In the midst of Republicans patting themselves on the back for hiring an immigrant from Australian as their new COO (as Jay Leno would say “for a job AMERICANS won’t do) comes this story from the SF Chronicle.
Turns out, Michael Kamburowski, was ordered deported in 2001.Ã‚Â See the story below if you want want to hit the links.
Aussie hired by state GOP embroiled in immigration lawsuit
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Michael Kamburowski, the Australian immigrant hired as a top official in the California Republican Party, was ordered deported in 2001, jailed three years later for visa violations — and has filed a $5 million wrongful arrest lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to U.S. District Court documents.
Kamburowski was named in March to be the chief operating officer of the California GOP. He is responsible for the state party’s multimillion-dollar budget and oversees campaign funds and financing for the nation’s largest state GOP organization.
As the state GOP’s new operating officer, the 35-year-old Kamburowski was handpicked for the post by state Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring, who became party chief in February.
Kamburowski is a former registered lobbyist for Americans for Tax Reform and a top operative for the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, both founded by conservative activist Grover Norquist. Nehring — also a former senior adviser and consultant to Norquist’s Washington, D.C., operation — worked with Kamburowski at Americans for Tax Reform in the 1990s.
News of Kamburowski’s troubled immigration past comes on the heels of revelations in The Chronicle earlier this month that the state GOP used a highly sought-after H1B visa to hire another immigrant as a top consultant.
Christopher Matthews, a Canadian citizen with no experience in statewide politics, was hired this month after the California Republican party applied for, and received, an H1B visa specifically to fill the role of “political director,” according to U.S. Department of Labor data.
In a week in which the immigration bill is being revisited by Congress — and after Republican presidential candidates and party officials nationwide have called for secure borders and tough enforcement of illegal immigration — the past immigration troubles of a high-ranking California GOP official has the potential to both endanger Republican fundraising in crucial California, the nation’s political ATM, while also handing Democratic opponents ammunition for coming campaigns.
Kamburowski sued the U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and its agents in U.S. District Court in New York in December 2005, charging that he suffered “significant financial hardship” and “severe emotional stress and embarrassment” when immigration officials ordered him deported, detained and imprisoned for visa violations — actions he claims were illegal, according to court documents on file.
A hearing in the lawsuit is scheduled for September.
Kamburowski, reached Saturday by The Chronicle, said, “I can’t make any comments about it, since it is a pending legal issue. … I can’t jeopardize the case by making any comments.”
But asked about his immigration status, Kamburowski said he has a green card and added, “I am a legal resident. I am a permanent resident, and it can be proven.” He referred all questions regarding the matter to his attorney.
Kamburowski’s lawyer, Michael DiRaimondo told The Chronicle on Friday that Kamburowski’s suit is a result of his unlawful jailing by immigration officials, which the lawyer said caused Kamburowski to lose a job.
DiRaimondo said his client challenged the government’s deportation order and the immigration court overturned it.
Today, Kamburowski is “a lawful permanent resident,” he said.
In court, the government argued the immigration agents acted lawfully in executing a valid warrant for Kamburowski’s arrest and deportation. Steven Kim, the federal prosecutor in Brooklyn who is defending the immigration agents, didn’t return phone requests for comment.
Nehring, reached by telephone during a business trip to Africa last week — before the news surfaced of Kamburowski’s fight with immigration authorities — defended his decision to hire two immigrants with no California campaign experience for top posts in the run-up to the 2008 elections.
The decisions to hire Matthews and Kamburowski represent the welcoming values of the Republican Party, the California Republican chairman said.
“Our job at the California GOP is to build the most effective campaign organization,” Nehring said. “And the fact that we have two people on staff who want to become Americans … is a great story that is at the heart of what the Republican Party is all about.”
But Kamburowski’s former boss in the Dominican Republic resort town of Punta Cana — where Kamburowski worked until February — expressed astonishment that the Australian was hired for such an important financial job in a major political party.
“I wouldn’t give him my company to run, I can tell you that,” said Rico Pester, the owner of Re/Max Island Realty in the fashionable Caribbean beach region.
Pester said Kamburowski arrived in Punta Cana in the summer of 2006 and “was so successful that he couldn’t sell anything the whole time he was here — and we provided him with clients. He didn’t rent anything and he didn’t sell anything. … I have no idea what he was doing.”
Then, in February, Kamburowski “ran away without mentioning anything to us,” he said.
“I couldn’t understand how somebody like him could become a (Republican Party) COO,” Pester said in a telephone interview.
The hiring of Kamburowski — a virtual unknown in state party circles — comes at a time when the state GOP’s financial health appears weak. The California Republican Party at the end of 2006 had $219,000 in the bank and outstanding debts of $4.4 million — and a $3 million loan repayment to wealthy contributor Larry Dodge is due at the end of this month. Yet senior party members, speaking not for attribution, say Kamburowski has had little contact with the team behind Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has generated a fundraising bonanza for the state GOP.
Court documents and records show that Kamburowski, an Australian citizen , arrived in the United States on a pleasure trip on Jan. 23, 1995, and took up residence in Arlington, Va.
Two years later, in February 1997, Kamburowski married an American woman. After their wedding, his new wife filed an I-130 form for “Petition for Alien Relative” along with an “Application of Adjustment of Status” with the then-Immigration and Naturalization Service, according to the lawsuit.
The marriage broke up after a year, and in April 1998 Kamburowski moved to Washington, D.C., according to court documents.
Kamburowski’s resume states that he worked from November 1995 until December 2000 on a series of projects for Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform — including lobbying on issues of immigration reform and H1B visas, and tort reform. News stories from 1999 cite his work at the Norquist group with Nehring to push for “paycheck protection” measures that would bar the collection of union dues for political purposes.
For three years, from 1997 until 2000, Kamburowski said he was executive director of the Norquist-affiliated Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, which aimed to name major monuments after the late president in all 50 states.
But Kamburowski eventually left Norquist’s group and ran afoul of immigration officials. His lawsuit indicates that the INS began deportation proceedings against him and sent him a notice to appear in court in January 2001.
Kamburowski’s lawsuit claims that he notified immigration officials of his new addresses, but never received official notice of his coming deportation, which he said was returned unopened to the post office.
When the INS sent another surrender notice to a different address, Kamburowski again said it was returned to the post office and he never saw the notice, according to the court documents.
By May 31, 2001, officials at the Executive Office for Immigration Review in Arlington decided to get tough; an immigration judge there conducted a removal hearing with Kamburowski not present, and ordered him deported from the United States, the documents show. But Kamburowski, according to documents, said he was never notified of the hearing.
Two weeks later, in June 2001, Kamburowski married another American woman, the court documents state.
Within a year, his new wife had filed again to get him a green card through the I-130 form for “Petition for Alien Relative” along with the “Application of Adjustment of Status” with the INS, court records show.
On Jan. 22, 2004, Kamburowski was scheduled for an immigration hearing — called an “adjustment of status interview” — at the Department of Homeland Security’s Long Island office when officers informed him of the standing deportation order filed years before, court documents show.
He was immediately arrested and jailed at the Wackenhut Correctional Facility in Jamaica, N.Y., the documents state. Kamburowski, while in jail, filed a motion to reopen his removal order, according to the court documents.
Nearly a month later — despite the protests of Homeland Security officials who opposed his release on grounds that he posed a flight risk — an immigration judge freed Kamburowski on a $7,500 bond, the documents state. He was released from custody on Feb. 22, 2004.
Kamburowski filed a $5 million lawsuit in December 2005, charging that the Department of Homeland Security had illegally imprisoned him, and that as a result, he suffered “severe emotional stress and embarrassment” as well as “significant financial hardship” which caused him to lose a job — charges immigration officials deny in court documents.
Kamburowski’s attorney said Friday that Kamburowski was a legal U.S. resident who had been wrongly jailed.
“I was present when this went down, and I went through the file and showed” the agents that the deportation order was problematic, DiRaimondo said.
Nevertheless, he maintains that immigration agents arrested Kamburowski and jailed him for 30 days; while behind bars, Kamburowski lost his job for failing to report to work, the lawyer said.
But Kamburowski’s current resume — which states his objective is “to play a major role in the reshaping of the California Republican Party into a hyper-effective political organization” — shows no employment from 2000-2006. Sources said that during at least some of those years he called himself an aspiring actor, and occasionally worked in desk clerk jobs before he eventually tried his hand at selling real estate in New York and the Dominican Republic, which he left in February.
One month later, the board of directors of the California Republican Party approved Kamburowski’s hiring to head up financial operations handling millions of dollars in campaign funds. GOP state chair Nehring, in making the announcement, called Kamburowski a “national issue management specialist,” who as an Australian immigrant “was inspired by Ronald Reagan to come to America.”