STUPIDITY & CRUELTY BECOME TRADEMARKS OF TRUMP’S ICE – ONE FEDERAL JUDGE IN NY HAD ENOUGH – BLASTS POLICIES AS UNCONSTITUTIONAL!

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/01/ice-is-out-of-control.html

From right, Rene Bermudez wipes away tears as he holds his 4-year-old daughter Danyca during a protest on behalf of his wife Liliana Cruz Mendez on May 23.
From right, Rene Bermudez wipes away tears as he holds his 4-year-old daughter Danyca during a protest on behalf of his wife Liliana Cruz Mendez on May 23.
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

“Donald Trump hasn’t created the massive “deportation force” he promised as a candidate for president. But he has done the next best thing—boosting, bolstering, and unleashing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, giving it broad authority to act at its own discretion. The result? An empowered and authoritarian agency that operates with impunity, whose chief attribute is unapologetic cruelty.

Under President Obama, who ramped up immigration enforcement even as he sought to protect large categories of unauthorized immigrants from deportation, ICE was a controversial agency whose practices came under heavy scrutiny from activists and some fellow Democrats. But in the year since Trump’s election, ICE has become something far more sinister: a draconian force for harassing and detaining people who pose no threat to the United States or its citizens.

And in keeping with one of President Trump’s first executive orders, which drastically expanded who the federal government considered a priority for deportation, the most striking aspect of ICE under this administration has been its refusal to distinguish between law-abiding immigrants, whose undocumented status obscures their integration into American life, and those with active criminal records—the “bad hombres” of the president’s rhetoric.

Erasing that distinction is how we get the arrest and detention of Lukasz Niec, a Polish immigrant and green card holder who was brought to the United States as a young child. Last week, ICE agents arrested Niec at his home in Michigan, citing two misdemeanor convictions for offenses that were committed when he was a teenager, according to the Washington Post. Although one of the convictions had been scrubbed from his record, it can still be used to remove him from the country. A practicing physician, Niec now sits in a county jail, awaiting possible deportation.

Niec’s standing as an affluent professional makes him an unusual case. More typical is the plight of Jorge Garcia, a 30-year resident of the United States who was recently deported to Mexico after his arrest by ICE. Married with two American-born children, Garcia was brought to the country as a child. He was working to secure legal status when, following Trump’s election, he was ordered to leave the country. In a statement to CBS News, ICE explained that anyone violating immigration laws “may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and … removal from the United States.” Despite its ability to exercise discretion, ICE has opted for an indiscriminate approach to immigration enforcement, arresting and detaining unauthorized residents regardless of whether they pose a threat to the public.

In its drive to remove as many undocumented residents as possible, ICE has begun deporting immigrants who make routine check-ins to their offices, even if those people are simply awaiting visas or green cards that would allow them to stay. Vice News recounts the story of Andre Browne, a Barbados native married to an American citizen. At a recent check-in with ICE agents, he was “arrested and forced to surrender all personal belongings.” He was jailed and now faces deportation. Similarly, in Virginia, a mother of two, Liliana Cruz Mendez, was detained following her regular check-in with immigration officials. Her offense? A traffic misdemeanor.

ICE’s tactics can have life-changing effects, even when its targets are spared deportation. The New Yorker tells of Alejandra Ruiz, brought to the United States as an infant. Last March, she was arrested by ICE agents citing a deportation order issued when she was a toddler. She was shackled and sent to an immigrant-detention facility operated by a private-prison firm. Ruiz was eventually released—she had filed a motion to reopen her childhood case for asylum—but it came at the cost of her livelihood: She lost her job as a senior care worker.

In addition to these activities, ICE is ramping up its mass raids in an effort to spread paranoia and uncertainty in cities with large undocumented populations. The agency is deliberately targeting these “sanctuary cities,” hoping to compel cooperation with their newly aggressive enforcement operations. This is all part of a larger strategy to create an atmosphere of fear and desperation for unauthorized immigrants. It’s behind President Trump’s decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and end deportation protections for immigrants from Haiti and El Salvador. Vox’s Dara Lind describes it as “a combination of policy and messaging to keep the threat of deportation hanging over immigrants’ heads” meant to make sure “they don’t get too comfortable here because they could be taken at any minute.”

Anti-immigration hard-liners describe these incidents in the bloodless language of “immigration enforcement,” but that obscures the violence and trauma of what’s happening on the ground: ICE is whisking people away to jails or private prisons and then exiling them from their homes and communities with little chance of recourse or recompense. And the pace is only increasing. While the overall number of “border removals”—those caught trying to cross the border—dropped last year, as a result of economic trends and Trump’s hard-line policies, the proportion of “interior removals” undertaken by ICE increased. Most deportations still involve immigrants from a handful of Latin American countries, but “[t]he number of deportees from other nations rose 24 percent in Trump’s first year,” reports NPR.

The administration is still hoping to increase those efforts. A proposal released by the White House last week asked Congress to grant additional funds to hire more ICE agents as part of an overall increase in “border security” that would be effectively traded for a path to citizenship for more than 1 million Dreamers.

It will be up to Democrats to block those additional funds and, perhaps, to build a broader case against ICE and its tactics. Some high-profile Democrats, like Sen. Kamala Harris of California, have already publicly condemned the agency. “ICE raids across the country have torn mothers apart from their children. The raids lack transparency, spread fear, and harm public safety,” she said last year in a Facebook post. More recently, following a report that ICE was planning raids in retaliation to a new California law limiting cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities, Harris said that such raids would be “an abhorrent abuse of power.”

Given the extent to which Democrats have helped build the architecture for today’s ICE, Harris’ statements—as well as similar ones by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi—may mark the beginning of a new and needed skepticism toward the agency. And if so, then the logic of their critique doesn’t just point toward reform—it points toward a fundamental rethinking of immigration enforcement and a move away from the authoritarianism of ICE as it exists.

What the country needs, in other words, is an honest discussion about whether ICE can be effectively reformed or if it must be abolished and replaced by an agency that can carry out its mission in a more effective and humane way.”

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Meanwhile, over in the Southern District of New York, U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest had enough of ICE’s “Gonzo” tactics following the mindless arrest of immigration activist Ravi Ragbir. She blasted ICE’s actions in ordering Ragbir’s release to say good-bye to his family and wind up his affairs. Judge Forrest characterized ICE’s actions in detaining Ragbir as “unnecessarily cruel.”

Here is a copy of Judge Forrest’s order in Ragbir v Sessions:

Ravi.Order

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Useless, counterproductive removals, waste of Government enforcement resources, irrationality, and unnecessary cruelty are, of course, at the heart of the Trump/Sessions/Miller immigration enforcement program. Certainly, the performance of ICE under Trump — not especially good at removing real criminals and threats or any other type of legitimate law enforcement — much better at busting minor offenders and law-abiding community members  and sowing terror in ethnic communities — provides a compelling argument that DHS does not need any additional enforcement agents.

Indeed, I have hypothesized that what Trump, Sessions, Miller, and the White Nationalists are really doing is building the DHS into an internal security police force that will be used against all of those the Administration fears or views as opponents of their “Totalitarian-Wannabe State.”

In the meantime, arbitrary use of force and calculated unnecessary cruelty are likely to remain staples of the DHS under Trump. That’s why ICE is fast becoming American’s most loathed, mistrusted, and unprofessional police force. Bouie might well be right. Assuming that America recovers from the Trump regime, unfortunately not necessarily a given, ICE might well need to be abolished and “replaced by an agency that can carry out its mission in a more effective and humane way.”

PWS

01-30-18

JUSTICE WATCH: WashPost –Sessions Destroying Our Justice System, One Gonzo Decision At A Time!

July 2

Rush D. Holt is chief executive officer at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Jed S. Rakoff is a U.S. district judge for the Southern District of New York who served ex officio on the National Commission on Forensic Science.

Imagine this: A cop pulls you over and arrests you because you match the description of someone wanted for a heinous crime. You are innocent, but after being charged and brought to trial, you watch as experts testify with “scientific certainty” that hair and footprints at the scene match your own, and you are led from the courtroom in shackles.

This may seem like a scene straight out of a TV melodrama, but this scenario happens in real life far too often. A number of forensic techniques — including hair- and footprint-matching, mark analysis, bloodstain-pattern analysis and others — lack scientific validity and reliability yet are used frequently in our nation’s courtrooms.

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, no fewer than 490 people have been exonerated since 1989 after being convicted on the basis of false or misleading forensic techniques. Just last month, a Michigan man was freed from jail 41 years after his conviction after prosecutors agreed that evidence against him — based on an analysis of a single hair — didn’t meet FBI standards. Another Michigan man was released in May after 25 years in prison following a faulty conviction based on bullets matched to a gun.

During the past decade, thanks largely to a 2009 report from the National Academy of Sciences, we have made important progress in ridding our nation’s courtrooms of such scenarios. But the Justice Department’s recent decision to not renew the National Commission on Forensic Science — the primary forum through which scientists, forensic lab technicians, lawyers and judges have worked together to guide the future of forensic science — threatens to stall and even reverse that progress.

The NAS report found that too few forensic disciplines, other than DNA analysis, have adequate scientific basis. The report also found that experts often overstate their claims in testimony, invoking unscientific terms like “scientific certainty” and claiming 100 percent accuracy.

The Justice Department is the responsible agency for prosecuting federal crimes and, in this role, makes frequent use of forensic techniques. It is therefore not appropriate for the Justice Department to be the evaluator of forensic practices. In the 2009 report, the NAS strongly recommended that to avoid a conflict of interest, an entity independent of the Justice Department should oversee forensic standards.

While the Justice Department did not fully embrace this recommendation, it went ahead and, in collaboration with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, helped create the National Commission on Forensic Science. From 2013 until earlier this year, the commission provided a venue for all of the relevant stakeholders to discuss issues facing forensic labs and foundational science and to advance a path forward to strengthen forensic practices and research.

By building consensus among these diverse groups who all care deeply about the integrity of our justice system, the commission promoted important reforms, such as mandatory accreditation of crime labs used by the government and the immediate disclosure to defense counsels of a government forensic expert’s entire file relating to a defendant. Many of the commission’s recommendations have been adopted not only by the Justice Department but also by state and local crime labs. They have also resulted in changes both to prosecutorial practices and to codes of professional conduct for those working in forensic laboratories. With these improvements in providing justice, it is not time to pull back from the forensic commission.

More than 250 individuals and groups, including leading legal scholars and scientific organizations such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, recently submitted public comments to the Justice Department on how to proceed on forensic science. The overwhelming majority of comments urged the department to ensure that there be an independent and transparent oversight body for forensic science like the now-suspended commission.

For now, the Justice Department has taken the opposite view, that there is no conflict with having internal department evaluators oversee forensic science research that their prosecutors hope to use in the courtroom. We urge the attorney general and the department to take a thorough look at the many thoughtful comments from concerned citizens and quickly reconsider this approach. Forensic science requires conflict-free independent evaluation if it is to advance the truth. People’s lives and our society’s faith in the American justice system are at stake.”

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Nearly every decision that Sessions makes turns back the hands of time to programs and methods that are proven failures.

PWS

07-05-17