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California Lawmakers Ask CBP About Claims of Visa Holders Coerced to Sign Away Rights

Representative Judy Chu is leading other California lawmakers on the effort to make CBP’s actions on the travel ban more transparent. – Photo by Terry Miller / Beacon Media News

 

On Feb. 3, 14 California lawmakers sent a letter to Kevin McAleenan, Acting Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), for clarity on CBP’s actions and claims against them in implementing President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning travel from seven Muslim-majority nations. The letter, led by Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), specifically mentions reports that travelers were forced to sign I-407 forms, relinquishing their legal right to enter and remain in the U.S., as well as other concerns about CBP actions at Los Angeles International Airport.

That same day, a federal judge in Seattle placed a temporary restraining order on the travel ban, according to The New York Times. A follwing Department of Justice attempt to appeal the decision in a San Francisco appellate court was denied.

The I-407 form is a document from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services where a permanent resident voluntarily relinquishes their residency, as to have no intent on remaining in the U.S.

The letter is read in full as:

”Kevin McAleenan
Acting Commissioner
Customs and Border Protection
1300 Pennsylvania Ave. N
Washington, DC 20229

Dear Acting Commissioner McAleenan:

We write because it has come to our attention that some of our constituents with visas and some with Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status were detained over the weekend at Los Angeles International (LAX) airport. Some of these individuals were reportedly denied entry into the United States as a result of the Executive Order titled “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals” which was issued by President Trump on January 27, 2016. 

Additionally, we are alarmed by the increasing number of reports alleging that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) employees urged detained travelers to sign Form I-407, “Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status”. When signed, this form would relinquish their legal right to enter and remain in the U.S. Lawsuits have been filed that claim coercion and egregious violations of basic due process by CBP officials—particularly at LAX airport—including the use of Form I-407. One notable example is of an Iranian national who traveled to the U.S. on a valid visa, with the expectation that he would have received his green card upon arrival. This individual was allegedly coerced into signing a form withdrawing his admission to the U.S., and was ultimately put on a plane back to Iran.

In order to assist our constituents and other visitors traveling through LAX airport, and to better understand the implementation of this Executive Order, we would like to request the following information:

  1. Any and all guidance, directives, and/or policies from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regarding the implementation of Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Entry into the United States by Foreign Nationals;”
  2. Details on how the Executive Order is being interpreted and implemented on current visa holders seeking entry into the United States, visa applicants, LPRs, dual citizens, United States citizens and to any other individuals coming from the seven designated countries in the Executive Order applying for or renewing any of the immigration benefits listed above or any other immigration benefit;
  3. The results of any internal reviews, if applicable, of the manner in which CBP officers carried out the directives of the Executive Order, particularly at LAX airport;
  4. Copies of any complaints filed with CBP, with sensitive or personally identifying information removed, relating to its implementation of the Executive Order at LAX airport. 

Furthermore, because alleged applications of Form I-407 appear to have been carried out in an abusive and illegal manner, we request that your agency review all I-407s which were signed following the execution of the Executive Order, and invalidate any which were signed due to coercion. We also request that any individuals detained be provided counsel and released from CBP custody once officers have undertaken a standard security evaluation.

Finally, we would like to bring to your attention the regrettable and oftentimes disrespectful manner in which Members of Congress were treated by CBP officers at airports across the country following the issuance of the Executive Order. Many Members arrived at airports throughout the weekend to assist constituents, only to have CBP refuse them audience with detained travelers. In many cases, CBP officials did not properly coordinate Members’ concerns and they were met with undue difficulty as they sought clarifying information from CBP. We hope that you will correct this for future interactions, and provide forthright answers to our inquiries.

Thank you for your urgent consideration of this request. We look forward to a thorough and prompt response to this important issue.

Sincerely,

Rep. Judy Chu
Rep. Luis Correa
Rep. Linda Sanchez
Rep. Tony Cardenas
Rep. Mark Takano
Rep. Julia Brownley
Rep. Grace Napolitano
Rep. Ted Lieu
Rep. Alan Lowenthal
Rep. Maxine Waters
Rep. Adam Schiff
Rep. Nanette Barragan
Rep. Brad Sherman
Rep. Norma Torres”

February 6, 2017

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