FORMER GOVERNMENT IMMIGRATION EXECUTIVES (INCLUDING ME) FILE AMICUS BRIEF IN HAMAMA V. HOMAN IN 6TH CIRCUIT (“The Iraqi Christian Case”)

Here’s a copy of the brief prepared by Michael P. Doss, Esquire, of Sidley & Austin, Chicago IL:

Filed stamped copy of amicus brief

HERE’S THE INTRODUCTION  SETTING FORTH “THE PLAYERS:”

IDENTITY AND INTEREST OF AMICI CURIAE

Amici have served in the U.S. Department of Justice and senior positions in the federal agencies charged with enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, and in those capacities have played substantial roles in the development, implementation, and adjudication of federal immigration policy and laws. Amici thus have an interest in this case, and in the just and efficient operation of the U.S. immigration enforcement system.

Mónica Ramírez Almadani served in the U.S. Department of Justice as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division from 2009 to 2012, and as Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General from 2011 to 2012, during which time she, among other things, advised on immigration

1 Amici submit this brief pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 29(a)(2). The parties have consented to the filing of this brief. Amici further state, pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 29(a)(4)(E), that no counsel for a party authored this brief in whole or in part, and no person other than the amicus curiae or their counsel made a monetary contribution intended to fund the preparation or submission of this brief.

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policy and litigation and worked closely with the Executive Office of Immigration Review.

Seth Grossman served as Chief of Staff to the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) from 2010 to 2011, as Deputy General Counsel of DHS from 2011 to 2013, and as Counselor to the Secretary of Homeland Security in 2013.

Stephen Legomsky served as Chief Counsel of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2011 to 2013, and as Senior Counselor to the Secretary of Homeland Security in 2015.

Leon Rodriguez served as Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2013 to 2017.

John Sandweg served as the Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) in 2013 and 2014, and as the Acting General Counsel of DHS from 2012 to 2013.

Paul Wickham Schmidt served as an Immigration Judge for the U.S. Immigration Court from May 2003 until his retirement from the bench in June 2016. Before his Immigration Judge appointment, Judge Schmidt served as a Board Member and Board Chairman for the Board

of Immigration Appeals, Executive Office for Immigration Review, from 2

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1995 until 2003. Judge Schmidt also served as acting General Counsel of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) from 1979 to 1981 and again from 1986 to 1987, and as the Deputy General Counsel of INS from 1978 to 1987.

As former leaders of the nation’s primary immigration agencies and the U.S. Department of Justice, and a former longtime Immigration Judge, amici are familiar with the operation of the United States immigration enforcement system. Amici support the district court’s preliminary injunction order and urge this Court to affirm that decision. Amici focus here on two issues before this Court: (i) first, whether the “motion to reopen” process currently available before our immigration courts provides Petitioners with an “adequate and effective” substitute for habeas relief; and (ii) second, whether the public interest is served by briefly staying enforcement of removal orders regarding these Iraqi nationals so that the immigration courts have a fair opportunity to review their claims.

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Based on our experience helping to lead the federal agencies charged with enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, we are compelled to conclude that the district court reached the correct conclusion on both these issues. In particular, without the “breathing room” provided by the district court’s temporary stay of removal, our overburdened immigration courts are unable to provide an adequate and effective remedy for Petitioners having valid claims for protection from removal due to the likelihood they face persecution or torture on return to Iraq. In addition, given the clearly established changed circumstances in Iraq, which show that the Petitioners would have an objective well- founded fear of persecution if forced to return, the district court’s order furthers the public interest by affording aliens threatened with persecution on removal to Iraq a meaningful opportunity to have these claims heard. The some-1,400 Iraqi nationals impacted by the district court’s order represent a drop in the bucket compared to those subject to removal each year by immigration authorities, and a temporary stay of their removal to allow immigration courts time to assess their claims will not undermine the United States’ immigration enforcement system.

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AND, HERE’S AN OUTLINE OF THE ARGUMENT:

ARGUMENT ……………………………………………………………………………….. 5

I.  The District Court Was Correct In Finding That, Under Current Circumstances, The Immigration Courts Do Not Provide Petitioners with Adequate and Effective Alternatives To Habeas Relief…………………….5

A.  The Immigration Courts System ……………………….. 5

B.  Our Immigration Courts Are Overburdened and Underfunded………………………………………………………. 6

C.  Emergency Stay Motions before Our Immigration Courts Do Not Currently Offer Petitioners an Adequate and Effective Alternative Remedy …..10

II. Allowing Petitioners Time to Obtain Review of Their Motions To Reopen Is In the Public Interest and Will Not Unreasonably Interfere with Immigration Enforcement ……………………………………………………………..15

A.  The United States has a Strong Interest In Protecting from Removal Those Petitioners Who Will Face Persecution or Torture in Iraq…………15

B.  The District Court’s Order Will Not Interfere With the United States’ Immigration Enforcement Scheme………………………………………..18

CONCLUSION…………………………………………………………………………… 21

CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE…………………………………………….23

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE…………………………………………………….24

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Many thanks to my “Fellow Amici” and to Michael Doss & his team at Sidley & Austin for a “Super Outstanding Job!” May Due Process prevail!!!!

PWS

02-14-18

 

MORE LAW THAT YOU CAN USE FROM COURTSIDE: DON’T JUST WRING YOUR HANDS AND SPUTTER ABOUT THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S MINDLESS CRUELTY TO HARD WORKING “TPS’ERS!” – Go On Over To LexisNexis & Let Atty Cyrus D. Mehta Tell You Some Ways To Help “TPSers” Achieve Legal Status!

https://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/immigration/b/immigration-law-blog/archive/2018/01/22/cyrus-d-mehta-potential-adjustment-of-status-options-after-the-termination-of-tps.aspx?Redirected=true

Here’s a “preview” of what Cyrus has to say:

“Cyrus D. Mehta, Jan. 22, 2018 – “As President Trump restricts immigration, it is incumbent upon immigration lawyers to assist their clients with creative solutions available under law. The most recent example of Trump’s attack on immigration is the cancellation of Temporary Protected Status for more than 200,000 Salvadorans. David Isaacson’s What Comes Next: Potential Relief Options After the Termination of TPS comprehensively provides tips on how to represent TPS recipients whose authorization will soon expire with respect to asylum, cancellation or removal and adjustment of status.

I focus specifically on how TPS recipients can potentially adjust their status within the United States through either a family-based I-130 petition or an I-140 employment-based petition for permanent residency. A September 2017 practice advisory from the American Immigration Council points to two decisions from the Ninth and Sixth Circuit, Ramirez v. Brown, 852 F.3d 954 (9th Cir. 2017) and Flores v. USCIS, 718 F.3d 548 (6th Cir. 2013), holding that TPS constitutes an admission for purpose of establishing eligibility for adjustment of status under INA 245(a).”

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Go on over to Dan Kowalski’s fabulous LexisNexis Immigration 
Community at the above link to get the rest.

Given the sad saga of the “Dreamers” — whose legalization should have been a “no brainer” for any group other than Trump and the GOP restrictionists —  we can’t count on Congress coming to the Haitian and El Salvadoran TPSers “rescue” before their “final extension” expires. So, it’s critical for lawyers to help as many as possible of these great, hard-working folks achieve legal status under existing law before the window closes!

Sadly, one of the key cases cited by Cyrus in his full article, the BIA’s very helpful precedent decision  in Matter of Arrabelly and Yerrabelly, 25 I&N Dec. 771 (BIA 2012) is rumored to be on AG Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions’s restrictionist “chopping block.” So, there’s no time to lose!

PWS

01-25-18

MORE DEADLY MISTAKES: 6TH CIR. FINDS BIA’S ERROR-RIDDLED DECISION WRONGLY SENT WOMAN BACK TO FACE CARTEL THREATS IN MEXICO – TRUJILLO DIAZ V. SESSIONS!

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Trujillo Diaz v. Sessions, 6th Cir., 01-17-18, published

PANEL: MERRITT, MOORE, and BUSH, Circuit Judges.

OPINION  BY: Judge Bush.

SUMMARY (FROM OPINION):

“In this immigration case, Maribel Trujillo Diaz petitions for review of an order denying her motion to reopen removal proceedings. The United States Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) ruled that Trujillo Diaz failed to establish a prima facie case of eligibility for asylum or withholding of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA” or “Act”) because she failed to show that she would be singled out individually for persecution based on her family membership. The BIA reiterated this finding in ruling that Trujillo Diaz failed to establish a prima facie case of eligibility for protection under the Convention Against Torture. Because the BIA failed to credit the facts stated in Trujillo Diaz’s declarations, and this error undermined its conclusion as to the sufficiency of Trujillo Diaz’s prima facie evidence, we hold that the BIA abused its discretion. We further hold that the BIA abused its discretion in summarily rejecting Trujillo Diaz’s argument that she could not safely relocate internally in Mexico for purposes of showing a prima facie case of eligibility for relief under the Convention Against Torture. Thus, we vacate the order of the BIA and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

KEY QUOTATION:

“The BIA’s abuse of discretion in failing to credit Trujillo Diaz’s father’s affidavit undermined its conclusion that Trujillo Diaz had not made a prima facie showing of eligibility for asylum and withholding of removal under the INA. This conclusion also affected the BIA’s analysis of whether Trujillo Diaz made a prima facie showing of eligibility for protection under the Convention Against Torture. Further, the BIA abused its discretion in summarily rejecting Trujillo Diaz’s argument that she could not safely relocate internally in Mexico for purposes of showing prima facie eligibility under the Convention Against Torture. Accordingly, we GRANT the petition and REMAND to the BIA for reconsideration consistent with this opinion.”

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Following the denial of her original claim for asylum, Trujillo Diaz was allowed by the Obama Administration as an exercise of prosecutorial discretion to remain in the United States with work authorization and faithfully checked in with the DHS. However, the Trump Administration arbitrarily targeted her for removal. Although many in the community, including the Catholic Church, protested, the Administration nevertheless removed Trujillo Diaz to Mexico while this motion was pending.

Our tax dollars are being squandered for this type of useless, immoral, and in this case ultimately wrongful removal. At no time has Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions shown any concern whatsoever for the significant  number of mistaken asylum denials and improper deportations taking place as a result of poor quality decision-making taking place in the over-stressed and overwhelmed U.S. Immigration Courts operating under his administration. Nor has he shown any appreciation for the obvious fact that rather than more speed in deporting individuals, this court system is badly in need of better representation for asylum seekers, more careful decision-making that complies with the law, and measures to insure Due Process as required by the U.S. Constitution. 

Sessions’s anti-due-process administration of the U.S. Immigration Courts is a national disgrace! We need an independent United States Immigration Court dedicated to insuring Due Process and protecting vulnerable individuals from wrongful removals like this! Now! 

PWS

01-18-18

 

FOURTH CIRCUIT JOINS 9TH, 2d, & 6TH IN REVERSING BIA’S OVERLY RESTRICTIVE READING OF ASYLUM ELIGIBILITY – ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE OF A PRE-EXISTING CLAIM CAN BE A “CHANGED CIRCUMSTANCE” JUSTIFYING “LATE” ASYLUM FILING! — ZAMBRANO V. SESSIONS (PUBLISHED)!

4th Cir on changed circumstances-1yr

Zambrano v. Sessions, 4th Cir., 12-05-17 (published)

PANEL: KEENAN and WYNN, Circuit Judges, and John A. GIBNEY, Jr., United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, sitting by designation.

OPINION BY: Judge Gibney

KEY QUOTE:

“This Court agrees with the logic of the Ninth, Second, and Sixth circuits. New facts that provide additional support for a pre-existing asylum claim can constitute a changed circumstance. These facts may include circumstances that show an intensification of a preexisting threat of persecution or new instances of persecution of the same kind suffered in the past. The Court remands to the BIA and leaves the determination of whether the facts on record constitute changed circumstances which materially affect the petitioner’s eligibility for asylum to the BIA’s sound discretion.

III.
The BIA erred when it categorically held that additional proof of an existing claim

does not establish changed circumstances. Accordingly, we grant the petition for review, vacate the BIA’s order, and remand the case to the BIA for further consideration in light of this opinion.”

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This is a very important decision for asylum applicants in the Fourth Circuit, as this situation arises frequently in Immigration Court.

With three well-reasoned Circuit decisions already in the books, why is the BIA holding out for a discredited rationale? How many individuals who weren’t fortunate enough to have Ben Winograd or an equally talented lawyer argue for them in the Court of Appeals have already been wrongfully removed under the BIA’s discredited rationale? Where’s the BIA precedent adopting this rationale and making it binding on IJ’s nationwide before more individuals are wrongfully removed? How is this “through teamwork and innovation being the world’s best administrative tribunal guaranteeing fairness and due process for all?”

The answer to the latter question is sadly obvious. While the BIA’s problems predated his tenure, the attitude of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as demonstrated in his recent pronouncement on so-called “Immigration Court efficiency” elevates “false efficiency,” speed, and cranking out removals above fundamental fairness and Due Process. Why have an elaborate administrative court system that doesn’t put Due Process first and foremost as “real” (non-captive) courts generally do? Why not just send all removal cases to U.S. District Judges and Magistrate Judges who make Due Process and fairness “job one” and aren’t preoccupied with “jacking up” removal statistics to please political bosses?

And, I’d like to see how far the DHS/Sessions’s (they are pretty much the same these days) boneheaded, arrogant, unrealistic, and wasteful “no PD” policy would get in a “real” court system where widespread, reasonable, and prudent use of PD by prosecutors is understood and accepted as an essential part of fairness, efficiency, and responsible use of publicly-funded judicial resources. Indeed, in some of my past “off the record” conversations with Article III Judges, they were absolutely flabbergasted to discover the unwillingness of DHS to meaningfully exercise “PD” in the pre-Obama era and to learn that at DHS the “cops,” rather than the prosecutors were responsible for setting PD policies!

PWS

12-08-17

 

HON. JEFFREY CHASE DISCUSSES ASYLUM BASED ON FEAR OF HONOR KILLINGS!

https://www.jeffreyschase.com/blog/2017/12/2/honor-killings-and-particular-social-group

Honor Killings and Particular Social Group

The threat of honor killing may form the basis of an asylum claim.  While men may be targeted as well,1 honor killings are a gender-based form of persecution, as the underlying basis is the view in certain societies that a woman’s failure to strictly adhere to a rigid moral code imposed upon her brings such dishonor on her family in the eyes of the community that nothing short of her murder (at the hands of her own family) can restore the family’s “honor.”  The BIA has issued no precedent decisions relating to these types of claims; there are not many published circuit court decisions.  In a recent published decision, Kamar v. Sessions, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the BIA’s incorrect determination that a woman from Jordan who credibly fears an honor killing was not genuinely at risk, and did not show that the government of Jordan was unwilling or unable to protect her.  However, I would like to focus in this article on the particular social group aspects of such claims.

As I have stated in other posts, the BIA established a requirement in its 1985 precedent decision Matter of Acosta that members of a particular social group must share an immutable characteristic.  In a series of later decisions beginning with it’s 2006 precedent  Matter of C-A-, the BIA additionally required cognizable social groups to satisfy its particularity and social distinction requirements.  The former requires that there be a clear benchmark of who is and is not included in the group.  The latter requires that the society in question (i.e. not the persecutors alone) view the members as forming a distinct group.  It is not easy for a group to meet all three of these requirements.

However, I believe that women (and sometimes men) targeted for honor killings must be found to meet all three of these requirements, as they are inextricably built into the social code which gives rise to such horrific actions.  First, being targeted for an honor killing is clearly an immutable characteristic.  The entire reason the society in question requires an act as drastic as murder is that nothing short of eliminating the individual will undo the perceived shame on the family.  There is no lesser form of rehabilitation or restitution available.  Nor will the passage of time or the target’s departure from the society suffice.  USCIS itself states in its own training materials for asylum officers on gender-based persecution that “the family may go to great lengths to pursue women (and men) accused of violating the family’s honor.  Families employ bounty hunters, private detectives and social networks to pursue victims and searches may persist over years.  In cultures with extended family networks over a large geographic area, relocation may offer no real protection.”2  This is the definition of an immutable characteristic.

Additionally, the group satisfies the particularity requirement.  The code giving rise to honor killings (a term which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has called “an oxymoron if we’ve ever heard one”)3 specifies who must be targeted.  In societies in which such killings take place, if a family that adheres to a rigid moral code believes that a female member of the family has behaved in a way that tarnished its reputation to the point that an honor killing is required, the family cannot decide to kill, e.g., the third person that walks down the street, or a more distant relative, or the gardener to achieve the goal of restoring honor.  The code governing such killings is specific as to who must be targeted.

Furthermore, social distinction is a given in such cases, as it is the perception of the society in question itself that is entirely responsible for both the family’s perceived loss of honor and for the “need” to carry out the murder.  It is  the society’s moral code that has been violated by the group member’s behavior; it is the society that has distinguished the violator in a manner that brings shame on her family; and it is the society’s perception that the honor killing is intended to appease.  Therefore, while the asylum officer, immigration judge, or BIA may deny asylum for another reason, if credible, an asylum applicant who fears an honor killing should not be denied based on a failure to meet her burden of establishing membership in a cognizable particular social group.

In order to avoid the Board’s prohibition against the group being defined in a circular manner, it is best not to include the term “honor killing” in the definition of the proposed group itself.  The membership in the group is the reason the person fears persecution.  The definition should therefore generally not include the actual harm feared, because a person is not targeted for an honor killing because they are targeted for an honor killing- this is what the Board terms a circular argument.  However, a person may be targeted for persecution because they are a member of the group consisting of, for example, “women from country X whose behavior is perceived to have brought dishonor on their family by flouting repressive moral norms.”  The honor killing is the type of persecution that the applicant fears as a result of their membership in the group.

Copyright 2017 Jeffrey S. Chase.  All rights reserved.

Notes:

1.  On the topic of males targeted for honor killings, see Caitlin Steinke, Male Asylum Applicants Who Fear Becoming the Victims of Honor Killings: The Case for Gender Equality, 17 CUNY L.Rev. 233,(2013).

2.  See USCIS, RAIO Directorate, Combined Training Course, Gender Related Claims Training Module, p. 24 (Rev. 9/26/2011)https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/About%20Us/Directorates%20and%20Program%20Offices/RAIO/Gender%20Related%20Claims%20LP%20%28RAIO%29.pdf.

3.  Sarhan v. Holder, 658 F.3d 649 (7th Cir. 2011).

 

 

 

 

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Jeffrey S. Chase is an immigration lawyer in New York City.  Jeffrey is a former Immigration Judge, senior legal advisor at the Board of Immigration Appeals, and volunteer staff attorney at Human Rights First.  He is a past recipient of AILA’s annual Pro Bono Award, and previously chaired AILA’s Asylum Reform Task Force.

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REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION

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My recent blog blog on this same case is here:

https://wp.me/p8eeJm-1IB

Instead of being on the wrong side of the law and history here, why hasn’t the BIA taken the lead in issuing a precedent establishing protection under the INA and the Conventions for these vulnerable individuals?

The was a time when the BIA had the courage to stand up for the rights of the oppressed and take a leadership role in recognizing legal protections.  See Matter of Kasinga, 21 I&N Dec. 357 (BIA 1996). Decisions like Kasinga both saved lives and promoted the fair and orderly administration of immigration, refugee, and asylum laws in accordance with Due Process.

Today’s BIA appears more interested in serving as an apologist for the extreme anti-immigrant policies of Jeff Sessions and the Trump Administration and helping the DOJ’s OIL justify legally questionable positions in the U.S. Courts of Appeals than in standing up for the Due Process and statutory rights of migrants. What’s the purpose of a supposedly deliberative body that seldom visibly “deliberates” and all too often fails to perform its SOLE FUNCTION of “guaranteeing fairness and Due Process for all?”

PWS

12-04-17

 

 

US IMMIGRATION COURTS MAKE DEADLY MISTAKES: 6th CIRCUIT STOPS BIA, IJ, DHS FROM APPLYING WRONG STANDARDS TO SEND JORDANIAN WOMAN BACK TO TORTURE AND HONOR KILLING! — KAMAR V. SESSIONS, 6th CIR., PUBLISHED — While Sessions Babbles On With False Anti-Asylum Narrative & Bogus Need To Deport Law-Abiding Long-Time US Residents, He Administers a “Court System” That Denies Constitutional Due Process & Ignores Correct Legal Standards In Life Or Death Cases!

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Kamar v. Sessions, 11-17-17, published

PANEL: MERRITT, MOORE, ROGERS, CIRCUIT JUDGES

OPINION: JUDGE MERRITT

KEY QUOTES:

“We now address, under the substantial evidence standard, the question of whether Kamar will be persecuted by threat of death if she returns to Jordan, which is relevant to both withholding under the Act and relief under the Convention. Kamar testified at the merits hearing that her cousins, specifically Alias, want to restore their family’s honor by killing her, and her sister confirmed this. She knows this because of letters she received and communications with family and friends. The Board expressly found Kamar to be credible. On remand, the IJ concluded the letter from Alias was not credible and did not facially threaten Kamar. The IJ reasoned that even if it was credible, there was no indication that Alias knew that Kamar had gotten married and might not want to kill her anymore. The IJ found that the intent to kill Kamar was expressed only through an “ambiguous” comment in the letter from Kamar’s mother. The Board agreed that Kamar did not establish that her fear of persecution was objectively reasonable. The probability of harm occurring in these cases is an inference based on facts in the record. Considering the evidence, it is hard to reconcile these findings with the Board’s conclusion that even if Kamar had a subjective fear of persecution, this fear was not objectively reasonable. There is nothing to cast doubt on Kamar’s testimony. Even if the letter from Alias is not considered, the letter from Kamar’s mother states that Alias wishes to kill Kamar even if it is his last act on earth, and credible testimony confirms this. Nothing indicates that Alias does not still intend to carry out the honor killing. Both Kamar and her sister testified that it did not matter that Kamar married her second husband because Alias knows that she had sexual relations outside of marriage and believes that she committed adultery. The record overwhelming supports the finding that she will be persecuted if she returns.

Finally, we consider whether the Jordanian government would be “unwilling or unable” to protect Kamar from harm. In the country reports in the record, it has been established that governors in Jordan routinely abuse the law and use imprisonment to protect potential victims of honor crimes. These victims are not released from imprisonment unless the local governor consents, the victim’s family guarantees the victim’s safety, and the victim consents. One non-governmental organization has provided a temporary, unofficial shelter as an alternative.

On the other hand, successful perpetrators of honor killings typically get their sentences greatly reduced. Additionally, if the victim’s family, who is usually the family of the alleged perpetrator as well, does not bring the charges, the government dismisses the case. See also Sarhan, 658 F.3d at 657 (“After reviewing the evidence of the Jordanian government’s treatment of honor crimes, we conclude that . . . the government is ineffective when it comes to providing protection to women whose behavior places them in the group who are threatened with honor killings.”).

The Board’s decision outlined the Jordanian government’s efforts to combat honor crimes, including placing potential victims in “protective custody.” As the Ninth Circuit concluded in an analogous case, “This observation omits the fact that such protective custody is involuntary, and often involves extended incarceration in jail.” Suradi v. Sessions, No. 14-71463, 2017 WL 2992234, at *2 (9th Cir. July 14, 2017). While victim protection is necessary, incarceration is an insufficient solution. This practice is akin to persecuting the victim as she “must choose between death and an indefinite prison term.” Sarhan, 658 F.3d at 659. Further, nothing in the record suggests that the country conditions in Jordan have changed such that the government will be able to adequately protect Kamar from being killed. This showing satisfies both of the standards for finding governmental action for purposes of withholding of removal under the Act and also those for protection under the Convention, as it amounts to “pain or suffering” that is inflicted with the acquiescence of a public official or a person acting in an official capacity.

We do not address whether Kamar can safely relocate to escape persecution, which is also relevant to withholding of removal and protection under the Convention. The Board did not mention relocation, and the parties’ briefs do not address the issue. Like the particular social group inquiry, the issue of safe relocation must be addressed in the first instance by the Board. Gonzales v. Thomas, supra.

Substantial evidence does not support the Board’s refusal to find that Kamar will probably be persecuted if she is returned to Jordan, due to her membership in the particular social group we discussed, or that the Jordanian government can or will do nothing to help her. The Board’s decision with regard to those issues is reversed.

. . . .

The Seventh Circuit has found that the Jordanian government’s “solution” to protect honor killing victims is actually a form of punishing the victims of these crimes amounting to mental “pain or suffering,” which is “inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.” 8 C.F.R. § 208.18(a)(1); see Sarhan, 658 F.3d at 659. Taking into account our reasoning and findings above on the factors relating to both withholding of removal under the Act and protection under the Convention, we agree that “[d]espite the contrary conclusion of the Immigration Judge and the Board, the record here also compels the conclusion that the government of Jordan acquiesces to honor killings.” Suradi, 2017 WL 2992234, at *1.

Given the likelihood that Kamar would be subject to involuntary imprisonment at the hands of the Jordanian authorities, resulting in mental pain and suffering, the Board erred in concluding that Kamar failed to establish that it was more likely than not that she would be tortured upon removal to Jordan. We grant the petition with respect to the Board’s reasoning under the Convention.“

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This should have been an easy withholding grant by the Immigration Judge. Indeed, the 6th Circuit characterized the evidence of persecution as “overwhelming.”

Instead the BIA and the Immigration Judge spent literally years passing the case back and forth and still got it wrong! No wonder the system is backlogged when judges at both the trial and appellate levels get the law requiring protection wrong time after time! How would an unrepresented individual have any chance of vindicating her rights in a system this complicated and screwed up! Skewing the system as this Administration has done to make it more difficult for individuals to get effective representation is a direct attack on due process.

Instead of making a conscientious effort to fix this system to provide due process, Sessions’s clear xenophobia and his anti-immigrant, anti-refugee rants encourage  Immigration Judges and BIA Appellate Judges to treat asylum applicants unfairly and misapply the law to deny protection.

There will be no true due process and justice for migrants until the politicized DOJ and this highly biased Attorney General are removed from control of our US Immigration Court system! How would YOU like to be on trial for your life in a court system controlled by Jeff Sessions?

PWS

11-18-17

GONZO’S WORLD: DEHUMANIZING IMMIGRANTS BRINGS BACK DREDD SCOTT!

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2017/10/the_justice_department_s_radical_new_anti_abortion_stance_echoes_dred_scott.html

Mark Joseph Stern and Perry Grossman report for Slate:

“JURISPRUDENCE
THE LAW, LAWYERS, AND THE COURT.OCT. 19 2017 6:32 PM
Trump’s Dred Scott
In a case about the abortion rights of undocumented minors, the Department of Justice evokes the worst Supreme Court decision of all time.

By Perry Grossman and Mark Joseph Stern
Jeff Sessions and Roger B. Taney
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, left, and Chief Justice Roger B. Taney
Saul Loeb/Getty Images and Library of Congress

Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump maligned undocumented immigrants as violent criminals and sexual predators who deserved to be rounded up and deported. Once in office, Trump transformed this rhetoric into policy, implementing a nationwide crackdown on immigrant communities. Now, the president’s dehumanizing disparagement of undocumented people has now seeped into his administration’s legal positions. This week, the Department of Justice is arguing in court that undocumented, unaccompanied minors have no right to abortions—and that undocumented immigrants may have no constitutional rights at all. This argument does not only contravene Supreme Court precedent. It also draws upon an inhuman notion of constitutional liberty most notoriously espoused in Dred Scott v. Sandford.

The Justice Department’s radical new theory arose out of a disturbing case in Texas that revolves around a 17-year-old referred to as Jane Doe in court filings. Doe arrived in the United States several months ago, unaccompanied by her parents and lacking documentation. She was placed in a federally funded Texas shelter, at which point she learned she was pregnant. Doe requested an abortion, but under state law, minors cannot receive the procedure without either parental consent or judicial approval. So Doe obtained what’s known as a judicial bypass and asked permission to attend a state-mandated counseling session before undergoing the procedure.

Her shelter refused to allow her to attend that counseling session, citing federal regulations promulgated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a wing of the Department of Health and Human Services. In March, ORR announced that federally funded shelters could not take “any action that facilitates” abortion for unaccompanied minors, including “scheduling appointments, transportation, or other arrangement,” without “direction and approval” from Scott Lloyd, the agency’s director. A Trump appointee and longtime anti-abortion activist, Lloyd has refused to allow minors to access abortion services. Instead, he has directed shelters to take these women to “crisis pregnancy centers,” which “counsel” them not to get abortions. At least once, Lloyd himself called a pregnant minor to talk her out of terminating her pregnancy. If a minor still wants to get an abortion after navigating these obstacles, ORR instructs its shelters to block her from attending her appointment.

Doe’s shelter followed these guidelines, taking her to a crisis pregnancy center and calling her mother to tell her Doe was pregnant. But Doe persisted, and in October, her court-appointed attorneys filed suit along with the American Civil Liberties Union in a federal district court in Washington, where ORR is headquartered. Doe argues that ORR’s rules violate her constitutional rights by placing an undue burden on her access to abortion.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan held a hearing in the case. While defending the government, Department of Justice attorney Scott Stewart strongly implied that undocumented women do not have a right to abortion. Here, Stewart was echoing an amicus brief filed by the Texas attorney general’s office, which proclaimed that “unlawfully present aliens” living in the United States have no constitutional right to abortion access. Chutkan then asked Stewart whether Doe has any constitutional rights; Stewart declined to make that “concession.”

Chutkan ruled against the government and issued a temporary restraining order guaranteeing Doe the ability to terminate her pregnancy. (She is currently 15 weeks pregnant, and abortion is illegal after 20 weeks in Texas.) The DOJ appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which will hear arguments in the case on Friday morning. In its motion, the agency argued that the government’s “interest in promoting fetal life and childbirth over abortion” justified its refusal to let a minor go to an abortion clinic. It also claimed that, even if undocumented minors have a constitutional right to abortion care, the administration was not unduly burdening that right, because minors who want to terminate their pregnancies can leave the country. This argument is merely another way of stating that women like Doe have no right to an abortion in the United States.

By excluding undocumented immigrants from the protections of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Trump administration is essentially asserting that they do not qualify as “person[s]” under the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and 14th Amendments. The Supreme Court has ruled that the liberty component of the Due Process Clause protects a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy without a substantial obstacle. If arbitrary regulations that severely burden clinics qualify as such an unconstitutional obstacle, as the Supreme Court has held, then surely self-deportation does as well. Thus, the sole plausible interpretation of the DOJ’s posture is that the Due Process Clause does not protect undocumented women like Doe. Put simply, undocumented women are not people for constitutional purposes.

If the government can force Doe to carry her pregnancy to term, what can’t it do?
This theory parallels the Supreme Court’s most infamous ruling. Dred Scott was a black man born into slavery who moved with his “master” from a slave state to a free state. Upon his master’s death, Scott sued for his freedom. In 1857, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney—a virulent racist whose statue was removed from the grounds of the Maryland State House in August—wrote an opinion dismissing Scott’s suit. Taney held that black people were not “persons” based on the language of the Constitution and that Scott, as a black man, therefore had no right to sue in the federal courts. Black men, Taney wrote, were “so far inferior” to whites that they had “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

Following the Civil War, Dred Scott was overturned by the 13th and 14th Amendments. These amendments ensured that everyone born in the United States would be a citizen. They also granted all “person[s]”—not just citizens—due process and equal protection under the law. Trump has already raised the specter of Dred Scott through his call to end birthright citizenship, the constitutional command that lay at the heart of the Civil War amendments. Now his administration is invoking the decision again in its attempt to deprive undocumented immigrants of their personhood under the Constitution.

The government has rarely alleged that undocumented immigrants may be deprived of rights protected by the liberty component of due process, what’s also known as “substantive” due process. Its few attempts have been unsuccessful. In 2003, the Bush administration argued that substantive due process does not apply to immigrants who reside in the country illegally. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, emphatically rejected this claim, explaining

If excludable aliens were not protected by even the substantive component of constitutional due process, as the government appears to argue, we do not see why the United States government could not torture or summarily execute them. … [W]e do not believe that our Constitution could permit persons living in the United States—whether they can be admitted for permanent residence or not—to be subjected to any government action without limit.
Perhaps recognizing the extremism of its argument, the Trump administration has left open the possibility that undocumented immigrants are entitled to some unspecified “minimal standards” of constitutional protection. But if those minimal standards don’t include the basic right to bodily autonomy, then the 6th Circuit’s query still stands. If the government can force Doe to carry her pregnancy to term against her will, what can’t it do? The administration’s attempt to exert complete control over Doe’s reproductive system is a straightforward deprivation of constitutional liberty that opens the door to equally egregious future abuses.

On Friday morning, the Justice Department will return to court once more to argue, in effect, that Jane Doe is not a “person” worthy of due process protections. It might as well cite Dred Scott for the proposition that the government may strip undocumented immigrants of their constitutionally protected liberty. The 14th Amendment was designed to end such capricious discrimination against individuals living in the United States. But to the Trump administration, immigrants like Doe aren’t even people—just possessions of the state, awaiting deportation.”

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Just when you think that Gonzo Apocalypto can’t sink any lower, he manages to achieve new depths!

Sen. Liz Warren was right!

PWS

10-19-17

BREAKING: SUPREMES RULE IMMIGRANT RECEIVED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL WHERE ATTY GAVE WRONG ADVICE ON DEPORTATION! — JAE LEE v. UNITED STATES — Chief Justice Roberts Writes For 6-2 Majority!

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/16-327_3eb4.pdf

Here’s the Court’s Headnote (not part of the decision)

Petitioner Jae Lee moved to the United States from South Korea with his parents when he was 13. In the 35 years he has spent in this country, he has never returned to South Korea, nor has he become a U. S. citizen, living instead as a lawful permanent resident. In 2008, federal officials received a tip from a confidential informant that Lee had sold the informant ecstasy and marijuana. After obtaining a warrant, the officials searched Lee’s house, where they found drugs, cash, and a loaded rifle. Lee admitted that the drugs were his, and a grand jury indicted him on one count of possessing ecstasy with in- tent to distribute. Lee retained counsel and entered into plea discussions with the Government. During the plea process, Lee repeatedly asked his attorney whether he would face deportation; his attorney assured him that he would not be deported as a result of pleading guilty. Based on that assurance, Lee accepted a plea and was sentenced to a year and a day in prison. Lee had in fact pleaded guilty to an “aggravated felony” under the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U. S. C. §1101(a)(43)(B), so he was, contrary to his attorney’s advice, subject to mandatory deportation as a result of that plea. See §1227(a)(2)(A)(iii). When Lee learned of this consequence, he filed a motion to vacate his conviction and sentence, arguing that his attorney had provided constitutionally ineffective assistance. At an evidentiary hearing, both Lee and his plea-stage counsel testified that “deportation was the determinative issue” to Lee in deciding whether to accept a plea, and Lee’s counsel acknowledged that although Lee’s defense to the charge was weak, if he had known Lee would be de- ported upon pleading guilty, he would have advised him to go to trial. A Magistrate Judge recommended that Lee’s plea be set aside and his conviction vacated. The District Court, however, denied relief, and

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JAE LEE v. UNITED STATES Syllabus

the Sixth Circuit affirmed. Applying the two-part test for ineffective assistance claims from Strickland v. Washington, 466 U. S. 668, the Sixth Circuit concluded that, while the Government conceded that Lee’s counsel had performed deficiently, Lee could not show that he was prejudiced by his attorney’s erroneous advice.

Held: Lee has demonstrated that he was prejudiced by his counsel’s erroneous advice. Pp. 5–13.

(a) When a defendant claims that his counsel’s deficient perfor- mance deprived him of a trial by causing him to accept a plea, the de- fendant can show prejudice by demonstrating a “reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s errors, he would not have pleaded guilty and would have insisted on going to trial.” Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U. S. 52, 59.

Lee contends that he can make this showing because he never would have accepted a guilty plea had he known the result would be deportation. The Government contends that Lee cannot show prejudice from accepting a plea where his only hope at trial was that something unexpected and unpredictable might occur that would lead to acquittal. Pp. 5–8.

(b) The Government makes two errors in urging the adoption of a per se rule that a defendant with no viable defense cannot show prejudice from the denial of his right to trial. First, it forgets that categorical rules are ill suited to an inquiry that demands a “case-by-case examination” of the “totality of the evidence.” Williams v. Taylor, 529 U. S. 362, 391 (internal quotation marks omitted); Strickland, 466 U. S., at 695. More fundamentally, it overlooks that the Hill v. Lockhart inquiry focuses on a defendant’s decisionmaking, which may not turn solely on the likelihood of conviction after trial.

The decision whether to plead guilty also involves assessing the respective consequences of a conviction after trial and by plea. See INS v. St. Cyr, 533 U. S. 289, 322–323. When those consequences are, from the defendant’s perspective, similarly dire, even the smallest chance of success at trial may look attractive. For Lee, deportation after some time in prison was not meaningfully different from deportation after somewhat less time; he says he accordingly would have rejected any plea leading to deportation in favor of throwing a “Hail Mary” at trial. Pointing to Strickland, the Government urges that “[a] defendant has no entitlement to the luck of a lawless deci- sionmaker.” 466 U. S., at 695. That statement, however, was made in the context of discussing the presumption of reliability applied to judicial proceedings, which has no place where, as here, a defendant was deprived of a proceeding altogether. When the inquiry is focused on what an individual defendant would have done, the possibility of even a highly improbable result may be pertinent to the extent it

Cite as: 582 U. S. ____ (2017) 3

Syllabus

would have affected the defendant’s decisionmaking. Pp. 8–10.
(c) Courts should not upset a plea solely because of post hoc assertions from a defendant about how he would have pleaded but for his attorney’s deficiencies. Rather, they should look to contemporaneous evidence to substantiate a defendant’s expressed preferences. In the unusual circumstances of this case, Lee has adequately demonstrated a reasonable probability that he would have rejected the plea had he known that it would lead to mandatory deportation: Both Lee and his attorney testified that “deportation was the determinative issue” to Lee; his responses during his plea colloquy confirmed the importance he placed on deportation; and he had strong connections to the United States, while he had no ties to South Korea.

The Government argues that Lee cannot “convince the court that a decision to reject the plea bargain would have been rational under the circumstances,” Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U. S. 356, 372, since deportation would almost certainly result from a trial. Unlike the Government, this Court cannot say that it would be irrational for someone in Lee’s position to risk additional prison time in exchange for holding on to some chance of avoiding deportation. Pp. 10–13.

825 F. 3d 311, reversed and remanded.

ROBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which KENNEDY, GINSBURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which ALITO, J., joined except as to Part I. GORSUCH, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

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My favorite quote from the Chief Justice’s opinion:

“There is no reason to doubt the paramount importance Lee placed on avoiding deportation. Deportation is always “a particularly severe penalty,” Padilla, 559 U. S., at 365 (internal quotation marks omitted), and we have “recognized that ‘preserving the client’s right to remain in the United States may be more important to the client than any potential jail sentence,’” id., at 368 (quoting St. Cyr, 533 U. S., at 322; alteration and some internal quotation

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12 JAE LEE v. UNITED STATES Opinion of the Court

marks omitted); see also Padilla, 559 U.S., at 364 (“[D]eportation is an integral part—indeed, sometimes the most important part—of the penalty that may be imposed on noncitizen defendants who plead guilty to specified crimes.” (footnote omitted)). At the time of his plea, Lee had lived in the United States for nearly three decades, had established two businesses in Tennessee, and was the only family member in the United States who could care for his elderly parents—both naturalized American citizens. In contrast to these strong connections to the United States, there is no indication that he had any ties to South Korea; he had never returned there since leaving as a child.”

My question:

When is the Court finally going to take the next logical step, ditch the fiction that “deportation from the United States is strictly a civil matter,” and formally recognize that deportation, at least of someone like Lee who has been legally admitted to the U.S. for permanent residence, is indeed punishment, of the severest type imaginable! Indeed, exile as punishment dates back to ancient times?

Also worthy of note, the DOJ and the Solicitor General continue to be spectacularly unsuccessful in convincing a conservative, law enforcement oriented Court of the merits of their extreme “hard-line” positions in immigration-related matters. I have previously predicted that loss of “face” and credibility by the SG before the Supremes is a likely consequence of representing the Trump Administration with Jeff Sessions as your boss. As the President himself is finding out, the hard way, once lost, credibility before the courts is difficult or impossible to regain.

PWS

06-25-48

Huge Win For TPS In 9th Circuit — Court Blasts DHS’s “Rube Goldberg” Interpretation — Allows Adjustment Of Status — Ramirez v. Brown

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2017/03/31/14-35633.pdf

“And the government’s interpretation is inconsistent with the TPS statute’s purpose because its interpretation completely ignores that TPS recipients are allowed to stay in the United States pursuant to that status and instead subjects them to a Rube Goldberg-like procedure under a different statute in order to become “admitted.” According to the government, an alien in Ramirez’s position who wishes to adjust his status would first need to apply for and obtain a waiver of his unlawful presence, which he could pursue from within the United States. See Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers of Inadmissibility for Certain Immediate Relatives, 78 Fed. Reg. 536-01, 536 (Jan. 3, 2013). Assuming that Ramirez demonstrates “extreme hardship” to his U.S. citizen wife and the waiver is granted, see 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(9)(B)(v), he would then need to exit the United States to seek an immigrant visa through processing at a U.S. embassy or consulate in another country. Such processing usually takes place in the alien’s home country—in this case, the country that the Attorney General has deemed unsafe— though it can occur in another country with approval from the Department of State and the third country. See 22 C.F.R. § 42.61(a). If he obtains the visa, Ramirez could then return to the United States to request admission as a lawful

permanent resident. To be sure, other nonimmigrants must leave the country to adjust their status, see 8 U.S.C. § 1255(i), but the invocation of these procedures in other circumstances does not undercut the clear language of the TPS statute on the “admitted” issue, and the convoluted nature of the government’s proposal underscores its unnatural fit with the overall statutory structure.

In short, § 1254a(f)(4) provides that a TPS recipient is considered “inspected and admitted” under §1255(a). Accordingly, under §§ 1254a(f)(4) and 1255, Ramirez, who has been granted TPS, is eligible for adjustment of status because he also meets the other requirements set forth in § 1255(a). USCIS’s decision to deny Ramirez’s application on the ground that he was not “admitted” was legally flawed, and the district court properly granted summary judgment to Ramirez and remanded the case to USCIS for further proceedings.”

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Although the 9th Circuit’s decision makes sense to me, and is consistent with a previous ruling by the 6th Circuit, the court notes that the 11th Circuit agreed with the DHS position. Consequently, there is a “circuit split,” and this issue probably will have to be resolved by the Supremes at some future point.

I had this argument come up before me in the Arlington Immigration Court. After conducting a full oral argument, I ruled, as the 9th Circuit did, in favor of the respondent’s eligibility to adjust. While the DHS “reserved” appeal, I do not believe that appeal was ever filed.

One of the things I loved about being a trial judge was the ability to hear “oral argument” from the attorneys in every merits case where there was an actual dispute.

PWS

04-01-17

 

6th Cir. Says BIA Improperly Required Respondent To Establish “Freedom From Surveillance” In Entry Case — MARCIAL LOPEZ V. SESSIONS

http://www.opn.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/17a0063p-06.pdf

“In applying this official-restraint test here, the parties agree that surveillance was the only form of official restraint that the government could have used against Lopez before his arrest. Because only the government customarily possesses evidence of surveillance and because an alien cannot prove what he cannot see, we treat surveillance as an affirmative defense, one that allows the government to show official restraint with respect to an individual who crosses the border without being stopped. In this instance, the Board made no factual finding as to whether Lopez was, or was not, under surveillance from the time he crossed the border until the time the border agents found him. The Board sidestepped the question. It instead found that Lopez’s capture a mile from the border and thirty-one minutes after his crossing did not suffice to prove that Lopez had evaded apprehension and was free from official restraint. That conclusion does not follow from the facts. No evidence shows that border agents surveilled Lopez when he crossed the border. And Lopez testified that he was looking for a hotel to check into, all consistent with the border patrol’s report that said Lopez was in “travel/seeking” when apprehended. A.R. 247. Unless and until the Board finds that Lopez was under surveillance when he crossed the border, that means Lopez was free from official restraint and had evaded inspection.”

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PWS

03/22/17