WashPost: GANGS — A Complicated Problem With No Easy Solution — Budget Cuts Undermine Some Local Programs!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/ms-13-gains-recruits-and-power-in-us-as-teens-surge-across-border/2017/06/16/aacea62a-3989-11e7-a058-ddbb23c75d82_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_ms-13-1240pmm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.5745c22fb3d0

Michael E. Miller, Dan Morse, and Justin Jouvenal report:

“The increasing MS-13 violence has become a flash point in a national debate over immigration. President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have vowed to eradicate the gang, while immigrant advocates say the young people are being scapegoated to further an anti-immigrant agenda.

Danny’s case illustrates just how difficult the balance between compassion and safety can be. Was he a child who needed help? Or a gang member who shouldn’t have been here?

“Do you close the doors to all law-abiding folks who just want to be here and make a better life . . . and in the process keep out the handful who are going to wreak havoc on our community?” asked one federal prosecutor, who is not permitted to speak publicly and has handled numerous MS-13 cases. “Or do you open the doors and you let in good folks and some bad along with the good?”

*****************************************

Read the entire, much longer, article at the link.

it does seem short sighted to save a few bucks by cutting some of the few programs specifically designed to address this issue.

PWS

06-16-17

 

DOJ’s Location Of U.S. Immigration Courts At Obscure Detention Locations Helps DHS To Deny Due Process, Punish Lawyers!

https://www.propublica.org/article/immigrants-in-detention-centers-are-often-hundreds-of-miles-from-legal-help

Patrick G. Lee writes in ProPublica:

“One morning in February, lawyer Marty Rosenbluth set off from his Hillsborough, North Carolina, home to represent two anxious clients in court. He drove about eight hours southwest, spent the night in a hotel and then got up around 6 a.m. to make the final 40-minute push to his destination: a federal immigration court and detention center in the tiny rural Georgia town of Lumpkin.

During two brief hearings over two days, Rosenbluth said, he convinced an immigration judge to grant both of his new clients more time to assess their legal options to stay in the United States. Then he got in his car and drove the 513 miles back home.

“Without an attorney, it’s almost impossible to win your case in the immigration courts. You don’t even really know what to say or what the standards are,” said Rosenbluth, who works for a private law firm and took on the cases for a fee. “You may have a really, really good case. But you simply can’t package it in a way that the court can understand.”

His clients that day were lucky. Only 6 percent of the men held at the Lumpkin complex — a 2,001-bed detention center and immigration court — have legal representation, according to a 2015 study in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. Nationwide, it’s not much better, the study of data from October 2006 to September 2012 found: Just 14 percent of detainees have lawyers.

That percentage is likely to get even smaller under the Trump administration, which has identified 21,000 potential new detention beds to add to the approximately 40,000 currently in use. In January, President Trump signed an executive order telling the secretary of homeland security, who oversees the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, to “immediately” start signing contracts for detention centers and building new ones.

If history is any guide, many of those facilities will end up in places like Lumpkin, population 2,741. The city’s small downtown has a courthouse, the police department, a couple of restaurants and a Dollar General. There’s no hotel and many of the nearest immigration lawyers are based 140 miles away in Atlanta.

“It’s been a strategic move by ICE to construct detention centers in rural areas,” said Amy Fischer, policy director for RAICES, a San Antonio-based nonprofit that supports on-site legal aid programs at two Texas facilities for detained families. “Even if the money is there, it’s very difficult to set up a pro bono network when you’re geographically three hours away from a big city.”
ICE currently oversees a network of about 200 facilities, jails, processing centers and former prisons where immigrants can be held, according to a government list from February.

Unlike criminal defendants, most immigrants in deportation proceedings are not entitled to government-appointed lawyers because their cases are deemed civil matters. Far from free legal help and with scant financial resources, the majority of detainees take their chances solo, facing off against federal lawyers before judges saddled with full dockets of cases. Frequently they must use interpreters.

An ICE spokesman denied that detention facilities are purposely opened in remote locations to limit attorney access. “Any kind of detention center, due to zoning and other factors, they are typically placed in the outskirts of a downtown area,” said spokesman Bryan Cox. “ICE is very supportive and very accommodating in terms of individuals who wish to have representation and ensuring that they have the adequate ability to do so.” At Lumpkin’s Stewart Detention Center, for instance, lawyers can schedule hourlong video teleconferences with detainees, Cox said.

But a ProPublica review found that access to free or low-cost legal counsel was limited at many centers. Government-funded orientation programs, which exist at a few dozen detention locations, typically include self-help workshops, group presentations on the immigration court process, brief one-on-one consultations and pro bono referrals, but they stop short of providing direct legal representation. And a list of pro bono legal service providers distributed by the courts includes many who don’t take the cases of detainees at all. Those that do can often only take a limited number — perhaps five to 10 cases at a time.

The legal help makes a difference. Across the country, 21 percent of detained immigrants who had lawyers won their deportation cases, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review study found, compared to just 2 percent of detainees without a lawyer. The study also found that 48 percent of detainees who had lawyers were released from detention while their cases were pending, compared to 7 percent of those who lacked lawyers.

Legal counsel can also speed up the process for those detainees with no viable claims to stay in the country, experts said. A discussion with a lawyer might prompt the detainee to cut his losses and opt for voluntary departure, avoiding a pointless legal fight and the taxpayer-funded costs of detention.

Lawmakers in some states, such as New York and California, have stepped in to help, pledging taxpayer money toward providing lawyers for immigrants who can’t afford their own. But such help only aids those detainees whose deportation cases are assigned to courts in those areas.

“What brings good results is access to family and access to counsel and access to evidence, and when you’re in a far off location without those things, the likelihood of ICE winning and the person being denied due process increase dramatically,” said Conor Gleason, an immigration attorney at The Bronx Defenders in New York.”

********************************************

Read the complete article at the above link.

Lumpkin is “at the outskirts” of what “downtown area?” Don’t all major metro areas have “metropolitan correctional centers,” city jails, county jails, or some equivalent located near the courts and hub of legal activities for criminal defendants awaiting trial? Why are civil detainees allowed to be treated this way?

For far too long, under AGs from both parties, the DOJ has participated in this disingenuous charade designed to promote removals over due process. Because cases often have to be continued for lawyers, even where none is likely to be found, the procedure actually adds to detention costs in many cases.  Why not house only those with final orders awaiting removal or with pending appeals at places like Lumpkin? Why don’t the BIA and Courts of Appeals rule that intentionally detaining individuals where they cannot realistically exercise their “right to be represented by counsel of their own choosing” is a denial of due process?

Look for the situation to get much worse under Sessions, who envisions an “American Gulag” where detention rules as part of his program to demonize migrants by treating them all as “dangerous criminals.”

Meanwhile, as I pointed in a recent panel discussion at AYUDA, the only part of the immigration system over which the private sector has any control or influence these days is promoting due process by providing more pro bono lawyers for migrants. Eventually, if those efforts are persistent enough, the Government might be forced to change its approach.

PWS

05-18-17

Grossman Law LLC Analyzes Impact Of Exec Orders On Migrants, Families!

Trump’s Executive Orders on Immigration
Yesterday, January 25, 2017, President Trump signed two Executive Orders on immigration, demonstrating that he will take a hard-line, no compromise, and enforcement only approach to handling our nation’s already broken immigration system. Through these Orders, the Trump Administration communicated the following priorities:
Border Wall: The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must immediately begin planning, designing, and constructing a physical wall along the nearly 2000-mile southern border. The U.S. (not Mexico) will pay for this wall at an estimated price tag of $6.5 million per mile. This is an unconscionable expenditure at a time when statistics show that the southern border is more secure than ever and illegal border crossings are at a 40-year low!

Increased Detention of Asylum Seekers and immigrants at the southern border: DHS is authorized to hire an additional 5000 Border Patrol Agents and build new detention facilities. DHS will no longer release asylum seekers on bond or electronic monitoring; instead, asylum-seekers will remain in jail while their cases are pending, and will have to gather evidence, prepare legal arguments, and present their cases while in detention. Not only will this be expensive ($125 per adult per day, or in the case of family detention, $343 per person per day), but it is inhumane. An estimated 88% of Central American women, children, and families crossing the Southern border have valid asylum claims. Subjecting them to prolonged detention further traumatizes them and violates this country’s proud tradition of welcoming those fleeing persecution.

Revised Removal Priorities: DHS is authorized to hire up to 10,000 additional immigration officers who will prioritize for removal individuals convicted of any criminal offense whatsoever, no matter how minor or insignificant. They will also prioritize for removal individuals who have open charges pending against them, even if they have not been found guilty by a judge or jury, and individuals who have never been charged or convicted of a crime, but whom an immigration officer believes may have committed a criminal act or may otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security. This vague and overbroad policy opens the door for rampant constitutional and civil rights violations. It also has the potential to expose both federal and deputized state and local agencies to frequent and protracted litigation.

Relatedly, the President has also Deputized State and Local Law Enforcement Officials to act as immigrant agents in apprehending, investigating, and detaining immigrants. Local jurisdictions currently have no legal obligation to assist with civil immigration enforcement, as immigration enforcement is the responsibility of the federal government alone. Forcing local police to act as immigration agents strains their already limited resources and reduces their ability to respond to and investigate crime. Importantly, this policy also deters immigrants who are victims of crime from coming forward and reporting criminal activity. By alienating our immigrant neighbors and over-taxing local police, this policy will make our communities even less safe.

Sanctuary Cities: President Trump pledges to end “sanctuary cities” (jurisdictions which protect the identity of non-criminal immigrant members of the community by refusing to share information about those individuals with federal immigration authorities). He has promised to end “sanctuary cities” by denying them Federal grants and funding. This move, too, jeopardizes the safety of all Americans. It undermines community policing efforts that encourage everyone to work with the police to prevent and solve crime. When immigrants distrust and fear local law enforcement, victims and key witnesses refuse to come forward out of fear of deportation.

Without a doubt, the impact of these directives will be substantial. Grossman Law is concerned that the President’s priorities skirt the long-established due process rights of all individuals, including immigrants, within our borders. Additionally, the attack on “sanctuary cities” will have the negative impact of further dividing our nation and the potential of increasing crime in our largest cities. Our nation’s history, prosperity and growth has been closely aligned with the prosperity and growth of immigrants. The executive orders, in large part, will work to destroy this proud history, and will have the consequence of instilling fear, rather than hope, into the hearts of deserving immigrants. This is “un-American” and misguided policy. Grossman Law will closely monitor the implementation of these Orders and will provide ongoing advice and counsel to our clients, and will continue organizing to ensure the protection of rights for all.

Grossman Law, LLC
4922 Fairmont Avenue, Suite 200
Bethesda, Maryland 20814
Phone: (240) 403-0913
Website: www.GrossmanLawLLC.com

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView on Instagram
Find us on Google+Find us on Yelp
Grossman Law, LLC, 4922 Fairmont Ave., Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814
SafeUnsubscribe™ jennings12@aol.com
Forward this email | Update Profile | About our service provider
Sent by team@grossmanlawllc.com in collaboration with
Constant Contact
Try it free today

************************

PWS

01/26/17

“AYUDA — MAKING AMERICA REALLY GREAT, EVERY DAY” — Meet A Spectacular Nonprofit Legal & Social Services Organization That “Walks The Walk and Talks The Talk” In The DC Metro Area — Read My Recent Speech Here!

AYUDA — MAKING AMERICA REALLY GREAT, EVERY DAY

 

January 11, 2017

 

Verizon Building

 

1300 Eye St., N.W.

 

Washington, D.C.

 

Remarks By Retired United States Immigration Judge Paul Wickham Schmidt

 

Good evening. Thank you Christina,[1] for that wonderful introduction. Thank you, Michael,[2] for extending your hospitality in Verizon’s “state of the art” training center. And, of course, thank you Arleen[3] for inviting me, and for all that you and AYUDA do for our community and for our nation.

 

Even more important, thanks to all of you here for your continued support and promotion of AYUDA’s essential mission — to help hard-working individuals in our community help themselves, through legal assistance and a variety of educational and social support programs. You are AYUDA, and without your continuing support, encouragement, and active participation there would be no AUYDA and hence no place for those vulnerable individuals to seek assistance. Our community and our nation would be immeasurably poorer if that happened.

 

By coincidence, I began my professional career in immigration law in 1973, the year AYUDA was founded. On a personal level, and I know that this touches on only one narrow aspect of AYUDA’s ambitious program, I want to thank all of you for the unwavering support, assistance, and consistent professional excellence that AYUDA provided to the U.S. Immigration Court in Arlington, Virginia during my 13-year tenure as a judge, and, of course, continuing on after my retirement.

 

The sole role of an U.S. Immigration Judge is to provide fair, impartial hearings that fully comply with the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution to individuals whom the Department of Homeland Security (the “DHS”) has charged with being removable from the United States. Without competent legal representation of the individual before the court, known as a “respondent,” the job of insuring due process can be totally daunting. With dedicated professional groups like AYUDA coming to the defense, my task of conducting fair hearings magically went from “daunting” to “doable.”

 

Representation makes a real difference in the lives of individuals. Represented individuals succeed in securing relief in Immigration Court at a rate of at least five times greater than those appearing without representation. But, for some of the most vulnerable populations, such as “recently arrived women with children,” bureaucratic lingo to describe actual human beings seeking protection from rampant violence in Central America whose removal has been “prioritized” in Immigration Court, the “success differential” is simply astounding: 14 times!

 

I am honored tonight to be in the presence of two of the “real heroes – or, more properly, heroines,” of due process at the Arlington Immigration Court: your own “Hall of Famer,” the incomparable Anya Sykes,[4] and your amazingly talented newly appointed — great choice guys –Executive Director, Paula Fitzgerald. Both were “regulars” in my courtroom.

 

Quite simply, Anya and Paula save lives. Numerous hard working individuals and families in our community, who are contributing at the grass roots level to the greatness of America, owe their very existence to Anya, Paula, and AYUDA.

 

For example, last year alone, AYUDA helped a remarkable 1,900 individuals resolve more than 3,500 matters in our legal system. And, Immigration Court is just the “tip of the iceberg.” Much of the work was done with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, with domestic violence victims in local courts, and through AYUDA’s superstar Social Services and Language Services branches.

 

I know we all want to get back to main event – eating, drinking, and being merry. So, I’m going to limit myself to one “war story” about my time with Anya and Paula in court.

 

As some of you probably know, there is a wonderful law enacted some years ago known as “NACARA.” It really could be a model for future laws enabling earned membership in our national community. NACARA has allowed thousands of individuals in our community who decades ago fled violence in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala, and have lived law abiding, productive lives here for many years, often in valid Temporary Protected Status, to obtain green cards and get on the track for U.S. citizenship and full participation in the vibrant political life of our community and our country.

 

The basic NACARA criteria were fairly straightforward, and most individuals were able to have their applications granted at the Asylum Office of the USCIS.   But, as with any mass adjudication program, there was group of so-called “dog cases” left over at the end.

 

Most of those involved individuals who had served or were believed to have served with the Salvadoran military or Civil Patrol during the civil war that raged in the 1980s. If you remember, the U.S. supported the Salvadoran government during that civil war, and some of the individuals who served in the Salvadoran Army actually received training or instruction at military installations in the United States.

 

At that time, international human rights groups claimed that the Salvadoran government and military were engaging in large scale human rights violations, many directed against innocent civilians, in an effort to suppress guerilla insurgents. Our Government denied, downplayed, or outright ignored most of these claims and refused asylum to almost all Salvadorans on the grounds that no persecution was occurring.

 

Times change, however, and at some point somebody in our Government actually looked at the evidence and agreed, long after the fact, that the Salvadoran government and military had committed large scale “persecution of others,” even though many of the “others” had been denied asylum in the U.S. based on inability to establish that persecution.

 

By the time I arrived at the Arlington Immigration Court, the DHS was taking the position that nearly all individuals connected with the Salvadoran military were presumed to be “persecutors,” and therefore should be denied NACARA unless the individual could prove, by credible evidence, that he or she did not, in fact, engage in persecution decades earlier during the civil war. These cases were routinely declined at the Asylum Office and “referred” to our court for re-adjudication.

 

As you might imagine, such cases are extremely complicated, requiring the individual not only to have detailed knowledge of the structure and activities of the Salvadoran military during the civil war but also specific knowledge of what individual units and soldiers were doing at particular times, places, and dates, and to be able to coherently account for and corroborate their own activities at those times.

 

Most of those “referred” were hard working, tax paying, law-abiding individuals who had lived in the U.S. for decades, and supported their families, but did not have the necessary funds to pay for good lawyers familiar with, and willing to handle, this type of sophisticated case. The chance of an individual being able to successfully present his or her own case was approximately “zero.” Most were completely bewildered as to why service with the U.S.-supported government of El Salvador, once considered a “good” thing, was now a “bad thing,” requiring mandatory denial of their NACARA applications.

 

This is where talented NGO lawyers like Paula and Anya stepped in. With their help and legal expertise, notwithstanding the passage of decades, individuals were able to document, corroborate, and testify convincingly about their “non-persecutory” activities during the civil war. I recollect that every such NACARA case handled by AYUDA before me eventually was granted, most without appeal or with the actual concurrence of the DHS Assistant Chief Counsel.

 

As a direct consequence, hard working, productive, law-abiding, tax-paying individuals remained in the community, continued to support their families, and, with green cards in hand, could now find better work opportunities and get on the path to eventual U.S. citizenship and full participation in our national community. This is “Lifesaving 101” in action, and Anya, Paula, and AYUDA are the “lifesavers.”  If there were an “Arlington Immigration Court Hall of Fame,” they would certainly be in it. In addition to their outstanding services to AYUDA’s clients, Anya and Paula are inspiring mentors and role models for lawyers just entering the field.

 

In closing, I’ve always tried to keep five important values in front of me: fairness, scholarship, timeliness, respect, and teamwork. Dedicated individuals like Anya and Paula, and great organizations like AYUDA, embody these important values.

 

And, beyond that, these are your values. Your investment in AYUDA and its critical mission is an investment in social justice and the values that have made our country great and will continue to do so into the future.

 

Thanks for coming, thanks for listening, and, most of all, thanks for your investment in AYUDA and turning your values into effective action that saves lives, builds futures, and insures the continuing greatness of America.

 

 

 

 

[1] Christina M. Wilkes, Esquire, Partner, Grossman Law Firm, LLC – Chair, AYUDA Board of Directors.

[2] Michael Woods, Esquire, Vice President and Associate General Counsel, Verizon — Director, AYUDA Board of Directors.

[3] Arleen Ramirez Borysiewicz, Director of Program Initiatives, AYUDA.

[4] Unfortunately, Anya was unable to attend. But, almost everyone in the room was mouthing “Anya” when I said the word “heroine” so I realized that she was “there is spirit” and proceeded accordingly. Anya Sykes was inducted into the AYUDA Hall of Fame in 2013.