GOBBLEDYGOOK CENTRAL: After 12 Years Kicking Around The System, 9th Circuit Declines Chevron Deference To Matter of Cortez Canales, 25 I. & N. Dec. 301 (BIA 2010) & Punts Issue Back To BIA — Lozano-Arredondo v. Sessions — Why “Chevron Must Go!” — Somewhere In This Judicially-Created Mess, It’s All About A 2-Decades Old “Petty Theft” Conviction!

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2017/08/08/11-72422.pdf

Key quote:

“We grant Lozano-Arredondo’s petition and remand to the BIA. We hold, first, that petit theft under Idaho law does not qualify categorically as a crime involving moral turpitude. We also hold that under the modified categorical approach, the record of conviction is inconclusive. Because the effect of that inconclusive record presents an open legal question now pending before another panel of this court, our analysis ends there. On remand, once this burden of proof question is resolved, the BIA should determine whether Lozano- Arredondo’s conviction qualifies as a crime involving moral turpitude under the modified categorical approach, unless the case is resolved on other grounds.

Second, we hold the BIA erred by deciding at Chevron step one that an “offense under” § 1227(a)(2)(A)(i) does not include the within-five-years element. Because the BIA “erroneously contends that Congress’ intent has been clearly

24 LOZANO-ARREDONDO V. SESSIONS

expressed and has rested on that ground, we remand to require the agency to consider the question afresh.” Delgado, 648 F.3d at 1103–04 n.12 (quoting Negusie, 555 U.S. at 523) (internal quotation marks omitted); see INS v. Ventura, 537 U.S. 12, 16–17 (2002). In light of this holding and the explanations we have given, the BIA must reconsider its interpretation of the phrase “offense under” in § 1229b(b)(1)(C).”

PANEL:  Circuit Judges William A. Fletcher, Raymond C. Fisher and N. Randy Smith

OPINION BY: Judge Fisher

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

Com’ on Man! This case has been around the system since 2005 — 12 years! The conviction is now two decades old. The case depends on two legal questions.

The 9th Circuit should answer the legal questions and either 1) affirm the BIA’s final order of removal, or 2) remand the case to the BIA to apply the law that has been determined by the 9th Circuit to the facts of this case. The court’s prose is impenetrable; the court’s rationale, based on Chevron, is irrational.

It’s time for Chevron to go and for Article III Courts to do their job of deciding legal questions rather than bogging down the system with infinite delays through needless remands to have the BIA pass on difficult legal questions. That’s the Article III Courts’ Constitutional function; they have been avoiding it for years under the Supreme’s judge-made facade of Chevron and Brand X.

(Yes, I know the 9th Circuit is only following Chevron, as they are bound to do. This is something the Supremes need to address, sooner rather than later. The result in this case is pure legal obfuscation.)

Oh yeah, while we’re at it, if there is an “open legal question” before another panel of the 9th Circuit, why remand the case to the BIA which can’t resolve that? Why not send this case to the “other panel” or ask your colleagues on the other panel if they could expedite their consideration of this issue?

PWS

08-08-17

 

“BASIC ASYLUM TRAINING FOR LITIGATORS” — Read My July 25, 2017 Pro Bono Training Presentation For Jones Day!

Click on this link for a “Printable Copy”:

JONES DAY TRAINING

Here’s the “complete text:”

BASIC ASYLUM LAW FOR LITIGATORS

 

OUTLINE

 

I.  INTRODUCTION

II. WHO IS A REFUGEE?

A. Refugee Definition

B.  Standard of Proof

C.  What Is Persecution?

D.  Nexus

 

III. PARTICULAR SOCIAL GROUP

A.  The Three Requirements

B.  Success Stories

C.  The Usual Losers

D.  What Can Go Wrong?

E.  A Few Practical Tips on PSG

 

IV. PRACTICAL TIPS FOR PRESENTNG AN ASYLUM CASE IN IMMIGRATION COURT

V.  CONCLUSION

 

  1. INTRODUCTION

 

Good afternoon, and thanks for attending. As a former U.S. Immigration Judge at both the trial and appellate levels, and someone who has spent over four decades working in the field of immigration at all levels, I want to personally thank you for what you are doing.

 

Welcome to the “New Due Process Army” and our critical mission of forcing the U.S. Immigration Court system to live up to its unfulfilled promise of “guaranteeing fairness and due process for all.” Nothing is more important to achieving that mission than providing effective representation to individuals at the “retail level” of the system – the U.S. Immigration Courts.

 

There is a due process crisis going on in our U.S. Immigration Court system that threatens the integrity and the functioning of our entire U.S. justice system. And, the biggest need in the Immigration Courts is for effective legal representation of individuals seeking, expecting, and deserving justice in Immigration Court. Never has the need for pro bono attorneys been greater than it is now!

 

I appreciate the outstanding leadership and amazing commitment of your managing partner Steve Brogan, your Global Pro Bono Coordinator Laura Tuell, and folks like Mary Hale and many others who have been making this happen on a daily basis. It’s what I call “due process in action.” I know that Steve feels very deeply about the overwhelming need for everyone to get a day in court. He has written very forcefully and eloquently on it in the past and has certainly helped to raise the profile of the representation crisis facing our Immigration Courts.

 

Jones Day isn’t just “talking the talk.” Although it’s now been 25 years since the end of my time as a partner in Jones Day’s Washington Office, I am well aware of the tremendous time and financial commitment that your partnership is making to saving and preserving our justice system and in many cases to saving the very lives of the folks who depend on it. For, as Steve and others at the firm realize, our justice system is only as strong as its weakest link. If we fail in our responsibility to deliver fairness and due process to the most vulnerable individuals at the “retail level” of our system, then eventually our entire system will fail.

 

I also congratulate and appreciate your willingness to undertake representation in all types of cases, rather than “cherry picking” likely winners as is always a temptation. As a judge, I found that cases that look like “sure losers” at the Master Calendar sometimes turn into “winners” when a knowledgeable and dedicated attorney enters the picture.

 

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

 

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

 

I also predict that you will make a positive difference in the development of the law. The well-prepared and articulate arguments that you make in behalf of a detained migrant are going to get attention and consideration from judges at all levels far beyond those presented by unrepresented individuals who can’t even speak English. It’s simply a fact of life. And, if you can win these cases, everything else you do in the law will be a “piece of cake.” I guarantee it.

 

Obviously, in representing your clients it is important to be polite, professional, and to let the excellence of your preparation, research, and arguments speak for you. In an overwhelmed system, judges are particularly grateful for all the help they can get. However, they are also under excruciating pressure to complete cases, particularly detained cases. So it is important to clearly identify your issues, focus your examination, and make sure that your “phone books” of evidence are properly organized and that there is a “road map” to direct the Immigration Judge and the Assistant Chief Counsel to the key points. You want to help the judge, and your opponent, get to a “comfort zone” where he or she can feel comfortable granting, or not opposing or appealing, relief.

 

I do want to offer one important piece of advice up front. That is to make sure to ask your client if her or his parents or grandparents, whether living or dead, are or were U.S. citizens. Citizenship is jurisdictional in Immigration Court, and occasionally we do come across individuals with valid but previously undeveloped claims for U.S. citizenship. You definitely want to find out about that sooner, rather than later, in the process.

My presentation today will be divided into three sections. First, we will go over the basic refugee definition and some of its ramifications. Second, I will provide some basic information about particular social group or “PSG” claims. Third, I will give you fourteen practical pointers for effectively presenting asylum cases in Immigration Court.

 

Please feel free to ask questions as we go along, or save them until the end.

 

II.        WHO IS A REFUGEE?

 

In this section, I will first discuss the INA’s definition of “refugee.” Second, I will talk about the standard of proof. Third, we will discuss the meaning of the undefined term “persecution.” I will conclude this section with a discussion of the key concept of “nexus.”

A.        Refugee Definition

 

An “asylee” under U.S. law is basically an individual who satisfies the “refugee” definition, but who is in the U.S. or at our border in a different status, or with no status at all. Most of your clients will fall in the latter category.

The definition of “refugee” is set forth in section 101(a)(42) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(42). There are four basic elements:

  1. Generally, outside the country of nationality (not usually an issue in border cases);
  2. Unwilling or unable to return (failure of state protection);
  3. Because of persecution (undefined) or a well founded fear of persecution;
  4. On account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion (“nexus”).

 

There are some important exclusions to the refugee definition, the most frequent ones being the one-year filing deadline for asylum, those who have committed serious nonpolitical crimes outside the U.S. or particularly serious crimes in the U.S., persecutors of others, those who have rendered material support to a terrorist organizations, and those who are firmly resettled in another country. I won’t be going into these in detail today, but you should know that they are there, and I’d be happy to take questions on them. The ground most likely to come up in your cases is the one relating to individuals who have committed crimes.

Some individuals who are ineligible for asylum might still be eligible to receive withholding of removal under section 243(b) of the INA, 8 U.S.C., § 1253(b) or withholding of removal under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”). And, everyone can potentially seek so-called “deferral of removal” under the CAT.

Also, please note that because of the requirement of a “nexus” to a “protected ground” not all types of harm trigger protection. In particular, crimes, wars, random violence, natural disasters, and personal vengeance or retribution often do not qualify individuals for refugee status. However, some of these circumstances might be covered by the CAT, which has no nexus requirement.

The source of the “refugee” definition is he Refugee Act of 1980 which codified and implemented the U.N Convention and Protocol on the Status of Refugees to which the U.S. adhered in 1968. There are, however, some differences between the U.S. definition and the Convention definition, which I won’t go into today. But, again, you should be aware they exist, since some international or U.N. interpretations of the definition might be inapplicable under U.S. law.

B.        Standard of Proof

 

The standard of proof in asylum cases was established by the Supreme Court in 1987 in INS v. Cardoza-Fonseca, 480 U.S. 421 (1987). In asylum cases, a “well-founded” fear is something far less than a probability. It is an “objectively reasonable fear” or the type of fear that a “reasonable person” would have under the circumstances. Most courts and authorities have adopted the “10% chance” example set forth in Justice Stevens’s plurality opinion in Cardoza.

The BIA’s implementation of Cardoza, the 1987 precedent Matter of Mogharrabi, 19 I&N Dec. 439 (BIA 1987), makes the point that the persecution can be “significantly less than probable.” Your challenge as lawyers will be to get judges at all levels of our system to actually apply the generous Cardoza-Mogharrabi standard rather than just mouthing it. Sadly, the latter still happens too often, in my opinion.

A different and higher “more likely than not” standard applies to withholding of removal under the INA and to withholding and deferral of removal under the CAT. One great tool for satisfying the standard of proof for asylum or withholding under the Act is the rebuttable regulatory presumption of future persecution arising out of past persecution set forth in 8 C.F.R. 1208.13. This is a really important regulation that you should basically learn “by heart.” I will reference it again in the “practical tips” section of this presentation.

Withholding and CAT are more limited forms of relief than asylum. While they usually provide work authorization, they do not lead to green card status, allow the applicants to bring relatives, or travel abroad. They are also easier to revoke if conditions change. Nevertheless, there is one major advantage to withholding and CAT: they save your client’s life. Sometimes, that’s the best you can do. And, fundamentally, saving lives is really what this business is all about.

C.        What Is Persecution?

 

Remarkably, neither the Convention nor the INA defines the term “persecution.” Consequently, U.S. Immigration Judges, the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”), and the U.S. Courts of Appeals are constantly referring to certain types of harm as “mere discrimination or harassment” not “rising to the level” of “persecution.” Often these highly subjective conclusions seem to be more in the mind of the judicial beholder than in the record or the law.

In the absence of a firm definition, I have found the most useful practical guidance to be in an opinion by the famous, or infamous, Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2011 case Stanojkova v. Holder, 645 F.3d 943, 947-48 (7th Cir. 2011). Judge Posner gave three examples.

“The three forms are discrimination, harassment, and persecution. The first refers to unequal treatment, and is illustrated historically by India’s caste system and the Jim Crow laws in the southern U.S. states. Discrimination normally does not involve the application of physical force, except as punishment for violation of the discriminatory laws.”

Second: “Harassment involves targeting members of a specified group for adverse treatment, but without the application of significant physical force. Had [police] furious at [the respondent’s] being soft on Albanians followed his taxi (he was a taxicab driver in Macedonia) and ticketed him whenever he exceeded the speed limit by one mile per hour, that would be an example of harassment. A common form of sexual harassment is pestering a subordinate for a date or making lewd comments on her appearance, or perhaps hugging her, which is physical but generally not violent.”

Third: “Persecution involves, we suggest, the use of significant physical force against a person’s body, or the infliction of comparable physical harm without direct application of force (locking a person in a cell and starving him would be an example), or nonphysical harm of equal gravity—that last qualification is important because refusing to allow a person to practice his religion is a common form of persecution even though the only harm it causes is psychological. Another example of persecution that does not involve actual physical contact is a credible threat to inflict grave physical harm, as in pointing a gun at a person’s head and pulling the trigger but unbeknownst to the victim the gun is not loaded.”

These definitions are, of course, not binding outside the Seventh Circuit. But, I find them to be practical, usable definitions that I certainly found helpful in making asylum decisions in the Fourth and other circuits.

D.        Nexus

 

The concept of “nexus” or “on account of” has become critical in asylum adjudication. Indeed, that is where many of your upcoming battles will be focused. In many cases these days the DHS will concede the “particular social group” (“PSG”) and just argue that the harm has no “nexus” to that PSG or any other protected ground.

The REAL ID Act amended the INA to require that for an asylum applicant to prove ”nexus” or “on account” of any protected ground, he or she must show that the protected ground is “at least one central reason” for the feared persecution. INA § 208(b)(1)(B)(i), 8 U.S.C. § 1208(b)(1)(B)(i) While this did not eliminate the frequently encountered “mixed motive” situation, it was intended to “tighten up” prior case law that had referred to the persecution as stemming “in whole or in part” from a protected ground.

The BIA ruled in Matter of C-T-L-, 25 I & N Dec. 341 (BIA 2010) that the “one central reason” test also applies to nexus in the withholding of removal context. However, the Ninth Circuit rejected the BIA’s interpretation in Barajas-Romero v. Lynch, 846 F.3d 351 (BIA 2014), maintaining that the more generous “in whole or in part” test should continue to apply to withholding cases under the INA. To my knowledge, the Fifth Circuit has not directly addressed the issue. So, I believe that C-T-L- would apply in the Immigration Courts in the Fifth Circuit at present.

Unfortunately, the BIA has given a very narrow reading to the “one central reason” test. In a recent precedent, Matter of L-E-A-, 27 I &N Dec. 40 (BIA 2017), the respondent was a member of a family social group. He clearly was targeted by a cartel in Mexico because he was a member of a family that owned a grocery store. In other words, “but for” the respondent’s family membership, he would not have been targeted by the gang.

Nevertheless, instead of granting the case, the BIA looked beyond the initial causation. The BIA found that “the respondent was targeted only as a means to achieve the cartel’s objective to increase its profits by selling drugs in the store owned by his father. Therefore the cartel’s motive to increase its profits by selling contraband in the store was one central reason for its actions against the respondent. Any motive to harm the respondent because he was a member of his family was, at most, incidental.” 27 I&N Dec. at 46 (citations omitted). Accordingly, the BIA denied the case.

Unfortunately, the BIA cited and relied upon an analysis of nexus in a similar case by the Fifth Circuit in Ramirez-Mejia v. Lynch, 794 F.3d 485n (5th Cir. 2015). Consequently, you will have to deal with the restrictive interpretation in L-E-A- and Ramirez-Mejia.

The BIA, and to some extent the Fifth Circuit, have essentially used the “nexus” requirement to “squeeze the life” out of the family PSG. We can see that the normal rules of legal causation have been suspended. The respondent would not have been targeted by the cartel had he not belonged to this particular family. Yet, the BIA searched for and found an “overriding motive” that did not relate to a protected ground and determined that to be the “central reason” and the family PSG to be “tangential.”

What kind of case could succeed under L-E-A-? Well, perhaps not wanting to give anyone any practical ideas on how to qualify, the BIA searched history and came up with the execution of the Romanov family by the Bolsheviks as an example of a where family was a “central reason” for the persecution. So, maybe if the respondent’s father were a major donor to a political party that opposed cartels, a member of a religion that opposed drugs, or a member of a hated minority group, the respondent’s family membership could have been “at least one central reason.”

But the Romanov family case would have been grantable on actual or imputed political opinion grounds. The other examples I gave would have been more easily grantable on actual or implied political opinion, religion, or nationality grounds. So the BIA appears to made the family PSG ground largely superfluous.

This leaves you as litigators in a tricky situation. The IJ will be bound by L-E-A-, the BIA is unlikely to retreat from L-E-A-, and the Fifth Circuit seems disposed to go along with the L-E-A- view.

On the other hand, to my knowledge, L-E-A- has not actually been considered and endorsed by any circuit to date. To me, it appears to be inconsistent with some of the existing family-based nexus case law in the Fourth and Ninth Circuits. So, I wouldn’t be shocked if a “circuit split” eventually develops and the issue finally wends its way to the Supreme Court. Who knows, maybe one of you will be arguing it.

In any event, in my view, it is too early for you to “waive” strong nexus arguments even if they will be rejected under L-E-A-. On the other hand, that’s not likely to solve your detained client’s current problems.

So, what can you do? First, look for legitimate ways to distinguish L-E-A-. Assume that the DHS will “pull out the stops” in arguing that everything but family was the central reason –greed, lust, crime, random violence, personal vengeance, envy, resentment, etc. Look for evidence in the record that the dispute really was, to a major extent, about family, rather than one of the non-qualifying grounds.

Second, look for some qualifying non-family PSG or a “more conventional” religious, nationality, racial, or political motive.

Third, consider the possibility of CAT protection. The advocacy community probably underutilizes CAT. CAT doesn’t have a specific nexus requirement and often can be proved by extensive documentary or expert evidence, both Jones Day specialties. Sure, the standard of proof is high and CAT is a lesser form of relief than asylum. But, it saves your client’s life! And, if the nexus law changes in your favor, you can always file a motion to reopen to re-apply for asylum under the changed law.

This is an area of the law where creativity, preparation, and persistence often pay off in the long run. So, don’t give up. Keep on fighting for a reasonable and proper application of the “refugee” definition and for the rights of your clients.

III.      PARTICULAR SOCIAL GROUP

 

In this section I will talk about the three basic requirements for a PSG, the success stories, the usual failures, things that can go wrong, and offer you a few practice pointers directly related to PSG claims.

A.        The Three Requirements

 

The BIA has established three requirements for a PSG.

  1. Immutability or fundamental to identity;
  2. Particularity; and
  3. Social distinction.

 

These three requirements are usually used to deny rather than grant protection. Indeed, most of the BIA’s recent precedents on PSG are rendered in a decidedly negative context.

There was a time about two decades ago when many of us, including a number of BIA Members, thought that immutability or fundamental to identity was the sole factor. But, following our departure, the BIA attached the additional requirements of “particularity” and “social visibility” now renamed “social distinction” to narrow the definition and facilitate denials, particularly of gang-based PSG claims.

The particularity and social distinction requirements basically work like a “scissors” to cut off claims. As you make your definition more specific to meet the “particularity” requirement it often will become so narrow and restrictive that it fails to satisfy “social distinction.” On the other hand, as your proposed PSG becomes more socially distinct, it’s likely that it will become more expansive and generic so that the BIA will find a lack of “particularity.”

While the UNHCR and many advocacy groups have argued for a return of immutability as the basic requirement with “social distinction” as an alternative, not an additional requirement, the BIA recently reaffirmed its “three criteria” approach. These cases, Matter of M-E-V-G-, 26 I &N Dec. 227 (BIA 2014) and its companion case Matter of W-E-G-, 26 I &N Dec. 208 (BIA 2014), are “must reads” for anyone doing PSG work.

About the only bright spot for advocates was that the BIA in M-E-V-G– rejected the commonly held view that no gang-based case could ever succeed. The BIA said that its decisions “should not be read as a blanket rejection of all factual scenarios involving gangs. Social group determinations are made on a case-by-case basis. For example, a factual scenario in which gangs are targeting homosexuals may support a particular social group claim. While persecution on account of a protected ground cannot be inferred merely from acts of random violence and the existence of civil strife, it is clear that persecution on account of a protected ground may occur during periods of civil strife if the victim is targeted on account of a protected ground.” 26 I&N Dec. at 251 (citations omitted).

In other words, the Board is asking for evidence intensive case-by-case adjudications of various proposed PSGs. Leaving aside the fairness of doing this in a context where we know that most applicants will be detained and unrepresented, I cannot think of an organization better suited to give the BIA what it asked for than Jones Day – you guys!

B. Success Stories

There are four basic groups that have been relatively successful in establishing PSG claims.

  1. LGBT individuals under Matter of Toboso-Alfonso, 20 I&N Dec. 819 (BIA 1990);
  2. Women who fear or suffered female genital mutilation (“FGM”) under my decision in Matter of Kasinga, 21 I&N Dec. 357 (BIA 1996);
  3. Victims of domestic violence under Matter of A-R-C-G-, 26 I&N Dec. 388 (BIA 2014); and
  4. Family under the Fourth Circuit’s decision in Crespin-Valladares v. Holder, 632 F.3d 117 (4th 2011), a case in which I was the Immigration Judge and Jones Day was pro bono counsel.

You should note that the first three of these success stories had something in common: strong support across a wide spectrum of the political universe. In fact, in LGBT, FGM, and domestic violence cases the DHS eventually changed its position so as to not oppose the recognition of the PSG. This, in turn, either facilitated or perhaps effectively forced the BIA to recognize the PSG in a precedent.

Family, on the other hand, has generally not developed the same type of political consensus as a PSG for asylum purposes. I have already discussed in detail how notwithstanding the clear logic of family as a PSG, the BIA uses a highly restrictive reading of the “nexus” requirement that prevents many family groups from qualifying for protection.

You probably will not encounter too many FGM cases at the Southern Border. Nevertheless, there are two additional important points established by Kasinga. First, the respondent does not have to establish that the persecutor acted or will act with “malevolent intent.” Persecution may be established even where the persecutor was inflicting the harm with the intent to “help” or “treat” the respondent. This comes up frequently in connection with LGBT claims.

Second, Kasinga holds that to justify a discretionary denial of asylum for a respondent who otherwise meets all of the statutory requirements, the adverse factors must be “egregious” so as to outweigh the likely danger of persecution.

You are likely to find a number of Southern Border cases involving LGBT individuals, domestic violence, and family. In the Arlington Immigration Court during my tenure these cases succeeded at an extremely high rate, so much so that many of them went on my “short docket.” However, that was then and this is now. And, sadly, you won’t be presenting these cases in Arlington.

Finally, there are some “up and comer” PSG’s that have had success in some of the circuits and might eventually gain widespread acceptance. Among these are witnesses, landowners, and women subjected to forced marriages. The latter often can more successfully be presented under the domestic violence category. The Fourth Circuit actually has recognized “former gang members” as a potential PSG, although many such individuals will have difficulties under the criminal exclusions from the refugee definition. Martinez v. Holder, 740 F.3d 902 (4th Cir. 2014).

C. The Usual Losers

PSGs that don’t fit any of the categories I just mentioned are usually “losers.” Chief among the “usual losers” are victims of crime other than domestic violence, informants, extortion victims, and those resisting gang recruitment. You’ll probably see a fair number of such cases at the Southern border. Your challenge will be how to present them in a way that overcomes the negative connotations normally associated with such claims.

D. What Can Go Wrong?

Lots of things can go wrong with a PSG case. First, there is the issue of “circularity.” Generally, a PSG cannot be defined in terms of itself. For example “victims of crime” would generally be a “circular” social group.

An easy test is to use your proposed PSG in a simple sentence: “This respondent was harmed to overcome the characteristic of being _________. If you can’t say with with a straight face in open court, don’t use it. For example, “this respondent was raped to overcome her characteristic of being a victim of rape” isn’t going to make it as a PSG.

We’ve already talked about how PSG claims can be attacked by denying the nexus. There are also the old favorites of lack of credibility or corroboration. Then, there is failure to meet the one-year filing deadline, no failure of state protection, reasonably available internal relocation, and fundamentally changed country conditions.

That’s why if you’re considering a PSG claim, it’s always wise to have “Plan B.” The problem today, however, is that the Administration has restricted or limited many of the “Plans B.” For example, until recently, the number one “Plan B” was to request prosecutorial discretion (“PD”) from the Assistant Chief Counsel if the respondent had sympathetic humanitarian factors, a clean criminal record, and strong ties to the U.S. However, for all practical purposes, this Administration has eliminated PD.

Nevertheless, its always worthwhile to think about whether things like Wilberforce Act treatment for certain unaccompanied juveniles, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, “T” visas for trafficking victims, “U” visas for victims of crime, or benefits under the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”) might be realistic possibilities for your client.

E.  A Few Practical Tips on PSG

I’m going to close this section by offering you a few practical tips on presenting PSG cases that will also tie into my next major section.

First, think “25 words or fewer.” Just like the old boxtop contests from my youth. There are few, if any, known examples of success using lengthy, convoluted social group definitions.

 

Second, remember folks, it isn’t “making sausages.” The definition that goes in must be the same one that comes out the other end. Social groups that “morph” during the hearing just have no chance.

 

Third, be prepared to explain how your proposed particular social group meets the current BIA criteria of immutability, particularity, and social distinction, formerly known as “social visibility.”

 

Fourth, make sure that your respondent is actually a member of the particular social group you propose. You would be surprised at the number of counsel who propose a particular social group definition and then fail to offer proof that their client actually fits within that group.

 

Fifth, as I just mentioned, check your particular social group for “circularity.”

Sixth, and finally, be prepared for an onslaught of other arguments against your case, the chief of which probably will be “no nexus.” Normally, the DHS will “pull out all the stops” to prevent the recognition of a new PSG.

IV. PRACTICAL TIPS FOR PRESENTING AN ASYLUM CASE IN IMMIGRATION COURT

You should all have received a copy of my comprehensive three-page treatise on asylum law entitled “Practical Tips For Presenting an Asylum Case In Immigration Court,” Feb. 2017 Revised Edition. I’m going to quickly take you through the fourteen practical tips outlined there.

My first tip is, “Read a Good Book.” My strong recommendation is the one that has always been at the top of the Immigration Court Best Seller List: Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations, 2017 edition.

 

Specifically, I invite your attention to Chapter 1208, which contains the seeds of all winning theories of asylum law, past, present, and future. It will also give you gems like how to shift the burden of proof to the DHS and how to win your case even if your client does not presently have a well-founded fear of persecution.

 

Second, “Get Real.” The REAL ID Act, P.L. 109-13, 119 Stat. 231 (2005), deals with credibility and burden of proof issues in asylum and other cases and applies to applications “made” on or after May 11, 2005, which will be all of your cases. Read it and decide how it can help you and how you can respond to DHS arguments.

 

Third, “Know One When You See One.” The one-year filing requirement of section 208(a)(2)(B) of the INA bars asylum in some cases. Your burden of proof on the one-year filing issue is very high: “clear and convincing evidence.” Judicial review might be limited. But, there are exceptions. Read the statute and the regulations at 8 C.F.R. § 1208.4 to find out how the filing requirement works and what arguments might be made to preserve a late asylum application. Remember that the one-year requirement does not apply to withholding of removal under the INA or to CAT applications.

 

At the beginning of each asylum case, I asked the parties to identify the issues. Respondents’ attorneys invariably told me about past persecution, future persecution, nexus, gender-based persecution, exceptions to the one year filing deadline, weird social groups, and so forth. The issue they sometimes fail to identify is the one that’s always first on my list. What is it?

 

 

That’s right, credibility, is the key issue in almost all asylum litigation. So, my fourth rule is “Play To Tell the Truth.” You must understand what goes into making credibility determinations and why the role of the Immigration Judge is so critical. Often, adverse credibility determinations are difficult to overturn on appeal. It’s all about deference.

 

But, credible testimony might not be enough to win your case. That’s why my fifth rule is “Don’t Believe Everything You Read.” Both appellate and trial court decisions often recite rote quotations about asylum being granted solely on the basis of credible testimony.

However, to give your client the best chance of winning his or her asylum case in immigration Court, under the law applicable in most circuits, you’re likely to need a combination of credible testimony and reasonably available corroborating evidence. Read Matter of S-M-J-, 21 I&N Dec. 722 (BIA 1997), largely codified by REAL ID, and find out what it really takes to win an asylum case in most Immigration Court.

 

In this respect, you should remember my corollary sixth rule “Paper Your Case.” According to Fourth Circuit precedent, even a proper adverse credibility ruling against your client might not be enough for an Immigration Judge to deny the asylum claim. The Judge must still examine the record as a whole, including all of the documentation supporting the claim, to determine whether independent documentary evidence establishes eligibility for asylum. Read Camara v. Ashcroft, 378 F.3d 361 (4th Cir. 2004) and discover how the power of independent documentary evidence can overcome even a sustainable adverse credibility finding. Also, remember that the REAL ID Act directs Immigration Judges to consider “the totality of the circumstances, and all relevant factors.”

 

“Read Your Paper” is my seventh important rule. You and your client are responsible for all the documentation you present in your case. Nothing will give you nightmares faster than having a client present false or fraudulent documentation to the Immigration Court. In my experience, I’ve had very few attorneys able to dig out of that hole. So, don’t let this happen to you.

 

My eighth rule is “Pile it On.” Sometimes, as demonstrated in one of my very favorite cases Matter of O-Z- & I-Z-, 22 I&N Dec. 23 (BIA 1998), reaffirmed in Matter of L-K-, 23 I&N Dec. 677, 683 (BIA 2004), you will be able to take a series of events happening to your respondent, his or her family, or close associates, none of which individually perhaps rises to the level of persecution, and combine them to win for your client.

 

My ninth rule is “Don’t Get Caught by the Devil.” The devil is in the details. If you don’t find that devil, the DHS Assistant Chief Counsel almost certainly will, and you will burn. Also, make sure to put your client at ease by carefully explaining the process and by going over the direct and cross-examinations in advance. Remember the cultural and language barriers that can sometimes interfere with effective presentation of your case.

 

I found the DHS Assistant Chief Counsel in Arlington were all very nice folks. They were also smart, knowledgeable, well prepared, and ready to vigorously litigate their client’s positions. They handled more trials in a year than most litigators do in a lifetime. So, beware and be prepared. You would also be wise to contact the Assistant Chief Counsel in advance of any merits hearing to discuss ways of narrowing the issues and possible “Plans B.”

 

My tenth rule is “Know Your Geography.” Not all Immigration Courts and Circuit Courts of Appeals are located on the West Coast. The BIA certainly is not. You must know and deal with the law in the jurisdiction where your case actually is located, not in the one you might wish it were located.

 

For example, the Arlington Immigration Court is in Crystal City. That is in Virginia, which is not presently part of the Ninth Circuit. Nor are the courts in Texas where most of you will be appearing.

 

This is something that I once had trouble with, coming to the Arlington Court from a job where the majority of asylum cases arose in the Ninth Circuit. But, I got over it, and so can you.

 

My eleventh rule is to “Get Physical.”   In defining persecution, some Circuits have emphasized “the infliction or threat of death, torture, or injury to one’s person or freedom.” See, e.g., Niang v. Gonzales, 492 F.3d 505 (4th Cir. 2007). While the Circuits and the BIA have also recognized non-physical threats and harm, your strongest case probably will be to emphasize the physical aspects of the harm where they exist. Mirisawo v. Holder, 599 F.3d 391 (4th Cir. 2010); Matter of T-Z-, 24 I & N Dec. 163 (BIA 2007).

 

I particularly recommend the Fourth Circuit’s decision in Crespin-Valladares v. Holder, 632 F.3d 117 (4th Cir. 2011), which found that the BIA erred in rejecting my conclusion that “unrebutted evidence of death threats against [the respondent] and his family members, combined with the MS-13’s penchant for extracting vengeance against cooperating witnesses, gave rise to a reasonable fear of future persecution.” In other words, I was right, and the BIA was wrong. But, who’s keeping track?

 

My twelfth rule is “Practice, Practice, Practice.” The Immigration Court Practice Manual, available online at the EOIR web site http://www.usdoj.gov/eoir/vll/OCIJPracManual/ocij_page1.htm was effective July 1, 2008, and replaced all prior local rules. All filings with the Immigration Court must comply with the deadlines and formats established in this Practice Manual. The Practice Manual has a very helpful index, and it covers just about everything you will ever want to know about practice before the Immigration Courts. It contains useful appendices that give you contact information and tell you how to format and cite documents for filing in Immigration Court. Best of all, it’s applicable nationwide, so you can use what you learn in all Immigration Courts.

 

My thirteenth, rule is “It’s Always Wise to Have ‘Plan B.’” As I have pointed out, asylum litigation has many variables and opportunities for a claim to “go south.” Therefore, it is prudent to have a “Plan B” (alternative) in mind.

 

Among the “Plans B” that regularly came up in Arlington were: prosecutorial discretion (“PD”), Special Rule Cancellation of Removal (“NACARA”), Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”), non-Lawful Permanent Resident Cancellation of Removal (“EOIR 42-B”), Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”), Special Immigrant Juvenile (“SIJ”) status, I-130 petition with a “stateside waiver” (“I-601A”), “Wilberforce Act” special processing for unaccompanied children (“UACs”), T nonimmigrant status (for certain human trafficking victims), and U nonimmigrant status (for certain victims of crime). In my experience, many, perhaps the majority, of the “happy outcome” asylum cases coming before me were resolved on a basis “OTA,” that is “other than asylum.”

 

But, unfortunately in my view, the “Plan B” world is rapidly changing. So, please listen very carefully to the caveat that comes next.

 

Fourteenth, hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. As some have said “there’s a new Sheriff in town,” and he’s announced a “maximum immigration enforcement” program targeting anyone who has had any run-in with the law, whether convicted or not. He also intends to detain all undocumented border crossers or applicants for admission at the border. So, you can expect more arrests, more detention (particularly in far-away, inconvenient locations like, for instance, Laredo, TX), more bond hearings, more credible and reasonable fear reviews, more pressure to move cases even faster, and an even higher stress level in Immigration Court.

 

The “Plans B” involving discretion on the part of the Assistant Chief Counsel, like PD, DACA, and stateside processing, and even waiving appeal from grants of relief, are likely to disappear in the near future, if they have not already. In many cases, litigating up through the BIA and into the Article III Federal Courts (where the judges are, of course, bound to follow the law but not necessarily to accept the President’s or the Attorney General’s interpretation of it) might become your best, and perhaps only, “Plan B.”

V. CONCLUSION

 

In conclusion, I have told you about the basic elements of the refugee definition and how it is used in adjudicating asylum cases. I have also discussed the requirements and the pros and cons of the PSG protected ground. And, I have shared with you some of my practical tips for presenting an asylum case in U.S. Immigration Court.

 

Obviously, I can’t make you an immigration litigation expert in in afternoon. But, I trust that I have given you the basic tools to effectively represent your clients in Immigration Court. I have also given you some sources that you can consult for relevant information in developing your litigation strategy and your case.

 

I encourage you to read my blog, immigrationcourtside.com, which covers many recent developments in the U.S. Immigration Courts. As you come up with victories, defeats, good ideas, appalling situations, or anything else you think should be made more widely available, please feel free to submit them to me for publication. I also welcome first-hand accounts of how the system is, or isn’t, working at the “retail level.”

 

Thanks again for joining the New Due Process Army and undertaking this critical mission on behalf of the U.S. Constitution and all it stands for! Thanks for what you are doing for America, our system of justice, and the most vulnerable individuals who depend on that system for due process and justice.

 

Thanks for listening, good luck, do great things, and Due Process Forever! I’d be pleased to answer any additional questions.

 

© Paul Wickham Schmidt, 2017, All Rights Reserved.

(08-01-17++)

 

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PROGRAM NOTE: I am a former Partner at Jones Day. resident in the Washington, D.C. Office.

 


 

9th Cir. Remands Reasonable Fear Denial In Reinstatement Case — VALENCIA MARTINEZ V. SESSIONS (Published)

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2017/07/20/14-70339.pdf

“The government does not offer any argument on the merits of this petition; therefore, it has waived any challenge to the arguments Martinez raised. See Clem v. Lomeli, 566 F.3d 1177, 1182 (9th Cir. 2009) (holding that an appellee who did not address an argument in the answering brief had waived that issue). On remand, the agency is directed: (1) to give proper consideration to Martinez’s testimony about police corruption and acquiescence in MS-13 violence; (2) to accord proper weight to the Department of State Country Report on El Salvador, and in particular, evidence of corruption and inability or unwillingness to prosecute gang violence; and (3) to apply the correct legal standards to Martinez’s Convention Against Torture claim.”

PANEL: Morgan Christen and Paul J. Watford, Circuit Judges, and James Alan Soto, District Judge.

OPINION BY: Judge Soto

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Read the full opinion at the link. It’s short. Three things stand out.

First, the Respondent’s credible testimony clearly established a plausible claim for CAT relief. If he gets representation, he will be able to show that the authorities in El Salvador do often cooperate with gangs and that the government is willfully blind to the many instances of torture of citizens by gangs. The Asylum Officer’s incorrect analysis along with that by the Immigration Judge show a fundamental misunderstanding of CAT law and the reasonable fear process. How does an Immigration Court system faced with such glaring problems eliminate training and the guidance provided through the former Benchbook?

Second, the 9th Circuit highlights the Byzantine nature of the regulations in this area.  How many unrepresented individuals who been treated in this unfair manner are hustled out of the country because they can’t figure out how to get meaningful review?

Third, this decision shows that there might well be ways to penetrate the general unwillingress of Appellate Courts to review the gross miscarriages of justice and denials of due process going on every day in the expedited removal process which is administered by the DHS and inadequately reviewed by the Immigration Judges. Once they take a look, they will be appalled at what they find!

PWS

07-21-17

BREAKING: SPLIT DECISION — SUPREMES SAY YES TO GRANDPARENTS, DEMUR ON REFUGEES (FOR NOW)!

Here’s the report from NPR News:

Merrit Kennedy, reporting:

“The Supreme Court has upheld parts of a lower court order that had widened the definition of which citizens from the six Muslim-majority countries covered by the Trump administration’s travel ban are still eligible to travel to the U.S.

The order issued Wednesday leaves in place the action of a U.S. District Court judge in Hawaii who broadened the definition of close family to include categories such as the grandparents and cousins of a person in the U.S.

However, the Supreme Court blocked another part of the lower court order that said citizens with formal assurances from a U.S. refugee resettlement agency are eligible.

Since the travel ban was introduced, defining which citizens from the six countries are exempt has been redefined multiple times.

Last month, as we reported, the Supreme Court ruled that parts of the Trump administration’s ban can take effect while the justices prepare to hear oral arguments on the case later this year.

But the court said people from the six countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — can be exempted from the ban if they have a “bona fide relationship” with a person in the U.S., including close family members.

The legal question here is centered on how to define a “bona fide relationship.” As we reported, the Trump administration argued that assurances from a refugee agency are “not sufficient” to constitute this relationship.

However, the judge in Hawaii rejected this argument. “An assurance from a United States refugee resettlement agency, in fact, meets each of the Supreme Court’s touchstones: it is formal, it is a documented contract, it is binding, it triggers responsibilities and obligations,” District Court Judge Derrick Watson wrote. “Bona fide does not get any more bona fide than that.”

The Supreme Court justices, however, stayed that portion of the judge’s order without elaborating. It sent the case back to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a ruling. The Trump administration had asked the high court to settle the dispute, leapfrogging the 9th Circuit, which the justices denied without comment.

The order said Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch would have stayed the entire lower court order, including the broadening of close family categories.

Naureen Shah, Amnesty International USA senior director of campaigns, stated that Wednesday’s order “jeopardizes the safety of thousands of people across the world including vulnerable families fleeing war and violence.”

Earlier this week, the State Department released new instructions to U.S. embassies and consulates to implement the Hawaii federal court’s order expanded definition of close family to include grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, and cousins.”

Here is link to copy of the brief per curium order:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/071917zr_o7jp.pdf

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Six Justices of the Court appear ready to “just say no” to some parts of the “blanket ban” on the current record. However, they obviously deem “refugees” a closer case, leaving that for the Ninth Circuit to review first. So, there is still a chance that refugees ultimately will prevail. But, as I’ve said many times before, it’s one of the worst times in recent history to be a refugee.

PWS

07-19-17

 

9th Stuffs Hawaii On Travel Ban 2.0 — No Jurisdiction!

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/341072-hawaii-loses-final-appeal-to-narrow-scope-of-travel-ban

Alicia Cohn reports in The Hill:

“Hawaii must wait on the Supreme Court to rule on President Trump’s so-called travel ban after losing a Friday appeal on an emergency motion to narrow the scope of the ban.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled it does not have jurisdiction to clarify the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision regarding the ban, Reuters reported.

The Supreme Court last month granted the Trump administration’s request to implement part of the travel ban meant to temporarily block people from six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.

The ban as currently implemented prevents travelers from six predominately Muslim countries entering the country if they lack a “bona fide relationship with any person or entity in the United States.”

Trump called the Supreme Court order a “clear victory for our national security.”

Hawaii challenged the ban in its current form this week, asking the U.S. District Court of the District of Hawaii to narrow its scope to define “bona fide relationship.” The state called it “preposterous” that the phrase does not appear to include fiances or grandparents.

However, a federal court judge said the state will have to turn to the Supreme Court for clarity.

“Because plaintiffs seek clarification of the June 26, 2017 injunction modifications authored by the Supreme Court, clarification should be sought there, not here,” District Court Judge Derrick K. Watson of the District Court of the District of Hawaii wrote.

Hawaii then filed an appeal Friday that was also denied.

The Supreme Court will hear the travel ban case when it returns for the fall term, which begins in October.”

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Looks like the DHS definitions will remain in effect at least until the Fall.

 

PWS

07-09-17

 

 

TRAVEL BAN UPDATE: Hawaii Federal Judge Rebuffs Plaintiffs’ Attempt To Broaden Travel Ban Exception — Only The Supremes Can Clarify — Grandparents Of Americans Stiffed!

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/us-judge-in-hawaii-leaves-trumps-travel-ban-rules-in-place/2017/07/06/dedcf73a-62b7-11e7-80a2-8c226031ac3f_story.html?utm_term=.4b44cb00533

Audrey McEvoy of AP reports in the Washington Post:

“HONOLULU — A federal judge in Hawaii on Thursday left Trump administration rules in place for a travel ban on citizens from six majority-Muslim countries.

U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson denied an emergency motion filed by Hawaii asking him to clarify what the U.S. Supreme Court meant by a “bona fide” relationship in its ruling last month.

The Supreme Court ruled the administration could mostly enforce its travel ban, but said those “with a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” could enter.

Watson says the relationship question would be better posed to the Supreme Court, not him.

“This court will not upset the Supreme Court’s careful balancing and ‘equitable judgment,’” Watson said in his order.

Hawaii attorney general Doug Chin objected to the administration’s omission of grandparents, aunts and uncles from its list of people meeting the definition of a close relationship.

The Trump administration has said the exemption to the ban would apply to citizens of the six countries with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Justice said in an emailed statement that it was pleased with the decision.

“If the plaintiffs elect to proceed, we are confident that the U.S. Supreme Court will again vindicate the President and his constitutional duty to protect the national security of the United States,” the department said.

The Hawaii Attorney General’s Office noted after the ruling that the district court did not address the substance of either party’s arguments and instead focused on the procedural question about which court is the appropriate forum to decide the issue.

“The scope of the travel and refugee bans badly needs to be resolved and not just according to the Trump administration’s interpretation,” Chin said.

Hakim Ouansafi, president of the Muslim Association of Hawaii, said he respects Watson’s ruling but thinks there will be more opportunities to ensure the ban does not exclude grandparents and others close family members.

“We will have people directly affected by this, for sure,” Ouansafi said. “When you exclude that many people, the circle is much wider.”

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

Read the complete story at the link.

One problem when an appellate court emasculates the trial judge at a preliminary stage of the case is that the higher court then “owns” the case. But, in this particular situation, the Supremes are out to recess until Fall. So, the Trump Administration appears to have won this round because right now the plaintiffs realistically have no forum for their complaint. We can all sleep better knowing that we are protected from a few grandparents of U.S. citizens!

PWS

07-07-17

9th Circuit Upholds Judge Gee’s Order Requiring Bond Hearings For Children! — Flores v. Sessions!

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-minor-immigrants-9th-circuit-20170705-story.html

Maura Dolan reports in the LA Times

“Minors who enter the U.S. without permission must be given a court hearing to determine whether they can be released, a federal appeals court panel decided unanimously Wednesday.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said immigration authorities continue to be bound by a 1997 lawsuit settlement that guaranteed court hearings for minor immigrants, set standards for their detention and established a policy in favor of their release.

Following that settlement, Congress passed two laws dealing with unaccompanied minor immigrants. The federal government argued those laws replaced the settlement and revoked the right to bond hearings.

The 9th Circuit disagreed.

“In the absence of such hearings, these children are held in bureaucratic limbo, left to rely upon the [government’s] alleged benevolence and opaque decision making,” Judge Stephen Reinhardt, a Carter appointee, wrote for the court.

The settlement of Flores vs. Janet Reno required that juveniles detained near the border or elsewhere without a parent must be given bond hearings.

The hearings gave minors the right to a lawyer, an opportunity to learn and challenge government evidence against them and the right to contest being locked up, the panel said.

The 9th Circuit cited evidence that the government has been holding minors for months or even years without hearings, even when parents are nearby and can care for them.

Among them was a boy identified only as Hector, who was detained in California at the age of 15 for 480 days, mostly in a locked facility in Yolo County. The ruling did not say why Hector was picked up.

In a declaration, Hector described the Yolo County facility as a prison, where minors were locked in cells at night to sleep on cement benches with mattresses.

During 16 months there, Hector was not given a lawyer or an explanation about why he was being held even though his mother in Los Angeles was seeking his release, the 9th Circuit said.

Without any explanation, the federal government released Hector in December “into the custody of the person who had been advocating for his freedom all along — his mother,” Reinhardt wrote.

The court cited evidence that some juveniles have agreed to deportation rather than face continued incarceration without their families.

“Unaccompanied minors today face an impossible choice between what is, in effect, indefinite detention in prison, and agreeing to their own removal and possible persecution” in their native countries, Reinhardt wrote.

The ruling upheld a decision by Los Angeles-based U.S. Dist. Judge Dolly M. Gee, an Obama appointee.

The government may appeal the panel’s decision to a larger 9th Circuit panel or to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Lawyers in the case could not be reached for comment.”

Here’s a link to the 9th Circuit’s full 40-page opinion:

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2017/07/05/17-55208.pdf

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If you want to skip the legal gobbledygook (although the fact situations described are interesting and meaningful), the bottom lines are: 1) the last four Administrations have been to varying degrees tone-deaf to the needs of unaccompanied minors subject to immigration proceedings; 2) bond hearing before U.S. Immigration Judges play a critical role in protecting the rights of children and insuring due process.

PWS

07-05-17

 

READ RAPPAPORT’S LATEST FROM THE HILL: Why The Travel Ban Might Become A “Moot Case!”

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/339825-travel-ban-will-be-moot-before-it-reaches-supreme-court-heres

Nolan writes in The Hill:

“The six travel-ban countries will be subject to the new ban if their governments refuse to cooperate with the new vetting system, or they will not be subject to it if their governments agree to cooperate. In either case, they will no longer be subject to the 90-day travel ban. This will moot the travel ban issues before the court reconvenes to hear arguments on the merits of the case.

The new ban 

The original travel ban order was hastily issued one week after Trump’s inauguration without an interagency review. The new one will be based on a worldwide review and interagency input.

According to DHS Secretary John Kelley, in addition to the six countries on the travel ban list, 13 or 14 other countries also have very questionable vetting procedures and not all of them are predominantly Muslim countries.

This ban will depend entirely on a country’s willingness to cooperate with the new vetting system, and it will not apply categorically to every alien from a country with an uncooperative government. It only will apply to appropriate categories of aliens from those countries.

Therefore, it should be easier to defend if it is challenged in court.”

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

Go over to The Hill to read Nolan’s complete article.

I agree with Nolan that the temporary Travel Ban is likely to become moot. I think this is actually the result that the six Justices who went along with the Court’s “per curium” opinion would prefer.

I also agree with him that a type of “customized” Travel Ban flowing directly from the results of the Executive study should be easier for the Government to defend.

PWS

06-28-17

 

WORLDVIEWS IN THE WASHPOST: No Matter How The Legal Case Comes Out, Trump’s Travel Ban Will Stand As An Ugly Blot On America’s Reputation!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/06/27/trumps-travel-ban-still-doesnt-make-any-sense/?hpid=hp_rhp-more-top-stories_no-name%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.105cc6430610

Ishaan Tharoor writes:

“But whatever the case, it’s important to remember that the travel ban on its face makes very little sense. The two federal appeals courts that ruled against it said separately that Trump’s order was both discriminatory toward Muslims and not necessary for national security, despite the White House’s continued insistence.

“There is no finding that present vetting standards are inadequate, and no finding that absent the improved vetting procedures there likely will be harm to our national interests,” the judges of the 9th Circuit wrote. “These identified reasons do not support the conclusion that the entry of nationals from the six designated countries would be harmful to our national interests.”

Not a single person has died in a terrorist attack on American soil carried out by a citizen from one of the six nations covered by the ban. Since the Refugee Act of 1980 set up a system for vetting refugees to the United States, no person accepted as a refugee has been implicated in a fatal terrorist attack. Critics of the order have also nitpicked in the past about the absence of other “terror-prone” nations in the ban’s purview, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan or even Saudi Arabia, whence 15 of the 9/11 attackers came. And, while Trump voices fear over foreign threats, he has been conspicuously quiet about the scourge of domestic terrorism within the United States.

Mourners at a memorial for the victims of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. (Amanda Voisard)
The broader point the ban’s opponents make is that singling out immigrants, tourists and refugees based on their country of origin will do little to keep the United States safe, while badly damaging the nation’s reputation abroad.

 

“Far from being foreign infiltrators, the large majority of jihadist terrorists in the United States have been American citizens or legal residents. Moreover, while a range of citizenship statuses are represented, every jihadist who conducted a lethal attack inside the United States since 9/11 was a citizen or legal resident,” concluded a recent report by the New America Foundation. “In addition about a quarter of the extremists are converts, further confirming that the challenge cannot be reduced to one of immigration.”

. . . .

The underlying impetus has always been Trump’s desire to make real a campaign promise for some kind of Muslim ban — “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” as he put it in 2015. Taking into account the statements of both Trump and his allies before and after last year’s election, the 4th Circuit court had ruled that the executive order “in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.”

The Supreme Court’s decision on Monday doesn’t strip away the moral validity of the arguments posed by the ban’s critics. And the court’s justices wrote “the relief we grant today” should enable the White House “to conclude its internal work and provide adequate notice to foreign governments within the 90-day life of [the order].” If the Trump administration seeks to extend the ban well beyond the summer, it will be all the more clear that its motives aren’t quite as benign as it claims.”

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Read the complete article at the above link.  “We should all be afraid all the time even of things that we have no objective reason to fear.” That’s essentially Trump’s dark, downbeat message on immigration and pretty much everything else. What would FDR think?

PWS

06-28-17

NO CHAOS: Matt Zapotosky Summarizes Supreme’s Travel Ban Decision — Former DOJ Immigration Litigator Leon Fresco Says Case Likely To Resolve Itself Before Argument In Fall!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/what-the-supreme-courts-travel-ban-ruling-means/2017/06/26/5e86e1cc-5a7e-11e7-9fc6-c7ef4bc58d13_story.html?utm_term=.13c35f5c2033

Zapotosky writes in the WashPost:

“The Supreme Court’s decision to allow portions of President Trump’s travel ban to take effect is a win for the administration, but the impact will be far less severe than President Trump’s initial version of the measure.

That is because the high court effectively allowed Trump to ban from coming to the United States only citizens of six majority-Muslim countries “who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” It also nudged the president to complete his promised review of vetting procedures, which might mean the issue is resolved by the time the court is set to fully consider the ban in its October term.

For now, if you are not a U.S. citizen and have a relative here, have been hired by a U.S. employer or admitted to an American university, you can still probably get a visa. But if you’re applying cold as a visitor or through the diversity visa program, you probably can’t.

. . . .

The Supreme Court wrote that the government now should be able to do its work. “We fully expect that the relief we grant today will permit the Executive to conclude its internal work and provide adequate notice to foreign governments within the 90-day life of [the order],” the justices wrote.

The court said it would take up the travel ban fully in its October term; their ruling Monday only partially lifted lower courts’ stays on the measure. By that time, the 90-day period will have run, and Fresco said the administration will be pressed to come up with good reasons for imposing a ban.

“If there is not an answer to the question on the first day of oral arguments about why this ban is still in place, that is going to make the court much more skeptical about the government’s reasons for having this ban,” Fresco said.”

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Read the complete analysis at the link.

According to this analysis, the six Justices in the majority apparently have skillfully maneuvered the Trump Administration into a “put up or shut up” situation. They have alleviated the greatest hardships caused by the ban by allowing individuals with bona fide connections to the U.S. to continue to come. At the same time, they have pressured the Trump Administration into completing its “study” before Fall and lifting the “temporary ban,” thus largely mooting the case. As Fresco points out, if the Administration attempts to continue the ban after its scheduled expiration, they will likely have to come up with a much more convincing explanation that they have provided to date. Otherwise, the whole thing is going to look like a “pretext” for a blanket “Muslim ban,” which is what the plaintiffs have been arguing all along. Actually, sounds to me like the kind of practical solution that Chief Justice Roberts sometimes devises to avoid ugly showdowns between the three branches of Government. Interesting.

PWS

06-26-17

 

Supremes Drop Back, Boot It Deep, J. Gorsuch Calls For Fair Catch, Play To Resume In Fall Quarter! — I.O.W. They “Punted” The 3 Remaining Immigration Cases On The Fall 2016 Docket!

Actually, only two of them”went to Gorsuch,” that is, were set for re-arguement next Fall, presumably because the Justices were tied 4-4. The other case was kicked back to the 9th Circuit to reconsider in light of Ziglar v. Abbasi, the Court’s recent decision on “Bivens actions.” Here’s a link to my prior Ziglar blog:

http://immigrationcourtside.com/2017/06/19/relax-cabinet-members-supremes-say-no-monetary-damages-for-unconstitutional-acts-ziglar-v-abbasi/

You can read all about it over on ImmigrationProf Blog in a short article by Dean Kevin Johnson at this link:

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/immigration/2017/06/supreme-court-ends-2016-term-with-three-immigration-decisions.html

 

PWS

06-26-17

BREAKING: SUPREMES GRANT CERT., ALLOW TRUMP’S TRAVEL BAN TO GO INTO EFFECT — WITH IMPORTANT EXCEPTIONS — CASE DOCKETED FOR OCT. — MIGHT BE “MOOT” BY THEN!

Here’s the Court’s complete “per curiam” (unsigned) opinion with separate concurring and dissenting opinion by Justices Thomas, Gorsuch, & Alito:

SCTravelBan16-1436_l6hc

The Supreme Court handed the Trump Administration at least a partial victory on the controversial “Travel Ban 2.0” which had been enjoined by the Ninth and Fourth U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. The Court: 1) granted the petitions for certiorari filed by the Solicitor General in behalf of the Trump Administration and scheduled the case for Oral Argument at the beginning of the October 2017 Term; and 2) granted in part the Solicitor General’s request to stay the lower courts’ injunctions pending review.

However, in partially lifting the injunctions, the Court left in effect a significant  part of those injunctions: the Travel Ban may not be applied to a) “foreign nationals who have a [pre-existing] credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” and b) “an individual seeking admission as a refugee who can credibly claim a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

The dissent would have stayed all parts of the lower courts’ injunctions. Justice Thomas, joined by Justices Alito and Gorsuch, criticized the majority for having cerated a non-statutory category of individuals who can “credibly claim a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” He fears that the meaning of these exceptions will itself become a fertile ground of additional litigation before the Court can resolve the merits of these cases.

Additionally, the Court noted that since the bar on internal review of procedures relating to visa issuance was lifted on June 14, 2017, and the Government has represented that the review will be completed within 90 days, the case with respect to visa issuance to non-refugees might well be moot before the Court can get to the merits. The court instructs the parties to brief that issue.

“Quickie Analysis”

The Trump Administration can legitimately view this as a much-needed (from their standpoint) victory. All nine Justices appear to be prepared to rule that the Executive has virtually unbridled authority to bar the admission, at least temporarily, of foreign nationals with no connections to the United States.

It also appears that Justices Thomas, Gorsuch, and Alito would find that the Executive’s essentially unreviewable authority extends even to individuals who have a connection with the United States.

However, those challenging the Travel Ban have some reason to hope because at least six Justices seem to remain open to the possibility of engaging in some type of meaningful judicial review of Executive decisions regarding foreign nationals abroad who have established some connections to the U.S.

There may also be mootness issues with respect to some or all of the injunction with respect to refugee admissions. The new fiscal year for refugee admissions begins on October 1, 2017, before the Court will have heard argument in these cases. Before the beginning of the fiscal year, the Trump Administration must under the Refugee Act of 1980  “consult” with Congress on the number and allocation of refugee admissions for fiscal year 2018.  “Statutory consultation” was one of the things that the Trump Administration neglected to do before purporting to suspend refugee admissions and dramatically slash the number of fiscal year 2017 refugee admissions established by the Obama Administration after undertaking the required statutory consultation.

The lack of any reasonable rationale by the Trump Administration for reversing the  prior statutory determination made by the the Obama Administration after consultation with Congress was cited by the Ninth Circuit in upholding the original injunction. But, that issue should also be moot before the Court decides theses cases on the merits.

PWS

06-26-17

 

CAT REOPENING: 9th Cir. Finds “the BIA abused its discretion by disregarding or discrediting the undisputed new evidence submitted by Agonafer regarding increased violence toward homosexuals in Ethiopia!” — AGONAFER v. SESSIONS!

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2017/06/23/13-73122.pdf

We conclude that the BIA abused its discretion because it clearly disregarded or failed to give credit to the post-2007 evidence submitted by Agonafer, which demonstrates that the country conditions regarding the treatment of homosexuals in Ethiopia are qualitatively different from the country conditions presented to the IJ in 2007. Whereas before, we noted that there was “no evidence in the record of any violence directed against homosexuals in Ethiopia,” Agonafer, 467 F. App’x at 754, at least two of the reports submitted with Agonafer’s motion to reopen provide reports of violence directed against homosexuals in Ethiopia since 2007, including violence in connection with imprisonment. Additionally, we reject the government’s contention that Agonafer must present categorically different evidence of “individual relevancy” from what he presented in his earlier proceedings. It is undisputed that Agonafer is a homosexual male. Given Agonafer’s sexual orientation and the evidence of the treatment of homosexuals in Ethiopia, there is sufficient evidence that, if proved, would establish his prima facie eligibility for deferral of removal under the CAT. See Aguilar-Ramos v. Holder, 594 F.3d 701, 705 (9th Cir. 2010) (“[A] CAT applicant may satisfy his burden with evidence of country conditions alone.”).”

Before: William A. Fletcher and Richard C. Tallman, Circuit Judges, and Paul C. Huck,* District Judge. Opinion by Judge Huck * United States District Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, sitting by designation.

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Yes, it’s only one case out of tens of thousands that the BIA reviews each year. But, mistakes like this from what is supposed to be an “expert judiciary” committed to using “best practices” to “guarantee fairness and due process for all” actually can cost lives!

And mindlessly ramming more cases into an overwhelmed system won’t help  the situation.

PWS

06-26-17

NOLAN HITS 100! — “Ninth Circuit gives green light for much larger travel ban” in THE HILL is Rappaport’s 100th Published Article! — Read It Here!

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/339300-ninth-circuit-gives-green-light-for-much-larger-travel-ban?amp

Nolan writes:

“The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a new decision on President Donald Trump’s March 6 Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.”

The court affirmed the portions of the district court injunction that apply to the 90-day, six-country travel ban, but it vacated the portions of the injunction that relate to the government doing an internal review of its vetting procedures, which could lead to a much larger ban based on a different criterion.

. . . .

Where this is headed

Unlike the travel ban, which, notwithstanding pessimistic claims to the contrary, is just a 90-day suspension, the new ban will apply to uncooperative governments until they agree to cooperate, which in some cases will never happen. What’s more, it almost certainly will apply to more than six countries. According to DHS Secretary John Kelley, in addition to the six countries on the travel ban list, 13 or 14 other countries also have very questionable vetting procedures.”

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Read Nolan’s complete article in The Hill at the link.

Congratulations, Nolan, on reaching then”century mark!” You are prolific. Just from putting together this blog, I can appreciate all of the hours of reaearch, writing, and interviews that 100 published articles represents. And, unlike you, I don’t even have to deal with an editor (although my wife Cathy points out that I could use one).

Here’s a link to a list of all 100 of Nolan’s published articles:

Article List

Congrats, again, Nolan! Looking forward to the “next 100.”

PWS

06-26-17

 

WSJ: After 9th Circuit Modifies Injunction, DHS Resumes Review Of Visa Vetting Procedures!

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-administration-resuming-global-vetting-review-after-courts-green-light-1497996819

 Laura Meckler reports in the WSJ:

“WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump’s travel ban remains on hold due to court rulings, but his administration is resuming a global review of nations that may lead to far more sweeping travel restrictions.

The travel ban aims to stop people from six Muslim-majority countries from coming to the U.S., based on what the White House says are security concerns. The global review will examine every other country to determine whether any should be added to the list. The goal is to compel nations to cooperate more fully with U.S. efforts to vet their citizens, officials say.

The global review was ordered along with the travel ban, and for months, both had been kept on hold by a federal judge in Hawaii. But last week, an appeals court said the administration should be allowed to resume the study, and on Monday night, the court put its ruling into effect.

Now the Department of Homeland Security says it is moving forward.

“The ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals finally allows DHS to resume the important work of reviewing the information provided by all countries on their citizens who desire to travel to the United States, to ensure the applicant doesn’t present a security or public safety threat to the U.S.,” said DHS spokesman Dave Lapan. “DHS will undertake a full review of the vetting requirements worldwide in the expectation of raising the global security bar to better protect our nation.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Thanks to Nolan Rappaport for bringing this to my attention.

PWS

06-21-17