MARK JOSEPH STERN IN SLATE: Rule Of Scofflaws! — Trump, Sessions Have No Regard For Law Unless It Suits Their Disingenuous Purpose!

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2017/09/the_trump_administration_s_lawless_attacks_on_sanctuary_cities.html

Stern writes:

“The Trump administration’s latest attempt to punish sanctuary cities hit a snag on Friday when a federal court ruled the Justice Department cannot withhold public safety grants from jurisdictions that refuse to assist federal immigration authorities. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had attempted to prevent cities and states from receiving these funds unless they cooperatedwith immigration officials’ crackdown on undocumented immigrants. The court held that Sessions in fact has no power to attach new restrictions to the grants, rendering most of his new rules unlawful.

Mark Joseph SternMARK JOSEPH STERN

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers the law and LGBTQ issues.

Friday’s decision marked the second time a court has blocked Sessions’ attempts to penalize sanctuary cities by depriving them of federal grants. It also comes on the heels of a sweeping ruling that froze the most controversial provisions of Texas’ new anti–sanctuary cities bill. Earlier this month, the White House declared that Donald Trump is “restoring law and order to our immigration system.” But in their haste to adopt a restrictionist immigration regime, Trump, Sessions, and their fellow Republicans have shown a consistent disdain for federal statutes and constitutional protections.

Consider Sessions’ latest sanctuary cities imbroglio. In July, the attorney general created new criteria for Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grants, which dispense hundreds of millions of dollars to state and local law enforcement. Under these rules, jurisdictions would not be eligible for Byrne grants unless they collaborate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. Most pertinent here, law enforcement officials would have to give ICE agents access to local jails and, if the agency is interested in detaining an undocumented immigrant, notify ICE 48 hours before that person is set to be released. Chicago sued, alleging that the new rules were illegal.

Where does Sessions get the authority to impose these conditions on Byrne grants? Nowhere, as Judge Harry D. Leinenweber of the Northern District of Illinois pointed out in his ruling siding with Chicago. The Constitution grants Congress, not the executive branch, authority to impose conditions on federal funding. And Congress has never authorized the Justice Department, which is part of the executive branch, to force Byrne grantees to work with ICE. Sessions simply usurped Congress’ authority to make new rules.

When Chicago sued Sessions over the Byrne conditions in August, the attorney general put out a Trumpian statement asserting that the city “proudly violate[s] the rule of law” by protecting undocumented immigrants. But as Leinenweber explained on Friday, it was Sessions, not Chicago, who was acting lawlessly.

It’s surprising that Sessions would try to meddle with Byrne grants given that his first foray into sanctuary city–bashing failed so spectacularly. In Trump’s first days in office, the president issued an executive order directing the attorney general and Homeland Security secretary to withhold all federal grants and funding from sanctuary jurisdictions. Multiple cities quickly filed suit to defend their sanctuary policies. Sessions’ Justice Department, which apparently realized this order would violate multiple constitutional provisions, told a federal court that in reality, the order was nothing more than a narrow warning to sanctuary cities that the government would enforce current grant conditions.

In April, U.S. District Judge William Orrick blocked the order as an unconstitutional abomination. In his decision, Orrick essentially mocked the Justice Department, writing that he would not accept the DOJ’s “implausible” interpretation as it would transform Trump’s order into “an ominous, misleading, and ultimately toothless threat.” Instead, he analyzed the text of the order and found that it infringed upon constitutional separation of powers; coerced and commandeered local jurisdictions in violation of the 10thAmendment; and ran afoul of basic due process principles.

The White House promptly complained that Orrick “unilaterally rewrote immigration policy for our Nation” in an “egregious overreach.” Ironically, that is almost exactly what Trump had done through his executive order, illegally attaching new conditions to federal funds without congressional approval. Orrick had merely enforced the law; it was Trump who tried to change it unilaterally.

Neither of the Trump administration’s unlawful immigration power-grabs is as startling as SB 4, a Texas bill targeting sanctuary cities that Sessions’ Justice Department has defended in court. Confident in their measure’s legislative success, Texas Republicans turned SB 4 into a compendium of the most draconian possible attacks on sanctuary jurisdictions. The bill compelled local police to enforce immigration law, cooperate with ICE agents, and detain potentially undocumented immigrants; it also censored local officials who wished to speak out against the law. Law enforcement officers who ran afoul of SB 4 would face massive fines, jail time, and removal from office. Government employees who criticized the measure could also be fined and stripped of their positions.”

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Let’s get this straight: the “rule of law” to Sessions means laws aimed disproportionately at Latinos, Blacks, Muslims, undocumented migrants, non-white immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, ethnic communities, jurisdictions that voted for Democrats, legal marijuana users and businesses, innocent victims of civil forfeitures, and “leakers” (many would say “whistleblowers”) who are career civil servants. In other words law enforcement that in some disturbing ways parallels the “Jim Crow” laws in Alabama and other Southern States to which Sessions would apparently like to return (only with a greater emphasis on targeting Latinos, rather than Blacks, although he has little use for the latter now that the confirmation process is complete during which he “conned” a couple of Blacks into saying he wasn’t a racist.)

I remember from my youth hypocritical Southern racists like George Wallace asserting the false mantle of “the rule of law” and “states rights” for enforcing blatantly discriminatory racial laws while stomping on the actual legal and constitutional rights, and often lives, of Black citizens. Sessions has little or no intention of enforcing laws relating to civil rights protections, voting rights, protections for LGBTQ individuals, protections against local police abuses, due process for migrants in and outside of the U.S. Immigration Court process, environmental protection, constitutional conditions of detention, and ethics. Sessions is clearly a liar, if not a perjurer (which he might be) under legal definitions.

We should all be concerned that this totally unqualified and disingenuous individual has been put in charge of the U.S. justice system. I’ve commented earlier on the glaring unsuitability of individuals like Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton to be governing a state with a significant Hispanic population.

And, Stern’s article didn’t even raise Trump’s greatest and most audacious abuse of the rule of law: his totally unjustified and inappropriate abuse of the Presidential Pardon authority by pardoning the unrepentant, unapologetic “Racist Joe.” Think about what “Racist Joe” stands for, as described by a U.S. District Judge who found him guilty of contempt of court after trial for his continuing, knowing, and intentional abuses of the constitutional rights of Latino citizens and prisoners, among others. In what way does “Racist Joe” deserve a pardon? How would you feel if you were a Hispanic citizen or a detainee who had his or her constitutional rights intentionally violated and was victimized by this arrogant, bullying, racist? The innocent suffer while the guilty go unpunished. What kind of “rule of law” is that?

Then think of all the GOP “politicos” who “palled around” with “Racist Joe” and his toxic sidekick Kris Kobach and even sought their endorsements! That’s because it would help with the racist, White Supremacist “core vote” that has allowed the GOP to gain control of much of the U.S. governing structure notwithstanding the party’s extremist views and generally destructive agenda.

This is very reminiscent of how the “White Southern racist base” helped the Democrats maintain a stranglehold on government for the bulk of the mid-20th Century. Assume that the “Trump base” is 20% of the electorate and only 15% fit my foregoing description. That means without the racist White Supremacist vote, the GOP and Trump would have polled  around 31% of the popular vote, not enough to win even with the idiosyncrasies of our electoral system that favor the GOP minority!

PWS

09=19-17

WASHPOST: CALIFORNIA LEADS THE WAY WITH SANE IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT POLICY!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-immigration-crackdown-hits-a-speed-bump/2017/09/18/d2cfe5e2-9caf-11e7-9083-fbfddf6804c2_story.html?utm_term=.71f46f2f1bb2

The Editorial Board writes:

“PRESIDENT TRUMP’S campaign against immigrants who are in the country illegally has triggered a backlash in some Democratic-leaning states and localities. Perhaps the most sweeping example just emerged from the state legislature in California, which extended so-called sanctuary protections to people who lack legal authorization to live in the United States. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) agreed to sign the legislation, known as the California Values Act, after insisting on changes that injected a much-needed dollop of restraint to the original bill, which disregarded public safety in its determination to shield illegal immigrants.

The bill’s supporters boast that it has made California, where at least a fifth of the nation’s roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants live, the first bona fide “sanctuary state.” Local police and sheriffs may no longer ask about people’s immigration status in many cases, nor hold most detainees behind bars at the request of federal immigration agents.

Similar if less sweeping laws in scores of cities and counties nationwide have infuriated the Trump administration, prompting the Justice Department’s counterproductive threat to withhold federal law enforcement funds from so-called sanctuary localities. In a challenge to that threat brought by Chicago, a federal judge ruled last week that the funds could not be withheld without Congress’s say-so.

The California bill, like the court ruling, limits the administration’s enforcement discretion. It does so in keeping with common sense.

In its modified form, the bill, passed by lawmakers on a straight party-line vote, allows — but does not require — localities to cooperate in detaining and handing over undocumented immigrants convicted of one or more on a list of some 800 violent and serious crimes. They include sex offenses, arson, domestic violence and even some lesser crimes chargeable either as misdemeanors or felonies.

It’s critical that even the state’s most liberal precincts — we’re talking to you, San Francisco — receive that message. It’s one thing to stand on the principle that illegal immigrants, most of whom have been in the country for 15 years or more, are a productive and vital part of America’s social fabric. It’s another to turn a blind eye to undocumented residents who have committed major crimes, imperil public safety and should be removed. As Mr. Brown put it on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” those who have committed serious crimes “have no business being in the country.”

 

The final bill allows more cooperation between federal and local law enforcement agencies than many advocates for illegal immigrants would like. Immigration agents will be allowed to interview people in jails, though they’ll be barred from setting up offices in them, and they’ll have access to some California enforcement databases under rules set by the state attorney general.

The attempt at striking a legislative balance prompted the state police chiefs’ association, but not the sheriffs’ association, to drop its initial opposition to the bill. The generally more lenient stance by police reflects the challenge they face in cultivating strong relations with immigrant communities, without which neither victims nor witnesses will cooperate with them. Such on-the-ground facts have carried the day in California. The administration should take note.”

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Facts don’t matter in Gonzo Apocalypto’s White Nationalist crusade against immigrants and Latinos. His sanctuary cities threats have never had anything to do with effective law enforcement. He hasn’t shown any interest in understanding the legal and law enforcement issues here, nor has he ever tried to sit down with state and local authorities with an open mind to find common ground that accommodates the legitimate needs of both the Feds and the locals.

In a recent NY Times article, one sheriff pointed to Sessions’s willful ignorance of the law:

“A meeting this spring between Mr. Sessions and several sheriffs offered one reason the Trump administration may seem so far out of sync with local authorities on the issue. According to one sheriff who was there — Richard Stanek of Hennepin County, Minn. — when the federal court decisions from the last three years concerning extended jail holds came up in discussion, Mr. Sessions appeared to be unfamiliar with them.
“He was still living in 2014,” Mr. Stanek said. “He had no idea what we were talking about.”

Legal knowledge has never been a factor in Sessions’s long career built on bias, racism, White Nationalism, and reading false narratives from “cue cards” prepared by restrictionists.  I’m actually surprised that Sessions was only three years behind the times here; most of his policies, pronouncements, and “Gonzo” views are firmly rooted in the “Jim Crow” Alabama of the 1950s and 1960s (although current Alabama politics where twice-defrocked “judge,” racist theocrat Roy Moore is a likely winner to replace Sessions provides little evidence that the nearly all White Alabama GOP electorate has ever gotten out of the Jim Crow era — what a total disgrace!)

Compare Gonzo’s incompetent and tone deaf approach with that of a real public servant like Gov. Jerry Brown who knows how to bridge the gap to achieve a balanced approach. Compare California’s carefully constructed Senate Bill 54 with Texas’s overbroad and racially motivated SB 4, much of which was recently enjoined by a Federal Court. Compare real leadership with the pandering to white restrictionists and divisive actions of Tex. Gov. Greg Abbott and Tex. AG Ken Paxton, who steadfastly fail to represent or consider the legitimate interests of their many Hispanic residents while working with the GOP to disenfranchise minority, primarily Hispanic, voters.  Balance just isn’t a factor in the Trump/Sessions immigration enforcement program or in the actions of unfit public officials like Abbott and Paxton.

PWS

09-19-17

 

BREAKING: CHICAGO WINS “ROUND 1” IN SANCTUARY BATTLE — FEDERAL JUDGE RULES AGAINST “GONZO’S” ASSAULT ON COOPERATIVE LAW ENFORCEMENT IN MIGRANT COMMUNITIES — IRREPARABLE LOSS OF TRUST CITED — NATIONWIDE INJUNCTION ISSUED!

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-chicago-sanctuary-cities-lawsuit-met-20170915-story.html

Jason Meisner and John Byrne report for the Chicago Tribune:

“In a ruling with national impact, a federal judge in Chicago on Friday blocked the Trump administration’s rules requiring so-called sanctuary cities to cooperate with immigration agents in order to get a public safety grant.

ND IL, U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber wrote in his 41-page ruling that Chicago has shown a “likelihood of success” in its arguments that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessionsexceeded his authority in imposing new standards governing Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants across the country.

He also said Mayor Rahm Emanuel‘s administration has shown the city could suffer “irreparable harm” in its relationship with the immigrant community if it were to comply with the U.S. Department of Justice‘s new standards.

“Once such trust is lost, it cannot be repaired through an award of money damages, making it the type of harm that is especially hard to rectify” if he were to wait until the lawsuit is settled, Leinenweber wrote.

The preliminary injunction granted by Leinenweber applies to districts nationwide.

Emanuel and City Corporation Counsel Edward Siskel were scheduled to speak Friday about the ruling at a news conference at City Hall.

Representatives of the Justice Department did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

The ruling comes a little over a month after the Emanuel administration filed suit against the Justice Department over its new requirements for sanctuary cities such as Chicago, that want federal funding, to give notice when immigrants in the country illegally are about to be released from custody and allow immigration agents access to local jails.”

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Read the full story at the link.

I’m sure that the DOJ will appeal and seek a stay from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Although what happens probably depends on the composition of the 7th Circuit panel, the Seventh Circuit has often been critical of the DOJ and EOIR’s delivery of justice in the U.S. Immigration Courts. So, they clearly aren’t afraid of the DOJ or getting involved in immigration issues.

PWS

09-15-17