BATTLE OF THE PUNDITS: RAPPAPORT V. LITHWICK – NOLAN SAYS “If the Supreme Court allows the courts to continue to do this to Trump, they will interfere with any national security decision he makes that impacts a country with a large Muslim population, regardless of the circumstances.” – DAHLIA SAYS “Thousands of people will be harmed for no reason other than Donald Trump dislikes Muslim countries and crafted a nearly legal theory to achieve his ban after two abject failures.” – YOU DECIDE!

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/363473-with-travel-ban-scotus-can-correct-lower-courts-anti-trump-bias

Nolan writes in The Hill:

“According to Eric Posner, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, the lower U.S. courts have created a “Trump exception” to settled law on presidential powers with their travel ban decisions. They have ignored the Supreme Court’s admonition that courts may not “look behind” a “facially legitimate” reason for an executive order, which in these cases was a national security interest in stricter vetting.

Trump appealed to the Supreme Court, but his case became moot when he replaced the temporary travel ban with a permanent program with the Presidential Proclamation he issued on September 24, 2017, “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats.”

When fourth and ninth circuit courts enjoined implementation of his proclamation, he went back to the Supreme Court. On December 4, 2017, the Court ordered stays of the fourth circuit and the ninth circuit injunctions.

The Court did not state its basis for granting Trump’s stay request in either decision, but stays are not granted for meritless cases. I expect Trump to prevail on the merits of his case.

. . . .

He [Judge Derick Watson of the USDC in Hawaii] goes on to say that nevertheless “any reasonable, objective observer would conclude … that the stated secular purpose of the Executive Order is, at the very least, ‘secondary to a religious objective’ of temporarily suspending the entry of Muslims.” This “assessment rests on the specific historical record,” which “focuses on the president’s statements about a ‘Muslim ban,’” including on the campaign trail.

If the Supreme Court allows the courts to continue to do this to Trump, they will interfere with any national security decision he makes that impacts a country with a large Muslim population, regardless of the circumstances.”

Go on over to The Hill at the link to read Nolan’s complete article! I note that Nolan’s article is also posted on SCOTUSDaily. Here’s the link:

SCOTUSDaily pdf

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https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2017/12/the-new-travel-is-an-abomination-why-have-we-stopped-caring.html

Meanwhile, Dahlia Lithwick writes in Slate:

“Way, way back in February, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit heard oral arguments in State of Washington v. Trump, the first iteration of the first appeal of the first attempt at Donald Trump’s travel ban. This version was a hastily executed implementation of the president’s promise to create a Muslim ban, signed on Jan. 27, just a week after Trump took office.

America was riveted, listening eagerly to arguments broadcast without images and parsing—or trying to parse—complicated appellate questions about standing, and justiciability, and religious animus. As the court ultimately found—before this first version was pulled from commission and replaced with a new one—Trump’s ban trampled over all sorts of due process rights.

Almost a year later, a different panel of the 9th Circuit heard on Wednesday a different oral argument, about a third iteration of a Trump executive order limiting immigration from some majority-Muslim countries. This one, though, was offered without the glare of national media and by seemingly worn-out advocates. More than anything, the argument was reminiscent of one of those old-timey dance marathons, in which weary partners pushed one another around a high school gymnasium in the futile hope that anything might still matter.

Wednesday’s effort made the second argument about the very same issuesfrom May seem positively zippy (May? Remember May??). But here we are in December, and the travel ban has been sanitized and then sanitized again. The current version, announced in September, targets 150 million travelers from Muslim-majority countries Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, as well as the non–Muslim majority outlier North Korea along with some Venezuelan government officials. It was promptly blocked by judges before it went into effect, and on Monday the Supreme Court allowed it to go forward for the time being, warning the appeals courts that they had better rule quickly.So here in December, it is now being defended by seemingly competent counsel, despite the fact that—if one noticed such things anymore—the president was tweeting Muslim revenge porn only a week ago.

. . . .

We should all possibly care about travel ban 3.0 and its cretinous defenders a whole lot more than we apparently do, simply because it’s permanent, it’s nearly as bad as the original, and the Supreme Court appears inclined to tolerate it. Thousands of people will be harmed for no reason other than Donald Trump dislikes Muslim countries and crafted a nearly legal theory to achieve his ban after two abject failures.

A fortiori, for the record, means an argument made with greater reason or more convincing force. Who knew that something so grotesquely cynical and cruel as this travel ban could become a fortiori, just from sheer wariness, repetition, and fatigue?”

Read the rest of Dahlia’s article over at Slate at the above link.

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Clearly, “different strokes for different folks!” But, we all have a stake in this one way or the other!

Interestingly, Nolan and Dahlia appear to agree on one thing: the Supremes (or at least a majority of them, excluding Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg who dissented from the dissolution of the stay) have signaled that they are ready to “greenlight” Trump’s “Travel Ban 3.0.” In other words, if Trump is exceeding “political and societal norms” (which many of us think he is) ultimately it will be up to the political branches of Government and the voters, not the courts, to rein him in.

PWS

12-07-17

TRUMP BLOCKED AGAIN: US JUDGE IN HAWAII BLOCKS MOST OF TRAVEL BAN 3.0!!

Zoe Tillman reports for BuzzFeed News.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/zoetillman/a-judge-just-blocked-the-trump-administration-from?utm_term=.bxgjqJApzp#.bxgjqJApzp

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Unconstitutional discrimination as well as dumb and unnecessary policy. When will they ever learn?

PWS

10-17-17

IMMIGRATIONPROF: Dean Kevin Johnson Gives Us The Supreme’s “Immigration Lineup” For Oct. 2107 — It’s Much More Than Just The Travel Ban!

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/immigration/2017/09/sessions-v-dimaya-oral-argument-october-2-jennings-v-rodriguez-oral-argument-oct-3-trump-v-intl-refugee-assistance-p.html

Dean Johnson writes:

”The Supreme Court will hear four oral argument in four cases in the first two weeks of the 2017 Term. And the cases raise challenging constitutional law issues that could forecever change immigration law. Watch this blog for previews of the oral arguments in the cases.

Sessions v. Dimaya, Oral Argument October 2. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in an opinion by the liberal lion Judge Stephen Reinhardt, held that a criminal removal provision, including the phrase “crime of violence,” was void for vagueness.

Jennings v. Rodriguez, Oral Argument, October 3. The Ninth Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, found that the indefinite detention of immigrants violated the U.S. Constitution.

Dimaya and Jennings are being re-argued, both having originally been argued before Justice Scalia. One can assume that the eight Justice Court was divided and that Justice Gorsuch may well be the tiebreaker.

The final two immigration cases are the “travel ban” cases arising out of President Trump’s March Executive Order:

Trump v. Int’l Refugee Assistance Project. Oral Argument October 10.

Trump v. Hawaii. Oral Argument October 10.”

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Go on over to ImmigrationProf Blog at the above link where they have working links that will let you learn about the issues in these cases.

PWS

09-18-17

SUPREMES SIDE WITH TRUMP — LEAVE REFUGEE BAN IN PLACE (FOR NOW)!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-agrees-with-trump-administration-says-some-refugees-can-be-barred-for-now/2017/09/12/f38d5884-97ee-11e7-82e4-f1076f6d6152_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_travelban704pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.69d624f195a7 Continue reading SUPREMES SIDE WITH TRUMP — LEAVE REFUGEE BAN IN PLACE (FOR NOW)!

CONTINUING SAGA OF TRAVEL BAN 2.0: Justice Kennedy Issues Temporary Stay!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/justice-dept-again-asks-supreme-court-to-allow-broad-enforcement-of-travel-ban/2017/09/11/6c3853ae-970b-11e7-87fc-c3f7ee4035c9_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-more-top-stories_travelban-255pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.23095c0b5b6e

Matt Zapotosky reports in the Washington Post:

“U.S. officials can at least temporarily continue to block refugees with formal assurances from resettlement agencies from entering the United States after the Supreme Court intervened again Monday to save a piece of President Trump’s travel ban.

Responding to an emergency request from the Justice Department, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy stopped an earlier federal appeals court ruling that had allowed refugees with a formal assurance to enter the country.

Kennedy, who handles cases on an emergency basis from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, ordered those suing over the ban to respond by noon Tuesday, and he indicated that the appeals court ruling in their favor would be stayed “pending receipt” of their response.

The Supreme Court’s decision came not long after the Justice Department asked the justices to act. That filing, by Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall, demonstrated the lengths to which the government is willing to go to impose its desired version of the ban, even before the high court takes up in earnest next month whether the measure is lawful at its core. At issue is whether the president can block a group of about 24,000 refugees with assurances from entering the United States after the Supreme Court decided in June to permit a limited version of his travel ban to take effect.”

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Read the full at the link.

The beat goes on!

PWS

09-11-17

“JRUBE” IN WASHPOST: DEPT OF IN–JUSTICE: Under “Gonzo Apocalypto” White Nationalist, Xenophobic, Homophobic Political Agenda Replaces “Rule Of Law” — Latest DOJ Litigation Positions Fail “Straight Face” Test: “making up rules willy-nilly so as to show its rabid xenophobic base it is adhering to its promise of racial and ethnic exclusion!” — Read My “Mini-Essay” On How Advocates and U.S. Courts Could Restore Justice & Due Process To Our Broken U.S. Immigration Courts!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/09/08/trump-is-getting-rotten-legal-advice-and-once-again-it-shows/?utm_term=.e34528c36b2c

Jennifer Rubin writes in “Right Turn” in the Washington Post:

“The 9th Circuit gave the back of the hand to the argument that the Trump administration could borrow a definition from another section of the immigration statute to exclude grandmothers. The Supreme Court had used mothers-in-law as an example of a close familial relationship it wanted to protect. The 9th Circuit judges wrote: “Plaintiffs correctly point out that the familial relationships the Government seeks to bar from entry are within the same ‘degree of kinship’ as a mother-in-law.” It’s hard to make a case that grandmothers would not qualify. It does not appear that the government even made a good-faith effort to apply the Supreme Court’s direction.

On one level, it’s shocking that a Republican administration that is supposed to be a defender of “family values” would take such a miserly position. But, of course, family values are of little consequence to an administration that is more than willing to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, auguring for the breakup of intimate family relations (e.g., one sibling gets deported but American-born siblings remain).

The 9th Circuit also looked at the administration’s argument that a refugee with a formal assurance of settlement lacks a bona fide relationship with some entity or individual in the United States. The court set out the laborious screening process refugees undertake (making a mockery of the notion these people are a security threat) and noted that after all those steps are completed the refugee gets a sponsorship assurance “from one of nine private non-profit organizations, known as resettlement agencies.” The 9th Circuit held: “The Government contends that a formal assurance does not create a bona fide relationship between a resettlement agency and a refugee, and stresses that ‘[t]he assurance is not an agreement between the resettlement agency and the refugee; rather, it is an agreement between the agency and the federal government.’ But the Supreme Court’s stay decision specifies that a qualifying relationship is one that is ‘formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading [the Executive Order].”’”

Again, one cannot help but come away with the impression that the government is throwing up every half-baked idea it can find to limit the number of people entering the country, regardless of the national security risk or the hardship its action inflicts. The Trump administration is plainly reasoning backward — deny as many people as possible admittance and then think up a reason to justify its position.

In its fixation with keeping as many immigrants out of the United States as possible, the Trump administration cannot claim to merely be following the dictates of the law. (Gosh it’s out of our hands — “Dreamers” and grandmas have to go!) It is making up rules willy-nilly so as to show its rabid xenophobic base it is adhering to its promise of racial and ethnic exclusion. It’s hard to believe seasoned career Justice Department lawyers agree with these arguments. In its oversight hearings Congress should start grilling Attorney General Jeff Sessions as to how he comes up with his cockamamie legal arguments and whether political appointees are running roughshod over career DOJ lawyers.

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Read Rubin’s full article at the link.

Mini-Essay:

TIME FOR ACTION ON THE BROKEN U.S. IMMIGRATION COURTS — IF CONGRESS WON’T ACT, THE FEDERAL COURTS MUST

By

Paul Wickham Schmidt

United States Immigration Judge (Retired)

If nothing else, the Trump Administration has given me a new appreciation for the Post’s “JRube.” She certainly has “dialed up” Gonzo’s number and exposed what’s behind his pompous, disingenuous misuse of the term “rule of law.”

No chance that a GOP Senate with Chuck Grassley as Judiciary Chair is going to hold Gonzo accountable for his daily perversions of “justice.” But, at some point, Federal Courts could begin sanctioning DOJ lawyers for willful misrepresentations (the Hawaii arguments before the 9th contained several) and frivolous positions in litigation. It’s possible that some DOJ lawyers all the way up to Gonzo himself could be referred by Federal Judges to state bar authorities for a look at whether their multiple violations of ethical standards should result suspension of their law licenses.

Another thought kicking around inside my head is that Gonzo’s actions and his public statements are starting to make a plausible case for a due process challenge to the continued operation of the U.S. Immigration Courts.

As with school desegregation, prison reform, and voting rights, a Federal Court could find systematic bias and failure to protect due process. That could result in something like 1) a requirement that the DOJ submit a “due process restoration” plan to the court for approval, or 2) the court appointment of an independent “judicial monitor” to run the courts in a fair and unbiased manner consistent with due process, or 3) the Federal Courts could take over supervision of the US Immigration Courts pending the creation of an Article I (or Article III) replacement.

High on the list of constitutionally-required reforms would be ending the location of courts within DHS detention facilities. All courts should be located in areas where adequate pro bono counsel is reasonably available and accessible. Immigration Courts should be located outside of DHS facilities in buildings accessible to the public with reasonable security requirements. Immigration Judges must be required to continue cases until pro bono counsel can be retained. Alternatively, the Government could provide for appointed counsel. 

Another obvious due process reform would be to strip the Attorney General of his (conflict of interest) authority to establish or review precedents and operating procedures for the U.S.  Immigration Courts. Along with that, the DHS should be given an equal right to appeal adverse BIA appellate decisions to the Courts of Appeals (rather than seeking relief from the AG — clearly an interested party in relation to immigration enforcement).

There also should be an immediate end to the appointment and supervision of U.S. Immigration Judges by the politically-biased AG. U.S. Immigration Judges and BIA Appellate Immigration Judges should be appointed on a strict merit basis by either an independent judicial monitor or by the U.S. Courts of Appeals until Congress enacts statutory reforms.

The current U.S. Immigration Court system mocks justice in the same way that Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions mocks it almost every day. There might be no practical way to legally remove Gonzo at present, but the Federal Courts could step in to force the U.S. Immigration Courts to undertake due process reforms. The current situation is unacceptable from a constitutional due process standpoint. Something has to change for the better!

PWS

09-09-17\

STATE OF HAWAII V. TRUMP — Read The 9th Circuit’s Full Opinion Here — See The Largely Unsupported Arguments Made By DOJ In Pushing For Extreme Scope of “Travel Ban 2.0” — Understand How & Why Court Blew Them Away!

Here’s the full text:

17-16426–Hawaii-9th-09-17

PANEL:  Michael Daly Hawkins, Ronald M. Gould, and Richard A. Paez, Circuit Judges.

OPINION: Per Curiam

KEY QUOTE:

“We are asked to review the district court’s modified preliminary injunction,

which enjoins the Government from enforcing Executive Order 13780 against (1) grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States; and (2) refugees who have formal assurances from resettlement agencies or are in the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (“USRAP”) through the Lautenberg Amendment.

For the reasons that follow, we conclude that in modifying the preliminary injunction to preserve the status quo, the district court carefully and correctly balanced the hardships and the equitable considerations as directed by the Supreme Court in Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project, 137 S. Ct. 2080, 2088 (2017), and did not abuse its discretion. We affirm.

. . . .

The Government also raises concerns that because about 24,000 refugees have been assured, the district court’s ruling causes the Supreme Court’s stay order to “cover[] virtually no refugee” and renders the order inoperative. The Supreme Court’s stay considered the concrete hardship of U.S.-based persons and entities. See Trump, 137 S. Ct. at 2088–89. The Court’s equitable decision did not express concern about the number of refugees that would fall within the scope of the injunction; rather, the Court’s order clarifies that the Government is still enjoined from enforcing the 50,000-person cap of § 6(b) to exclude refugees who have a bona fide relationship with a U.S. person or entity and are otherwise eligible to enter the United States. Id. at 2089.

Furthermore, the Government’s assertion that the modified injunction renders the Court’s stay order inoperative is false. More than 175,000 refugees currently lack formal assurances. Without another bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States, the Executive Order suspends those refugees’ applications. See U.S. Dep’t of Homeland Security, Frequently Asked Questions on Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States at Q.27, https://www.dhs.gov/news/2017/06/29/frequently-asked-questions- protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states (last visited Aug. 30, 2017)

33

(“USCIS officers have been instructed that they should not approve a refugee application unless the officer is satisfied that the applicant’s relationship complies with the requirement to have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States and was not formed for the purpose of evading the Executive Order.”).

Resettlement agencies will face concrete harms and burdens if refugees with formal assurances are not admitted. In the same way that the Court considered the harms of the U.S. citizen who wants to be reunited with his mother-in-law and the permanent resident who wants to be reunited with his wife, the employer that hired an employee, the university that admitted a student, and the American audience that invited a lecturer, the district court correctly considered the resettlement agency that has given a formal assurance for specific refugees. The district court did not abuse its discretion with regard to this portion of the modified preliminary injunction.

IV

Our decision affirming the district court’s modified preliminary injunction will not take effect until the mandate issues, which would not ordinarily occur until at least 52 days after this opinion is filed. See Fed. R. App. P. 41; Fed. R. App. P. 40(a)(1).

34

Refugees’ lives remain in vulnerable limbo during the pendency of the Supreme Court’s stay. Refugees have only a narrow window of time to complete their travel, as certain security and medical checks expire and must then be re- initiated. Even short delays may prolong a refugee’s admittance.

Because this case is governed by equitable principles, and because many refugees without the benefit of the injunction are gravely imperiled, we shorten the time for the mandate to issue. See Fed. R. App. P. 41(b). The mandate shall issue five days after the filing of this opinion.

V

We affirm the district court’s order modifying the preliminary injunction. The mandate shall issue five days after the filing of this opinion.”

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This is how the Trump-Sessions DOJ squanders taxpayer money and wastes U.S Courts’ time. Advancing positions unsupported by law or facts is also what “Gonzo Apocalypto” means when he disingenuously refers to “restoring the rule of law.” Meanwhile, Sessions ignores the real threats to America’s security posed by his buddy Bannon, his flunky Miller, and their White Supremacist allies.

I have predicted that the career DOJ Attorneys in the Solicitor General’s Office, the Office of Immigration Litigation, and elsewhere who are charged with defending Session’s gonzo and often disingenuous political agenda will have “zero credibility” by the time his reign at Justice is over. Problem is that our justice system and particularly our Immigration Courts will be in shambles by the time Sessions is done.

PWS

09-08-17

 

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION LOSES AGAIN ON TRAVEL BAN 2.0. — 9th Circuit Sides With Plaintiffs, District Court!

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/appeals-court-grandparents-part-trumps-travel-ban-49689664

ABC News reports:

 

By GENE JOHNSON, ASSOCIATED PRESS
SEATTLE — Sep 7, 2017, 6:37 PM ET
Email
A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected the Trump administration’s limited view of who is allowed into the United States under the president’s travel ban, saying grandparents, cousins and similarly close relations of people in the U.S. should not be prevented from coming to the country.

ADVERTISEMENT

The unanimous ruling from three judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also said refugees accepted by a resettlement agency should not be banned. The decision upheld a ruling by a federal judge in Hawaii who found the administration’s view too strict.

“Stated simply, the government does not offer a persuasive explanation for why a mother-in-law is clearly a bona fide relationship, in the Supreme Court’s prior reasoning, but a grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, or cousin is not,” the ruling said.

The U.S. Supreme Court said in June that President Donald Trump’s 90-day ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen can be enforced pending arguments scheduled for October. But the justices said it should not apply to visitors who have a “bona fide relationship” with people or organizations in the U.S., such as close family ties or a job offer.

The government interpreted such family relations to include immediate family members and in-laws, but not grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. The judge in Hawaii overruled that interpretation, expanding the definition of who can enter the country to the other categories of relatives.”

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Read the complete story at the link.

Not very surprising. The Trump Administration continues to undermine the rule of law to advance their bogus agenda on security and terrorism.

PWS

09-07-17

THE HUMAN COST OF GONZO POLICIES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trumps-travel-ban-is-leaving-these-orphans-stuck-in-refugee-camps/2017/07/28/58195d24-6d52-11e7-8fb5-d101fa38cebd_story.html?utm_term=.c1979f167906&wpisrc=nl_buzz&wpmm=1

Justin Wm. Moyer reports in the Washington Post:

“The tranquil home of James Isaacs, an Episcopal priest, and wife Maggie Brewinski Isaacs, a pediatrician, sits on a hill above a creek on 5½ wooded acres in suburban Maryland. Inside, an unoccupied bedroom awaits a refu­gee ready to join the family.

But the 16-year-old girl, blocked by the Trump administration’s travel ban, is stuck in an Ethio­pian refu­gee camp and might never see the room.

“The children ask us when their big sister is going to arrive,” James Isaacs said of his sons, ages 4 and 2, one of whom was adopted from South Africa. “We are left in this time of uncertainty because of the administration and the Supreme Court decision.”

The girl, from the East African nation of Eritrea and identified to The Washington Post only by her initials “M.T.” to protect her privacy, is an “unaccompanied minor refu­gee” — a young, displaced person without a parent or guardian who is seeking refuge in the United States.

Jimmy Isaacs, 4, left, and his brother, Joseph, 2, play on the bed inside the room that the family prepared to foster an “unaccompanied minor refugee” from Africa. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

A painting is seen inside the room that Irene Stevenson prepared to foster an “unaccompanied minor refugee” from Africa. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

On July 19, the Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration’s travel ban to stand, leaving about 100 unaccompanied minor refugees stranded overseas. The decision comes after months of judicial back-and-forth over the ban, casting doubt on the children’s plans to live in the United States.

“They are youth that are on their own,” said Autumn Orme, a director at Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, which works with unaccompanied minor refugees. “I find it pretty extraordinary that they are managing this all on their own. These are children that don’t have parents to care for them.”

The result: M.T., an orphan who fled child labor in Eritrea two years ago and was approved by the State Department to live in the United States, remains in legal limbo.

“Not only is she missing out now, we’re missing out,” Isaacs said.

The Isaacs family is not the only one with an empty bedroom after the ban.”

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Read the rest of the stories at the link.

So what kind of country bars vulnerable kids in need while letting the real threats to our national security — Trump, his family, and his cronies — have free rein at the seat of Government? Trump, his family, and some of his advisers probably wouldn’t be able to pass the type of security screening to which overseas refugees are subjected.

PWS

07-28-17

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

 

UNDER THE RADAR: Trump Administration Implementing “Muslim Ban” Without Fanfare!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/18/opinion/trump-muslim-ban-supreme-court.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170718&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=3&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

“Lost amid the uproar over the Trump administration’s travel restrictions on citizens from Muslim-majority countries and the impending showdown at the Supreme Court are the insidious ways that the government has already begun to impose a Muslim ban.

It’s doing so through deceptively boring means: increasing administrative hurdles and cementing or even expanding the current travel restrictions that are not under review at the court. The collective impact of these changes will be that a permanent Muslim ban is enshrined into American immigration policy.

. . . .

The Twitterverse and cable news pundits are unlikely to be mobilized by policy changes that come about through these types of bureaucratic processes. Most people are not closely following the intricacies of visa vetting and screening.

That’s a shame because there is already evidence that they are working. The number of visas issued to citizens from Muslim-majority countries has decreased by double digits. Among nearly 50 Muslim-majority countries, nonimmigrant visas declined almost 20 percent in April, compared with the monthly average from 2016. Visas issued to people from Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen, the six countries on the travel ban list, were down 55 percent. Those figures will continue to get worse if these other provisions are implemented.

Finally, consider an embarrassing incident. An Afghan girls’ robotics team was initially denied entry into the United States to participate in a science competition. It was only after public outcry and an intervention by President Trump that they were granted passage. Situations like that are also likely to have a chilling effect on people from Muslim-majority countries, resulting in further decreases.

A Muslim ban, even when implemented through seemingly mundane bureaucratic processes, simply has no place in our country.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ASKS SUPREMES TO INTERVENE (AGAIN) IN TRAVEL BAN CASE!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-supreme-court-travel-appeal_us_596980fde4b017418627ad08

HuffPost reports:

“The U.S. Justice Department on Friday asked the Supreme Court to block a judge’s ruling that prevented President Donald Trump’s travel ban from being applied to grandparents of U.S. citizens and refugees already being processed by resettlement agencies.

In a court filing, the administration asked the justices to overturn Thursday’s decision by a U.S. district judge in Hawaii, which limited the scope of the administration’s temporary ban on refugees and travelers from six Muslim-majority countries.

The latest round in the fight over Trump’s March 6 executive order, which he says is needed for national security reasons, came after the Supreme Court intervened last month to partially revive the two bans, which were blocked by lower courts.

The Supreme Court said then that the ban could take effect, but that people with a “bona fide relationship” to a U.S. person or entity could not be barred.

The administration had narrowly interpreted that language, saying the ban would apply to grandparents and other family members, prompting the state of Hawaii to ask Hawaii-based U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson to expand the definition of who could be admitted. He ruled for the state late on Thursday.

In the court filing, the Justice Department said the judge’s ruling “empties the (Supreme) Court’s decision of meaning, as it encompasses not just “close” family members but virtually all family members.

The conservative-leaning Supreme Court is not currently in session but the justices can handle emergency requests. The administration’s application could be directed either to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has responsibility for emergency requests from western states, or to the nine justices as a whole. If the court as a whole is asked to weigh in, five votes are needed to grant such a request.

“The truth here is that the government’s interpretation of the Supreme Court’s stay order defies common sense,” said Omar Jadwat, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union involved in challenging the ban. “That’s what the district court correctly found and the attorney general’s misleading attacks on its decision can’t change that fact.”

In his decision, Watson harshly criticized the government’s definition of close family relations as “the antithesis of common sense.”

Watson also ruled that the assurance by a resettlement agency to provide basic services to a newly arrived refugee constitutes an adequate connection to the United States because it is a sufficiently formal and documented agreement that triggers responsibilities and compensation.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Wow, for a group that despises and disses Federal Judges on a regular basis, the Trumpsters seem to be always calling on them for help!

Hard to see what the “emergency” would be that can’t wait till October.

PWS

07-14-17

 

BREAKING: GRANDPARENTS, REFUGEES WIN, TRUMP LOSES (AGAIN) — JUDGE WATSON EXPANDS TRAVEL BAN EXCEPTIONS!

Here’s U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson’s full opinion:

https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3894503/Hawaii-v-Trump-Motify-Injunction-Order.pdf

KEY EXCERPTS

“PREDETERMINED AND UNDULY RESTRICTIVE:”

“First, the Government’s utilization of the specific, family-based visa provisions of the INA identified above constitutes cherry-picking and resulted in a

predetermined and unduly restrictive reading of “close familial relationship.” Other, equally relevant federal immigration statutes define a close family in a much broader manner.”

“ANTHESIS OF COMMON SENSE:”

“In sum, the Government’s definition of “close familial relationship” is not only not compelled by the Supreme Court’s June 26 decision, but contradicts it.

Equally problematic, the Government’s definition represents the antithesis of common sense. Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents. Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members. The Government’s definition excludes them. That simply cannot be. See generally Klayman v. Obama, 142 F. Supp. 3d 172, 188 (D.D.C. 2015) (noting that courts should not “abandon all common sense” when considering injunctive relief).”

“BONA FIDE DOES NOT GET ANY MORE BONA FIDE THAN THAT:”

“Nothing in the Supreme Court’s decision requires a refugee to enter into a contract with a United States entity in order to demonstrate the type of formal relationship necessary to avoid the effects of EO-2. 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, including compensation, it is issued specific to an individual refugee only when that refugee has been approved for entry by the Department of Homeland Security, and it is issued in the ordinary course, and historically has been for decades. See Slip Op. at 12. Bona fide does not get any more bona fide than that.11 Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ Motion is granted with respect to this specific request for injunctive relief.”

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PWS

07-14-17

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.”

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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