at any time to become a public charge.

The rule now applies nationwide, including in Illinois. 

Self-sufficiency is a long-standing principle of immigration law. Since the 1800s, inadmissibility based on public charge has been a part of immigration law. Since 1996, federal laws have stated that aliens seeking to come to or remain in the United States, temporarily or permanently, must be self-sufficient and rely on their own capabilities and the resources of family, friends, and private organizations instead of public benefits. 

Cell Phones and Accessories

“President Trump continues to deliver on his promise to the American people to enforce our nation’s immigration laws. After several judicial victories, DHS will finally begin implementing the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule,” said Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. “This rule enforces longstanding law requiring aliens to be self-sufficient, reaffirming the American ideals of hard work, perseverance and determination. It also offers clarity and expectations to aliens considering a life in the United States and will help protect our public benefit programs.”

The final rule defines “public charge” as an alien who has received one or more public benefits (as defined in the rule) for more than 12 months, in total, within any 36-month period. 

The final rule defines “public benefits” to include any cash benefits for income maintenance, Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, most forms of Medicaid and certain housing programs.

Applicants for adjustment of status who are subject to the final rule must show that they are not likely at any time to become a public charge by submitting a Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, when they file their Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

To determine whether an alien is inadmissible on the public charge grounds, USCIS will not consider, and applicants and petitioners do not need to report, the application for, certification or approval to receive, or receipt of certain previously excluded non-cash public benefits (such as SNAP, most forms of Medicaid, and public housing) before Feb. 24, 2020. Similarly, USCIS will not consider as a heavily weighted negative factor receipt of previously included public benefits (such as SSI and TANF) before Feb. 24, 2020, in a public charge inadmissibility determination. 

The final rule requires most aliens seeking to extend their nonimmigrant stay or change their nonimmigrant status to show that, since obtaining the nonimmigrant status they seek to extend or change, they have not received public benefits (as defined in the final rule) for more than 12 months, in total, within any 36-month period beginning Oct. 15, 2019. Due to litigation-related delays in the final rule’s implementation, DHS is applying this requirement as though it refers to Feb. 24, 2020 rather than Oct. 15, 2019.

Therefore, with respect to applying the public benefits condition to applications and petitions for extension of nonimmigrant stay and change of nonimmigrant status, DHS will not consider, and applicants and petitioners need not report an alien’s receipt of any public benefits before Feb. 24, 2020.  

Certain classes of aliens are exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility (such as refugees, asylees, certain VAWA self-petitioners, U petitioners, and T applicants) and therefore, are not subject to the Final Rule. 

After today, USCIS will reject prior editions of affected forms, including in Illinois where the rule remained enjoined until Feb. 21, 2020, when the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay of the statewide injunction.

If USCIS receives an application or petition for immigration benefits using prior editions of the forms postmarked on or after Feb. 24, 2020, then USCIS will inform the applicant or petitioner of the need to submit a new application or petition using the correct forms. For applications and petitions that are sent by commercial courier (such as UPS, FedEx and DHL), the postmark date is the date reflected on the courier receipt. 

DHS.gov (February, 2020) DHS Implements Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule

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