NBC’S PETE WILLIAMS REPORTS: “Trump to Replace Travel Ban With Revised Requirements”

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/trump-replace-travel-ban-revised-requirements-n803836

NBC’S veteran Legal Reporter Pete Williams (one of my all-time favorites) reports:

“WASHINGTON — The White House could issue new requirements this weekend for travelers entering the United States, replacing President Donald Trump’s controversial ban on visitors from six Muslim countries, administration officials tell NBC News.

The announcement, expected by Sunday, will supersede the 90-day travel ban on issuing visas to visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, which expires Sunday.

The new restrictions will be based on a Homeland Security and State Department review of the kinds of information that must be provided about visitors and immigrants hoping to enter the U.S. The new guidelines are aimed at preventing terrorists and other security threats from entering the country, officials said.

Following the review, the State Department asked U.S. diplomats around the world to gather the information from foreign governments, warning that visitors will be eligible to enter the country only after the requests are fulfilled.

Once those responses came back, Homeland Security and State Departments reported to the White House on which countries agreed to provide the required information and conform to US requirements, and which did not.

Based on that report, the White House is expected to announce the new restrictions, probably in the form of a presidential proclamation, administration officials said. For many countries on the list, visas will be restricted, meaning that only specified categories of travelers can get them.

Any country that flunks the test can get itself off the list by agreeing to conform to the US requirements, which include issuing electronic passports with a photo, regularly reporting passport thefts, and notifying the US of suspected terrorists. Plus countries must also “take measures to ensure that they are not and do not have the potential to become a terrorist safe haven.”

The original White House order, imposed in January, caused chaos in some of the nation’s airports as customs officials were left to interpret the meaning of the surprise order. After it was struck down in court, a revised order was issued in March.

The executive orders have faced a litany of legal challenges. The Supreme Court ruled in June that parts of the current travel ban could be enforced until the court hears argument, on October 10, about whether the president had authority to impose it in the first place.

Lawyers tell NBC News they are unsure what this latest move could mean for the case.”

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I think this action by the Administration is likely to “moot out” the case currently pending before the Supreme Court.  That seems to be the result the Court was “hinting at” when it issued its partial stay earlier this summer.

PWS

09-22-17

 

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

“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\

GONZO’S LATEST TARGET: LGBTQ Americans — DO”J” Gratuitously Files “Embarrassing” Brief With Supremes SUPPORTING Homophobia: “politicized bigotry dressed up in inane legalese!”

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

Mark Joseph Stern reports in Slate:

“On Thursday afternoon, the Department of Justice filed an amicus brief in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Civil Rights Commission, a constitutional challenge to LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws. The DOJ urged the Supreme Court to rule that laws barring businesses from refusing to serve gay couples may violate the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee. Its brief is an exercise in cynical dishonesty, one that’s difficult to read as anything less than politicized bigotry dressed up in inane legalese.

. . . .

Even worse, the brief does not explain why homophobia deserves special respect under the law. The Supreme Court has said that homosexuality is immutable, like race. Why, then, should animus toward same-sex couples be treated differently from animus toward interracial couples? And what about religious bigotry? Can a devout baker refuse to sell a cake to an interfaith couple, and can an atheist one say a Christian can’t buy cupcakes for a christening? Can a sexist baker refuse to serve a female customer? What if his misogyny is derived from religion? And why stop at a cake? Shouldn’t the preparation of other foods qualify as expressive conduct, too? Doesn’t every good or service involve some measure of expressive conduct or association that the First Amendment could theoretically protect?

In its brief, the DOJ implicitly raises all of these questions without answering them because it can’t answer them—not honestly, at least. The reality is that the courts cannot, with any logical coherence or consistency, deny civil rights protections to some groups but not others. Either nondiscrimination law are constitutional or they aren’t. The First Amendment does not grant greater rights to homophobic bakers than racist or sexist ones. Plenty of bigoted business owners wish they could assert a constitutional privilege not to associate with specific groups. If the courts open the door to one, they’ll open the door to all. Shopkeepers do not have a special right to turn away gays from their stores.

The brief strives to avoid this problem because it is, at bottom, a political document. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently gave a speech to ADF thanking the organization for its “important work” defending “religious liberty.” Through Sessions, President Trump is discharging his obligation to appease the bigots in his base. The DOJ’s efforts, however, may prove counterproductive. This brief will delight the court’s reactionaries who favor religious supremacy and disdain gay rights. But it can only estrange Kennedy—who notably, has allowed an LGBTQ nondiscrimination policy to trump a First Amendment claim in the past. Kennedy is always eager to protect the “equal dignity” of same-sex couples; the DOJ now seeks to undermine it. The Trump administration might score political points with this brief, but it won’t win enough votes at the court.

One more thing
The Trump administration poses a unique threat to the rule of law. That’s why Slate has stepped up our legal coverage—watchdogging Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department, the Supreme Court, the crackdown on voting rights, and more.”

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Under Sessions, the Department of Justice has become  purveyor of racism, bigotry, hate, voter suppression, xenophobia, White Nationalism, homophobia, and some incredibly bad and intellectually dishonest lawyering. Gonzo is a disgrace to his position and an insult to American justice. Liz was right. And let’s not forget how she was treated by the GOP when she tried to speak truth about Sessions in the Senate!

PWS

09-08-17

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

 

PETULA DVORAK IN WASHPOST: DISHONEST LEADERS SOW “FALSE FEARS” WHILE IGNORING REAL THREATS!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/what-happens-when-a-presidency-runs-on-fakefears-real-fears-are-ignored/2017/09/07/83ead004-93d1-11e7-8754-d478688d23b4_story.html

Dvorak writes:

Fake fear is our new leader.

Washington’s new ruling class is not governing with compassion, common sense, measured research, knowledge of history or the future. Theirs is a doctrine of fake fears. And these same people also have a problem with things we should actually be afraid of.

Let me explain.

Fake Fear: The “bad hombres” President Donald Trump talked about during the campaign last year begot this week’s DACA repeal thing. Trump wants us to be afraid of these immigrants, and he’s ready to trash the lives of more than 800,000 Americans looking for a path to legal residency by killing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The truth is that these immigrants, brought here as children by their parents, “have lower incarceration rates than native-born Americans of the same age and education level,” according to a report issued last week by the nonpartisan CATO Institute.

Real Fear: Hurricanes. You know them — from Katrina to Harvey to Irma — millions of people and billions of dollars tell you hurricanes devastate lives, cities and industries.

But Trump refuses to fear them. Earlier this year, he proposed a budget that slashed about $667 million for the disaster preparedness programs run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That budget also proposed $6 billion in cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which helps rebuild homes and hospitals.

The fake fear administration also killed a post-Katrina rule requiring building projects eligible for federal funding to take such measures as elevating structures in flood zones away from the reach of rising water before they get government cash. And they did this just in time for hurricane season.

But hey, the $108 billion in damage and the 1,800 lives lost in Hurricane Katrina must not mean much when it your moral compass is fake fear.

Fake fear: The apparent crime wave that Attorney General Jeff Sessions keeps warning Americans about.

“We have a crime problem,” Sessions said in February. “I wish the rise that we are seeing in crime in America today were some sort of aberration or a blip. My best judgment, having been involved in criminal law enforcement for many years, is that this is a dangerous, permanent trend that places the health and safety of the American people at risk.”

But the facts say otherwise.

This year is on pace to have the second-lowest violent crime rate of any year since 1990, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice this week that analyzed statistics from the nation’s 30 largest cities.

Real fear: Though we’ve seen more and more horrifying videos of civilians being shot by police officers, we still have little comprehensive data that shows how often this happens and how agencies can prevent these tragedies.

“What we really need to know is how many times police shoot people, not just how many of those people die,” David A. Klinger, a criminal justice professor at the University of Missouri in St. Louis who studies police use of force, told The Washington Post earlier this summer.

The Post began compiling this information in 2015, relying on local news, social media and our own reporting.

This is a real fear for real people. This is true whether you’re a black man, such as beloved cafeteria worker Philando Castile, who was doing nothing wrong when he was killed in Minnesota last year by a nervous police officer. And it’s true if you’re a white woman, like nurse Alex Wubbels, who was seen in a viral video last week being roughed up and arrested by a Utah detective for simply doing her job. The fake fear people seem to have little interest in addressing this problem.

The FBI’s weak, self-reporting system that has been the only way to track this was called “embarrassing and ridiculous” by fired FBI director James B. Comey.

Fake fear: Muslims in America. Trump’s attempts at a travel ban, fulfilling his campaign promise of a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” have reinforced a growing and misplaced Islamophobia throughout our country. We’ve seen the fake-fear sentiment in workplaces, in small-town councils trying to mess with mosques that have been peaceful and unnoticed for years, and I even saw it one of my sons’ sports teams this summer.

The truth is, from 2008 to 2016, right-wing extremists carried out twice as many terrorist attacks on U.S. soil than Islamist extremists, according to a recent report from The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund and The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal.

Real Fear: White supremacists in America. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a joint intelligence bulletin that said white supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 … more than any other domestic extremist movement.”

They issued this statement just a couple months before the protests in Charlottesville, where an avowed Nazi sympathizer was arrested after a car drove into a crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. There is no mistaking that was real.

We deserve real care and real concern from our leaders when it comes to real fears. There’s no shortage of them.

Let’s start by calling out #FakeFears when we see them. Washington is full of those these days, too.

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Dvorak succinctly captures what White Nationalist governance and propaganda is all about: fear, loathing, lies. Too cowardly to address real problems because that might offend the “White Nationalist base” that put and keeps them in power.

PWS

09-08-17

BIA ISSUES NEW PRECEDENT SAYING ORE. BURGLARY OF A DWELLING IS CATEGORICAL CIMT: MATTER OF J-G-D-F-, 27 I&N Dec. 87 (BIA 2017) — Hon. Lory Rosenberg Says They Got It Wrong! — + My “Bonus Analysis!”

https://www.justice.gov/eoir/page/file/990986/download

Here’s the BIA’s Headnote:

“Burglary of a dwelling in violation of section 164.225 of the Oregon Revised Statutes is a crime involving moral turpitude, even though the statute does not require that a person be present at the time of the offense, provided that the dwelling is at least intermittently occupied.”

PANEL: BIA Appelllate Immigration Judges PAULEY, WENTLAND & O’CONNOR,

DECISION BY: Judge Pauley

Here’s what former BIA Appellate Immigration Judge Lory D. Rosenberg had to say about it on her blog Appeal Matters and on ILW.com:

Lory D. Rosenberg on Appeal Matters

BIA and Reprehensible Determinations

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, 08-18-2017 at 04:53 PM (600 Views)

In Matter of J-G-D-F-, 27 I&N Dec. 82 (BIA 2017), the BIA has ruled that the Oregon crime of burglary of a dwelling is a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) even though a defendant can be convicted of burglary under the Oregon statute for entering or remaining in an unoccupied home. The Board’s analysis is somewhat confounding, ultimately favoring a categorical conclusion that is clearly to the disadvantage of those in the respondent’s position.

(In one fell swoop, the BIA rejected the respondent’s request for withholding and deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) on the basis that the respondent failed to identify an acceptable particular social group as the reason for the threat to his life or freedom and fear of torture, ruling that, “he asserted that he would be targeted by criminals because he would be recognized as someone who has lived in the United States for a long period of time based on his clothing and accent. However, this proposed group lacks particularity, because it is amorphous and lacks definable boundaries. As described, the proposed group could include persons of any age, sex, or background.” Id. at 86.)

There are two central issues presented: Does the Oregon statute in question and, if divisible, the crime of which the respondent was convicted under the Oregon statute, amount to a generic burglary? Assuming it amounts to a burglary, is the crime of which the respondent was convicted a CIMT, involving reprehensible conduct and some degree of scienter?

A few comments in response to the precedential aspects of this decision are warranted.

A conviction of the crime of burglary does not make removal inevitable, not only because there may be post-conviction remedies available, but because the underlying offense is not necessarily a crime involving moral turpitude or an aggravated felony conviction.

As we know, burglary convictions must be analyzed according to the state law under which the crime is defined. The elements of the offense described under state law must match the elements contained in the generic definition of burglary, i.e., unlawful entry into or remaining in a building or structure with the intent to commit a crime. Taylor v. U.S., 495 U.S. 575 (1990).

The respondent argued that the statute was overbroad. Although the respondent asserted that “a violation of the statute does not necessarily involve reprehensible conduct or a culpable mental state since it does not require that a defendant unlawfully enter a dwelling or intend to commit a crime involving moral turpitude at the time he or she enters the building,” id.at 83, the BIA rejected the respondent’s arguments.

The BIA concluded instead that the statute was divisible “with respect to whether a first degree burglary offense involved entering or remaining unlawfully in a dwelling, as opposed to a building other than a dwelling.” Id. at 84-85. Cf. Mathis v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2243,2249 (2016) (deeming a statute to be divisible if “it list[s] elements in the alternative, and thereby define[s] multiple crimes”)

Under section 164.205(2), the term “dwelling” means a building which regularly or intermittently is occupied by a person lodging therein at night, whether or not a person is actually present. However, the BIA ruled that the statute was not divisible as to whether the building was occupied or not, cutting of any examination of the record with respect to that aspect of the crime.

The records in the instant case contained no equivocation regarding the nature of the respondent’s conviction. In fact, once the statute in the instant case was treated as divisible as to “entering or remaining unlawfully,” the record clearly identified the crime of which the respondent was convicted. As the BIA stated expressly, “the judgment and plea agreement for the respondent’s conviction show that he pleaded to “Burglary I” as charged in Count 2 of the charging document, which alleged that the offense occurred ‘in an occupied dwelling.’” Consequently, the BIA affirmed the IJ’s conclusion that, “according to the respondent’s record of conviction, he was convicted under the prong of section 164.225 that requires entering or remaining unlawfully in a “dwelling” with the intent to commit a crime.” Id. at 86.

But that begs the question.

Today’s decision in Matter of J-G-D-F-, expands on the BIA’s prior precedent in Matter of Louissaint, 24 I&N Dec. 754, 756 (BIA 2009), and distorts the longstanding BIA standard requiring that crimes involving moral turpitude must contain “two essential elements: reprehensible conduct and a culpable mental state,” Matter of Silva-Trevino, 26 I&N Dec. 826, 834 (BIA 2016). Prior to Louissant, the BIA honored the reasonable limitation that a crime was to be considered a CIMT only if the crime accompanying the unlawful entry was itself turpitudinous.

In Louissaint, the BIA held that the “conscious and overt act of unlawfully entering or remaining in an occupied dwelling with the intent to commit a crime is inherently ‘reprehensible conduct’ committed ‘with some form of scienter.’” Matter of F-G-D-F-, supra. at 87 (quoting Matter of Louissaint, 24 I&N Dec. at 758 (citation omitted)). The rationale underlying this conclusion was the fact that the building was occupied and the victim’s presence involved an expectation of privacy and security. By drawing the conclusion that every unlawful entry of a dwelling, whether occupied or not at the time of the offense, amounts to “reprehensible conduct” the BIA evades prior caselaw which had focused on the specific crime that was intended. Cf. Matter of M-, 2 I&N Dec. 721 (BIA, A.G. 1946).

c. 2017 Lory D. Rosenberg, www.Loryrosenberg.com

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Nolan Rappaport  asked me what I think, pointing out that burglary is a serious crime. I agree that burglary is a serious crime, but that doesn’t necessarily answer the question of whether it involves moral turpitude.

As Lory points out, in an early precedent, Matter of M-, 2 I&N Dec. 721 (BIA, AG 1946), the BIA found that the key to moral turpitude in a burglary conviction is not the breaking and entering into the building itself, but the nature of the crime the individual intended to commit following the breaking and entering.

Later, in Matter of Louissaint, 24 I&N Dec. 754, 756 (BIA 2009), the BIA chipped away at the M- rule. The Board focused on the breaking and entering, rather than the crime, and held that burglary of an occupied dwelling is a categorical cimt, without regard to what crime the respondent might have intended.

In Matter of J-G-D-F-, 27 I&N Dec. 82 (BIA 2017) the BIA basically annihilated the M- rule by holding that entry into a dwelling that might be occupied was a categorical cimt without regard to the crime intended.

As a trial judge, I found the M- rule relatively straightforward and easy to apply (or as straightforward and easy to apply as anything in the convoluted cimt area).  Applying that rule to the facts in J-G-D-F-, under the “categorical” approach, the “least possible crime” included in NC first degree burglary would be entry into an unoccupied dwelling in possession of burglary tools. I would find that not to be a cimt.

Applying the Louissaint expansion, I would have concluded because unlike Louissant the dwelling was unoccupied, there was still no cimt.

But, of course applying J-G-D-F-, I would have been required to find a cimt.

So, the current state of the law at the BIA appears to be this. First, apply M– to see if you can find a cimt.

If not, second, see if an occupied dwelling was involved so that the respondent has committed a cimt under Louissaint.
If not, third, see if an unoccupied dwelling might have been involved so that it’s a cimt under J-G-D-F-
Fourth, if all of the foregoing steps fail to produce a cimt, the judge should think of some other rationale for finding a cimt. Because, if the judge doesn’t and the DHS appeals, the BIA will find one anyway. After all, burglary sounds bad.
I find it interesting and somewhat ironic that after the Matter of M- approach gained acceptance from the 9th Circuit, where most petitions to review BIA decisions arise, the BIA has chosen to basically overrule M- without specifically saying so.
In the past decade and one-half, the BIA has often taken the most inclusive position on criminal removal statutes. As a result, the BIA is overruled with some regularity on petitions for review by the Federal Circuit Courts all the way up to the Supreme Court. The latter has been particularly critical of the BIA’s inclusive approach to minor drug convictions.
Notwithstanding this, I wouldn’t expect any change in the BIA’s “hard line approach” to criminal removal under the Sessions regime. After all, the “new mission” of EOIR is to churn out as many final removal orders as possible as quickly as possible with as little due process as possible. And, expansive readings of criminal removal statutes also helps produce more mandatory detention (which Jeff Sessions loves, along with those who are making a killing running private detention centers with substandard conditions).
So from a “job retention” standpoint, getting reversed on review by the Federal Courts probably won’t be a problem for Immigration Judges and Appellate Immigration Judges within DOJ as long as the reversals come in the context of expanding removals and restricting due process.
Finally, I’d never bet against Judge Lory Rosenberg’s analysis on any criminal immigration matter. Lory always had a much better handle on where the Federal Courts were going on criminal removal than the rest of us BIA Appellate Judges, including me. And, over the years since she was forced out of her judicial position, she has been proved right over and over by Federal Courts including the Supremes. Indeed, the Supremes cited one of her dissents in reversing the BIA in St. Cyr (check out FN 52). I’m not aware of any other BIA Appellate Judge who has been cited by name. (Although my good friend and beloved former colleague Judge Wayne Stogner of the New Orleans Immigration Court did get an individual “shout out” for his carefully analyzed trial decision in Nuegusie v. Holder.)
At this point, I’m thinking that Lory’s view will prevail in at least come Circuits. Time will tell.
PWS
08-25-17

FEDERAL COURT IN TEXAS FINDS GOP INTENTIONALLY ENGAGED IN RACIAL DISCRIMINATION IN TEXAS REDISTRICTING — Follows Sessions Decision To Withdraw Support For Plaintiffs!

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-15/texas-voter-maps-blocked-as-racially-biased-by-federal-judges?utm_campaign=pol&utm_medium=bd&utm_source=applenews

Bloomberg reports:

“Texas can’t use its current voter maps in the upcoming congressional midterm elections after a panel of federal judges ruled districts approved by state Republican lawmakers illegally discriminate against Hispanic and black voters.

The three-judge panel in San Antonio gave the state three days to say if and when the Texas Legislature will fix the congressional map, which the judges concluded still carried the discriminatory taint of districts lawmakers originally drew in 2011 with the intent to squelch rising Latino voting strength.

If Texas doesn’t intend to correct biased districts, the court will hold a hearing to solicit advice before redrawing the map on its own, the panel said Tuesday.”

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Read the complete story at the link.

Another setback for the White Nationalist agenda of Jeff Sessions and  Texas AG Ken Paxton.

PWS

O8-15-17

DEPORTATIONS RISE UNDER TRUMP, BUT BORDER CROSSINGS ALSO CONTINUE TO TICK UPWARDS! — Read My OpEssay: “Due Process Disaster Is Brewing In The U.S. Immigration Courts — Is Anybody Paying Attention?”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/deportation-orders-up-under-trump-fewer-prevail-in-immigration-court/2017/08/08/d3f0a6a6-7c74-11e7-9d08-b79f191668ed_story.html?utm_term=.848b8a83c250&wpisrc=nl_daily202&wpmm=1

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

“Federal immigration courts ordered 57,069 people to leave the United States in the first six months of the Trump administration, up nearly 31 percent over the same period last year, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

Additionally, 16,058 people prevailed in their immigration cases, or had them closed, allowing them to stay in the United States, according to the data, which tallied orders issued from Feb. 1 to July 31. That total marked a 20.7 percent drop from the 20,255 immigrants who prevailed at the same time last year.

In a news release, the Justice Department said the notoriously backlogged court system is making a return to the “rule of law” under President Trump, who has vowed to speed deportations. But officials did not say how many of the orders were issued in absentia, meaning to immigrants who did not attend their hearings and therefore could not immediately be deported.

The Washington Post reported last week that thousands of immigrants, some seeking protection from violence in their homelands, have missed their court dates in recent years, often because they did not know about them or were afraid to show up. Advocates for immigrants have also raised concern about the lack of legal aid for immigrants, especially for those in immigration jails.

Last month, the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges said courts are severely understaffed, with about 300 immigration judges juggling a quickly rising caseload. An estimated 600,000 cases are pending nationwide.

United We Dream, an immigrant youth-led organization, protested ICE raids at Lafayette Square near the White House in February. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

Unlike the traditional federal court system, which is independent of the executive branch of government, immigration courts are administered by the Justice Department.

That agency said that from Feb. 1 to July 31, judges issued 73,127 final immigration decisions, an increase of 14.5 percent over the same period in 2016.

Of those decisions, 49,983 were deportation orders, an increase of nearly 28 percent from the same period in 2016. The rest were orders to leave the United States voluntarily, a process by which immigrants generally face fewer barriers if they wish to apply to return to the United States in the future.

Federal officials attributed the increase in case completions to Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order dispatching more than 100 immigration judges to immigration jails across the country. More than 90 percent of cases heard in jails have led to orders to leave the United States. The department has also hired 54 new judges to work in immigration courts since Trump took office. More are being hired every month.

Dana Leigh Marks, an immigration judge based in San Francisco who heads the national association, wrote in Newsday last month that immigration courts should be separated from the Justice Department to ensure “judicial independence and protection from political influences.”

“More skilled court management, provided by experienced court administrators, rather than a law enforcement agency with priorities other than fairness and efficiency, would greatly enhance our ability to complete the tasks,” she wrote. “For example, cases would not be docketed to make political statements or serve as a show of force by the U.S. government.”

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Due Process Disaster Is Brewing In The U.S. Immigration Courts — Is Anybody Paying Attention? 

by Paul Wickham Schmidt

U.S. Immigration Judge (Retired)

Meanwhile, according to CQ Roll Call, arrests of undocumented individuals at the Southern Border rose 13.1% in July, the second consecutive monthly increase. Overall, DHS’s CBP reports arresting more family units and fewer unaccompanied children during the first 10 months of FY 2017.

While CBP “fobs off” the increases as “seasonal,” they do cast some doubt on whether the Trump Administration’s “send ’em all back asap” enforcement approach is really going to decrease undocumented migration in the long run. It might simply be a case of professional human smuggling operations revising their methods and raising their prices to adjust to higher risk factors and the “market” taking time to adjust to the changing practices and price increases. Moreover, to date, neither increases in removal orders, some as noted by Horwitz undoubtedly “in absentia orders” issued without full due process protections, nor increases in the number of U.S. Immigration Judges has stopped the growth of the backlog of cases before the U.S. Immigration Courts, currently estimated at more than 610,000 pending cases!

Apparently, under the Trump/Sessions regime success in the U.S. Immigration Court System is no longer measured by improvements in due process and fairness or by insuring that the individuals coming before the court get the protections and relief to which they are entitled under the law. Nope! The “rule of law” in Immigration Court now appears synonymous with turning that Court System into a “deportation mill” — just another whistle stop on the “deportation express.”

In other words, we’ve now come “full circle” since 1983. Then, EOIR was created to get the Immigration Courts out of INS to enhance due process and overcome a public perception that the courts were merely functioning as adjuncts of INS enforcement. The U.S. Immigration Courts and EOIR essentially have been “recaptured” by DHS  enforcement.

EOIR has once again become an insulated “inbred” agency. Judicial appointments are made by DOJ politicos almost exclusively from the ranks of government attorneys, primarily DHS and DOJ prosecutors, just like when the “Legacy INS” ran the courts. Dockets are out of control, management is haphazard, technology is outdated and inadequate, and clerical staffing shortages are chronic. Staffing and docketing priorities are designed to accommodate enforcement priorities and to maximize removals, rather than to promote due process and fairness. Training and attention to the real “rule of law” are afterthoughts. Public service is a dirty word.

Morale among those at EOIR who care about the due process judicial mission has been steadily declining even as already sky-high stress levels continue to ratchet up. Numbers and removals have replaced fairness, professionalism, and unbiased decision making as objectives.

There are rumors that the Immigration Courts are going to be taken out of the DOJ and “reintegrated” into DHS to reflect their “true function” as part of the deportation mechanism. I think it’s unlikely unless Sessions becomes the new Secretary of DHS. But, really, what difference would it make? Sessions basically “reassumed” the immigration enforcement functions that once were in the Attorney General’s portfolio but were sent over to DHS when it was created after 9-11. Kelly merely signed off and nodded agreement to what Sessions told him to do.

A move by the DOJ apparently is afoot to revamp the judicial “evaluation system” to rate Immigration Judges more like “lower level DOJ attorneys” rather than judicial officials exercising independent judgment. Such bureaucratic ratings systems often elevate “productivity” above quality, value “following agency priorities” over exercising independent judgment, and serve to give the politicos at the DOJ more control and leverage over the day to day functioning of what is supposed to be a judiciary free from political influence or intimidation. Moreover, such ratings are often prepared by “supervisory judges” many of whom hear no cases and most of whom have little daily contact with the Immigration  Judges they nominally “supervise.” In a well-functioning judicial system, the local “Chief Judge” is a leader and problem solver, not a “supervisor” of her or his peers.

At this point, the Trump Administration clearly has no interest in fixing the festering problems in the U.S. Immigration Courts; they are determined to make things worse. While there is some bipartisan support in Congress for an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court, to date it hasn’t coalesced into any specific, politically viable legislation.

That basically leaves it to the Article III Federal Courts to decide whether or not to fix the Immigration Courts. One possibility is that they will decide that it is too much: just forget due process for foreign nationals, rubber stamp the removal orders, stay above the fray, and become another “whistle stop on the deportation express.”

A more optimistic possibility is that they will draw the line on the due process nightmare in the U.S. Immigration Courts being promoted by the Administration. But, that will make the Article III Courts a major “track block” on the deportation express. The trains will derail and pile up on the doorstep, and the Article III Courts can count on little if any help or resources from Congress in untangling the mess and getting things back on track. Understandably, from a practical if not a legal point of view, some Article III Judges aren’t going to want to go there.

One thing is certain — things can’t continue they way they are going now. Something has got to give! And, when it does, the Article III Courts will be forced to do some self-examination and decide whether they are going to be part of the problem, or part of the solution. Are life-tenured Article III judgeships in essence about securing life sinecures, or about taking a perhaps unpopular and labor intensive stand for Constitutional Due Process for all, even the weakest and most vulnerable among us? We’ll soon find out!

PWS

08-09-17

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

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

Key quote:

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

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

24 LOZANO-ARREDONDO V. SESSIONS

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

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

OPINION BY: Judge Fisher

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

08-08-17

 

3rd Cir. “Just Says No” To DOJ Request For Remand To Give BIA Chance To Misconstrue Statute — PA misdemeanor count of obstructing the administration of law or other governmental function is categorically NOT a CIMT — Ildefonso-Candelario v. Atty. Gen.

http://www2.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/163625p.pdf

Key quote:

“Instead of defending the conclusion that section 5101 is categorically a crime involving moral turpitude, the government requests a remand without decision to permit the BIA to reconsider its position in the matter. See Ren v. Gonzales, 440 F.3d 446, 448 (7th Cir. 2006); see generally SKF USA Inc. v. United States, 254 F.3d 1022, 1027-30 (Fed. Cir. 2001) (outlining approaches to agency remand requests). The government points out that the BIA is generally entitled to Chevron deference for reasonable interpretations of ambiguous terms, Mehboob, 549 F.3d at 275, and theorizes that the BIA might conjure up an interpretation of the term “moral turpitude” enabling a conclusion that section 5101 categorically involves “conduct that is inherently base, vile, or depraved,” Knapik, 384 F.3d at 89.

Yet the government has been unable, either in its brief or at oral argument, to articulate any understanding of the phrase “crime involving moral turpitude” that could plausibly encompass section 5101. This is not because of a failure of imagination. It instead reflects the simple fact that there is no conceivable way to describe the least culpable conduct covered by section 5101 — such as the illegal but nonviolent political protest described in Ripley — as inherently vile, or as “a reprehensible act committed with an appreciable level of consciousness or deliberation.” Partyka, 417 F.3d at 414. Moreover, no “emerging case law,” Ren, 440 F.3d at 448, involving either section 5101 or the definition of moral turpitude in other contexts calls for giving the BIA a second bite at the apple. See Jean-Louis, 582 F.3d at 469 (declining to remand where the relevant legal materials, including BIA decisions, “lead[] inexorably to the conclusion” that an offense is not morally turpitudinous).

10

Under the circumstances, we see no reason for remanding without correcting the legal error apparent on the face of the petition. See Mayorga v. Att’y Gen., 757 F.3d 126, 134 (3d Cir. 2014); cf. City of Arlington v. FCC, 133 S. Ct. 1863, 1874 (2013) (“[W]here Congress has established an ambiguous line, the agency can go no further than the ambiguity will fairly allow.”). We thus deny the government’s request for a voluntary remand and hold that 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5101 is not categorically a crime involving moral turpitude.”

PANEL: JORDAN, KRAUSE, Circuit Judges and STEARNS, District Judge.

OPINION BY: JUDGE STEARNS

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Looks like the 3rd Circuit is starting to get the picture on how the BIA, under pressure from the politicos in the DOJ to produce more removals, has a strong tendency to construe the law against respondents and in favor of just about any DHS position that will facilitate removals.

That’s why it’s time for the Article III Courts to put an end to Chevron and the pro-Government, anti-individual results that it favors. “Captive” administrative tribunals responsible to Executive Branch politicos can’t be trusted to fairly and independently construe ambiguous statutory language. That’s properly the job of the Article III Courts; they have been shirking it for far too long! The Supremes have essentially reversed the results of Chief Justice John Marshall’s “victory” over President Thomas Jefferson in Marbury v. Madison!

PWS

08-04-17

 

 

CIVIL RIGHTS: Sessions Discovers America’s REAL Civil Rights Crisis — Insufficient White Privilege — Every White Kid Should Have Have Preferred Admission (How Else Do You Think Trump & Some Of His Cronies Got Into Good Schools?) — Gonzo Wants To Use Taxpayer $$$ To Turn Civil Rights Laws Against Blacks & Other Minorities!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/01/us/politics/trump-affirmative-action-universities.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Charlie Savage reports for the NY Times:

“WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants, according to a document obtained by The New York Times.

The document, an internal announcement to the civil rights division, seeks current lawyers interested in working for a new project on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”

The announcement suggests that the project will be run out of the division’s front office, where the Trump administration’s political appointees work, rather than its Educational Opportunities Section, which is run by career civil servants and normally handles work involving schools and universities.

The document does not explicitly identify whom the Justice Department considers at risk of discrimination because of affirmative action admissions policies. But the phrasing it uses, “intentional race-based discrimination,” cuts to the heart of programs designed to bring more minority students to university campuses.

Supporters and critics of the project said it was clearly targeting admissions programs that can give members of generally disadvantaged groups, like black and Latino students, an edge over other applicants with comparable or higher test scores.

The project is another sign that the civil rights division is taking on a conservative tilt under President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. It follows other changes in Justice Department policy on voting rights, gay rights and police reforms.

. . . .

The pending start of the affirmative action project — division lawyers who want to work on it must submit their résumés by Aug. 9, the announcement said — joins a series of changes involving civil rights law since Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

In a lawsuit challenging Texas’ strict voter identification law, the Justice Department switched its position, dropping the claim that the law was intentionally discriminatory and later declaring that the law had been fixed. Mr. Sessions has also made clear he is not interested in using consent decrees to impose reforms on troubled police departments and has initiated a sweeping review of existing agreements.

Last week, the Justice Department, without being asked, filed a brief in a private employment discrimination lawsuit. It urged an appeals court not to interpret the ban on sex-based discrimination in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as covering sexual orientation. The Obama administration had shied from taking a stand on that question.

Vanita Gupta, who ran the civil rights division in the Obama administration’s second term and is now president of the liberal Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, noted that the briefs in the Texas voter identification and gay-rights cases were signed only by Trump administration political appointees, not career officials, just as the affirmative action project will apparently be run directly by the division’s front office.

“The fact that the position is in the political front office, and not in the career section that enforces antidiscrimination laws for education, suggests that this person will be carrying out an agenda aimed at undermining diversity in higher education without needing to say it,” Ms. Gupta said.

The civil rights division has been a recurring culture-war battleground as it passed between Democratic and Republican administrations.”

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Wow! Talk about waste, fraud, and abuse by political officials at the DOJ! Oh, GAO, where art thou when the country needs you? Assuming that any minorities can still vote by the time Sessions and Trump get through — a big if — they might want to consider turning out for candidates who will support the “original intent” of Civil Rights laws, rather than perverting them to further entrench  the White (Largely Male) GOP Establishment.

PWS

08-02-17

U.S. IMMIGRATION COURTS APEAR STACKED AGAINST CENTRAL AMERICAN ASYLUM APPLICANTS — Charlotte, NC Approval Rates Far Below Those Elsewhere In 4th Circuit — Is Precedent Being Misapplied?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/migrants-in-surge-fare-worse-in-immigration-court-than-other-groups/2017/07/30/e29eeacc-6e51-11e7-9c15-177740635e83_story.html?utm_term=.5d2ca3c80278

 

Julia Preston of The Marshall Project reports in the Washington Post:

— Toward the end of a recent morning hearing in immigration court, Judge V. Stuart Couch looked out from his bench on a nearly empty chamber. On one side sat the prosecutor. But at the table for the immigrants, the chairs were vacant.

From a stack of case files, Couch called out names of asylum seekers: Dina Marciela Baires from El Salvador and her three children. No answer. Lesley Carolina Cardoza from Honduras and her young daughter. Silence. After identifying 17 people who had failed to appear for their hearings, the judge ordered all of them to be deported.

The scene is replaying across the country as immigration courts resolve the asylum cases of families who streamed across the Southwest border since 2014. Tens of thousands of families from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, and some from Mexico, came here citing their need for protection from predatory gangs and criminal violence. Now, they face the prospect of being sent back to countries they fear have not become any less dangerous.

Of nearly 100,000 parents and children who have come before the courts since 2014, most asking for refuge, judges have issued rulings in at least 32,500 cases, court records show. The majority — 70 percent — ended with deportation orders in absentia, pronounced by judges to empty courtrooms.

Their cases are failing just as President Trump is rapidly expanding deportations.

Immigration courts have long had high rates of in absentia rulings, with one-quarter of all cases resolved by such decisions last year. But the rate for families who came in the border surge stands out as far higher, according to the Justice Department office that runs the immigration courts and tracked the cases of those families over the past three years.

Many immigrants did not understand what they were supposed to do to pursue their claims and could not connect with lawyers to guide them. Some just stayed away, fearing they could be deported directly from courthouses and choosing instead to take their chances in the immigration underground.

New cohort of fugitives

As a result, migrants from the surge are faring worse in the courts than other groups. By late January, the courts had granted asylum or otherwise allowed migrants to remain legally in this country in 3,792, or 11 percent, of those cases involving families, the figures show. By contrast, in all asylum cases last year, 43 percent ended in approvals.

The large-scale failure of the families’ claims is the final unraveling of President Barack Obama’s strategy to deal with the asylum seekers.

Unlike most illegal border crossers, who can generally be swiftly deported, many recent migrants from Central America asserted that they had strong reasons for seeking protection in the United States. Rather than dodging the Border Patrol, they turned themselves in, saying they were afraid to return home. Under U.S. law, that starts an asylum proceeding in which courts evaluate claims that migrants faced dangerous persecution.

When the surge began in 2014, Obama administration officials, worried they could spur an even greater flow if they accepted the migrants as refugees, tried to detain them near the border and deport them. But federal courts curtailed the detention of children and their parents, and so the Obama administration funneled them into immigration courts to ask for asylum. Families and unaccompanied minors who passed a first stage of screening at the border were released to pursue their cases in courts around the country.

In many of those cases, judges in the overburdened courts are only now rendering their decisions — and families from the Central American surge are becoming a new cohort of immigrant fugitives.

In the past, an order of removal — the immigration equivalent of an arrest warrant — did not necessarily lead to swift expulsion. But the Trump administration has made it clear that anyone on the wrong side of immigration law can be tracked down and deported, whether or not they committed a serious crime.


María Arita and her children, Amilcar, left, and Allison, at their home in Charlotte. Arita came to the United States from Honduras in 2013 with her then-3-year-old son to escape a gang that was targeting her family. (Logan Cyrus/For The Washington Post)
‘Don’t stop in Charlotte!’

The fates of the asylum-seeking families are particularly stark in Charlotte. Three immigration judges, appointed by the U.S. attorney general, labor under a backlog of nearly 8,000 cases. The court, which covers both Carolinas, has an amply earned reputation as one of the toughest in which to win an asylum case.

María Arita discovered these realities only after she left Honduras in 2013, forded the Rio Grande in south Texas with her 3-year-old son, turned herself in to border authorities and was sent to Charlotte to join her husband, who had found work here after coming illegally a year earlier. She said a mara — a criminal gang — had taken a dislike to her husband, for reasons the family still does not fully understand. But the gang made its animus very clear.

“First they killed my brother-in-law,” Arita said, trying to remember the attacks in the correct order. “Then they killed my father-in-law. Then . . . they shot another brother-in-law. That’s when my husband realized he had to get out, and he left for the United States. Then they broke down the door of my house. I wasn’t home, but they left a message saying they were going to kidnap my son to make my husband come back.”

Unlike many asylum seekers in this region, Arita found a lawyer. But after she paid several thousand dollars in legal fees, she said, he dropped her case. Despite her family’s trail of death in Honduras, he told her, she wasn’t going to win in Charlotte.


A photo of María Arita from when she was living in Honduras, next to a school photo of her son, Amilcar. (Logan Cyrus/For The Washington Post)

Terrified of going back, she went by herself to a hearing this spring. Before it was over, the judge had denied her claim and given her a few weeks to pack up, take her son and leave the United States. Results like that are among many reasons immigrants nationwide have been failing to appear in court.

Some migrants came to this country more to escape poverty than violence, and they may have avoided court because they knew their asylum claims were likely to be rejected. But more than 85 percent of the families passed the first legal test for asylum, in which they had to show they had a “credible fear” of returning home, according to Department of Homeland Security figures.

For many of them, the law itself presents a problem. Migrants running from gangs do not easily fit into the classic categories for asylum, which offers protection to people fearing persecution based on race, religion, nationality or politics. Yet in some courts, artful lawyers have won for people from Central America by crafting cases to fit a fifth, more loosely defined category of persecution in the law, against members of a “particular social group.” In recent years, migrant women have also won if they were escaping extreme domestic violence.

But not in Charlotte. Couch and Judge  — two out of three judges on the bench — have made it clear they view asylum as a narrow opportunity, and they regard claims stemming from gang violence as inconsistent with the letter of the law. Couch has scolded lawyers for trying to bend the statute like “silly putty” to make it work for Central American migrants.

Couch grants asylum in 18 percent of the cases he hears, while Pettinato grants 15 percent, both less than half the national rate, according to an analysis of court records by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a data research group at Syracuse University. As sitting judges, Couch and Pettinato were not able to comment on their rulings.

“We should set up billboards on the highway for people coming from the border. Keep going, don’t stop in Charlotte!” said Viridiana Martínez, who works with Alerta Migratoria, a group in Durham, N.C., that helps immigrants fight deportation.”

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Read Julia’s complete article at the link.

According to the FY 216 Statistics Yearbook, elsewhere in the Fourth Circuit the Baltimore Immigration Court granted 63% of asylum application while the Arlington Immigration Court was nearly identical with 62%. The Charlotte Immigration Court, on the other hand, was 17%.

The Supreme Court in INS v. Cardoza-Fonseca, 480 U.S. 421 (1987) and the BIA in Matter of Mogharrabi, 19 I&N Dec. 439 (BIA 1987) both commanded that the “well-founded fear” standard for asylum be generously applied in favor of applicants! Although the BIA has not been as generous as it could and should have been in cases involving Central Americans needing protection from targeted gang violence, they have gone out of their way to reject notions that there should be any “presumption” against asylum grants from Central America. For example, in Matter of M-E-V-G-, 26 I&N Dec. 227, 251 (BIA 2014), the BIA cautioned their decisions “should not be read as a blanket rejection of all factual scenarios involving gangs. . . . . Social group determinations are made on a case-by-case basis.”

Moreover, established BIA precedents giving favorable treatment to LGBT individuals and those seeking protection from domestic violence frequently apply to cases of those fleeing Central America. See e.g., Matter of Tobaso-Alfonso, 20 I&N Dec. 819 (BIA 1990) (gays); Matter of A-R-C-G-, 26 I&N Dec. 388 (BIA 2014)  (domestic violence). Additionally, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has generally been protective of the substantive and procedural rights of asylum  seekers. See, e.g., Crespin-Valladares v. Holder, 632 F.3d 117  (4th Cir. 2011) (family members).

Something is seriously wrong in the Charlotte Immigration Court. Due process is not being fully protected. More seriously, nobody in “the system” — DOJ & EOIR — appears to care or be doing anything to correct the problems in Charlotte.

This is symptomatic of deeper problems in our U.S. Immigration Court system: 1) a weak BIA that fails to protect asylum seekers and require IJs to follow precedents favorable to asylum seekers; 2) lack of proper training compounded by the departure of experienced judges, hiring of new judges, and an inexplicable decision by the DOJ to cancel IJ training this year; and 3) a biased selection system that has systematically excluded private sector asylum expertise developed in representing applicants over this and the past three Administrations. Overall, it is what happens when a system lacks judicial independence and has not developed a merit selection system for judges.

The Immigration Judges in Charlotte can and should do better in providing fairness and due process for asylum seekers. Given the systemic failures, at present it appears to be up to those representing asylum seekers and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to see that asylum seekers in the Charlotte Immigration Court receive the Constitutional due process to which they are entitled.

PWS

07-31-17

 

 

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

COUNTING ON THE FEDERAL COURTS TO SAVE US FROM TRUMP’S EXCESSES? — Not So Fast — Trump Is Rapidly Reshaping Them In His Own Image, And The Results Will Be Felt For Decades After He Leaves Office — “Polemicists In Robes!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-one-area-where-trump-has-been-wildly-successful/2017/07/19/56c5c7ee-6be7-11e7-b9e2-2056e768a7e5_story.html?utm_term=.cc543104398a

Ronald A. Klain writes in the Washington Post:

“Progressives breathed a sigh of relief recently when Justice Anthony M. Kennedy decided to remain on the Supreme Court for presumably at least one more year. But no matter how long Kennedy stays, a massive transformation is underway in how our fundamental rights are defined by the federal judiciary. For while President Trump is incompetent at countless aspects of his job, he is proving wildly successful in one respect: naming youthful conservative nominees to the federal bench in record-setting numbers.

Trump’s predecessors all slowly ramped up their judicial nominations during their first six months in office. Ronald Reagan named Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court and made five lower-court nominations in that period; George H.W. Bush made four lower-court nominations; Bill Clinton named Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the high court but no lower-court judges; and George W. Bush named four lower-court judges who were processed by the Senate (plus more than a dozen others sent back to him and later renominated). The most successful early actor, Barack Obama, named Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court and nine lower-court judges who were confirmed.

What about Trump? He not only put Neil M. Gorsuch in the Supreme Court vacancy created by Merrick Garland’s blocked confirmation, but he also selected 27 lower-court judges as of mid-July. Twenty-seven! That’s three times Obama’s total and more than double the totals of Reagan, Bush 41 and Clinton — combined. For the Courts of Appeals — the final authority for 95 percent of federal cases — no president before Trump named more than three judges whose nominations were processed in his first six months; Trump has named nine. Trump is on pace to more than double the number of federal judges nominated by any president in his first year.

Moreover, Trump’s picks are astoundingly young. Obama’s early Court of Appeals nominees averaged age 55; Trump’s nine picks average 48. That means, on average, Trump’s appellate court nominees will sit through nearly two more presidential terms than Obama’s. Many of Trump’s judicial nominees will be deciding the scope of our civil liberties and the shape of civil rights laws in the year 2050 — and beyond.

How conservative are Trump’s picks? Dubbed “polemicists in robes” in a headline on a piece by Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick, Trump’s nominees are strikingly . . . Trumpian. One Trump nominee blogged that Kennedy was a “judicial prostitute” for trying to find a middle ground on the court, and said that he “strongly disagree[d]” with the court’s decision striking down prosecution of gay people under sodomy laws. Another equated the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, upholding a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion, to the court’s 19th-century Dred Scott finding that black people could not be U.S. citizens. Another advocated an Alabama law that denied counsel to death-row inmates.

Progressives who are increasingly counting on the federal courts to be a bulwark against Trump’s initiatives will increasingly find those courts stocked with judges picked by, and in sync with, Trump. With federal judges serving for life, one might think that the process of dramatically changing the makeup of the federal judiciary would take a long time. But given Trump’s unprecedented pace, in just one more year, one-eighth of all cases filed in federal court will be heard by a judge he appointed.

With the abolition of the filibuster, Trump’s nominees need only the votes of Republican senators to win confirmation. Yes, if Kennedy resigns and Trump nominates someone who might overturn Roe v. Wade, pro-choice Republicans could balk; and a few of Trump’s most outrageous lower-court nominations might be unnerving enough to attract GOP opposition. But the reality is that most of Trump’s rapid-fire, right-wing, youthful lower-court nominations are poised to make it to the bench. ”

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Read the rest of Klain’s article at the link.

If you want to have a say in the shaping of the Federal Judiciary, you have to win the White House, the Senate, or, like the GOP did, both. Elections have consequences, particularly for the losers.

PWS

07-20-17