LA TIMES: SUPREMES MUST DELIVER ON PROMISE OF DUE PROCESS FOR IMMIGRANTS! — “[T]oo often immigrants haven’t received fair treatment from the courts.“ — Is Justice Gorsuch About To Make Good On His Oath To Uphold The Constitution By Standing Up For Due Process For Migrants?

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-scotus-immigrants-20171005-story.html

“This week the Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases that pose the question of whether noncitizens should be afforded at least some of the due process of law that Americans take for granted. The answer in both cases should be a resounding yes.

On Monday, the justices considered whether a Filipino legal immigrant convicted of two home burglaries in California could be deported even if the wording of the federal law used to determine whether he could be removed from the U.S. was so unconstitutionally vague that it could not be enforced in a criminal court. On Tuesday, lawyers for a group of noncitizens detained by immigration authorities asked the court to rule that detainees are entitled to a bond hearing after six months of confinement.

Although the circumstances and legal issues in the two cases differ, the common denominator is the importance of affording due process to noncitizens.

James Garcia Dimaya, who was admitted to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident at the age of 13, pleaded no contest in 2007 and 2009 to two charges of residential burglary. Concluding that one of the convictions was an “aggravated felony,” the Board of Immigration Appeals agreed with the Homeland Security Department that Dimaya should be deported.

The United States is often called “a nation of immigrants.” But too often immigrants haven’t received fair treatment from the courts.
But the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision. It said the definition of “aggravated felony” in immigration law incorporated a definition of “crime of violence” that was similar to language in a different law the Supreme Court had concluded in 2015 was too vague to be constitutional.

At Monday’s oral argument, Deputy Solicitor General Edwin S. Kneedler said the law at issue in Dimaya’s case didn’t suffer from the same vagueness problem. But even if it did, Kneedler told the court, “immigration is distinctive” and deportation “is not punishment for [a] past offense.” In other words, even if the law was too vague to be used for the purposes of criminal punishment, it could still be used for the purposes of deportation.

This brought a devastating rejoinder from Justice Neil Gorsuch. “I can easily imagine a misdemeanant who may be convicted of a crime for which the sentence is six months in jail or a $100 fine, and he wouldn’t trade places in the world for someone who is deported,” Gorsuch said. He questioned the soundness of the “line that we’ve drawn in the past” between criminal punishment and civil penalties such as deportation.

We agree. If the court decides that the wording of the law that triggered Dimaya’s removal order was unconstitutionally vague, he should be entitled to relief. A law that is too vague to justify a criminal sentence shouldn’t be a good enough reason to expel someone from the country.

 

In the case argued Tuesday, a class-action lawsuit, noncitizens detained by immigration authorities asked the court to rule that they should receive bond hearings if their detention lasts for six months. The lead plaintiff is Alejandro Rodriguez, who grew up in Los Angeles as a lawful permanent resident. After Rodriguez was sentenced to five years’ probation on a misdemeanor drug possession conviction, he was detained and targeted for deportation to Mexico, the country he had left as a baby two decades earlier. He remained locked up as his legal battle dragged on for years.

The 9th Circuit ruled not only that detainees were entitled to bond hearings but also that they should be released unless the government could demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that they were dangerous or a flight risk. But on Tuesday Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart told the court that detainees “have no such right.” He later said that insofar as foreigners arriving in the U.S. are concerned, the Supreme Court has made it clear that “whatever process Congress chooses to give is due process.”

Yet in recent years the court has recognized not only that noncitizens have constitutional rights but that deportation can be a catastrophic experience. In June, the court overturned the guilty plea of an immigrant from South Korea because his lawyer wrongly told him he wouldn’t be deported as a consequence of a plea bargain.

The United States is often called “a nation of immigrants.” But too often immigrants haven’t received fair treatment from the courts. The cases argued this week offer the Supreme Court an opportunity to rectify that injustice.”

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”Mouthing” due process for migrants is easy; the BIA does it all the time — so does EOIR.  But, actually providing due process for migrants is something totally different. Most courts, and particulately the BIA, routinely sign off on unfair procedures and interpretations that would never be considered “Due Process” in any other context.

I’m “cautiously heartened” by Justice Gorsuch’s apparent realization of the potentially catastrophic real human consequences of removal (often blithely ignored or downplayed by the BIA, Sessions, restrictionists, and Federal Courts) and recognition that the “civil-criminal” distinction is totally bogus — designed to sweep Constitutional violations under the rug — and needs to be eliminated.

As an Immigration Judge, when I was assigned to the “Detained Docket” in Arlington, I had case after case of green card holders who had minor crimes for which they paid fines or got suspended sentences — in other words, hadn’t spent a day in jail — “mandatorily detained” for months, sometimes years, pending resolution of their “civil” immigration cases. In plain language, they were sentenced to indefinite imprisonment but without the protections that a criminal defendant would receive! They, their families, and their employers were incredulous that this could be happening in the United States of America. I simply could not explain it in a way that made sense.

Talk is one thing, action quote another. But, if Justice Gorsuch folllows through on his apparent inclination to make Due Process protections for migrants “a reality” rather than a “false promise,” Constitutional protections will be enhanced for every American! We are no better than how we treat the least among us.

Ultimately, full delivery on the promise of Constitutional Due Process for everyone in America, including migrants, will require the creation of an independent Article I U.S. Immigraton Court. The current “captive system” — unwilling and unable to stand up for true Due Process for migrants — is a facade behind which routine denials of Constitutional Due Process take place. As Americans, we should demand better for the most vulnerable among us.

PWS

10-06-17

3RD CIR REAFFIRMS THAT 18 USC 16(B) “CRIME OF VIOLENCE” AS INCORPORATED INTO THE INA IS UNCONSTITUTIONALLY VAGUE: Mateo v. Attorney General — Supremes Remain MIA

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Before: McKEE, JORDAN, and VANASKIE, Circuit Judges.

OPINION BY: JUDGE VANASKIE

KEY QUOTE:

“The petitioner in Baptiste, like Mateo, faced removal on the basis of his purported status as an alien convicted of a crime of violence under § 16(b). As stated previously, § 16(b) defines a crime of violence as “any other offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.” In order to determine whether the crime of conviction is a crime of violence under § 16(b), courts utilize the same categorical approach that was applied to the ACCA’s residual clause. Baptiste, 841 F.3d at 617. The petitioner in Baptiste argued that the Supreme Court’s holding in Johnson striking down the residual clause should apply to negate § 16(b). After comparing the features of the § 16(b) analysis to those found to contribute to the unconstitutionality of the residual clause in Johnson, we agreed that the same defects were present in § 16(b), rendering the provision unconstitutional. Regarding the first feature, we recognized that the same “ordinary case inquiry” is used when applying the categorical approach in both contexts. Id. Like the residual clause, § 16(b) “offers no reliable way to choose between . . . competing accounts of what” that “judge- imagined abstraction” of the crime involves. Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 2558. Thus, we concluded in Baptiste that “the ordinary case inquiry is as indeterminate in the § 16(b) context as it was in the residual clause context.” 841 F.3d at 617. Turning to the second feature—the risk inquiry—we observed that despite slight linguistic differences between the provisions, the same indeterminacy inherent in the residual clause was present in § 16(b). Id. “[B]ecause the two inquiries under the residual clause that the Supreme Court found to be indeterminate—the ordinary case inquiry and the serious potential risk inquiry—are materially the same as the inquiries under § 16(b),” we concluded that “§ 16(b) is unconstitutionally vague.” Id. at 621. This conclusion applies equally to Mateo’s petition. Our treatment of § 16(b) is in step with the Sixth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits, which have all similarly deemed the provision to be void for vagueness in immigration cases. See Shuti, 828 F.3d at 451; Dimaya, 803 F.3d at 1120; Golicov v. Lynch, 837 F.3d 1065, 1072 (10th Cir. 2016). The Seventh Circuit has also taken this position in the criminal context. See United States v. Vivas-Ceja, 808 F.3d 719, 723 (7th Cir. 2015). In fact, the only circuit that has broken stride is the Fifth Circuit.7 See United States v. Gonzalez-Longoria, 831 F.3d 670, 677 (5th Cir. 2016) (en banc). In the meantime, we await the Supreme Court’s decision in the appeal of Dimaya.”

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The Dimaya case before the Supremes (again) should be a good test of whether newest Justice Gorsuch will adhere to his strict constructionist principles where they will produce a favorable result for a migrant under the immigration laws.

The Johnson case, relied on by the Third Circuit, was written by none other than the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a leading strict constructionist and conservative judicial icon, who nevertheless found that his path sometimes assisted migrants in avoiding removal.  So, on paper, this should be a “no brainer” for Justice Gorsuch, who has also been critical of some of the BIA’s “Chevron overreach” and non-responsiveness to Article III Courts.

PWS

09-07-17

 

MS-13 MEMBER FILMS BRUTAL TORTURE-MURDER!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/ms-13-gang-member-narrated-video-of-teens-killing-fbi-agent-testifies/2017/07/10/88f90b08-65b2-11e7-8eb5-cbccc2e7bfbf_story.html?hpid=hp_local-news_damaris-1130pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.626af5bc6f07

Justin Jouvenal reports in  the Washington Post:

“The MS-13 gang member filmed the killing with a cellphone, barking out orders and narrating as fellow gang members set upon the 15-year-old girl with a knife and a large wooden stake in a suburban Virginia park, an FBI agent testified Monday.

The green-light to kill Damaris A. Reyes Rivas had come from the transnational gang’s leadership in El Salvador, payback for her alleged role in luring another MS-13 member to his death a week earlier, the FBI agent told a Fairfax County judge.

But it was 17-year-old Jose Cerrato who allegedly helped orchestrate the killing, part of a plan to send the video back to those MS-13 leaders as proof of his willingness to carry out orders, the agent testified. It’s unclear if the video was ever sent, but the FBI agent testified Cerrato soon earned a promotion within the ranks of the gang for his role in the slaying.

The testimony by FBI special agent Fernando Uribe came during a hearing in Fairfax County juvenile court in which a judge certified that Cerrato would face murder, abduction and gang participation charges as an adult.”

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Read the complete, very disturbing, story at the link.

PWS

07-11-17

Supremes Drop Back, Boot It Deep, J. Gorsuch Calls For Fair Catch, Play To Resume In Fall Quarter! — I.O.W. They “Punted” The 3 Remaining Immigration Cases On The Fall 2016 Docket!

Actually, only two of them”went to Gorsuch,” that is, were set for re-arguement next Fall, presumably because the Justices were tied 4-4. The other case was kicked back to the 9th Circuit to reconsider in light of Ziglar v. Abbasi, the Court’s recent decision on “Bivens actions.” Here’s a link to my prior Ziglar blog:

http://immigrationcourtside.com/2017/06/19/relax-cabinet-members-supremes-say-no-monetary-damages-for-unconstitutional-acts-ziglar-v-abbasi/

You can read all about it over on ImmigrationProf Blog in a short article by Dean Kevin Johnson at this link:

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/immigration/2017/06/supreme-court-ends-2016-term-with-three-immigration-decisions.html

 

PWS

06-26-17

Colbert King Op-Ed In WashPost: Terror Threat On The Right!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-us-has-a-homegrown-terrorist-problem–and-its-coming-from-the-right/2017/05/26/10d88bba-4197-11e7-9869-bac8b446820a_story.html

King writes:

“As the Anti-Defamation League noted in a new report, “A Dark & Constant Rage: 25 Years of Right-Wing Terrorism in the United States,” the United States has experienced a long string of terrorist incidents, with many connected not to Islamist terrorists but to right-wing extremists.

The findings were startling.

The ADL analyzed 150 terrorist acts in the United States that were committed, attempted or plotted by right-wing extremists. “More than 800 people were killed or injured in these attacks,” the ADL said, noting that the attacks “surged during the mid-to-late 1990s and again starting in 2009” — the beginning of Barack Obama’s presidency.

The also looked at other acts of violence and determined that “from 2007 to 2016, a range of domestic extremists of all kinds were responsible for the deaths of at least 372 people across the country. Seventy-four percent of these murders came at the hands of right-wing extremists such as white supremacists, sovereign citizens and militia adherents.”

And, reported the ADL, the hate and terror mongers choose their marks carefully: Jews, Muslims and — the most common racial target — African Americans.

According to The Post, a study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino showed an overall increase of 13 percent in hate crimes reported, with 1,812 incidents reported in 2016 — the year of our nasty, hate-filled presidential race.
So how about pivoting from Saudi Arabia to turn White House attention to our own homegrown terrorist problem? After all, right-wing extremism may be the predicate that led a hate-filled white student to pick up a knife in the middle of spring commencement celebrations and stab an innocent and promising young man of color to death.

Surely that is worth a presidential thought or two.

Manchester has prompted elevation of Britain’s threat level to its highest.

In light of Richard Collins’s murder, the discovery of a noose in a fraternity house this month, as well as white supremacist fliers posted on campus earlier this year, where is the University of Maryland’s threat level? How about America’s?

After all, haters seem emboldened as never before.”

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Read King’s entire op-ed at the link.

Food for thought, particularly in our gun-fueled society.

PWS

05-29-17

THE RAPE THAT WASN’T — MD Prosecutors Drop Charges Against Two Hispanic Students At Rockville High In Case That Administration “Tried” Without Facts In Attempt To “Whip Up” Xenophobia!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/rape-charge-against-immigrant-teen-in-maryland-case-will-be-dropped-defense-lawyer-says/2017/05/05/a4806c02-312f-11e7-8674-437ddb6e813e_story.html?utm_term=.cc30dc476886&wpisrc=nl_buzz&wpmm=1

The Washington Post reports:

“Maryland prosecutors said they will drop rape and sex offense charges against two immigrant teens accused of attacking a 14-year-old classmate in a high school bathroom stall in a case that attracted international and White House attention and stoked the debate about illegal crossings into the United States.

After a court hearing Friday morning, prosecutors said they will drop the sex-assault case against Henry Sanchez Milian, 18, and Jose Montano, 17.

“The facts of this case do not support the original charges filed,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

Defense lawyers had said for weeks that the sex acts were consensual and that text messages and school surveillance videos did not substantiate the girl’s claims she had been pushed from a hallway into a bathroom at Rockville High School on March 16 and that the suspects took turns assaulting her as she tried to break free.

As prosecutors moved to dismiss the rape cases, they began pursuing cases of child pornography charges related to images discovered on cellphones during the course of the investigation, according to court records and defense attorneys.

Prosecutors did not describe the content or path of the exchanges of the images. Defense attorneys said they were willingly shared by the girl with one defendant, who passed them along to the other.

Sanchez Milian’s attorney, Andrew Jezic, called the charges “selective prosecution of elective promiscuity,” adding that “it is hardly uncommon behavior for teenagers.”

Montano’s attorney, Maria Mena, said the child pornography laws are made to go after adults. She called the new charges “egregious.”

The developments Friday stood in stark contrast to the reports that pushed the case onto the national platform.

The severity of the reported assault — the girl originally told police the suspects held her down as she cried and repeatedly told them to stop — and that the two accused teens had entered the United States illegally only months earlier drew heated comments from the White House to the Maryland State House and to activists in the county.

Montano came to the United States from El Salvador, and Sanchez Milian from Guatemala. They were stopped at the border, detained, then allowed to continue on to relatives before they enrolled at Rockville at a ninth-grade level.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer was asked at a daily briefing about the cases in its early days and said, “The idea that this occurred is shocking, disturbing, horrific.”

“Part of the reason that the president has made illegal immigration and crackdown such a big deal is because of tragedies like this. . . . Immigration pays its toll on our people if it’s not done legally, and this is another example,” Spicer said.”

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Read the entire article at the above link.

Always a good idea to wait for the legal system to operate before passing judgment. And, the idea that anyone in the Trump Administration would give “two hoots and a holler” about a rape victim is facially absurd.

Nope.  It’s all about revving up xenophobia. And, the targets aren’t just those who arrived recently and made claims for protection. Xenophobia, like racism, is an ugly phenomenon. In the end, the Administration’s “white nationalist” agenda threatens all Americans in one way or another (ironically, it even threatens those who think that they stand to benefit from it).

PWS

05-07-17

PRECEDENT: BIA Opines On “Divisibility” In Agfel Cases — Matter of CHAIREZ-CASTREJON, 27 I&N Dec. 21 (BIA 2017)

https://www.justice.gov/eoir/page/file/959656/download

Here’s the BIA headnote:

“In determining whether a statute is divisible under Mathis v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2243 (2016), Immigration Judges may consider or “peek” at an alien’s conviction record only to discern whether statutory alternatives define “elements” or “means,” provided State law does not otherwise resolve the question.”

PANEL: Appellate Immigration Judges Pauley, Greer, Malphrus

OPINION BY: Judge Pauley

CONCURRING OPINION BY: Judge Malphrus

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This case is unusual because BIA Judges seldom file “separate opinions” in published decisions these days.

In his concurring opinion, Judge Garry D. Malphrus appears to be both questioning whether the  Supreme Court’s approach to statutory “divisibility” analysis comports with congressional intent in immigration matters and inviting Congress to perhaps change the INA so that the BIA and the Immigration Judges could examine the facts of the case, as set forth in the record of conviction, to determine whether the individual should be removed. Judge Malphrus says in his conclusion:

“Here, we must presume that the respondent committed the least of the acts criminalized within the range of conduct punishable under his statute of conviction. See Moncrieffe v. Holder, 133 S. Ct. 1678, 1684–85 (2013). This is true even though the respondent’s plea agreement indicates that he did more—specifically, that he knowingly discharged a firearm at another, and thus he committed an aggravated felony crime of violence. See id.

The approach to divisibility required by Descamps and Mathis will result in immigration proceedings being terminated for many aliens who have committed serious crimes in the United States. See, e.g., Ramirez v. Lynch, 810 F.3d 1127, 1134–38 (9th Cir. 2016) (reversing the order of removal upon concluding that the California statute proscribing felony child abuse was not divisible, and thus it was improper to consider the conviction records in determining whether the alien’s conviction constituted an aggravated felony crime of violence). [footnote omitted].  It is for Congress to determine whether this approach is consistent with its intent regarding the immigration consequences of such criminal conduct.”

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Another observation: How could an unrepresented respondent charged under this section possibly defend himself consistent with due process when the law is so complex and convoluted. This particular respondent was fortunate enough to have a lawyer, and as we can see, he was able to achieve a favorable result. But, recent studies have shown that the overwhelming number of respondents in detention (as individuals charged as “agfels” must be) must proceed without counsel. http://wp.me/p8eeJm-Gv

PWS

04-24-17

 

 

New From BIA — Matter of Kim, 26 I&N Dec. 912 (BIA 2017) — CA Mayhem A COV

https://www.justice.gov/eoir/page/file/933996/download

BIA headnote:

“The crime of mayhem in violation of section 203 of the California Penal Code, which requires a malicious act that results in great bodily injury to another person, necessarily involves the use of violent force and is therefore categorically a crime of violence under 18 U.S.C. § 16(a) (2012).”

PANEL:  JUDGES PAULEY, MALPHRUS, MULLAINE

Decision by Judge Malphrus

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PWS

01/31/17