In April 2001, Mohammed Jafar Alam applied for an employment certification under the 245-I LIFE Act, a crucial first step to gaining status for himself and his family; he is still waiting for approval. Mr. Alam registered as part of the FBI and then-INS’ Special Registration program, a problematic program that has resulted in the delay in receiving his employment certificate.
Thousands of others have suffered at the hands of the Special Registration program, a program that has been highly criticized by the public and members of the congress (the 9/11 commission in particular) for being ineffective and based on racial, ethnic, and religious profiling. Mr. Alam, despite his pending 245-I application, now faces deportation, and his eight year old daughter stands to lose the critical medical treatment that allows her to hear and to speak. He has written several letters and contacted officials in the Department of Labor to press them to process his application in a timely manner; their only response was that there were severe backlogs.
Today over 13,000 people who registered with the Special Registration program face deportation. Many of these registrants have pending 245-I applications, some of which have been “in process” for over 3 years. Had these applications been processed in a timely manner, many of these people would be able to continue to live and work in the United States; instead, they are facing impending deportation for the sole reason that the DOL is unwilling to take action to clear its backlogs. The DOL will not make public how many individuals are caught in this bureaucratic backlog.
As a result of this dire situation, the Stop the Disappearances Campaign (STDC) has organized a campaign to demand that the DOL clear its backlog. The Stop the Disappearances Campaign is a coalition made up of DRUM- Desis Rising Up & Moving- (a community based organization of low-income South Asian immigrant families in New York City) and the Immigrant Justice Solidarity Project. The coalition represents a membership of over 300 affected community members in New York City.
Working alongside and in support of STDC, lawyers at the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to the New York State DOL in order to compile information about the effects of the backlog on non-citizen immigrants, particularly those who are facing deportation.