BY MICHELLE SELLERS
Immigrants wanting to stay in the United States now have a new set of challenges to face in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks . . . the 2001 Patriot Act.
In a Nov. 13 meeting hosted by the Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s office at the Jamaica YMCA, immigration lawyers addressed the rights of immigrants after an arrest, domestic violence in relation to immigration law, and services provided to illegal immigrants wanting to obtain American citizenship.
Stephen Kaufman has spent 20 years of his legal career fighting for political asylum seekers from Romania and he spoke to the Queens gathering about how the penal law changed in October 1996 making immigrants deportable and ineligible for readmission to this country after deportation.
The two crimes the INS code looks for when considering or revoking citizenship are felonies and fraud, mostly sex offenses, prostitution and reckless endangerment, according to Kaufman.
However, in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, suspicion of being involved with terrorists has added new focus to INS investigations.
The Patriot Act of 2001 was passed in October to strengthen immigration laws following the attacks of Sept. 11. The new act grants the FBI and CIA access to the educational and financial documents of immigrants. It also allows for such information on lawful permanent residents to be acquired based upon suspicion of terrorism. Those resident can then be incarcerated or detained. In all cases, searches can be done without a court order of warrant, according to retired Judge Joy who was an audience member at the meeting.
Penni Bunyaviroch of Catholic Charities Department of Immigration and Refugee Services spoke on citizenship procedures and said that in addition to the five citizenship requirements, immigrants who are found to not have “good moral character” are now “red flagged” for deportation. Part of the INS “good moral character code” is paying child support, filing taxes, having no crime convictions and registering for social service, according to Bunyaviroch.
When looking for expertise in all aspects of immigration law, information can be found at the following locations:
• For an immigration lawyer, the attorney general’s website was recommended at www.ilawyer.com.
• For general information, call the New York Immigration Hotline at (800) 566-7636.
• If specific information is needed, contact the Liberty Center located at 103-34 121st Street, in Jamaica. The number is 847-3757.
Schools Receive WTC Aid
BY LIZ GOFF
Community School District 25 in northeast Queens last week received $313,696 in federal disaster aid (mental health dollars), to assist students who were directly affected by the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center.
The funds are earmarked for one-on-one counseling for children who lost a parent or close friend or relative in the attack.
The Board of Education disbursed this first-wave funding to school districts where more than 80 children lost someone in the disaster, said Fran Goldstein, who is heading the board’s efforts to obtain counseling for children who have been traumatized. Goldstein said that 148 children in the northern Queens district lost family on Sept. 11.
“Our top priority in the disbursement of this funding was to get counseling for children who lost a parent,” she said.
Additional federal and state aid will be distributed among districts citywide as it is received, along with money received through private donations.
Reacting To The Capture Of Kabul
BY ARLENE LEWIS
Nisar Ahmad Zuri, publisher and editor-in-chief of Zuri Publishing House-Kabul in Rego Park, told the Tribune that he had “joy beyond description” at the takeover of Kabul by the anti-Taliban forces.
“Afghanis, in general, are glad this happened,” he said. “The bombings were an effective tool to step in and get the Taliban out. They could not even defend themselves or the people of Kabul.”
He reported there is already a return to a more humane and sensible lifestyle, pointing out that men have shaved their beards and women are able to shed the “chadrie,” which covered them from head to toe.
Zuri’s contacts in his native land have also told him that all schools — for male and female students — will open on March 21. He cited, in particular, Kabul University will expects to include co-educational opportunities.
The journalist expressed an urgency about the democratic government he expects will be installed in Afghanistan, embracing all ethnic groups.
“A new government should be formed as soon as possible,” he said. “The situation is not a certainty, and any slight mistake on the part of the present ruler of Kabal will upset the future stability of Afghanistan.”
Zuri expressed sincere appreciation for the efforts of the United States and their allied forces for helping his country. “This was a prudent and keen gesture by President Bush, who dispersed US troops to Afghanistan in early October. In the history of Afghanistan, this will be remembered as one of the greatest things that ever happened.”
But other Queens residents of Afghani and Pakistani origin have dissenting opinions about the collapse of Taliban rule in Kabul.
Sonny Sadiq, a worker at the Chand Pakistan Grocery in Flushing, said he doesn’t care about the Taliban or anyone else. His only concern is about the innocent people who might get hurt.
Islamudin Khorami, owner of a wholesale jewelry and clothing company in Long Island City, Afghan Blue Sky, is happy the Taliban are gone and said, “Everybody wants King Zair Shah to return.”
Meanwhile a clerk at the Al-Habib Pakistani Grocery Store in Flushing, said, “Who cares. Everyone can go to hell. I only care about Pakistan.” And then he slammed the phone down.
With the tremendous outpouring of support for charities following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Internal Revenue Service reminded donors and charities about tax laws that may affect them and their contributions.
IRS Commissioner Charles O. Rossotti explained, “We know that tax rules and regulations are probably the last things on the minds of those who are giving so generously to others during this stressful time. But many people will have to deal with the tax rules about charitable contributions when they file their tax returns next year, and we want them to be prepared.”
The IRS listed the following reminders to donors and charitable organizations:
• Taxpayers may claim a deduction for contributions to charitable organizations only if the donors itemize deductions on Schedule A of their Form 1040 individual income tax return.
• The public can find out whether a particular organization is qualified to receive tax-deductible contributions by calling the IRS Exempt Organizations’ toll-free phone number for customer assistance, 1-877-829-5500, or by checking the IRS Web site, www.irs.gov>.irs.gov.
• Those who itemize deductions for contributions on their tax return must have evidence of a donation. Cancelled checks or credit card receipts offer the best evidence, but contemporaneous notes of small cash contributions are normally sufficient.
• For each single contribution of $250 or more to a charity, the donor must obtain a written statement acknowledging the contribution amount and a description of any goods or services provided in exchange for the contribution. Donors must have the statement when they file their return.
• When a charitable organization receives a payment of more than $75 that is partly a contribution and partly for goods and services, it generally must give the donor a written statement. The statement must say that only the amount that is more than the goods and services received is deductible, and must include a good faith estimate of their value.
• Contributions earmarked for specified individuals are not deductible.
Persons who have evidence that contributions are being solicited for fraudulent purposes should contact their state charity official, who is often located in the attorney general’s office. A list of state charity official offices can be found at www.nasconet.org and a list of state attorneys general can be found at www.naag.org.
Information about charitable contributions is available in IRS Publication 526, “Charitable Contributions,” on the IRS Web site, or by calling 1-800-829-3676.