Musings on Events in U.S. Immigration Court, Immigration Law, Sports, and Other Random Topics by Retired United States Immigration Judge (Arlington, Virginia) and former Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals Paul Wickham Schmidt. To see my complete professional bio, just click on the link below.
“San Francisco (CNN) A jury on Thursday found Jose Ines Garcia Zarate not guilty of homicide charges in the July 2015 death of Kate Steinle in San Francisco.
Jurors convicted the undocumented immigrant of being a felon in possession of a firearm after deliberating for more than 24 hours over six days.
The case became a political lightning rod in the debate over immigration policy. Proceedings lasted about one month.
Garcia Zarate, a Mexican citizen, is subject to immediate deportation.
He had been deported from the United States five times prior to Steinle’s death.
Garcia Zarate, 45, faced a charge of second-degree murder, but jurors also were allowed to consider first-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter convictions.
Garcia Zarate was accused of fatally shooting Steinle, 32, with a Sig Sauer .40-caliber handgun as she and her father walked on San Francisco’s Pier 14.
. . . .
Garcia Zarate’s undocumented status and San Francisco’s status as a “sanctuary city” prompted widespread debate over immigration policies.
Officials sued after Kate Steinle's death
Officials sued after Kate Steinle’s death 02:00
Garcia Zarate had been deported from the United States back to Mexico five times. Before the shooting, officials in San Francisco released him from custody instead of turning him over to immigration authorities.
Steinle’s death became a rallying cry for President Donald Trump and others, who have invoked the case in decrying sanctuary cities and promoting the construction of a border wall between the US and Mexico.
“This senseless and totally preventable act of violence committed by an illegal immigrant is yet another example of why we must secure our border immediately,” Trump said in July 2015. “This is an absolutely disgraceful situation and I am the only one that can fix it. Nobody else has the guts to even talk about it. That won’t happen if I become President.”
Trump also mentioned Steinle in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention after winning the Republican presidential nomination.
In June, the House of Representatives passed “Kate’s Law,” a bill that would create harsher penalties for repeat illegal entry to the US. The bill would also expand US law to pressure local cities to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.
This summer, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3004, dubbed “Kate’s Law” — a measure named for Steinle. The legislation would increase maximum prison penalties for immigrants caught repeatedly entering the US illegally.
The measure was introduced in the Senate but failed to get the 60 votes needed to pass.“
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions has refused to say whether Donald Trump asked him to hinder the Russian investigation, a member of the House Intelligence Committee has claimed.
Representative Adam Schiff updated reporters after a closed-door meeting between Mr Sessions and the Intelligence Committee, of which Mr Schiff is a ranking member. The committee is one of several investigating possible Russian meddling in the US presidential election.
“I asked the attorney general whether he was ever instructed by the president to take any action that he believed would hinder the Russia investigation, and he declined to answer the question,” Mr Schiff told reporters after the meeting.
Sessions admits there is not enough evidence to investigate Clinton
Mr Sessions was an early supporter of Mr Trump, and a close adviser to his campaign. He was one of two people the President said he consulted about firing James Comey, the former FBI Director charged with overseeing the Russian investigation at the time.
In March, Mr Sessions recused himself from running the Justice Department’s Russia investigation. He had recently come under scrutiny for failing to disclose several meetings with Russian officials during the campaign. Mr Sessions maintains that nothing nefarious occurred during the meetings.”
Read the complete article at the link.
Seems like a pretty simple yes or no question. But, no question or answer under oath is simple where Gonzo is involved. While Sessions disses lawyers representing vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers, he had the foresight to show up for this hearing with his own “mouthpiece” former DOJ politico Chuck Cooper in tow.
“Economists and tax experts are overwhelmingly skeptical that the bills in the House and Senate can generate meaningful job growth and economic expansion. Many view the legislation not as a product of genuine deliberation, but as a transfer of wealth to corporations and affluent individuals — both generous purveyors of campaign contributions. By 2027, people making $40,000 to $50,000 would pay a combined $5.3 billion more in taxes, while the group earning $1 million or more would get a $5.8 billion cut, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office.
“When you put all these pieces together, what you’re left with is we are squandering a giant sum of money,” said Edward D. Kleinbard, a former chief of staff at the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation who teaches law at the University of Southern California. “It’s not aimed at growth. It is not aimed at the middle class. It is at every turn carefully engineered to deliver a kiss to the donor class.”
In a recent University of Chicago survey of 38 prominent economistsacross the ideological spectrum, only one said the proposed tax cuts would yield substantial economic growth. Unanimously, the economists said the tax cuts would add to the long-term federal debt burden, now estimated at more than $20 trillion.
If the package does have a guiding philosophy, it is a return to trickle-down economics, an enduring story line in which the wealthy are supposed to spend and invest their tax breaks, creating jobs and commercial opportunities for everyone else.
As President Ronald Reagan slashed taxes in the 1980s, he argued that citizens, not bureaucrats, should decide how to spend their money. President George W. Bush bestowed enormous tax cuts on the affluent.
But the trickle-down story has yet to achieve its promised happy ending. Only the beginning reliably transpires, the part where wealthy people get relief. The spoils of resulting economic growth have largely been monopolized by those with the highest incomes. Pay for most American workers has been stagnant since the mid-1970s, after the rising costs of housing, health care and other basics are factored in.
Nonetheless, Republicans are staging a trickle-down revival.
“Either it’s a religious belief, a belief where no amount of evidence would change that, or they are using the argument cynically and they just want more money for themselves,” the economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate, said.
Mr. Stiglitz has long warned of the perils of growing inequality while deriding tax-cutting inclinations. Yet even those who have favored lighter tax burdens are critical of the current proposals.
In the late 1970s, Bruce Bartlett developed what would become the locus of the Reagan tax cuts while working for Representative Jack Kemp, a conservative Republican from New York. Those cuts helped cushion the pain from sharp increases in interest rates by the Federal Reserve, Mr. Bartlett maintains. But Reagan was lowering the highest tax rate on individuals from 70 percent down to 28 percent by 1986.
“What they have here is a big tax cut for the rich paid for with random increases in taxes for various constituencies,” Mr. Bartlett said. “It’s ridiculous. And it’s telling that they are ramming this through without any debate. All of the empirical evidence goes against the tax cut.”
The meat of the package is a permanent lowering of the corporate tax rate, to 20 percent from 35 percent, which business leaders have long wanted. Proponents assert that this would prompt multinational companies to expand operations in the United States.
“We’ve been bleeding corporate headquarters and production for a long time,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and now president of the American Action Forum, a nonprofit that promotes smaller government.
But recent history suggests that when corporations get tax relief, they find abundant uses for money that do not involve paying higher wages. They give dividends to shareholders and stock options to executives. They stash earnings in tax havens.
In 2004, Congress invited American corporations to bring home overseas earnings at a sharply reduced rate, pitching it as a means of bolstering investment. But the corporations spent as much as 90 percent of their windfall buying back their shares, according to Bureau of Economic Analysis research.
If Congress bestows fresh relief on major businesses, signs suggest a similar result. Many companies are enjoying record profits. Those in the Fortune 500 had $2.6 trillion salted away overseas as of last year.
“In our boardroom, the number-one thing we’re talking about is not taxes,” said Jeremy Stoppelman, chief executive of Yelp, the online review platform. “Having a strong middle class out there spending money is what’s most important for our business.”
If the tax bill widens inequality, local communities will likely find themselves with fewer resources to aim at helping struggling people.
In high-tax states like California, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — where electorates have historically shown a willingness to finance ample safety-net programs — the measure could change the political calculus. It would magnify the costs to taxpayers, pressuring states to stay lean or risk the wrath of voters.
Some see in this tilt a reworking of basic principles that have prevailed in American life for generations.
. . . .
Since the 1930s, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt created Social Security, unemployment benefits and other pillars of the safety net to combat the Great Depression, crises have been tempered by some measure of government support. Recent decades have brought cuts to social services, but the impact of the current bill could be especially consequential.
“This is a repudiation of the social contract that Franklin Roosevelt announced at the New Deal,” Joseph J. Ellis, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian, said of trimming benefits for lower- and middle-income families to finance bigger rewards for the wealthy. Health coverage would shrink under the Republican plan while multimillion-dollar estates would not have to pay a penny in taxes.
The tax cut package, for instance, could trigger rules mandating cuts to Medicare, the government health care program for seniors, the Congressional Budget Office warned. Some 13 million people could lose health care via the elimination of a key plank of Obamacare. Insurance premiums are also expected to rise by 10 percent.
“This tax bill is a grand deception,” said Arnold Hiatt, the former chief executive of Stride Rite, which makes children’s shoes. “It hurts the most vulnerable, and hurts health care and education, which are essential for a healthy economy.”
The proposals break from seven decades’ worth of federal efforts to broaden access to higher education.
Since World War II, the guiding sense has been that “it is government’s responsibility to provide higher education for all those who can benefit from it,” said David Nasaw, a historian at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. That idea was behind the G.I. Bill, which helped generations of veterans pay for college and training.
The House bill includes provisions that would end the deductibility of tuition waivers for graduate students and repeal the deduction for interest paid on student loans. Both chambers’ bills would tax investment earnings from university endowments.
The endowment tax, in particular, threatens the ability of low-income students to pursue college and graduate studies, said Ron Haskins, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Proceeds from endowments subsidize students from lower-income families, while allowing students across the board to graduate with less debt.
“When the time of reckoning comes to fix huge deficits, social safety-net programs will be first on the chopping block,” Julian E. Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, said.
“It’s very far-reaching,” he added, “but there hasn’t been much of a debate.”
Read the complete, revealing but disturbing, article at the link. We’re ultimately going to look more like a (at least temporarily) well-to-do “Banana Republic” with the rich on top and in power; everyone else scrambling; lots of excess guns and ammo; and a lower standard of living for average folks to support the privileged power class. And, the GOP has managed to pull all of this off at the ballot box and without any true debate or public accounting, relying on the overall inability of the electorate to figure out that they are being fleeced by their own representatives. Pretty impressive!
“Republicans prepping letter to Ryan urging DACA fix
By: Tal Kopan, CNN
Dozens of House Republicans are preparing a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan urging a fix for young undocumented immigrants by the end of the year, adding pressure to high-stakes government funding discussions that could hinge on such a deal, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
The letter, organized by Virginia Rep. Scott Taylor, already has signatories numbering in the 20s, according to a source familiar with the letter, and could reach into the 30s by the time it is sent. Taylor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, revealed the work on the letter in a pen-and-pad session with reporters Thursday on Capitol Hill.
Two other GOP sources confirmed the letter’s development to CNN.
Grisham characterized the letter as “telling Ryan, ‘You’ve got to fix this. You’ve got nine days. What is your plan, what is your path?'”
The “nine days” refers to the December 8 deadline to fund the government. Democrats have said if Republicans need their votes to pass a government funding bill, which they have in the past, then they need to resolve the situation for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which President Donald Trump is ending by the end of the year.
Some Republicans, including Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, have said any DACA deal should not be included in year-end spending legislation. They have not ruled out, though, the possibility of timing a vote on a DACA deal with one on spending legislation.
Grisham referenced a Democratic-led discharge petition to force a vote on one legislative proposal, the Dream Act, which two Republicans have signed and which needs only 22 more members to support it to force a vote on the floor, though the letter does not threaten that its signatories will back the bill, according to one of the sources.
The letter’s signatories include members who have long pushed for a DACA fix and some who have been less vocal.
According to one of the GOP sources, the letter tells Ryan that the group would like DACA resolved this year and warns that while they agree a legislative solution should include border security, it should not contain measures sought by members like Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte and the White House. Some of those measures include cuts or changes to overall legal immigration, mandatory workforce verification and hardline enforcement measures.
The letter has come together quickly, just this week, and is being teed up for release Friday.”
At least some modest reason for optimism on the “DACA Front.” It’s also refreshing and encouraging to learn that there are a significant number of responsible Republican legislators who don’t necessarily “by into” the false narrative being peddled by Trump, Goodlatte, Perdue, Cotton, Sessions, Miller and other GOP restrictionists about the need to “offset” the Dreamers or decrease (the worst possible course of action) legal immigration avenues into the United States.
Joel Rubin & Paige St. John report for the LA Times:
“Sergio Carrillo had already been handcuffed in the Home Depot parking lot when an officer wearing a Homeland Security uniform appeared.
“Homeland Security?” Carrillo asked. “What do you want with me?”
Ignoring Carrillo’s demands for an explanation, the officer ordered the 39-year-old taken to a federal detention facility in downtown Los Angeles for people believed to be in the country illegally.
“You’re making a big mistake,” Carrillo recalled saying from the back seat to the officers driving him. “I am a U.S. citizen.”
The arrest last year was the start of a perplexing and frightening ordeal for Carrillo, who said in an interview with The Times that immigration officials scoffed at his repeated claims of citizenship and instead opened a case against him in immigration court to have him deported. It would take four days for government officials to concede their mistake and release Carrillo.
The case, say civil rights attorneys and other critics of the country’s immigration enforcement system, highlights broader problems with how people are targeted for deportation. They argue databases used by immigration officials to determine who is and isn’t in the country legally are beset by outdated and inaccurate information that leads to an unknown number of U.S. citizens being detained each year.
Since 2002, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has wrongly identified at least 2,840 United States citizens as possibly eligible for deportation, and at least 214 of them were taken into custody for some period of time, according to ICE records analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
Because ICE in January stopped releasing data on those it takes into custody, it is impossible to know how many citizens have been caught up in the aggressive push to increase arrests and deportations being carried out under President Trump.
In one such case, Guadalupe Plascencia complained that she was transferred from San Bernardino County jail to ICE custody in March despite having become a citizen two decades earlier. The 59-year-old hairdresser said she was released only when her daughter showed ICE agents her passport.
On Wednesday, attorneys for Carrillo announced a settlement deal in which the government will pay him $20,000 to resolve a civil lawsuit he filed over the arrest.
ICE officials could not be immediately reached Wednesday.”
Read the complete article at the link. Many thanks to Nolan Rappaport for sending this my way.
If you read the complete story, you will see that even after learning of their likely mistake, ICE was in no hurry to correct it. In fact, it appears that but for the intervention of his lawyer, this individual might well have remained in detention and been scheduled for a removal hearing before an Immigration Judge. At no point does in this article does it appear that ICE was in any way apologetic for its mistake. Indeed, it took a civil lawsuit and a $20,000 settlement to get any satisfaction.
What if this U.S. citizen had been an “Anglo” dressed in a business suit? Would he have been treated the same way by ICE? I doubt it.
As I have pointed out before, Trump, Sessions, Miller and their White Nationalist cronies are in the process of constructing an internal security police force using ICE as the spearhead. Today, their targets are mostly people of color — be they migrants, legal immigrants, refugees, or U.S. citizens — and most in the “Anglo Community” seem happy to ignore what’s really happening to their neighbors and in their communities.
But, the “Day of the Anglos” might still come. After all, there is a long list of Americans who are not entitled to full legal protections according to “Jeff’s Law:” LGBTQ individuals, reporters, liberal counter demonstrators, those who challenge police brutality, voters in gerrymandered districts, women who want to exercise their Constitutional right to an abortion, non-Christians, etc. Who is going to speak up for YOUR rights if your Government won’t?
According to DHS propaganda, the “hard-line” policies of the Trump Administration have resulted in spectacularly diminished illegal border crossings and are discouraging individuals from coming here or staying under our legal system. As I’ve observed, some immigration agents have so little “real” law enforcement work to do that they can take time to engage in such “enforcement overkill” as staking out a kid’s hospital room or arresting and deporting working parents of U.S. citizens and local soccer stars who have no serious criminal records.
So, with everything under control, why does the Trump Administration need 15,000 additional immigration agents, a Border Wall, and an expanded private immigration detention Gulag? What’s the “ultimate purpose” here? Who’s going to speak up for YOUR legal rights when the Trumpsters show up at your door to take them away?
It’s been a tough year for EOIR, the agency of the U.S. Department of Justice that oversees the U.S. Immigration Court system. (Although, admittedly, probably not as tough for EOIR as for the many individuals forced to count on EOIR for potentially life-saving due process who were short-changed and the often disrespected attorneys representing, or trying to represent, them.)
The backlog has continued to mushroom to more than 640,000 cases with no end in sight; new Immigration Judge hiring and courtroom expansion continued to lag; e-filing remains a pipe dream; recently retired former Director and BIA Chair Juan Osuna died suddenly and unexpectedly; and a new Attorney General took office who apparently views the Immigration Courts not as a “real” judiciary charged with acting independently to protect the due process and other legal rights of migrants, but rather as a mere “whistle stop on the DHS deportation express.”
But, at least some good news could be in the offing. Reportedly, Judge Christopher A. “The Great Santorini” Santoro, who currently serves as the Acting Chief of Staff for the Acting Director of EOIR, Judge James McHenry, will assume overall responsibility for the BIA’s Law Library (which includes the highly-regarded “Virtual Law Library”) and the Judicial Training Program. Both important functions will be “relocated” to the Office of Policy in the Director’s Office.
Judge Santoro served as the Assistant Chief Immigration Judge for the Arlington Immigration Court during some of my tenure there and later went on to be an Acting Deputy Chief Immigration Judge before mysteriously disappearing for a time into the bowels of the EOIR bureaucracy (becoming essentially a “bureaucratic non-person” – off the organizational “depth charts”). He subsequently was “rehabilitated” and reappeared last spring when Acting Director McHenry appointed him Acting Chief of Staff.
Judge Santoro has a stellar reputation for hard work, efficiency, sound administration, and creative problem solving. In Arlington, he was viewed as a “trial judges’ judge” who devoted himself to supporting the judges and resolving problems while not interfering with the things that were working.
He also provided unprecedented feedback and guidance about what was “really happening at The Tower” – normally a “dark hole” for field judges. During my illness, he, along with my colleagues Judge Roxanne Hladylowicz and Judge Robert Owens, pitched in and handled some of my Master Calendars so they didn’t have to be rescheduled. I always found him to be totally supportive and responsive, as well as a great colleague. He cared deeply about and paid attention to the hard-working and underappreciated court staff. He is known as a manager who in the words of one former employee will likely “put competent people in charge and let them do their jobs.”
The Law Library has been under the outstanding leadership of Head Law Librarian Karen L. Drumond dating back to my tenure as BIA Chair (1995-2001). The upgrading of the Law Library, hiring of additional staff, and the creation of the Virtual Law Library were carried out with the encouragement and enthusiastic support of then-Director (and later BIA Member) Anthony C. “Tony” Moscoto. Tony correctly envisioned changing the previously, rather ignored, BIA Law Library into a major research aid for the Immigration Judiciary as well as a help to the public and a repository for certain historical materials about the BIA and EOIR’s history.
The Virtual Law Library, in particular, has been widely acclaimed as an important research tool in the world of immigration law. I still use the public version on a regular basis and recommend it to my students and others as a great resource!
Assistant Chief Judge Jack Weil has very capably managed the EOIR Judicial Training Program for years. However, despite Judge Weil’s best efforts, training too often fell victim to budget shortages or other bureaucratic impediments. Unfortunately, it has been, quite incorrectly, considered a “low priority” within the bureaucracy.
Immigration Judge Training hit bottom this past year when the incoming Administration without explanation cancelled critical in–person nationwide training for Immigrating Judges — the only real CLE and training that most Judges receive during the year. This was notwithstanding the arrival of many newly hired Immigration Judges who have never had a chance to attend a nationwide training conference or, indeed, even to meet the vast majority of their judicial colleagues!
I know that Judge Santoro takes legal research, professional excellence, fairness, and training very seriously. Indeed, while at the Office of Chief Immigration Judge he “directed” several “new judge training videos” with an all-star cast including some of our multi-talented former Arlington Judicial Law Clerks.
Generally, I interpret bringing the Law Library and Judicial Training functions under the Director’s Office and selecting a “total judicial management pro” like Judge Santoro to lead them as a positive sign for EOIR and the immigration world. Hopefully, the Law Library and Judicial Training will prosper and expand under Judge Santoro’s leadership to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.
“Job One” at EOIR is NOT about removing migrants at record paces, denying more asylum applications, or deterring future migrants. No, it’s all about fairness, scholarship, timeliness, respect, teamwork, and delivering Due Process and even-handed justice to some of the most vulnerable individuals in America.
Currently, EOIR is failing to discharge its critical duties to guarantee fairness and due process in the manner one would expect from one of the largest, perhaps the largest, and most important Federal Court systems. Hopefully, Judge Santoro will be part of the solution to the problems facing EOIR and those whose lives and futures depend on it.
Sanders also said she doesn’t know how the videos got in front of Trump and wouldn’t say whether they were real.
“Whether it is a real video, the threat is real,” Sanders told a small group of reporters after appearing on Fox News. “That is what the President is talking about, that is what the President is focused on is dealing with those real threats, and those are real no matter how you look at it.”
When pressed on whether it matters if the video is real, Sanders said reporters were “focusing on the wrong thing.”
“The threat is real,” she said, later adding that “the threat needs to be addressed. The threat has to be talked about and that is what the President is doing in bringing that up.”
The retweets have once again thrust his administration into conversation about anti-Muslim bias as the courts are weighing the legality of Trump’s travel ban and raised questions about how content swirling on the Internet ends up on the President’s powerful Twitter account.
“I think his goal is to promote strong borders and strong national security,” Sanders said. She later added that she and the reporters were talking about border security so Trump’s tweets were “accomplishing exactly that.”
Trump’s account retweeted the tweets early on Wednesday morning. The messages from Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, purport to show Muslims assaulting people and smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary.
A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Theresa May said Wednesday that Trump was “wrong” to retweet anti-Muslim videos, adding that Fransen’s organization “seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions.”
Sanders said she was not aware of any concerns from Trump that his retweets could damage his relationship with May.
“I think that both Theresa May and a lot of the other world leaders across the world know that these are real threats that we have to talk about, I think Europe has seen that a lot first hand,” Sanders said before the statement from May’s spokesperson was widely public.
Sanders added she was unaware of how the videos got in front of Trump but the process generally hinges on Dan Scavino, Trump’s director of social media and one of the few aides with the keys to Trump’s powerful social media platforms.
. . . .
The origin of these tweets is significant because Trump’s messages — from the benign to the inflammatory — have an impact on how the United States is viewed around the world and how policy is implemented.
For example, Wednesday’s retweets could imperial a key Trump goal: Banning immigration from eight countries, including majority Muslim nations like Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen.
The Supreme Court is considering whether to allow the third version of Trump’s travel ban to go into effect. Government lawyers have argued that the policy is not a “Muslim ban,” despite Trump’s call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” during the 2016 campaign.
Lawyers arguing against the ban, though, have said that said government lawyers can’t “divorce the Proclamation from its history and context,” pointing to the President’s part statements which they argue color his views on a travel ban.
Neal Katyal, one of the lawyers opposing the ban, responded to Trump’s retweets with a simple, “Thanks! See you in court next week.”
Trump is no stranger to anti-Islam comments that has roiled his supporters and critics alike.
During the 2016 election, Trump told CNN that he believes “Islam hates us,” a comment that rankled some Republicans.
“There’s something there that — there’s a tremendous hatred there,” Trump said. “There’s a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it. There’s an unbelievable hatred of us.”
Read the complete article at the link.
Gosh, why would they hate a country with a leader like Trump? And, the idea that Trump wants a “serious discussion” on anything, particularly immigration and terrorism, is totally absurd.
The truth is that there are approximately 1.8 billion Muslims in the world, the vast majority of whom are not Islamic terrorists and who could be potential allies in combatting terrorism. Needlessly insulting them and inflaming anti-Muslim public opinion can’t possibly be a smart or “winning” strategy.
Foreign Affairs expert David Ignatius writes in the Washington Post:
“As foreign scientists pull back from some U.S. labs because of visa and government-grant worries, the Chinese are doubling down. According to the second Air Force study, China surpasses the United States in annual patent applications, is now No. 2 in peer-reviewed research articles and in 2014 awarded more than twice as many degrees in science, technology, engineering and math.
China is mobilizing its best tech talent for this global empire. China Telecom plans to lay a 150,000-kilometer fiber-optic network covering 48 African nations. IZP, a big-data company, plans to expand soon to 120 countries. BeiDou, a government agency, is building a GPS-like satellite navigation system for all Eurasia.
There’s an eerie sense in today’s world that China is racing to capture the commanding heights of technology and trade. Meanwhile, under the banner of “America first,” the Trump administration is protecting coal-mining jobs and questioning climate science.
Sorry, friends, but this is how empires rise and fall.”
Read the entire, rather sobering, article at the link.
This is what a “Government of Fools” looks and acts like! Trump turns his back on our traditional democratic allies and trade partners to pal around with dangerous dictators like President Xi, President Putin, President Duterte, and President Sisi. But, all the while those guys are making a fool out of him and the US!
“A Republican lawmaker on Tuesday joined congressional Democrats in saying he won’t support government funding at the end of the year without a resolution for young undocumented immigrants, adding heat to already tense negotiations.
Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo has long been pushing for a permanent version of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that President Donald Trump has decided to end, but Tuesday was the first time he committed to withhold a vote for funding in search of a deal.
“I’m announcing today that I will not support any appropriations bill that funds the government beyond December 31 unless we get this DACA issue resolved,” Curbelo said at a panel on immigration reform in Florida held by the pro-immigrant business group IMPAC Fund and the University of Miami.
Curbelo had stopped short of the threat just before leaving for Thanksgiving recess. Tuesday’s move puts him in the same camp as a growing number of Democrats, who have said they would not support any funding bill without a solution on DACA, which protects young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation.
. . . .
Curbelo said he has no requirements about what the deal might entail, other than a reasonable compromise, and said he would be supportive of either combining it with spending or a standalone bill, but that it would have to be done by the end of the year.
Republican leadership has been disinclined to combine the two efforts and has pointed to the March deadline set by Trump for permits to begin expiring. Republican senators said after meeting with Trump earlier this month that they had ruled out putting DACA on a funding bill.
“I don’t think it’s going to be resolved in the context of the year-end omnibus, I think it’s going to be handled separately,” Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told CNN in the Capitol on Monday, but he didn’t say whether they could be accomplished at the same time.
“We’re not there yet. We’re still talking,” he said.
Curbelo also said during the event that the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus is near completion on its proposal for a compromise.
“What we’ve essentially done is taken the (Recognizing America’s Children Act, which Curbelo authored) and the Dream Act and married them and then taken some border security components and put them into a bill. That’s almost ready to go,” Curbelo said.
His bill has 35 co-sponsors in the House, all but one of which are Republicans. It has a Senate companion, as well.
Democratic Florida Reps. Frederica Wilson and Ted Deutch were also on the panel and supported Curbelo’s position on funding.”
Read Tal’s complete article at the link.
Stay tuned! I’d say it’s still “too close to call.”
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Greetings. Very recent Immigration Court records reveal that the proportion of asylum seekers who are unable to obtain representation has risen markedly. Ten years ago during FY 2007, only 13.6 percent were unrepresented. Five years ago (FY 2012), 15.8 percent were unrepresented. In FY 2017 the unrepresented figure was 20.6 percent.
At the same time, asylum decisions were up sharply during FY 2017. A total of 30,179 cases were decided by judges last year, a marked increase from 22,312 cases in FY 2016. This is the largest number of asylum cases decided in any one year since FY 2005. While asylum grants increased, denials grew even faster. This pushed the percent who were denied asylum to 61.8 percent. This is the fifth year in a row that denial rates have risen. Five years ago the denial rate was just 44.5 percent.
Without representation, the deck is stacked against an asylum seeker. Statistically, only one out of every ten win their case. With representation, nearly half are successful.
During FY 2012 – FY 2017, Jamaica had the highest denial rate (91.4%), followed closely by Laos (89.9%), the Philippines, (89.7%) and Mexico (88.0%). At the other extreme, the Soviet Union had the lowest denial rate (9.5%), with Byelorussia and Egypt with almost as low denial rates at 11.1 percent each.
More details on national trends, plus the impact of representation status and nationality on asylum outcome, are available in the second of TRAC’s two-part series available at:
In addition, many of TRAC’s free query tools – which track the court’s overall backlog, new DHS filings, court dispositions and much more – have now been updated through October 2017. For an index to the full list of TRAC’s immigration tools go to:
TRAC is self-supporting and depends on foundation grants, individual contributions and subscription fees for the funding needed to obtain, analyze and publish the data we collect on the activities of the U.S. federal government. To help support TRAC’s ongoing efforts, go to:
David Burnham and Susan B. Long, co-directors
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse
Suite 360, Newhouse II
Syracuse, NY 13244-2100
Rather than working on reforms that would increase access to pro bono counsel for asylum seekers, the Administration has intentionally “ramped up” detention and placed so called “Detained Courts” in obscure locations where access to pro bono counsel and ability to prepare and present cases is restricted.
“Seven years later, after a series of TPS extensions had been granted, Duke announced that the conditions which were the basis for Haiti’s TPS designation no longer existed.
Among other things, the number of people displaced by the earthquake has decreased by 97 percent. Steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens, and Haiti is now able to safely receive traditional levels of returned citizens. Moreover, Haiti has demonstrated a commitment to preparing for the return of its nationals when the TPS designation is terminated.
The Haitian TPS aliens have little recourse if they disagree with Duke’s evaluation of conditions in Haiti. Section 244(b)(5)(A) prohibits judicial review of any determination with respect to the designation, termination, or extension of TPS.
Moreover, it is apparent that Congress did not want TPS aliens to remain in the U.S. when their status has been terminated. Section 244(h)prohibits the senate from considering legislation that would adjust the status of TPS aliens to that of a lawful temporary or permanent resident.
This prohibition can be waived or suspended but it requires a supermajority, “an affirmative vote of three-fifths of the Members of the Senate duly chosen and sworn,” which is very difficult to obtain.
If Haitian TPS aliens want to remain lawfully in the U. S. when their status expires, they have to find a way to obtain lawful status that would not be related to their TPS status, or seek a new grant of TPS on the basis of current conditions in Haiti.”
Go on over to The Hill at the link to read Nolan’s complete article.
Nobody outside of the Trump Administration and GOP restrictionists believes that the conditions in Haiti have significantly improved to the point where 60,000 individuals can be safely resettled.
Indeed, the Haitian Government itself refutes that idea:
“A visit to Haiti would offer you insight on the challenges that we continue to face,” Altidor wrote. The country, he said, has faced several devastating blows — including flooding from Hurricanes Irma and Maria — since the initial designation in 2010 after Haiti’s deadly earthquake.
“The detrimental impacts of the recent hurricanes have complicated our ability to recover from the 2010 earthquake,” he said. Cholera and Hurricane Matthew…have exacerbated the situation on the ground, resulting in major disruptions of living conditions in the short term.”
In any event, the idea that the Trump Administration would find itself “legally compelled” to terminate TPS is questionable. Certainly, given the Haitian Government’s position, it would have been possible for the Administration to find that conditions had not significantly improved. However, this wouldn’t have suited their political purposes or played to their anti-immigrant base.
Returning the Haitian TPS individuals at this point is little short of nonsensical. A responsible Administration would have proposed some type of long-term legislative solution that would allow the Haitians, who are indeed now part of and contributing to our society, particularly in Florida, to remain in some type of legal status, with or without a “path to citizenship.”
Since taking office, President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been trying illegally to strong-arm law enforcement agencies across the country into colluding with the Department of Homeland Security’s mass deportation agenda. But the courts have blocked them every step of the way.
President Trump took his first shot across the bow just a few days after inauguration. A single provision buried in Executive Order 13768 threatened to cut off all federal funds to so-called sanctuary cities. The provision was broad and undefined. It appeared to target jurisdictions that have adopted a range of lawful and sensible law-enforcement policies.
A federal court in California quickly put the executive order’s provision on hold. And last Monday, after months of hearings, the court permanently blocked the unconstitutional provision, ruling that it violated separation of powers, the Constitution’s Spending Clause, and the Tenth Amendment. The court also ruled that the provision was unconstitutionally vague. The judge in the case wrote that “[f]ederal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the President disapproves.” The government has appealed this case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but for the time being, the president cannot carry out his threat.
Attorney General Sessions tried another way to coerce local governments into adopting anti-immigrant policies. His strategy was to attach new conditions to existing federal law enforcement grants. In July, he announced that recipients of Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) funds, which support a wide range of local programs including indigent defense, crime prevention, and drug treatment, would henceforth be required to allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to enter jails to interrogate inmates and provide 48 hours’ notice of an inmate’s release date if ICE requests it.In September, a federal court in Chicago blocked these conditions nationwide, ruling that the Justice Department had no authority to impose new requirements on the grant money – that’s the job of Congress. Again, the Trump administration has appealed to the Seventh Circuit. Earlier this month, a federal court in Philadelphia also ruled that these new conditions are illegal.Not to be discouraged, Sessions tried the same tactic with a different pot of Justice Department money. In September, he announced that applicants for Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office grants would receive preferential consideration if they cooperated with ICE’s interrogation and notification demands. Last week, the Justice Department announced more than $98 million in COPS grants to hire 802 new full-time law enforcement officers across the country — and claimed that 80 percent of the grantees had agreed to cooperate with the feds on immigration enforcement. COPS funds are intended to help build trust between communities and law enforcement. Instead, Sessions is trying to incentivize police departments to do the exact opposite – discouraging immigrants from contacting the police if they are victims or witnesses to a crime, for fear that they or their family members might be detained and deported.
And sometimes Sessions resorts to naked threats. Since August, the Justice Department has sent at least two rounds of letters to states and local jurisdictions it deems to have insufficient immigration policies. The letters are impressive in their desperation, proposing a new and expansive interpretation of federal law that would strip Byrne JAG funds from almost any local law enforcement agency that limits entanglement with federal immigration enforcement. They are meant to frighten cities and states into agreeing to dedicate government personnel and taxpayer dollars to help the federal government advance its harsh vision of immigration enforcement — but, as its repeated losses in courts confirm, the Justice Department’s legal footing is weak.
With these letters, the administration continues its campaign to harass cities and states that support immigrant communities and advance public safety by focusing their efforts locally and leaving federal immigration enforcement to the feds. The law, however, is clear: Trump and Sessions cannot force state and local governments to do their bidding, no matter how hard they try.”
Although Gonzo sanctimoniously and disingenuously pontificates about the “rule of law” and lobs restrictionist-inspired grenades about “dirty immigration lawyers,” in fact Gonzo and Trump are the one engaging in gross abuses of the U.S. legal system in support of an illegal, racist, White Nationalist Agenda.
Because of the rules giving wide latitude to those in political positions, it’s doubtful that either one of these anti-American zealots will ever be held fully liable for his actions. But, their misguided campaign can be thwarted if enough of us who believe in the Constitution and representative government “Just Say No” to their antics.
ALANNA DURKIN RICHER REPORTS FOR ASSOCIATED PRESS ON ABC NEWS:
“Dozens of Indonesians fighting deportation from the United States won another reprieve Monday when a judge ruled that a federal court has the authority to take up their case.
U.S. District Court Judge Patti Saris in Boston rejected the government’s argument that the court doesn’t have jurisdiction in the matter and that immigration officials should be allowed to immediately deport the Indonesians.
An attorney for roughly 50 Christian Indonesians, who fear persecution if returned home, called the judge’s decision “enormously significant.”
“It reaffirms the central role of the federal courts in ensuring that there is a fair process when someone’s life may be at stake,” said Lee Gelernt, of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “The court soundly rejected the government’s position that the federal courts lack authority to ensure that individuals have an opportunity to present their case before an immigration judge before they’re removed.”
The judge is blocking immigration officials from removing the Indonesians until the court considers their request for a preliminary injunction. She had initially put their deportation on hold until she could decide whether the court had authority to take up the matter.
The government already appealed the judge’s earlier decision to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and is likely to challenge her latest ruling.
Many of the Indonesians went to seacoast communities in New Hampshire, where they found jobs and raised families. In a deal brokered by Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, of New Hampshire, in 2009, they were allowed to stay as long as they regularly reported to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.
But in recent months, they were told during their visits to the immigration office that they should buy plane tickets and prepare to leave the country. Some said they fear returning to Indonesia, a Muslim-majority country, due to an uptick in intolerance and violence against Christians and other minorities.
Shaheen said she’s “very encouraged” by the ruling.
“New Hampshire should continue to be a sanctuary to the Indonesian community that fled religious persecution,” Shaheen said in a statement. “Deporting these individuals will needlessly split families and communities, and put lives in danger. I’ll continue to make every effort to prevent these deportations so that the Indonesian community can continue to live peacefully in New Hampshire.”
A federal judge in Michigan ruled in July that a U.S. district court has jurisdiction in a similar immigration case. The government is challenging that ruling, which halted the deportation of 1,400 Iraqi nationals, including many Christians fearing persecution.”
Yet another setback for the Trumpsters in their quest to deny legal and human rights to the most vulnerable among us. This one also appears on its face to be politically motivated. When will Christian Evangelicals finally wake up to the threat that this Administration poses to everyone in America?
PROFESSOR CÉSAR CUAUHTÉMOC GARCÍA HERNÁNDEZ writes in the NY Times:
“At the door of the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver one Friday in April, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents tackled a man to the ground. A chilling video shows the man — who, according to his lawyer, was there to deal with a traffic ticket — yelling “No!” “My hand!” and “Why?” in Spanish. Sheriff’s deputies order passers-by to stand back, and the violent arrest continues.
The next month, ICE agents returned and arrested another man. His lawyer can be heard in a video of the incident asking the agents if they had a warrant. One responds, “Yes, sir.” The lawyer asks, “Can I see it?”
The agent’s response: “No, sir.”
Both men, according to their lawyers, were taken to immigration detention centers.
This type of arrest is on the rise. Lawyers and judges in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington all reported in the first year of the Trump administration that immigration officials were breaking with tradition to descend upon their courthouses. Such arrests in New York have increased by 900 percent in 2017, according to the Immigrant Defense Project.
This is a deeply worrisome trend because arrests at courthouses don’t just derail the lives of the unsuspecting people who are detained, they threaten the very operation of our judicial system. Such arrests scare people away from the courts, keeping them, for example, from testifying at trials or seeking orders of protection. By using this tactic, the nation’s lead immigration law enforcement agency is undermining a pillar of our democracy.
. . . .
Courthouses have a special place in American society. It’s only in a court of law that we can be confident that disputes will be mediated deliberately, and according to a set of rules intended to ensure justice for all parties. As the Supreme Court declared in 1907: “The right to sue and defend in the courts is the alternative of force. In an organized society it is the right conservative of all other rights, and lies at the foundation of orderly government.”
The pursuit of justice depends on getting the parties in the same room. That’s why courts have the power to drag in unwilling participants with subpoenas. They can compel witnesses to testify or risk contempt charges. Courts rely on their hard-earned legitimacy as the rightful locations for resolution of disagreements.
Courthouse arrests by ICE deter not only undocumented immigrants but also people who are here legally but are nervous that they might have somehow compromised their status (or that an officer will think they have). That’s a nuance that is next to impossible for the average person to discern, and those complicated legal questions are exactly what immigration judges spend a lot of energy trying to answer.
. . . .
The harm this causes is bigger than the people whom ICE arrests. United States citizens are not immune to the impact of ICE activity in courthouses. All of us — including those of us who could easily prove our immigration status — depend on courts to do their job, and all of us suffer if the fear of ICE keeps people away.
ICE understands its actions can paralyze important institutions. Longstanding ICE policy discourages questioning or arresting people in schools and churches. It is time to add courthouses to that list. But top administration officials have vigorously defended courthouse arrests.
With no change to federal policy in sight, it is up to cities and states to push back. Elected officials must take seriously their legal obligation to keep courthouses accessible. In addition, the cities and states that own and operate most courthouses and ensure that no one uses their courts in a way that halts judicial business — protesters can’t block the doorway, bail bondsmen aren’t allowed to set up shop in the lobby — should do the same here for immigration agents.
ICE should no longer get free rein to tackle, handcuff and haul away immigrants, sending a message to others that they should think twice before trusting in the courts.