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

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“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!



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.