ATTN “COURTSIDERS” – HEAR ME “LIVE” ON RADIO IN RICHMOND, VA, THE INTERNET, AND FACEBOOK TOMORROW, FRIDAY, DEC. 8, 2017!

I’ll be on two local radio shows hosted by Richmond Attorney Pablo Fantl tomorrow.

Both are am radio stations, and are available online.  They also will broadcast on Facebook Live, and will be available in the archives afterwards.  I will post links on immigrationcourtside.com once the recordings are available.

From 11:30-12:30     Radio Poder 1380 am   http://www.wbtk.com/

From 1:00-2:00         Maxima 1320 am          https://maxima1320.com/

These are programs directed at informing the Hispanic community in Richmond. Although I’m not bilingual, Pablo has promised excellent interpretation services. And, gosh knows, I’m pretty used to being translated into many languages from my days on the immigration bench.

Hope you’ll “tune in!”

PWS

12-07-17

 

 

VICTORY DANCE! — ICE’S HOMAN SAYS CLIMATE OF FEAR HAS STEMMED BORDER CROSSINGS & PROVES UNRESTRAINED, ARBITRARY IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT WORKS! — “There’s no population that’s off the table,” he said. “If you’re in the country illegally, we’re looking for you and we’re looking to apprehend you.” — America Won’t Be Truly Safe Until The Last Cook, Gardner, Construction Worker, Nanny, Janitor, Tree Cutter, Mechanic, Handyman, Carpenter, Home Health Aide, Computer Programmer, Healthcare Worker, Lettuce Picker, Cow Milker, Landscaper, Lawnmower, Bricklayer, Roofer, Window Washer, Waiter, Sandwich Artist, Teacher, Minister, Coach, Student, Parent, Clerk, Fisherman, Farmer, Maid, Chicken Plucker, Meat Processor, Etc., Without Docs Is Removed And US Citizens Take Over All These Jobs!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/arrests-along-mexico-border-drop-sharply-under-trump-new-statistics-show/2017/12/05/743c6b54-d9c7-11e7-b859-fb0995360725_story.html

Nick Miroff reports in the Washington Post:

“The number of people caught trying to sneak over the border from Mexico has fallen to the lowest level in 46 years, according to Department of Homeland Security statistics released Tuesday that offer the first comprehensive look at how immigration enforcement is changing under the Trump administration.

During the government’s 2017 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, U.S. border agents made 310,531 arrests, a decline of 24 percent from the previous year and the fewest overall since 1971.

The figures show a sharp drop in apprehensions immediately after President Trump’s election win, possibly reflecting the deterrent effect of his rhetoric on would-be border crossers; starting in May, the number of people taken into custody began increasing again.

Arrests of foreigners living illegally in the United States have surged under Trump. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers made 110,568 such arrests between inauguration and the end of September, according to the figures published Tuesday, a 42 percent increase over the same period during the previous year.

Tom Homan, ICE’s temporary director and Trump’s nominee to lead the agency, praised the president and gave a vigorous defense of ICE’s more aggressive approach.

“This president, like him or love him, is doing the right thing,” Homan told reporters at a news conference in Washington, accompanied by the heads of the U.S. Border Patrol and Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“A 45-year low in border crossings? That’s not a coincidence,” Homan said. “That’s based on this president and his belief and letting the men and women of ICE and the Border Patrol do their job.”

[How Trump is building a border wall no one can see]

Trump’s sweeping promises to crack down on illegal immigration fueled his presidential campaign and are at the center of his most ambitious domestic policy proposals, including construction of a wall along the border with Mexico.

Asked whether such a barrier was justifiable given its high cost and the decline in illegal immigration, DHS officials endorsed the president’s plan.

“In this society, we use walls and fences to protect things. It shouldn’t be different on the border,” said Ronald Vitiello, chief of the Border Patrol.

Apprehensions by Border Patrol agents peaked at more than 1.6 million in 2000 and began falling substantially after 2008. The previous low point was 331,333 arrests, during fiscal 2015. Experts have attributed the decline to tougher U.S. enforcement, improving job prospects in Mexico and long-term demographic changes that have driven down the country’s birthrate.

3:32
On the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump supporters wait for th
Still, the drop in border arrests is among the sharpest year-to-year changes on record, one that only casts more doubt on the wisdom of building a border wall, said Doris Meissner, senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington think tank.

“It’s a throwback response to yesterday’s problems,” she said, arguing that the money would be better spent addressing what accounts for a growing share of illegal migration: families with children fleeing rampant violence and dismal poverty in Central America.

Border agents took more than 75,000 “family units,” classified as at least one child and a related adult, into custody during fiscal 2017. But the number of unaccompanied minors fell 31 percent, to 41,435.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

This has to be what true greatness looks like! Imagine a world without those pesky undocumented workers to support our economy, our society, and our “American” way of life! That’s making America Great Again!

I’m sure future generations will be inspired by Homan’s humanity and wisdom as they pick produce or pound shingles in 100 degree heat, clean toilets, empty urine bags for the elderly and handicapped, clean tables, wash dishes, limb trees, shuck oysters, schlep concrete blocks, dig ditches, and, horror of horrors, take care of their own children while working full-time. Man, that’s going to be “America the Great” just as Trump, Sessions, Bannon, Miller, Homan, and others envision it!

And, the best part: we won’t have to worry about any of that burdensome, nasty “globalism” and the unfair burden of global leadership! That’s because the Chinese, Indians, Canadians, Mexicans, and Europeans will be in charge of the world economy and the Ruskies will control world politics. So we can enjoy our little White Nationalist enclave modeled on post-revolutionary Cuba — life in the 1950’s preserved forever! Save those “Classic ’57 Chevies!”

Kinda sorry I won’t be here to enjoy it! But, then again, I already lived through the real 1950’s once — Cold War, Jim Crow, segregation, anti-semitism, racial covenants, no women doctors, lawyers, or execs, African Americans only welcome on the football fields and basketball courts of a few Northern colleges! Boy, it was great! But, not sure I want  to do it again, even to experience the pure, unadulterated joy of having “my Milwaukee Braves” win the 1957 World Series (before fleeing to Atlanta)!

On the flip side, at Homan’s “record pace” of “law enforcement,” he and his minions will have every single undocumented American resident removed from the U.S by 2080 — that’s if no more arrive in the interim. And, the really great thing — they and those around them (including U.S. citizen kids and family members) will be living in fear every moment for the next six decades! Now, that’s something of which we can be truly proud! Of course, this all assumes that the North Koreans don’t nuke us and the rest of the world out of existence first!

PWS

12-06-17

 

ICE’S “IN YOUR FACE” COURTHOUSE ARREST POLICY ERODES OUR CONSTITUTOINAL SYSTEM OF JUSTICE!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/26/opinion/immigration-ice-courthouse-trump.html?em_pos=large&emc=edit_ty_20171127&nl=opinion-today&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

PROFESSOR CÉSAR CUAUHTÉMOC GARCÍA HERNÁNDEZ writes in the NY Times:

“At the door of the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver one Friday in April, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents tackled a man to the ground. A chilling video shows the man — who, according to his lawyer, was there to deal with a traffic ticket — yelling “No!” “My hand!” and “Why?” in Spanish. Sheriff’s deputies order passers-by to stand back, and the violent arrest continues.

The next month, ICE agents returned and arrested another man. His lawyer can be heard in a video of the incident asking the agents if they had a warrant. One responds, “Yes, sir.” The lawyer asks, “Can I see it?”

The agent’s response: “No, sir.”

Both men, according to their lawyers, were taken to immigration detention centers.

This type of arrest is on the rise. Lawyers and judges in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington all reported in the first year of the Trump administration that immigration officials were breaking with tradition to descend upon their courthouses. Such arrests in New York have increased by 900 percent in 2017, according to the Immigrant Defense Project.

This is a deeply worrisome trend because arrests at courthouses don’t just derail the lives of the unsuspecting people who are detained, they threaten the very operation of our judicial system. Such arrests scare people away from the courts, keeping them, for example, from testifying at trials or seeking orders of protection. By using this tactic, the nation’s lead immigration law enforcement agency is undermining a pillar of our democracy.

. . . .

Courthouses have a special place in American society. It’s only in a court of law that we can be confident that disputes will be mediated deliberately, and according to a set of rules intended to ensure justice for all parties. As the Supreme Court declared in 1907: “The right to sue and defend in the courts is the alternative of force. In an organized society it is the right conservative of all other rights, and lies at the foundation of orderly government.”

The pursuit of justice depends on getting the parties in the same room. That’s why courts have the power to drag in unwilling participants with subpoenas. They can compel witnesses to testify or risk contempt charges. Courts rely on their hard-earned legitimacy as the rightful locations for resolution of disagreements.

Courthouse arrests by ICE deter not only undocumented immigrants but also people who are here legally but are nervous that they might have somehow compromised their status (or that an officer will think they have). That’s a nuance that is next to impossible for the average person to discern, and those complicated legal questions are exactly what immigration judges spend a lot of energy trying to answer.

. . . .

The harm this causes is bigger than the people whom ICE arrests. United States citizens are not immune to the impact of ICE activity in courthouses. All of us — including those of us who could easily prove our immigration status — depend on courts to do their job, and all of us suffer if the fear of ICE keeps people away.

ICE understands its actions can paralyze important institutions. Longstanding ICE policy discourages questioning or arresting people in schools and churches. It is time to add courthouses to that list. But top administration officials have vigorously defended courthouse arrests.

With no change to federal policy in sight, it is up to cities and states to push back. Elected officials must take seriously their legal obligation to keep courthouses accessible. In addition, the cities and states that own and operate most courthouses and ensure that no one uses their courts in a way that halts judicial business — protesters can’t block the doorway, bail bondsmen aren’t allowed to set up shop in the lobby — should do the same here for immigration agents.

ICE should no longer get free rein to tackle, handcuff and haul away immigrants, sending a message to others that they should think twice before trusting in the courts.

 

GONZO’S WORLD: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A DIVERSE “NATION OF IMMIGRANTS” ANOINTS A COMMITTED XENOPHOBE AS ITS CHIEF LAW OFFICER? – Gonzo Is Deconstructing Our System Of Justice, One Day At A Time!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/while-eyes-are-on-russia-sessions-dramatically-reshapes-the-justice-department/2017/11/24/dd52d66a-b8dd-11e7-9e58-e6288544af98_story.html?utm_term=.6b27aa9221e3

“For more than five hours, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sat in a hearing room on Capitol Hill this month, fending off inquiries on Washington’s two favorite topics: President Trump and Russia.

But legislators spent little time asking Sessions about the dramatic and controversial changes in policy he has made since taking over the top law enforcement job in the United States nine months ago.

From his crackdown on illegal immigration to his reversal of Obama administration policies on criminal justice and policing, Sessions is methodically reshaping the Justice Department to reflect his nationalist ideology and hard-line views — moves drawing comparatively less public scrutiny than the ongoing investigations into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin.

Sessions has implemented a new charging and sentencing policy that calls for prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible, even if that might mean minority defendants face stiff, mandatory minimum penalties. He has defended the president’s travel ban and tried to strip funding from cities with policies he considers too friendly toward undocumented immigrants.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Nov. 14. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Sessions has even adjusted the department’s legal stances in cases involving voting rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in a way that advocates warn might disenfranchise poor minorities and give certain religious people a license to discriminate.

Supporters and critics say the attorney general has been among the most effective of the Cabinet secretaries — implementing Trump’s conservative policy agenda even as the president publicly and privately toys with firing him over his decision to recuse himself from the Russia case.

. . . .

In meetings with top Justice Department officials about terrorist suspects, Sessions often has a particular question: Where is the person from? When officials tell him a suspect was born and lives in the United States, he typically has a follow-up: To what country does his family trace its lineage?

While there are reasons to want to know that information, some officials familiar with the inquiries said the questions struck them as revealing that Sessions harbors an innate suspicion about people from certain ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Sarah Isgur Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said in a statement, “The Attorney General asks lots of relevant questions in these classified briefings.”

Sessions, unlike past attorneys general, has been especially aggressive on immigration. He served as the public face of the administration’s rolling back of a program that granted a reprieve from deportation to people who had come here without documentation as children, and he directed federal prosecutors to make illegal-immigration cases a higher priority. The attorney general has long held the view that the United States should even reduce the number of those immigrating here legally.

In an interview with Breitbart News in 2015, then-Sen. Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke favorably of a 1924 law that excluded all immigrants from Asia and set strict caps on others.

“When the numbers reached about this high in 1924, the president and Congress changed the policy and it slowed down immigration significantly,” Sessions said. “We then assimilated through 1965 and created really the solid middle class of America, with assimilated immigrants, and it was good for America.”

Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division in the Obama administration who now works as chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said Sessions seems to harbor an “unwillingness to recognize the history of this country is rooted in immigration.”

“On issue after issue, it’s very easy to see what his worldview is of what this country is and who belongs in this country,” she said, adding that his view is “distinctly anti-immigrant.”

Those on the other side of the aisle, however, say they welcome the changes Sessions has made at the Justice Department.

Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for moderating levels of immigration, said she would give the attorney general an “A-plus” for his work in the area, especially for his crackdown on “sanctuary cities,” his push to hire more immigration judges and his focus on the MS-13 gang.

“He was able to hit the ground running because he has so much expertise already in immigration enforcement and related public safety issues and the constitutional issues, so he’s accomplished a lot in a very short time,” Vaughan said.”

****************************************

Read the compete article, which deals with much more than immigration, at the link.

Immigrants, refugees, immigration advocates, and career civil servants involved in immigration at the DOJ seems to be “star-crossed.” After decades of relative indifference to the importance of immigration, an Attorney General finally shows up  who makes it his highest priority.

Only problem is that he’s a committed xenophobe and White Nationalist whose largely false and exaggerated narrative on immigration comes right from the alt-right restrictionist playbook and harks back to the Jim Crow era of the American South — only this time with Hispanics and Muslims as the primary targets.

In any “normal” American business, obsession with tracing back lineage of someone’s family would be prima facie evidence of prohibited “national origins discrimination.” But, for Gonzo, it’s just another day at the office.

Notwithstanding his less than stellar performances before Congress and that he’s fallen off Trump’s “A-Team” (notwithstanding probably doing more to deconstruct the Constitution and “Good Government” than any other cabinet officer), he’s unlikely to be going anywhere soon. So the damage will continue to add up for the foreseeable future. It’s not like Senator Liz Warren and others didn’t try to warn America about this dude!

Meanwhile, perhaps not to be outdone, over at the U.S. State Department, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is proceeding to deconstruct the Career Foreign Service and reduce the Stated Department and our Diplomatic Corps to “administrative roadkill.” You can read about that debacle in this NY Times article:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/24/us/politics/state-department-tillerson.html

PWS

11-26-17

 

GONZO’S WORLD: CNN: GONZO TAKING HEAT FOR ATTEMPT TO “WHITEWASH” RUSSIA INVOLVEMENT DURING SENATE TESTIMONY!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/02/politics/jeff-sessions-congress-russia-trump-campaign/index.html

Manu Raju, Evan Perez and Marshall Cohen, write:

“Washington (CNN)Attorney General Jeff Sessions is once again under scrutiny on Capitol Hill regarding his candor about Russia and the Trump campaign amid revelations that he rejected a suggestion to convene a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump last year.

According to court filings unsealed this week, Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos suggested at a March 2016 meeting that he could use his connections to set up a meeting between Putin and Trump with the then-GOP candidate’s national security team. An Instagram picture on Trump’s account shows Sessions attended the meeting at which Papadopoulos made the suggestion.
After Trump declined to rule out the idea, Sessions weighed in and rejected the proposed meeting, according to a person who attended.
But Sessions, who was a top surrogate for Trump during the campaign, did not disclose these discussions despite a persistent set of questions from Democrats and some Republicans about Russia during multiple hearings on Capitol Hill. The new information is renewing attention to how forthcoming Sessions has been with Congress.
There is interest from Democrats on both the Senate intelligence and judiciary committees for Sessions to formally clarify his remarks made before both committees given what’s now known about his interactions with Papadopoulos, a Senate aide told CNN. The source said the request for clarification could take several forms, such as having Sessions testify again or submitting a clarification in writing, but that has not yet been determined.
. . . .
The Justice Department did not comment.
But a source familiar with Sessions’ thinking pointed out that others in the room recall that Sessions “shut down” talk of a Putin meeting and that Papadopoulos “didn’t have a lot of credibility.” The conversation moved on to other topics and Papadopoulos did not leave a “lasting impression” with Sessions, the source said.
The source added that Sessions “has no clear recollection” of Papadopoulos and any further interactions with him, even though two were seated next to each other at a second meeting of Trump’s foreign policy team at the Capitol Hill Club steps from the House.
“The attorney general has been entirely truthful and consistent on this matter,” the source said, referring to Sessions’ testimony before Congress where he rejected the notion of meetings and interactions with Russians during the campaign season.
At his Senate confirmation hearing in January, Sessions denied any contacts with Russian officials during the presidential campaign. He later acknowledged that he met then-Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak twice during the campaign. He also testified that he was “not aware” of anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicating with the Russians.
Sessions testified in June that he wasn’t aware of any conversations between “anyone connected to the Trump campaign” and Russians about “any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States.”
He also testified that he does not remember meeting Kislyak during a VIP reception before an April 2016 campaign event at the Mayflower Hotel, though he acknowledged Kislyak was in the room. Also there were Trump and his son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner. In testimony submitted to Capitol Hill investigators, Kushner said he “shook hands” and “exchanged brief pleasantries” with Kislyak.
Asked under oath at a Senate hearing last month if he believed Trump campaign surrogates had communications with Russians, Sessions replied, “I did not and I’m not aware of anyone else that did, and I don’t believe it happened.”
It is a crime to lie under oath to Congress. Sessions says that his answers were truthful because his meetings with Kislyak weren’t specifically about the campaign. At least two Democratic members of the Senate judiciary committee, Al Franken of Minnesota and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, have asked the FBI to investigate whether Sessions committed perjury during his confirmation hearings.
At the Senate judiciary hearing last month, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, asked Sessions: “Did anybody in the campaign, did you ever overhear a conversation between you and anybody on the campaign who talked about meeting with the Russians?”
Sessions replied, “I have not seen anything that would indicate collusion with the Russians to impact the campaign.”
On Wednesday, Democrats said Sessions needs to clarify his comments.
“I was very troubled by Attorney General Sessions comments overall,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee.

**************************************************

Read the complete article at the link.

As I’ve noted before, Sessions’s laughable account of how he “told the truth” during his Senate testimony doesn’t pass the “straight face test’ — it would be found “incredible” in almost any of the U.S. Immigration Courts he administers. He, Trump, and other campaign officials are obviously struggling to keep their various versions of the story straight.

Given the problems he’s already had, and the widespread interest in the Russia investigation, one might have thought than an “Attorney General of ordinary prudence” would check the records before once again making the “no contact” (“except the ones I didn’t mention previously that you already discovered”)  statement under oath. That might well have brought to light the photograph of him with George Papadopoulos which appears with the full article at the above link. And that might have “refreshed” his memory as to what transpired at the meeting. Or, he might have asked other attendees at the meeting for their recollection of whether Russia was discussed.

Gonzo has no trouble rattling off bogus positions and misleading statistics prepared for him by restrictionist organizations in his quest to smear and discredit migrants, immigrants, Latinos, lawyers, and others. But, when it comes to the very recent matter of Russia and  the Trump Campaign (which, after all, occurred within the last two years, not at some point in ancient history) his memory seems to fail him on a regular basis.

As I predicted very recently, Chuck Cooper is going to earn his money trying to save Gonzo’s tail on this one.

PWS

11-02-17

GONZO’S WORLD: “RUSSIANS? WHAT RUSSIANS?” – Gonzo’s Disingenuous Testimony That He Was Clueless As To Any Russian Contacts With Trump Campaign Continues To Unravel!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/10/31/the-papadopoulos-plea-has-blindsided-republicans/

Jennifer Rubin writes in the Washington Post:

“In addition to Clovis, now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, we noted, appears in the photo of the March 2016 meeting with Papadopoulos and Trump. “A picture is worth a thousand words, and it may take the attorney general that many to explain this one,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) tells me. “Not only can’t Sessions get his story straight about contacts with Russia, but it is becoming harder for him to claim these contacts were inconsequential.”

Sessions not only was involved in the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey (when Trump said he had the Russia investigation in mind), but he also has at various times, when asked about his contact with or knowledge of Russian contacts, not brought up Papadopoulos. Sessions, in his confirmation hearing, denied having any contacts with Russians. When that proved not to be true, he revised his testimony. In June, he told the Judiciary Committee: “The suggestion that I participated in any collusion, that I was aware of any collusion with the Russian government, or hurt this country which I have served with honor for 35 years, or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process, is an appalling and detestable lie.”

However, the New York Times reports:

On March 31, back in Washington, Mr. Papadopoulos met Mr. Trump for the first time at a gathering of his new foreign policy team at the candidate’s Washington hotel. According to the former Trump adviser who was there, and who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid offending former colleagues, Mr. Papadopoulos spoke for a few minutes about his Russian contacts and the prospects for a meeting with the Russian president.

But several people in the room began to raise questions about the wisdom of a meeting with Mr. Putin, noting that Russia was under sanctions from the United States. Jeff Sessions, now attorney general and then a senator from Alabama who was counseling Mr. Trump on national security, “shut George down,” the adviser said. “He said, ‘We’re not going to do it’ and he added, ‘I’d prefer that nobody speak about this again.’”

And yet Sessions recalled none of that in testimony under oath — in anyof his explanations.”

*********************************************

Read Rubin’s complete column at the above link.

Sessions has demonstrated a clear aversion to truth, accuracy, and decency, as well as an amazingly selective memory during his brief, yet incredibly destructive, tenure as Attorney General. However, like many White Nationalists who show a marked disregard and teeming disrespect for the lives and legal rights of others, Gonzo is keenly aware of his own legal rights. Realizing that “but for” a friendly GOP Government, he would be in “deep doodo” for his lies, half-truths, misrepresentations, and questionable “memory lapses,” he had the good sense to “lawyer up” by retaining former GOP DOJ honcho Chuck Cooper as his personal lawyer. It’s likely that before this all plays out, Cooper will actually have to start earning his pay.

PWS

10-31-17

VOX: THINK TRUMP IS GOING TO KEEP HIS PROMISE TO CRACK DOWN ON WHITE SUPREMACISTS? — NOT LIKELY, THEY ARE A KEY PART OF HIS “BASE!”

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/8/14/16144598/trump-white-terrorism

Dara Lind writes:

“The president of the United States finally condemned white supremacist violence in Charlottesville on Monday, two days after an initial statement that blamed “both sides” for violence largely instigated by far-right activists (including a car attack on counterprotesters that killed one person and injured 19).

But the only part of his remarks that appeared to promise that he was devoting not just words, but action, to the problem of right-wing extremism in America — “We will spare no resource in fighting so that every American child can grow up free from violence and fear” — was actually the most hollow.

On Saturday, too, Trump promised to get to the root of the problem: “We want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville, and we want to study it. And we want to see what we’re doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen.” The problem is that his administration has already indicated that it thinks it knows the answers to these problems. It’s cut funding for outreach to counter white supremacism, while pushing punitive “law and order” responses to civil unrest.

Trump’s willingness to explicitly say that white supremacism is bad (even if it’s only offered in response to criticism) is worth at least something — it’s a nod in the direction that white supremacism is an ideology that ought to be ostracized. But his administration’s actions threaten to undermine any value in countering white supremacism that Trump’s rhetoric might have had.

The Trump administration has systematically rejected efforts to counter right-wing violence

Barely a week after President Trump was inaugurated, rumors began to swirl that he was going to change the name of the federal “Countering Violent Extremism” task force, located in the Department of Homeland Security, to “Countering Islamic Extremism” — and that the task force would accordingly “no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.”

The task force’s name hasn’t changed. But its function has. After a review of grants provided by the task force, the Trump administration preserved most of the grants (which involved Islamic communities) — but killed a $400,000 grant to Life After Hate, a group that attempts to “deradicalize” young men drawn to white supremacism.

It’s not that the Trump administration didn’t have evidence that right-wing extremism was a potential problem for public safety. According to Foreign Policy, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issued a report on May 10 called “White Supremacist Extremism Poses Persistent Threat of Lethal Violence,” which noted that white supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 … more than any other domestic extremist movement.”

But among conservatives skeptical of “identity politics,” there’s been a longstanding resistance to any government warnings about far-right extremist groups. When the Department of Homeland Security published a report in 2009 warning of increased racist extremism after the election of President Obama, the backlash was so intense that the department had to formally retract the report.

. . . .

There’s been a similar turn away from community engagement and toward punitiveness on other fronts. Under Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly (who’s now White House chief of staff), Trump administration officials were indifferent or hostile to concerns that aggressive immigration enforcement might be discouraging victims of crime from reporting to police. Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Department of Justice has stopped supporting legal “consent decrees” between police departments and local governments to rebuild public trust, while Sessions himself has advocated for a return to maximal punitiveness in criminal punishment and explained that African-American communities need to do a better job of trusting police to protect them.

In both his initial statement Saturday and his remarks Monday, President Trump presented the violence in Charlottesville as primarily a problem of social disorder — something that more and better policing, and more public trust in policing, could solve. It’s an old theme for Trump; “law and order” has been the theme of some of his biggest public moments on the campaign trail and as president. According to the Daily Beast’s Asawin Suebsaeng, Trump was particularly insistent that his Saturday statement on Charlottesville adhere to a “law and order” theme, because he remembered it fondly from the campaign.

Trump may see “law and order” as the solution to everything because it reminds him of his electoral success. Other members of his administration see it as the solution to everything because they believe the fundamental problem is “social disorder,” not racism or white supremacism.

Trump’s willingness to criticize white supremacists by name is welcome and important. But if his administration has already decided what caused the problems in Charlottesville over the weekend, it’s hard to imagine that their attempts to “spare no expense” will get to the root of the problem — and won’t end up targeting the same nonwhite Americans and immigrants that the white nationalists themselves wish to intimidate.”

***************************************************

Read Lind’s entire article at the above link.

I also think the Lind’s observations about Jeff Sessions are “spot on.” I have read other commentators suggest that because Sessions is such a “law and order guy” he can be trusted to prosecute the Charlottesville gang to the fullest extent of the law. That might well be true in this particular case. Clearly, Sessions is someone who historically has and continues to get his jollies from throwing folks in jails of all sorts (unless he can seek the death penalty which excites him even more).

But, Sessions has spent a career on the wrong side of racial history and hung around with immigration restrictionists and White Nationalists like Bannon and Steven Miller (who actually worked for him). He has wasted no time in essentially dismantling the Civil Rights enforcement mechanisms at the DOJ and turning the resources to looking for ways that whites can use civil rights laws for their advantage and to keep blacks and other minorities in their respective places. Further, he shows neither respect for nor acknowledgement of the tremendous achievements of American migrants, both legal and undocumented. In plain terms, he has faithfully carried out key elements of Trump’s White Nationalist agenda, to the delight of white supremacists and racists. And, it’s certainly not like Sessions isn’t aware of how his actions “play” in both the white and non-white communities.

Sessions is far too compromised ever to be an “honest broker” in combating white supremacists and racial hatred in the United States. Even if he throws the Charlottesville perpetrators in jail and throws away the key, he’ll never be credible as a defender of decency, tolerance, and civil rights in the face of White Nationalism or its first cousin white supremacism.

PWS

08-14-17

BREAKING: SUPREMES RULE IMMIGRANT RECEIVED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL WHERE ATTY GAVE WRONG ADVICE ON DEPORTATION! — JAE LEE v. UNITED STATES — Chief Justice Roberts Writes For 6-2 Majority!

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/16-327_3eb4.pdf

Here’s the Court’s Headnote (not part of the decision)

Petitioner Jae Lee moved to the United States from South Korea with his parents when he was 13. In the 35 years he has spent in this country, he has never returned to South Korea, nor has he become a U. S. citizen, living instead as a lawful permanent resident. In 2008, federal officials received a tip from a confidential informant that Lee had sold the informant ecstasy and marijuana. After obtaining a warrant, the officials searched Lee’s house, where they found drugs, cash, and a loaded rifle. Lee admitted that the drugs were his, and a grand jury indicted him on one count of possessing ecstasy with in- tent to distribute. Lee retained counsel and entered into plea discussions with the Government. During the plea process, Lee repeatedly asked his attorney whether he would face deportation; his attorney assured him that he would not be deported as a result of pleading guilty. Based on that assurance, Lee accepted a plea and was sentenced to a year and a day in prison. Lee had in fact pleaded guilty to an “aggravated felony” under the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U. S. C. §1101(a)(43)(B), so he was, contrary to his attorney’s advice, subject to mandatory deportation as a result of that plea. See §1227(a)(2)(A)(iii). When Lee learned of this consequence, he filed a motion to vacate his conviction and sentence, arguing that his attorney had provided constitutionally ineffective assistance. At an evidentiary hearing, both Lee and his plea-stage counsel testified that “deportation was the determinative issue” to Lee in deciding whether to accept a plea, and Lee’s counsel acknowledged that although Lee’s defense to the charge was weak, if he had known Lee would be de- ported upon pleading guilty, he would have advised him to go to trial. A Magistrate Judge recommended that Lee’s plea be set aside and his conviction vacated. The District Court, however, denied relief, and

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JAE LEE v. UNITED STATES Syllabus

the Sixth Circuit affirmed. Applying the two-part test for ineffective assistance claims from Strickland v. Washington, 466 U. S. 668, the Sixth Circuit concluded that, while the Government conceded that Lee’s counsel had performed deficiently, Lee could not show that he was prejudiced by his attorney’s erroneous advice.

Held: Lee has demonstrated that he was prejudiced by his counsel’s erroneous advice. Pp. 5–13.

(a) When a defendant claims that his counsel’s deficient perfor- mance deprived him of a trial by causing him to accept a plea, the de- fendant can show prejudice by demonstrating a “reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s errors, he would not have pleaded guilty and would have insisted on going to trial.” Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U. S. 52, 59.

Lee contends that he can make this showing because he never would have accepted a guilty plea had he known the result would be deportation. The Government contends that Lee cannot show prejudice from accepting a plea where his only hope at trial was that something unexpected and unpredictable might occur that would lead to acquittal. Pp. 5–8.

(b) The Government makes two errors in urging the adoption of a per se rule that a defendant with no viable defense cannot show prejudice from the denial of his right to trial. First, it forgets that categorical rules are ill suited to an inquiry that demands a “case-by-case examination” of the “totality of the evidence.” Williams v. Taylor, 529 U. S. 362, 391 (internal quotation marks omitted); Strickland, 466 U. S., at 695. More fundamentally, it overlooks that the Hill v. Lockhart inquiry focuses on a defendant’s decisionmaking, which may not turn solely on the likelihood of conviction after trial.

The decision whether to plead guilty also involves assessing the respective consequences of a conviction after trial and by plea. See INS v. St. Cyr, 533 U. S. 289, 322–323. When those consequences are, from the defendant’s perspective, similarly dire, even the smallest chance of success at trial may look attractive. For Lee, deportation after some time in prison was not meaningfully different from deportation after somewhat less time; he says he accordingly would have rejected any plea leading to deportation in favor of throwing a “Hail Mary” at trial. Pointing to Strickland, the Government urges that “[a] defendant has no entitlement to the luck of a lawless deci- sionmaker.” 466 U. S., at 695. That statement, however, was made in the context of discussing the presumption of reliability applied to judicial proceedings, which has no place where, as here, a defendant was deprived of a proceeding altogether. When the inquiry is focused on what an individual defendant would have done, the possibility of even a highly improbable result may be pertinent to the extent it

Cite as: 582 U. S. ____ (2017) 3

Syllabus

would have affected the defendant’s decisionmaking. Pp. 8–10.
(c) Courts should not upset a plea solely because of post hoc assertions from a defendant about how he would have pleaded but for his attorney’s deficiencies. Rather, they should look to contemporaneous evidence to substantiate a defendant’s expressed preferences. In the unusual circumstances of this case, Lee has adequately demonstrated a reasonable probability that he would have rejected the plea had he known that it would lead to mandatory deportation: Both Lee and his attorney testified that “deportation was the determinative issue” to Lee; his responses during his plea colloquy confirmed the importance he placed on deportation; and he had strong connections to the United States, while he had no ties to South Korea.

The Government argues that Lee cannot “convince the court that a decision to reject the plea bargain would have been rational under the circumstances,” Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U. S. 356, 372, since deportation would almost certainly result from a trial. Unlike the Government, this Court cannot say that it would be irrational for someone in Lee’s position to risk additional prison time in exchange for holding on to some chance of avoiding deportation. Pp. 10–13.

825 F. 3d 311, reversed and remanded.

ROBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which KENNEDY, GINSBURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which ALITO, J., joined except as to Part I. GORSUCH, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

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My favorite quote from the Chief Justice’s opinion:

“There is no reason to doubt the paramount importance Lee placed on avoiding deportation. Deportation is always “a particularly severe penalty,” Padilla, 559 U. S., at 365 (internal quotation marks omitted), and we have “recognized that ‘preserving the client’s right to remain in the United States may be more important to the client than any potential jail sentence,’” id., at 368 (quoting St. Cyr, 533 U. S., at 322; alteration and some internal quotation

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12 JAE LEE v. UNITED STATES Opinion of the Court

marks omitted); see also Padilla, 559 U.S., at 364 (“[D]eportation is an integral part—indeed, sometimes the most important part—of the penalty that may be imposed on noncitizen defendants who plead guilty to specified crimes.” (footnote omitted)). At the time of his plea, Lee had lived in the United States for nearly three decades, had established two businesses in Tennessee, and was the only family member in the United States who could care for his elderly parents—both naturalized American citizens. In contrast to these strong connections to the United States, there is no indication that he had any ties to South Korea; he had never returned there since leaving as a child.”

My question:

When is the Court finally going to take the next logical step, ditch the fiction that “deportation from the United States is strictly a civil matter,” and formally recognize that deportation, at least of someone like Lee who has been legally admitted to the U.S. for permanent residence, is indeed punishment, of the severest type imaginable! Indeed, exile as punishment dates back to ancient times?

Also worthy of note, the DOJ and the Solicitor General continue to be spectacularly unsuccessful in convincing a conservative, law enforcement oriented Court of the merits of their extreme “hard-line” positions in immigration-related matters. I have previously predicted that loss of “face” and credibility by the SG before the Supremes is a likely consequence of representing the Trump Administration with Jeff Sessions as your boss. As the President himself is finding out, the hard way, once lost, credibility before the courts is difficult or impossible to regain.

PWS

06-25-48

TRAC Finds Immigration Prosecutions Down Through April 2017!

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse
==========================================

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Greetings. The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during April 2017 the government reported 4,434 new criminal prosecutions as a result of referrals from the immigration and customs components of the Department of Homeland Security. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, prosecutions fell 17.5 percent from the previous month, and have dropped 42.9 percent from the levels recorded a year ago during April 2016.

These trends do not as yet reflect the impact of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ April 11, 2017 directive calling for the stepped up use of criminal sanctions in the immigration area.

Criminal prosecutions remain concentrated in the five districts along the nation’s southwest border with Mexico. In April, New Mexico was the most active of these five relative to its population size, and the Southern District of California (San Diego) was second. Per capita prosecution rates in these two districts far surpassed those for the Southern District of Texas (Houston) and the Western District of Texas (San Antonio) that had ranked first and second a year ago.

In April immigration-related criminal prosecutions from DHS referrals had fallen to around 42 percent of federal prosecutions of all types. When customs and drug-related DHS referrals were added, DHS accounted for roughly half of all federal criminal prosecutions, down from almost two out of three a year ago.

To see the full report go to:

http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/472/

In addition, many of TRAC’s free query tools – which track new DHS filings, court dispositions, the handling of juvenile cases and much more – have now been updated through April 2017. For an index to the full list of TRAC’s immigration tools go to:

http://trac.syr.edu/imm/tools/

If you want to be sure to receive notifications whenever updated data become available, sign up at:

http://tracfed.syr.edu/cgi-bin/tracuser.pl?pub=1&list=imm

or follow us on Twitter @tracreports or like us on Facebook:

http://facebook.com/tracreports

TRAC is self-supporting and depends on foundation grants, individual contributions and subscription fees for the funding needed to obtain, analyze and publish the data we collect on the activities of the U.S. federal government. To help support TRAC’s ongoing efforts, go to:

http://trac.syr.edu/cgi-bin/sponsor/sponsor.pl

David Burnham and Susan B. Long, co-directors
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse
Syracuse University
Suite 360, Newhouse II
Syracuse, NY 13244-2100
315-443-3563

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As pointed out by TRAC, this report does not reflect the possible impact of Attorney General Sessions’s “fill up the jails” speech on April 11.

PWS

06-15-17

POLITICS — STONEWALL: Flynn Takes The 5th!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/flynn-takes-the-5th-and-declines-to-comply-with-senate-intelligence-committee-subpoena/2017/05/22/e4fa0524-3f15-11e7-8c25-44d09ff5a4a8_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_flynn-pp-210pmx%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.365d5fbc2d14

The Washington Post reports:

“Retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser under President Trump, refused to comply with a Senate Intelligence Committee subpoena as a top House Democrat disclosed portions of new documents suggesting Flynn lied about his Russia ties to federal investigators.

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee must now meet to vote and decide whether to hold Flynn in contempt or accept his attempt to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The committee has demanded that Flynn provide it with a list of any contacts he had with Russian officials between June 16, 2015, and Jan. 20, 2017.

In a statement late Monday, the committee chairman and vice chairman, Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), said they were “disappointed” by Flynn’s decision and would “vigorously pursue General Flynn’s testimony and his production of any and all pertinent materials pursuant to the Committee’s authorities.”

Flynn’s refusal comes as Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, cited a previously undisclosed document alleging that Flynn had “lied” to security-clearance investigators about payments he received “directly” from Russia for appearing at a December 2015 gala hosted by Russian state-owned media company RT.”

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This baby isn’t going away any time soon!

PWS

05-23-17

BETSY WOODRUFF @ THE DAILY BEAST: Going Gonzo At The USDOJ!

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/04/12/prosecutor-jeff-sessions-new-immigration-plan-is-f-cking-horrifying

Betsy writes:

NOGALES, Arizona—The crowd was small, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s speech was short. But his message couldn’t have been clearer:
“This is a new era,” said Sessions, who sported a dark suit in the hot Arizona sun. “This is the Trump era.”
And with that Sessions officially weaponized the Justice Department to crack down on undocumented immigration. After taking a private border tour with Customs and Border Protections agents in Nogales, on the southern edge of Arizona, the attorney general announced the feds will soon be spending a lot more time prosecuting people who break immigration laws.

Sessions made the announcement over a glitchy sound system to a group of reporters and Customs and Border Protection agents just a few feet away from the Mexico border. A gust of wind knocked over the American flag behind him as he spoke, so a CBP agent stood behind it and propped it up until the attorney general finished his speech.
All federal prosecutors, Sessions said in his slow Alabama drawl, must now consider bringing cases against people suspected of the “transportation or harboring of aliens.” Those prosecutors must also look to bring more felony prosecutions against some immigrants who illegally enter the country more than once and should charge immigrants with document fraud—which includes using a made-up Social Security number—and aggravated identity theft when they can.
One veteran federal prosecutor told The Daily Beast these changes are a generating significant concern.
“It’s fucking horrifying,” the prosecutor said. “It’s totally horrifying and we’re all terrified about it, and we don’t know what to do.
“The things they want us to do are so horrifying—they want to do harboring cases of three or more people,” the prosecutor continued. “So if you’re illegal and you bring your family over, then you’re harboring your kid and your wife, and you can go to jail.”
Sessions broke the news on his first trip to the border as attorney general. The last time he visited was a few days before the 2016 presidential election, when he appeared with former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to talk up Trump’s tough-on-immigration credentials. During his time in the Senate, Sessions was a relentless advocate for much tougher enforcement of immigration laws. Now that he’s the nation’s top law enforcement official, he’s making good on those commitments—which this trip is highlighting.
Immigration-related crimes are already a massive portion of federal prosecutors’ caseloads; Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Clearinghouse found that immigration violations—including illegal entry and illegal re-entry—made up 52 percent of federal prosecutions from September 2015 to September 2016. In the Trump era, though, immigration offenses will be an even larger part of prosecutors’ work. It’s a move that delights immigration hawks.
“All of these steps from detention to more judges to prosecuting those who have previously been deported will drive down the number of illegals in the country and lead to even bigger drops in those trying to sneak across the border,” said Hans von Spakovsky of the conservative Heritage Foundation. “All of this is long overdue.”
The Federation for American Immigration Reform, a restrictionist group whose leaders have worked closely with Sessions on immigration issues and that has significant clout among Trump’s nationalist-populist allies and aides, takes a broad view of what kind of activity could constitute “harboring.” In a position paper on its site, FAIR says anyone who knowingly helps an undocumented immigrant get a job could be prosecuted.
Some view the change as a waste.

“Every dollar spent on prosecuting an illegal immigrant for illegal reentry is a dollar that could have been spent on prosecuting or investigating a real crime,” said Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration expert at the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute. “It’s a shame the government is prioritizing the enforcement of, essentially, labor market regulations over violent and property crimes.”
Others welcome it. John Huber, the U.S. attorney for Utah, told The Daily Beast his office has already been doing much of what Sessions called for—especially prosecutions related to people entering the U.S. illegally after previously being deported—but that he expects to bring more harboring prosecutions to comply with the guidance. That would include people who drive vans full of undocumented immigrants across the border and into Utah looking for work, he said.
“That’s the type of case we may see here, where you have someone transporting a vehicle full of unlawful immigrants,” he said. “We will go after the people who are transporting them, organizing, and coordinating that trip, bringing aliens into our country.”
Sessions made clear that the new crackdown won’t exempt parents of U.S. citizens.”

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Read Betsy’s Full article at the above link.

And, the zaniness doesn’t end with immigration prosecutions. Just today, the Washington Post reported on Sessions’s plans to pile on criminal charges and fill up the prisons:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions overturned the sweeping criminal charging policy of former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and directed his federal prosecutors Thursday to charge defendants with the most serious, provable crimes carrying the most severe penalties.

In a speech Friday, Sessions said the move was meant to ensure that prosecutors would be “un-handcuffed and not micromanaged from Washington” as they worked to bring the most significant cases possible.

“We are returning to the enforcement of the laws as passed by Congress, plain and simple,” Sessions said. “If you are a drug trafficker, we will not look the other way, we will not be willfully blind to your misconduct.”

The Holder memo, issued in August 2013, instructed his prosecutors to avoid charging certain defendants with drug offenses that would trigger long mandatory minimum sentences. Defendants who met a set of criteria such as not belonging to a large-scale drug trafficking organization, gang or cartel, qualified for lesser charges — and in turn less prison time — under Holder’s policy.

Civil liberties advocates at the time praised the move as appropriately merciful — potentially preventing people from facing lifelong penalties for crimes that did not warrant such a punishment. But Sessions’s new charging policy, outlined in a two-page memo and sent to more than 5,000 assistant U.S. attorneys across the country and all assistant attorneys general in Washington, orders prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” and rescinds Holder’s policy immediately.

Sessions said prosecutors would have discretion to avoid sentences “that would result in an injustice,” but his message was clear: His Justice Department will be tougher on drug offenders than its predecessor.

“These are not low-level drug offenders we, in the federal courts, are focusing on,” Sessions said. “These are drug dealers, and you drug dealers are going to prison.”

The Sessions memo marks the first significant criminal justice effort by the Trump administration to bring back the toughest practices of the drug war, which had fallen out of favor in recent years with a bipartisan movement to undo the damaging effects of mass incarceration.
“Drug trafficking is an inherently dangerous and violent business,” Sessions said. “If you want to collect a drug debt, you can’t file a lawsuit in court. You collect it with the barrel of a gun.”

[How Jeff Sessions wants to bring back the war on drugs]

Civil liberties advocates condemned the measure as a return to ineffective policies.

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions overturned the sweeping criminal charging policy of former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and directed his federal prosecutors Thursday to charge defendants with the most serious, provable crimes carrying the most severe penalties.

In a speech Friday, Sessions said the move was meant to ensure that prosecutors would be “un-handcuffed and not micromanaged from Washington” as they worked to bring the most significant cases possible.

“We are returning to the enforcement of the laws as passed by Congress, plain and simple,” Sessions said. “If you are a drug trafficker, we will not look the other way, we will not be willfully blind to your misconduct.”

The Holder memo, issued in August 2013, instructed his prosecutors to avoid charging certain defendants with drug offenses that would trigger long mandatory minimum sentences. Defendants who met a set of criteria such as not belonging to a large-scale drug trafficking organization, gang or cartel, qualified for lesser charges — and in turn less prison time — under Holder’s policy.

Civil liberties advocates at the time praised the move as appropriately merciful — potentially preventing people from facing lifelong penalties for crimes that did not warrant such a punishment. But Sessions’s new charging policy, outlined in a two-page memo and sent to more than 5,000 assistant U.S. attorneys across the country and all assistant attorneys general in Washington, orders prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” and rescinds Holder’s policy immediately.

Sessions said prosecutors would have discretion to avoid sentences “that would result in an injustice,” but his message was clear: His Justice Department will be tougher on drug offenders than its predecessor.

“These are not low-level drug offenders we, in the federal courts, are focusing on,” Sessions said. “These are drug dealers, and you drug dealers are going to prison.”

The Sessions memo marks the first significant criminal justice effort by the Trump administration to bring back the toughest practices of the drug war, which had fallen out of favor in recent years with a bipartisan movement to undo the damaging effects of mass incarceration.
“Drug trafficking is an inherently dangerous and violent business,” Sessions said. “If you want to collect a drug debt, you can’t file a lawsuit in court. You collect it with the barrel of a gun.”

Civil liberties advocates condemned the measure as a return to ineffective policies.”

Read the complete article by Sari Horwitz and Matt Zapotsky at this link:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/sessions-issues-sweeping-new-criminal-charging-policy/2017/05/11/4752bd42-3697-11e7-b373-418f6849a004_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_sessions-7a%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.84d70fd2e9ee

 

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PWS

05-11-17

POLITICO: Immigration Advocates Find Area Of Agreement With AG Sessions: Plan To Boost Troubled Immigration Courts — But, Concerns Remain That Judicial Hiring Could Again Be Politicized — Those Who Care About Due Process Should Carefully Watch The Results Of The “Streamlined” Judicial Vetting System!

http://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2017/04/the-one-area-jeff-sessions-and-immigration-advocates-agree-000411

Danny Vinik reports:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed attorneys from the Department of Justice on Tuesday to increase the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, including laws against unlawful entry, human smuggling and identity fraud. It was yet another escalation of the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants, and immigrant-rights groups blasted the policy changes as ineffective and potentially illegal.

For all their opposition to the Trump administration’s immigration agenda, though, advocates actually back one of the new policies: the increased support for the immigration courts.

Sessions announced that DOJ will seek to add 75 immigration judges to the courts over the next year and will implement reforms to speed up the hiring process. These changes address a real problem with the immigration system—a nearly 600,000-case backlog at the immigration courts—and the move was a rare occasion in which advocates applauded the administration, though they were concerned how Sessions would implement the changes.

“We are very happy at the notion of increasing the amount of immigration judges and being able to address the backlog,” said Jennifer Quigley, an immigration expert at Human Rights First. “But as a senator and now as AG, we’ve always had concerns that Sessions’ motivation is to increase the number of deportations.”

. . . .

Experts largely blame Congress for the backlog, since lawmakers significantly increased resources for immigration enforcement without a commensurate increase in funding for the immigration courts. But in recent years, Congress has increased the number of authorized immigration judges, most recently in 2016 when it provide funding for an additional 55 judges, raising the authorized number from 319 to 374. However, even with enough money, EOIR has struggled to quickly hire judges, as the hiring process can take more than a year and retirements have created additional openings. Currently, there are 312 immigration judges nationwide, a significant increase over a year ago but still far below authorized levels. Trump’s budget blueprint proposed funding 449 judges in fiscal 2018, a significant increase that could find bipartisan support on Capitol Hill.

More important than the request for additional judges, however, may be the hiring reforms. EOIR and DOJ both declined to comment on how the Justice Department was reforming the hiring process for immigration judges. Speaking to border patrol personnel at the U.S.-Mexico border Tuesday, Sessions provided few details. “Today, I have implemented a new, streamlined hiring plan,” he said. “It requires just as much vetting as before, but reduces the timeline, reflecting the dire need to reduce the backlogs in our immigration courts.”

Advocates worry that the hiring process could become politicized, with judges brought on who want to implement specific policies instead of fairly enforcing the law. “The idea of onboarding judges quicker and having more judges is a great thing,” said Joshua Breisblatt, a policy analyst at the American Immigration Council. “But we need to see what it looks like, that it won’t be political.” The language in the budget blueprint was particularly concerning, advocates said, because it seemed to indicate that the courts are a tool for increasing deportations rather than a neutral arbiter of immigration claims.

“We were not happy with the way it was framed,” said Quigley.

It’s not an unrealistic concern. Immigration judges are technically employees of the Department of Justice, a structure that inherently creates a conflict of interest, since their job is to rule on immigration cases that are pushed by DOJ prosecutors, whereas most of the judiciary is independent. Advocates and the immigration judges union have long pushed to remove the immigration courts from the DOJ. And during the Bush administration, a DOJ investigation found that several immigration judges received their jobs due to their political connections, a scandal that serves as a warning today.

Despite those concerns, experts hope that Sessions and EOIR will undertake the hiring process in a timely and impartial manner, filling the bench with qualified judges who have enough time to understand the cases before them. As Sandweg said, “It’s something that’s long overdue.” In such a world, the additional judges could reduce the backlog, increasing the number of deportations, while spending more time on complicated asylum cases, giving asylum seekers more time to fairly present their cases and receive careful consideration.

In such a world, it’s possible that both the Trump administration and advocates could come out happy—a scenario almost impossible to imagine today.”

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Sessions is certainly right to address the ridiculous 18-24 month hiring cycle for U.S. Immigration Judges, and should get credit for making reform one of his top priorities. He also should be credited with focusing attention on the 542,000 case backlog, something that the Obama Administration seemed to have preferred to ignore as it mushroomed in front of their eyes. (As I said in this blog yesterday, I’m not convinced that even the 125 additional Immigration Judges proposed by Sessions over the next two years will effectively address a pending docket of that magnitude: http://wp.me/p8eeJm-FQ. But, it’s a start.)

However, the devil is in the details. And, the details of Session’s “streamlined judicial hiring” have not been made public, although the Attorney General said they were “implemented” on April 11.

Remarkably, I have learned that as of today, April 12, both EOIR Management and the union representing U.S. Immigration Judges (of which I am a retired member) were “totally in the dark” about the contents of the plan. That means it was “hatched’ at the DOJ without any meaningful input from those in the U.S. Immigration Court system or the court’s “stakeholders” — those representing the interests of the hundred of thousands of individuals with cases currently before the court or who might come before the court in the future. That’s troubling. It also appears that members of Congress had not been briefed on the hiring changes.

What’s even more troubling is that it’s not just about the inexcusably slow and bureaucratic hiring practices of the DOJ and EOIR. It’s also about results. During the Obama Administration, although officials claimed that the system was “merit-based” the results suggest that it was anything but.

According to informed sources who have done the math, an amazing 88% of those selected were from government backgrounds and 64% were from ICE, which prosecutes cases before the Immigration Court. I have had reports of numerous superbly qualified individuals from the private sector whose applications were rejected or put on indefinite hold without any explanation.

So, it looks like the many-layered, glacially slow, inefficient, overly bureaucratized process used by the DOJ and EOIR was actually an elaborate “smokescreen” for a system that was heavily weighted toward selecting “government insiders” and against selecting those who had gained experience by representing immigrants or advocating for their rights. The “Appellate Division” of the U.S. Immigration Court, the BIA — which is supposed to be the “top administrative court” in immigration — hasn’t had a judge appointed from outside the Government since 2000, more than 16 years and two full administrations ago!

Based on performance to date, I’m not particularly optimistic that AG Jeff Sessions is going to make the changes necessary to establish a true merit-based system for Immigration Judge hiring that, in turn, will create an immigration judiciary representing more diverse backgrounds and experiences. But, hope springs eternal, and I’d be happy if he proves my skepticism to be wrong.

Only time will tell. But, the quality and composition of the “Sessions era” immigration judiciary is something that everyone who cares about due process and justice in America should watch closely.

PWS

04/12/17

 

“This Is The Trump Era” — Jeff Sessions Visits S. Border — Announces New Emphasis On Immigration Crimes — Although Majority of Feds’ Prosecutions Already Immigraton-Related, Enough Is Never Enough! — “Incarceration Nation” Coming! Sessions Also Seeks 125 New U.S. Immigration Judges Over Next 2 Years — Sessions “Disses” Forensic Science At DOJ!

https://www.wsj.com/articles/sessions-lays-out-tough-policy-on-undocumented-who-commit-crimes-1491930183

Aruna Viswanatha reports in the WSJ:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed federal prosecutors to pursue harsher charges against undocumented immigrants who commit crimes, or repeatedly cross into the U.S. illegally, and promised to add 125 immigration judges in the next two years to address a backlog of immigration cases.

The moves are part of the administration’s efforts to deter illegal immigration and is meant to target gangs and smugglers, though non-violent migrants could also face more severe prosecutions.

In a memo issued Tuesday, Mr. Sessions instructed prosecutors to make a series of immigration offenses “higher priorities,” including transporting or harboring illegal immigrants, illegally entering or reentering the country, or assaulting immigration enforcement agents.

In remarks to border patrol agents at the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona on Tuesday, Mr. Sessions spoke in stark terms about the threat he said illegal immigration poses.

“We mean criminal organizations that turn cities and suburbs into warzones, that rape and kill innocent citizens,” Mr. Sessions said, according to the text of his prepared remarks. “It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth.”

“This is a new era. This is the Trump era,” Mr. Sessions said.

Former prosecutors said they didn’t expect the memo to dramatically impact U.S. attorneys offices along the southern border, which already bring thousands of such cases each year. They said it could impact those further inland, which haven’t historically focused on immigration violations.

In the fiscal year that ended in September 2016, 52% of all federal criminal prosecutions involved immigration-related offenses, according to Justice Department data analyzed by Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

. . . .

Immigration advocates said they worried that the memo and tone set by the administration was describing a closer link between criminal behavior and immigration than statistics show.

“We are seeing an over-emphasis on prosecuting, at the federal level, immigration, illegal entry and reentry cases, and far less paid to criminal violations that implicate public safety,” said Gregory Chen, director of advocacy for the American Immigration Lawyers Association.”

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On April 8, 2017, Sari Horowitz reported in the Washington Post on how Sessions’s enthusiastic plans to reinstitute the largely discredited “war on drugs” is likely to “jack up” Federal Prison populations:

“Crime is near historic lows in the United States, but Sessions says that the spike in homicides in several cities, including Chicago, is a harbinger of a “dangerous new trend” in America that requires a tough response.
“Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs is bad,” Sessions said to law enforcement officials in a speech in Richmond last month. “It will destroy your life.”

Advocates of criminal justice reform argue that Sessions and Cook are going in the wrong direction — back to a strategy that tore apart families and sent low-level drug offenders, disproportionately minority citizens, to prison for long sentences.

“They are throwing decades of improved techniques and technologies out the window in favor of a failed approach,” said Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM).”

. . . .

Cook and Sessions have also fought the winds of change on Capitol Hill, where a bipartisan group of lawmakers recently tried but failed to pass the first significant bill on criminal justice reform in decades.

The legislation, which had 37 sponsors in the Senate, including Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), and 79 members of the House, would have reduced some of the long mandatory minimum sentences for gun and drug crimes. It also would have given judges more flexibility in drug sentencing and made retroactive the law that reduced the large disparity between sentencing for crack cocaine and powder cocaine.

The bill, introduced in 2015, had support from outside groups as diverse as the Koch brothers and the NAACP. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) supported it, as well.

But then people such as Sessions and Cook spoke up. The longtime Republican senator from Alabama became a leading opponent, citing the spike in crime in several cities.

“Violent crime and murders have increased across the country at almost alarming rates in some areas. Drug use and overdoses are occurring and dramatically increasing,” said Sessions, one of five members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who voted against the legislation. “It is against this backdrop that we are considering a bill . . . to cut prison sentences for drug traffickers and even other violent criminals, including those currently in federal prison.”
Cook testified that it was the “wrong time to weaken the last tools available to federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents.”

After GOP lawmakers became nervous about passing legislation that might seem soft on crime, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

“Sessions was the main reason that bill didn’t pass,” said Inimai M. Chettiar, the director of the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “He came in at the last minute and really torpedoed the bipartisan effort.”

Now that he is attorney general, Sessions has signaled a new direction. As his first step, Sessions told his prosecutors in a memo last month to begin using “every tool we have” — language that evoked the strategy from the drug war of loading up charges to lengthen sentences.

And he quickly appointed Cook to be a senior official on the attorney general’s task force on crime reduction and public safety, which was created following a Trump executive order to address what the president has called “American carnage.”

“If there was a flickering candle of hope that remained for sentencing reform, Cook’s appointment was a fire hose,” said Ring, of FAMM. “There simply aren’t enough backhoes to build all the prisons it would take to realize Steve Cook’s vision for America.”

. . . .

Sessions’s aides stress that the attorney general does not want to completely upend every aspect of criminal justice policy.

“We are not just sweeping away everything that has come before us.” said Robyn Thiemann, the deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Policy, who is working with Cook and has been at the Justice Department for nearly 20 years. “The attorney general recognizes that there is good work out there.”

Still, Sessions’s remarks on the road reveal his continued fascination with an earlier era of crime fighting.

In the speech in Richmond, he said, “Psychologically, politically, morally, we need to say — as Nancy Reagan said — ‘Just say no.’ ”

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Not surprisingly, Sessions’s actions prompted a spate of critical commentary, the theme of which was the failure of the past “war on drugs” and “Just say no to Jeff Sessions.” You can search them on the internet, but here is a representative example, an excerpt from a posting by Rebecca Bergenstein Joseph in “Health Care Musings:”

“We Can’t Just Say No
Posted on April 9, 2017 by Rebecca Bergenstein Joseph
Three decades ago, Nancy Reagan launched her famous anti-drug campaign when she told American citizens, “Say yes to your life. And when it comes to alcohol and drugs, just say no.” 1 Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions invoked the former First Lady’s legacy in a speech to Virginia law enforcement when he said, “ I think we have too much tolerance for drug use– psychologically, politically, morally. We need to say, as Nancy Reagan said, ‘Just say no.’”2 As our nation is confronted on a daily basis with the tragic effects of the opioid epidemic, it is important that we understand just how dangerous it is to suggest that we return to the ‘just say no’ approach.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the ‘just say no’ curriculum became the dominant drug education program nationwide in the form of DARE.3 The DARE program– Drug Abuse Resistance Education– was developed in 1983 by the Los Angeles police chief in collaboration with a physician, Dr. Ruth Rich. The pair adapted a drug education curriculum that was in the development process at University of Southern California in order to create a program that would be taught by police officers and would teach students to resist the peer pressure to use alcohol and drugs. With the backdrop of the War on Drugs that had continued from the Nixon presidency into the Reagan era, DARE grew quickly. Communities understandably wanted to prevent their children from using alcohol and drugs. The program was soon being used in 75% of schools nationwide and had a multimillion dollar budget.3 In fact, I would bet that many of you reading this are DARE graduates. I certainly am.

It did not take long for there to be research showing that the ‘just say no’ approach used in DARE was not working. By the early 1990s there were multiple studies showing that DARE had no effect on its graduates choices regarding alcohol and drug use.4 The decision to ignore the research about DARE culminated when the National Institute of Justice evaluated the program in 1994, concluded that it was ineffective, and proceeded to not publish this finding. In the 10 years that followed, DARE was subjected to evaluation by the Department of Education, the U.S Surgeon General’s Office, and the Government Accountability Office.4 The combined effect of these evaluations was the eventual transformation of DARE into an evidence-based curriculum, Keepin’ It REAL, which was released in 2011.5 But this only happened after billions of dollars were spent on a program that did not work and millions of students received inadequate drug education.

And yet, here we are again. The top law enforcement officer in our nation is suggesting that we go back to the days where elementary and middle school students were told that all they needed to do was ‘just say no.’”

Read the complete post here:

https://sites.tufts.edu/cmph357/author/rjosep06/

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Finally, just yesterday, on April 10, 2017, Spenser S. Hsu reported in the Washington Post that Sessions was “canning” the “National Commission on Forensic Science, a roughly 30-member advisory panel of scientists, judges, crime lab leaders, prosecutors and defense lawyers chartered by the Obama administration in 2013” as a consultant to the DOJ on proper forensic standards.

In plain terms, in Session’s haste to rack up more criminal convictions and appear “tough on crime,” the quality of the evidence or the actual guilt or innocence of those charged becomes merely “collateral damage” in the “war on crime.”

Here’s a portion of what Hsu had to say:

“Several commission members who have worked in criminal courts and supported the input of independent scientists said the department risks retreating into insularity and repeating past mistakes, saying that no matter how well-intentioned, prosecutors lack scientists’ objectivity and training.

U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff of New York, the only federal judge on the commission, said, “It is unrealistic to expect that truly objective, scientifically sound standards for the use of forensic science . . . can be arrived at by entities centered solely within the Department of Justice.”

In suspending reviews of past testimony and the development of standards for future reporting, “the department has literally decided to suspend the search for the truth,” said Peter S. Neufeld, co-founder of the Innocence Project, which has reported that nearly half of 349 DNA exonerations involved misapplications of forensic science. “As a consequence innocent people will languish in prison or, God forbid, could be executed,” he said.

However, the National District Attorneys Association, which represents prosecutors, applauded the end of the commission and called for it to be replaced by an Office of Forensic Science inside the Justice Department. Disagreements between crime lab practitioners and defense community representatives on the commission had reduced it to “a think tank,” yielding few accomplishments and wasted tax dollars, the association said.

The commission was created after critical reports by the National Academy of Sciences about a dearth of standards and funding for crime labs, examiners and researchers, problems it partly traced to law enforcement control over the system.

Although examiners had long claimed to be able to match pattern evidence — such as with firearms or bite marks — to a source with “absolute” or “scientific” certainty, only DNA analysis had been validated through statistical research, scientists reported.

In one case, the FBI lab in 2005 abandoned its four-decade-long practice of tracing bullets to a specific manufacturer’s batch through chemical analyses after its method were scientifically debunked. In 2015, the department and bureau reported that nearly every examiner in an elite hair-analysis unit gave scientifically flawed or overstated testimony in 90 percent of cases for two decades before 2000.

The cases include 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison.”

Here is a link to the full article by Hsu: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/sessions-orders-justice-dept-to-end-forensic-science-commission-suspend-review-policy/2017/04/10/2dada0ca-1c96-11e7-9887-1a5314b56a08_story.html?utm_term=.97b814db4eac&wpisrc=nl_buzz&wpmm=1

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I “get” that some of the advocacy groups quoted in these articles could be considered “interested parties” and/or “soft on crime” in the world of hard-core prosecutors. But, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and the Koch brothers “soft on crime?” Come on, man!

Capitalist theory says that as long as there is a nearly insatiable “market” in the United States for illegal drugs, and a nearly inexhaustible “supply” abroad, there is going to be drug-related crime. Harsher sentences might increase risks and therefore “jack up market prices” for “consumers” of “product,” while creating “new job opportunities” for “middlemen” who will have to take (and be compensated for) more risks and invest in more expensive business practices (such as bribery, or manipulation of the legal system) to get the product “to market.”

But, you can bet that until we deal with the “end causes” in a constructive manner, neither drug trafficking nor trafficking in undocumented individuals is likely to change much in the long run.

Indeed, authorities have been cutting off heads, hands, feet, and other appendages, drawing and quartering, hanging, crucifying, shooting, gassing, injecting, racking, mutilating, imprisoning in dungeons, transporting, banishing, and working to death those who have committed crimes, both serious and not so serious, for centuries. But, strangely, such harsh practices, while certainly diminishing the humanity of those who inflict them, have had little historical effect on crime. The most obvious effects have been more dead and damaged individuals, overcrowded prisons, and angry disaffected families.

125 new U.S. Immigration Judges should be good news for the beleaguered U.S. Immigration Courts. But, even assuming that Congress goes along, at the glacial pace the DOJ and EOIR have been hiring Immigration Judges over the past two Administrations, it could take all four years of Trump’s current term to get them on board and actually deciding cases.

More bad news: Added to the approximately 375 Immigration Judges currently authorized (but, only about 319 actually on the bench), that would bring the total to 500 Immigration Judges. Working at the current 750 completions/year (50% above the “optimum” of 500 completions/year) the currently authorized 375 Immigration Judges could complete fewer than 300,000 cases/year consistent with due process — barely enough to keep up with historic receipts, let alone the “enhanced enforcement” promised by the Trump Administration. They would not have to capacity to address the current “backlog” of approximately 550,000 cases.

If receipts remained “flat,” the 125 “new” Immigration Judges contemplated by AG Sessions could go to work on on the backlog. But, it would take them about 6 years to wipe out the 550,000 case existing backlog.

PWS

04/11/17

 

 

 

THE HILL: N. Rappaport Asks Whether Trump’s Next “Sanctuary Cities” Strategy Will Include Criminal Prosecutions For Harboring?

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/327050-trumps-next-immigration-showdown-sanctuary-cities-and

Nolan writes:

“Gregg Jarrett, a Fox news anchor and former defense attorney, has observed that if this approach fails to force city officials to abide by the law, President Trump can consider charging them with crimes.

According to James H. Walsh, who was an associate general counsel for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, there are several federal statutes that apply to state and local officials and others who interfere with the enforcement of our immigration laws.

I have found at least one provision in the INA that seems to be an appropriate basis for such prosecutions, 8 U.S.C. §1324(a)(1)(A)(iii). It provides criminal penalties for concealing, harboring, or shielding aliens from detection who are in the United States illegally.

It does not specify what actions constitute “harboring.” This has been left to the courts, and the courts have not settled on one uniform definition. But the most frequent characteristic the courts have used to describe “harboring” is that it facilitates an immigrant’s remaining in the United States illegally, and this seems to be the primary reason for sanctuary cities and municipal ID card programs.

Criminal prosecution of responsible government officials is preferable in some ways to withholding federal funding. Withholding federal funding mainly would hurt the people who depend on the funds. It would not have a direct impact on the responsible officials the way prosecuting them would.

Also, the Supreme Court has held that such restrictions on federal funds must “bear some relationship to the purpose of the federal spending,” which may be difficult to establish in this situation.

In any case, we appear to be headed for major conflicts between the Trump administration and state and local governments, which could take a very long time to resolve.”

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Go on over to The Hill at the above link to read Nolan’s entire article.

Regardless of whether or not criminal prosecutions become part of the Trump Administration’s arsenal, I totally agree with Nolan’s conclusion that we’re heading for a major confrontation.

PWS

03-03-17