7TH CIR. “SCHOOLS” BIA IN BIA’S OWN AUTHORITY TO GRANT WAIVER — ARTICLE III THWARTS BIA’S ATTEMPT TO “GET TO NO!” — Matter of KHAN, 26 I&N Dec. 797 (BIA 2016) BLOWN AWAY — BAEZ-SANCHEZ V. SESSIONS! — There’s Is Now A “Circuit Split” With The 3rd Cir., Which “Went Along To Get Along” With The BIA!

rssExec.pl

Baez-Sanchez v. Sessions, 7th Cir., 10-06-17 (published)

PANEL:  Before BAUER, EASTERBROOK, and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION BY: Judge EASTERBROOK

KEY QUOTE:

LDG addressed the question whether the Attorney Gen‐ eral has the authority to waive the inadmissibility of an alien seeking a U visa. We assumed that, in removal proceedings, IJs may exercise all of the Attorney General’s discretionary powers over immigration. The panel did not justify that as‐ sumption, because the parties had not doubted its correct‐ ness. But after LDG the Board concluded that the assumption is mistaken. In re Khan, 26 I&N Dec. 797 (2016), holds that IJs have only such powers as have been delegated and that the power to waive an alien’s inadmissibility during proceedings seeking U visas is not among them. The Third Circuit has agreed with that conclusion. Sunday v. Attorney General, 832 F.3d 211 (3d Cir. 2016). We must decide in this case whether to follow Sunday and Khan.
Delegation from the Attorney General to immigration judges is a matter of regulation, and arguably pertinent reg‐ ulations are scattered through Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The BIA in Khan observed, correctly, that the panel in LDG had not mentioned 8 C.F.R. §§235.2(d), 1235.2(d), which omit any delegation to IJs of the power to waive an alien’s admissibility. And that’s true, for those regu‐ lations concern the powers of District Directors rather than the powers of IJs. The principal regulation that does cover IJs’ authority is 8 C.F.R. §1003.10, which provides in part:
(a) Appointment. The immigration judges are attorneys whom the Attorney General appoints as administrative judges within the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge to conduct specified classes of proceedings, including hearings under section 240 of the [Immigration and Nationality] Act. Immigration judges shall act as the Attorney General’s delegates in the cases that come be‐ fore them.
(b) Powers and duties. In conducting hearings under section 240 of the Act and such other proceedings the Attorney General may assign to them, immigration judges shall exercise the powers and duties delegated to them by the Act and by the Attorney General through regulation. In deciding the individual cases be‐ fore them, and subject to the applicable governing standards, immigration judges shall exercise their independent judgment and discretion and may take any action consistent with their au‐ thorities under the Act and regulations that is appropriate and necessary for the disposition of such cases. Immigration judges shall administer oaths, receive evidence, and interrogate, exam‐ ine, and cross‐examine aliens and any witnesses. Subject to §§ 1003.35 and 1287.4 of this chapter, they may issue administra‐ tive subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and the presenta‐ tion of evidence. In all cases, immigration judges shall seek to re‐ solve the questions before them in a timely and impartial man‐ ner consistent with the Act and regulations.

The Attorney General’s brief in this court observes that §1003.10(b) does not delegate to IJs any power to waive an alien’s inadmissibility. Sure enough, it doesn’t. But §1003.10(a) does. It says that “[i]mmigration judges shall act as the Attorney General’s delegates in the cases that come before them.” This sounds like a declaration that IJs may ex‐ ercise all of the Attorney General’s powers “in the cases that come before them”, unless some other regulation limits that general delegation. The BIA in Khan did not identify any provision that subtracts from the delegation in §1003.10(a). Nor did the Third Circuit in Sunday. Indeed, neither the BIA nor the Third Circuit cited §1003.10(a). We therefore adhere to the view of LDG that IJs may exercise the Attorney Gen‐ eral’s powers over immigration.”

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

In the end, of course, the respondent didn’t win much. The 7th Circuit remanded the case to the BIA to “exercise Chevron authority” on the question of whether the Attorney General himself has been stripped of authority to grant these waivers by the legislation that established the DHS as a separate entity.

But, we already know the answer to that question. The BIA has no desire to exercise jurisdiction over this waiver. Indeed, to do so, could turn out to be “career threatening” if you work for notorious xenophobe Jeff Sessions.

Moreover, even before the advent of Sessions, the BIA abandoned any pretense of  impartiality in exercising Chevron jurisdiction. The BIA usually looks for the interpretation least favorable to the respondent, that of the DHS, and adopts that as it “preferred interpretation.”  To do otherwise could hamper any Administration’s efforts to achieve enforcement objectives, thereby endangering the BIA as an institution. Moreover, agreeing with the private litigant in a published decision could undermine the efforts of the DOJ’s Office of Immigration Litigation to facilitate successful defense of petitions for review removal orders in the Article III Courts.

If this sounds like a strange scenario for a supposedly fair, impartial, and unbiased “court” to adopt, that’s because it is! The BIA is there primarily to slap a “patina of due process” on removal orders without really interfering with the DHS’s “removal railroad.” And that’s useful because of Chevron and the ability of  OIL and the DOJ to disingenuously claim that respondents receive “full due process” from the Immigration Courts and the BIA and that Article III Courts, therefore, ought not to worry themselves about the results. And, in a surprising number of cases, the Article IIIs oblige. They don’t want to be stuck having to redo tens of thousands of mass produced BIA appeals.

So, what’s not to like about this system? The Attorney General gets his wholly owned courts to churn out removal orders that look fair (but really aren’t in many cases). The BIA Appellate Judges get to keep their high paying jobs in the Falls Church Tower without having to personally “face up” to the poor folks they are railroading out of the country to places where their lives and futures are in danger. OIL gets to buttress its narrow readings of immigration statutes against immigrants with so-called “court decisions” from the BIA that really aren’t really decisions by independent decision makers. The DHS gets lots of removal orders to keep the “Enforcer In Chief” happy, plus they gain leverage to use against any U.S. Immigration Judge who keeps ruling in favor of respondents. “We’ll just take you to the BIA and get it reversed.”  The Article IIIs get to largely avoid moral or legal responsibility for this facade of fairness and due process. Out of sight (which folks are when they get removed), out of mind. We’re just “deferring” to the BIA. Don’t blame us! And, don’t forget Congress! They get to pretend like none of this is happening and claim they are “solving” the problem just by throwing a few more positions and a little more money at EOIR. No need for meaningful oversight into the charade of due process in the U.S. Immigration Courts. And, there are a few guys over on the GOP side of the Hill who hate immigrants and despise due process as much as Sessions does. They undoubtedly see this as a model for the entire U.S. justice system, or better yet, have lots of ideas on how to avoid the Immigration Courts entirely and make the “removal railway” run even faster.

The only folks who aren’t served are the poor folks looking to the U.S. Immigration Courts as courts of last resort to save their lives, preserve their futures, or at least listen sympathetically to their case for remaining. Some of these poor fools actually believe all they stuff about Americans being fair and humane. Those guys were really discombobulated when I had to tell them that while I had absolutely no doubt that some very ”bad things” were going to happen to them upon return, that just doesn’t matter to the U.S. legal system. While I sometimes had the unenviable task of “telling it like it is,” the BIA, the DOJ, and the Federal Courts really couldn’t care less if migrants end up getting killed, raped, or maimed upon return or if their families in the U.S. have to go on welfare. There’s just no place for them in our system.

The other folks who might not come out so well are the rest of America — the non-xenophobes. Most Americans aren’t actually xenophobes in the Trump-Sessions-MIller-Bannon-GOP Restrictionist tradition. While those of us who know what’s happening might be powerless to stop it, we can document it for future generations. We’re making a record.

In the age of information, none of this is going away or going to be swept under an “eternal carpet.” Someday there will be a “day or recokening” for our descendants, just like the one for those of us whose current privilege was built on enslaved African American labor and its many benefits as well as by a century of “Jim Crow” laws which siphoned off African American Citizens’ Constitutional rights and human dignity and conferred them instead on undeserving white folks in both the South and the North.

We have certainly demonstrated that we can be “tone deaf” to both the motivations and the actual effects of our current broken immigration policies. Indeed, there can be no better evidence of that than the election of Trump and empowerment of his xenophobe racist cronies like Sessions and Miller.

But, in the end, we won’t escape the judgement of history, nor will they. The ugliness of our current immigration policies and practices, and the “false debate” about them (there, in fact is no legitimate case for the “restrictionist agenda” — just a racial and cultural one), might be buried in a barrage of alt-right media and “Sessions bogus law and fact free pronouncements.” But, someday, those are going to look just as “legit’ as Conferederate broadsides or the racially hateful rhetoric of Jefferson Davis do today outside the membership of various hate groups and the alt-right.

PWS

10-07-17

FASCINATING “MUST READ:” “Dickie The P’s” Exit Interview With The NYT — See How Being A Judge Transformed A Conservative “Economic Analyst” Into A Pragmatic Humanist!

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/09/11/us/politics/judge-richard-posner-retirement.html?module=WatchingPortal®ion=c-column-middle-span-region&pgType=Homepage&action=click&mediaId=thumb_square&state=standard&contentPlacement=1&version=internal&contentCollection=www.nytimes.com&contentId=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2017%2F09%2F11%2Fus%2Fpolitics%2Fjudge-richard-posner-retirement.html&eventName=Watching-article-click&_r=0&referer

KEY QUOTE:

“The basic thing is that most judges regard these people [unrepresented litigants] as kind of trash not worth the time of a federal judge,” he said.”

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

Read the full, very revealing interview at the above link.

I do hope that Judge P will turn his attention and boundless energy to the way that unrepresented litigants are routinely mistreated, denied due process, and abused in our U.S. immigration Court system. Children forced to present their own asylum claims? He could also shed some needed light on how the DOJ is intentionally attacking and wearing down the NGOs and pro bono attorneys, who are indigent migrants’ sole lifeline to due process, with Aimless Docket Reshuffling (“ADR”).

I was interested in how he described the staff attorney system in the 7th Circuit as placing the real adjuducation of appeals in the hands of staff, with Article III Judges all too often merely “signing off” or “rubber stamping” results. Most Circuit Court staff attorney systems were instituted to deal with the overwhelming flow of petitions to review BIA decisions following the so-called “Ashcroft Purge and Reforms” that largely eliminated critical thinking and dialogue at the BIA and turned it into the “Falls Church Service Center.”

The current BIA is largely a staff-driven organization. That the Article III Courts have replicated the same system resulting in the same problems is disturbing, and shows why due process for migrants is being given short shrift throughout our legal system.

The good news: The New Due Process Army knows what’s going on in the system and is positioned to carry the fight to the entrenched status quo, for decades if necessary, until our legal system delivers on the constitutional guarantee of due process for all.

Many thanks to my good friend and colleague Judge Dorothy Harbeck for sending this item my way!

PWS

09-11-17

ABA JOURNAL: “Dickie The P” Reportedly Quit 7th Over Rift With Colleagues About Treatment Of Pro Se Litigants — Perhaps He Should Check Out In Person How Sessions’s DOJ & Captive Immigration Courts Intentionally Abuse & Deny Due Process To Unrepresented Migrants!

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/why_did_posner_retire_he_cites_difficulty_with_his_colleagues_on_one_issue/?utm_source=maestro&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly_email

Debra Cassens Weiss reports:

“Judge Richard Posner had intended to stay on the federal appellate bench until he reached 80, an age he believed to be the upper limit for federal judges.

But on Friday, at the age of 78, he abruptly announced his retirement from the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, effective the next day. The reason is due to “difficulty” with his colleagues over the court’s treatment of people who represent themselves, he told the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin in an email.

“I was not getting along with the other judges because I was (and am) very concerned about how the court treats pro se litigants, who I believe deserve a better shake,” Posner said. The issue will be addressed in an upcoming book that will explain his views and those of his colleagues “in considerable detail,” Posner said.

Posner said he did not time his retirement to allow President Donald Trump to appoint his replacement. “I don’t think it’s proper for judges or justices to make their decision to retire depend on whom they think the president will appoint as replacements,” he told the Law Bulletin. With Posner’s retirement, the 7th Circuit has four vacancies.

Posner was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, and was widely considered a conservative. He has since written more than 3,300 judicial opinions, and not all please conservatives, according to the Law Bulletin. On the one hand, he struck down the Illinois ban on carrying weapons in public, called for fewer restrictions on domestic surveillance, and limited class certification in class-action lawsuits. But he has also written opinions favoring abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

In a 2012 interview with National Public Radio, Posner said he has become less conservative “since the Republican Party started becoming goofy.” But he won’t remain above the fray in politics.

He told the Law Bulletin that his retirement will allow him to assist his cat, Pixie, in a run for president in 2020. Above the Law had endorsed Pixie last year, but Posner was unable to participate in the campaign.”

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

Perhaps “Dickie The P” can take some time away from Pixie to visit the kangaroo courts that DOJ has established in prisons intentionally located in out of the way places where traumatized individuals seeking refuge from life-threatening conditions are held in substandard conditions and forced to represent themselves in “death penalty cases” involving some off the most complex and (intentionally) obtuse concepts in modern American law.

Love him or loathe him (or both), Posner is a prolific writer and thinker whose views can’t be ignored or swept under the table. What’s happening in the U.S. Immigration Courts under Sessions is a national disgrace. A high profile legal commentator like Posner, who frankly doesn’t care whom he pisses off, could shed some light on the travesty now passing for due process in the Immigration Courts and how too many of his former Article III colleagues have turned their backs on their constitutional duties rather than taking a strong legal stand against intentional abuse of the most vulnerable  by our legal system. A voice like Posner’s advocating for an Article I Court would be heard!

PWS

09-08-15

U.S. IMMIGRATION JUDGES CAN BREATHE EASIER: Judge Richard “Dickie The P” Posner Retires — 7th Cir. Jurist Was Caustic, Unrelenting Critic Of U.S. Immigration Courts!

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-judge-richard-posner-retires-met-20170901-story.html

The Chicago Tribune reports:

“Judge Richard A. Posner, one of the nation’s leading appellate judges, whose acerbic wit attracted an almost cultlike following within legal circles, is retiring after more than three decades with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

Posner, 78, is stepping down effective Saturday, according to a news release Friday afternoon from the 7th Circuit. He was appointed to the court by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and served as its chief judge from 1993 to 2000.

Posner said in a statement he has written more than 3,300 opinions in his time on the bench and is “proud to have promoted a pragmatic approach to judging.” He said he spent his career applying his view that “judicial opinions should be easy to understand and that judges should focus on the right and wrong in every case.”

Posner’s biting and often brilliant written opinions as well as his unrelenting questioning from the bench have made him an icon of the court for years.

 

Known as a conservative at the time of his appointment, Posner’s views skewed more libertarian through the years, and he often came down in favor of more liberal issues such as gay marriage and abortion rights.

Lawyers who regularly appeared before the 7th Circuit knew that when Posner was on a panel they had to be ready for a line of questioning that could come out of left field. The salty judge was known to abruptly cut off lawyers who he thought were off-point, often with a dismissive “No, no, no!” delivered in his trademark nasal tone.”

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

Read the full article at the link.

Here’s a classic Posner comment on the U.S. Immigration Courts from a 2016 case,  Chavarria-Reyes v. Lynch:

“POSNER, Circuit Judge, dissenting. This case involves a typical botch by an immigration judge. No surprise: the Immigration Court, though lodged in the Justice Department, is the least competent federal agency, though in fairness it may well owe its dismal status to its severe underfunding by Congress, which has resulted in a shortage of immigration judges that has subjected them to crushing workloads.”

See my prior blog on Chavarria-Reyes:

http://immigrationcourtside.com/2017/01/02/the-u-s-immigration-courts-vision-is-all-about-best-practices-guaranteeing-fairness-and-due-process-7th-circuits-judge-posner-thinks-its-a-farce-blames-congressional-underfunding/

Judge Posner was always provocative, often entertaining, and eminently quotable. While I found some of his commentary on the Immigration Courts and the BIA, and particularly some of his harsh words about individual Immigration Judges, to be “over the top,” his blunt criticism of the failure to provide due process to migrants and his recognition that the DOJ and Congress shared the majority of the responsibility for screwing up the system was spot on.

He was always a “player,” and he will be missed even by those who disagreed with him. I look forward to a “Posner commentary” on the state of due process in the Immigration Courts in the Sessions regime.

PWS

09-03-17

 

 

SPLIT 7th CIRCUIT VACATES EXPEDITED REMOVAL — FINDS IL OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE NOT AN AGFEL — VICTORIA-FAUSTINO V. SESSIONS

http://media.ca7.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/rssExec.pl?Submit=Display&Path=Y2017/D08-01/C:16-1784:J:Williams:aut:T:fnOp:N:2003083:S:0

Key quote:

“In light of the Ninth Circuit’s decision to remand the petition to the Board for further proceedings, we will not defer to the In re Valenzuela Gallardo articulation of what constitutes a crime relating to the obstruction of justice under the INA. See Cruz v. Sessions, No. 15‐60857, 2017 WL 2115209, at *1 (5th Cir. May 12, 2017) (remanding petition to the Board for further proceedings because the Board relied on “the now‐vacated Valenzuela Gallardo decision … .”) (unpub.). This leaves us with the definition as articulated in In re Espinoza‐Gonzalez. Because the Illinois statute under which Victoria‐Faustino was convicted does not require interference with the proceed‐

No. 16‐1784 13

ings of a tribunal, it cannot be said that the statute categorically fits within the meaning of the INA’s definition of obstruction of justice. Therefore, we must remand this petition to the Board for further proceedings. We caution that we do not, and need not, determine at this juncture whether Victoria‐Faustino is removable under the INA. Rather, we hold that Victoria‐Faustino was improperly placed in the expedited removal proceedings based upon his 2000 Illinois conviction under 720 ILL. COMP. STAT. 5/31‐4.”

PANEL: CIRCUIT JUDGES FLAUM, MANION, and WILLIAMS

OPINION BY: JUDGE WILLIAMS

DISSENTING OPINION: JUDGE MANION

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

Interesting that the 7th Circuit remands to the BIA, even though it does not appear that proceedings were ever conducted before a U.S. Immigration Judge or appealed to the BIA. In dissent, Judge Manion found that 1) the respondent failed to exhaust administrative remedies, thereby depriving the court of jurisdiction, and 2) that the crime of obstruction of justice under IL law is an agfel.

PWS

08-03-17

7TH FINDS BIA MISAPPLIED SUPREME’S MONCRIEFFE DECISION — IL MARIHUANA CONVICTION NOT DRUG TRAFFICKING CRIME — MING WEI CHEN V. SESSIONS

http://media.ca7.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/rssExec.pl?Submit=Display&Path=Y2017/D07-20/C:17-1130:J:Wood:aut:T:fnOp:N:1997576:S:

“The Board erred by reading Moncrieffe as if that decision interpreted the CSA’s term “small amount.” Nothing in Moncrieffe supports the conclusion that the possession of a tad more than 30 grams of marijuana—the lowest amount punishable under 720 ILCS § 550/5(d)—can never be punished as a federal misdemeanor. The Board erred as a matter of law in this respect, when it found that Chen’s conviction under that provision qualifies as an aggravated felony.

We GRANT the petition for review and remand to give the Board the opportunity to decide whether to exercise its discretion to grant cancellation of removal.”

PANEL:

WOOD, Chief Judge, and BAUER and FLAUM, Circuit Judges.

OPINION BY: Chief Judge Wood

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

Will the BIA, the DOJ, and the DHS ever get the Supreme’s message on trying to expand the reach of the aggravated felony provisions to crimes that really aren’t aggravated, and sometimes aren’t even felonies?

PWS

07-21-17

 

7th Slams IJ, BIA For Mishandling Of Credibility, Corroboration Issues In Moldovan Asylum Case — COJOCARI V. SESSIONS!

http://media.ca7.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/rssExec.pl?Submit=Display&Path=Y2017/D07-11/C:16-3941:J:Hamilton:aut:T:fnOp:N:1992923:S:0

Key quote:

“We do not often see a timely asylum case where the applicant is a citizen of a country infamous for corruption and political oppression and presents a broadly consistent narrative and substantial corroboration. Yet Cojocari has done just that.

No. 16‐3941 27

Granted, his testimony includes a handful of minor discrep‐ ancies, and a couple of these—notably the timeline involving his university enrollment and the details of his October 2009 hospitalization—might have supported a plausible adverse credibility finding. But most of the discrepancies on which the immigration judge relied are so trivial or illusory that we have no confidence in her analysis or in the Board’s decision resting on that analysis.

Cojocari is entitled to a fresh look at his prior testimony and the evidence he supplied in support of his application for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the CAT. We therefore grant the petition for review. We urge the Board to assign this case to a different immigration judge for the remand proceedings. That is the best way to ensure that Cojocari gets the fair shake he deserves. E.g., Castilho de Oliveira v. Holder, 564 F.3d 892, 900 (7th Cir. 2009); Tadesse v. Gonzales, 492 F.3d 905, 912 (7th Cir. 2007); Bace v. Ashcroft, 352 F.3d 1133, 1141 (7th Cir. 2003); cf. Cir. R. 36 (7th Cir. 2016) (cases remanded for new trial are presumptively assigned to a different district judge).

On remand, the immigration judge should allow counsel for both sides to supplement the record if there is additional evidence (such as Cojocari’s medical book or an updated re‐ port on the political landscape in Moldova) that would assist the judge in assessing the risk of persecution or torture that Cojocari would face if deported.

The petition for review is GRANTED, the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals is VACATED, and the case is REMANDED to the Board for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

PANEL: Chief Judge Wood, Circuit Judges Manion and Hamilton.

OPINION BY: Judge Hamilton

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

Gee, who needs training when things like this can get through the system?

 

PWS

07-13-17

 

Unpublished 7th Cir. Provides Sound Advice For U.S. Immigration Judges Who Want to Insure Due Process W/O Becoming Potted Plants! — Hernandez-Alvarez v. Sessions

http://media.ca7.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/rssExec.pl?Submit=Display&Path=Y2017/D06-27/C:16-3516:J:PerCuriam:aut:T:npDp:N:1985804:S:0

“Next, Hernandez‐Alvarez argues that the judge violated his due process rights by “improperly assum[ing] the role of counsel for the Government.” He asserts that the judge had a “negative attitude” toward his case, “frequently interrupted” his lawyer, and “took over entire lines of questioning.” The judge, he adds, prejudged the case.1

This due process challenge raises a constitutional claim that confers jurisdiction over this part of the petition. See 8 U.S.C. § 1252(a)(2)(D), Kuschchak v. Ashcroft, 366 F.3d 597, 602 (7th Cir. 2004). On the merits, however, the Board did not err by deciding that the judge gave Hernandez‐Alvarez a fair hearing.

An immigration judge has the authority to “interrogate, examine, and cross‐ examine” a petitioner and any other witnesses. 8 U.S.C. § 1229a(b)(1). Immigration judges carry heavy caseloads and do not have time to waste. Like an appellate court, a trial judge in a bench trial can raise questions and try to focus the presentations to the court based on the judge’s understanding of the facts and law. Such efforts do not show that the judge has abandoned an impartial and neutral stance or has prejudged the case. See Barragan‐ Ojeda v. Sessions, 853 F.3d 374, 381–82 (7th Cir. 2017) (“When the IJ does not demonstrate ‘impatience, hostility, or a predisposition against’ an alien’s claim, and where the questions assisted in the development of the record on relevant points, the mere fact that the IJ elicited testimony is not inappropriate and certainly does not raise due process concerns.”); Kharkhan v. Ashcroft, 336 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2003). On the other hand, as

1 Hernandez‐Alvarez relies on the following statement by the judge: “Well, Mr. Metcalf [Hernandez‐Alvarez’s attorney], I don’t see any point in continuing on with the respondent’s case. I just don’t see him eligible for cancellation of removal. I mean, you can continue the questioning, but one, you know, the records show that he has the ’99 conviction for domestic battery causing bodily injury; the Seventh Circuit has found that to be a crime of violence, and so he would be precluded from cancellation of removal eligibility statutorily. Secondly, he has a 2013 for domestic battery or aggravated battery, and he served approximately 150 days in jail. In addition, it’s only recently that the respondent by court order has been reestablishing a relationship with his children. So this case doesn’t even come close to being eligible for cancellation of removal. So do you want to ask some other questions concerning those topics, good moral character?”

No. 16‐3516 Page 5

we explained in Barragan‐Ojeda, that authority can be misused. We will order new hearings where judges have been hostile or abusive or have prevented rather than facilitated presentation of an alien’s case. 853 F.3d at 381, citing Rodriguez Galicia v. Gonzales, 422 F.3d 529, 539 (7th Cir. 2005); Podio v. I.N.S., 153 F.3d 506, 510 (7th Cir. 1998).

In this case, the judge posed appropriate questions that probed Hernandez‐ Alvarez’s statutory eligibility for relief. At the key hearing, both lawyers were new to the case. The judge was already familiar with the relevant circumstances, which did not need to be repeated. The judge’s questions about the extent of the hardship the children would suffer if Hernandez‐Alvarez were removed, the nature of his past criminal convictions, and his physical presence in the United States were right on target. They framed the challenge for Hernandez‐Alvarez and his lawyer, and the judge invited them to present additional evidence.

The process was similar to an appellate argument when a judge explains his or her understanding of the difficulties the lawyer’s client faces and invites response. Hernandez‐Alvarez has not identified any evidence that the judge prevented him from introducing, and his brief overlooks several opportunities the judge gave him to testify as he pleased. See Perez‐Fuentes, 842 F.3d at 511 (explaining that a petitioner does “not have a meaningful opportunity to be heard” when relevant evidence has been wrongly excluded). We also reject the argument that the judge prejudged the case. In the passage quoted in the footnote above, the judge reacted to the facts and evidence, identified the obvious and serious problems with Hernandez‐Alvarez’s application for cancellation of removal, and invited him to address them. That’s what a judge is supposed to do. Accordingly, the portion of the petition for judicial review that is not barred by 8 U.S.C. § 1252(a)(2)(B)(i) is DENIED.”

PANEL: Circuit Judges Posner, Kanne, Hamilton

Per Curiam

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

PWS

07-02-17

 

 

7th Cir. Finds Gays Protected By 1964 Civil Rights Act

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/04/04/court-discrimination-against-gays-is-prohibited-by-federal-law/?hpid=hp_rhp-more-top-stories_no-name%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.c296389bf33a

Sandhya Somashekhar reports in the Washington Post:

“A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that workers may not be fired for their sexual orientation, becoming the highest court in the country to find that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gays from workplace discrimination and setting up a possible Supreme Court battle.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, based in Chicago, found that instructor Kimberly Hively was improperly passed over for a full-time job at Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend, Ind., because she was a lesbian. While the Civil Rights Act does not explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, it bars sex discrimination; the court concluded that the college engaged in sex discrimination by stereotyping Hively based on her gender.

“Hively represents the ultimate case of failure to conform to the female stereotype … she is not heterosexual,” Chief Judge Diane Wood wrote in Tuesday’s opinion. “Hively’s claim is no different from the claims brought by women who were rejected for jobs in traditionally male workplaces, such as fire departments, construction, and policing.”

The ruling echoes those of a number of lower courts, which have also concluded that discrimination against gays is a prohibited form of sex stereotyping. It conflicts, however, with others, including a ruling last month by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, which interpreted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act more narrowly and found that sexual orientation is not a protected class under that law.

A split in the circuits could set up a clash before the Supreme Court.”

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

Wonder how Jeff Sessions and his pals are going to react to this one? But, no matter how much some social conservatives and “alt righters” would like to “turn back the clock” to a time when people were “free” to act on their biases and prejudices against others, the cause of LGBT rights is not going to go away.

PWS

04-02-17

 

Judge Posner Slams BIA For Ignoring Evidence Of Worsening Conditions In South Sudan — Deng Arej v. Sessions — 7th Cir.

http://media.ca7.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/rssExec.pl?Submit=Display&Path=Y2017/D03-28/C:15-2061:J:Posner:aut:T:fnOp:N:1937333:S:0

“Arej has conceded that he qualifies as a criminal alien under 8 U.S.C. § 1252(a)(2)(C), so our review of the Board’s decision is limited to issues of law. 8 U.S.C. § 1252(a)(2)(D). But it was a serious legal error for the Board to have ignored Arej’s evidence. As we noted in Iglesias v. Mukasey, 540 F.3d 528, 531 (7th Cir. 2008), the Board cannot make a reasoned decision to deny a motion to reopen if it ignores the evidence that a petitioner presents.

Furthermore, a competent immigration service would not ignore world events. The dramatically worsening conditions in South Sudan have been widely reported, with the young nation described as “cracking apart” and United Nations officials raising concerns about genocide. See, e.g., Jeffrey Gettleman, “War Consumes South Sudan, a Young Nation Cracking Apart,” New York Times, March 4, 2017, https://nyti.ms/2lHeELw. “Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed”; “every major cease‐fire that has been

No. 15‐2061 5

painstakingly negotiated by African and Western officials has been violated”; and “dangerous fissures are opening up within the South Sudanese military.” Id. And time doesn’t stand still. The Board’s order dismissing Arej’s appeal from the immigration judge’s denial of his motion to reopen was issued on May 8, 2015—almost two years ago. Considering that Arej has not yet been removed and that the order was perfunctory, the Board should consider whether he should be allowed to present evidence concerning current conditions in the two Sudans. See 8 C.F.R. § 1003.2(a).

The petition for review is therefore granted, the decision of the Board vacated, and the case remanded to the Board for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

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

Seems like a South Sudan case would be a “no brainer” for reopening by the BIA. Not sure we even deport folks there. And, actually reviewing the evidence carefully would be a great first step toward becoming “the world’s best administrative tribunals, guaranteeing fairness and due process for all.” Or, has the vision become just a slogan from bygone years? He’s probably only eligible to apply for withholding or CAT, though, because of the nature of his criminal conviction.

PWS

03/29/17

MATT CAMERON IN THE BAFFLER: Trump’s Immigration Policies Promise To Make A Bad System Even Worse

https://thebaffler.com/outbursts/strangers-in-a-cruel-land?utm_campaign=Newsletter&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=45427323&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–SrQwaCmT1prkolHBKrPKHSN4djFsqLNoveeB1BWE10ZO3rscc5BcXMhmwFedKjGnCbzzw56UKYKQ-sIulUP96Hwj8rw&_hsmi=45427323

“Donald Trump’s presidential campaign capitalized on a familiar brand of nativist anti-immigrant slander usually reserved for our nation’s most desperate times. It was an ugly old vein to mine, but now that he’s managed to strike electoral gold there, he is not wrong to view his election as a mandate to carry out his promise to enforce federal immigration law to its fullest extent. This would be alarming to friends of the Constitution under any circumstances, but especially so given Trump’s open embrace of white supremacy—as a concept, if not a movement—in the primaries. We haven’t encountered such an openly bigoted presidential campaign on the right since Pat Buchanan’s last failed insurgent run at the GOP nomination in 1996, and we have never seen an avowedly white-nationalist leader accede to the Oval Office.
Nor should any of us expect the chastening experience of actual governing to temper his outlook. Trump has proven at every opportunity that he is all but ineducable about even the simplest details of how immigration to the United States actually works. And this, it turns out, is probably one of the few things he has in common with a considerable majority of Americans.”

. . . .

The immigration system I keep hearing about from pundits and politicians (all of whom should know better) is almost entirely unmoored from actual fact. It seems to be a chimerical pastiche of the one we had before Ellis Island closed, the one we had just before the moon landing, and some sort of rosy Tomorrowland fantasy in which visas would be awarded to the undocumented if only they would do it the right way. This is not the system I work with every day.
When a white, native-born American says, “my family came here the right way,” what the speaker almost invariably means is that one or more of his ancestors came to the United States without a visa during a time of virtually unrestricted European migration. They boarded a trans-Atlantic ocean liner, stood in line at an immigration inspection station for the better part of a day, answered a standard series of twenty-nine questions, were subjected to a medical exam, and were admitted indefinitely to the United States. That’s how my Scottish great-grandparents did it in 1916. If you were born in the United States with European ancestors, it’s probably how you came to be here too. That system ended in 1924. Its successor, the “national origins” quota system (a more restricted but still relatively open “line”), was abolished in 1965. But I still regularly meet well-meaning fellow citizens who believe that anyone who deserves a chance can simply “fill out the forms,” “get in line,” and “come the right way, like my family did.” At which point, I have to patiently explain that they can’t.

For most of my undocumented neighbors, in East Boston and beyond, there are no forms. There is no line. There never was. Telling an undocumented Mexican dishwasher that he should “wait in line, like my family did” is no more realistic than advising him to switch to the same model of iPhone your great-grandfather used. Yet the lie persists, with nearly every presidential candidate since George H. W. Bush invoking the imaginary “line.”

. . . .

[Bill] O’Reilly was too charitable. There is no reason to believe that Trump has ever understood the basic precepts of due-process protection. Commitment to due process would have been fundamentally incompatible with Trump’s record as a casino magnate, a New York City landlord, or an authoritarian game show host given unlimited license to “fire” contestants at whim.

Trump has signaled the likely place of due process in his immigration system by promising to immediately deport 2 to 3 million “criminal aliens.” This staggering number, nearly the entire urban population of Chicago, would represent more deportations than Obama (the current record-holder) completed in eight years, and more than twice as many as were carried out during Operation Wetback.

. . . .

In fifty-eight immigration courts nationwide, immigration judges are operating (per a recent study) at a degree of mental stress equivalent to that of an emergency-room doctor. “This case,” sneered federal judge Richard Posner in a recent dissent, “involves a typical botch by an immigration judge.” Posner, punching down from the lofty heights of a federal appeals court, went on to concede graciously that the immigration court’s status as “the least competent federal agency,” might have something to do with congressional underfunding and the resultant “crushing workloads.”
Our nation’s roughly 250 immigration judges [now approximately 305] are now responsible for managing a record backlog of more than five hundred thousand pending deportation cases, with thousands more pouring into the system each day. The judges I appear before in the Boston immigration court are humane and learned experts who work long hours, in circumstances that couldn’t be less familiar to Judge Posner, but they are as susceptible to human error as any judge anywhere.

In an executive order signed within days of his inauguration, Trump authorized Congress to triple the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on the ground. He has made no mention of any plans to extend the courts the same courtesy, but this new flow of cases simply cannot be sustained within today’s judicial plumbing.”

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

Cameron’s full, hard-hitting article is definitely worth a read. And, as he points out, quite sadly, it’s likely to get much worse from a due process standpoint before it gets better.

I also think he is right that few U.S. Court of Appeals Judges would be able to survive working as U.S. Immigration Judges under today’s incredibly difficult circumstances and conditions.

PWS

03/15/17

 

Judge Posner, Split 7th Circuit, Slam IJ, BIA On Denial Of Protection To Honduran With HIV!

http://media.ca7.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/rssExec.pl?Submit=Display&Path=Y2017/D01-19/C:15-2619:J:Posner:aut:T:fnOp:N:1898108:S:0

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

The case, full text at the above link, is VELASQUEZ‐BANEGAS, v. LYNCH.  

I agree with Judge Posner’s bottom line that protection should have been granted on this record.  But, I think that he was overly harsh on the Immigration Judge.

These would be difficult cases for any judge at any level of our system.  One of the significant problems is that the Appellate Division of the Immigration Court, the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) has failed to provide adequate positive guidance on granting protection.

The overwhelming number of BIA precedent cases dealing with asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture are denials by the BIA.  But, even with asylum grant levels leveling off and actually falling slightly over the past several years, the majority of applicants for protection actually qualify for some form of relief at the trial level based on fear of persecution or torture.

The unnecessarily negative approach of the BIA in its precedent decisions both gives a misleading negative guidance to Immigration Judges and creates the impression with U.S. Court of Appeals Judges that the system is even more skewed against applicants than it actually is.

Although I agreed with the majority in Velasquez, I think that the concluding paragraph of the Judge Ripple’s dissent also makes some good points:

“Immigration cases always pose a special burden on United States judges. As Jacques Maritain so eloquently put it: “We are all wounded souls.” See Jacques Maritain, Réflexions sur lʹAmerique 87–91 (1958). Every American, including every United States judge, has a family memory that includes ancestors who came from some place where life was not as good as it is here. The DNA of our national character makes it very difficult to tell an individual that he cannot enjoy the same liberty, safety, and security that we enjoy. When the individual suffers from a medical condition that cannot be treated as well in the country to which he is returned, basic humanitarian values make the task even more difficult. No doubt, those who must make necessary policy choices and those who must enforce those choices feel, or should feel, that same angst. But immigration must be regulated, and, in this Country, national policy is set by Congress and enforced by the Executive. Our own task as judges is limited. Because the immigration judge’s determinations were supported by substantial evidence, I respectfully dissent.”

Food for thought.

PWS

01/23/17

 

David Leopold Warns About Possible Five-Point Attack On Immigrants By Attorney General Sessions

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/five-chilling-ways-senator-jeff-sessions-could-attack-immigrants-as-attorney-general_us_5870022ce4b099cdb0fd2ef7

“As the nation’s top lawyer, head of the immigration court, and civil rights officer, Jeff Sessions would have access to multiple tools to harm immigrants and undermine due process. Given his rhetoric and record as a United States Senator, as well as his association with anti-immigrant extremists, there is every reason to believe he would use all of them.

Here are five ways Sessions could attempt to undermine immigrants and immigration policy if confirmed as Attorney General:

Impose his radical, anti-immigrant ideology on decisions by the federal immigration courts;

Expand the number of immigrants who are deported even though they qualify for a green card or asylum;

Reduce access to legal counsel and information about immigrants’ legal rights;

Criminalize immigrants by bringing trumped up charges against ordinary workers; and

Strong arm state and local police to become Trump deportation agents

Of course, any attempt Sessions would make to undermine civil and due process rights will be met by strong litigation from the outside. But the U.S. Senate should block his confirmation from the start, as Senator Sessions is highly unqualified for this position and has showed a profound disregard for civil and human rights.”

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

Sorry, David, but Jeff Sessions has the votes to be confirmed as the next Attorney General.  Those who don’t like that can rant, but that’s not going to change the reality that Donald Trump won the Presidential election and the Republicans firmly control both Houses of Congress.

When you lose elections at the national and state levels, like the Democrats did, you end up with next to no leverage on appointments or policies unless you can reach across the aisle and strike a chord with at least some Republicans.  Right now, it appears that all Republican Senators, and probably a few Democrats, ewill vote for Senator Sessions’s confirmation.  Whatever his pros and cons, Senator Sessions appears to have had the wisdom to be polite and cordial to his colleagues and to occasionally reach across the aisle on issues of common interest.  Rightly or wrongly, that seems to count for a lot when current or former Senators come up for confirmation to Executive Branch positions.

So barring a “bombshell” next week, and I must say his record has been “flyspecked” — regardless of what he put in the Judiciary Committee questionnaire — that’s unlikely.  For better or worse, Senator Session’s views on a wide variety of subjects and his conduct as a public servant over many decades are a matter of public record.  Nothing in that record seems to have given pause to any of his Republican Senate colleagues.

That being said, it woulds be nice to think that upon hearing some of the criticisms, Jeff Sessions will reflect on the huge differences between being a Senator from Alabama, the Attorney General of Alabama, and a U.S. Attorney for Alabama, and the wider responsibilities of being the chief law enforcement official, legal adviser, and litigator representing all of the People of the United States, not just the Trump Administration.

David is, of course, correct to focus on Attorney General Session’s vast authority over immigration.  He will control a huge and critically important U.S. Immigration Court System currently sporting a backlog of more than one-half million cases and suffering from chronically inadequate judicial administration and lack of basic technology like e-filing.  While there certainly is an interrelationship among civil rights, human rights, and due process in the Immigration Courts, there is every reason to believe that Attorney General Session’s biggest impact will be in the field of immigration.

If things go as David predicts, then the battle over fundamental fairness and due process in immigration policy and the Immigration Courts is likely to be fought out in the Article III Federal Courts, which, unlike the Immigration Courts, aren’t under Executive control.  That will have some drawbacks for everyone, but particularly for the Trump Administration.

And, if Sessions is wise, he’ll look back at what happened when the Bush Administration tried to promote a “rubber stamp” approach to justice and due process in the Immigration Courts.  The U.S. Courts of Appeals were outraged at the patent lack of due process and fundamental fairness as “not quite ready for prime time” cases were “streamlined” and thrown into the Courts of Appeals for review with glaring factual errors and remarkable legal defects. Not totally incidentally, this also dramatically increased their workload, with judicial review of immigration matters occupying a majority of the docket in several prominent circuits.

As a result, cases were returned to the Board of Immigration Appeals, who then returned them to the Immigration Courts for “re-dos,” in droves. The Courts of Appeals lost faith in the Executive’s ability to run a fundamentally fair, high quality Immigration Court System, and basically placed the Immigration Courts into “judicial receivership” until things stabilized at least somewhat. The waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars caused by this “haste makes waste” approach was beyond contemplation and, for a time, threatened to paralyze the entire American justice system.

Additionally, it would be a huge mistake for the Trump Administration to view the Bush Administration’s Immigration Court debacle as the product of “bleeding heart liberal appellate judges” appointed by President Bill Clinton.  The criticism from Article III Judges cut across political lines.  Two of the most outspoken judicial critics of the Bush Administration’s handling of the U.S. Immigration Courts were Republican appointees:  then Chief Judge John M. Walker, Jr. of the Second Circuit and Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit. Indeed, Judge Walker is a cousin of former President George H.W. Bush.

Obviously, those who favor greater immigration enforcement won the election and are going to have a chance to try out their policies. But, “enhanced enforcement” is likely to be effective only if we have a fair, impartial, and totally due process oriented Immigration Court System.

In other words, the Immigration Courts must be a “level playing field” with judges who, in the words of Chief Justice Roberts, play the role of “impartial umpires” between those seeking to stay in our country and those seeking to remove them.  Results from such a due-process oriented system would be more likely to inspire confidence from the U.S. Courts of Appeals, thereby increasing the stature of the Immigration Courts and their ability to achieve final resolutions at the initial, and most cost-efficient, level of our justice system.  Due process and fairness in the Immigration Court System should be a nonpartisan common interest no matter where one stands on other aspects of  the “immigration debate.”

We are about to find out what Attorney General Jeff Sessions has in mind for the U.S. Immigration Courts and the rest of the U.S. justice system.  I’m hoping for the best, but preparing to assert the essential constitutional requirement for due process in the Immigration Courts if, as David predicts, it comes under attack.

Due Process Forever!

PWS

01/07/16

 

 

 

 

The U.S. Immigration Court’s Vision Is All About Best Practices, Guaranteeing Fairness, And Due Process — 7th Circuit’s Judge Posner Thinks It’s A “Farce” — Blames Congressional Underfunding!

https://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/immigration/b/insidenews/archive/2016/12/31/let-39-s-close-out-2016-with-a-posner-dissent-chavarria-reyes-v-lynch.aspx?Redirected=true

“POSNER, Circuit Judge, dissenting. This case involves a typical botch by an immigration judge. No surprise: the Im‐ migration Court, though lodged in the Justice Department, is the least competent federal agency, though in fairness it may well owe its dismal status to its severe underfunding by Congress, which has resulted in a shortage of immigration judges that has subjected them to crushing workloads. See, e.g., Julia Preston, “Deluged Immigration Courts, Where Cases Stall for Years, Begin to Buckle,” NY Times, Dec. 1, 2016, www.nytimes.com/2016/12/01/us/deluged‐immigratio n‐courts‐where‐cases‐stall‐for‐years‐begin‐to‐buckle.html?_r =0 (visited Dec. 30, 2016).”

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

Go on over to Dan Kowalski on LexisNexis Immigration Community and read the full opinion and Judge P’s full dissent in Chavarria-Reyes v. Lynch.

Also, read Julia Preston’s article in the NY Times, cited by Judge Posner, quoting (and picturing) me here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/01/us/deluged-immigration-courts-where-cases-stall-for-years-begin-to-buckle.html

PWS

01/02/17