LA TIMES: NEW DHS ENFORCEMENT POLICIES SEEK TO PUNISH CHILDREN AND PARENTS SEEKING ASYLUM – Really, Is This What We’ve Become As a Nation In The “Age of Trump?”

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=371cd9b8-56d5-4cca-a96c-53e177ee2201

Molly Hennessy-Fiske reports for the LA Times

EL PASO — Thousands of parents who crossed illegally into the U.S. in recent years have been held with their children at immigration detention centers. But the case of a Brazilian woman and her son illustrates what migrant advocates call a harsher approach to immigration enforcement that aims to separate parents and children.

She’s being held in Texas, while her son was taken to a shelter in Illinois. The unspoken goal, advocates say, is to discourage parents from crossing illegally or attempting to request asylum.

The Brazilian mother — who asked to be identified only as Jocelyn because she was fleeing domestic violence — entered the U.S. in August with her 14-year-old son, who she said was being threatened by gangs. They hoped to apply for asylum.

Migrant families like Jocelyn’s are usually processed by immigration courts, an administrative process. Such families are detained together or released with notices to appear at later court proceedings. President Trump promised to end the practice, dismissing it as “catch and release.”

Historically, most border crossers were sent back to their home countries, but the Trump administration has threatened to prosecute some migrant parents because entering the country illegally is a federal crime. The first offense is a misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of six months. Those caught a second time face a felony charge with a maximum sentence of up to 20 years, depending on their criminal record. Once a case becomes a criminal matter, parents and children are separated.

According to public defenders and immigrant advocates, more and more immigrant families who come to the southern border seeking asylum are being charged in federal criminal courts from El Paso to Arizona. Jocelyn was charged with a misdemeanor, and her son was sent to a shelter in Chicago. Comprehensive statistics do not exist, but activists and attorneys say anecdotal evidence suggests the practice is spreading.

“There’s not supposed to be blanket detention of people seeking asylum, but in reality, that’s what’s happening” in El Paso, said Dylan Corbett, director of the Hope Border Institute, a nonprofit social justice group. “We’re still in this limbo in our sector and across the border: What’s going on? What are the new policies?”

Last week, 75 congressional Democrats led by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Downey) sent a letter to the secretary of Homeland Security expressing outrage at increased family separations and demanding officials clarify their policies within two weeks.

“We are gravely concerned that these practices are expanding and worsening, further traumatizing families and impeding access to a fair process for seeking asylum,” they wrote.

Homeland Security won’t say it is targeting families but does say it is making procedural and policy changes to deter illegal immigration.

“The administration is committed to using all legal tools at its disposal to secure our nation’s borders,” said Tyler Houlton, a Homeland Security spokesman.

Jocelyn said she fled Brazil to escape an abusive husband. During a recent meeting at the El Paso detention center where she is being held, she lifted the sleeve of her white uniform to show scars on her arm that she said came from beatings by her husband, an armed security guard who refused to grant her a divorce.

She and her son flew to Mexico on Aug. 24, crossed the border two days later, turned themselves in to Border Patrol near El Paso and were told they would be separated.

“I didn’t know where they were taking him,” she said of her son. “They didn’t tell me. I asked many times. They just said ‘Don’t worry.’ ”

Elsewhere on the border, including Texas’ Rio Grande Valley to the east where most migrants cross illegally, many parents and children are still released together with notices to appear in immigration court.

To opponents of illegal immigration, the practice of charging migrants with criminal offenses is a good thing. Andrew Arthur, a former immigration judge now serving as a resident fellow at the conservative Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, said criminal charges are a deterrent.

“The reason the children are there to begin with is this belief [among immigrants] that a parent with a child will not be detained,” Arthur said. He added that exposing children to smugglers who could abuse and kidnap them “borders frankly on child abuse.”

Last April, Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions issued guidance to U.S. attorneys urging more aggressive prosecution of those illegally reentering the country. As the number of migrant families crossing illegally increased last summer, parents were detained by U.S. marshals, but their children were reclassified as unaccompanied minors and placed at shelters across the country by the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Migrant advocates sued in federal court, arguing that when asylum seekers declare a fear of returning to their home country, federal law dictates that they be referred to an asylum officer, even if they crossed the border illegally, and their cases considered by immigration judges.

In October, El Paso immigrant advocates asked Border Patrol officials whether they were separating migrant parents from their children.

“They volunteered yes, we’re doing family separation,” Corbett recalled, adding that one agent “said it was standard practice locally here in the sector to separate all children 10 years and older from their family. We were all shocked.”

Afterward, Border Patrol attorney Lisa Donaldson emailed those who had attended the meeting, insisting that the “Border Patrol does not have a blanket policy requiring the separation of family units” and that any increase in separations “is due primarily to the increase in prosecutions of immigration-related crimes.”

Daryl Fields, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in western Texas, which files federal criminal charges, said each case is considered individually and that “we do not target individuals for prosecution based on their parental status.”

Federal public defenders said that criminally charging asylum seekers not only violates international treaties, it encourages migrants to plead guilty so they can end their case quickly, get deported and try to reunite with their children.

“It impacts the lawfulness or constitutionality of their guilty plea,” said Maureen Franco, the federal public defender for the western district of Texas. “They’re under the misconception ‘The quicker I get my case over with, the quicker I’ll get my children back.’ Any lawyer worth their salt will tell them it’s not like that.”

Franco’s office has asked a federal court to dismiss improper entry charges against four Central American parents and a grandmother whose children were removed after the adults were detained. A judge ruled in favor of the government Jan. 5. Federal public defenders are appealing.

Immigration attorney Bridget Cambria has handled 15 family separation cases, including several mothers charged and separated from their children in El Paso.

“There’s huge questions about whether it’s legal when they’re seeking asylum. They’re using the federal statutes as a reason to take their child,” Cambria said.

It’s not clear how many migrant parents like Jocelyn have been charged and separated from their children. Federal public defenders and U.S. district courts do not track them. U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported just five migrant family members referred for prosecution in federal criminal court this year fiscal year, which started in October. It reported seven last fiscal year and 21 the year before that.

Estimates from migrant advocacy groups are much higher.

In Arizona, the Tucson-based Florence Immigration and Refugee Rights Project saw 213 such cases last year, an increase from the 190 cases the year before. Legal director Laura St. John said the group has already served 23 separated families this year.

A dozen cases of family separation were reported by Washington-based Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. Hope Border Institute surveyed attorneys representing 90 asylum seekers in the El Paso area between June and November 2017 and found 94% had clients separated from their children.

In December, a host of immigrant advocacy groups filed a complaint with Homeland Security alleging that parents have been charged and separated from their children, “without a clear or reasonable justification, as a means of punishment and/or deterrence, and with few mechanisms to locate, contact, or reunite with family members.” The complaint is pending.

As for Jocelyn, a federal judge in Las Cruces found her guilty of crossing the border illegally, a misdemeanor, on Sept. 22. She received a suspended sentence and was transferred to immigration detention in El Paso. Instead of self-deporting, Jocelyn stayed to pursue her asylum claim.

She learned through the Brazilian Consulate that her son was at a Chicago shelter and she has since spoken to him by phone four times.

She said her son told her that other children of migrants in the shelter tried to run away because they missed their parents. Jocelyn urged her son to stay put. He promised he would.

She worries, but is hopeful. Immigration officials recently found she has a credible fear of returning home, the first step toward obtaining asylum, and a pro bono attorney is trying to get her released on bond.

She tried to reassure her son during a recent phone call. “As soon as I get out,” she said, “I will come get you.”

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

Wow! What a great way to spend U.S. Government funds! Picking on refugees —  abused women and kids who have the audacity to seek to exercise their legal rights under our laws and International Conventions.

Let’s get down to the truth here. “Jocelyn” in the above article appears to be a legitimate refugee. Assuming she’s telling the truth — and she has the scars to prove it, she should be a “slam dunk” asylum grant under Matter of A-R-C-G-, 26 I&N Dec. 388 (BIA 2014) (domestic violence can be a basis for asylum).

The logical way of proceeding would be to release her while making sure she gets linked up with a good pro bono organization who can assign a lawyer to investigate, confirm, and document her case and then file the asylum application with the Immigration Court. In my experience, a well-documented case like this could go on an “accelerated short docket.” There it could be granted, basically by stipulation of the parties, after short testimony to confirm key events and double-check for any criminal or security grounds. With adequate preparation, and cooperation between the pro bono lawyer and the DHS Assistant Chief Counsel, this case should take no more than 30 minutes, one hour “tops,” of precious hearing time.

No need for detention, clogging the Immigration Courts’ Individual Hearing dockets, or any other form of “Aimless Docket reshuffling.” Best of all, we’re in compliance with the laws and our Constitutional guarantees of Due Process. Sounds like a “winner” to me for all concerned.

I have no doubt that there are many “Jocelyns” out there among recent border arrivals. Even those who don’t technically have “grantable” asylum claims under the overly restrictive precedents, should, if credible, be able to document strong cases for relief under the Convention Against Torture given the breakdown in government authority and de facto control by gangs in most parts of the Northern Triangle, the source of most of today’s Southern Border asylum  applicants.

So, why are we wasting money on detention and criminal prosecution to keep folks who seldom if ever present any threats to the United States from getting the protection to which our laws entitle them? Why are we trying to send (usually ineffective in any event) “don’t come” messages to people who have a right to seek protection under our laws? Why would we make it difficult for individuals to exercise their statutory right to be represented by counsel and to have adequate time to prepare their cases?

Sounds to me like DHS and the Administration are abusing our laws and our Constitutional guarantees and wasting lots of time and money in the process. Ultimately, that’s something of which we should be ashamed.

PWS

02-20-18

A BIA WIN FOR THE GOOD GUYS! – MICHELLE MENDEZ & HER CLINIC TEAM GET REOPENING FOR ASYLUM APPLICANTS IN ATLANTA! (Submitted By Dan Kowalski at LexisNexis)!

From: Michelle Mendez [mailto:mmendez@cliniclegal.org]
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2018 10:00 AM
To: Artesia OTG <artesiaotg@lists.aila.org>
Subject: [artesiaotg] Good news — the BIA has issued a great unpublished decision on late-filed appeals! (Attached.)

 

Greetings,

The ASAP team of Swapna Reddy, Dorothy Tegeler, and  Liz Willis has done it again. With just a few days before her check-in with Atlanta ICE ERO, a mother reached out to us via our Facebook group. Taylor, Lee & Associates had represented her and accepted an order of removal without fighting her case. Many of us are familiar with this law firm having heard about or helped the families targeted in January 2016 by the Obama Administration who were also represented by this firm in the same manner. By “representation” I mean that the law firm did not defend her against removal before the IJ instead accepting an order of removal in exchange for seeking a stay of removal and promising an EAD.

When we learned her case involved the same “salvo conducto” practice by this law firm and that the mother had not actually consent to this practice, we knew we had to help this mother. But time was not on our side as her imminent check-in with Atlanta ICE EOR was supposed to be her last. After strategically considering our options, we rushed to prepare an untimely BIA appeal….a two-year untimely appeal. We prepared a stay of removal application and recruited a local advocate, Keith Farmer, to attend the Atlanta ICE ERO check-in with her and submit the stay. Keith handled the situation like a professional, and the mother was ultimately never detained at her subsequent check-ins at which Shana Tabak artfully accompanied her.

The BIA accepted the Notice to Appeal and issued a briefing schedule. We followed this with an emergency motion for a stay of removal with the BIA. While the Notice to Appeal was pending and we awaited the briefing schedule, we complied with the Lozada procedures and obtained a psych evaluation of the client thanks to Craig Katz, Elizabeth Singer, and Varsha Subramaniam. We reached out to Trina Realmuto and Kristin Macleod-Ball, who provided strategic advice and an amicus brief in support of our untimely appeal. Katie Shephard provided an invaluable declaration given her work on the cases of the families represented by this law firm and targeted in January 2016 by the Obama Administration who were taken to Dilley. Laura Lichter also pitched in with strategic feedback and sample filings given her tireless work on the January 2016 cases, and her input was essential. And, last but not least, we reached out to Bradley Jenkins andLory Rosenberg for their wisdom, who helped us to frame arguments in the most compelling way.

The BIA dismissed the appeal as untimely instructing us to file a Motion to Reconsider and Remand on the question of timeliness. As was done in five nearly identical cases involving this law firm, we asked the BIA to accept this late-filed appeal on certification, or in the alternative, equitably toll the notice of appeal deadline and remand the case for further proceedings before the Immigration Judge. The BIA decision is attached. Huge thanks to ASAP volunteer law student Mayu Arimoto for her assistance with this briefing. Of course, and as always, thanks to Ben Winograd for his filing assistance with the BIA.

The moral of this story is that defending the rights of immigrants is tough work. We battle inhumane policies, cowardly or openly authoritarian leaders, greedy representatives who fill their coffers with private prison money, negative public opinion, intentional and unintentional media misinformation, notarios/unauthorized practitioners of law, and even other attorneys who abandon their duty to zealously represent their vulnerable clients. But when competent and caring advocates join forces, we can do anything.

Michelle N. Mendez

Training and Legal Support Senior Attorney

Defending Vulnerable Populations Project Manager

Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)

Mailing Address: 8757 Georgia Avenue, Suite 850, Silver Spring, MD 20910

Physical Address: OPD, 217 E. Redwood Street, Suite 1020, Baltimore, MD 21202

Cellular Phone: 540.907.1761

Fax Number: 301.565.4824

Email: mmendez@cliniclegal.org

Website: www.cliniclegal.org

 

Save the date for CLINIC’s 20th annual Convening!

Defending hope and the American Dream

May 30 – June 1, 2018 | Tucson, AZ

cliniclegal.org/convening

 

Embracing the Gospel value of welcoming the stranger, CLINIC promotes the dignity and protects the rights of immigrants in partnership with a dedicated network of Catholic and community legal immigration programs.

 

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HERE’S A COPY OF THE (UNFORTUNATELY UNPUBLISHED) BIA DECISION BY APPELLATE IMMIGRATION JUDGE MOLLY KENDALL CLARK:

Redacted S-H-O BIA Remand

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

Congrats to Michelle and her CLINIC team for winning a great victory for fairness, Due Process, and the New Due Process Army!

This also reminds us that notwithstanding the pressure from the Sessions DOJ to turn the Immigration Courts and the BIA into an “assembly line” churning out more removal orders, every day talented, conscientious, hard-working jurists like Judge Kendall Clark and others like her in the Immigration Court System remain firmly committed to the original “Due Process Mission” and independent decision-making that were supposed to be the sole focus of EOIR (before the “politicos” intervened with their attempts to “game” the system against migrants to achieve DHS enforcement goals).

We need an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court (including an Appellate Division) so that judges can do their jobs of unbiased, scholarly, independent, Due Process focused decision making without “quotas,” “performance evaluations,” directives from administrators not actively involved in judging, and other improper political interference!

 

PWS

02-19-18

 

 

MEET THE GOOD GUYS: NOVA SUPERSTAR IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY AVA BENACH HELPS “DREAMER TYPES” & THEY HELP AMERICA – THIS IS THE WAY THE SYSTEM CAN WORK WHEN YOU GET BEYOND THE WHITE NATIONALIST XENOPHOBIA OF TRUMP, SESSIONS, & MILLER & WHEN GREAT LAWYERS GET INVOLVED!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/she-was-almost-deported-as-a-teen-now-she-helps-frightened-versions-of-herself/2018/02/15/b39969a8-1245-11e8-9065-e55346f6de81_story.html

Petula Dvorak writes in the Washington Post:

“She was almost deported as a teen. Now she helps frightened versions of herself.


Liana Montecinos is a senior paralegal at Benach Collopy in Washington. She was 17 and about to be deported when lawyer Ava Benach helped her win asylum. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Columnist February 15 at 3:39 PM

On many days in the shiny, sleek law office — in her sharp suit and sweeping view of Washington — she revisits all the horrors most people would want to forget:

The drunk men bursting into her tiny, adobe home at night, terrorizing the 15 children who lived there.

The walk across three countries, fearing for her life the entire way.

The months of eating nothing but beans and rice.

These are the same stories Liana Montecinos hears just about every time the 29-year-old paralegal sits down with a client.

Ava Benach, from left, Satsita Muradova and Liana Montecinos chat at their law office. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

She doesn’t have to go there. She’s an American citizen and a third-year law student with a great future in front of her. But instead of going into something lucrative — corporate law, for example — she’s sticking with the law firm that helped her get political asylum.

“Being an immigrant and serving immigrants, it’s a very special connection,” Montecinos said.

And by doing that, she spends her days with frightened versions of herself.

I wanted to tell Montecinos’s story as Congress grapples with the fate of 1.8 million “dreamers,” the undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children. They face deportation under President Trump unless Congress can find a way to reinstate the protection they were given by President Barack Obama.

Montecinos was brought across the border by a relative in 1999, when she was 11 years old, after walking — yes, actually walking — from Honduras, across Guatemala, then across Mexico, crossing the Rio Grande into the United States.

She joined her mother in Northern Virginia — they had been separated since she was an infant and she had been raised by her grandmother — and her life was transformed.

She played volleyball and basketball in her Falls Church high school. She was a cheerleader and soccer player. She took Advanced Placement classes.

But no matter how well she was doing in school and no matter how faint her accent became, she knew it could all fall apart any second.

And it nearly did when she was 17 and applied for legal status. Instead, the government began removal proceedings. She was going to be deported.

But it didn’t stop her from graduating from high school and enrolling at George Mason University, where she received a scholarship to cover the triple-tuition she had to pay as an undocumented student.

The scholarship’s donor — Helen Ackerman — introduced Montecinos to D.C. immigration attorney Ava Benach, who took on her complex case. What followed was a 10-year struggle.

“I met Liana when she was 17 years old,” Benach said. “And I knew she was special. She was out there, trying to figure out her own immigration status. I felt a very parental desire to help her.”

So they took on the case together, with Montecinos never giving up.

“I’d be doing an all-nighter, knowing I had a hearing the next day and the judge could send me away and it would all be for nothing,” she said.

But she kept studying, striving and working. You know how folks are always saying “Why don’t they just get legal?” It’s not that easy.

It took 10 years of hearings and arguments to convince a judge that she faced threats and violence in Honduras, in that tiny, adobe house, and that her hard work in school, model citizenship and potential were enough to grant her a place in American society.

Asylum is granted only to someone who faces persecution in their home country. And that persecution has to be for one of five reasons: your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or your political opinion.

“It has to fit in one of five boxes,” Benach said. And her life’s work is helping her frightened clients qualify.

Montecinos was granted asylum and citizenship on June 29, 2016.

“For many, becoming a U.S. citizen is the last part of the process,” Montecinos wrote on her Facebook page that day. “For others, like myself, it is the beginning to end 16 plus years of uncertainty and of fear of a forceful return to imminent harm.”

She called herself “extremely blessed and thankful for such a privilege, which is denied to many,” she said. “This path, however, was not easy. It was not short. It was not cheap.”

She is in her third year of law school at the University of the District of Columbia, where she received a Student Humanitarian and Civic Engagement award on Thursday.

In her spare time, you see, she runs a nonprofit group she founded, United for Social Justice, which helps low-income, first-generation Americans get access to higher education. Oh, and she coaches and plays on a bunch of soccer teams.

When she meets with the undocumented children who are like her, the ones she is fighting for, it reminds her of her struggle.

Though her own story is horrible — think of being 11 and scared, hiding your face with blankets as you cross strange villages where people are yelling “pollos mojados” (wet chickens) at you, not knowing where you’re going — her clients recount even more heart-stopping stories.

She hears from children who were kidnapped, who rode for days on top of speeding trains, afraid to fall asleep because they’d fall off, from a little girl who was gang-raped in front of her father.”

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

Ava has a “Major League” legal mind to go with a “heart of gold!” She and her colleagues from her firm appeared on many occasions before me at the Arlington Immigration Court.

This article aptly illustrates one of the points I often make.  Asylum law has intentionally been “jacked” against Central Americans by a non-independent BIA working under pressure from politicos to limit protections to large groups. Nevertheless, with a good lawyer (e.g., one who isn’t afraid to argue the BIA’s — often otherwise ignored — favorable precedents back to them and to take wrong BIA denials to the Court of Appeals if necessary), resources to build and document a case, and persistence, most of the “Dreamers” probably could win some type of relief in Immigration Court if not at the Asylum Office or elsewhere at USCIS.

But, what rational reason could there be for forcing folks like Liana Montecinos who are already here, part of our society, and just want to become taxpaying citizens and REALLY “Make America Great” (not to be confused with the disingenuous racist slogan of Trump and his White Nationalist “base”) go through such a laborious process? And what possible rationale could there be for wasting the time of an already overburdened Immigration Court system with cases of individuals who clearly should be welcomed and accepted into American society without being placed in “Removal Proceedings?” Also, what would be the rationale for trying to artificially “speed up” complex cases like Liana’s and trying to make life difficult for talented lawyers like Ava?

The answer is clear: there is NO rationale for the “Gonzo” Immigration enforcement and “designed chaos and attack on Due Process in Immigration Court” that Trump, Miller, Sessions, Nielsen, Tom Homan and their ilk are trying to ram down our throats. Sessions is the problem for justice in our Immigration Courts; lawyers like Ava are a key part of the solution! Clearly, the U.S. Immigration Courts are too important to our system of justice to be left in the clutches of a biased, “enforcement only,” White Nationalist, xenophobic opponent of individual due process like Jeff Sessions! American needs an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court! Harm to the least and most vulnerable among us is harm to all!

The good news is that folks like Ava and her fellow “Generals” of the “New Due Process Army” are out there to fight Trump, Sessions & Company and their White Nationalist, anti-American actions every step of the way and to vindicate the Constitutional and legal rights of great American migrants like Liliana and millions of others similarly situated. They are “American’s future!” Trump, Sessions, Miller, et al., are the ugly past of America that all decent Americans should be committed to “putting in the rear-view mirror” where the “Trumpsters” live and belong! And, it won’t be long before Liliana becomes an attorney and a “full-fledged member” of the “New Due Process Army!”

Go Ava! Go Liliana! Due Process Forever! 

PWS

02-16-18

 

SEE, HEAR, READ TAL’S ANALYSIS OF LATEST GOP IMMIGRATION PROPOSAL ON CNN!

https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/11/politics/republican-senators-white-house-framework/index.html

“GOP senators introduce version of White House immigration framework

By Tal Kopan, CNN
Updated 6:13 PM ET, Sun February 11, 2018
Trump proposes path to citizenship for 1.8M

Washington (CNN)A group of Republican senators on Sunday night released a version of President Donald Trump’s immigration proposal ahead of a floor debate on immigration this week.

The proposal is expected to be one of several amendments the Senate will consider this week as it debates immigration. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has used a bill unrelated to immigration as the starting point for the debate, which will allow senators to offer proposals that can compete for 60 votes to advance.
The bill from Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley, John Cornyn, James Lankford, Thom Tillis, David Perdue, Tom Cotton and Joni Ernst largely resembles what Trump has proposed.
At its base is still a resolution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has protected young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation. Trump has decided to terminate the Obama-era program.
With DACA left out again, advocates figure out their next move
With DACA left out again, advocates figure out their next move
The White House proposal offered a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million eligible immigrants, more than the 800,000 of whom registered for DACA in the five years of the program. In exchange, the White House sought upwards of $25 billion for border security and a wall, a number of changes to laws to make it easier to deport and detain immigrants, a substantial cut to legal immigration based on family relationships and an end to the diversity visa lottery.
The Grassley bill essentially makes those bullet points a reality, including the proposals that would toughen immigration enforcement and limiting family-based visas only to spouses and children under 18 years old — a vastly reduced number of eligible immigrants from the current system.
As proposed by the White House, the cuts to the family system and diversity lottery would be used to allow in the 4 million to 5 million immigrants already waiting years — and in some cases decades — in the backlog for visas. Cuts to yearly visas would only occur after that backlog is cleared, allowing Congress time to make reforms, the lawmakers said.
McConnell officially tees up immigration debate next week
McConnell officially tees up immigration debate next week
The bill is not expected to have 60 votes in support of it, the threshold required to advance legislation in the Senate. Democrats have uniformly objected to the cuts to family migration and have issues with the ending of the diversity visa without another way to support immigrants from countries that are otherwise underrepresented in immigration to the US. The so-called reforms to current immigration laws also face steep opposition.“

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

Click the above link to see Tal on TV!

Unfortunately, “closing loopholes” is a euphemism for increasing unnecessary, expensive, and inhumane civil immigration detention (the “New American Gulag”).

It also involves denying due process to tens of thousands of “unaccompanied children” seeking protection for which many should qualify were they given a fair opportunity to obtain counsel, adequate time to document applications, and truly fair hearings in Immigration Court.

In plain terms, it’s a cowardly and disingenuous attack on the rights of the most vulnerable migrants. Hopefully there are enough legislators on both sides of the aisle committed to due process, human rights, and just plain human decency to expose and defeat these highly abusive and dishonest parts of the GOP proposal.

PWS

02-11-18

DREAMERS “LEFT OUT” AGAIN – CONTEMPLATE NEXT MOVE – News & Analysis From Tal @ CNN

https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/10/politics/daca-left-out-what-next/index.html

The “Amazing Tal” writes:

“Washington (CNN)As the ink dried Friday on a major budget compromise deal in Congress, immigration advocates were taking stock of getting left behind — again — without a resolution for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants on the verge of losing protections.

It’s an open question if there are cards left to play in the push to enshrine the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy into law. While no advocates say they are giving up, many also openly admit that Democrats and allies gave up their best negotiating position on the issue without another clear avenue coming up.
In the meantime, a pending court decision on DACA, which President Donald Trump is terminating, means the immigrants protected by it and who mostly have never known another country than the US, won’t begin losing their protections as planned on March 5 — but their fate could be reversed at any moment by another court decision.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat who has long served as one of the most outspoken advocates in Congress for immigration reform, was pessimistic with reporters early Friday morning as Congress passed the deal with virtually every Democratic priority except DACA in it.
“No, I don’t, I don’t,” he said when asked if there was any other way Democrats could exert leverage on the issue. Gutierrez said the plan from the beginning was to either attach a DACA compromise to the must-pass budget deal or raising the debt ceiling, both of which were passed in the early morning hours Friday without DACA. Arizona Democrat Raul Grijalva called the episode “disheartening.”
close dialog
“We have decoupled the issues. Your leverage is you want them one and the same,” Gutierrez said. “Do we need a new way forward? Yeah, we’re going to figure out a new way forward.”

Step 1: Senate vote next week

There is one glimmer of hope for advocates. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made good on his promise to tee up an immigration debate on the Senate floor next week. Moments after the Senate passed the deal, McConnell filed to have a vote to open debate on an unrelated bill Monday evening — which will kick off a process where an as-yet-unknown number of amendments will be able to compete for a procedural threshold of 60 votes to then pass the Senate.
It was that promise that put in motion the deal that eventually severed DACA from other negotiations but also offers a rare opportunity for lawmakers to compete on a neutral playing field for bipartisan support.
“We’re pivoting, what can you do?” said longtime advocate Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigration group America’s Voice. “We’ve had our doubts about the viability of a standalone legislative process but that’s what we’re left with, so we’re hoping to make the most of it. … That will put pressure on the President and the House to do the same.”
Already, groups of lawmakers are preparing for the floor debate, even as it remains unclear how many amendments will be offered, how debate will be structured and how long it might last.
A group of roughly 20 bipartisan senators is drafting legislation over the weekend to offer perhaps multiple amendments and potentially keep the debate focused on a narrow DACA-border security bill. Advocates on the left may offer a clean DACA fix like the Dream Act, and some on the right are drafting a version of the White House proposal that would include $25 billion for a border wall and heavy cuts to legal immigration with a pathway to citizenship — though neither is expected to have 60 votes.
“First of all, we have the Senate procedure, which is my hope. We’re working with the (bipartisan group) to see if we can come to a two-pillar solution,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who has long worked on the issue, when asked Thursday what comes next for DACA. “Hopefully we could gather 60 votes for that. And then that would be it — we’d resist everything else, any other amendments, and then go back to the House and create all the pressure in the House to make it happen.”

Step 2: Pressure Ryan

If the Senate can pass a bill, lawmakers hope Trump will fully embrace it, freeing House Speaker Paul Ryan to call it up.
Already as the budget deal was on track for passage, House advocates began a pressure campaign to urge Ryan to make a promise like McConnell — though Ryan continually demurred and insisted instead he’s committed to the issue of immigration and passing a bill the President can support.
“I think we have to be realistic,” said Arizona’s Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego. “We’re going to have to deal with reality and find whatever means possible to put pressure on Speaker Ryan and the Republican Party to bring, again, a fair vote on the Dream Act to the floor.”
“I think for me the strategy has to be pressure Ryan and bring it to the floor,” Grijalva said, adding the process should allow any proposal to vie for a majority — even if it doesn’t have a majority of Republican votes. “The Senate, when they gave up on not voting for it, at the very minimum extracted a time certain and a debate on something. We don’t even have that.”
Democrats also may have some Republican supporters in the House to pressure Ryan. A bipartisan group of lawmakers that includes two dozen Republicans sent a letter to Ryan asking to open a floor debate like McConnell.
Republican Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania said he’s been urging fellow moderates to use their numbers the way that conservatives on the right flank do.
“The Freedom Caucus has been effective because they’ll use their power of 24 (votes to deny a majority), and they take the hostage, they’ll do what they have to do,” Dent said. “I tell our members, we put our votes together, we can really direct an outcome. … I suspect if the Senate sends us a bipartisan DACA bill, that’s when we’re going to have to flex our muscles.”
But others have doubts. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a member of the bipartisan group, says he learned his lesson in 2013, when he co-authored legislation that passed the Senate with wide margins but died in the House.
“There are some who believe that if we get a bunch of votes it’ll force the House to do it. I don’t agree,” Rubio said. “We could vote on it 90-10. … This notion that the House is going to listen to what a senator tells them to do is not real.”

Step 3: Other leverage

If the legislative process can’t produce success, advocates say, they will look for any other leverage points they can.
“If that doesn’t work out, then there’s still an omnibus at the end of the day,” said Menendez, referring to the spending bills due in March to fund the government under the topline two-year budget deal passed Friday.
But Gutierrez doubted that approach — scoffing at the idea that Democrats would be taken seriously if they threatened to withhold their votes yet again without success.
“Really?” Gutierrez said about the omnibus as leverage. “Is it plausible? Is it realistic? Can you continue to threaten with something?”
Other options could include a temporary, one-year or two-year extension of DACA without a permanent solution, though lawmakers have decried that option.
Still, many aren’t ready to give up hope.
“This President clearly wants to get it done, I think the majority of Republicans want to get it done and the majority of Democrats want to get it done. Can we reach that balance? We can get there, I feel very confident we can get there,” said Florida’s Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.”
***************************************
Although it should be a “no brainer,” I’m not as confident as Rep. Diaz-Balart that this group can “get to yes.” A fair resolution of the “Dreamers” situation just isn’t very high on the GOP agenda, particularly in the House. And, both the Dreamers and the Dems are coming to grips with the obvious reality: if you want to set or control the agenda, you have to win elections!
We need Julia Preston to lock these folks in a room for awhile!
PWS
02-10-18

GONZO’S WORLD: How “Gonzo” Immigration Enforcement & The All-Out Attack On So-Called “Sanctuary Cities” Actually IMPEDE Effective Law Enforcement! — “The bottom line is, you just can’t trust ICE during the Trump administration!”

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=9cb0eda5-8512-4812-9d46-0b07c60a000b

Frank Shyong reports for the LA Times:

“For the better part of a decade, an agency that bilked Chinese immigrant investors out of nearly $50 million operated in plain sight from a storefront in the front lobby of the bustling Hilton San Gabriel hotel.

Their crimes came to light last year after a task force of San Gabriel police and federal immigration officials tracked transactions between Chinese and U.S. banks, conducted cross-border surveillance operations, launched an undercover sting and sought information from the Chinese government.

San Gabriel Valley police departments often use federal partnerships to tackle crimes like these — many of which target vulnerable new immigrants — because they lack the necessary resources, skills and technology to pursue them.

But the largely immigrant communities that they police are starting to protest these partnerships in the wake of aggressive, Trump-era immigration enforcement that has stoked widespread fears over deportations.

On Tuesday, San Gabriel city leaders rescinded a Police Department agreement with immigration officials, citing doubts about the arrangement’s necessity and heightened fears about deportations.

The memorandum of understanding, signed by Police Chief Eugene Harris in December, designates a San Gabriel police detective to act as a customs officer on a task force that investigates various types of immigration-related crimes.

Although the memo states that the designated officer does not have the authority to enforce administrative violations of immigration law, city leaders said the decision should have been brought before the City Council.

The partnership sends the wrong message about the city’s stance toward immigrants, Councilman Jason Pu said. The city’s population is 61% Asian and 25% Latino, and more than half of of all residents are foreign-born. He also asked the City Council to consider a “sanctuary city” resolution at a later meeting.

“The city of San Gabriel embraces our immigrant communities. If the message becomes ‘Come to San Gabriel and get deported,’ it would be devastating to our community and to our businesses,” Pu said.

Harris said the partnership with Homeland Security Investigations was designed to fight crimes, not deport immigrants. Contributing an officer to an HSI task force allowed the department to access federal databases, among other resources.

Councilman John Harrington voted against canceling the agreement and accused other council members of playing politics.

“This sends the message that politics are more important than residents’ safety,” Harrington said.

The news of the agreement was met with alarm in San Gabriel.

Advocacy groups and residents chanted slogans and waved signs before the Tuesday night meeting, which was so crowded that the city was forced to relocate it from City Hall to the nearby San Gabriel Mission Playhouse.

San Gabriel’s agreement was one of dozens that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have struck with local agencies across Southern California, including jurisdictions as small as Monterey Park and as large as the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The documents lay out terms for information-sharing, compensation for labor costs and, in some cases, the designation of a local police officer to work on a task force with Homeland Security Investigations, ICE’s criminal investigations arm.

But California’s new “sanctuary state” law largely prohibits the use of local funds and personnel on both criminal and civil immigration enforcement.

Jurisdictions around the state are scrutinizing these agreements and other local collaborations with ICE — and in some cases canceling them.

Pasadena city leaders recently voided an agreement signed by Police Chief Phillip L. Sanchez, saying that it required the signature of the city manager.

Santa Monica also canceled its Police Department’s arrangement with ICE in a letter from the city manager last year, citing concerns about “implied or inadvertent involvement in civil immigration enforcement by the SMPD.”

Oakland city leaders canceled their agreement with ICE after activists learned that two Oakland police officers had stopped traffic during a raid that resulted in the arrests of two people. One was placed in deportation proceedings. Federal officials said the operation was targeting a human trafficking ring, but no criminal charges have been filed.

In Santa Cruz, a criminal investigation targeting gang members also brought about the arrests of several non-gang members for immigration violations. The city police chief, Kevin Vogel, said he was never informed about the possibility of collateral arrests.

“They misled my department as to the actual scope of the operation. I feel like I was lied to,” Vogel said.

ICE officials said they told Vogel that collateral arrests of non-gang members could occur during the operations several days before the raids, which Vogel disputes.

Though Santa Cruz had no agreement with ICE, Vogel warned other police departments to clarify the terms of their cooperation with ICE up front.

“I’m not in a position to tell authorities which laws to enforce,” said Vogel, a 30-year veteran of the Santa Cruz Police Department who retired in June. “But you have to be straight with me if you’re going to come into my city for an operation.”

A detective in San Gabriel has been assigned to an HSI task force since June. The group has arrested two people it says were posing as immigration attorneys in order to charge exorbitant fees for fraudulent legal services. It has also investigated a counterfeit driver’s license and passport operation, and is looking for the owners of 30 Chinese passports discovered in a package.

These cases are typically too small to draw the attention of state and federal law enforcement agencies but too complicated for local police departments to handle with their own resources, Harris said.

Police departments and immigration authorities say these partnerships are strictly for criminal investigations.

But advocates say it may be impossible to ensure these partnerships won’t include what the Trump administration has called “collateral arrests,” or arrests of immigrants who are in the country illegally but are not the target of criminal investigations.

“Even if the original intent is to investigate a crime, if they find neighbors, bystanders that they believe are removable, they will also arrest and detain them,” said Angela Chan of Advancing Justice — Asian Law Caucus, a coauthor of Senate Bill 54, the sanctuary state bill.

Of the 111,000 immigration arrests reported by ICE between Jan. 20 and Sept. 30 of last year, about 8% were collateral arrests. And last year, ICE’s acting director, Thomas Homan, warned that more collateral arrests might be one result of California’s passing a sanctuary state bill.

Agreements like San Gabriel’s, immigrant rights advocates say, often are broadly worded and rarely include any mention of collateral arrests or consequences for violating the agreement, said Ana Muñiz, assistant professor of criminology at UC Irvine.

“On one hand, ICE and HSI can technically comply with agreements, but on the other hand, there are rhetorical and technical loopholes,” Muñiz said.

Police officers working with HSI task forces are “not authorized” to arrest people for administrative violations of immigration law, said Jennifer Reyes, assistant special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations Los Angeles. But immigration officers working on HSI task forces have no such restrictions.

“HSI special agents, however, have the authority to make administrative arrests during criminal investigations as part of enforcing our nation’s laws,” Reyes said.

Harris said he thinks proper oversight of joint operations with immigration authorities could ensure that no local resources are used to enforce immigration law.

Federal, state and local agencies work together to emphasize that public safety is a shared goal across all law enforcement agencies, Harris said.

But cities are increasingly wary of the perception of endorsing the Trump administration’s immigration policies. And some city leaders, like Pu, don’t see ICE and HSI as trustworthy law enforcement partners.

“The bottom line is, you just can’t trust ICE during the Trump administration,” Pu said.”

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

Yup. Declaring  “open season” on law-abiding undocumented members of the community (treating them basically the same as criminals and gangsters) and picking fights with local officials is one of the dumbest “law enforcement” strategies I could imagine. Even after the “Trumpsters” eventually depart, ICE might never be able to re-establish trust and credibility in many communities.

PWS

02-09-18

TRUMP & RESTRICTIONISTS JUST DON’T “GET” IT: HUMAN MIGRATION IS A DYNAMIC FORCE THAT CAN BE HARNESSED OR CHANNELED, BUT WON’T BE SHUT DOWN BY WALLS, FENCES, ABUSIVE DETENTION, DENIAL OF RIGHTS, KANGAROO COURTS, SUMMARY REMOVAL, OR OTHER INTENTIONALLY “NASTY” ENFORCEMENT MEASURES – “But migrants and advocates said they were driven to cross the border more by conditions in Central America — gang violence and economic downturns — than by U.S. policies. “Many of these countries, you just cannot live in them,” said Ruben Garcia of El Paso’s Annunciation House shelter. “People will tell you ‘It’s just dangerous to walk around in our neighborhood.’ ” – WE CAN DIMINISH OURSELVES AS A NATION, BUT THAT WON’T HALT HUMAN MIGRATION!

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=2b1d32e6-30fa-40dc-8203-88f9b77b1203

 

Molly Hennessy-Fiske reports for the LA Times:

“McALLEN, Texas — Illegal crossings along the U.S.-Mexico border, after declining in early 2017, began an unexpected upturn last spring that only recently receded, according to new government figures.

The figures reflect the up-and-down nature of illegal immigration and are reminders that multiple factors — from politics to weather to conditions in home countries — influence who tries to come to the United States and when.

Apprehensions on the southern border in October 2016, a month before Donald Trump’s election, topped 66,000. After Trump’s victory, the number of migrants trying to enter the U.S. illegally reached a 17-year low.

Monthly apprehensions continued to drop into 2017, hitting 15,766 in April, when the downward trend reversed. Apprehensions rose each month to 40,513 in December. Migrant advocates said the “Trump effect” discouraging illegal immigration might be wearing off.

But last month, apprehensions decreased again. It’s not clear whether the post-holiday decrease is seasonal, or whether it will continue.

There were 35,822 migrants apprehended on the southern border in January, according to figures released Wednesday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. That’s not as many as in December, but it’s more than were apprehended each month last February to October.

The number of families and unaccompanied children caught crossing the border, which rose nearly every month since last spring, also dropped slightly last month to 25,980, but remained more than twice April’s total, 11,127.

In releasing the numbers Wednesday, Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Houlton noted the apprehension figures for children and families were still high.

“Front-line personnel are required to release tens of thousands of unaccompanied alien children and illegal family units into the United States each year due to current loopholes in our immigration laws. This month we saw an unacceptable number of UACs [unaccompanied children] and family units flood our border because of these catch and release loopholes,” he said. “To secure our borders and make America safer, Congress must act to close these legal loopholes that have created incentives for illegal immigrants.”

In Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, so many migrant families with small children arrive daily — more than 15,500 family members so far this fiscal year — that volunteers at a local shelter set up a play area in the corner.

When the number of unaccompanied migrant children caught crossing began to increase in April, fewer than 1,000 were apprehended a month. By last month, that had grown to 3,227. The number of family members caught crossing grew even faster during that time, from 1,118 in April to 5,656 last month.

When Elvis Antonio Muniya Mendez arrived at the shelter last month from Honduras with his 15-year-old son, the playpen was packed with the children of 100 fellow Central American migrants caught crossing the border illegally and released that day. Muniya, 36, had fled a gang that killed his 26-year-old brother the month before. He was hoping to join another brother in Indiana. He and his son were released with a notice to appear in immigration court, which he planned to attend.

“I want to live here legally, without fear,” he said.

Trump administration officials have proposed detaining more families, but that’s not happening in the Rio Grande Valley, where many are released like Muniya with notices to appear in court. The shelter where Muniya stopped, Sacred Heart, saw the number of migrants arriving drop at the end of last year only to increase recently, said the director, Sister Norma Pimentel.

“I’ve never seen so many children be part of this migration,” Pimentel said.

Children who cross the border unaccompanied by an adult are sheltered by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement and placed with relatives or other sponsors in the U.S. The agency has about 9,900 shelter beds at various facilities. As of this week, the agency was sheltering 7,800 youths.

Children who cross the border with a parent may be released with notices to appear in court or held at special family detention centers.

Trump administration officials have proposed detaining more of the families. But space is limited. As of Monday, the detention centers held 1,896 people. Only one of them can hold fathers, and attorneys said it’s always full, so men who cross with children are often released with a notice to appear in court.

Advocates for greater restrictions on immigration say more needs to be done to hold parents who cross with their children accountable. They say such parents put their children at risk by making the dangerous journey. Andrew Arthur, a former immigration judge now serving as a resident fellow in law and policy at the conservative Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, said the way migrants are treated on the border encourages family migration.

“The reason the children are there to begin with is this belief that a parent with a child will not be detained,” Arthur said. That assumption, he said, is wrong.

He said Congress and the Trump administration’s unwillingness to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has also encouraged migrant families to make the trip now in hopes of benefiting from a “DACA amnesty,” even though the program is limited to those who grew up in the U.S.

But migrants and advocates said they were driven to cross the border more by conditions in Central America — gang violence and economic downturns — than by U.S. policies.

“Many of these countries, you just cannot live in them,” said Ruben Garcia of El Paso’s Annunciation House shelter. “People will tell you ‘It’s just dangerous to walk around in our neighborhood.’ ”

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

Quite contrary to Tyler Houlton, the Trump Administration, and the restrictionists, this isn’t about “loopholes” in the law! Individuals arriving at our borders have a right to apply for asylum and they have a right to receive Due Process and fair treatment in connection with those “life or death” applications.

But for the purposely convoluted decisions of the BIA, individuals resisting gang violence would be “slam dunk” asylum, withholding of removal, or Convention Against Torture (“CAT”) cases. If we just screened them for crimes or gang connections and granted their applications, they could easily be absorbed by our country.

But, even if we don’t want to interpret “protection laws” to actually grant much protection, we could devise humanitarian relief short of asylum or full legal status that would allow individuals whose lives were in danger to find safety in the U.S. Or, we could work with the sending countries, the UNHCR, and other countries in the Americas to solve the problem of “safe havens.”

While the Trump Administration largely ignores the lessons of history and what happens abroad, one has only to look at the “European example” to see the inevitable failure of the restrictionist agenda. The European Union has done everything within it power to” slam the door” on refugees, make them feel unwelcome, unwanted, threatened, and targets for repatriation regardless of the harm that might befall them. But, still determined refugees continue to risk their lives to flee to Europe.

What the restrictive policies have accomplished is to force more refugees to use the services of professional smugglers, and to attempt more dangerous routes. Killing more refugees en route does somewhat reduce the flow — at the cost of the humanity of the nations involved.

Likewise, although border apprehensions were down last year, deaths of migrants crossing the Southern Border were up. See e.g., “US-Mexico border migrant deaths rose in 2017 even as crossings fell, UN says,” The Guardianhttps://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/06/us-mexico-border-migrant-deaths-rose-2017

I suspect that the increase in deaths has to do with more individuals having to use the services of professional smugglers, who are more unscrupulous than “Mom & Pop” and “Do It Yourself” operations, and smugglers having to use more dangerous routes to avoid increased border security.

I suppose that restrictionists can be cheered by the fact that more individuals will be killed coming to and into the United States, thus decreasing the overall  flow of unwanted human beings. But 1) it won’t stop people from coming, and 2) I doubt that finding way to kill more refugees will look that good in historical perspective.

As one of my colleagues told me early on in my career as an Immigration Judge: “Desperate people do desperate things!” That’s not going to change, no matter how much the restrictionists want to believe that institutional cruelty, inhumanity, “sending messages,” denying legal rights, and “get tough tactics” can completely squelch the flow of human migration. However, it certainly can squelch the flame of our own humanity.

PWS

02-08-18

 

 

GOP WONKSTER CARLOS BONILLA WONDERS WHEN “1st GENERATION AMERICANS” BECAME “ANCHOR BABIES,” “FAMILY REUNIFICATION” BECAME “CHAIN MIGRATION,” & “THE AMERICAN DREAM” WAS REPLACED BY THE GOP WHITE NATIONALIST RACIST AGENDA? — “We Used To Be Called First Generation Americans, But ‘Anchor Baby’ Apparently Resonates Better For Fearmongering Purposes.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2018/01/31/the-immigration-rules-president-trump-wants-would-have-crushed-my-family/

Bonilla writes in the Washington Post:

“After my father died in Honduras in 1990, I sponsored my widowed mother for permanent residency in the United States. She was 67 years old, I was her only child, and my three children were her only grandchildren. Of course I had to bring her here.

I was doing what most children with aging parents, in any country, try to do: take care of them as they once took care of us. Fortunately, the wisdom of U.S. immigration law at the time allowed her to enter with a green card under the family reunification visa preference, now under attack as “chain migration” by opponents of legal immigration, including President Trump. I was able to sponsor her because I was a U.S. citizen, born and raised here. No doubt some would consider me an “anchor baby,” although my nonimmigrant parents were here legally when I was born. We used to be called first-generation Americans, but “anchor baby” apparently resonates better for fearmongering purposes.

The Trump administration’s proposals to change the U.S. immigration system and end most family reunification preferences would have kept me from helping my mother, and if they become law, they’ll keep countless Americans from doing the same for their loved ones. The president wants to end visa preferences for parents, adult children and siblings of immigrants — only minor children or spouses would qualify for family visas. In Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, Trump said that he would protect “the nuclear family” and that the changes he’s proposed are necessary for “our security, and for the future of America.” But his rules wouldn’t have protected my family, or our future, at all. In my case, bringing my mother here had a profound impact on my life and those of my children — and no one would have been better off if immigration law had forced her to stay in Honduras.

CONTENT FROM CHILDREN’S NATIONAL
“There was constant anxiety. He would accuse people of not being careful enough [with food]. He was scared something could happen and that he could have a reaction.”
Read More
[For 50 years, keeping families together has been central to U.S. immigration policy]

In 1996, after going through a divorce, I found myself a single father, trying to raise three tweens and teens on my own, wondering how I would handle work and family obligations. My mother saved my life. In many ways, she saved my children’s lives as well. She was the after-school presence, always there to greet them and keep them out of trouble. We did a good job: All three graduated from good colleges — the University of Pennsylvania, Duke and the University of Pittsburgh. They’ve all gone on to successful careers in education, technology and real estate.

Without my mother here, I would have had to decline the greatest professional opportunity of my life in 2001: the chance to work in the White House as a special assistant for economic policy to President George W. Bush. What had been a few hours a day of after-school care that my mother handled became many hours a day and often late nights, as anyone who has worked in the White House will attest. Had she not been here, I could never have met the demands of that job with kids in high school.

In 2002, we celebrated my mother obtaining her U.S. citizenship with lunch in the White House Mess. We sat there and wished my father had lived to see this — his son working in the White House. My father, born to a single mother in a poor mountain town in Honduras, got a college education only because Rotary International gave him a scholarship at age 27 to study in the United States. He went on to get a master’s degree in economics, the same trade that brought me to the White House’s National Economic Council.

In some ways, mine was an atypical foreign family: My parents spent 20 years working here on G-4 visas , which are granted to employees of international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank, where they worked before taking overseas posts and ultimately retiring in Honduras. In other ways, though, we were the stereotypical American immigrant story: They came here to improve their lot in life. They were luckier than most and better educated than many. But that education took place only after my parents got here. They came with a high school education and no assets. They left this world with much more, but you couldn’t have predicted that when they first arrived in the United States.

[How ‘chain migration’ brought us the Trump White House]

Now the Trump administration is deriding family reunification as “chain migration,” a term intended to belittle the contributions that immigrants and their families make. “Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives,” Trump claimed Tuesday — a claim that isn’t true, as current law only allows citizens or permanent residents to sponsor immediate relatives. Some of the president’s allies, such as Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), don’t even want people like me to be citizens in the first place: My parents were not citizens or permanent residents when I was born, and King has introduced legislation to prevent children of people like them from becoming citizens at birth. Under these visions for America, I would not have been able to work in the White House; I would not have been able to sponsor my mother for permanent residency; and my mother would have been unable to help me and my children accomplish what we have accomplished.

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I ask only that people look at me and my family, especially my mother, as part of the positive impact that immigrants have in America. Both of my parents were born in Honduras (no doubt one of the places the president had in mind when he made a scatological reference to the countries of origin of many immigrants). Thanks to the compassion and vision of our current policies, though, my mother made a lasting contribution to our nation: the well-being and advancement of me and my three children. No one looking at us would ever think “Norwegian.” But surely they would think that we embody the American spirit.”

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

Come on, Carlos! You’re a smart guy! What did you expect from a party that embraces outspoken anti-Latino, White Nationalist, racists like Steve King, Jeff Sessions, Kris Kobach, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Donald Trump?

Your achievements and past contributions are meaningless. It’s your a Brown skin, Hispanic race, and immigrant heritage that they hate and denigrate!

So, instead of asking why and lamenting the overt racism that has become a key part of the GOP agenda (just that Hispanics have replaced African-Americans as the primary target), why not do the “smart” thing and switch over to the Democratic Party where the American Dream isn’t restricted to rich White Guys?

PWS

02-04-18

THE SPLC ANALYZES TRUMP’S CONTORTED AND CONTRIVED MESSAGE OF HATE, INTOLERANCE, & DIVISION!

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FIGHTING HATE // TEACHING TOLERANCE // SEEKING JUSTICE

FEBRUARY 3, 2018

“In his State of the Union address this week, President Trump congratulated his administration for having “taken historic actions to protect religious liberty.”

It certainly was historic in October when Trump became the first sitting president to give the keynote address at an annual summit hosted by an anti-LGBT hate group, the Family Research Council.

And it was historic when his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, issued religious freedom guidance eroding protections for LGBT people after he consulted with another anti-LGBT hate group, the Alliance Defending Freedom.

But it was an anti-immigrant hate group, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), whose talking points laced the State of the Union address this week.

CIS presents itself as an independent think tank, but it began as a project of the anti-immigrant hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform and was founded by white nationalist John Tanton.

CIS frequently manipulates its findings to achieve results that further its anti-immigrant agenda. Last fall, for instance, CIS staffer Jessica Vaughn published a report exaggerating how many people would enter America via a process that CIS calls “chain migration” — the hate group’s preferred phrase to stigmatize the idea of immigrant families reuniting.

The phrase “chain migration” appeared twice in this week’s State of the Union, alongside dangerous and hateful misinformation about immigrants taken directly from CIS talking points.

Given the State of the Union’s author, that should be no surprise.

Senior adviser Stephen Miller, who took the lead writing the speech, served for years as an aide to Jeff Sessions, who has himself endorsed CIS’ work, spoken on a CIS panel, and taken whispered counsel from a former CIS staffer during immigration debates on the Senate floor.

When Sessions hired Miller fresh from Duke University, he did so at the recommendation of anti-Muslim extremist David Horowitz. Now in the White House, Miller has been claimed and praised by extremists for advocating policy on hate group wish lists and pushing anti-immigrant narratives like the one we heard in the State of the Union.

“For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities. They have allowed millions of low-wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against the poorest Americans,” Trump said Tuesday, reading Miller’s text off a teleprompter.

But studies consistently show that immigrants help — not hurt — the U.S. economy.

“Most tragically, they have caused the loss of many innocent lives,” Trump said Tuesday — despite study after study finding immigrants commit crime at rates lowerthan native-born Americans, not higher.

Hate groups should not have a seat at the table on matters of national policy or influence what talking points to highlight in the State of the Union.

But thanks to Stephen Miller, they have exactly that.

The Editors

P.S. Here are some other pieces we think are valuable this week:

What kids are really learning about slavery by Melinda Anderson for The Atlantic

How the far right has perfected the art of deniable racism by Gary Younge for The Guardian

Indian slavery once thrived in New Mexico. Latinos are finding family ties to it by Simon Romero for The New York Times

The terrifying rise of alt-right fight clubs by Bryan Schatz for Mother Jones

View this email in your browser.”

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

Yup. Sadly, Trump and his cohorts Sessions & Miller are out to divide, not unify America (except in the sense that they are unifying all decent Americans against their White Nationalist, racist agenda). For years, the GOP right-wing has “talked around” the racism and White Nationalism inherent in many of their programs and actions, using euphemisms like “reform,” “streamlining,” “right to work,” “combatting voter fraud,” etc. And, while occasionally it earns them a mild “tisk, tisk” from so-called “moderate” or “mainstream” Republicans, for the most part the spineless leadership of the GOP has given racism, White Nationalism, and xenophobia a “free Pass.”

Just look at the “hero of the GOP moderates,” Mitt Romney. “The Mittster” appears poised to reenter politics as the Junior Senator from Utah, replacing the retiring Orrin Hatch.

While carefully steering a moderate line on immigration during his governorship of “Blue State” Massachusetts, once nominated for the Presidency, Romney hired the notorious racist/White Nationalist/vote suppressor Kris Kobach as his “Immigration Advisor.” He then proceeded to largely adopt the White Nationalist line in immigration, including the famous Kobach initiative that sought to make life so miserable for hardworking, law-abiding undocumented residents (known in White Nationalist lingo as “illegals”) that they would “self-deport.”

Who is the real Mitt Romney? Nobody knows. But, my guess is that he’ll stand with the White Nationalists on immigration.

Although he has been sharply critical of Trump at times, it’s likely that when push comes to shove, he’ll line up behind the Trump-far right agenda just like other so-called “critics” such as Sen. “Bobby the Cork” Corker, Sen. Jeff Flake, Sen. John McCain, Sen. Susan Collins, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski when it came to “sticking it to America” with the GOP Tax ripoff. After all, remember how quick Mitt was to “pretzel himself up” and grovel before Trump on the off-chance that he would be allowed to serve the Great Con-Master as Secretary of State!

PWS

02-03-18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Paarlberg @ THE GUARDIAN: HOW WACKO & COUNTERPRODUCTIVE IS TRUMP/SESSIONS “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT? — Who Screws Their Friends & Productive Residents While Empowering Multinational Gangs? — “[MS-13] can’t really be described accurately as a single gang but is rather a network of gangs with little centralized authority and a franchised name, whose street value only increases with each press conference by Trump and Sessions. . . . There aren’t many beneficiaries of Trump’s immigration policy, but there’s at least one: MS-13 couldn’t have asked for a better president than Trump.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/02/trump-immigration-bogeymen-ms-13-chain-migration?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Paarlberg writes:

“In 1968, a British Conservative politician, Enoch Powell, made what became known as his “Rivers of Blood” speech. In it, he sounded an alarm about what he imagined to be an unchecked immigrant invasion of the United Kingdom, at a time when the country’s immigrant population had only grown from 5 to 6% in the previous decade.

Crime was low, less than one homicide per 100,000 residents, a tenth the rate of the US. Quoting a constituent, he foresaw the day when “the black man will have the whip hand over the white man”. In subsequent decades, immigration slowly inched upwards, but the scenario Powell envisioned failed to materialize.

Half a century later, we Americans live in a Powellesque moment in which politicians’ hysterical rhetoric surrounding immigration is completely at odds with the facts. President Trump, giving his own Rivers of Blood speech on Tuesday, painted a grim picture of a wave of hardened criminal immigrants, exploiting diversity visas and “chain migration”, running around the country murdering people left and right.

In reality, illegal immigration to the US is down, not up. Trump would like to take credit for this with his tough talk about walls, rapists, and “bad hombres” from Mexico, but the number of unauthorized immigrants in the country has been falling for the past decade, due not to xenophobic bluster but the Great Recession.

Net migration from Mexico is currently negative: more Mexicans are leaving the US than coming in, and have been doing so since the end of the Bush administration. In coming decades, most new immigrants to the US will not be from Latin America at all, but from China and India.

Violent crime, too, is down, way down: FBI statistics show violent crimes are just half of what they were in the early 90s. Trump would have you believe that immigrants are responsible for “tremendous amounts of crime”, but research shows immigrants commit less crime than native-born Americans.

In fact, it started in Los Angeles in the 1980s, was originally made up of adolescent stoners who listened to heavy metal, and only grew into a much larger and more vicious, officially designated “transnational gang” thanks to mass criminal deportations by the Clinton administration to poor countries that were ill-equipped to deal with the influx.

It can’t really be described accurately as a single gang but is rather a network of gangs with little centralized authority and a franchised name, whose street value only increases with each press conference by Trump and Sessions. And for all the hype, MS-13 is a relatively small player here. Its estimated US membership has remained constant for the past decade at around 10,000, or less than 1% of the 1.4 million gang members in the US: far smaller than the Crips, Bloods, Latin Kings, or Aryan Brotherhood.

Even the face tattoo image is out of date; MS cliques have been discouraging members from getting them after belatedly realizing it makes them easy to identify by police.

As for the origins of this nonexistent immigrant crime wave, Trump blames “chain migration”, the more menacing nativist buzzword for family reunification, the principle on which our immigration laws are founded.

“Chain migration” is actually a conservative idea: the Immigration and Nationality Act, which was passed in 1965, was sold to immigration restrictionists as a law which would preserve mostly white immigration while doing away with the overtly racist, eugenics-inspired quota laws it replaced. Because by 1965, most immigrants to the US were from Europe, it was assumed that giving preference to family members of current immigrants would restrict immigration from other parts of the world.

After all, it is a policy which upholds the family as a unit. Families, conservatives argued, were preferable to single men. They encourage stable employment, homeownership, participation in the community, and provide a source of private, non-state welfare for needy relatives. Families are what keeps people out of trouble, the kind Trump imagines immigrants are getting into, and which may actually happen if he succeeds in taking away this base of support.

It wouldn’t be the first time US immigration policy had the opposite of its intended effect, from Johnson’s 1965 immigration law to Clinton’s criminal deportations. Similarly, Trump’s recent decision to revoke TPS protection for over 200,000 legal immigrants from Haiti and El Salvador will only increase the number of unauthorized immigrants and lead to more unauthorized immigration in the future: mass deportations mean a loss of cash remittances from those immigrants to countries whose economies are heavily dependent on them, which will only worsen unemployment and send more migrants north.

Breaking up families also creates the conditions of insecurity under which predatory gangs thrive. In Central America, deportations from the US give gangs a new vulnerable population to recruit from. In the US, the loss of family networks and raids which push migrants into the shadows give them a new vulnerable population to extort. There aren’t many beneficiaries of Trump’s immigration policy, but there’s at least one: MS-13 couldn’t have asked for a better president than Trump.”

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Pretty much what I’ve been saying all along! With their toxic mixture of ignorance, arrogance, incompetence, bias, White Nationalism, and racism, Trump, Sessions, Miller, and their sycophantic followers have been destroying American communities, weakening and dissolving American society, and empowering our enemies, foreign and domestic! Other than that, they’re a great bunch of guys.

The only folks happier than MS-13 about the Trump/Sessions regime and their “sell-out” of America and American values are Vladi Putin and his Oligarchs.

PWS

02-02-18

JAMELLE BOUIE @ SLATE: TRUMP, SESSIONS, MILLER & THE GOP RESTRICTIONISTS HAVE PUT GOOD OL’ 1920S RACISM AT THE FOREFRONT OF THEIR WHITE NATIONALIST IMMIGRATION AGENDA! –“What good does it do to bring in somebody who’s illiterate in their own country, has no skills, and is going to struggle in our country and not be successful? . . . That is not what a good nation should do, and we need to get away from it.” — J. “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions, Attorney General of the United States of America & Unapologetic White Nationalist With A Long History Of Racism!

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/02/the-nativist-blueprint-for-trumps-immigration-plan.html

Jamelle writes in Slate:

“State of the Union on Tuesday night, “one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country.”

The president and his allies claim such an immigration policy would promote cohesion and unity among Americans “and finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century.” Far from forward-facing, however, the president’s policies evoke the beginning of the 20th century, when war abroad and opportunity at home brought waves of immigrants to the United States, from Italians, Polish, and Russians to Chinese and Japanese. Their arrival sparked a backlash from those who feared what these newcomers might mean for white supremacy and the privileged position of white, Anglo-Saxon Americans. Those fears coalesced into a movement for “American homogeneity,” and a drive to achieve it by closing off America’s borders to all but a select group of immigrants. This culminated in 1924 with the Johnson-Reed Act, which sharply restricted immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe and all but banned it from much of Asia.

Members of the Trump administration have praised the Johnson-Reed Act for its severe restrictions on who could enter the country, and the act’s history helps illuminate what exactly Trump means when he says he wants to put “America first.”

The cohesion Trump espouses isn’t national or ideological. It is racial. The fight over immigration isn’t between two camps who value the contributions of immigrants and simply quibble over the mix and composition of entrants to the United States. It is between a camp that values immigrants and seeks to protect the broader American tradition of inclusion, and one that rejects this openness in favor of a darker legacy of exclusion. And in the current moment, it is the restrictionists who are the loudest and most influential voices, and their concerns are driving the terms of the debate.

At the heart of the nativist idea is a fear of foreign influence, that some force originating abroad threatens to undermine the bonds that hold America together. What critics condemned as “Know Nothing-ism” in the 19th century, adherents called Americanism. “The grand work of the American party,” said one nativist journal in 1855, “is the principle of nationality … we must do something to protect and vindicate it. If we do not, it will be destroyed.”

In the first decades of the 20th century, the defense of “the principle of nationality” took several forms. At the level of mass politics, it meant a retooled and reinvigorated Ku Klux Klan with a membership in the millions, whose new incarnation was as committed to anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, and anti-Semitic politics as it was to its traditional anti-black racism. In Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan, historian Nancy MacLean notes how Georgia Klan leader William Joseph Simmons warned his followers that they were, in his words, “being crowded out by a “mongrel population … organized into Ghettos and Communistic groups … and uplifting a red flag as their insignia of war.” Likewise, Klan leaders and publications blasted Catholic immigrants as “European riff-raff” and “slaves of ignorance and vice” who threatened to degrade the country at the same time that they allegedly undermined native-born white workers. When, in 1923 and 1924, Congress was debating the Johnson-Reed Act, the Klan organized a letter-writing campaign to help secure its passage, turning its rhetoric into political action.

At the elite level, it meant the growth of an intellectual case for nativism, one built on a foundation of eugenics and “race science.” Prominent scholars like Madison Grant (The Passing of the Great Race) and Lothrop Stoddard (The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy) penned books and delivered lectures across the country, warning of a world in which “Nordic superiority” was supplanted by those of so-called inferior stock. “What is the greatest danger which threatens the American republic today?” asked eugenicist Henry Fairfield Osborn in the preface to Grant’s book. “I would certainly reply: The gradual dying out among our people of those hereditary traits through which the principles of our religious, political and social foundations were laid down and their insidious replacement by traits of less noble character.” The aim of the nativists was to preserve those traits and admit for entry only those immigrants who could fully and easily assimilate into them.

. . . .

It is true that there are some more moderate restrictionists in the mix, for whom the drive to reduce legal immigration is driven by concern and prudence—concern over immigration’s impact on wage and employment, especially among the country’s working-class citizens, and prudence regarding our ability to assimilate and absorb new arrivals.

The facts do not support these misgivings. Low-skilled immigration does more to bolster prospects for working-class Americans—providing complementary employment to construction and farm labor—than it does to lower wages. Likewise, immigrants to the United States have shown a remarkable capacity for assimilation, quickly integrating themselves into the fabric of American life by building homes, businesses, and families. To the extent that native-born workers need protection, it’s best provided by stronger unions and more generous support from the government.

But those moderate voices aren’t setting the agenda. Instead, it’s the hardliners who have used their initiative to inject nativism into mainstream politics and channel, in attenuated form, the attitudes that produced the 1924 law. President Trump, for example, ties Hispanic immigrants to crime and disorder, blaming their presence for gang violence. He attributes terror attacks committed by Muslim immigrants to the “visa lottery and chain migration” that supposedly allows them unfettered access to American targets. And in a recent meeting with Democratic and Republican lawmakers, Trump disparaged Haiti and various African nations as “shitholes” (or “shithouses”) whose immigrants should be turned away from the country in favor of those from European countries, like Norway. It’s unclear if Trump is aware of Rep. Albert Johnson, who spearheaded the 1924 immigration law. But in his racial ranking of immigrants, the president echoed the congressman’s sentiments. “The day of unalloyed welcome to all peoples, the day of indiscriminate acceptance of all races, has definitely ended,” proclaimed Johnson on the passage of the bill that bore his name.

The president isn’t alone in his views. Before joining the Trump administration, former White House adviser Stephen Bannon openly opposed nonwhite immigration on the grounds that it threatened the integrity of Western nations. And while Bannon has been exiled from Trump’s orbit, that legacy lives on. Stephen Miller, who is now the driving force behind immigration policy in the Trump administration, is a notorious hardliner who has echoed Bannon’s views, bemoaning the number of foreign-born people in the United States.

Miller is the former communications director for and protégé of Jeff Sessions, who as Alabama’s senator praised the Johnson-Reed Act and its restrictions on foreign-born Americans. “When the numbers reached about this high in 1924, the president and Congress changed the policy, and it slowed down immigration significantly,” Sessions said in a 2015 interview with Bannon. “We then assimilated through the 1965 and created really the solid middle class of America, with assimilated immigrants, and it was good for America.”

As attorney general, Sessions has leaned in to these views. “What good does it do to bring in somebody who’s illiterate in their own country, has no skills, and is going to struggle in our country and not be successful?” said Sessions during a recent interview on Fox News. “That is not what a good nation should do, and we need to get away from it.” Rep. Steve King of Iowa, a staunch defender of Trump, is especially blunt in his defense of hardline immigration policies. “Assimilation, not diversity, is our American strength,” he said on Twitter last year.

Assimilation in those middle decades of the 20th century was built, to a considerable extent, on racial exclusion. It was assimilation into whiteness, one which bolstered and preserved the racial status quo. There’s no return to the America of that era, but one could slow the nation’s demographic transition. The White House proposals for immigration reform seem designed to do just that. According to an analysis from the Cato Institute, President Trump’s framework for immigration would slash entries by 44 percent, excluding almost 22 million people from the United States over the next 50 years. And in an analysis tied to the “Securing America’s Future Act”—a House-produced bill which hews closely to what the president wants—the Center for Global Development finds that white immigrants would be twice as likely to attain entry into the United States than black and Hispanic ones, while a majority of Muslim and Catholic immigrants would be barred from the country. Couple these measures with voter suppression, a biased census, apportionment by citizenship, extreme gerrymandering, and the existing dominance of rural counties in national politics, and you can essentially rig the system for the preservation of white racial hegemony.

Immigration policy is inextricably tied to our nation’s self-identity. What we choose to do reflects the traditions we seek to uphold. In the 1920s, most Americans wanted a more homogenous country, and they chose accordingly. Forty years later, in the midst of the civil rights revolution and a powerful ethos of inclusion, Americans reversed course, opening our borders to millions of people from across the globe. In this moment, we have two options. We can once again take the path that wants to keep “America for Americans,” and which inevitably casts American-ness in ways circumscribed by race, origin, and religion. Or we could try to realize our cosmopolitan faith, that tradition of universalism which elevates the egalitarian ideals of the Founding, and which seeks to define our diversity of origins as a powerful strength, not a weakness to overcome.

portrait of Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie is Slate’s chief political correspondent.”

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

Read the complete article, with more historical references to the racist historical basis for today’s GOP restrictionist policies, at the link.

Actually, “Gonzo Apocalypto,” most of those Latino, African, Hispanic, and Middle Eastern immigrants that you look down upon and disrespect aren’t illiterate in their own countries. And, they probably speak and understand English better than you do their native languages.

While you, Gonzo, have spent most of your adult life on the “public dole,” trying to turn back the clock and, as far as I can see, doing things of questionable overall value to society, immigrants have been working hard at critical jobs, at all levels of our society, that you and your White Nationalist buddies couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to do. Hard-working immigrants, not your “White Nationalist Myth,” have advanced America in the latter half of the 20th Century and the beginning of the 21st Century. Immigrants will continue to make America stong, prosperous, and great, if you and your White Nationalist restrictionist cronies would only get out of the way of progress!

“We can once again take the path that wants to keep “America for Americans,” and which inevitably casts American-ness in ways circumscribed by race, origin, and religion. Or we could try to realize our cosmopolitan faith, that tradition of universalism which elevates the egalitarian ideals of the Founding, and which seeks to define our diversity of origins as a powerful strength, not a weakness to overcome.”

Right on, Jamelle!

PWS

02-02-18

COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE U.S. STEW AS TRUMP USES MS-13 “BOGEYMAN” TO WHIP UP WHITE NATIONALIST RAGE AGAINST ALL LATINOS! –Yeganeh Torbati Reports For Reuters News (Video)!

http://www.reuters.tv/v/wfz/2018/02/01/trump-s-focus-on-ms-13-gang-deepens-immigration-impasse

Yeganeh Torbati reports for Reuters News. Click the above link to play video!

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

As Yeganeh’s report notes, nobody disputes the Trump Administration’s claim that the MS-13 are “Bad Guys” who should be removed from the U.S. Although you wouldn’t know it from the Trump Administration’s self-congratulatory rhetoric, every Administration going back to that of President Ronald Reagan has made a concerted effort to remove gang members. They were a particular priority of the Obama Administration’s criminal alien removal program.

Unlike Trump, Sessions, and most of those “spouting off the rhetoric,” I have been involved in gang removal efforts from both the law enforcement and the judicial perspectives. I actually came face to face with gang members and entered final orders removing them from the United States at several levels during my Government career. And, unlike some final orders of removal, I know that these were actually carried out.

Not surprisingly, though, a few of the deportees managed to reenter the U.S. again. No “wall” is likely to stop determined international gangs from getting their members back into the U.S. if they really want to. Just like “show deportations” didn’t significantly hamper or eradicate Italian Mafia-type organized crime gangs, the “Maras” are unlikely to fold their tents and disappear quietly into the night just because of “get tough” speeches by American politicos and some well-publicized deportations. Most Maras are actually pretty good at running operations from abroad, as well as from prisons, both here and in the Northern Triangle.

I have observed, however, that the Trump Administration’s anti-gang program is likely to be relatively ineffective for a number of reasons. First, by terrorizing Latino communities with DHS arrests and removals of law-abiding non-criminals, they make it difficult or impossible for victims, most of whom are members of the Latino community, and some of whom are undocumented or come from “mixed families,” to report gang-related crimes and activities to the police. Thus, these folks are “easy marks” for the gangs.

Second, for the same reason, many community members are reluctant to come forward and be witnesses against gang members for fear of their own deportation or that the police will not protect them from retaliation.

Third, by consistently “dissing” and devaluing the contributions of the many law-abiding members of the Latino community, this Administration makes it easier for gang recruiters to point to the “empowerment” and “respect” that gangs claim to offer.

Fourth, by “manipulating the law” to deny legal protections to many of those who courageously resist gang recruitment (I just “blogged” an egregious example from the 9th Circuit this week), the Administration sends a strong “you might as well join” message to young people in the U.S. and who are returned to the Northern Triangle. The message that our Government places no value on their lives is not lost on these kids.

Finally, by failing to concentrate on the root causes of gangs in the Northern Triangle, and instead consistently “over-selling” the law enforcement benefits of deportation, the Administration guarantees an almost endless regime of violence and disorder in the Northern Triangle and a steady stream of would-be refugees flowing north.

The only effective gang-eradication programs that I’m aware of involve local authorities, often from the Latino community, gaining the trust of the young people in the community and “reinforcing” Latino role models, some originally from undocumented backgrounds, as offering viable alternatives to gangs. Slowly, through education and community based activities that show the value, respect, and positive recognition that can be gained by avoiding gangs and having the courage to stand up against them, we can, over time, drastically reduce, and perhaps eventually eliminate the destructive role gangs in America.

But, the continuing White Nationalist, anti-Hispanic “blathering” of Trump, Sessions, Homan, and the other GOP “hard liners” is likely to be counterproductive. And, “traditional” law enforcement methods of arrest, imprisonment, and deportation have been shown, by themselves, to be ineffective in solving the long-term problems of gangs in both America and the Northern Triangle. Of course we should continue to arrest and deport known gang members. But, we shouldn’t expect that, without some community-based solutions and more thoughtful approaches to the problems caused by deportations in the Northern Triangle, deportations will solve our problem. They won’t!

PWS

02-01-18

 

BAD IDEAS NEVER DIE: USCIS ANNOUNCES THAT “AIMLESS DOCKET RESHUFFLING” (“ADR”) WILL BE THE OFFICIAL POLICY OF THE ASYLUM OFFICE!

http://discuss.ilw.com/content.php?9228-News-USCIS-to-Take-Action-to-Address-Asylum-Backlog

From ILW.Com:

  • “USCIS to Take Action to Address Asylum Backlog
    Release Date:

    Agency Will Focus on Processing Recently Filed Applications

    WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that the agency will schedule asylum interviews for recent applications ahead of older filings, in an attempt to stem the growth of the agency’s asylum backlog.

    USCIS is responsible for overseeing the nation’s legal immigration system, which includes adjudicating asylum claims. The agency currently faces a crisis-level backlog of 311,000 pending asylum cases as of Jan. 21, 2018, making the asylum system increasingly vulnerable to fraud and abuse. This backlog has grown by more than 1750 percent over the last five years, and the rate of new asylum applications has more than tripled.

    To address this problem, USCIS will follow these priorities when scheduling affirmative asylum interviews:

    1. Applications that were scheduled for an interview, but the interview had to be rescheduled at the applicant’s request or the needs of USCIS;
    2. Applications pending 21 days or less since filing; and
    3. All other pending applications, starting with newer filings and working back toward older filings.

    Additionally, the Affirmative Asylum Bulletin issued by USCIS has been discontinued.

    “Delays in the timely processing of asylum applications are detrimental to legitimate asylum seekers,” said USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna. “Lingering backlogs can be exploited and used to undermine national security and the integrity of the asylum system.”

    This priority approach, first established by the asylum reforms of 1995 and used for 20 years until 2014, seeks to deter those who might try to use the existing backlog as a means to obtain employment authorization. Returning to a “last in, first out” interview schedule will allow USCIS to identify frivolous, fraudulent or otherwise non-meritorious asylum claims earlier and place those individuals into removal proceedings.

    For details on how we will schedule interviews, go to our Affirmative Asylum Interview Scheduling page.

    For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter ( @uscis ), YouTube ( /uscis ), and Facebook (/uscis).

    – USCIS –

    Last Reviewed/Updated:

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LIFO, FIFO, LILO, FILO, ADR. Gimmicks, gimmicks, gimmicks, and smokescreens. They never work in the long run. Been there, done that, myself during my Government career. Never, ever, saw it work. Just moves the backlog to different places (sometimes more obvious, sometimes “semi-hidden” for a while) and makes things worse in the long run.

And, once the “newly expedited denials” get over to EOIR they will either 1) be put at the front of the line, an exercise in ADR that will move everything else backwards and make the Immigration Court backlog worse, or 2) take their place at the back of the current backlog for adjudication sometime after 2020, by which time the priorities will have been reshuffled numerous times anyway.

There is little or no “hard evidence” that I’m aware of that ADR like this has any material effect on the flow of asylum seekers. Using what are supposed to be “fair adjudication” systems as “deterrents” and part of the “immigration enforcement initiatives” does compromise the integrity of the adjudication process, but has little or no effect on enforcement.

Most asylum applicants, successful and unsuccessful, come because of conditions in their home countries, not because of “intelligence” or “messages” about waiting times at the Asylum Office or in Immigration Court. And, by sending more and more cases to the end of the line, where the message is that they might never be reached, the ADR process also creates a “De Facto TPS Program” of sorts at both the Asylum Office and the Immigration Courts.

What’s a “better solution?” Legalize or PD the folks currently in line who have no serious criminal record. Then, do the rest of the cases on a FIFO basis except for detainees. No, it’s not a “perfect solution.” But, it’s what works best in the long run. And, it does establish 1) achievable expectations, 2) predictability, and 3) at least some approximation of fairness.

BTW, the current Asylum Office “backlog” appears to be largely the result of the Obama Administration’s poor decision to up detention levels and take a huge proportion of the Asylum Officer workforce off of “Final Interviews” and instead send them to the Southern Border to do “Credible Fear Interviews” as a result of a so-called “Border Surge Strategy.”  In other words, ADR by the Obama Administration begets ADR by the Trump Administration. When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn . . . ?

Many thanks to Nolan Rappaport for sending this my way.

PWS

02-01-18

 

TAL @ CNN: DREAMERS, DEMS FACING UP TO HARD POLITICAL REALITY – NO PRESIDENCY, NO LEGISLATIVE MAJORITY = LITTLE LEVERAGE – Acceptable Compromise Appears Doomed To Remain “Dream” – For Now!

 

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/30/politics/democrats-vent-daca-frustrations-hispanic-caucus/index.html

“Hispanic Caucus vents at Democratic leadership over shutdown, DACA strategy

By: Tal Kopan, CNN

Hispanic Democrats on Tuesday had a combination venting and strategy session with Democratic congressional leaders as they expressed frustration that there still has not been a resolution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer got an earful about the handling of the recent government shutdown and recent comments about future strategy, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said.

“I think there’s a lot of conversations about, where is our leverage and how are we going to use it?” said California Democrat Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán.

Barragán said she specifically raised comments Schumer made in The Washington Post that “can’t just let (DACA) occupy the whole stage,” referring to Democratic strategy in red states. She said she told Schumer her community felt that sent a message they weren’t a priority.

“He stood by his comment,” Barragán said of his response. Generally, she added, “He said, ‘I can understand the pain people are feeling and the frustration’ and certainly understood why people felt disappointed in where we are today. Although I think the message is, ‘We’re better off than we were.’ So I’m not sure there’s complete agreement on all fronts.”

The “tension,” as Barragán put it, was indicative of raw nerves among the Democratic caucus about whether leadership is fully committed to using all points of leverage to push for a solution on DACA, the program being ended by President Donald Trump that protected young undocumented immigrants from deportation.

One source in the room speaking anonymously to be candid called the meeting a “waste of time” that was “all filler.”

Another called it equal parts frustration and cheerleading, with an understanding that Republicans remain the main obstacle to deal with.

Shutdown strategy

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer called the meeting “candid,” saying the caucus is “correctly frustrated” about the situation for recipients of DACA.

“I think there were obviously some sentiments in the meeting, as you well know, that were, ‘I’m not sure we’re following the right strategy here,'” Hoyer told reporters after the meeting. “There was a candid discussion about why the strategy was being pursued and what was being pursued and what opportunities and challenges were, I think people came out with some degree of appreciation.”

Multiple lawmakers said there was frustration as Democrats rejected government funding on a Friday but voted to reopen the government on Monday when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to open debate on immigration on the Senate floor in February.

Barragán noted there is no commitment to an immigration vote in the House.”It’s very frustrating on the House side because it appears there’s a different situation in the House than in the Senate, we haven’t gotten any kind of commitment on the House side,” Barragán said. “And so even though on the Senate side, Sen. Schumer talks about how they have that commitment and he believes they’re going to get a vote, I think it still fails to take into consideration that strategy on the House side.”

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat who has long served as a voice for immigration advocates in the House, said many in the room “were disappointed” in a “lack of communication” regarding the shutdown. But he also said the focus was on moving forward.

“Democrats, we’re good at fighting and I also think we’re good at mending fences, and that’s what we’re doing here,” Gutierrez told reporters. “We’re trying to figure out a way forward. … I think (Dem leaders) are committed and this isn’t over. Look, trip, you get up and you go back to fight, but we have a clear determination, we’re going to fight for the Dreamers.”

The chairwoman of the Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, called the session a combination of strategy and “venting, productively.”

“I didn’t see it as being negative,” she said. “It was an important place to come back after a week for folks to talk about their frustrations, to talk about what they think we haven’t done well, to talk about things that we think are working and to talk about all eyes on the House. What is the House going to do, how are we going to get them to do it and where are we?”

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

I think the hard answer to Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s question is “You won’t get the House to ‘do what you want.'” Not as long as the GOP is in the majority, the White Nationalist/Bakuninist Block of the House GOP remains intact, and “Spineless Paul” Ryan (or any other GOP Representative) remains Speaker.

In simple terms, Dems and Dreamers, you’re going to have to win some elections and get some control to bring this to a conclusion that won’t involve “giving in” to the whole (or huge chunks of the) White Nationalist, anti-American, anti-growth restrictionist agenda! Minority parties pushing minority platforms seldom get what they want. 

Instead of uselessly “ranting” and “venting”  at each other, Dreamers and Dems need to work harder to get out the vote (a few more well-placed Hispanic, African-American, and other minority votes could have changed the results of the last election) and eventually win control of something on the national level!

Clearly, while Dreamers and their cause remain popular with the overall public, there is a “vocal minority” essentially White, racist, xenophobic “core” out there that is vehemently opposed to progress and a diverse society and puts their “hate/turn back the clock agenda” at the top of their “issues list.” That’s why most GOP legislators, particularly in the House, see little or no “downside risk” to “stiffing” Dreamers — particularly if the only “downside” is an unpopular and unsustainable “Government shutdown” by the Senate Dems.

Internal bickering is not a useful substitute for putting energy and talent into “grass-roots” organizations that appeal to voters, incorporate solutions to local and regional issues, and thereby win elections! Without “victories in the political arena,” there will be no “magic strategies” that will produce decent immigration reform — for the Dreamers or anyone else who cares about America’s future as a vibrant, forward-looking “nation of immigrants.”

 

PWS

01-31-18

EUGENE ROBINSION @ WASHPOST & DAVID BROOKS @ NY TIMES: GOP IMMIGRATION RESTRICTIONISTS’ PROPOSALS TO CUT LEGAL IMMIGRATION LEVELS HAVE NO RATIONAL BASIS! – That’s Going To Be A Big Problem In Trying To Forge A “Compromise!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-is-trying-to-make-america-white-again/2018/01/29/9afa7afa-053d-11e8-8777-2a059f168dd2_story.html

Robinson writes:

“. . . .

There’s a simple question here: Do you believe in America or not?

Throughout its history, the country has accepted waves of mostly low-skilled immigrants — German, Irish, Italian, Eastern European, now Latino. There are highly skilled immigrants, too; African newcomers, for example, are better-educated than the U.S. population as a whole, and an estimated 63 percent of people holding “computer and mathematical” jobs in Silicon Valley are foreign-born. But most immigrants over the years have arrived bearing not much more than grit, ambition and a dream.

Does an influx of workers with entry-level skills tend to depress wages? That’s the wrong question. Instead, we should be asking why the federal minimum wage is so low as to be almost irrelevant.

And we should recognize that immigration gives the United States a tremendous competitive advantage. In other advanced countries, populations are aging rapidly. Immigration provides a steady stream of younger workers whose brain and brawn keep programs such as Medicare and Social Security viable.

The only coherent — if despicable — arguments for Trump’s plan are racial and cultural. The way they used to put it in the Jim Crow days was succinct: White is right.”

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https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/29/opinion/east-germany-immigration-usa.html

Meanwhile, over at the NY Times, Brooks writes:

“. . . .

The results are just as clear as in the German case. Between 2014 and 2016 the counties that embrace diversity accounted for 72 percent of the nation’s increased economic output and two-thirds of the new jobs. The approximately 85 percent of counties that support restrictionists like Donald Trump accounted for a measly 28 percent of the growth.

Republicans’ problem is that since George W. Bush left town they’ve become the East Germans of the 21st century. They have embraced a cultural model that produces low growth and low dynamism. No wonder they want to erect a wall.

Progressives say Republicans oppose immigration because of bigotry. But it’s not that simple. It’s more accurate to say restrictionists are stuck in a mono-cultural system that undermines their own values: industry, faithfulness and self-discipline. Of course they react with defensive animosity to the immigrants who out-hustle and out-build them. You’d react negatively, too, if confronted with people who are better versions of what you wish you were yourself.”

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You can can read the complete versions of both op-eds, which I highly recommend, at the above links.

Yup!
When you’re coming from the same places as Jim Crow and the East Germans, there is no acceptable “rational basis” for the restrictionist agenda. It’s bad for America as well as for immigrants. But, it’s difficult or impossible to make rational arguments against deeply held, factually incorrect, irrational beliefs, particularly those based on racial, economic, cultural, and class bias. That’s probably why rational “immigration reform” has been, and remains, so difficult to achieve.

And, having seen thousands of migrants and their families come before me at the Arlington Immigration Court over the years, gotten to know many of their stories, and having represented immigrants, entrepreneurs, and businesses during my time in private practice, there is no doubt that Brooks is right: they “out-hustle and out-build” many of those “native-born” Americans who despise and look down on them.

And, it’s not just the doctors, professors, and top execs — folks who pound nails, lay foundations, make food, sweep floors, put on roofs , and pick our produce are also performing essential services that keep our country going — and, in many if not all cases, doing it better than the rest of us could or would. Really, how long would YOU last picking lettuce or laying shingles on a 100 degree day? And, how GOOD would you really be at it? There is more “skill” to so-called “unskilled” work than most of us in the “privileged classes” want to admit!

PWS

01-30-18