4th Cir on changed circumstances-1yr

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

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

OPINION BY: Judge Gibney


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

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

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


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

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

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

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




DETENTION/BOND: THE “NEW DUE PROCESS ARMY” WINS A BIG ONE IN THE EDVA – Judge Brinkema Orders Individualized Bond Hearings For Four Individuals With “Reinstated” Removal Orders Now In “Withholding Only Proceedings!” — Romero v. Evans, ___ F. Supp. 3d ___, 2017 WL 5560659 (EDVA 11-17-17) (published)

Romero v. Evans, ___ F. Supp. 3d ___, 2017 WL 5560659 (EDVA 11-17-17) (published)

U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema

ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENTS: Ivan Yacub, Yacub Law Office, Woodbridge, VA, Nicholas Cooper Marritz, Legal Aid Justice Center, Falls Church, VA, Simon Yehuda Sandoval–Moshenberg, Simon Sandoval Moshenburg, Falls Church, VA, Rachel Colleen McFarland, Legal Aid Justice Center, Charlottesville, VA, Mark Alastair Stevens, Murray Osorio PLLC, Fairfax, VA, for Cristian Flores Romero, et al., Petitioners

KEY QUOTES (From Westlaw Version):

“Moreover, Congress clearly intended to have § 1231 govern only the final logistical period, in which the government has actual authority to remove the alien and need only schedule and execute the deportation. Congress has specifically limited the normal “removal period” to 90 days, a limitation that makes sense if the removal period is only meant to govern the final logistical steps of physically removing an alien. Based on the length of petitioners’ detentions to date, it is obvious that withholding-only proceedings take substantially longer than 90 days. As such, it would be contrary to congressional intent to shoehorn a class of aliens whose proceedings will typically far exceed 90 days into the “removal period” for which Congress has specifically intended a 90–day limit.”

. . . .

All told, this petition presents a difficult question of statutory interpretation. Although respondents’ arguments have some merit, petitioners’ position, which attempts to harmonize § 1226 and § 1231 by locating the dividing line between the two sections as the moment when the government has final legal authority to remove the alien, better accords with the text, structure, and intent of the relevant provisions. Accordingly, the Court concludes that petitioners are detained under § 1226(a), not § 1231, and therefore are entitled to individualized bond hearings. For the reasons stated above, respondents’ Motion to Dismiss in Part will be granted, petitioners’ Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted, and respondents’ Motion for Summary Judgment will be denied by an appropriate Order to be issued with this Memorandum Opinion.”


Those with full Westlaw and/or PACER access can get Judge Brinkema’s full opinion at those sites.

There were quite a few of these “Withholding Only” cases on the Detained Docket when I was at the Arlington Immigration Court. I imagine there are even more now. So, this decision could have a major impact.

Judge Brinkema noted quite correctly that withholding-only proceedings take substantially longer than 90 days.” In other words, “real due process” can’t be rolled off the “judicial assembly line” like it is in some Border Detention Courts where most of the respondents are unrepresented and many are essentially “duressed” by prolonged detention in poor conditions, intentional lack of access to legal assistance, and orchestrated inaccessibility of material evidence into giving up viable claims for protection under our laws.

Nice work by the NDPA “Legal Team!” I know each of the attorneys personally from their work in my courtroom, my classroom, or my “CLE outreach” since retirement. This just continues to demonstrate how “good lawyering” from “outstanding attorneys” can turn potential losers into “winners.”

That’s why the “Sessions Proposals” to “speed up” the U.S. Immigration Judges and put more roadblocks in the way of pro bono legal representation and full due process hearings are so invidious. We need an independent Article I Immigration Court fully committed to Constitutional Due Process! And, we need it now!



WashPost: 3 Iraqi Refugees in VA Charged with Immigration Fraud — Allegedly Hid Family Ties & Made Up Stories Of Abuse

Rachel Weiner reports:

“When Yousif Al Mashhadani came to the United States as a refugee in 2008, he told officials he had been kidnapped in his native Iraq because of his anti-corruption efforts and wanted to come to America for his own safety.

Now, prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia say Al Mashhadani lied about being kidnapped and about his own connection to a vicious kidnapper.

On Tuesday, Al Mashhadani, his brother Adil Hasan, and Hasan’s wife, Enas Ibrahim, appeared in court on charges of naturalization fraud.

All three live in Fairfax County; they moved here from Iraq in 2008. But when they applied to become lawful permanent U.S. residents, none of them acknowledged a relationship to Majid Al Mashhadani, a convicted kidnapper who is Yousif Al Mashhadani and Hasan’s brother, an affidavit from FBI agent Sean MacDougal said.”


Obviously, the defendants are innocent until proven guilty.  But, if the Government does prove these charges, then these three individuals have not only compromised the integrity of the U.S. refugee system, but also endangered the lives of many Iraqis who legitimately qualify for protection, but are caught up in the anti-refugee hysteria being promoted by the Trump Administration. Cases like this damage the chances of all legitimate refugees to receive the life-saving protection which they need and deserve.

I’d also like to put in a good word for the DHS criminal enforcement operation. Taking apart complicated cases like this and developing them into viable criminal prosecutions takes skill, sophisticated knowledge, perseverance, and dogged attention to detail.

My personal experience has been that the DHS generally does an outstanding job of ferreting out and prosecuting refugee and asylum fraud, even when, as here, the cases takes years to develop. Then, cases that shouldn’t have been granted are reopened, status is revoked, and removal proceedings are instituted.

During my time at the Arlington Immigration Court, the DHS and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria “broke” major asylum fraud cases relating to Indonesians and Cameroonians. The principals went to jail and those who knowingly participated in the fraud had their status revoked and were removed from the United States. So, in the end, the DHS did their job well, and justice was served.

As a judge, I was an adjudicator, not an investigator. So, I appreciated the investigative skills of those who brought the truth to light and thereby helped us keep our system honest.





Problems Mount For Administration On Travel Ban — Can’t Find Support For Their “Pre-Hatched” Conclusions — Stephen Miller Shoots Off Mouth Again — DOJ Litigators Undoubtedly Cringe As In-Court Statements Undermined!

Matt Zapotsky writes in the Washington Post:

“Senior policy adviser Stephen Miller said President Trump’s revised travel ban will have “mostly minor technical differences” from the iteration frozen by the courts, and Americans would see “the same basic policy outcome for the country.”

That is not what the Justice Department has promised. And legal analysts say it might not go far enough to allay the judiciary’s concerns.

A senior White House official said Wednesday that Trump will issue a revised executive order on immigration next week, as the administration is working to make sure the implementation goes smoothly. Trump had said previously that the order would come this week. Neither the president nor his top advisers have detailed exactly what the new order will entail. Miller’s comments on Fox News, while vague, seem to suggest the changes might not be substantive. And that could hurt the administration’s bid to lift the court-imposed suspension on the ban, analysts said.

“If you’re trying to moot out litigation, which is to say, ‘Look, this litigation is no longer necessary,’ it is very bad to say our intent here is to engage in the prohibited outcome,” said Leon Fresco, who worked in the office of immigration litigation in President Barack Obama’s Justice Department.”

Jennifer Rubin writes in Right Turn in today’s Washington Post:

“Opponents of President Trump’s travel ban have one big advantage — the Trump White House. If not for the confusion, lack of staffing (nary a deputy, let alone an undersecretary or assistant secretary, has been named in national security-related departments), organizational disarray, policy differences or all of the above, the administration might have put together on its first try a legally enforceable executive order. It might by now even have come up with a new executive order, thanks to a road map provided by the 9th Circuit. However, the rollout has been pushed back to next week.

Understand that if this is such a matter of urgent concern, the president would have had his advisers working around the clock on this (not transgender bathroom assignments, plans to deport non-criminal illegal immigrants or haggling with Mexican officials over a wall that Trump insists they pay for). In fact, since the point of the ban is to initiate a review of our vetting procedures, you’d think that the Homeland Security Department would already have come up with its proposed “extreme vetting” recommendations.

Meanwhile, the president and his staff continue to provide legal ammunition to opponents of the ban. On Tuesday, senior adviser Stephen Miller in a Fox News interview boldly declared, “Fundamentally, you’re still going to have the same basic policy outcome for the country, but you’re going to be responsive to a lot of very technical issues that were brought up by the court.” Just to remind the courts of the administration’s arrogance, Miller proclaimed that there was nothing wrong with the first order.

“By saying that the policy effects of the new travel ban will be essentially the same as those of the travel ban that so many federal judges found constitutionally suspect, Miller is effectively inviting federal courts to suspend the new one as well, given that the religiously discriminatory history of the ban can’t be ignored, much less erased, simply by purporting to start over again,” Supreme Court litigator and professor Larry Tribe tells me. “If, as I am told, the new ban is a more artfully disguised version of [an] anti-Muslim measure, without explicit preferences for religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries (i.e., for Christians) written into the very text of the ban, then some judges might be less inclined to issue a temporary restraining order, but most federal judges would be savvy enough to recognize that they are being treated to a masquerade.”

Meanwhile, Jake Tapper and Pamela Brown on CNN highlight more difficulties with the Administration’s “shoot first, ask questions later” approach:

“Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump has assigned the Department of Homeland Security, working with the Justice Department, to help build the legal case for its temporary travel ban on individuals from seven countries, a senior White House official tells CNN.

Other Trump administration sources tell CNN that this is an assignment that has caused concern among some administration intelligence officials, who see the White House charge as the politicization of intelligence — the notion of a conclusion in search of evidence to support it after being blocked by the courts. Still others in the intelligence community disagree with the conclusion and are finding their work disparaged by their own department.
“DHS and DOJ are working on an intelligence report that will demonstrate that the security threat for these seven countries is substantial and that these seven countries have all been exporters of terrorism into the United States,” the senior White House official told CNN. “The situation has gotten more dangerous in recent years, and more broadly, the refugee program has been a major incubator for terrorism.”

The report was requested in light of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ conclusion that the Trump administration “has pointed to no evidence that any alien from any of the countries named in the order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States.” The seven counties are Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The senior White House official said the desire to bolster the legal and public case that these seven countries pose a threat is a work in progress and as of now, it’s not clear if DHS and DOJ will offer separate reports or a joint report.
One of the ways the White House hopes to make its case is by using a more expansive definition of terrorist activity than has been used by other government agencies in the past. The senior White House official said he expects the report about the threat from individuals the seven countries to include not just those terrorist attacks that have been carried out causing loss of innocent American life, but also those that have resulted in injuries, as well as investigations into and convictions for the crimes of a host of terrorism-related actions, including attempting to join or provide support for a terrorist organization.
The White House did not offer an on-the-record comment for this story despite numerous requests.

. . . .

Asked about the report Thursday on “The Lead,” Rep. Dan Donovan, R-New York, emphasized that the intelligence community be nonpartisan.
“They should take data, take information, shouldn’t interpret it in a political way and provide the President the information he needs to make decisions to protect our country,” he said.
Also commenting on the report was Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, who acknowledged that he hadn’t seen the specifics but “it looks wrong to me.”
“We ought to be doing the intel first, then set the policy and in large part based upon the intelligence,” Haass said. “If these reports are true, it’s yet another example where this administration is having real trouble ing a functional relationship with the intelligence community.”

[Emphasis supplied in all quotes]


I was never a “line litigator.” But, I was involved in defending and prosecuting thousands of cases during the “Legacy INS Phase” of my career. I also participated in thousands more cases as an appellate and trial judge during the last 21 years at EOIR.

One of my jobs in providing litigation assistance as the Deputy General Counsel of the INS was to make sure my “institutional clients” did not comment on pending cases. Such comments both unnecessarily antagonized the judges hearing the cases and, on occasion, when folks didn’t heed my instructions, completely “tanked” our positions by giving our opponents new arguments.

As a sitting judge, I can guarantee that one of the least successful approaches was for a lawyer to insult my intelligence or integrity and then turn around and ask me to help out his or her client. Sure, in the end, I had to separate the law from the lawyer and do the right thing. But, it certainly interfered with the effectiveness of the lawyer’s communication and made it more difficult for me to get to the substance of his or her client’s case.

And, one thing that certainly infuriated all judges, including me, was for a lawyer to represent one thing in court and then have his or her client do something else. It made me lose confidence in the lawyer’s reliability and integrity and his or her ability to control and speak for the client. I can remember “chewing out” several lawyers at Master Calendar for misrepresenting facts or law to me in their briefs or oral arguments.

It appears that the Trump Administration’s combination of arrogance, ignorance, and disrespect for the court system and the role of judges is undermining both their credibility and the credibility of the Department of Justice career lawyers whose job is to represent them over and over again before most of the same judges. Once a judge loses faith in the credibility of a lawyer and/or her or his client, “bad things will happen” and they do.



Trump Administration Quietly Drops 9th Circuit Fight In Washington v. Trump — Will Rescind 1st Travel Ban EO And Issue Another!

Dara Lind reports on VOX:

“The first thing President Donald Trump repeals and replaces is going to be his own executive order on immigration.

Both Trump, in a press conference, and the Department of Justice, in a court filing, said Thursday that the president is abandoning the order he signed January 27, banning all visa holders from seven majority-Muslim countries and nearly all refugees from entering the United States.

The ban was only in effect for a week before being put on hold by a federal court — and judges around the country have been less than sympathetic to the administration’s arguments for its constitutionality. President Trump continues to believe the judges’ ruling was “a bad decision.” But he’s buckling to it anyway.”


The Department of Justice asked the full 9th Circuit to hold the case (Washington v. Trump) in abeyance until a new Executive Order is issued. Presumably, the Department will then argue that the new EO “moots” the case and that the full court therefore should vacate the decision of the 9th Circuit panel temporarily restraining the first Executive Order. In other words, there would no longer be a “case or controversy” once the first EO is rescinded.

There may well be challenges to the new Executive Order.  We will just have to wait and see what it looks like. Most observers expect that the new order will be limited to individuals who have never entered the United States. It might therefore be more difficult to formulate a successful constitutional challenge.

However a separate suite before Judge Brinkema in the EDVA, Aziz v. Trump, analyzed in earlier blogs, had a “religious discrimination” finding that might have a better chance of applying to those whose relatives or businesses are affected by a new EO.

The full article at the link contains a further link to the relevant section of the Department’s latest filing in the 9th Circuit.

Late Breaking Update:

Reuters reports that the 9th Circuit has agreed to hold action on Washington v. Trump pending “further developments.”



WashPost: Professors (And Former USG Senior Execs) Martin & Legomsky Analyze Judge Brinkema’s Travel Ban Decision — Religious Discrimination Finding Might Be Key To Opponents’ Future Success (Or Not)!

Rachel Weiner reports:

“’Judge Brinkema spells out a lot more; she really fleshes out one of the possible claims, and that’s the religious discrimination claim,’” said David Martin, a professor at the University of Virginia who, for many years, helped shape immigration policy inside the government. ‘That may well prove to be the strongest or more fruitful line of inquiry for the plaintiffs in these various cases, particularly if they’re trying to reach past green-card holders or people on immigrant visas. It’s hard to get there without a religious discrimination case of some kind.’”

. . . .

“’It was a very well-reasoned, thoughtful decision. Frankly, I think, a more careful decision than the 9th Circuit decision,’ said Steve Legomsky, former chief counsel for immigration services in the Department of Homeland Security. In her opinion, Legomsky said, Brinkema ‘pretty methodically went through the various statements by Trump. . . . They put great weight on the opinions of the former national security officials to show the absence of counterevidence from the Trump administration. For both of those reasons, I think the Virginia opinion is very important.’
Brinkema also brings to the case extensive national security experience. She presided over the trial of Sept. 11, 2001, conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, among other high-profile cases.

‘It was a thoughtful opinion, it’s well considered, it wasn’t hastily done like some of these other decisions had to be in light of circumstances,’ said Justin Cox of the National Immigration Law Center. His group is involved in several lawsuits against the ban, including one filed in Maryland last week focused on refugees. That case is specifically focused on religious discrimination.

‘Legally [the Virginia ruling] is actually quite significant because it’s the first court to squarely hold that the executive order violates the establishment clause,’ Cox said.

The danger for opponents of the ban is that, should the Justice Department appeal Brinkema’s decision, they will face the more conservative 4th Circuit rather than the left-leaning 9th Circuit.

‘It would be a close call,’ Legomsky said. ‘There is such strong evidence of religious discrimination — it’s really hard to know.’”


As noted in this article, in addition to being leading academic “immigration gurus,”  both Professor Martin and Professor Legomsky have lived in the “real world” of shaping Government policies and managing programs that actually implement those policies.

As they point out, while many of the objections to the “travel ban” could be eliminated by applying it just prospectively to those outside the U.S. who have not previously been admitted, that wouldn’t necessarily overcome Judge Brinkema’s finding that the “national security” reasons asserted by the Government in her court were merely “pretext” for unconstitutional religious discrimination.

While Justin Cox might be correct that the Fourth Circuit is not as liberal as the Ninth Circuit, that distinction probably would apply to every other Circuit Court of Appeals. Having spent 13 years as an Immigration Judge in Arlington, where my decisions ultimately could be reviewed by the Fourth Circuit and Fourth Circuit law applied, I found their immigration rulings very balanced. Indeed, they sometimes cited Ninth Circuit precedent and even were ahead of the Ninth in recognizing some migrants’ rights.

While the Fourth Circuit affirmed the overwhelming majority of BIA and Immigration Judge decisions in unpublished, non-precedential decisions, when they spoke in published precedents they always had important guidance to offer. The Fourth Circuit also was not afraid to stand up to the Government and “call them out” when necessary in the field of immigration.

And, at least in the Arlington Immigration Court, we trial judges paid close attention. I think that the Fourth Circuit’s very fair and well-reasoned asylum jurisprudence, in some significant ways more faithful to the asylum law and regulations than rulings of the BIA, was one reason why asylum applicants were often successful in Arlington. That’s also why many asylum cases in Arlington could be resolved by the parties in “short hearings” based on extensive written documentation and application of the Fourth Circuit law.

There is also a wonderful pastel portrait of Judge Brinkema in her court with the full article at the link. Check it out!



BREAKING: Judge Brinkema (EDVA) Issues Preliminary Injunction Against Parts Of Trump Travel Ban — Finds “National Security” A Pretext For Unconstitutional Religious Discrimination! (Updated With A Copy Of Judge Brinkema’s 22-Page Order, Courtesy Of Politico)

The Washington Post reports:

“The executive order, Judge Leonie M. Brinkema concluded, probably violates the First Amendment’s protections for freedom of religion.

Brinkema’s order applies only to Virginia residents and students, or employees of Virginia schools. A nationwide freeze has been in place for several days, having been issued in Washington state and upheld by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

In her opinion, Brinkema wrote that the Commonwealth of Virginia “has produced unrebutted evidence” that the order “was not motivated by rational national security concerns” but “religious prejudice” toward Muslims. She cited Trump’s statements before taking office, as well as an interview in which former New York City mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) said that the president wanted a “Muslim ban.”

“The ‘Muslim Ban’ was a centerpiece of the president’s campaign for months, and the press release calling for it was still available on his website as of the day this Memorandum Opinion is being entered,” Brinkema wrote.

The case against the order in Virginia is being litigated by the state’s attorney general, Mark R. Herring (D). It was originally brought by lawyers for the Legal Aid Justice Center who were representing two Yemeni brothers turned away after landing at Dulles International Airport. The brothers have since been allowed into the country.

“I saw this unlawful, unconstitutional and unAmerican ban for what it is, and I’m glad the court did too,” Herring said Monday night. He said the decision “lays out in stunning detail the extent to which the Court finds this order to likely violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, an attorney for the brothers, Tareq and Ammar Aziz, said the judge was “calling out the ban for what it really is, a Muslim ban.”

The decision is significant, he noted, because a preliminary injunction requires a higher burden of proof than the temporary restraining order issued in Washington.

. . . .

Brinkema rejected that [the Government’s] argument. “Maximum power does not mean absolute power,” she wrote. “Every presidential action must still comply with the limits set by Congress’ delegation of power and the constraints of the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights.”

She also dismissed the idea that a halt on the ban would cause any harm. On the other hand, she said, the Commonwealth produced evidence that the ban is having a negative impact on students and faculty who can no longer leave the country for fear of losing their visas or who are no longer sure they can study in the state.

“Ironically, the only evidence in this record concerning national security indicates that the [order] may actually make the country less safe,” Brinkema wrote, a reference to a letter from a bipartisan group of national security professionals decrying the impact of the ban abroad.”


Here is Judge Brinkema’s 22-page order granting the preliminary injunction issued yesterday, Feb. 13, 2017 in Aziz v. Trump. (courtesy of Politico).




Watch/Listen To NBC-4’s Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey Reporting On Judge Brinkema’s Order!




BREAKING: Judge Brinkema (USDC, EDVA) Allows Virginia To Intervene In Challenge To Trump Visa Order — Slams Implementation — DOJ & DOS Differ (By A Mere 40,000) On Number Of Visas Revoked!

Politico reports:

“Brinkema was also harshly critical of the review and implementation of Trump’s order. “It’s quite clear not all the thinking went into it that should have gone into it,” she said. “As a result, there was chaos.”

During the hearing in federal court in Alexandria, Justice Department lawyer Erez Reuveni said that more than 100,000 visas were canceled as a result of Trump’s order last Friday limiting travel by residents of seven majority-Muslim countries, the Associated Press reported.

However, a State Department official told POLITICO later that the total number of visas canceled was fewer than 60,000. Some of those people are currently in the U.S. Their legal status here is not affected, but their visas will not be valid for re-entry if they travel out of the country, officials said.

. . . .

“At the court hearing, Brinkema said the alarm caused by Trump’s order was widespread. She said no case she has ever handled produced the level of public concern she observed in this one.

“It’s obvious that this put hundreds of thousands of people into a state of great discomfort,” the judge said. “People are really upset.”

Brinkema, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, commended the government for its effort to resolve issues raised by Trump’s order, but said more needs to be done.

“I don’t think it’s far enough,” she said as she ruled to keep the case before her alive.

“There’s no question the president of the United States has almost—almost unfettered “ power over foreign policy and border issues, but “this is not ‘no limit,’” the judge said.

Brinkema said individuals and families had “relied” on decisions made to grant visas. She has not ruled on the merits of the case, but she suggested the government could not reverse course in specific immigration cases without a legitimate reason to do so.”


Hey, 100,000?  60,000?  40,000 difference? — close enough for Government work. BTW, Judge Brinkema has handled a major terrorist prosecution. So, she actually knows what real terrorism and national security are all about.

Once again, “haste makes waste!”



Copy Of TRO By Judge Leonie Brinkema, EDVA, Prohibiting Removal Of LPRs & Requiring Access To Counsel — Aziz v. Trump


Case No. 1:17-cv-116

Date: January 28, 2017

Ammar Aqel Mohammed Aziz, by their next friend,

Aqel Muhammad Aziz, and

John Does 1-60, Petitioners,



DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States; U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (“DHS”); U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION (“CBP”); JOHN KELLY, Secretary of DHS; KEVIN K. MCALEENAN, Acting Commissioner of CBP; and WAYNE BIONDI, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Port Director of the Area Port of Washington Dulles,


Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65, the Court orders that:

a) respondents shall permit lawyers access to all legal permanent residents being detained at Dulles International Airport;

b) respondents are forbidden from removing petitioners—lawful permanent residents at Dulles International Airport—for a period of 7 days from the issuance of this Order.

Dates: January 28, 2017



Seems pretty straightforward.  Lawful permanent residents (“green card holders”) returning from abroad are entitled to full Removal Hearings before a U.S. Immigration Judge at which the DHS bears the burden of establishing removability by clear and convincing evidence.  They are also entitled to representation by counsel of their own choosing (at no expense to the Government) in such a hearing.  Therefore, it’s hard to understand the the basis for the apparent DHS claim that they could detain and remove a returning green card holder without a hearing and without allowing him or her access to a lawyer.  But, I’ve read and heard reports from local attorneys saying that DHS CBP officials at Dulles International Airport have been slow to comply or resisted complying with Judge Brinkema’s very clear order.

I’ve never personally met Judge Brinkema, who sits in the U.S. District Court a few blocks from our home in Alexandria. But, I’m familiar with her work. Occasionally, one of my custody/bond decisions from the Arlington Immigration Court ended up before her for judicial review by habeas corpus. Sometimes she upheld my decision, sometimes not.

On several occasions, she ordered me to conduct immediate individualized custody hearings for detained individuals notwithstanding BIA precedent to the contrary. I always complied immediately, just as she had ordered. The DHS Arlington Chief Counsel also got on board. Judge Brinkema wasn’t someone you wanted to “mess around with.”

Unlike U.S. Immigration Judges, who were given statutory contempt of court powers by the Congress, only to have that authority withheld by the U.S. Dept. of Justice over three Administrations, Democratic and Republican, Judge Brinkema has authority to hold individuals, including U.S. Government officials, in contempt of court for disobeying her orders. And, I never had the impression that she would be reluctant to do that when necessary.

Additionally, failure to comply with court orders can result in large attorney fee awards against the Government under the Equal Access to Justice Act. If the reports of non-compliance are true, it seems that DHS and their lawyers are “playing with fire” here.

Remember guys, this isn’t Immigration Court. Article III Judges have life tenure, and they don’t work for the President. He’s just another party to them.