NOLAN RAPPAPORT IN THE HILL: RAISE ACT COULD BE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR DREAMERS!

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/346367-how-trumps-legal-immigration-cuts-could-be-a-blessing-to

Nolan writes:

“Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) recently introduced a revised version of the bill addressing legal immigration into the United States, the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act.  It is supposed to spur economic growth and raise working Americans’ wages by giving priority to the best-skilled immigrants from around the world and reducing overall immigration by half.

Supporters include President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, andActing Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke.

Nevertheless, it will not reach the president’s desk without support from influential Democratic congressmen, which will be difficult to get and won’t be free.
According to Representative Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.), the RAISE Act “and the bear hug by the Bannon/Kelly/Trump White House — betrays the deep animosity towards legal immigration that has become the central, unifying tenet of the Republican Party.”

. . . .

Suggestions for a compromise.

The main price for Gutierrez’s support would be to establish a DREAM Act program that would be based on an appropriate merit-based point system.

The number of undocumented aliens who might benefit from a dream act can range from 2.5 to 3.3 million.  It isn’t likely that an agreement will be reached if Gutierrez insists on a number in that range.

Concessions have to be made to achieve an acceptable compromise, and allowing termination of the Visa Waiver Program would be a reasonable choice.  An alternative would be to keep the program as is but distribute the visas on a merit point system instead of using a lottery.

The refugee provision is problematic, but the president has sole authority to determine the number of admissions and the current president supports the 50,000 cap. The Democrats will try to eliminate this cap or raise it if they can’t eliminate it, but this should not be a deal breaker if the other issues are worked out satisfactorily.

The restrictions on family-based immigration, however, are another matter.  They should be modified.  Cotton and Purdue doomed their bill to failure with these provisions.  They hurt constituents on both sides of the aisle.

Moreover, they do not make any sense.  What does national interest mean if the family-unification needs of citizens and legal permanent residents don’t count?

Some advocates strongly opposes the point system because they think it fails to take into account the needs of U.S. businesses, but their concern is based on the point criterion in the current version of the RAISE Act, which has not been subjected to any hearings or markups yet.  If the senators and Gutierrez cannot work out a compromise that protects the needs of U.S. businesses, there will be plenty of time to make additional changes.

This isn’t just about moving these bills through congress.  According to recent Gallup polls, “Americans view Congress relatively poorly, with job approval ratings of the institution below 30% since October 2009.”

And the current Republican-controlled congress is not turning this around.  Reaching an agreement with the Democrats on an immigration reform bill that includes a DREAM Act legalization program would be a good place to start.”

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

PWS

08-13-17

 

FROM THE “CHASE ARCHIVES:” 24 Years Ago, Jeffrey Chase Stood Up For The Rights Of Asylum Seekers, Due Process, And American Values — H.R. 391 Is A Mindless Recycling Of The Same Horrible Ideas That Chase Opposed Then — Have We Learned Nothing In The Interim?

https://www.jeffreyschase.com/blog/2017/8/3/from-the-archives-my-wall-st-journal-op-ed-sept-9-1993

Jeffrey wrote;

“Last week, the House marked-up H.R. 391, the “Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act of 2017.”  The bill would create significant obstacles for asylum seekers, and increase the risk to unaccompanied children fleeing harm.  Provisions of the bill caused me to think of an op-ed I had written 24 years ago, which was published in The Wall Street Journal.  A different bill, a different President, but many of the same arguments apply.  So many years later, I still become emotional when I remember, as we stepped out of the airport terminal, the little girl excitedly crying out in Farsi: “Maman, azad shodim, azad shodim!” (“Mommy, we’re free, we’re free!)

 

 

‘Mommy, We’re Free!’ — In Defense of Asylum Rights

By Jeffrey S. Chase

 

Five years ago I met Goli (not her real name), a three-year-old Iranian girl detained by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.  Goli’s parents were political opponents of the Ayatollah Khomeini’s government.  Her father was missing in Iran, either killed or imprisoned.  Goli and her mother were forced to seek refuge in, of all places, Iraq.  They had spent the last two years in a camp there.  Goli was small for her age and sickly; she needed surgery unavailable to her in Iraq.  She had never had a real home, or even her own doll.

When Iraq’s war with Iran ended, Goli and her mother were expelled by Saddam Hussein.  They could not return to Iran, where the war’s end was celebrated with the arrests of hundreds of members of the mother’s opposition party.  With little money and nowhere else to go, the mother paid a smuggler to get her and her child to the U.S. with a false passport.  There, they would apply for asylum.  A relative of her husband’s, a physician living in Michigan, would help them settle and arrange for Goli’s much needed medical care.

Goli and her mother were detained on arrival at Kennedy Airport by the INS.  They were immediately scheduled for a hearing before an immigration judge; I was their attorney.  When we met, Goli had a high fever.  A doctor had prescribed antibiotics, but the security guards had not found time to purchase them.  A week later, when she had taken the antibiotics that I insisted be provided, she felt better, and a friendlier captor played with the girl, using her handcuffs as a makeshift toy.

Thanks to the rights afforded by our current asylum laws, Goli and her mother were released after a few weeks to live with their relatives in Michigan.  When her mother carried Goli outdoors for the first time, she cried, “Mommy, we’re free!”

Representing asylum seekers entails much work and aggravation with little or no pay.  The reward is a happy ending.  I have known nearly 100 others like Goli and her mother who have found refuge here in the U.S., away from the terror and chaos reigning in their home countries.  But recently, President Clinton announced legislation, sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D., Mass.), that would end such happy endings.  Reacting to a “crisis” that doesn’t exist, he has decided to show his political toughness by going after the world’s most vulnerable group, refugees.

Under the president’s bill, asylum seekers arriving here without proper documents will have no right to a lawyer, or a hearing, or an appeal.  The bill ignores the fact that many refugees are forced to escape their homelands without valid papers because there is no time to obtain them or because applying for and carrying the proper documents is too dangerous.

There are other troubling provisions.  According to the new bill, if refugees escaping certain death at home try fleeing to the U.S. aboard a plane that stops in Germany, for example, they would immediately be deported to Germany–even if they never stepped off the plane there.  This provision is similar to one in many Western European nations, whereby refugees are expected to apply for asylum in the first “safe” country they reach.  But sending refugees back to a country where they were “last present” is no guarantee that they will not be deported to their nation of origin.

As an immigration attorney, I’ve heard hundreds of asylum claims: in my office and in detention centers, in courts and airport terminals.  Asylum seekers are not terrorists; they are people like Goli and her mother.  Nor are they statistics; they are flesh and blood.  This phrase takes on added meaning when the flesh is marked with bullet wounds, cigarette burns and other remnants of torture.

I can still see the Afghan teenager, much of whose face was blown off by a Soviet land mine.  I still hear the Muslim man from Bosnia, who wept as he told me how Serbian troops stopped the United Nations bus he rode.  He was spared only when the would-be executioners discovered that the bus was leaving the country, thus assisting them in their “ethnic cleansing.”  After finally escaping Bosnia, he stopped briefly in another country en route to the U.S.  The Clinton legislation would deport him, and similarly the Liberian boy I met who told me how he survived a massacre by a rival clan by lying still among the corpses until the attackers left.

Even some who are sympathetic to such cases may feel that the U.S. cannot accept all of the world’s refugees.  We don’t.  There are 17 million refugees in the world.  Of the 300 million aliens the INS inspected last year at ports of entry, only 15,000 applied for asylum.  This means that 0.005% of the people who sought admission to the U.S. were asylum applicants.  Ironically, such exemplars of human rights as Iran and Pakistan accept far more.  Contrary to media reports, we have not “lost control of our borders” to “teeming hordes” of asylum seekers.  While some individuals abuse the system, their number is too small to justify all the ills assigned to them by nativist organizations.

Under the proposed legislation, if refugees somehow managed to reach the U.S. directly, they would have to present their cases on the spot at the airport to a junior level INS official.  The asylum seeker would have no right to compile evidence supporting their requests for asylum, call witnesses, or even consult a lawyer.  If this legislation becomes law, a person fighting a parking ticket would have more rights in our country than a Muslim fleeing certain death in Bosnia.

The answer to the asylum question is not to turn away genuine refugees.  Administrative improvements to preserve legal protections for refugees are urgently needed.  More asylum officers and faster and fairer processing of asylum cases would eliminate any instances of abuse.  They would also make possible more happy endings for the world’s future Golis.

 

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H.R. 391 is simply appalling in its false premises and its ignorance about what really happens in the U.S. asylum system.  And, make no mistake about it — even without the “gonzo” proposals contained in H.R. 391, we are knowingly and intentionally sending plenty of innocent folks back to countries in the Northern Triangle to be preyed upon by gangs, corrupt governments, or both, too many without receiving even the trappings of real due process.  Why not fix the due process problems in the current asylum system, rather than trying to further diminish the already limited rights of asylum seekers? For a fraction of the money Trump & Co. propose to waste on unneeded additional enforcement agents and an idiotic border wall, the asylum system could be fixed to run smoothly, efficiently, and fairly!
PWS
08-03-17

GOP ATTACK ON DUE PROCESS: HOUSE GOP ADVANCES BILL TO EVISCERATE U.S. ASYLUM SYSTEM — WOULD RETURN CHILDREN, WOMEN & FAMILIES TO LIFE THREATENING SITUATIONS WITHOUT DUE PROCESS! — STOP H.R. 391!

http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/press-release/house-bill-would-return-persecuted-refugees-danger

Human Rights First reports:

HOME / PRESS RELEASE / HOUSE BILL WOULD RETURN PERSECUTED REFUGEES TO DANGER
July 26, 2017
House Bill Would Return Persecuted Refugees to Danger

 

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Immigration Detention, Refugee Protection
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today urged members of the House Judiciary Committee to reject the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act when it marks up the legislation today. The bill would severely undermine access to protection for genuine refugees.

“The proposed legislation does nothing to enhance the integrity of our asylum system, but instead puts individuals, particularly women and children, at grave risk of return to persecution, trafficking, and death in their home or third countries,” said Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer. “Instead, this bill is a disgraceful attempt to evade U.S. refugee protection responsibilities and foist them on to other countries. Not only would this effort undermine U.S. global leadership, but it would set a poor example for the countries hosting the vast majority of the world’s refugees. The bill would make it even more difficult for refugees to receive asylum in our already rigorous asylum system and leave vulnerable children, families, and other individuals at risk of severe harm or death.”

The bill seeks to make it harder for those fleeing persecution and torture to file for asylum in the United States, a process already fraught with obstacles. Several groups of particularly vulnerable individuals—including children, women, and LGBTQ asylum seekers—would be disproportionately impacted by certain provisions, which essentially eliminate protection for refugees who have been victims of crimes in their home countries. The bill attempts to eliminate the statutory basis for release on parole, which would leave asylum seekers detained in violation of U.S. treaty obligations, and held in jails and facilities with conditions similar to jails despite the existence of more cost-effective and humane alternative measures that result in compliance and appearance at hearings. The bill also seeks to ban federal government-funded counsel, including for unaccompanied children, some of whom are toddlers or even younger.

Human Rights First, along with 73 other rights and immigration groups, sent a letter to members of the committee today urging them to reject the legislation. Among many changes to law, the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act of 2017 would:

Raise the expedited removal screening standard to an unduly high level. The bill would require that an asylum seeker—in order to even be allowed to apply for asylum—not only show a “significant possibility of establishing eligibility for asylum” but also prove it is more likely than not that his or her statements are true—the standard for a full adjudication, not a summary screening interview.
Appear to prevent arriving asylum seekers who have passed the credible fear screening process from being paroled from immigration detention, instead leaving them in jails and jail-like facilities for months or longer, even though there are more fiscally-prudent and humane alternatives that have been proven effective.
Deny asylum to large numbers of refugees based on transit or stays in countries where they had no legal status, or no lasting legal status, and to which they cannot be returned in most cases. This provision would seek to deny asylum to many refugees who have passed through Mexico, despite the risks and severe protection deficiencies there. In addition, refugees—who may have languished in a refugee camp for decades without the ability to legally work, access education or secure legal permanency—with valid claims would be left in a state of uncertainty, with no prospects for a durable solution and no secure future for themselves and their children.
Allow asylum applicants and unaccompanied children to be bounced to third countries (such as Mexico) despite the dangers and lack of protection from return to persecution there, and in the absence of any agreement between the United States and the countries in question for the reception of asylum seekers.
Categorically deny asylum and withholding of removal to refugees targeted for criminal harm—including rape and killing—based on their membership in a particular social group in their countries of origin. This extraordinarily broad provision would deny protection to asylum seekers who have been beaten for being gay, who have suffered horrific domestic abuse, or who have been treated as property by virtue of their status as women, to name but a few examples. It would also effectively eliminate asylum eligibility or withholding of removal for asylum seekers who have been victims of or who fear persecution related to gang violence in their home country.
State that the government not bear expense for counsel. The bill also states that in no instance will the federal government bear expense for counsel for anyone in removal or appellate proceedings. Children – including toddlers – the mentally disabled, and other vulnerable people cannot represent themselves in our complex immigration system.
Last week Human Rights First released a new report assessing the dangers facing refugees in Mexico in the wake of proposals from the Trump Administration and Congress to block refugees passing through Mexico from seeking protection in the United States. The analysis, “Dangerous Territory: Mexico Still Not Safe for Refugees” finds that migrants and refugees in Mexico face risks of kidnapping, disappearance, sexual assault, and trafficking, and that Mexican authorities routinely deport individuals to their home countries regardless of whether they fear return to persecution and the country’s human rights obligations.

Human Rights First notes that when Congress—with strong bipartisan support—passed the Refugee Act of 1980, the United States codified its commitment to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its Protocol. Under those treaties, states can’t return refugees to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened or reject potential refugees at the border. The United States is also a party to the Convention Against Torture, which prohibits governments from sending people to places where they would be in danger of being tortured, and to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which prohibits the arbitrary detention of asylum seekers and migrants. Instead of turning away those seeking protection, the United States should be doing more to ensure their protection claims are properly assessed and due process is safeguarded.

“At a time when the world faces the largest refugee crisis in history, this bill sends a dangerous message to other nations, including those who host the overwhelming majority refugees: that the United States intends to shirk its responsibility to those fleeing violence and persecution,” added Acer.

For more information or to speak with Acer, contact Corinne Duffy at 202-370-3319 or DuffyC@humanrightsfirst.org.

PRESS CONTACT

Corinne Duffy
202-370-3319
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I also highly recommend this “spot on” analysis by David Bier of the Cato Institute of this warped and misguided attempt by GOP restrictionists in the House to destroy Due Process in the U.S. Asylum system without in any way addressing the real issues — conditions in foreign countries and our outdated and unuduy restrictive legal immigration system.

I Bier writes:

NOTE: The charts and formatting are much better if you go to,the link than on the reprinted version below.

https://www.cato.org/publications/public-comments/statement-hr-391-asylum-reform-border-protection-act

Statement for the Record of David Bier of the Cato Institute* Submitted to House Committee on the Judiciary Markup of “H.R. 391 – Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act” July 26, 2017

The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act (H.R. 391) would undermine the individual rights of people fleeing persecution and violence to seek asylum in the United States. The bill would obliterate the current asylum standards and now require asylum seekers to prove their claims to an impossible degree immediately upon their arrival at the border—without access to the documents or witnesses that they would need to do so. The government would then promptly deport without a hearing before an immigration judge those who fail this unattainable requirement, possibly to endure violence or persecution. The authors claim that this radical change is necessary due to an unprecedented surge of asylum applicants. In the 1990s, however, a similar surge of asylum seekers arrived in the United States, and Congress adopted much less severe reforms than those proposed in this bill. Even assuming that the applicants are submitting asylum applications for the sole purpose of gaining entrance to the United States, the bill does nothing to address the underlying cause of the problem: the lack of a legal alternative to migrate. As long as legal immigration remains impossible for lesser- skilled workers and their family members, unauthorized immigration of various kinds will continue to present a challenge. Asylum rule change will result in denials of legitimate claims Current law requires that asylum seekers at the border assert a “credible fear” of persecution.1 Asylum officers determine credibility based on whether there is a “significant possibility” that, if they allow the person to apply, an immigration judge would find that the fear is “well-founded,” a higher standard of proof. The credible fear interview screens out only the claims that obviously have “no possibility, or only a minimal or mere possibility, of success,” as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) puts it.2 If the USCIS asylum officer rejects the claim as not credible, the applicant may ask an immigration judge to review the determination the next day but is not granted a full hearing. Customs and Border Protection removes those who fail to assert or fail to articulate a credible fear. H.R. 391 would impose a much higher standard simply to apply for asylum in the United States. In addition to demonstrating that they had significant possibility of successfully proving their claim to an immigration judge, it would require applicants to prove that it is “more probable than

* The Cato Institute is a libertarian 501(c)(3) nonprofit think tank founded in 1977 and located in Washington D.C.

not” that their claims are true—a preponderance of the evidence standard.3 This standard eviscerates the lower bar that Congress established. The committee simply cannot expect that asylum seekers who may have had to sneak out of their country of origin in the dead of night or swim across rivers to escape persecution will have sufficient evidence the moment they arrive in the United States to meet this burden. In 2016, a group of Syrian Christians who traveled thousands of miles across multiple continents and then up through Mexico to get to the United States arrived at the border to apply for asylum.4 Thankfully, they met the credible fear standard and were not deported, which enabled them to hire an attorney to help them lay out their claim, but this new standard could endanger anyone who follows their path. An inability to provide sufficient evidence of their religion, nationality, residence, or fear would result in deportation immediately after presenting themselves at the border. The authors imply that requiring them to prove their statements are true is not the same as requiring them to prove their entire asylum case, but this is a distinction without a difference.5 Asylum applicants must state a “credible fear” of persecution. Those statements would then be subject to the much more stringent standard. Of course the government should demand the truth from all applicants, but this is a question of the standard by which asylum officers should use to weed truth from falsehood. It is virtually impossible that, by words alone, asylum seekers could prove that it is “more probable than not” that their statements are true. The committee should consider this fact: in 2016, immigration judges reversed nearly 30 percent of all denials of credible fear that came to them on appeal.6 This means that even under the current law, asylum officers make errors that would reject people with credible claims of persecution. If Congress requires an even greater burden, many more such errors will occur, but faced with the higher evidentiary requirement, immigration judges will have little choice but to ratify them. Here is another sign that the truth is not enough: asylum applicants with attorneys were half as likely to have their asylum denied by immigration judges in 2016 as those without attorneys. Indeed, 90 percent of all applicants without counsel lose their case, while a majority with counsel win theirs.7 This demonstrates that people need more than just honesty—they also need to understand what evidence is relevant to their case and need help to gather documents, witnesses, and other evidence to support their claim. For these reasons, Congress never intended the credible fear interview as a rigorous adversarial process because it wanted to give people who could credibly articulate a fear of persecution an opportunity to apply. It knew that while some people without legitimate claims would be able to apply, the lower standard of proof would protect vulnerable people from exclusion. As Senator Alan Simpson, the sponsor of the 1996 bill that created the credible fear process, “it is a significantly lesser fear standard than we use for any other provision.”8 Indeed, during the debate over the compromise version of the bill, proponents of the legislation touted that the fact that they had dropped “the more probable than not” language in the original version.9

Asylum surge is not unprecedented People can either apply for asylum “affirmatively” to USCIS on their own or they can apply “defensively” after they come into the custody of the U.S. government somehow, such as at the border or airport, to an immigration judge, which would include the credible fear process. If USCIS denies an “affirmative” applicant who is in the country illegally, the government places them in removal proceedings before an immigration judge where they can present their claim again. Reviewing the data on asylum claims, two facts become clear: total asylum claims peaked in the 1990s, and a substantial majority of claims are affirmative—that is, done voluntarily, not through the credible fear process or through removal proceedings. Although credible fear claims—a process that was first created in 1997—have increased dramatically, the overall number of asylum claims has still not reached the highs of the early 1990s. Unfortunately, the immigration courts have not published the number of cases that they received before 1996, but as Figure 1 shows, the United States has experienced similar surges of asylum seekers to 2016.10

Figure 1 Asylum Applications Received and Credible Fear Claims Approved, 1985-2016 160,000 140,000 120,000 100,000 80,000 60,000 40,000 20,000 0 USCIS Asylum Cases Immigration Judge Asylum Cases Credible Fear Approvals Sources: Department of Justice; Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services It is noteworthy that in the midst of the surge in the 1990s, Congress did not adopt the draconian approach that this bill would require. Rather, it created the credible fear process that the bill would essentially eliminate. The authors of the legislation, however, argue that the Obama administration turned the credible fear process into a rubber stamp, allowing applicants to enter regardless of the credibility of their claims. But again a look at the numbers undermines this 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016

It is noteworthy that in the midst of the surge in the 1990s, Congress did not adopt the draconian approach that this bill would require. Rather, it created the credible fear process that the bill would essentially eliminate. The authors of the legislation, however, argue that the Obama administration turned the credible fear process into a rubber stamp, allowing applicants to enter regardless of the credibility of their claims. But again a look at the numbers undermines this

narrative. As Figure 2 highlights, the Obama administration denied an average of about 25 percent of all asylum seekers from 2009 to 2016.11

Figure 2 Credible Fear of Persecution Claims, FY 1997 to 2017 120,000 100,000 80,000 60,000 40,000 20,000 0 Completed Cases (left) Approval Share (Rate) Sources: Rempell (1997-2008); USCIS (2009-2016)

Despite fluctuations of up to 35 percentage points during this time, there is simply no relationship at all between the rate of approval and the number of claims being made. Factors other than the approval rate must be driving the number of applications. Some of these claims are undoubtedly invalid or even fraudulent, but given that a majority of claims by individuals with representation in immigration court win their asylum claims, it is obvious that the credible fear process has protected many people from deportation to persecution abroad.12 If fraudulent claims are a concern, Congress can best address it in the same way that it has successfully addressed other aspects of illegal immigration from Mexico: through an expansion of legal immigration. During the 1950s and again recently in the 2000s, Congress expanded the availability of low-skilled guest worker visas, which led to a great reduction in the rate of illegal immigration. Figure 3 presents the number of guest workers entering each year and the number of people each border agent apprehended each year—the best available measure of illegal immigration. It shows that the period of high illegal immigration occurred almost exclusively during the period of restrictive immigration.13 Most guest workers today are Mexicans.14 This is largely due to the fact that the current guest worker programs are limited to seasonal temporary jobs and Mexico is closer to the United

States, which makes trips to and from the United States easier. By comparison, most asylum seekers are from Central America. Assuming that a significant portion of these asylum seekers are either reuniting with illegal residents already in the United States or are seeking illegal residence themselves, these seasonal programs are unavailable to them.

Figure 3 Guest Worker Entries and Apprehensions of Illegal Aliens per Border Patrol Agent, 1946-2015 1,200 500,000 1,000 800 600 400 200 400,000 300,000 200,000 100,000 00 Apprehensions Per Agent (left) Guest Workers (Right) Sources: Border Patrol; Immigration and Naturalization Service; Department of Homeland Security 1946 1948 1950 1952 1954 1956 1958 1960 1962 1964 1966 1968 1970 1972 1974 1976 1978 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014

Congress should create a temporary work visa program for low-skilled workers in year-round jobs, similar to the H-1B visa for high-skilled workers.15 This would cut down on asylum fraud and illegal immigration without the downsides that this bill presents.

1 8 U.S. Code § 1225 2 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Lesson Plan Overview – Credible Fear,” February 28, 2014, http://cmsny.org/wp-content/uploads/credible-fear-of-persecution-and-torture.pdf. 3 P. 2 Justia, “Evidentiary Standards and Burdens of Proof,” https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/evidentiary-standards- burdens-proof/ 4 Molly Hennessy-Fiske, “Who were the Syrians who showed up at the Texas border? Some are Christians,” Los Angeles Times, December 7, 2015, http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-syrian-texas-christians-20151207- story.html 5 “Markup of H.R. 1153, The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act,” House Judiciary Committee, March 4, 2015, https://judiciary.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/03.04.15-Markup-Transcript.pdf. 6 U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review, “FY 2016 Statistics Yearbook,” March 2017, https://www.justice.gov/eoir/page/file/fysb16/download. 7 TracImmigration, “Continued Rise in Asylum Denial Rates,” Syracuse University, December 13, 2016, http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/448/. 8 142 Cong. Rec. S4492 (1996) https://www.congress.gov/crec/1996/05/01/CREC-1996-05-01-pt1-PgS4457.pdf 9 142 Cong. Rec. H11081 (1996) https://www.congress.gov/crec/1996/09/25/CREC-1996-09-25-pt1-PgH11071- 2.pdfhttps://www.congress.gov/crec/1996/09/25/CREC-1996-09-25-pt1-PgH11071-2.pdf 10 U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review, “Statistics Yearbook,” https://www.justice.gov/eoir/statistical-year-book Department of Homeland Security, “Yearbook of Immigration Statistics 2004,” https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Yearbook_Immigration_Statistics_2004.pdf U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Asylum Division Quarterly Stakeholder Meeting,” https://search.uscis.gov/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&affiliate=uscis_gov&query=Asylum+Division+Quarterly+Stak eholder+Meeting&commit= 11 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Asylum Division, “Credible Fear Data,” https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Outreach/PED- Credible_Fear_Workload_Report_Summary_POE_and_Inland_Caseload_through_2015-09.pdf https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Outreach/Upcoming%20National%20Engagements/PED_CredibleF earReasonableFearStatisticsNationalityReport.pdf https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Outreach/PED- Credible_Fear_Workload_Report_Summary_POE_and_Inland_Caseload_through_2015-09.pdf https://www.chapman.edu/law/_files/publications/clr-18-rempell.pdf https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Outreach/PED- _Credible_Fear_and_Reasonable_Fear_Statistics_and_Nationality_Report.pdf 12 http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/448/ 13 Alex Nowrasteh, “Guest Worker Visas Can Halt Illegal Immigration,” Cato Institute, May 5, 2014, https://www.cato.org/blog/guest-worker-visas-can-halt-illegal-immigration. 14 Alex Nowrasteh, “H-2B Expansion Doubles Down on Successful Border Control Strategy,” Cato Institute, December 23, 2015, https://www.cato.org/blog/h-2b-expansion-doubles-down-successful-border-control-strategy. 15 Alex Nowrasteh, “How to Make Guest Worker Visas Work,” Cato Institute Policy Analysis 719, January 31, 2013, https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/how-make-guest-worker-visas-work.

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Bier’s report notes that U.S. Immigration Judges overruled approximately 30% of credible fear denials by the DHS Asylum Office. Although I did a modest number of credible/fear reasonable fear reviews, including some in temporary assignments to “detained courts” on the Southern Border, I found the number of erroneous credible/reasonable fear denials to be in the 80% to 90% range, including a number of cases that were “clear grants” under Fourth Circuit case law. The idea that Border Patrol Officer could fairly make these determinations is beyond preposterous!

Chairman Goodlatte and his GOP buddies seek nothing less than the end of a fair asylum adjudication system that fulfills our international mandates. H.R. 391 also makes a mockery of due process. In other words, the Goodlatte GOP crowd seeks to turn the U.S. into a “Third World” imitation of a democracy. These types of legislative tactics are exactly what I saw for 21 years of adjuducating claims from countries where the rule of law had broken down.

Whether immigration/refugee advocates or not, every American Citizen who cares about our Constitution and the rule of law should be fighting measures like this tooth and nail. If Goodlatte & Co. win, we all lose, and America will be well on its way to becoming just another third world facade of a democratic republic.

Rather than the totally bogus restrictionist agenda being pushed by Goodlatte and the GOP, here’s what REALLY should concern us as a nation, taken from one of my recent speeches:

“Our Government is going to remove those who lose their cases to countries where some of them undoubtedly will suffer extortion, rape, torture, forced induction into gangs, and even death. Before we return individuals to such possible fates, it is critical that they have a chance to be fully and fairly heard on their claims for protection and that they fully understand and have explained to them the reasons why our country is unwilling and unable to protect them. Neither of those things is going to happen without effective representation.

We should always keep in mind that contrary to the false impression given by some pundits and immigration “hard liners,” losing an asylum case means neither that the person is committing fraud nor that he or she does not have a legitimate fear of return. In most cases, it merely means that the dangers the person will face upon return do not fall within our somewhat convoluted asylum system. And, as a country, we have chosen not to exercise our discretion to grant temporary shelter to such individuals through Temporary Protected Status, Deferred Enforced Departure, or prosecutorial discretion (“PD”). In other words, we are returning them knowing that the effect might well be life threatening or even fatal in many cases.”

Picking on the already vulnerable, disposed, and endangered is what the Goodlatte/GOP restrictionist program is really about.

PWS

07-27-17

HOUSE PASSES MORE UNNEEDED, DIVISIVE, ANTI-IMMIGRANT LEGISLATION!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/29/politics/kates-law-house-vote/index.html

Tal Kopan reports for CNN:

“Washington (CNN) The House Thursday is expected to pass bills that would hand President Donald Trump key pieces of his immigration agenda, especially efforts targeting sanctuary cities.

The bills, “Kate’s Law” and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, would install harsher penalties for repeat illegal entry to the US, and expand US law on sanctuary cities to pressure localities to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.
But it’s unlikely either would have enough votes to pass the Senate, which struggled with Kate’s Law last year.

Immigration and civil liberties advocates have also come out swinging against the bills, saying they bolster a “deportation force” and anti-immigrant agenda from the Trump administration.
Both bills come from the Judiciary Committee led by Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a longtime proponent of strict immigration policies like Trump’s and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Another lead sponsor is Iowa Rep. Steve King, one of the most aggressive Republicans on immigration enforcement who has a history of controversial statements about immigrants.”

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Read Tal’s complete article at the link.

Looking at the folks pushing this ill-advised piece of legislation tells you about all you need to know about what’s really underneath the surface.

PWS

06-29-17

TAKE 5 MINUTES TO LOOK INSIDE THE “AMERICAN GULAG” OF CIVIL IMMIGRATION DETENTION BEING PROMOTED BY TRUMP, SESSIONS, KELLY & THE HOUSE GOP!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HeV1QSrEdo#action=share

Published on Jun 26, 2017

Learn about the history, laws, and unjust realities of the U.S. immigration detention system in this short 5-minute film. Narrated by Kristina Shull. Graphics and editing by Stephanie Busing. Script by Terry Ding and Rachel Levenson at NYU’s Immigrant Rights Clinic in collaboration with CIVIC. Learn more and at www.endisolation.org.

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Talk about fraud, waste, abuse, and corruption. And, amazingly, House Republicans are pushing for yet more mandatory detention, this time for those convicted of DUIs who have already completed punishment and are now subject to case-by-case determinations by U.S. Immigration Judges as to whether or not bond should be granted.

As an Immigration Judge, I denied bond in lots of cases with multiple DUIs, probably a substantial majority. But, each case was different, and there were some where the violations were well in the past, the individual had documented freedom from alcohol or substance abuse, and had strong U.S. equities, where bond was appropriate.

And since all cases depend on facts and proof, it’s important for the Judge to listen and be empowered to make the best decision for society and the individual under all the circumstances. “One size fits all” mandatory detention is an abuse of legislative authority and a waste of taxpayer money.

While to date it has not been found unconstitutional, I daresay that’s because the Supreme Court Justices who decide such matters have never had to experience the extreme dysfunction and inherent unfairness of the current immigration detention system on a daily basis like those of us who have served as trial judges. For that matter, they don’t completely understand the total dysfunction of our current Immigration Courts, and the systemic inability to deliver due process on a consistent basis throughout the nation. 600,000 pending cases! That dwarfs the rest of the Federal Judicial system.

Perhaps what it will take to change the system is for some of the Justices to have their son-in-law, daughter-in-law, or law clerk’s spouse more or less arbitrarily tossed into the world of immigration detention. Yes, folks, it’s not just recent border crossers, dishwashers, waitresses, and gardeners who end up in the “American Gulag” that so delights Jeff Sessions. “Professionals,” kids, pregnant women, and human beings from all walks of life, many with only minor violations or no criminal record at all, can end up there too.

PWS

06-28-17

Sessions Says DOJ Will Help Defend States (Like Texas) Seeking To Punish “Sanctuary Cities” — House GOP Pushes Bill Targeting Sanctuary Jurisdictions!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trump-administration-backs-texas-in-lawsuit-over-harsh-sanctuary-city-law/2017/06/23/327ba290-581f-11e7-ba90-f5875b7d1876_story.html?utm_term=.4c47afa58d76

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday that the Trump administration “fully supports” Texas’s harsh new ban on sanctuary cities, and the Department of Justice will help defend it against a federal court challenge next week.

Lawyers for the tiny border city of El Cenizo, the League of United Latin American Citizens and major cities such as Dallas and Austin say the law requiring them to detain immigrants for federal deportation agents is “patently unconstitutional” for a number of reasons. On Monday, they will urge U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio to block the law from taking effect Sept. 1.

The state of Texas argues that the government is within its rights to bar localities from interfering with immigration enforcement. Under the law, officials could lose their jobs, police chiefs could go to jail, and governments could face fines of up to $25,500 a day if they adopt or enforce policies that prevent law enforcement officers from asking about a person’s immigration status or complying with requests to detain immigrants, a job that has been chiefly the responsibility of federal agents.

 

“President Trump has made a commitment to keep America safe and to ensure cooperation with federal immigration laws,” Sessions said in a statement. “Texas has admirably followed his lead by mandating state-wide cooperation with federal immigration laws that require the removal of illegal aliens who have committed crimes.”

Luis Roberto Vera, Jr. the national general counsel for the League of United Latin American Citizens, which is a plaintiff in the case, said the Texas law is discriminatory because it primarily targets Hispanics, one of the state’s largest groups.

El Cenizo Mayor Raul Reyes. El Cenizo is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit that will seek to temporarily halt Texas’ sanctuary cities ban before it takes effect Sept. 1. (Matthew Busch/Matthew Busch For The Washington Post)
“It’s a continuation of Donald Trump’s war on Mexicanos,” Vera said. “That’s the sad part about this.”

The faceoff comes amid rising tensions nationwide over the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration and its relentless march forward despite a string of losses in federal courts.

On Friday, congressional aides said House Republicans are advancing a bill that would withhold some federal grant money from so-called sanctuary cities; give greater legal weight to immigration detainers, which are requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to local jails to hold immigrants who are being targeted for deportation; and shield local governments from lawsuits related to detainers. A second bill would increase penalties against deported immigrants who return illegally.”

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Yup, full employment for lawyers, on all sides.

Bad time to be an immigrant, refugee, or minority in America. Great time to be a lawyer!

PWS

06-24-17

H-1B NONIMMIGRANTS: A Needed Visa In Need Of Reform — It’s Essential For Our Economy, But It’s Wrong When US Workers Are Displaced & Degraded — A Plea For Reform By One Who Has Benefitted From The System But Sees The Abuses!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/04/us/understanding-the-h-1b-visa/index.html

Moni Bassu writes in CNN:

“Palmer and other H-1B reformers want accountability.
They say US companies must be required to document their searches to fill positions with American workers. Employers must pay prevailing wages and be prevented from subcontracting or outsourcing H-1B jobs.
Reform advocates are pushing for a system of government enforcement and oversight of the H-1B regulations, not one that is reliant on whistleblowers to expose abuse.
Technology is here to stay. And it is changing at warp speed. The demand for smart talent is not going away. That’s why even the biggest critics of H-1B are the most ardent backers of reform, not elimination.
What I hear them saying is the system ought to work the way it used to, when my father obtained an H-1 visa. He was hired for a job he was uniquely qualified for, and he was compensated with a decent wage.
No one wants to see Americans lose their jobs unfairly, and if my father were still alive, I know he’d be troubled by what I learned about the current H-1B program.
I also know he would be heartened to see that some of the most ardent backers of visa reform are Indian Americans. After all, we are the ones who have most reaped the rewards of H-1B.”
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The full article, which gives actual examples of both the benefits and the abuses of the H-1B program is a “must read.” Get it at the link.
Several thoughts. I was very critical, and still am, of House Immigration Subcommittee GOP Members for starting off with controversial, “in your face,” and unneeded enforcement-only bills. See http://wp.me/p8eeJm-Qw
Why not instead start with something bipartisan that would be good for America, like H-1B reform. Chairman Grassley in the Senate has expressed strong interest in reforming the H-1B category to eliminate abuses. And, it appears that most major U.S. employers who use H-1Bs also see the need for reform to preserve and improve the program.
Additionally, things like investment visa “EB-5” reform also appear likely to attract support from both sides of the aisle in both houses.
A second thought, why don’t U.S. companies, particularly those started or run by immigrants, which use H-1Bs start the reforms now. “Reverse” the process. Use highly talented H-1B workers to train U.S. workers, particularly in places where the economic rebound has not yet reached, for whatever reason.
For example, in a recent blog dealt with the situation in the small city of Gillette, WY. http://wp.me/p8eeJm-UY  The folks seemed nice, optimistic, and interested in a brighter future for their community. But, with or without Trump and his environment-busting policies, coal mining as a way of life is on the way out. I can’t imagine that too many of the younger generation are hanging around places like Gillette.
Why not go in and establish some tech centers using H-1Bs as trainers. Sure, working on a computer in an office isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I get that. But, it is something that can be done from anywhere.
And, the costs of doing business, at least initially, are likely to be less in a place like Gillette. Increased economic activity brings with it other needs: buildings, houses, markets, auto dealers, repair shops, HVAC technicians, public servants, schools, teachers, etc. So, there could be something for everyone, even those who don’t want to work at a desk all day.
Maybe, it’s time for those who want immigration reform to stop talking and whining and start doing. Things that demonstrably work and help folks out build their own bases of support. That’s better than trying to convince folks with statistics and pie charts!
PWS
06-05-17

N. Rappaport On GOP’s “Extreme Enforcement” Initiatives!

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/334554-republicans-are-preparing-extreme-immigration-measures

Nolan writes in The Hill:

“Highlights from Labrador’s summary of the Davis-Oliver Act.

It provides states with congressional authorization to enact and enforce their own immigration laws to end the executive branch’s ability to unilaterally shut down immigration enforcement.
It withholds certain federal grants from jurisdictions that refuse to honor immigration detainers or prohibit their law enforcement officers from giving immigration-related information to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Jurisdictions that refuse to honor detainer requests and release criminal aliens may be sued by the victims of crimes the aliens commit after they are released.
It makes membership in a criminal gang grounds for deportation.
It requires background checks to be completed before immigration benefits can be granted.
Criminalization of undocumented aliens.

Section 314 makes crimes out of illegal entry and unlawful presence. If an offender does not have three misdemeanor convictions or a felony conviction, a first offense can result in imprisonment for up to six months. Subsequent offenses can result in imprisonment for up to two years.

If the alien has three misdemeanor convictions or a felony conviction, however, the term of imprisonment can be up to 20 years. This is not as harsh as some of the criminal provisions which are in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) already. Smuggling an alien into the country or helping one to remain here unlawfully (harboring) may “be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life” if it results in the death of any person.

Home free magnet.

President Obama created what I call the “home free magnet”, when he focused enforcement on undocumented aliens who had been convicted of serious crimes or had been caught near the border after making an illegal entry. Aliens wanting to enter the United States illegally knew that they would be safe from deportation once they had reached the interior of the country.

This attracted undocumented aliens and became a powerful incentive for them to do whatever was necessary to enter the United States. President Trump destroyed this magnet with tough campaign rhetoric and his executive order, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, which greatly expands Obama’s enforcement priorities.

. . . .

Perhaps the Democrats should consider supporting a modified version of the Davis-Oliver Act in return for Republican consideration of a modified legalization program and other measures that are important to the Democrats.

A similar agreement was the basis for the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), which made legalization available to millions of undocumented aliens in return for interior enforcement measures and border security.

The Republicans can deport most of the undocumented aliens in the country if they choose to do so, but it would take a long time and would be very expensive politically as well as financially.

They might be willing to consider a legalization program that is based on American needs, such as preventing citizen and lawful permanent resident families from being broken up and providing needed foreign workers for American employers.”

It could be limited to temporary lawful status while background investigations are being conducted. Greg Siskind and I suggested a way to do this in, “Pre-Registration: A Proposal to Kick-Start CIR.”

To be truly comprehensive, immigration reform has to include effective enforcement measures and time for putting together such a bill is running out.

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Read Nolan’s complete article over on The Hill at the above link.

Having served during the Obama Administration (as well as others from both parties) I disagree with Nolan’s characterization of Obama as having a “home free” policy. At least since the summer of 2014, no characterization could be further from the truth!

Beginning in the summer of 2014, the Obama Administrations, quite unwisely in my view, “prioritized” the cases of recent arrivals at the Southern Border. By taking these cases out of sequence, and totally out of proportion to any “threat” they posed, the Obama Administration’s policy of Aimless Docket Reshuffling (“ADR”) helped create an Immigration Court backlog that now approaches 600,000 cases, notwithstanding relatively “flat” receipts and actual increases in the number of sitting judges.

While eliminating the “recent arrivals priority,” the Trump Administration’s essentially “random” enforcement policy, lacking in any type of restraint or rationality, has actually made things much worse. As backlogs mushroom, the “home free” problem is actually more significant, although with a pronounced degree of randomness and irrationally. In other words, total docket chaos in Immigration Court.

While the threat of more “expedited removals,” which evade the Immigration Courts, does hang over the system, the procedures have not actually been implemented. Moreover, contrary to Nolan’s suggestion, there is no chance that the GOP will be able to remove more than a small fraction of the approximately 11 million undocumented aliens in the U.S. Yes, arbitrary enforcement does produce some “terrorism” effect by making everyone feel unsafe. Perhaps a relatively small number of undocumented residents will give up and leave (or try to enter Canada). Nevertheless, there is no practical way that 11 million individuals actually could be removed.

The GOP would do much better to sign on to immigration reforms that would give some type of legal status (not necessarily green cards) to most of those already here, while expanding legal immigration opportunities across the board. The resulting system would actually reduce pressure on the border while making interior enfircement more of a practical possibility than it has been at any time during the last for decades. But, that would take a thoughtful, practical, non-xenophobic, approach — something that has eluded the GOP in the years since the Reagan Administration.

Look for folks like Labrador & Goodlatte to work with the Adminstration to create a complete “train wreck” in the immigration enforcement system.

PWS

05-22-17

 

LEGISLATION: House GOP Takes The Low Road — Eschews Compromise — Goes For Enforcement Overkill!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/18/politics/immigration-bill-house-committee/index.html

Tal Kopan reports for CNN:

“Washington (CNN)Democrats and Republicans on Thursday faced off over immigration policy as a House committee began considering a set of immigration bills that Democrats say would amount to the creation of a “mass deportation force.”

Proponents of the first bill under consideration by the House judiciary committee — named after two law enforcement officers who were allegedly murdered by an undocumented immigrant — advocated for the bill as important to public safety and rule of law.
But Democrats on the committee decried the bill as an unnecessarily harsh anti-immigrant push by President Donald Trump.
“Proponents of this bill say that it’s necessary to keep us safe, but what the bill really does is pander to the noxious notion that immigrants are criminals and should be dealt with harshly,” said immigration subcommittee ranking member Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat. “This bill gives Trump and (adviser Steve) Bannon the legislation to establish their mass deportation force. … This bill should really be called the ‘Mass Deportation Act,’ because that’s what it is.”
Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte said the bill was not intended to target immigrants, but to “respect the rule of law.”
“This is simply a bill that gives any administration, the current one and future ones, the authority to enforce our laws properly, and gives to state and local governments … the ability to participate in that enforcement,” Goodlatte said.
The committee was set to mark up three Republican bills related to immigration on Thursday — one that would vastly expand the role of state and local jurisdictions in immigration enforcement and two others that would authorize immigration components of the Department of Homeland Security.
But by mid-afternoon, the committee recessed until next week after only making its way through two amendments. Both were brought by Democrats to strike portions of the bill, and after lengthy debate, both were rejected by the Republican majority committee. Democrats were expected to continue bringing a number of similar amendments when the markup continues on the nearly 200 page bill.
The main bill the committee discussed, the Michael Davis Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act, was introduced by Republican Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho, and closely resembles similar legislation that the House judiciary committee has advanced in the past and that now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions introduced in his time in the Senate.
The Davis-Oliver Act would substantially increase the capabilities of federal and local immigration enforcement, including empowering state and local law enforcement to enact their own immigration laws and penalties. It also would give the government powers to revoke visas, beef up Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ability to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants, increase criminal penalties for undocumented immigrants and punish sanctuary jurisdictions.

The two parties went back and forth on the bill, with Democrats decrying it as demonization of all immigrants, as an increase in mass incarceration and as a promotion of racial profiling and as unconstitutional federal overreach. They noted that local law enforcement in sanctuary cities say their policies are important for victims and witnesses of crimes to feel comfortable coming forward.
But Labrador said the notion that the bill harms public safety is “the most preposterous and outrageous argument I’ve ever heard.”
“For too long we have allowed individuals to enter our country illegally and in many cases do us harm,” he said. “While other reforms are needed, this bill is vital to a long-term fix.”
The other two bills, introduced by Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, would serve as authorizations for ICE and US Citizenship and Immigration Services, codifying the mission statements of both entities. The USCIS bill would focus the agency, which oversees the issuance of visas and grants immigrants the ability to enter the U.S. . . . .”

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America has all the immigration enforcement we need at present. Undocumented entries are down, the undocumented population is stable, and all reputable studies show that migrants of all types are among the most law-abiding sectors of our society.  Also, the DHS is unable to remove everyone who is currently under a final order of removal.  The U.S. Immigration Court system is completely backlogged, with nearly an astounding 600,000 pending cases.

Consequently, beyond funding “fixes” for the overwhelmed Immigration Courts and the DHS program for executing final orders of removal, there is no need for additional immigration enforcement personnel and authority at this time.  Nor is there any need to push reluctant cities to help DHS out with immigration enforcement.

No, notwithstanding the disingenuous statements by GOP Reps. Goodlatte and Labrador, this is all about generating anti-immigrant sentiment and promoting a non-existent link among  immigrants, crime, and national security..

What America really needs is some type of legalization program to allow the millions of law-abiding undocumented individual already here to continue to work and contribute to our society.  Additionally, we need immigration reform that would expand the legal immigration system to more realistically match supply with demand. This, in turn, would encourage individuals to enter through the legal system and thereby register and submit themselves to complete pre-entry vetting.  That’s what would actually promote the safety and prosperity of America!

PWS

05-19-17

 

 

REUTERS: Mica Rosenberg Reports On Trump’s “Under The Radar” Plan To Bar “Freedom Fighters” & “Victims Of Terrorism” From The U.S.!

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-immigration-terrorism-exceptions-idUSKBN17N13C

Mica and Yegenah Torbati report:

“Now the Trump administration is debating whether to rescind the waivers that have allowed Raj, and tens of thousands of others, to immigrate to the United States in the past decade (See graphic on waivers: tmsnrt.rs/2oPssIo). Some immigration hardliners are concerned the exemptions could allow terrorists to slip into the country.

U.S. President Donald Trump directed the secretaries of State and Homeland Security, in consultation with the attorney general, to consider abolishing the waivers in an executive order in March. That directive was overshadowed by the same order’s temporary ban on all refugees and on travelers from six mostly Muslim nations.

The bans on refugees and travel were challenged in lawsuits, and their implementation has been suspended pending full hearings in court. But the waiver review was not included in the court rulings, so that part of the order remains in effect.

Rules governing the waivers have been hammered out over the last decade with both Democratic and Republican support. But in recent years they have drawn fire from some conservative lawmakers, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions when he was a senator.

A State Department official said this week the department is working with DHS to review the waivers and is “looking at actually pulling them back in accordance with the executive order.”

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined to give details on the timing of the review or its likely outcome. The Department of Justice declined to comment.

KURDS, KAREN, HMONG

Following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Congress expanded the definition of who could be considered a terrorist and what constituted “material support” to terrorism in rules now known as the Terrorism Related Inadmissibility Grounds.

Those changes ensnared people like Raj who were coerced or inadvertently provided support to terrorists, as well as members of persecuted ethnic groups that supported rebel organizations, and even U.S.-allied groups fighting against authoritarian regimes.

Without an exemption, members of Kurdish groups that battled Saddam Hussein’s forces in Iraq, Hmong groups who fought alongside U.S. troops in Vietnam, or some Cubans who fought Fidel Castro’s regime would not be allowed to immigrate to the United States.

Under the exemptions, U.S. authorities have the discretion to grant people residency in the United States after they have passed background checks and are found to pose no threat to national security.

Congress initially passed waivers to the terrorism bars in 2007 with bipartisan support, and in the years that followed both the Bush and Obama administrations added additional groups and circumstances to the exemptions.

“PHANTOM PROBLEM”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has granted nearly 22,000 TRIG exemptions in total over the last decade, according to the latest data available, which goes through September 2016. The State Department also grants TRIG exemptions, but a spokesman could not provide data on how many.

Refugees from Myanmar are the largest single group of beneficiaries to date of TRIG exemptions granted by USCIS, with more than 6,700 waivers.

The wave of Myanmar refugees dates to 2006, when U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ruled that thousands of members of the Karen ethnic group, then living in a camp in Thailand, could resettle in the United States, even if they had supported the political wing of an armed group that had fought the country’s military regime.

One high-profile supporter of scrapping the waivers is House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia whose staffers were instrumental in drafting Trump’s travel ban. Goodlatte told Reuters he was “pleased that the Trump Administration is reviewing the dangerous policy.”

Groups favoring stricter immigration laws have also applauded the review. Rosemary Jenks, director of government relations at NumbersUSA, called the waivers “a potential security risk.”

“I personally don’t think that a bureaucrat should be deciding how much support for terrorism is enough to be barred,” she said.

A USCIS spokeswoman, when asked if a recipient of an exemption had ever been involved in a terrorism-related case after arriving in the United States, referred Reuters to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which said it was a question for the State Department to answer.

“I don’t know of any cases where beneficiaries of exemptions have gotten into trouble after arriving,” the State Department official said, noting that the department does not typically track people after they arrive in the United States.

Trump’s order to review the waivers “is another example of an attempt to address a non-existent phantom problem,” said Eric Schwartz, who served in the State Department during the Obama administration.

Schwartz and immigration advocates say the waivers are granted after lengthy review and are extremely difficult to get.

“These are case-by-case exemptions for people who represent no threat to the United States but rather have been caught in the most unfortunate of circumstances,” said Schwartz.

For Raj, the initial ruling that his ransom payment supported a terrorist group led to more than two years in U.S. immigration detention, followed by more years of electronic monitoring. His waiver allowed him to bring his wife to the United States after nine years apart. She now studies nursing.

(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg in New York and Yeganeh Torbati in Washington; Additional reporting by Julia Edwards in Washington and Kristina Cooke in San Francisco; Editing by Sue Horton and Ross Colvin)”

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Just to illustrate the lunacy of the already over-broad definition of “terrorist,” all of our “founding fathers” would be “terrorists” under this definition.

I heard a number of so-called”terrorist cases” over my time as a trial judge at the Arlington Immigration Court. A few of the folks on the detained docket (during the years I was assigned to that docket) might have potentially been dangerous.

But, most so-called “terrorists” were basically harmless individuals who actually appeared on my non-detained docket even during the “last years” when I was handling the “non-priority docket” (which was actually the overwhelming majority of cases at Arlington).

Most were folks who had supposedly provided “material support” like giving a ride to a rebel who commandeered the respondent’s car at gun point, carrying supply bags a few miles for guerrillas under threat of death, allowing rebels to ransack the family kitchen at gunpoint (sometimes called the “taco rule”), or giving money to a dissident group that was actually being supported by the U.S. in a battle against an oppressive government” (otherwise referred to as “freedom fighters”).

Most of them had lived in the U.S. for years without incident and were stunned to find out that being a victim of terrorism or helping a dissident group that the U.S. supported could be a bar to immigration. For example, anyone assisting rebels in the fight against the Assad Government or against ISIS would be considered a “terrorist” by our definition. And, ask yourself, why would any “real” terrorist have appeared on my non-detained, non-priority docket?

Of course, as a mere Immigration Judge I could not grant the “waiver” discussed in Mica’s article. But, I was required to make essentially an “advisory holding” that “but for” the “terrorist bar” I would have granted the respondent’s application.

I am aware that some of the cases I handled were referred to USCIS by the Office of Chief Counsel (the respondent can’t initiate the waiver process on her or his own) and eventually granted. Thereafter, I “vacated” on “joint motion” the removal order I had previously entered against the respondent. The whole process seemed convoluted.

Just another example of how the xenophobes in the Trump Administration are wasting time and taxpayer money making an already bad situation even worse.

A further example of how pointless the “terrorist bar” is in it’s current form: many of the individuals covered by the bar would also be entitled to “Deferral of Removal” under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”). The “terrorist bar” can’t be applied to “CAT deferral.” Therefore, individuals who are denied asylum but qualify for CAT deferral can’t be removed from the country. In effect, all that the terrorist bar does in such cases is keep individuals who are no threat to the U.S. in “limbo,” rather than allowing them to regularize their immigration status.

PWS

04-21-17