N. Rappaport In The Hill: CAL Should Try A Different Approach For Helping Undocumented Residents!

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/342178-illegal-ca-sanctuary-state-bill-is-actually-an-ineffective-way

Nolan writes:

California 'sanctuary state' bill is illegal, but also ineffective
© Getty

“Activist Dolores Huertaclaims that California needs to enact the California Values Act, Senate Bill 54 (SB 54), as a counterweight to Texas’s draconian law banning sanctuary cities in that state and President Donald Trump’s “xenophobic agenda to deport millions of people.”

I disagree.  While I can understand why Huerta dislikes Texas’s sanctuary city law, it is an exaggeration to call it “draconian.”  And Trump is just enforcing immigration provisions that were written by Congress and signed into law by previous presidents.  If those laws are xenophobic, the solution is to lobby Congress to change them.

Making California a sanctuary state will not stop Trump’s enforcement efforts.  But it would violate federal law and make California ineligible for certain types of federal grants.

. . . .

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel found a better way to help.  He established a Legal Protection Fund for undocumented aliens living in Chicago.

Once undocumented aliens are in expedited removal proceedings, they are subject to mandatory detention and cannot be represented by an attorney; but they can be helped by attorneys before they are in such proceedings.

When appropriate, attorneys can assist them in putting together the evidence they will need to establish that they have been in the United States for more than two years, or that they have a credible fear of persecution, if they find themselves in expedited removal proceedings.

This would help many undocumented aliens without violating any federal law or making California ineligible for needed federal funds.

Emanuel found a better way to help.  He established a Legal Protection Fund for undocumented aliens living in Chicago.

Once undocumented aliens are in expedited removal proceedings, they are subject to mandatory detention and cannot be represented by an attorney; but they can be helped by attorneys before they are in such proceedings.

When appropriate, attorneys can assist them in putting together the evidence they will need to establish that they have been in the United States for more than two years, or that they have a credible fear of persecution, if they find themselves in expedited removal proceedings.

This would help many undocumented aliens without violating any federal law or making California ineligible for needed federal funds.”

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

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

PWS

07-15-17

“KATE’S LAW” — Steinle Family Didn’t Want Her Name Associated With Political Football!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/14/politics/kate-steinle-trial/index.html

CNN reports:

“San Francisco (CNN)One minute, Kate Steinle was walking with her dad on a San Francisco pier. The next, she fell to the ground, crying out for help after a bullet hit her in the back and pierced her aorta.

In a matter of hours, Steinle was dead, and police had arrested an undocumented immigrant who they accused of pulling the trigger.
On that summer day in 2015, Donald Trump had barely kicked off his campaign. But the case quickly became a rallying cry for Trump as he called for a crackdown on illegal immigration and railed against sanctuary cities.
In the two years since, candidate Trump has become President Trump, and Steinle’s name echoed in the halls of Congress this month as the House of Representatives passed Kate’s Law, a measure named for her.
But Steinle’s family has balked at her case becoming the symbol of Republicans’ immigration agenda. The attorney defending the suspect in the case says there’s more to the story than meets the eye.
And Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, the undocumented Mexican immigrant who’s accused of killing Steinle and of repeatedly entering the United States illegally, has yet to go on trial.
Lopez-Sanchez appeared in court on Friday, wearing an orange jumpsuit and a blank expression through most of the proceedings.
Here’s the latest on the case: . . . .”
*******************************************************
Read the complete article and get detailed information on the current status of the case at the link.
No surprise that the Trump-Sessions crew and the GOP sponsors of “Kate’s Law” are more interested in scoring political points than the feelings of the family struck by this tragedy.
And, even “enhanced” deportation laws really would’t have prevented this tragedy. The suspect had already been deported five times.
Thanks to star CNN immigration beat reporter Tal Kopan for alerting me to this article to which she contributed.
PWS
07-14-17

NEW SUIT IN CAL. ALLEGES THAT DHS FLOUTS ASYLUM LAW AT BORDER!

https://www.buzzfeed.com/adolfoflores/us-officials-accused-of-intimidating-asylum-seekers?utm_te

Adolfo Flores writes in BuzzFeed News:

“Border agents are systematically intimidating and turning away asylum seekers at the US–Mexico border, a lawsuit filed on Wednesday alleges.

The federal class-action lawsuit filed in US District Court in California by immigrant rights groups alleges that US Customs and Border Protection agents have told migrants that “Donald Trump just signed new laws saying there is no asylum for anyone.” They have also allegedly coerced asylum seekers into signing forms abandoning their claims by threatening to take their children away.

“CBP’s illegal conduct is occurring as a humanitarian crisis drives vulnerable people experiencing persecution in their home countries to seek refugee protection in the United States,” the complaint states.

CBP said in a statement that it does not comment on pending litigation.

One of the plaintiffs, identified as Abigail Doe in the complaint, is a Mexican native with two children under the age of 10. She attempted to flee Mexico after the cartels threatened to kill her family.

Lenny Ignelzi / AP

She arrived in Tijuana with her two kids and approached border agents at the San Ysidro point of entry. The lawsuit states CBP agents coerced her into recanting her fear of staying in Mexico and signing a form withdrawing her application for admission to the US.

Abigail Doe and other women in the lawsuit said they were told by agents that if they continued to pursue their asylum claims they would be separated from their children.

“As a result of this coercion, the form falsely states that [Abigail Doe] and her children were unable to access the asylum process and were forced to return to Tijuana, where they remain in fear for their lives,” the lawsuit states.

Another woman, identified as Dinora Doe from Honduras, presented herself to US border authorities after her and her 18-year-old daughter were threatened and repeatedly raped by MS-13 gang members. The complaint accuses CBP officials of misinforming Dinora Doe of her rights under US law, and denying her the chance to apply for asylum.

The lawsuit also names Al Otro Lado, a legal aid organization that helps migrants on both sides of the border, as a plaintiff because it has allegedly been forced to divert significant resources to counteract CBP’s actions.”

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

The article with a copy of the plaintiffs’ filing is at the link.

While the Trump Administration often disingenuously pontificates about the “rule of law,” in fact, they appear to have little concern for the Constitution, the Immigration and Nationality Act, International Treaties and Conventions, and a host of other legal requirements.

PWS

07-12-17

CNN’S TAL KOPAN ON SANCTUARY CITIES: Trump Administration’s Statements Continue To Be a Goldmine Of Evidence For Opponents!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/07/politics/sanctuary-cities-trump-administration-words/index.html

Tal reports:

“Washington (CNN)The Trump administration does not shy away from tough rhetoric, and lawyers representing sanctuary cities are hoping that will come back to haunt it in court.

Attorneys representing Santa Clara County in California petitioned a federal judge late Thursday to enter a collection of statements made by members of the administration into the record in their case, saying that the administration’s public statements directly contradict what Justice Department lawyers are arguing before the court.
It’s the latest example of attorneys trying to use the public statements of the Trump administration against itself, a theme in court battles designed to try to block pieces of President Donald Trump’s agenda.
Santa Clara County is the lead plaintiff in a case challenging a piece of Trump’s January executive order on immigration that targeted sanctuary jurisdictions, a catch-all term generally used to describe states, cities and localities that do not fully cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.
The federal judge in the case in April blocked the administration from enforcing part of the order — a broad threat to take away federal funding from jurisdictions determined to be so-called sanctuaries.
The judge allowed a narrow interpretation of the threat to be enforced, hinging on a small piece of US law that requires localities to transmit immigration information about individuals to the federal government when asked. The judge said the government could withhold a small subset of federal grants related to law enforcement if cities didn’t comply with that law — a requirement already put in place as a precondition for those grants late in the Obama administration.
Despite months of statements that the administration would seek to potentially take away more grant monies for a broader range of perceived noncooperation from jurisdictions, the Justice Department in May released guidance clarifying that the narrow range of actions allowed by the federal judge were the only punishment the government intended to pursue.
After that, the Justice Department asked the court to dismiss the case, based in part on the new guidance.
But attorneys for Santa Clara County are asking the court to not buy the government’s argument, pointing to statements since the guidance that go far beyond what it says.
Attorneys are asking the judge to allow them to file an additional argument in the case, which compiles those statements.
Examples include testimony of Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting Director Thomas Homan before Congress in June, where he said the government expects “not only sharing the information, but (to) allow us access to the jails” — the latter piece of which is not required by US law. The attorneys also note that Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told Congress three days after the guidance memo: “With respect to ‘the Sanctuary Cities thing,’ he said: ‘Frankly, I don’t really know what it means. I don’t think anyone out there knows what it means.'”
The attorneys argue that because of the administration officials’ comments, the court can’t simply rely on the guidance memo from the Justice Department — accusing the administration of more than “moving the goalposts.”
“Defendants’ shifting positions, clarifications, and interpretations of the Executive Order make clear why the Court’s injunction is necessary,” the attorneys wrote. “Between counsel’s representations, the AG memorandum, relevant congressional testimony, and the President’s own statements, defendants aren’t merely moving the goalposts in this litigation; they’re switching sports entirely.”
*******************************************************
Read Tal’s complete article at the link.
Arrogance and ignorance are usually a toxic combination in litigation.
PWS
07-07-17

DHS MISTREATS KIDS: U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee Finds That DHS Has Blown Off Her Prior Orders & Continues To Mistreat Children In Detention!

http://immigrationimpact.com/2017/06/28/government-continues-ignore-rights-children-detention-court-finds/

Karolina Walters writes in Immigration Impact:

“Despite being among some of the most vulnerable, children seeking asylum in the United States often fare the worst. Upon entering the United States, children are often detained for extended periods in violation of a long-standing agreement known as the Flores settlement.

The Flores agreement essentially acts as a contract between the government and children held in immigration custody. On Tuesday, a federal district court judge ruled once again that the government is failing to meet its obligations to children held in immigration custody.

The court found a number of violations, including holding children too long in detention, in substandard conditions, and in non-licensed facilities. In addition, the court ruled that the government is required to look at each child’s case individually to determine whether release from custody is appropriate—the government may not rely on any blanket standard to avoid the responsibility of assessing each case individually.

The Flores agreement is a nationwide settlement reached in 1997. In this settlement, the government agreed that children taken into immigration custody would be placed in the “least restrictive setting appropriate to [their] age and special needs” and would be released “without unnecessary delay,” preferably to a parent. The settlement also requires that if a child is not released to a parent, adult relative, or an appropriate guardian, children must be placed in non-secure facilities licensed for the care of dependent children within five days of apprehension.

Two years ago, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CHRCL), on behalf of immigrant children, brought suit to enforce the Flores settlement. In July and August of 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Dolly M. Gee said the government must apply the settlement to all minors, including those detained with family members. Tuesday’s order from Judge Gee outlines the particular ways in which the government is in breach of the Flores settlement and how the court seeks to ensure compliance going forward.”

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

Read the complete article at the link.

While AG Jeff Sessions is out whipping up xenophobic frenzy and promoting the need for an “American Gulag” to support his “Gonzo Apocalypto” immigration enforcement agenda, he ignores his real legal and constitutional duties: Get General Kelly and the rest of the folks over at DHS to obey the law and stop mistreating kids!

That someone like Sessions with such totally warped values and lack of any sense of justice or decency should be in charge of our supposedly due process providing U.S. Immigration Court system is a continuing travesty of justice.

PWS

06-29-17

 

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.”

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

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

US Immigration Judge Frees Immigrant Activist — Incredulous At DHS’s Position!

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/immigration-judge-orders-release-los-angeles-woman-47945745

The AP reports:

“A Mexican woman was released from custody Friday while the U.S. government seeks to deport her after a judge rejected arguments she should wear a monitoring device because she was arrested twice while demonstrating in support of people in the country illegally.

Claudia Rueda, 22, plans to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program started in 2012 under President Barack Obama that shields immigrants who came to the U.S. as young children from being deported. Her case has drawn attention because she has no criminal record and is an immigration activist.

The immigration judge, Annie S. Garcy, said holding Rueda without bond was “unduly severe” and allowed her to be released on her own recognizance. She noted Ruedas’ academic and other achievements and was incredulous when a government attorney asked that Rueda be required to wear a monitoring device.

“Wow, an ankle bracelet? Really?” said Garcy, who is on temporary assignment from Newark, New Jersey, under an administration effort to give higher priority to cases along the U.S. border with Mexico.

The government attorney, Matthew Hanson, responded that Rueda was arrested twice, once for trespassing and once for disorderly conduct.

Her attorney, Monika Langarica, said those arrests occurred during peaceful demonstrations to support people in the country illegally. She was charged in only one case and it was dismissed.

Rueda, a student at California State University, Los Angeles, was arrested on immigration charges May 18 outside a relative’s Los Angeles home in connection with what the U.S. Border Patrol said was a drug smuggling investigation.

Her mother, Teresa Vidal-Jaime, was arrested on immigration violations in April in connection with the same investigation and later released from custody. Neither Rueda nor her mother was arrested on drug charges.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it would comply with the order to release Rueda and will consider any additional requests by her attorney.”

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Read the complete report at the link.

Under a rational policy, this respondent should have been released by DHS on recognizance and given time to apply for DACA. No wonder the U.S. Immigration Courts are near collapse when DHS wastes precious judicial time on cases that don’t belong in court in the first place.

I don’t blame the Assistant Chief Counsel, Mr Hanson. He’s probably just following instructions. The most knowledgeable folks in the DHS, their court lawyers, have been stripped of the authority to exercise sensible prosecutorial discretion. Instead, Gen. Kelly has turned line agents loose to do as they please.

In other words, he is presiding over a random enforcement system that wastes taxpayer money, abuses the courts, and harms individuals whose cases shouldn’t be in the enforcement system at all.

REALITY CHECK: According to TRAC, as of April 30, 2017, the Newark Immigration Court, where Judge Garcy normally sits, was setting “merits” cases for September 1, 2020, three plus years from now. Why on earth, then, was Judge Garcy sent to California to hear non-merits (i.e., bond) cases that didn’t even belong in court in the first place? Through a disastrous combination of “gonzo” enforcement policies and stunning incompetence the Trump Administration is destroying a key component of the US justice system. When and where will it end?

PWS

06-11-17

🤡 Just When You Thought Ringling Bros Was Dead — Listen To Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) Describe The “Clown-In-Chief’s” 🤡 Rose Garden Reality Show — Trump Is Debasing & Trivializing The High Office To Which He Was Elected!

http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2017/06/09/swalwell-trump-clownish-performance-lead-sciutto-intv.cnn Continue reading 🤡 Just When You Thought Ringling Bros Was Dead — Listen To Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) Describe The “Clown-In-Chief’s” 🤡 Rose Garden Reality Show — Trump Is Debasing & Trivializing The High Office To Which He Was Elected!

9th Circuit Reverses BIA, Says CAL Fleeing From A Police Officer Not A Categorical CIMT! — Ramirez-Contreras v. Sessions — Read My Mini-Essay “Hard Times In The Ivory Tower”

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2017/06/08/14-70452.pdf

Here is the summary prepared by the court staff:

“Immigration

The panel granted Ramirez-Contreras’s petition for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’ decision concluding that his conviction for fleeing from a police officer under California Vehicle Code § 2800.2 is categorically a crime involving moral turpitude that rendered him statutorily ineligible for cancellation of removal.

In holding that Ramirez-Contreras’s conviction is not a crime of moral turpitude, the panel accorded minimal deference to the BIA’s decision due to flaws in its reasoning.

Applying the categorical approach, the panel viewed the least of the acts criminalized under California Vehicle Code § 2800.2, and concluded that an individual can be convicted under subsection (b) for eluding police while committing three traffic violations that cannot be characterized as “vile or depraved.” Therefore, the panel held that California Vehicle Code § 2800.2 is not a crime of moral turpitude because the conduct criminalized does not necessarily create the risk of harm that characterizes a crime of moral turpitude.

The panel also held that the modified categorical approach does not apply because the elements of California Vehicle Code § 2800.2 are clearly indivisible.”

Before: Mary M. Schroeder, Andre M. Davis,** and Mary H. Murguia, Circuit Judges.

Opinion by Judge Schroeder

** The Honorable Andre M. Davis, United States Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, sitting by designation.

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

HARD TIMES IN THE IVORY TOWER

by Paul Wickham Schmidt

The BIA has been having a rough time lately on its rulings concerning both “aggravated felonies” and “crimes involving moral turpitude.” The BIA appears to take an “expansive” or “inclusive” approach to criminal removal statutes, while most courts, including the Supremes, seem to prefer a narrower approach that assumes the “least possible crime” and ameliorates some of the harshness of the INA’s removal provisions.

In my view, the BIA’s jurisprudence on criminal removal took a “downward turn” after Judge Lory D. Rosenberg was forced off the BIA by then Attorney General John Ashcroft around 2002. Judge Rosenberg’s dissents often set forth a “categorical” and “modified categorical” analysis that eventually proved to be more in line with that used by higher Federal Courts all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Since the “Ashcroft purge,” the BIA has visibly struggled to get on the same wavelength with the reviewing courts on analyzing criminal removal provisions. At the same time, the BIA’s own precedents have been remarkable for their lack of meaningful dissent and absence of any type of visible judicial dialogue and deliberation. Maybe that’s what happens when you try to build a “captive court” from the “inside out” rather than competitively selecting the very best Appellate Immigration Judges from different backgrounds whose  views span the entire “real world” of immigration jurisprudence.

Just another reason why it’s time to get the United States Immigration Courts (including the “Appellate Division” a/k/a/ the BIA) out of the Executive Branch and into an independent judicial structure. No other major court system in America is run the way DOJ/EOIR runs the Immigration Courts. And, that’s not good news for those seeking genuine due process within the immigration system.

PWS

06-09-17

NEW PRECEDENT: BIA On “Receipt Of Stolen Property” –Matter of ALDAY-DOMINGUEZ, 27 I&N Dec. 48 (BIA 2017) — Still Getting It Wrong After All These Years — Read My “Dissenting Opinion!”

https://www.justice.gov/eoir/page/file/970806/download

Here’s the BIA headnote:

“The aggravated felony receipt of stolen property provision in section 101(a)(43)(G) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(G) (2012), does not require that unlawfully received property be obtained by means of common law theft or larceny.”

PANEL: BIA Appellate Immigration Judges Pauley, Guendelsberger, and Kendall Clark

OPINION BY: Judge Pauley

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

I respectfully dissent.

The Immigration Judge got it right. Under the “plain meaning” of the statute, the respondent is not an aggravated felon. Therefore, the DHS appeal should be dismissed.

Nearly 17 years ago, when I was Chairman of the BIA, I joined the dissenting opinion of Judge Lory D. Rosenberg in a related case, Matter of Bhata, 22 I&N Dec. 1381 (BIA 2000) https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/eoir/legacy/2014/07/25/3437.pdf which is cited by this panel in Matter of Alday-Dominguez. Indeed, the panel relies on Bhata to support it’s incorrect decision.

However, as Judge Rosenberg pointed out cogently in her dissent:

Accordingly, the modifying parenthetical phrase helps only to elucidate the main clause of the provision. Although the language “theft offense” may require our interpretation, the parenthetical must be read according to its own terms in the context of that subsection of the Act. The phrase “(including receipt of stolen property)” after the word “offense” limits the crimes that are included within the phrase “theft offense.” United States v. Monjaras-Castaneda, supra, at 329 (citing John E. Warriner & Francis Griffith, English Grammar and Composition (Heritage ed., Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1977)). Specifically, the parenthetical provides that a “theft offense” encompasses the particular offense of receiving stolen property (which, by implication and judicial interpretation, is not a theft).

Matter of Bhata, supra, at 1396 (Rosenberg, AIJ dissenting).

Clearly, as pointed out by Judge Rosenberg, under a “plain reading” of the statutory language, “receipt of stolen property”  is a “subgroup” of a theft offense. Consequently, the unlawfully received property must have been obtained by “theft.” The California statute includes things other than property obtained by theft, specifically objects obtained by “extortion.”

Therefore, under the “categorical approach,” the California statute is broader than the aggravated felony offense described in section 101(a)(43)(G) of the Act. Accordingly, the DHS fails to establish that the respondent is removable under that section. Hence, the Immigration Judge correctly terminated removal proceedings, and the DHS appeal should be dismissed.

The majority is just as wrong today as it was in Bhata. Remarkably, a member of this panel, Judge Guendelsberger, along with Judge Gus Villageliu and Judge Neil Miller, joined our dissent in Bhata. Sadly, over the course of his unjustified exile, followed by re-education, rehabilitation, and reappointment to his Appellate Judgeship, my friend and colleague’s views must have changed since the days when he stood up with the rest of us for respondents’ legal rights against the majority of our colleagues who all too often bought the Government’s arguments, even when they were less than persuasive.

Just this week, in a unanimous decision written by Justice Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court reinforced the “plain meaning” analysis in applying the categorical approach to an aggravated felony removal provision involving “sexual abuse of a minor.” Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessions, ___ U.S. ___ (2017). Yet, the panel seems “tone-deaf” to the very clear message from Justice Thomas and his colleagues about the impropriety of manipulating clear statutory language to achieve a finding of removal.

In conclusion, the respondent has not been convicted an of an aggravated felony under section 101(a)(43)(G) of the Act by virtue of his conviction for receiving stolen property under the California Penal Code. Consequently, the Immigration Judge reached the correct result, and the DHS appeal should be dismissed.

Therefore, I respectfully dissent from the panel’s decision to sustain the DHS appeal.

Paul Wickham Schmidt

Former BIA Chairman, Appellate Immigration Judge, & United States Immigration Judge (Retired)

Entered: June 2, 2017

FOOD & DRINK: Making America Great — Mexican Immigrants Go From Field Workers To Winery Owners — Learning The Business From The Ground Up (Literally) — With A Great Glass Of Wine To Boot!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/style/2017/05/30/mexican-migrant-workers-came-to-california-to-pick-grapes-now-they-own-wineries/?utm_term=.84781b47d357

The Washington Post reports:

“Outside Robledo Family Winery, south of Sonoma, on a cool April Sunday, the U.S. and Mexican flags whipped a stiff salute in the wind blowing off the San Pablo Bay. A third banner bore the winery logo. The flags represent three themes central to the lives of Reynaldo Robledo and many other Mexican migrant workers who have helped shape California’s wine industry: heritage, opportunity and family.

Robledo is part of a small but growing community of Mexican American families who started as migrant workers and now have their own wineries. They have emerged from the invisible workforce of laborers who prune the vines in bitter winter cold and tend them under searing summer sun. We read about them when they collapse from heat exhaustion in California’s Central Valley or perish in a winery accident. But they rarely appear in the glossy magazines that extol the luxury wine lifestyle, except as cheerful extras in harvest photos.

Amelia Morán Ceja worked in vineyards after school in the early 1970s. Now she owns Ceja Vineyards. The Cejas are one of five Mexican American families recognized by the Smithsonian for their work in California’s wine industry. (Ceja Vineyards; Sarah Deragon/Ceja Vineyards)
Five Mexican American families are helping craft the next chapter in the story. They started as migrant workers and now have their own wineries.

They came from Michoacan or Jalisco, two agricultural provinces near Mexico City. Their fathers left for El Norte as migrant workers — some under the Bracero guest-worker program, others crossing the border illegally but gaining legal status in a time when papers were easier to come by. They worked in California’s burgeoning agricultural industry before settling in wine country. They encountered some of Napa Valley’s most celebrated winemakers and contributed to California’s wine revolution in the 1970s and 1980s, a period that saw dramatic changes in viticulture and food culture as the United States became a wine-loving nation.

“Their story is the journey,” says Steve Velasquez, associate curator at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, which honored the families during its annual winemakers’ fundraising dinner in May. “A journey from Mexico to the U.S. to work in agriculture, from a handful of families to a thriving community of Mexican Americans, from vineyard workers to winery owners. . . . These families represent Mexican Americans who once just supported an industry but now help shape it.”

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Read the five inspiring stories at the link.

I observed similar success stories in many of the families that came before me in court. Laborers became supervisors. Cooks became chefs. Waiters became restaurant managers. Drywallers started construction companies. Truck drivers started trucking companies. Mechanics bought auto repair businesses. Gardeners started lawn services and landscaping companies. Folks took care of their own family members; but, they also created jobs and opportunities for other American workers. They were all about quality service, hard work, skills, family, and a certain amount of risk taking. Just what America needs for a great future!

PWS

05-31-17

Led By Justice Thomas, Unanimous Supremes Reject USG’s Attempt To Deport Mexican Man For Consensual Sex With A Minor — “Strict Interpretation” Carries The Day!

Here is then full text of the opinion in Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessions:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/16-54_5i26.pdf

Here’s a key excerpt from Justice Thomas’s opinion:

“Relying on a different dictionary (and “sparse” legislative history), the Government suggests an alternative “‘everyday understanding’” of “sexual abuse of a minor.” Brief for Respondent 16–17 (citing Black’s Law Dictionary 1375 (6th ed. 1990)). Around the time sexual abuse of a minor was added to the INA’s list of aggravated felonies, that dictionary defined “[s]exual abuse” as “[i]llegal sex acts performed against a minor by a parent, guardian, relative, or acquaintance,” and defined “[m]inor” as “[a]n infant or person who is under the age of legal competence,” which in “most states” was “18.” Id., at 997, 1375. “‘Sex- ual abuse of a minor,’” the Government accordingly contends, “most naturally connotes conduct that (1) is illegal, (2) involves sexual activity, and (3) is directed at a person younger than 18 years old.” Brief for Respondent 17.

We are not persuaded that the generic federal offense corresponds to the Government’s definition. First, the Government’s proposed definition is flatly inconsistent with the definition of sexual abuse contained in the very dictionary on which it relies; the Government’s proposed definition does not require that the act be performed “by a parent, guardian, relative, or acquaintance.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1375 (6th ed. 1990) (emphasis added). In any event, as we explain below, offenses predicated on a special relationship of trust between the victim and offender are not at issue here and frequently have a different age requirement than the general age of consent. Second, in the context of statutory rape, the prepositional phrase “of a minor” naturally refers not to the age of legal competence (when a person is legally capable of agreeing to a contract, for example), but to the age of consent (when a person is legally capable of agreeing to sexual intercourse).

Third, the Government’s definition turns the categorical approach on its head by defining the generic federal offense of sexual abuse of a minor as whatever is illegal under the particular law of the State where the defendant was convicted. Under the Government’s preferred ap- proach, there is no “generic” definition at all. See Taylor, 495 U. S., at 591 (requiring “a clear indication that . . . Congress intended to abandon its general approach of using uniform categorical definitions to identify predicate offenses”); id., at 592 (“We think that ‘burglary’ in §924(e) must have some uniform definition independent of the labels employed by the various States’ criminal codes”).

C

The structure of the INA, a related federal statute, and evidence from state criminal codes confirm that, for a statutory rape offense to qualify as sexual abuse of a minor under the INA based solely on the age of the participants, the victim must be younger than 16.”

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Notwithstanding a supposedly “conservative” Court, going back several Administrations the USG has been losing on a surprisingly regular basis in its attempts to take the most extreme and inclusive interpretations of various already very harsh deportation provisions. And, “strict constructionists” like Justice Thomas and the late Justice Scalia have sometimes had just as much problem with the Government’s overreach as have supposedly more liberal or “middle of the road” justices. That’s why I’m not convinced that Justice Gorsuch (who did not participate in this case) will be as much of a “Government ringer” as some believe, at least in immigration matters.

Despite a number of notable setbacks at the Court, DHS, DOJ, and the BIA all seem to be rather “tone deaf” to the Court’s message. The Executive Branch continues to take the most extreme anti-immigrant positions even where, as in this case, it requires ignoring the “unambiguous” statutory language.

Given the “maximo enforcement” posture of the Trump Administration, there is little reason to believe that the Executive Branch will “get” the Court’s message about more reasonable interpretations of deportation statutes. Hopefully, the Court will continue to stand up against such abuses of Executive authority.

PWS

05-31-17

State & Local Prosecutors “Just Say No” To Gonzo-Apocalypto’s Retrograde Agenda!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/05/19/prosecutors-are-pushing-back-against-sessions-order-to-pursue-most-severe-penalties/?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_sessions-penalties-920pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.47be355726b2

Lindsey Bever reports in the Washington Post:

“A week after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told federal prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” and follow mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, a bipartisan group of prosecutors at the state and local level is expressing concern.

Thirty current and former state and local prosecutors have signed an open letter, which was released Friday by the nonprofit Fair and Just Prosecution, a national network working with newly elected prosecutors. The prosecutors say that even though they do not have to answer Sessions’s call, the U.S. Attorney General’s directive “marks an unnecessary and unfortunate return to past ‘tough on crime’ practices” that will do more harm than good in their communities.

“What you’re seeing in this letter is a different wind of change that’s blowing through the criminal justice field,” said Miriam Krinsky, a former federal prosecutor and executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution.

“There does seem at the federal level to be a return to the tough-on-crime, seek-the-maximum-sentence, charge-and-pursue-whatever-you-can-prove approach,” Krinsky said. But, she added, at a local level, some believe “there are costs that flow from prosecuting and sentencing and incarcerating anyone and everyone who crosses the line of the law, and we need to be more selective and smarter in how we promote both the safety and the health of our communities.”

Signers of the letter include Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., and Karl Racine, attorney general of the District of Columbia.

The prosecutors say that there are no real benefits to Sessions’s May 10 directive, but they noted “significant costs.”

The letter states:

The increased use of mandatory minimum sentences will necessarily expand the federal prison population and inflate federal spending on incarceration. There is a human cost as well. Instead of providing people who commit low-level drug offenses or who are struggling with mental illness with treatment, support and rehabilitation programs, the policy will subject them to decades of incarceration. In essence, the Attorney General has reinvigorated the failed “war on drugs,” which is why groups ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the Cato Institute to Right on Crime have all criticized the newly announced policy.”

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Read the complete article at the above link.

As mentioned in an earlier posting, a bipartisan group of Senators, led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is also pushing back against Sessions’s prosecution policies.

 

PWS

05-19-17

MARJORIE COHN IN HUFFPOST: Destroying American Justice From The Inside — The “Gonzo-Apocalypto Era” Takes Hold At The USDOJ!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeff-sessions-department-of-injustice_us_590dd80ee4b0f711807244f1

Cohn writes:

“Motivated by his deep-seated biases and those of President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is pursuing a draconian agenda on voting rights, immigration, crime, policing, the drug war, federal sentencing and the privatization of prisons.

Sessions, now head of the Department of Justice, which is charged with enforcing the Voting Rights Act, once called the act “intrusive.” In 2013, after the Supreme Court issued a decision in “Shelby County v. Holder” that struck down the section of the act that established a formula for preclearance of jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination, Sessions called it “a good day for the South.”

Sessions and Trump tout the existence of what the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School calls a “phantom crime wave.” While this administration scaremongers about high crime rates, in reality, national crime and murder rates are at a near-historic low: 50 percent less than they were at their peak in 1991.

Trump’s campaign mantra was “law and order,” a euphemism for tolerating excessive force by police officers, often against people of color. Trump speaks of “American carnage” in the cities and a “war” on the police. His bogus rhetoric is aimed at Black Lives Matter, which arose in response to increasing numbers of police shootings, particularly of nonwhites.

The president depicts police reform measures as “anti-law enforcement” and Sessions is fully on board with this framing. In 2015, when he was a senator, Sessions said that police reform movements endanger public safety and hinder police work.

Sessions opposes consent decrees, which are court-enforced agreements aimed at eliminating racial profiling and excessive force by police in agencies that demonstrate “a pattern or practice” of violating civil rights. Sessions says the federal government should not be “dictating to local police how to do their jobs” (except when it comes to immigration enforcement, that is).

Amnesty International warns that Trump and Sessions’ “law and order” rhetoric could lead to higher levels of mass incarceration, long sentences and prolonged solitary confinement.

. . . .

Trump and Sessions are not disappointing the white nationalists who favor using immigration policy as a wedge to further their “alt-right” program.

Kevin de León, President pro Tempore of the California State Senate, noted, “It has become abundantly clear” that Sessions and Trump “are basing their law enforcement policies on principles of white supremacy ― not American values.”

From January to mid-March of this year, immigration arrests have increased by 33 percent. Since Trump’s inauguration, the number of arrests of immigrants with no criminal records has doubled. Roughly half of the 675 arrested in early February raids had either driving convictions or no criminal record at all, according to data obtained by The Washington Post.

Sessions drastically increased penalties for illegal reentry into the United States and ordered immigration officials to charge undocumented immigrants with higher-penalty crimes.

Although Sessions’ heavy-handed actions are based on Trump’s spurious claim that immigrants disproportionately murder and rape US citizens, studies have shown that immigrants actually commit fewer crimes than citizens.

Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are arresting immigrants who come to the courthouse. This egregious practice motivated California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye to complain in a letter to the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security that ICE agents “appear to be stalking undocumented immigrants in our courthouses to make arrests.”

Terrorizing immigrants with frightful measures discourages immigrant witnesses from reporting crimes, and discourages victims from seeking legal measures and services that are meant to protect their own safety and well-being.

By March, the Los Angeles Police Department had seen a 25 percent drop in the number of Latinos reporting sexual assault and a 10 percent decrease in Latinos’ reports of domestic violence. By early April, there was a 42.8 percent drop in the number of Latinos who reported rapes to the Houston Police Department. And a health care center in Los Angeles reported a 20 percent decrease in food stamp enrollments and a 54 percent drop in enrollments for Medicaid.

The Trump administration has been arresting ― even deporting ― “Dreamers” who relied on Barack Obama’s assurances they would be protected if they came out of the shadows and provided their personal information to ICE. Dreamer Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez is a registrant in Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and was the first DACA recipient to be deported. Bojorquez, who is now in Mexico, is suing the US federal government.

On January 25, 2017, Trump signed an executive order to halt federal funding to municipal governments that don’t facilitate federal immigration enforcement. Trump’s order is aimed at “sanctuary cities” that protect immigrants from deportation.

In March, Sessions threatened officials in nine jurisdictions with losing their 2016 grants if they failed to certify by June 30 that they were in compliance with a law that forbids local authorities from forcing officials to withhold information about immigration status from federal authorities.

But the majority of sanctuary policies do not cover information sharing. Most address how to handle “detainers,” where federal immigration officials request that state or local authorities continue to detain people who are eligible for release. Courts have said jurisdictions cannot be forced to honor those detainers.

Trump’s January 25 order is blocked, for now. US District Judge William H. Orrick III issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that forbids the federal government from withholding funds from municipal governments that don’t fully cooperate with immigration agents.

Orrick also ruled the federal government can’t legally force counties to hold undocumented people beyond their release dates. The judge concluded Trump’s order likely violates due process, the separation of powers doctrine, and the 10th Amendment, which prevents federal interference with state and local self-government. Only Congress can limit spending, Orrick wrote.

This is Trump’s third executive order halted by federal courts. His first and second Muslim bans are now pending in the 9th and 4th Circuit Courts of Appeals.

. . . .

After Trump nominated Sessions for attorney general, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Illinois) stated, “No senator has fought harder against the hopes and aspirations of Latinos, immigrants and people of color than Sen. Sessions.”

Indeed, no one is worse equipped to lead the Department of Justice. Sessions’ racism is prominently on display in every action he has taken during his short tenure in Trump’s cabinet.

It is critical that “we the people” continue to resist, in every way we can, the Trump-Sessions pattern and practice of injustice.

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her books include The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse; Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law; and Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. Follow her on Twitter. Copyright Truthout. Reprinted with permission.”

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Read the entire article over on HuffPost.

So much damage in so little time. And, I’m sure the worst is yet to come. Most impressive in a depressingly negative way! Senators Liz Warren, Cory Booker, and others were right!

PWS

05-07-17

BLOCKED: Federal Judge Rebuffs Trump On Sanctuary Cities –Trump/Sessions Undermine Own Position — Trump Remains Defiantly Clueless!

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/25/sanctuary-cities-trump-judge-blocks-237597

Josh Gerstein reports in Politico:

“A federal judge has blocked a directive from President Donald Trump seeking to deny federal funding to so-called “sanctuary cities” and other localities that decline to cooperate in enforcement of federal immigration laws.

San Francisco-based U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday barring federal officials nationwide from carrying out the portion of a Jan. 25 Trump executive order aimed at cutting off grants to local governments that won’t provide assistance to federal authorities in locating and detaining undocumented immigrants.

Orrick cited public comments from Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions in concluding that the order appeared intended to sweep more broadly than allowed by federal law. The judge, an Obama appointee, called “not legally plausible” the Justice Department’s arguments that Trump was simply trying to secure compliance with current law.

“If there was doubt about the scope of the Order, the President and Attorney General have erased it with their public comments,” Orrick wrote. “The Constitution vests the spending power in Congress, not the President, so the Order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds.”

The White House late Tuesday condemned the ruling in harsh terms.

“Today, the rule of law suffered another blow, as an unelected judge unilaterally rewrote immigration policy for our Nation,” the press secretary’s office said in a statement, adding:

“Once again, a single district judge — this time in San Francisco — has ignored Federal immigration law to set a new immigration policy for the entire country. This decision occurred in the same sanctuary city that released the 5-time deported illegal immigrant who gunned down innocent Kate Steinle in her father’s arms. ”

The ruling is another high-profile blow to Trump’s efforts to use executive orders to carry out major policy moves— a drive his staff is highlighting as he approaches the 100-days-in-office mark. Courts have also blocked key portions of two of the president’s other immigration-related executive orders — his travel bans on citizens of several majority Muslim countries.

However, Orrick noted that his new injunction may not block much of what the Trump administration claimed in court it was trying to do through the portion of the Jan. 25 order targeting sanctuary cities. If all Trump wanted to do was cut off Justice Department grants to localities that are out of compliance with the law, he can still do that, the judge observed.

“This injunction does nothing more than implement the effect of the Government’s flawed interpretation of the Order,” Orrick wrote.

Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior did not say whether an appeal is planned, but he emphasized that the judge did not block the federal government from enforcing federal law as it now stands.

. . . .

The judge concluded that the California localities were correct to be concerned that their funding was in jeopardy and that the grants affected might be more than just the few the Justice Department said were covered by Trump’s order.

“Although Government counsel has represented that the Order will be implemented consistent with law, this assurance is undermined by Section 9(a)’s clearly unconstitutional directives. Further, through public statements, the President and Attorney General have appeared to endorse the broadest reading of the Order,” Orrick added.

“Is the Order merely a rhetorical device, as counsel suggested at the hearing, or a ‘weapon’ to defund the Counties and those who have implemented a different law enforcement strategy than the Government currently believes is desirable? The result of this schizophrenic approach to the Order is that the Counties’ worst fears are not allayed and the Counties reasonably fear enforcement under the Order,” the judge wrote.”

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The complete report, along with a link to Judge Orrick’s full opinion can be found at the above link. The case is County of Santa Clara v. Trump.

PWS

04-26-17