HERE are more documents the PCIJ has obtained regarding the immigration case of former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante being heard by a U.S. district court in Wisconsin.
Bolante, accused of masterminding the P728-million fertilizer fund scam allegedly diverted to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidential campaign, was arrested on July 7 upon his arrival in Los Angeles owing to a cancelled visa. He was told by a U.S. immigration officer that the U.S. Embassy in Manila revoked his B1/B2 visa in light of the arrest warrant issued by the Senate for his role in the fund scam.
Bolante, through his lawyers from the Azulay, Horn & Seiden, LLC, filed a petition for habeas corpus last August 9 claiming that his visa had been improperly revoked and that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has no basis to hold him.
Below are documents in relation to his petition for habeas corpus:
Bolante’s lawyers have requested the Wisconsin court to order his release from detention on his own recognizance or the lowest bond possible, citing the following reasons:
- Bolante is not a flight risk.
- Bolante has substantial assets in the U.S.
- Bolante is International Vice President of Rotary International. (A letter from Danilo Espinosa, director of Rotary International District 3780, was attached attesting that Bolante “would do nothing to either disgrace the organization or his good name.”)
- Bolante is known as a person of good moral character and integirty among his peers and will do nothing to jeopardize his reputation. (with attached letters from his peers)
- Two of Bolante’s children, Maria and Michael Bolante, are currently in the U.S., with valid immigration status and require his ongoing support.
U.S. Government Memorandum of Law Opposing Habeas Corpus
U.S. district attorneys Steven Biskupic and Lisa Warwick argue that:
- Bolante’s detention pending his removal proceedings is legal in as much as Bolante is an arriving alien, who as an immigrant at the time of application for admission, is not in possession of a valid unexpired immigrant visa, reentry permit, border crossing card, or other valid entry document required by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
- There is no jurisdiction for habeas relief under these circumstances.
- The only proper respondent to a habeas petition is the warden or immediate custodian of the facility where Bolante is detained, hence the lack of jurisdiction as filed against respondents Bolante named in his petition, which includes U.S. State Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; and Deborah Achim, director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Chicago.
Bolante’s Response to U.S. Government Memo
Bolante’s lawyers dispute the validity or legality of reason for detaining Bolante in immigration custody. If Bolante’s visa was revoked, they argue that it was done contrary to established laws and procedures as he was not given notification as to the reasons and time of the alleged revocation of his visa (this despite two notices submitted by U.S. Embassy in Manila).
Lawyers insist Bolante can only be determined inadmissible if the visa was properly and legally revoked.
Notes show that the Chicago Field Office Director (of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) was not willing to set a bail, but Bolante was granted leave to file any newspaper articles relevant to the case.
To support his petition for habeas corpus, Bolante’s lawyers filed a motion to submit supplement exhibits to demonstrate that Bolante is “likely being used as a political pawn in exchange for the release of certain American citizens being held to account for an alleged rape in the Philippines.”
Attached news clippings on the “Nicole” rape case — taken from the Philippine Daily Inquirer and China’s People’s Daily Online — were used to prove that the conflicting reasons provided to Bolante are only a pretense and that the visa was improperly revoked.
In the memo, U.S. lawyers argue that the judicial review of a visa revocation being asked by Bolante applies only in instances where an alien is admitted to the U.S. and sometime after admission, his visa is revoked. The memo stressed that Bolante was admitted into the U.S., but was stopped at the border and denied admission, thus the charge against him under the INA as an inadmissible alien.