CAL Moves To Thwart Additional Immigration Detention!

https://www.buzzfeed.com/adolfoflores/california-deals-blow-to-trumps-plan-to-expand-immigrant?utm_term=.wu6ag8mx2#.ph7jvNV2r

Adolfo Flores reports in BuzzFeed:

“California lawmakers on Thursday dealt a blow to the Trump administration’s plans to expand capacity for detaining undocumented immigrants in the state.

The provision, which is part of California’s $125-billion budget, stops local jurisdictions from signing new contracts or expanding existing contracts with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for detaining immigrants. It also requires the state attorney general to conduct reviews of all detention facilities holding immigrants. The budget plan now goes to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown, who is expected to sign it.

California’s move comes as ICE is seeking a $1.2-billion increase in funding for the next fiscal year. The agency’s budget calls for nearly $4.9 billion to expand detention capacity to 51,379, with the ability to hold about 49,000 adults and 2,500 families.

At the same time, the Trump administration has expanded the pool of deportation priorities to include nearly all 11 million undocumented immigrants.

California state Sen. Nancy Skinner, who introduced the language into the bill, cited that expanded pool of possible deportees as a major reason for the new rule.

“That’s just an absurd expansion, which California overall rejects,” Skinner told BuzzFeed News. “We don’t support the president’s broad executive orders and we feel that any detainee should be treated humanely.”

A razor wire fence surrounds the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc.

Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

A razor wire fence surrounds the Adelanto immigration detention center, which is run by the Geo Group Inc.

The Golden State is home to nine immigration detention facilities, and all but Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego contract with local jurisdictions to hold immigrants. A recent report from Human Rights Watch estimates that 65,000 immigrants are detained in California every year, second only to Texas.

Grace Meng, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said it’s an unprecedented move by a state with so many immigrant detainees.

“People think of California as a liberal state that’s anti-Trump and pro-immigrant, but after Texas, it holds more immigrants than any other state,” Meng told BuzzFeed News. “This certainly can’t stop Trump’s detention plan singlehandedly, but it’s an important step for a state to take.”

However, Virginia Kice, spokeswoman for ICE, said placing limitations on the agency’s detention options in California won’t hinder their efforts.

“It will simply mean ICE will have to transfer individuals encountered in California to detention facilities outside the state, at a greater distance from their family, friends, and legal representatives,” Kice said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Yeah, as if keeping folks near “family, friends, and legal representatives” was ever a factor in DHS detention decisions. What a complete crock!

No, it’s largely about money, using detention as a deterrent/demoralizer, and, occasionally, forum shopping by the DHS to gets folks into Circuits where the law is less favorable to their claims for relief. In the latter respect, DHS could actually benefit from detaining more folks outside the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit. It also appears that lining the pockets of certain private detention contractors and state jurisdictions might be a factor in jacking up needless detention. Added to the steady stream of deaths in immigration detention, it has become a pretty unwholesome business.

It starts with a “detention-happy” Congress and goes down the line from there. To date, those who have promoted and enabled overuse of immigration detention have escaped political, legal, and moral accountability. But, history is infinitely long and has a funny way of eventually catching up with those who seek to evade its judgments, even after death.

PWS

06-15-17

DHS DEATHWATCH: Another Detainee Dies In Custody! — Fatalities Likely To Increase As Trump Ramps Up Arrests & Detentions!

https://www.buzzfeed.com/adolfoflores/another-immigrant-has-died-in-ice-custody-and-critics-worry?utm_term=.nsKXk5aRM#.mjem7V6rn

Adolfo Flores reports in BuzzFeed News:

“The death of an undocumented immigrant while in the custody of federal authorities is the latest in a series of deaths that advocates worry will continue to grow as more people living illegally in the US are detained under the Trump administration.

Vicente Caceres-Maradiaga, 46, died Wednesday night from acute coronary syndrome as he was being transferred to a hospital from a private detention center in Adelanto, California. He is the ninth person to die in the custody of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) this fiscal year, which started Oct. 1. That compares to 10 deaths for all of fiscal year 2016.

The Daily Beast was the first to report on the trend.

Christina Fialho, executive director of Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), said the deaths were disturbing.

“They also point to systemic failures that are likely to grow even starker as the Trump administration carries out its crackdown on immigration,” Fialho told BuzzFeed News. “I have no doubt that the increase in immigration detention deaths is directly connected to both the increase in the number of people detained and the effective elimination of federal standards on humane treatment.”

Operating under executive orders and memos from the Trump administration that call for an increase in arrests of people living illegally in the US, data analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University found that there has already been a sharp increase in the number of detainees who are waiting for their court cases to be heard.

The rise in both the number of arrests and detainees is a change from the Obama administration, which allowed many undocumented immigrants out of detention while their legal cases played out — a practice maligned by critics as “catch-and-release.” During Obama’s tenure, 27% of people with immigration cases were kept in custody, compared to 61% under Trump, according to TRAC.”

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Read the entire article at the link.

I suppose that this Administration just looks at detainee deaths as a “cost of doing business.” Or, perhaps “collateral damage” as they say in the military. As noted in prior posts, private detention facilities had been determined by the DOJ’s Inspector General to have substandard conditions. Under then Attorney General Lynch, the DOJ was in the process of phasing private detention out of the prison system. While the DHS had not taken the same action with respect to civil immigration detention, then Secretary Johnson had received a report from an Advisory Committee noting the problems with private detention and recommending that it be phased out. The Trump Administration, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions leading the way, has reversed the course and intends to maximize the use of private detention while it builds it promised “American gulag” for both civil detainees and criminals. At no time that I am aware of have Trump, Sessions, or Kelly expressed any concern about detention standards or the health and safety of detainees.

PWS

06-03-17

Some Undocumented Migrants Flee US For Canada — A 21st Century “Underground Railroad”

 

https://apple.news/AcVFywEAtSw6IcI4GHsDgww

Adolfo Flores reports for BuzzFeed News:

“Martha never imagined she’d be in an upstate New York church basement hiding from the US government, far from the troubled El Salvador she had left behind years ago and very different from the life she had slowly built in Virginia.
The ascension of Donald Trump to the White House after threatening to deport high numbers of undocumented immigrants — combined with the prospect of being separated from their US-born daughters and the fact that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was on her husband’s heels — drove them into hiding to wait for an asylum interview in Canada.
“A lot of people like us are desperate, looking for where to run because they can’t be here, because of this man,” Martha, who has lived in the US for 16 years, told BuzzFeed News in a recent interview.
The family declined to use their real names out of fear of retaliation from US immigration authorities.
“When you come to this country, you come with nothing, zero, and little by little you build a life,” Martha said. “Then, suddenly you have to make a decision you never thought you’d have to make: leave and start over again.”
Her family is part of a small but growing number of immigrants who lived in the US for years and are being ferried to the Canadian border via an underground network of churches and immigration rights groups. Rev. Justo Gonzalez II of Pilgrim St. Luke’s in Buffalo, New York, said that so far they’ve helped 20 people, including six children, get to Canada to petition for asylum.
During a recent visit by BuzzFeed News, there were nine people, including Martha’s family, waiting at the church to make the same journey.
Vive, a Buffalo-based organization that helps refugees, reached out to Gonzalez and other sites when they started seeing large numbers of immigrants asking for their help getting to Canada. As a precaution, Gonzalez set up additional security cameras around the church, and everyone has to be buzzed in during non-mass hours. Volunteers patrol the building during mass to make sure no one is there to harass their guests.”

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Read the full article at the above link.

Outwardly, this appears to be a nice, self-sufficient family which is contributing to our society.  Their reasons for fleeing from El Salvador and coming here also appear to be compelling, at least from their standpoint.

The article glosses over the question of why Moises’s TPS protection was rescinded in 2007. Most often, this happens when someone commits two or more misdemeanors (or one felony) in the U.S. So, at least to some extent, the family’s problems might be self-inflicted.

Still, is it a good use of our law enforcement resources to create a climate which drives folks like this out of the US?

Or would it be better to use limited resources to integrate these folks into our society in some way or another?

PWS

05-21-17

REUTERS: U.S. Immigration Court’s “Night Court” Plan Shows Why Due Process Is A Mirage In A “Captive” Court System — Will EOIR Cave To Administration’s Move To Put “Due Process Veneer” On Assembly Line Removals!

http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN16H030

Julia Edwards Ainsley reports:

“The Department of Justice is deploying 50 judges to immigration detention facilities across the United States, according to two sources and a letter seen by Reuters and sent to judges on Thursday.

The department is also considering asking judges to sit from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., split between two rotating shifts, to adjudicate more cases, the sources said. A notice about shift times was not included in the letter.

The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment.”

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Thanks much to Zoe Tillman over at BuzzFeed News for bringing this article to my attention.

“Judges” working “shifts” on the “removal assembly line!” “Come on, man!” A “real” court would be strongly resisting this mockery of justice and due process.

But, because the U.S. Immigration Court is a “wholly owned subsidiary” of the Administration, EOIR leadership will likely “go along to get along” with a transparent scheme to railroad human beings in real danger back to the “death zone” of the Northern Triangle with “rubber stamp” justice. In other words, the Immigration Courts are considered by the Administration and the DOJ to be part of the “enforcement team,” rather than an independent due-process focused judiciary.

Scheduling early in the AM and late at night is likely to make it more difficult to get pro bono lawyers, witnesses, interpreters, etc. It isn’t just judges.

Also, some folks don’t function very well at those hours. Sounds sort of “gulag like” to me.

And, what about court clerks and other support staff? Additionally, by putting courts in out of the way detention locations and scheduling hearings at odd times, DOJ limits transparency. It’s harder for the press and other “outsiders” to observe.

Moreover, what happens to existing dockets of those IJs who “volunteer?” Reassigning 50 currently sitting Immigration Judges to the Southern Border on a rotating basis for one year would require the rescheduling of nearly 40,000 cases from their “home” dockets. Those cases, many already years old, are likely to be sent to the end of the docket, several years out.  This is classic “aimless docket reshuffling” which increases backlogs and inhibits fairness and due process.

Finally, what’s going to happen to a “volunteer” Immigration Judge who takes due process seriously, slows down the cases so individuals can get lawyers, takes time for full presentation of the cases by both sides, and writes carefully reasoned decisions granting asylum or alternative forms of protection.  Chances are they will be considered “unproductive,” “not with the program,” “not carrying their weight,” or “not committed to carrying out the Attorney General’s priorities” (yes, folks, Immigration Judges actually are given “performance ratings,” and one of the elements has to do with supporting “agency priorities”)?  That’s likely to be “career limiting.”

Final question:  How would you like to have your life determined by a judge working (for the “chief prosecutor”) under these conditions?

PWS

03/10/17

 

 

 

Zoe Tillman on BuzzFeed: U.S. Immigration Courts Are Overwhelmed — Administration’s New Enforcement Priorities Could Spell Disaster! (I’m Quoted In This Article, Along With Other Current & Former U.S. Immigration Judges)

https://www.buzzfeed.com/zoetillman/backlogged-immigration-courts-pose-problems-for-trumps-plans?utm_term=.pokrzE6BW#.wcMKevdYG

Zoe Tillman reports:

“ARLINGTON, Va. — In a small, windowless courtroom on the second floor of an office building, Judge Rodger Harris heard a string of bond requests on Tuesday morning from immigrants held in jail as they faced deportation.
The detainees appeared by video from detention facilities elsewhere in the state. Harris, an immigration judge since 2007, used a remote control to move the camera around in his courtroom so the detainees could see their lawyers appearing in-person before the judge, if they had one. The lawyers spoke about their clients’ family ties, job history, and forthcoming asylum petitions, and downplayed any previous criminal record.
In cases where Harris agreed to set bond — the amounts ranged from $8,000 to $20,000 — he had the same message for the detainees: if they paid bond and were set free until their next court date, it would mean a delay in their case. Hearings set for March or April would be pushed back until at least the summer, he said.
But a couple of months is nothing compared to timelines that some immigration cases are on now. Judges and lawyers interviewed by BuzzFeed News described hearings scheduled four, five, or even six years out. Already facing a crushing caseload, immigration judges are bracing for more strain as the Trump administration pushes ahead with an aggressive ramp-up of immigration enforcement with no public commitment so far to aid backlogged courts.
Immigration courts, despite their name, are actually an arm of the US Department of Justice. The DOJ seal — with the Latin motto “qui pro domina justitia sequitur,” which roughly translates to, “who prosecutes on behalf of justice” — hung on the wall behind Harris in his courtroom in Virginia. Lawyers from the US Department of Homeland Security prosecute cases. Rulings can be appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals, which is also part of the Justice Department, and then to a federal appeals court.
As of the end of January, there were more than 540,000 cases pending in immigration courts. President Trump signed executive orders in late January that expanded immigration enforcement priorities and called for thousands of additional enforcement officers and border patrol officers. But the orders are largely silent on immigration courts, where there are dozens of vacant judgeships. And beyond filling the vacancies, the union of immigration judges says more judges are needed to handle the caseload, as well as more space, technological upgrades, and other resources.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly acknowledged the immigration court backlog in a memorandum released this week that provided new details about how the department would carry out Trump’s orders. Kelly lamented the “unacceptable delay” in immigration court cases that allowed individuals who illegally entered the United States to remain here for years.
The administration hasn’t announced plans to increase the number of immigration judges or to provide more funding and resources. It also isn’t clear yet if immigration judges and court staff are exempt from a government-wide hiring freeze that Trump signed shortly after he took office. There are 73 vacancies in immigration courts, out of 374 judgeships authorized by Congress.
“Everybody’s pretty stressed,” said Paul Schmidt, who retired as an immigration judge in June. “How are you going to throw more cases into a court with 530,000 pending cases? It isn’t going to work.”

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Zoe Tillman provides a well-reaserched and accurate description of the dire situation of justice in the U.S. Immigration Courts and the poorly conceived and uncoordinated enforcement initiatives of the Trump Administration. Sadly, lives and futures of “real life human beings” are at stake here.

Here’s a “shout out” to my good friend and former colleague Judge Rodger Harris who always does a great job of providing due process and justice on the highly stressful Televideo detained docket at the U.S. Immigration Court in Arlington, VA. Thanks for all you do for our system of justice and the cause of due process, Judge Harris.

PWS

02/24/17