“LET THE HAITIANS STAY” — IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO!

The NY Times Editorial Board writes:

“The Temporary Protected Status program provides the sort of assistance the United States should be proud to extend to foreigners fleeing civil unrest, violence or natural disasters. Enacted by Congress in 1990, it currently offers safe and legal harbor to 437,000 people from 10 countries. Many stay for a long time, their status regularly extended because of continued turmoil in their homelands.

That, alas, is a far cry from the spirit of the Trump administration. But even President Trump’s bombastic pledges to throw up a Mexican border wall, expel illegal immigrants and bar entry to Muslims are different from expelling people who, though they may have entered the United States illegally, have been allowed to stay legally, often for many years, with solid jobs and large families, while their homelands remain unsettled or dangerous.

On Thanksgiving, of all days, the Department of Homeland Security is to announce whether it will extend the temporary protected status that was granted to about 50,000 Haitians when their country was devastated by an earthquake in 2010. Their stay has been regularly extended, but in May, John Kelly, then secretary of homeland security and now the White House chief of staff, gave them only six more months, explicitly to get ready to go home. Unless their status is extended this week, they must leave by Jan. 22.

By any reasonable measure, Haiti is not ready to take them back. The destitute country has never fully recovered from the 2010 earthquake or the cholera epidemic that followed. Last year, Hurricane Matthew added even more suffering. The country does not have the resources to absorb 50,000 people, and the money they have sent back is a critical source of income for their relatives and homeland.

Every member of Congress who represents South Florida, where most of these Haitians live, is in favor of extending their status. One of them, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Miami, is among the congressional members of both parties who have proposed legislation that would allow these immigrants to eventually apply for permanent residency, which is not possible under current rules.”

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Read the full editorial at the link.

Haitians seem to have gotten the “short end” of US immigration, refugee, and humanitarian policies over the years.

Let’s take a look at the latest Country Report on Human Rights issued by the US State Department:

“The most serious impediments to human rights involved weak democratic governance in the country worsened by the lack of an elected and functioning government; insufficient respect for the rule of law, exacerbated by a deficient judicial system; and chronic widespread corruption. Other human rights problems included significant but isolated allegations of arbitrary and unlawful killings by government officials; allegations of use of force against suspects and protesters; severe overcrowding and poor sanitation in prisons; chronic prolonged pretrial detention; an inefficient, unreliable, and inconsistent judiciary; governmental confiscation of private property without due process. There was also rape, violence, and societal discrimination against women; child abuse; allegations of social marginalization of vulnerable populations; and trafficking in persons. Violence, including gender-based violence, and crime within the remaining internally displaced persons (IDP) camps remained a problem. Although the government took steps to prosecute or punish government and law enforcement officials accused of committing abuses, credible reports persisted of officials engaging in corrupt practices, and civil society groups alleged there was widespread impunity.”

Sound like a place where 50,000 additional refugees can be safely returned and reintegrated? Preposterous!

No, the only thing that has changed here is the political motivation of the Administration; TPS — some of the most successful, efficient, and cost effective migration programs the US has ever run — has become a target of the xenophobic, White Nationalist, restrictionist wing of the GOP.

Allowing 50,000 Haitians already residing here to remain costs the US nothing — in fact their continued presence is good for the US economy and our international image. Not to mention that many of the Haitian TPS holders have relatives with legal status in the US.

On the other hand, pulling TPS and removing these individuals could have catastrophic consequences for the individuals involved, their families, and their US communities. And, it’s likely to overwhelm Haiti, a country that has already proved unable to take care of its existing population.

Anywhere but the Trump Administration, extending TPS for Haitians and others while looking for a long-term solution that would give them some type of permanent status in the US would be a “no brainer.” But, in the Trump Administration immigration and refugee policies appear to be driven largely by a policy of “no brains” — just unnecessary cruelty, wasting resources, diminishing our international humanitarian standing, and playing to the xenophobia, racism, and hate of the White Nationalists.

PWS

11-20-17

GONZO’S WORLD: Sessions Gives Congress The “Scarface Treatment” Again — Then He Jokes About Russia — Will Mueller Eventually Wipe The Smirk Off Gonzo’s Face?

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/11/jeff-sessions-has-a-strangely-selective-memory.html

Eric Levitz writes in NY Maggie:

“Jeff Sessions’s memory works in mysterious ways. He has “no clear recollection” of the March 2016 meeting where George Papadopoulos offered to set up a meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin — but the attorney general does remember shooting down the campaign aide’s unseemly suggestion.

Or, so Sessions tells the House Judiciary Committee.

In October, Sessions testified to the Senate that he did not have any “continuing exchange of information” with Russian operatives — and that he wasn’t “aware of anyone else [on the Trump campaign] that did.” Weeks later, Special Counsel Robert Mueller revealed

“Papadopoulos’s confession to the crime of lying to the FBI. In that written statement, the former Trump campaign national security adviser claimed that he had told Sessions about “connections” he had that “could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin” in March of last year. In his testimony before Congress Tuesday, Sessions tried to account for this apparent discrepancy.

“I do now recall the March 2016 meeting at Trump Hotel that Mr. Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said at that meeting,” Sessions explained. “After reading his account, and to the best of my recollection, I believe that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government, or any other foreign government, for that matter.”

Later, Sessions said more firmly, “At the meeting, I pushed back.”

So, the attorney general has no clear memory of the meeting, but has a vivid recollection of behaving admirably during it.

This isn’t the first time that Sessions’s memories of last year have failed him. In January, the attorney general testified to the Senate that he had not “been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day.” Months later, the Washington Post revealed that Sessions had met with the Russian ambassador to the United States multiple times during the 2016 campaign. Sessions responded to these revelations by insisting that he’d met with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in his capacity as U.S. senator (not as a Trump surrogate), and that they did not discuss the 2016 election. Sessions later conceded that it was “possible” that Trump’s positions on U.S.-Russia relations came up in his discussions with Kislyak.

Some Democrats have suggested that Sessions’s multiple false statements to Congress this year were conscious lies. The former senator responded to such charges with indignation Tuesday.

“My answers have not changed,” Sessions said. “I have always told the truth, and I have answered every question as I understood them and to the best of my recollection, as I will continue to do today … I will not accept and reject accusations that I have ever lied under oath. That is a lie.”

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Meanwhile, speaking to a friendly audience over at the Heritage Foundation, Gonzo treated the Russia investigation as a joke. Mary Papenfuss reports for HuffPost:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions had lawyers rolling in the aisles with a surprising string of Russian quips at the start of a speech he gave Friday.

Sessions was the keynote speaker at the National Lawyers Convention at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel hosted by the conservative Federalist Society.

He thanked the applauding crowd for welcoming him. Then, smiling mischievously, he added: “But I just was thinking, you know, I should ― I want to ask you. Is  Ambassador Kislyak in the room? Before I get started ― any Russians?” As the laughs grew louder, he continued: “Anybody been to Russia? Got a cousin in Russia?” The audience roared.

The jarring jokes came just three days after Sessions was pressed in Congress on apparent discrepancies in his previous testimony about Trump associates’ meetings with Russians during the 2016 campaign.

Sergey Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., met with several members of Donald Trump’s campaign during the Republican National Convention, Kislyak and some Trump associates have revealed. Kislyak was widely believed a top spy recruiter.

Kislyak has said he discussed Trump’s policy positions during the campaign with Sessions, an early Trump supporter who was an Alabama senator at the time, The Washington Post reported.

But during his confirmation hearings to become attorney general ― before the Post report ― Sessions said he “never met with or had any conversations with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election.”

Sessions later recused himself from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the U.S. election.

Critics were stunned by Sessions’ attitude in the lawyers’ speech.

Sessions “still doesn’t get it” — he’s “in trouble,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) told Wolf Blitzer later on CNN.

“He’s not in trouble where he happened to be in places where there are Russians,” said Lieu, a member of the House Judiciary Committee who grilled Sessions this week. “He is in trouble because he had a nearly hour-long meeting with Ambassador Kislyak — also a spy — and then he failed to disclose the existence of that meeting under oath to the U.S. Senate. That’s why Jeff Sessions is in trouble.”

Blitzer noted that Kislyak “now says he spoke with so many Trump officials it would take him more than 20 minutes to name them all.”

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/sessions-russian-lawyers_us_5a0fb5dee4b045cf43718e96?ncid=APPLENEWS00001

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PWS
11-19-17

NBC NEWS: JOSÉ ANTONIO VARGAS — “The myth of the ‘acceptable immigrant’ is tearing families apart!”

https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/myth-acceptable-immigrant-tearing-families-apart-

Vargas writes:

“In the story of our country, the Trump administration’s dismantling of the DACA program is a national tragedy that will be a source of confusion for generations to come. The program was one of the few compromises that the Obama administration made in attempt to right unjust, inhumane and outdated immigration laws. Our own history tells us that laws are fluid and change over time; they do not dictate morality, but are dictated by morality (or the lack thereof). It wasn’t until the 20th century, for example, that we saw women first granted the right to vote and the abolishment of Jim Crow laws.

The pervasive rhetoric around immigrants who received DACA and their families is predicated on an underlying judgement that their mere presence in this country is a crime. It is not: Being in the U.S. without authorization is a civil offense.

Yet if a crime has been committed, someone must be responsible, right? If you qualify for DACA, it means that you were under a certain age when you came here, so you were too young to have committed a “crime.” You are a “good,” “acceptable,” “assimilated” one. But your parents are not. America will accept you — provisionally — but you must condemn the actions of your family members who brought you here.

“Divide and conquer.”

No wall has yet been built, no border yet drawn, no law yet written that overpowers the love of parents for their children. Let us celebrate and give thanks to the resilience of immigrant families who, despite all possible obstacles, find ways to survive, even thrive. Our laws and various languages may separate them, but united they stand.

Jose Antonio Vargas is a journalist and filmmaker, and the CEO of Define American. In 2010, Vargas revealed his status as an undocumented immigrant. He has produced and directed his autobiographical documentary, “Documented,” broadcasted by CNN, and MTV’s White People.“

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One of the most offensive things that Sessions consistently does is to undervalue the contributions of immigrants, both documented and undocumented. This was particularly true in his slandering of “Dreamers.” They are America’s youth; we’re fortunate to have them!

The closely related idea of GOP White Nationalist restrictionists that “chain migration” is bad is equally insulting and totally wrong. Family immigration has contributed as much to America as has so-called “employment-based” immigration. Undocumented migrants have also contributed to our success, particularly our economic success.

Our real problem is with White Nationalists and restrictionists who insist on overly restrictive immigration policies that are unenforceable, expensive, corrosive, and against our national interests.

PWS

11-19-17

 

 

US IMMIGRATION COURTS MAKE DEADLY MISTAKES: 6th CIRCUIT STOPS BIA, IJ, DHS FROM APPLYING WRONG STANDARDS TO SEND JORDANIAN WOMAN BACK TO TORTURE AND HONOR KILLING! — KAMAR V. SESSIONS, 6th CIR., PUBLISHED — While Sessions Babbles On With False Anti-Asylum Narrative & Bogus Need To Deport Law-Abiding Long-Time US Residents, He Administers a “Court System” That Denies Constitutional Due Process & Ignores Correct Legal Standards In Life Or Death Cases!

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Kamar v. Sessions, 11-17-17, published

PANEL: MERRITT, MOORE, ROGERS, CIRCUIT JUDGES

OPINION: JUDGE MERRITT

KEY QUOTES:

“We now address, under the substantial evidence standard, the question of whether Kamar will be persecuted by threat of death if she returns to Jordan, which is relevant to both withholding under the Act and relief under the Convention. Kamar testified at the merits hearing that her cousins, specifically Alias, want to restore their family’s honor by killing her, and her sister confirmed this. She knows this because of letters she received and communications with family and friends. The Board expressly found Kamar to be credible. On remand, the IJ concluded the letter from Alias was not credible and did not facially threaten Kamar. The IJ reasoned that even if it was credible, there was no indication that Alias knew that Kamar had gotten married and might not want to kill her anymore. The IJ found that the intent to kill Kamar was expressed only through an “ambiguous” comment in the letter from Kamar’s mother. The Board agreed that Kamar did not establish that her fear of persecution was objectively reasonable. The probability of harm occurring in these cases is an inference based on facts in the record. Considering the evidence, it is hard to reconcile these findings with the Board’s conclusion that even if Kamar had a subjective fear of persecution, this fear was not objectively reasonable. There is nothing to cast doubt on Kamar’s testimony. Even if the letter from Alias is not considered, the letter from Kamar’s mother states that Alias wishes to kill Kamar even if it is his last act on earth, and credible testimony confirms this. Nothing indicates that Alias does not still intend to carry out the honor killing. Both Kamar and her sister testified that it did not matter that Kamar married her second husband because Alias knows that she had sexual relations outside of marriage and believes that she committed adultery. The record overwhelming supports the finding that she will be persecuted if she returns.

Finally, we consider whether the Jordanian government would be “unwilling or unable” to protect Kamar from harm. In the country reports in the record, it has been established that governors in Jordan routinely abuse the law and use imprisonment to protect potential victims of honor crimes. These victims are not released from imprisonment unless the local governor consents, the victim’s family guarantees the victim’s safety, and the victim consents. One non-governmental organization has provided a temporary, unofficial shelter as an alternative.

On the other hand, successful perpetrators of honor killings typically get their sentences greatly reduced. Additionally, if the victim’s family, who is usually the family of the alleged perpetrator as well, does not bring the charges, the government dismisses the case. See also Sarhan, 658 F.3d at 657 (“After reviewing the evidence of the Jordanian government’s treatment of honor crimes, we conclude that . . . the government is ineffective when it comes to providing protection to women whose behavior places them in the group who are threatened with honor killings.”).

The Board’s decision outlined the Jordanian government’s efforts to combat honor crimes, including placing potential victims in “protective custody.” As the Ninth Circuit concluded in an analogous case, “This observation omits the fact that such protective custody is involuntary, and often involves extended incarceration in jail.” Suradi v. Sessions, No. 14-71463, 2017 WL 2992234, at *2 (9th Cir. July 14, 2017). While victim protection is necessary, incarceration is an insufficient solution. This practice is akin to persecuting the victim as she “must choose between death and an indefinite prison term.” Sarhan, 658 F.3d at 659. Further, nothing in the record suggests that the country conditions in Jordan have changed such that the government will be able to adequately protect Kamar from being killed. This showing satisfies both of the standards for finding governmental action for purposes of withholding of removal under the Act and also those for protection under the Convention, as it amounts to “pain or suffering” that is inflicted with the acquiescence of a public official or a person acting in an official capacity.

We do not address whether Kamar can safely relocate to escape persecution, which is also relevant to withholding of removal and protection under the Convention. The Board did not mention relocation, and the parties’ briefs do not address the issue. Like the particular social group inquiry, the issue of safe relocation must be addressed in the first instance by the Board. Gonzales v. Thomas, supra.

Substantial evidence does not support the Board’s refusal to find that Kamar will probably be persecuted if she is returned to Jordan, due to her membership in the particular social group we discussed, or that the Jordanian government can or will do nothing to help her. The Board’s decision with regard to those issues is reversed.

. . . .

The Seventh Circuit has found that the Jordanian government’s “solution” to protect honor killing victims is actually a form of punishing the victims of these crimes amounting to mental “pain or suffering,” which is “inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.” 8 C.F.R. § 208.18(a)(1); see Sarhan, 658 F.3d at 659. Taking into account our reasoning and findings above on the factors relating to both withholding of removal under the Act and protection under the Convention, we agree that “[d]espite the contrary conclusion of the Immigration Judge and the Board, the record here also compels the conclusion that the government of Jordan acquiesces to honor killings.” Suradi, 2017 WL 2992234, at *1.

Given the likelihood that Kamar would be subject to involuntary imprisonment at the hands of the Jordanian authorities, resulting in mental pain and suffering, the Board erred in concluding that Kamar failed to establish that it was more likely than not that she would be tortured upon removal to Jordan. We grant the petition with respect to the Board’s reasoning under the Convention.“

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This should have been an easy withholding grant by the Immigration Judge. Indeed, the 6th Circuit characterized the evidence of persecution as “overwhelming.”

Instead the BIA and the Immigration Judge spent literally years passing the case back and forth and still got it wrong! No wonder the system is backlogged when judges at both the trial and appellate levels get the law requiring protection wrong time after time! How would an unrepresented individual have any chance of vindicating her rights in a system this complicated and screwed up! Skewing the system as this Administration has done to make it more difficult for individuals to get effective representation is a direct attack on due process.

Instead of making a conscientious effort to fix this system to provide due process, Sessions’s clear xenophobia and his anti-immigrant, anti-refugee rants encourage  Immigration Judges and BIA Appellate Judges to treat asylum applicants unfairly and misapply the law to deny protection.

There will be no true due process and justice for migrants until the politicized DOJ and this highly biased Attorney General are removed from control of our US Immigration Court system! How would YOU like to be on trial for your life in a court system controlled by Jeff Sessions?

PWS

11-18-17

BIA SAYS CATEGORICAL APPROACH INAPPLICABLE TO VIOLATION OF A PROTECTIVE ORDER — MATTER OF OBSHATKO, 27 I&N Dec. 173 (BIA 2017)

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Matter of OBSHATKO, 27 I&N Dec. 173 (BIA 2017)

BIA HEADNOTE:

“Whether a violation of a protection order renders an alien removable under section 237(a)(2)(E)(ii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(E)(ii) (2012), is not governed by the categorical approach, even if a conviction underlies the charge; instead, an Immigration Judge should consider the probative and reliable evidence regarding what a State court has determined about the alien’s violation. Matter of Strydom, 25 I&N Dec. 507 (BIA 2011), clarified.”

PANEL: BIA APPELLATE IMMIGRATION JUDGES PAULEY, MALPHRUS, GREER

OPINION BY: JUDGE PAULEY

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COMMON THREAD: The Respondent loses, even though he prevailed before the Immigration Judge.

PWS

11-18-17

 

 

ASYLUM: LAW YOU CAN USE: All-Star Professor Michele Pistone Of Villanova Law Writes & Directs “Must See TV” — “Best Practices in Representing Asylum Seekers”

Go on over to Dan Kowalski’s LexisNexis Immigration Community here for all the links to the 19-part series on You Tube made possible by the American Law Institute with an introduction by none other than Justice Sandra Day O’Connor:

https://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/immigration/b/immigration-law-blog/archive/2017/11/16/video-series-best-practices-in-representing-asylum-seekers.aspx?Redirected=true

Thanks, Michele, for all you do for the cause of Due Process for migrants and better Immigration Court practices!

PWS

11-17-17

 

GONZO’S WORLD: FRANK RICH @ NY MAGGIE THINKS GONZO COULD FOLLOW JOHN MITCHELL’S FOOTSTEPS ALL THE WAY TO JAIL: “He’s an awful attorney general but he’s arguably an even worse liar.” — I Think It’s Time for Senator Al Franken (D-MN) To Step Down!

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/11/frank-rich-the-gop-cant-handle-moore-problems.html

Rich writes:

“Last month, Jeff Sessions testified that he was not aware of anyone in the Trump campaign who had been in contact with Russia. Though press accounts have appeared to prove him wrong, yesterday he told the House Judiciary Committee that he “had no recollection” of the meeting, and has “always told the truth.” Will he face consequences for changing his story?

The second most-scandal-ridden presidency in American history, Richard Nixon’s, also had an attorney general, John Mitchell, who had played a major role in his boss’s presidential campaign. He ended up in prison. Sessions seems determined to head to the same destination. He has been repeatedly caught lying to Congress about his and others’ contacts with the Russians, and his only defense has been to strike a sanctimonious tone of self-martyrdom, to repeat or enhance the original lies, and to accuse his inquisitors of rank injustice. He’s an awful attorney general but he’s arguably an even worse liar. It was especially choice to hear him testify last week that he had completely forgotten about attending a meeting with Trump where George Papadopoulos talked about his Russian connections; he just couldn’t stop himself from embroidering the lie further by adding he did remember a single aspect of it after all — a supposedly exculpatory moment when he pushed back on Papadopoulos’s suggestion of a Trump-Putin meeting. This stuff is not going to go over well with the special counsel.

The most unexpected twist in last week’s hearing, by the way, came when Sessions, for the moment at least, firmly shut down Trump’s idea of appointing a new special counsel to investigate the Clintons. What brought that on? A cynic might ask if he is already trying to butter up the jury pool in Washington.”

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Read Rich’s full column, where he also covers Ayatollah Roy, Ivanka, and Donnie Jr., at the link.

As I have noted before, as a former trial and appellate judge, I find Gonzo totally incredible by the standards applied to witnesses in immigration cases. I also find his bristling self-righteous indignation that anyone would dare call him on his obvious lack of candor to be disgusting hypocrisy, even by Gonzo standards. But, testifying incredibly, even under oath, does not necessarily amount to perjury under the law.

I have no particular desire to see Gonzo end his career in jail. But, there are plenty of reasons why he should no longer be the Attorney General of the U.S. Right wing talk radio would be a good fit for him.

Gonzo might also benefit from the good fortune to have one of his chief Senate critics/accusers Senator Al Franken (D-MN) in some pretty “deep doodo” himself. Indeed, given that the woman who raised Franken’s past sexual harassment has pictures, witnesses, and Franken himself doesn’t deny or attempt to justify the incident, why would he put her, himself, the Senate, the Democratic Party, and the country through a useless investigation? What is there to “investigate?” We know what happened; in light of it, Franken needs to do the right thing and step down. This isn’t SNL. And, the Democrats can’t afford a major sexual scandal in the Senate right now.

PWS

11-16-17

 

 

HON. JEFFREY CHASE COMMENTS ON THE BIA’S RECENTLY WITHDRAWN AMICUS INVITATION ON THE ONE-YEAR BAR!

https://www.jeffreyschase.com/blog/2017/11/16/the-bias-withdrawn-amicus-invitation

Jeffrey writes:

The BIA’s Withdrawn Amicus Invitation

The BIA recently withdrew as moot its invitation for amicus briefs on the following issue: whether an applicant who filed a late application for asylum based on two separate grounds (i.e. religion and coercive population control), and who demonstrated changed conditions as to the religion-based claim to allow for late filing, could have their asylum claim considered as to both grounds.  My question is why the Board felt the need to invite briefing on this issue in the first place?

In the 1990s, several high profile events caused Congress to address the issue of asylum reform.  An early version of a House bill addressing the subject would have required an asylum application to be filed within 30 days of arrival in this country.  The bill’s sponsors believed that asylum applications filed by individuals who had been in this country several years lacked legitimacy, and were being filed as a dilatory tactic in removal proceedings, or affirmatively simply as a way to obtain employment authorization.   I remember explaining to members of Congress (including one of the three sponsors of the bill) that it took potential asylum seekers well in excess of 30 days just to get an initial appointment with pro bono groups such as the one I volunteered with at the time.  If the organization accepted the case, it would take additional time to place it with a law firm (which would usually have to first determine that representation was free of any conflicts of interest).  That was all before the pro bono attorney had even met with the client for the first time.  Furthermore, the filing deadline was being considered in conjunction with a sped-up asylum adjudication process under which asylum officers would issue a final decision on asylum claims within 60 days of receipt.  This meant that asylum applicants really needed to file their documentation along with the application.  But for a refugee forced to suddenly flee their country, compiling supporting documentation from overseas can take time.  Advocacy efforts succeeded in persuading Congress to extend the original 30-day filing deadline to the present one year.

However, an additional concern remained.  When meeting with members of Congress on this issue in the 1990s, I raised the following hypothetical: what if a lawful F-1 student receives a call from home during their third year of college, informing the student that their brother was arrested, the police were asking about the student’s own whereabouts, and warning the student to not return home.  The student in this scenario is a legitimate refugee, but the one-year deadline has long passed.  Congress therefore created an exception to the one-year deadline for changed conditions that give rise to a well-founded fear of persecution.  And in the case before the BIA, the respondent satisfied this exception by establishing changed conditions arising more than one year after the last entry to this country that gave rise to a fear of persecution on account of the respondent’s religion.

Apparently, in addition to the new religion claim, the respondent had a preexisting basis for claiming asylum based on China’s coercive population control policies.  Having been allowed to apply for asylum, the respondent sought to include the older basis for asylum as well as the new ground.  It is not clear what the argument might be for not allowing this.  As the respondent was already found eligible to file an asylum application based on the religion claim, allowing the coercive population control claim would not bestow on the respondent any additional benefits beyond those already obtained through the accepted religion-based asylum claim.  Thus, allowing both grounds to be considered would not encourage the late filing of fraudulent applications for the purpose of obtaining employment authorization.  Furthermore, as the respondent was already pursuing the religion-based asylum claim in removal proceedings, allowing consideration of the additional ground would not serve any dilatory purpose.  The length of time required to complete the removal proceedings before the immigration judge would be the same whether the claim was based on one or two grounds.  Thus, allowing both grounds to be considered would not run afoul of either of the concerns that Congress meant to address in establishing the one year filing deadline.  It is thus entirely unclear why the BIA would consider barring the second ground from consideration.

There are legitimate reasons why one might not file an asylum claim within one year of entry.  In some instances, the refugee was simply not aware of the filing deadline; it is possible that he or she did not even learn of the relief of asylum until well after arrival.  Some refugees may be forced to stay with family or friends living in remote areas where legal advice is not readily available.  But even in urban centers, pro bono resources are presently stretched to their limits, and many lack the funds upon arrival to retain private attorneys.  Some with legitimate fears of persecution might have chosen not to apply due to unfavorable case law, a lack of supporting documentation, or a variety of other legal considerations.

The decision as to whether or not to come forward and apply for asylum, and possibly expose oneself to the risk of deportation, is a complicated one.  But once the decision has been made, it is to the advantage of all to hear any and all bases for asylum at once.  Besides from the administrative efficiency of such an approach, the Board needs to realize that a person’s fears and risks of harm are not so clearly compartmentalized.  An asylum claim begins with the applicant’s subjective fear of persecution.  Various fears may overlap or provide context.  For example, would an asylum claimant who had already experienced traumatic persecution at the hands of China’s government for violating the family planning policies be more likely to possess a genuine subjective fear of future persecution by the same governmental authorities on account of their religion?  Or would the applicant be objectively more likely to be singled out for religious persecution where the government had previously targeted them on population control grounds?

Although it became moot in the case presently before the Board, the issue is likely to be a recurring one.  As the Board’s recent asylum decisions have left much to be desired, it is hoped that when its members eventually consider this issue in a precedential decision, they will reach the correct result.

Copyright 2017 Jeffrey S. Chase.  All rights reserved.

 

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Jeffrey S. Chase is an immigration lawyer in New York City.  Jeffrey is a former Immigration Judge, senior legal advisor at the Board of Immigration Appeals, and volunteer staff attorney at Human Rights First.  He is a past recipient of AILA’s annual Pro Bono Award, and previously chaired AILA’s Asylum Reform Task Force.

REPRINTED BY PERMISSION

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I believe that Jeffrey and I have both consistently made the point that the BIA’s precedent decisions all to often fail to reflect a practical understanding of how asylum practice works from the private sector perspective.  That’s probably because none of the BIA’s current Appellate Immigration Judges has any recent experience representing asylum applicants.

PWS

11-16-17

JOIN THE “NEW DUE PROCESS ARMY” IN CALIFORNIA — Pangea Legal Services Seeks A Removal Defense Attorney – WORK WITH A GREAT GROUP OF FOLKS!

http://www.pangealegal.org/jobs

REMOVAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY (SANTA CLARA COUNTY)

POSITION ANNOUNCEMENT: REMOVAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Pangea Legal Services (Pangea) is a non-profit organization based in San Francisco and Santa Clara County. Our vision is to live in a world where individuals can realize their fundamental right to move and resettle around the world with dignity and respect.  We work toward this vision through legal representation of immigrants in deportation proceedings, community empowerment, and policy advocacy.

We are recruiting an attorney to join our legal team in Santa Clara County to increase our capacity to represent detained and non-detained immigrants in removal proceedings. The attorney will primarily engage in direct representation, using a litigation model that creates space for clients to become agents of change in their communities and places them at the center of their own defense and advocacy.  The position is based in our South Bay office and will require occasional travel to the San Francisco office to attend court hearings, interviews, and team meetings (approx. 1x/week).  If you are someone with a positive attitude, a passion for producing high-quality work, and a love for the community we serve, then please apply!

PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Provide direct legal representation to immigrants in removal proceedings
  • Coordinate advocacy, public campaigns, and community-led initiatives with family members of clients and grassroots partners
  • Work closely with partners to provide know your rights and self-defense education for the community
  • Help establish internal policies as our non-profit grows

DESIRED QUALIFICATIONS

  • Immigration or removal defense experience (including law school experience)
  • Proficiency in Spanish (required)
  • Ability to take on leadership in various projects, in addition to direct legal services responsibilities
  • Desire to invest in and grow with our organization
  • J.D. degree with membership in good standing with a State Bar

SALARY AND BENEFITS

  • Pangea is a collaborative, nonhierarchical organization, where salaries are equal among all staff after the first six months of employment at $52,000/year
  • Benefits include state bar dues, professional membership fees, medical and dental, preventative health benefits for general wellness, a socially responsible retirement package, and an annual right to move stipend

APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS

The start date of this position is flexible (by December 2017) and applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.  If you believe you might be a good fit, please submit a cover letter, resume, writing sample, copy of your law school transcript, and three references to welcome@pangealegal.org.  In your cover letter, please include how the immigration struggle directly impacts you or your family, if applicable.  Please indicate “South Bay Attorney Application” in the subject line of your email.

Pangea is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. We believe diversity makes us stronger and we welcome applicants diverse in race, religion, gender, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other areas.

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I have helped Pangea with some legal issues and strategies. Wonderful team of folks, including some “Charter Members” of the New Due Process Army: Etan Newman, Director of Appellate Advocacy; Celine Dinhjanelle, Director of South Bay Programs (and wife of  all-star former Arlington Immigration Court Attorney Advisor Anthony Dinh); Bianca Z. Santos, a Georgetown Law/ CALS Asylum Clinic alum who appeared before me in the Arlington Immigration Court; and their colleagues.

PWS

11-16-17

TAL KOPAN AT CNN: ADMINISTRATION DOUBLES DOWN ON “SANCTUARY CITIES” POLICY AS ANOTHER FEDERAL COURT REJECTS IT!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/15/politics/sanctuary-cities-trump-administration-fight/index.html

Tal reports:

“Washington (CNN)The Trump administration on Wednesday launched a new volley against jurisdictions it considers to be so-called sanctuary cities — even as a federal judge put the brakes on a similar attempt earlier in the day.

The Justice Department sent out letters to 29 cities, counties and states Wednesday afternoon warning them they may not be complying with an obscure law required to receive federal law enforcement grants.
The individualized letters point to specific policies in those jurisdictions DOJ says may be problematic, according to copies obtained by CNN. The Justice Department is giving the jurisdictions until December 8 to respond — it has not yet moved to reject funding applications or claw back grant money that was previously issued.
The move came the same day that a federal judge in ongoing litigation over sanctuary cities in Pennsylvania dealt the administration the latest blow to its efforts to punish sanctuary cities, barring the Justice Department from taking the grant funds away from the city of Philadelphia over the compliance issue. Federal judges have already twice limited the administration on its efforts to block funds.
At the center of both disputes is the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants program, which gives local jurisdictions millions of dollars yearly to support law enforcement.
close dialog

The term sanctuary city loosely refers to jurisdictions that in some way do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. The stated reasons vary, from protecting undocumented immigrants to preserving law enforcement’s ability to gain the trust and cooperation of communities. Some jurisdictions have also been barred by the courts from complying with certain federal requests.”
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Read Tal’s complete article at the above link.
Doubling down on failed and divisive policies (that according to TRAC have little practical effect on DHS removals) is probably not going to accomplish much!
PWS
11-16-17

RICHARD WOLFFE IN THE GUARDIAN: TRUMP FAMILY, SESSIONS, OTHER AIDES AFFLICTED WITH DEBILITATING CASES OF “MOSCOW MEMORY!”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/14/trump-administration-moscow-memory?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

“Sadly this sickness may have started inside the Trump family. Jeff Sessions is just a hapless victim of some brain-corroding virus
For so many people who are close to Donald Trump, Russia is the Bermuda Triangle of their memory.

Conversations and meetings seem to pass through this mysterious quadrant of their brains and simply disappear. Even when the wreckage is found on some server or other, they profess ignorance, confusion or innocence. And sometimes all three at once.

On Tuesday the synapses inside the skull of attorney general Jeff Sessions magically reconnected around a March 2016 campaign meeting in which he heard Trump’s point man on Russian policy discuss how the candidate could get together with one Vladimir Putin.

 

This is kind of awkward since Sessions had sworn, like the honorable southern gentleman that he is, that there were no absolutely no such contacts with the Russians, no siree.

Fortunately for the former senator, his amnesia has recovered enough to remember that he pooh-poohed the idea of a Trump-Putin meeting. Somehow he could remember none of the other sordid details of what normal people would call collusion.

Donald Trump Jr communicated with WikiLeaks during final stages of election
“I had no recollection of this meeting until I saw these news reports,” Sessions told the House judiciary committee, before he recalled only the details of the meeting that made him look good.

Sadly this sickness may have started inside the Trump family itself, in which case Sessions is just a hapless victim of some brain-corroding virus. After all, Donald Trump Jr, the president’s son, shows repeated symptoms of Moscow Memory.

It is only five long months since we learned about the slick-haired son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer. Luckily his father was on hand to draft a press statement saying the meeting was no big deal: just a casual chat about Russian adoptions.

But then there were all those leaked emails from Trump Jr himself in which he set up the “adoptions” meeting. “I love it,” he wrote, when offered a Russian government trove of “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary”.

Once the emails were public, Trump Jr denounced the leaks and claimed he was being wonderfully transparent after all.

This makes the latest leaks – involving WikiLeaks, no less – all the more conclusive in diagnosing this Putin-induced amnesia. It also makes them more exquisitely ironic.

As reported by the Atlantic, in the final stages of last year’s presidential election, our forgetful protagonist was coordinating campaign efforts and tweets with WikiLeaks.”

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Read the rest of Wolffe’s op-ed at the link.

Good thing Mrs. Sessions accompanies him to these hearings. Otherwise, I doubt that Ol’ Gonzo could find the hearing room or his way back home. How does he even know what day it is or remember his name?

PWS

11-15-17

JRUBE@WASHPOST: GONZO HAS “THE WORLD’S WORST MEMORY!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/11/14/has-jeff-sessions-got-the-worlds-worst-memory-or-what/

Rubin writes:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s defense for apparently misleading Congress about his knowledge of campaign contacts with Russians is that he has a bad memory. No, honestly. The man who now oversees the entire Justice Department might have heard about contacts with Russia, but no alarms went off, nothing was seared into memory and no action was taken. Even if you believe Sessions, his testimony is damning.

. . . .

It may be that Sessions is struggling to deflect pressure for him to investigate Clinton. However, that would simply be evidence of the president’s total lawlessness and would suggest that Sessions is not being candid when he denies pressure to investigate Clinton. The proper response to outside pressure to use the Justice Department as a political weapon against political opponents should be: Forget it. If that pressure continues, a responsible attorney general would either quit or force the president to fire him (as acting attorney general Sally Yates did when she refused to litigate the travel ban).

Finally, if Sessions’s memory is so poor, one wonders how he can reliably answer questions that the special counsel will no doubt ask about the firing of former FBI director James B. Comey and Russian collusion. An attorney general who remembers nothing might escape implicating the president or others — but it also suggests he should never have been given the job.”

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Read the entire op-ed at the link.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

PWS

11-15-17

THE HILL: N. RAPPAPORT SAYS THAT EXPEDITED REMOVAL IS THE ANSWER TO IMMIGRATION COURT BACKLOGS – I DISAGREE!

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/360139-our-immigration-courts-are-drowning-expedited-removal-can-bring-relief

Nolan writes:

“Trump has acknowledged that the immigration court’s enormous backlog cripples his ability to remove illegal immigrants in a timely manner, but his plan to deal with the backlog isn’t going to work.

This chart from the Executive Office for Immigration Review’s (EOIR) FY2016 Statistics Yearbook shows that the immigration judges (IJs) have not been making any progress on reducing the backlog.

At a recent Center for Immigration Studies panel discussion on the backlog, Judge Larry Burman said, “I cannot give you a merits hearing on my docket unless I take another case off. My docket is full through 2020, and I was instructed by my assistant chief immigration judge not to set any cases past 2020.”

By the end of September 2016, the backlog was up to 516,031 cases. A year later, it had grown to 629,051.

. . . .

If Trump relies on hiring more IJs to deal with the backlog crisis, his enforcement program will be a dismal failure.

His only viable alternative is to reduce the size of the immigration court’s docket, which he can do by promulgating regulations making IJ hearings unavailable to aliens whose cases can be handled in expedited removal proceedings.

He seems to have had this in mind when he directed DHS to use expedited removal proceedings to the full extent authorized by law, which would include most of the undocumented aliens in the United States who were not lawfully admitted, unless they can establish that they have been here for two years.

In expedited removal proceedings, which are conducted by immigration officers, aliens can be deported without IJ hearings unless they have a credible fear of persecution. If they establish a credible fear of persecution, they are entitled to an asylum hearing before an IJ.

But would the courts stop him?”

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Go on over to The Hill at the link to read Nolan’s complete article.

Expedited removal is the wrong solution to the Immigration Court backlog!

  • As I have noted in recent blogs, recent studies show that Immigration Court hearings area already falling substantially short of providing real due process because of lack of available counsel and overuse of immigration detention. Expedited removal would aggravate that problem tenfold.
  • Expedited removal couldn’t begin to solve the current backlog problems because the vast majority of the estimated 11 million individuals already here have been here for more than two years and can prove it, most from Government records. Indeed, I’d wager that the vast majority of individuals in Removal Proceedings in U.S. Immigration Court have had their cases pending for two or more years.
  • The problems in Immigration Court were caused by “Aimless Docket Reshuffling” by the last three Administrations emanating from undue political influence from the Department of Justice, DHS, and the White House. Only an independent Immigration Court that places control of the dockets in individual Immigration Judges, where it belongs, can address those problems.
  • The answer to hiring problems resulting from poor management and political hiring from the DOJ is certainly not to “get rid of” any existing U.S. Immigration Judges. Whether the hiring was done properly or not, there is no reason to believe that any of the currently sitting local U.S. Immigration Judges did anything wrong or participated in the hiring process other than by applying for the jobs. The system needs all the experienced judges it currently has.
  • The problem of inconsistency will only be solved by having an independent BIA that acts in the manner of an independent appellate court, cracking down on those judges who are not correctly applying legal standards. That’s how all other court systems address consistency issues — through precedent and independent appellate review. Numerous examples have been documented of Immigration Judges in courts like Atlanta, Stewart, and Charlotte, to name three of the most notorious ones, improperly denying asylum claims and mistreating asylum applicants. The BIA has failed to function in a proper, independent manner ever since the “Ashcroft Purge.” The only way to get it doing its job is by creating true judicial independence.
  • “Haste makes waste” is never the right solution! It’s been done in the past and each time has resulted in increased backlogs and, more importantly, serious lapses in due process.
  • The docket does need to be trimmed. The Obama Administration was at least starting the process by a more widespread use of prosecutorial discretion or “PD” as in all other major law enforcement prosecutorial offices. Most of the individuals currently in the country without status are assets to the country, who have built up substantial equities, and do not belong in removal proceedings. No system can function with the type of unregulated, irrational, “gonzo” enforcement this Administration is pursuing.
  • The reasonable solution is to do what is necessary to build a well-functioning system that provides due process efficiently, as it is supposed to do. The elements are reasonable access to lawyers for everyone in proceedings, reducing expensive, wasteful, and fundamentally unfair use of detention, better merit hiring and training procedures for Immigration Judges, modern technology, better use of prosecutorial discretion by the DHS, legislation to grant legal status to law-abiding productive individuals currently present in the US without status, and a truly independent judicial system that can develop in the way judicial systems are supposed to — without political meddling and without more “haste makes waste” schemes like “expedited removal!”

PWS

11-14-17

SESSIONS DEFENDS FAULTY MEMORY, BUT “AYATOLLAH ROY” – NOT SO MUCH!

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-pol-sessions-russia-hearing-20171114-story.html

Joseph Tanfani and Cathleen Decker report for the LA Times:

“Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions repeatedly denied Tuesday that he deliberately misled or lied to Congress about the Trump campaign’s multiple contacts with Russia, saying he forgot that two aides told him about their meetings with Russian government officials during the 2016 race.

In an often-contentious House Judiciary Committee hearing, Sessions sparred for more than five hours with Democrats, who faulted him for changing his story each time he has testified under oath before Congress, and some Republicans, who pushed him to appoint a second special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton.

Sessions grew visibly angry at times, insisting again and again that he “always told the truth” as he recalled it, even as he confirmed for the first time that an aide offered to help arrange a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin last March. Sessions said he “pushed back” against the offer.

“In all of my testimony, I can only do my best to answer all of your questions as I understand them and to the best of my memory,” he said.

“But I will not accept, and reject accusations, that I have ever lied,” he added. “That is a lie.”

The nationally-televised hearing was the latest sign of how last year’s bitter presidential campaign has yet to recede. Harsh questions about the Democratic nominee’s alleged misdeeds collided with national security concerns of whether President Trump’s current or former aides helped Russia meddle in an American election — the focus of a special counsel investigation led by former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.

Sessions held firm against Republicans who pressed him to swiftly appoint another special counsel to focus on Clinton. Senior prosecutors at the Justice Department were reviewing the record and it would “be done without political influence,” he said.

After Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) laid out a long list of allegations that he said indicated wrongdoing, Sessions responded sharply. “I would say ‘looks like’ is not enough basis to appoint a special counsel,” he said.

Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the House committee’s top Democrat, said the allegations against Clinton — which chiefly involve her use of a private email server as secretary of State, fundraising for the Clinton Foundation, and an Obama administration decision in 2010 to approve sales of uranium to a Russian company — have been “carefully examined and completely debunked” and said the threat of jailing political opponents after an election is something that would happen in “a banana republic.”

The often testy back-and-forth on Russia largely echoed Sessions’ three previous appearances on Capitol Hill this year, creating more heat than light as lawmakers confronted Sessions with his previous statements and other evidence that contradicted his claims, and the attorney general insisting he did “not recall” dozens of times in response.

“I have been asked to remember details from a year ago, such as who I saw on what day, in what meeting, and who said what when,” he said.

He blamed his faulty memory on the political and organizational maelstrom of Trump’s insurgent presidential campaign. The four-term senator from Alabama joined Trump’s side early on and became his top foreign policy advisor.

“It was a brilliant campaign in many ways,” he said. “But it was a form of chaos every day from Day One. We traveled all the time, sometimes to several places in one day. Sleep was in short supply.”

. . . .

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) challenged Sessions to explain an FBI report made public in October that said “black identity extremists” were intent on killing law enforcement officers. She said all the groups named were from decades ago, and asked him if any such groups existed today. He said he did not know of any.

He said he was aware of no similar report on white extremist groups, such as the white supremacists who rallied in Charlottesville, Va., in August. Later, he said he did not have a senior staff member who is African American, and said Trump has appointed just one African American as a U.S. attorney.

Sessions also declined to defend Roy Moore, the Republican candidate in the special election to decide Sessions’ old Senate seat in Alabama. Moore now faces charges of being a serial predator of teenage girls, with five women coming forward to describe their encounters.

“I have no reason to doubt these young women,” he said of Moore’s accusers, adding that he would consider whether the Justice Department should open an investigation. “We would do our duty,” he said. He said he has followed advice from the department’s ethics lawyers and avoided any involvement in the campaign.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Doesn’t seem that unreasonable to expect a former Senator and a guy who got himself appointed and confirmed to the highest legal job in the country to remember key events that happened less than two years ago.

Sessions should contrast his performance with the way some U.S. Immigration Judges exercising his delegated authority treat memory lapses by barely literate individuals trying to go back into traumatic events that happened a decade or more ago. Would that our U.S. Immigration Courts were all as forgiving of others as Sessions is of himself. Perhaps, he needs to ease up a bit on the “gonzo enforcement” push and act more like a human being. Not a bad idea for someone seeking better and more sympathetic treatment for himself.

PWS

11-14-17