DESTROYING AMERICA, ONE PRECIOUS, TALENTED LIFE AT A TIME — “Can something that irrational happen in America?” — In The Trump/Sessions/Miller White Nationalist Regime? — You Betcha!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/with-three-months-left-in-medical-school-her-career-may-be-slipping-away/2018/02/22/24a7a780-10f3-11e8-9570-29c9830535e5_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_dacadoctors-830pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.ed15d711fa8f

Maria Sacchetti reports for the Washington Post:

MAYWOOD, Ill. — Rosa Aramburo sailed into her final year of medical school with stellar test scores and high marks from professors. Her advisers predicted she’d easily land a spot in a coveted residency program.

Then President Trump announced the end of the Obama-era program that has issued work permits to Aramburo and nearly 700,000 other undocumented immigrants raised in the United States.

“Don’t be surprised if you get zero interviews,” an adviser told her.

She got 10, after sending 65 applications.

But as she prepared to rank her top three choices last week, Congress rejected bills that would have allowed her and other “dreamers” to remain in the United States, casting new doubt on a career path that seemed so certain a year ago.

Employers and universities that have embraced DACA recipients over the past six years are scrambling for a way to preserve the program. They are lobbying a deeply divided Congress, covering fees for employees and students to renew their permits, and searching for other legal options — perhaps a work visa or residency through spouses or relatives who are citizens. Some companies have considered sending employees abroad.

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They are also awaiting the outcome of a court challenge to the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has granted the young recipients a temporary reprieve and allowed them to continue renewing work permits for the time being. The Supreme Court could decide as soon as Friday whether to intervene in the case.

Nationwide, more than 160 DACA recipients are teaching in low-income schools through Teach For America. Thirty-nine work at Microsoft, 250 at Apple and 84 at Starbucks. To employers, the young immigrants are skilled workers who speak multiple languages and often are outsize achievers. Polls show strong American support for allowing them to stay.

Based in part on that data, many DACA recipients say they believe that the United States will continue to protect them, even as a senior White House official has indicated that Trump and key GOP lawmakers are ready to move on to other issues.

Human-resources experts warn that employers could be fined or go to jail if they knowingly keep workers on the payroll after their permits have expired. And while the White House has said that young immigrants who lose DACA protections would not become immediate targets for deportation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement says anyone here illegally can be detained and, possibly, deported.

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“I’ve gotten emails saying, ‘Oh, we loved you,’ ’’ Aramburo, 28, said one recent morning as she hurried to predawn rounds at a neurology intensive-care unit. “But in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, ‘What if I can’t finish?’ ”

Dreams and disbelief

Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine has 32 DACA recipients enrolled in its medical program. (Alyssa Schukar/for The Washington Post)

Cesar Montelongo is a third-year student in the school’s MD-PhD program. (Alyssa Schukar/for The Washington Post)
Nearly 100 DACA recipients are medical students enrolled at schools such as Harvard, Georgetown and the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University Chicago, which this May will graduate its first five dreamers, including Aramburo.

Loyola, a Catholic school, changed its admissions policies to allow DACA recipients to apply soon after President Barack Obama — frustrated by Congress’s failure to pass an immigration bill — declared in 2012 that he would issue the young immigrants work permits. Trump and other immigration hard-liners criticized the program as executive overreach.

Thirty-two students with DACA are enrolled at Stritch, the most of any medical school in the country, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Most are from Mexico, but there are also students brought to the United States as children from 18 other countries, including Pakistan, India and South Korea.

The school helped the students obtain more than $200,000 apiece in loans to pay for their education. Some agreed to work in poor and rural areas with acute physician shortages to borrow the money without interest.

Mark G. Kuczewski, a professor of medical ethics at Loyola, said the school was inspired to launch the effort after hearing about Aramburo, a high school valedictorian who earned college degrees in biology and Spanish and yearned to study medicine but could find work only as a babysitter because she was undocumented.

He said it is unthinkable that Congress may derail the chance for her and the other DACA recipients at Loyola to become doctors and work legally throughout the United States.

“We just can’t believe that that will happen,” Kuczewski said. “Can something that irrational happen in America?”

2:52
This nurse found hope in DACA, now his life is in limbo

Jose Aguiluz is a 28-year-old registered nurse who may face deportation from the United States if Congress doesn’t come to an agreement on DACA recipients. (Jorge Ribas, Jon Gerberg/The Washington Post)
Teach For America said its lawyers have pored over immigration laws to find ways to sponsor workers who lose their DACA protections. But the process often requires workers to leave the United States and return legally, a risk many young teachers are unwilling to take. The organization also offered to relocate teachers close to their families in the United States.

“They’re desperate. They’re stressed,” said Viridiana Carrizales, managing director of DACA Corps Member Support at Teach For America. “They don’t know if they’re going to have a job in the next few months.”

A spokesman for a major tech company who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of political negotiations, said it asked DACA employees whether they would like to be transferred to another country where their work status would not be in jeopardy.

“It fell completely flat,” he said. “The employees were polled, and with virtual unanimity, the resounding answer was a ‘No, thank you.’ They considered it giving up.”

The Society for Human Resource Management said companies can defend workers and lobby Congress on behalf of DACA recipients. But the group, which has 240 member organizations, is also urging employers to consider what might happen if their employees’ work permits expire.

“The bottom line is, if people don’t have documents that allow them to work in the United States, they have to be taken off the payroll,” said Justin Storch, a federal liaison for the society.

Cesar Montelongo, a third-year medical student and a DACA recipient. (Alyssa Schukar/for The Washington Post)
‘Not just farmworkers or housekeepers’
On the snow-covered campus at Loyola University Chicago, medical students with DACA permits say they are continuing with their studies and renewing their work permits even as they keep one eye on Washington.

Cesar Montelongo, 28, a third-year medical student who attended the State of the Union address last month, spent part of one recent day examining bacteria in petri dishes in a school laboratory. His family fled a violent border city in Mexico when he was 10.

He is earning a medical degree and a PhD in microbiology, a high-level combination that could land him plenty of jobs in other countries. But he said he prefers the United States, one of “very few places in this planet you can actually achieve that kind of dream.”

Less than a mile away, Alejandra Duran, a 27-year-old second-year medical student who came to the United States from Mexico at 14, translated for patients at a local clinic for people with little or no insurance.

With help from teachers in Georgia, she graduated from high school with honors. She wants to return to the state as a doctor and work to help lower the rate of women dying in childbirth.

“A lot of things have been said about how illegal, how bad we are; that’s not the full story,” Duran said. “We’re not just farmworkers or housekeepers. We’re their doctors. We’re their nurses, their teachers, their paramedics.”

Alejandra Duran, a second-year student who intends to practice obstetrics and gynecology, translates for Dr. Matt Steinberger at the Access to Care clinic. (Alyssa Schukar/For The Washington Post)

Cesar Montelongo, a third-year medical student, examines Petri dishes in which he conducted an experiment looking at interactions of viruses with bacteria in the bladder. (Alyssa Schukar/For The Washington Post)
During rounds at the Loyola University Medical Center, Aramburo studied computer records, then examined stroke victims and patients with spinal and head injuries. Some may never regain consciousness, but she always speaks to them in the hope that they will wake up.

“That’s my dream: to make a difference in people’s lives,” she said. “I hope I can do it.”

In the glass-walled neurology intensive care unit, she and two physicians stood before a 45-year-old stroke victim who spoke only Spanish. The woman struggled to grasp what the two doctors were saying.

Aramburo stepped forward.

“You’ve had a small stroke,” she explained in Spanish, as the woman listened. “It could have been a lot worse. Now we’re going to figure out why.”

 

 

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Some of the WASHPOST comments on this article were predictably idiotic ands racist., Really, what’s happening to our country that folks have such perverted, ill informed, anti-social, and inhuman views?

These are American kids. Raised, educated, and residing in our country. They aren’t “taking places” from anyone, except, perhaps those of their classmates who are less talented or less ambitious. But, why would we want to reward mediocrity over merit just because someone was born here? Other American kids have the same opportunities that Dreamers have. If some chose not to take advantage of them, so be it!

When the Arlington Immigration Court was located in Ballston, Virginia, the kids from nearby Washington & Lee High would come over to the Mall for lunch. Undoubtedly, some of them were undocumented.

But, I couldn’t tell you who. They were just American kids. Even when they showed up in my courtroom, I couldn’t tell you who was the “respondent” and who was the “support group” until I called the case and the respondent came forward. Contrary to the White Nationalists, folks are pretty much the same.

As usual, Trump and his White Nationalist cronies have taken a win-win-win and created a lose-lose-lose! When Dreamers get screwed, they lose, US employers lose, and our country loses, big time! But, that’s what happens when policies and actions are based on bias, ignorance, and incompetence.

PWS

02-23-18

ARLINGTON IMMIGRATION COURT:ANOTHER WIN FOR THE GOOD GUYS! – GW CLINIC HELPS EL SALVADORAN WOMAN & CHILDREN GET ASYLUM!

Friends,

Please join me in congratulating Immigration Clinic student-attorney Julia Navarro, and her client, F-R, from El Salvador.  This afternoon, Immigration Judge Emmett D. Soper granted F-R’s asylum application.  The ICE trial attorney waived appeal so the grant is final.  Granted asylum along with F-R were her twelve and nine year-young sons, who live with her, and her husband, who remains in El Salvador.

 F-R testified that the Mara 18 gang tried to recruit her then ten-year young son, but that he refused.  As a result, he was beaten, resulting in visible injuries.  However, he refused to tell F-R who beat him, and why.  Finally, after repeated beatings, he told F-R.  She confronted the gang members and asked them to leave her son alone.  In response, they burned her with lit cigarettes on her chest, stomach, and arms.  In addition, they demanded that she pay them $5,000.  And they continued to beat her son.  F-R went to the police twice, but nothing was done.  Finally, after further beatings of her son and renewed demands for the $5,000, F-R and her husband decided that she and her two sons should come to the USA.  After she left El Salvador, the gang members poisoned two of her dogs, whom, she testified, she considered part of her family.  At the conclusion of her direct examination, Julia asked F-R if she would confront the gang members again, and she said yes, because “my children are my life, and I would give my life for theirs.”

 Congratulations also to Sarah DeLong, Dalia Varela, Jengeih Tamba, and Jonathan Bialosky, who previously worked on this case.

**************************************************
Alberto Manuel Benitez
Professor of Clinical Law
Director, Immigration Clinic
The George Washington University Law School
650 20th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052
(202) 994-7463
(202) 994-4946 fax
abenitez@law.gwu.edu
THE WORLD IS YOURS…
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Congrats to all involved!
Once more proving my point that with great representation, time to prepare, and a fair Immigration Court, many, perhaps the majority, of the so-called “Northern Triangle Gang Cases” are highly grantable!
This definitely calls into question the Administration’s use of unnecessary detention, unwarranted criminal prosecutions, expedited removal, denial of access to counsel, detention courts, and “removal quotas” to “discourage” valid claims for protection. The Administration’s policies are an overt attack on Due Process and the Rule of Law! Harm to the most vulnerable among us is harm to all of us!
Three cheers for the “New Due Process Army!”
PWS
02-23-18

BIA PROVIDES FEEBLE GUIDANCE ON BORDER STATEMENTS — MATTER OF J-C-H-F-, 27 I&N DEC. 211(BIA 2018)! PLUS SPECIAL BONUS: MY “CRITICAL ANALYSIS!”

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Matter of J-C-H-F-, 27 I&N Dec. 211 (B IA 2018)

BIA HEADNOTE:

“When deciding whether to consider a border or airport interview in making a credibility determination, an Immigration Judge should assess the accuracy and reliability of the interview based on the totality of the circumstances, rather than relying on any one factor among a list or mandated set of inquiries.”

PANEL: BIA Appellate Immigration Judges MALPHRUS, CREPPY, and LIEBOWITZ

OPINION BY: JUDGE GARRY D. MALPHRUS

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MY ANALYSIS

  • Predictably, the respondent loses. Even though faulty analysis leading to unwarranted denial of asylum cases by the BIA and Immigration Judges is a recurring problem (see, e.g., Salgado-Sosa v. Sessions, recent 4th Circuit, Blogged here  https://wp.me/p8eeJm-2aS), when was the last time the BIA explained how U.S. Immigration Judges should analyze and grant asylum? No, the BIA’s recent asylum jurisprudence is basically a one-sided “blueprint for denials that will pass appellate muster.” In reality, Due Process is supposed to be about protecting individuals (whether documented or undocumented) from Government overreach, not how to maximize DHS removals. But, you’d be hard pressed to get that from reading the BIA precedents.
  • What this decision really tells Immigration Judges: “Presume that sworn statements taken at the border are reliable. Feel free to use any inconsistencies against the asylum applicant. Go ahead and reject all efforts to explain. Deny the application based on credibility Don’t worry, we’ve ‘got your back’ on appeal.”
  • Even more seriously, although the BIA is supposed to  consider “all relevant factors,” the panel totally ignored strong, impartial, widely disseminated evidence that statements taken at the border on Form I-867A are highly unreliable. Not only that, but such evidence is in the public realm and in fact was actually presented at EOIR training conferences at which Board Judges and staff were present!
  • Let’s reprIse a recent article by Hon. Jeffrey Chase, who was both an Immigration Judge and a BIA Attorney Adviser:”

In August 2016 I [Judge Chase] organized and moderated the mandatory international religious freedom training panel at the immigration judges’ legal training conference in Washington, D.C.  One of the panelists from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (“USCIRF”) informed me of a just-published report she had co-authored. The report, titled Barriers to Protection: The Treatment of Asylum Seekers in Expedited Removal, is the follow-up to a 2005 study by USCIRF of the treatment of arriving asylum seekers in their interactions with the various components of DHS and the Department of Justice involved in the expedited removal process.  What jumped out at me from the report was the first key recommendation to EOIR: “Retrain immigration judges that the interview record created by CBP is not a verbatim transcript of the interview and does not document the individual’s entire asylum claim in detail, and should be weighed accordingly.”

The new report referenced the Commission’s 2005 findings, which it described as “alarming.”  The earlier study found that “although they resemble verbatim transcripts, the I-867 sworn statements” taken from arrivees by agents of DHS’s Customs and Border Patrol (“CBP”) component “were neither verbatim nor reliable, often indicating that information was conveyed when in fact it was not and sometimes including answers to questions that were never asked.  Yet immigration judges often used these unreliable documents against asylum seekers when adjudicating their cases.”

The 2016 report found similar problems with the airport statements taken a decade later.  The study found the use of identical answers by CBP agents in filling out the form I-867 “transcript,” including clearly erroneous answers (i.e. a male applicant purportedly being asked, and answering, whether he was pregnant, and a four year old child purportedly stating that he came to the U.S. to work).  For the record, USCIRF is a bipartisan organ of the federal government.  So this is a government-issued report making these findings.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has long recognized the problems inherent in the reliability of airport statements.  In Ramseachire v. Ashcroft, 357 F.3d 169, 179 (2d Cir. 2004), the Second Circuit held that “a record of the interview that merely summarizes or paraphrases the alien’s statements is inherently less reliable than a verbatim account or transcript.”  The court determined that the airport statement in that case bore “hallmarks of reliability, as it is typewritten, signed by Ramseachire, and initialed on each page.  The record also indicates that he was given the opportunity to make corrections to the transcription.”

But was that truly the case?  The USCIRF study (the first of which was published a year after the Ramseachire decision) shows that the Second Circuit’s reliance may have been misplaced.  The USCIRF researchers found instances in which the statement was not read back; when asked, a CBP agent stated “that he only reads back the contents if the interviewee requests it because it takes too long, and that the interviewee initialing each page only indicates that s/he received a copy of that page.”

As noted in the USCIRF study, the problems with airport statements go beyond merely summarizing or paraphrasing, to include actual misstatements and omissions.  But the I-867 statements as prepared by the CBP agents give the appearance of being verbatim transcripts, and further claim to contain multiple safeguards to guarantee their accuracy which, pursuant to the findings of the USCIRF studies, may not have actually been employed.  And based upon the appearance of those safeguards, immigration judges have relied on the contents of these statements to reach adverse credibility findings that result in the denial of asylum.  And as in Ramseachire, many of those credibility findings are being affirmed on appeal.

This is not to say that all airport statements are unreliable.  But the point is that, as in Ramseachire, courts see something that looks like a verbatim transcript, see additional signs that safeguards were employed to ensure accuracy, and as a result, afford the document more evidentiary weight than it might actually deserve.  Under such circumstances, an immigration judge might reasonably rely on an airport statement purporting that the respondent had stated he came to the U.S. to work when in fact, he or she said no such thing.  And the judge might discredit the respondent’s denial of such statement when the words are recorded in a seemingly verbatim transcript bearing the respondent’s signature and initials which says it was read back to him and found accurate.

Attorneys and immigration judges should therefore be aware of the report and its findings.  The link to the report is:  https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/Barriers%20To%20Protection.pdf

 

Border Patrol agents claim that a 3-year-old boy said the reason he came to the United States was to look for work, thus making it easier for the undocumented immigrant to be deported.

The boy, hailing from Honduras and identified in court documents as Y.F., was allegedly interviewed in the summer of 2014 by Border Patrol agents trying to determine if immigrants had a credible fear of harm or death if they returned to their home countries. Those who claim such fear—and can prove it—have a shot at getting asylum in the United States, while those who say they came looking for work are most often deported.

Agents interviewed Y.F. and wrote on the appropriate form that he said he was looking for work. A brief (pdf) filed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) with the Justice DepartmentBoard of Immigration Appeals points out the unlikelihood of that being true. “Y-F-’s interview, so painstakingly transcribed, sworn, signed and counter-signed, almost certainly never happened in the format in which it was memorialized. The impossibility of the interview, in spite of the DHS officers’ affirmations of veracity and the rule of government regularity is plain on the face of the writings themselves: Y-F- was three years old at the time he was interrogated,” the brief said.

AILA says that information on those forms, I-867 A/B, “are not inherently reliable because they often contain fake responses, do not accurately reflect testimony presented, and were almost always created under coercive conditions,” according to AILA.

The case of Y.F. isn’t unique. Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) argued that a particular undocumented immigrant should be deported because she came to the United States to find work in Dodge City, Kansas, according to Elise Foley of Huffington Post. The immigrant was 11 days old at the time.

The case against the infant girl was thrown out because her mother claimed the baby was born in the United States. The boy, now 4, has been living in a detention center in Texas for a year. He has been approved for release, but his mother has not, so he remains in detention.

Maybe he can apply for a work release.

  • Let’s see what else the BIA Judges “blew by” in J-C-H-F-.
    • The Border Patrol agent acted as the Spanish interpreter. Interpretation is a professional job. It’s different from being “bilingual.” Indeed, at one past ImmigratIon Judge Conference, we actually received a graphic demonstration from the EOIR Interpretation Staff of how and why being bilingual wouldn’t necessarily qualify someone to interpret accurately in a legal setting! In one ear, out the other, I guess. The BIA gives no explanation of how and why a Border Patrol Agent would be qualified to interpret accurately.
    • Yeah, but the BIA says it’s all OK because the respondent “understands English.” I probably “understand” German. If you said something slowly and clearly to me in German I probably could “get the gist” and say “Ja,” “Nein,” or “Nicht Verstehen.” But, would that mean I really understood what was going on? Highly unlikely!
    • There is a body of evidence out there that asylum applicants are often traumatized as well as afraid of figures of authority such as “border police.” That can have something do with border statements. Indeed this respondent made such a claim. But, the panel simply blew it off, saying that the respondent was offered an opportunity to speak “confidentially with an officer.” How would that address trauma and fear of authorities? The BIA never tells us.
    • The BIA reassures us that the statement is reliable because it “contains a detailed recitation of the questions and answers relating to the applicant’s claim, including the purpose of his visit, the length of his stay, and the issue whether he feared any harm if returned to Mexico.” Yet these are the very aspects of the I-867 that the USCIRF has said are often inaccurate, manipulated, or outright falsified. 
  • The BIA could have selected as a precedent a case that illustrated the inherent shortcomings of the Form I-867 and why they should be viewed critically by Immigration Judges with at least a degree of skepticism, if not an outright presumption of unreliability.  The BIA could further have used such a decision as a forum to demand that the DHS show what steps it has taken to address the problems discovered by the USCIRF and to improve the process for insuring accuracy of border statements if they want them treated with a “presumption of reliability” in Immigration Court.
  • Instead, the BIA once again “stuck its collective head in the sand” and ignored the real due process, fairness, and integrity problems plaguing our asylum adjudication system at all levels!
  • We can only hope that some independent Court of Appeals will take a more critical and objective look at the “border statement issue” than the BIA has chosen to do in J-C-H-F.
  • I also hope that in the future, respondents’ counsel make better use of readily available public materials to challenge over-reliance on border statements than apparently was done in this case.

PWS

02-22-18

 

 

BIGGIE ON GANG ASYLUM: PUBLISHED 4TH CIR. BLASTS BIA’S BOGUS APPROACH TO NEXUS IN GANG CASES — Court Eviscerates BIA’s Disingenuous Approach To Nexus In Matter of L-E-A- (Without Citing It!) – SALGADO-SOSA V. SESSIONS

4thGangsNexusSalgado-Sosa

Salgado-Sosa v. Sessions, 4th Cir., 04-13-18, Published

PANEL: GREGORY, Chief Judge, and FLOYD and HARRIS, Circuit Judges.

OPINION BY: JUDGE PAMELA HARRIS

SUMMARY OF HOLDING (From Court’s Opinion):

“Reynaldo Salgado-Sosa, a native and citizen of Honduras, seeks asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. If he is returned to Honduras, he fears, he will face persecution at the hands of the gang MS-13, which has repeatedly attacked his family for resisting extortion demands.

The agency proceedings focused on whether Salgado-Sosa could show, for purposes of both his asylum and withholding of removal claims, a nexus between MS-13’s threats and membership in a cognizable “particular social group” – here, Salgado-Sosa’s family. The Board of Immigration Appeals found that Salgado-Sosa could not establish the requisite nexus, and denied withholding of removal on that ground. The Board separately found that Salgado-Sosa’s asylum application was untimely, and that there was insufficient evidence to justify protection under the Convention Against Torture.

We conclude that the Board erred in holding that Salgado-Sosa did not meet the nexus requirement. The record compels the conclusion that at least one central reason for Salgado-Sosa’s persecution is membership in his family, a protected social group under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Accordingly, we vacate the denial of withholding of removal, and remand for further proceedings on that claim. On the asylum claim, we separately remand for consideration of whether our recent decision in Zambrano v. Sessions, 878 F.3d 84 (4th Cir. 2017), affects Salgado-Sosa’s argument that a statutory “changed circumstances” exception allows consideration of his untimely application.”

KEY QUOTE FROM  OPINION:

“For three reasons, we are “compelled to conclude,” see Hernandez-Avalos, 784 F.3d at 948, that the IJ and the Board erred in finding that Salgado-Sosa has not shown that his kinship ties are “at least one central reason” for the harm he fears. First, the record manifestly establishes that MS-13 threatened Salgado-Sosa “on account of” his connection to his stepfather and to his family. Salgado-Sosa testified, for instance, that MS-13 attacked him because of his stepfather Merez-Merlo’s conflict with the gang, not his own. Merez-Merlo similarly testified that his refusal to give MS-13 “what they wanted, which was the war tax,” led the gang to repeatedly threaten to kill his wife and son. J.A. 236; see J.A. 234, 315–16. Other evidence also corroborates the centrality of family ties. For example, the family’s long-time neighbor submitted an affidavit averring

2 As before the IJ and Board, Salgado-Sosa’s argument in this court emphasizes evidence that he and his family were targeted because of his stepfather’s testimony against MS-13. But both on appeal and before the agency, Salgado-Sosa also has argued more generally that he fears persecution based on his membership in a “particular social[] group, as defined by Crespin-Valladares v. Holder, 632 F.3d 117 (4th Cir. 2011).” Appellant’s Br. at 5; see also A.R. 101, 478–79. And our holding in Crespin-Valladares was not limited to family members of witnesses, but instead established that family membership itself is a “prototypical example of a [cognizable] particular social group.” 632 F.3d at 125 (internal quotation marks omitted). The IJ and BIA accordingly considered not only whether Salgado-Sosa was persecuted for being a family member of a witness, but also whether he was persecuted because of his kinship ties generally. See A.R. 126 (finding that Salgado-Sosa “has not demonstrated” that any persecution “would be on account of a statutorily protected ground, be that family group membership, as witnesses, or any other potential protected ground”) (emphasis added). Following that lead, we also consider whether the evidence shows that Salgado-Sosa was threatened on account of his familial ties, regardless of the role played by his stepfather’s testimony.

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that “the reason why the gang members wants [sic] to hurt [Salgado-Sosa]” is that he “defended his stepfather from the gang member[s]” when they assaulted the family. J.A. 537 (emphasis added). And the IJ, as noted above, did not doubt the credibility of any of this evidence.

Second, that Salgado-Sosa’s anticipated harm is on account of membership in his family follows from the IJ’s own factual findings, adopted by the BIA. The IJ herself determined that the central reasons for Salgado-Sosa’s feared persecution are his stepfather’s refusal to pay the gang and revenge on the family for resisting MS-13’s extortion. See J.A. 5–6, 126–27. On a proper reading of the nexus requirement and our cases applying it, that finding compels the conclusion that Salgado-Sosa’s kinship ties are a central reason for the harm he fears.

Our decision in Hernandez-Avalos v. Lynch is instructive. There, the petitioner applied for asylum after gang members in El Salvador threatened her for refusing to allow her son to join the gang. 784 F.3d at 947. The BIA rejected her assertion that the persecution was “on account of” familial ties, concluding that the petitioner “was not threatened because of her relationship to her son (i.e. family), but rather because she would not consent to her son engaging in a criminal activity.” Id. at 949. We found this distinction “meaningless” and “unreasonable” given that “[petitioner’s] relationship to her son is why she, and not another person, was threatened” by the gang. Id. at 950 (emphasis added). Thus, because the petitioner’s “family connection to her son” was at least one of “multiple central reasons” for the gang’s threats, we found the nexus

requirement satisfied, and rejected the BIA’s contrary determination as resting on “an 11

excessively narrow reading of the requirement that persecution be undertaken ‘on account of membership in a nuclear family.’” Id. at 949–50.

The same logic applies here. There is no meaningful distinction between whether Salgado-Sosa was threatened because of his connection to his stepfather, and whether Salgado-Sosa was threatened because MS-13 sought revenge on him for an act committed by his stepfather. See Hernandez-Avalos, 784 F.3d at 950. However characterized, Salgado-Sosa’s relationship to his stepfather (and to his family) is indisputably “why [he], and not another person, was threatened” by MS-13. See id. Thus, the IJ and BIA erred by focusing narrowly on the “immediate trigger” for MS-13’s assaults – greed or revenge – at the expense of Salgado-Sosa’s relationship to his stepfather and family, which were the very relationships that prompted the asserted persecution. See Oliva v. Lynch, 807 F.3d 53, 60 (4th Cir. 2015) (holding that the BIA drew “too fine a distinction” between the “immediate trigger” for persecution – breaking the rules imposed on former gang members – and what ultimately led to persecution – protected status as a former gang member). On the IJ’s own unchallenged account of the facts – that Salgado-Sosa’s fear of persecution arises from the actions of his stepfather and his family – the only reasonable conclusion is that family membership is “at least one central reason for [his] persecution.” See Hernandez-Avalos, 784 F.3d at 950.

Third and finally, the BIA’s decision improperly focused on whether Salgado- Sosa’s family was persecuted on account of a protected ground, rather than on whether Salgado-Sosa was persecuted because of a protected ground – here, his relationship to his

family. The critical fact, for the BIA, was that the motive for the attacks on Salgado- 12

Sosa’s family was “financial gain or personal vendettas,” neither of which is itself a protected ground under the INA. J.A. 6. But as we have explained before, it does not follow that if Salgado-Sosa’s family members were not targeted based on some protected ground, then Salgado-Sosa could not have been targeted based on his ties to his family. Cordova v. Holder, 759 F.3d 332, 339 (4th Cir. 2014) (rejecting argument that feared persecution is not on account of membership in family if attacks on family are not related to protected ground). Instead, “[t]he correct analysis focuses on [Salgado-Sosa himself] as the applicant, and asks whether [he] was targeted because of [his] membership in the social group consisting of [his] immediate family.” Villatoro v. Sessions, 680 F. App’x 212, 221 (4th Cir. 2017). And once the right question is asked, the record admits of only one answer: whatever MS-13’s motives for targeting Salgado-Sosa’s family, Salgado-Sosa himself was targeted because of his membership in that family.

For all these reasons, it is clear that Salgado-Sosa has shown the required nexus between anticipated persecution and membership in a particular social group consisting of his family. Specifically, Salgado-Sosa has demonstrated that “at least one central reason” for the harm he faces is his connection to his stepfather and family. See 8 U.S.C. §1158(b)(1)(B)(i). Because the IJ and BIA relied exclusively on an erroneous determination as to nexus in denying withholding of removal, we vacate that denial and remand for further proceedings regarding Salgado-Sosa’s application.”

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

First, congrats to Alfred Lincoln (“Rob”) Robertson, Jr., ROBERTSON LAW OFFICE, PLLC, Alexandria, Virginia, who successfully represented Mr. Salgado-Sosa before the Fourth Circuit. Rob was a “regular” in the Arlington Immigration Court, particularly on my always challenging detained docket. One of the things I liked about him is that he was willing to take “tough cases” — ones where the respondent had a decent argument but by no means a “slam dunk winner.” He also practiced before the local Virginia criminal courts, so was familiar with what “really happens” in criminal court as opposed to the “Alice in Wonderland Version” often presented in Immigration Court.

Crespin-Valladares v. Holder, 632 F.3d 117 (4th Cir. 2011) lives! One of my all-time favorite cases, because I was the Immigration Judge incorrectly reversed by the BIA on an asylum grant. I was right on all sorts of things, and the BIA was wrong! But, hey, who remembers things like that?

This decision is good news for justice and due process for asylum seekers. It spells some bad news for the BIA’s highly contrived decision in Matter of L-E-A-, 27 I&n 40 (BIA 2017). There, the BIA looked beyond primary causation (the “but for” rule) of a family-based PSG to find a secondary cause, “criminal extortion” that did not relate to the protected ground. In other words, the BIA encouraged IJs to look for any way possible to twist facts to deny family-based PSG asylum claims. Indeed, the only lame example that the BIA could cite that might qualify under their bizarre analysis was the long-dead Romanov Family of Russia.

Both Judge Jeffrey Chase and I ripped the BIA’s anti-asylum, anti-Due Process machinations in previous blogs:

http://immigrationcourtside.com/2017/05/25/new-precedent-family-is-a-psg-but-beware-of-nexus-matter-of-l-e-a-27-in-dec-40-bia-2017-read-my-alternative-analysis/

http://immigrationcourtside.com/2017/06/03/introducing-new-commentator-hon-jeffrey-chase-matter-of-l-e-a-the-bias-missed-chance-original-for-immigrationcourtside/

What if EOIR concentrated on quality, Due Process, and fairness for asylum seekers, rather than merely looking for ways to deport more migrants (whether legally correct or not) in accordance with Sessions’s anti-migrant agenda? We need an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court with an Appellate Division that acts like a U.S. Court of Appeals, not an extension of the Administration political agendas and DHS enforcement!

PWS

02-21-18

 

LA TIMES: NEW DHS ENFORCEMENT POLICIES SEEK TO PUNISH CHILDREN AND PARENTS SEEKING ASYLUM – Really, Is This What We’ve Become As a Nation In The “Age of Trump?”

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=371cd9b8-56d5-4cca-a96c-53e177ee2201

Molly Hennessy-Fiske reports for the LA Times

EL PASO — Thousands of parents who crossed illegally into the U.S. in recent years have been held with their children at immigration detention centers. But the case of a Brazilian woman and her son illustrates what migrant advocates call a harsher approach to immigration enforcement that aims to separate parents and children.

She’s being held in Texas, while her son was taken to a shelter in Illinois. The unspoken goal, advocates say, is to discourage parents from crossing illegally or attempting to request asylum.

The Brazilian mother — who asked to be identified only as Jocelyn because she was fleeing domestic violence — entered the U.S. in August with her 14-year-old son, who she said was being threatened by gangs. They hoped to apply for asylum.

Migrant families like Jocelyn’s are usually processed by immigration courts, an administrative process. Such families are detained together or released with notices to appear at later court proceedings. President Trump promised to end the practice, dismissing it as “catch and release.”

Historically, most border crossers were sent back to their home countries, but the Trump administration has threatened to prosecute some migrant parents because entering the country illegally is a federal crime. The first offense is a misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of six months. Those caught a second time face a felony charge with a maximum sentence of up to 20 years, depending on their criminal record. Once a case becomes a criminal matter, parents and children are separated.

According to public defenders and immigrant advocates, more and more immigrant families who come to the southern border seeking asylum are being charged in federal criminal courts from El Paso to Arizona. Jocelyn was charged with a misdemeanor, and her son was sent to a shelter in Chicago. Comprehensive statistics do not exist, but activists and attorneys say anecdotal evidence suggests the practice is spreading.

“There’s not supposed to be blanket detention of people seeking asylum, but in reality, that’s what’s happening” in El Paso, said Dylan Corbett, director of the Hope Border Institute, a nonprofit social justice group. “We’re still in this limbo in our sector and across the border: What’s going on? What are the new policies?”

Last week, 75 congressional Democrats led by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Downey) sent a letter to the secretary of Homeland Security expressing outrage at increased family separations and demanding officials clarify their policies within two weeks.

“We are gravely concerned that these practices are expanding and worsening, further traumatizing families and impeding access to a fair process for seeking asylum,” they wrote.

Homeland Security won’t say it is targeting families but does say it is making procedural and policy changes to deter illegal immigration.

“The administration is committed to using all legal tools at its disposal to secure our nation’s borders,” said Tyler Houlton, a Homeland Security spokesman.

Jocelyn said she fled Brazil to escape an abusive husband. During a recent meeting at the El Paso detention center where she is being held, she lifted the sleeve of her white uniform to show scars on her arm that she said came from beatings by her husband, an armed security guard who refused to grant her a divorce.

She and her son flew to Mexico on Aug. 24, crossed the border two days later, turned themselves in to Border Patrol near El Paso and were told they would be separated.

“I didn’t know where they were taking him,” she said of her son. “They didn’t tell me. I asked many times. They just said ‘Don’t worry.’ ”

Elsewhere on the border, including Texas’ Rio Grande Valley to the east where most migrants cross illegally, many parents and children are still released together with notices to appear in immigration court.

To opponents of illegal immigration, the practice of charging migrants with criminal offenses is a good thing. Andrew Arthur, a former immigration judge now serving as a resident fellow at the conservative Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, said criminal charges are a deterrent.

“The reason the children are there to begin with is this belief [among immigrants] that a parent with a child will not be detained,” Arthur said. He added that exposing children to smugglers who could abuse and kidnap them “borders frankly on child abuse.”

Last April, Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions issued guidance to U.S. attorneys urging more aggressive prosecution of those illegally reentering the country. As the number of migrant families crossing illegally increased last summer, parents were detained by U.S. marshals, but their children were reclassified as unaccompanied minors and placed at shelters across the country by the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Migrant advocates sued in federal court, arguing that when asylum seekers declare a fear of returning to their home country, federal law dictates that they be referred to an asylum officer, even if they crossed the border illegally, and their cases considered by immigration judges.

In October, El Paso immigrant advocates asked Border Patrol officials whether they were separating migrant parents from their children.

“They volunteered yes, we’re doing family separation,” Corbett recalled, adding that one agent “said it was standard practice locally here in the sector to separate all children 10 years and older from their family. We were all shocked.”

Afterward, Border Patrol attorney Lisa Donaldson emailed those who had attended the meeting, insisting that the “Border Patrol does not have a blanket policy requiring the separation of family units” and that any increase in separations “is due primarily to the increase in prosecutions of immigration-related crimes.”

Daryl Fields, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in western Texas, which files federal criminal charges, said each case is considered individually and that “we do not target individuals for prosecution based on their parental status.”

Federal public defenders said that criminally charging asylum seekers not only violates international treaties, it encourages migrants to plead guilty so they can end their case quickly, get deported and try to reunite with their children.

“It impacts the lawfulness or constitutionality of their guilty plea,” said Maureen Franco, the federal public defender for the western district of Texas. “They’re under the misconception ‘The quicker I get my case over with, the quicker I’ll get my children back.’ Any lawyer worth their salt will tell them it’s not like that.”

Franco’s office has asked a federal court to dismiss improper entry charges against four Central American parents and a grandmother whose children were removed after the adults were detained. A judge ruled in favor of the government Jan. 5. Federal public defenders are appealing.

Immigration attorney Bridget Cambria has handled 15 family separation cases, including several mothers charged and separated from their children in El Paso.

“There’s huge questions about whether it’s legal when they’re seeking asylum. They’re using the federal statutes as a reason to take their child,” Cambria said.

It’s not clear how many migrant parents like Jocelyn have been charged and separated from their children. Federal public defenders and U.S. district courts do not track them. U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported just five migrant family members referred for prosecution in federal criminal court this year fiscal year, which started in October. It reported seven last fiscal year and 21 the year before that.

Estimates from migrant advocacy groups are much higher.

In Arizona, the Tucson-based Florence Immigration and Refugee Rights Project saw 213 such cases last year, an increase from the 190 cases the year before. Legal director Laura St. John said the group has already served 23 separated families this year.

A dozen cases of family separation were reported by Washington-based Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. Hope Border Institute surveyed attorneys representing 90 asylum seekers in the El Paso area between June and November 2017 and found 94% had clients separated from their children.

In December, a host of immigrant advocacy groups filed a complaint with Homeland Security alleging that parents have been charged and separated from their children, “without a clear or reasonable justification, as a means of punishment and/or deterrence, and with few mechanisms to locate, contact, or reunite with family members.” The complaint is pending.

As for Jocelyn, a federal judge in Las Cruces found her guilty of crossing the border illegally, a misdemeanor, on Sept. 22. She received a suspended sentence and was transferred to immigration detention in El Paso. Instead of self-deporting, Jocelyn stayed to pursue her asylum claim.

She learned through the Brazilian Consulate that her son was at a Chicago shelter and she has since spoken to him by phone four times.

She said her son told her that other children of migrants in the shelter tried to run away because they missed their parents. Jocelyn urged her son to stay put. He promised he would.

She worries, but is hopeful. Immigration officials recently found she has a credible fear of returning home, the first step toward obtaining asylum, and a pro bono attorney is trying to get her released on bond.

She tried to reassure her son during a recent phone call. “As soon as I get out,” she said, “I will come get you.”

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

Wow! What a great way to spend U.S. Government funds! Picking on refugees —  abused women and kids who have the audacity to seek to exercise their legal rights under our laws and International Conventions.

Let’s get down to the truth here. “Jocelyn” in the above article appears to be a legitimate refugee. Assuming she’s telling the truth — and she has the scars to prove it, she should be a “slam dunk” asylum grant under Matter of A-R-C-G-, 26 I&N Dec. 388 (BIA 2014) (domestic violence can be a basis for asylum).

The logical way of proceeding would be to release her while making sure she gets linked up with a good pro bono organization who can assign a lawyer to investigate, confirm, and document her case and then file the asylum application with the Immigration Court. In my experience, a well-documented case like this could go on an “accelerated short docket.” There it could be granted, basically by stipulation of the parties, after short testimony to confirm key events and double-check for any criminal or security grounds. With adequate preparation, and cooperation between the pro bono lawyer and the DHS Assistant Chief Counsel, this case should take no more than 30 minutes, one hour “tops,” of precious hearing time.

No need for detention, clogging the Immigration Courts’ Individual Hearing dockets, or any other form of “Aimless Docket reshuffling.” Best of all, we’re in compliance with the laws and our Constitutional guarantees of Due Process. Sounds like a “winner” to me for all concerned.

I have no doubt that there are many “Jocelyns” out there among recent border arrivals. Even those who don’t technically have “grantable” asylum claims under the overly restrictive precedents, should, if credible, be able to document strong cases for relief under the Convention Against Torture given the breakdown in government authority and de facto control by gangs in most parts of the Northern Triangle, the source of most of today’s Southern Border asylum  applicants.

So, why are we wasting money on detention and criminal prosecution to keep folks who seldom if ever present any threats to the United States from getting the protection to which our laws entitle them? Why are we trying to send (usually ineffective in any event) “don’t come” messages to people who have a right to seek protection under our laws? Why would we make it difficult for individuals to exercise their statutory right to be represented by counsel and to have adequate time to prepare their cases?

Sounds to me like DHS and the Administration are abusing our laws and our Constitutional guarantees and wasting lots of time and money in the process. Ultimately, that’s something of which we should be ashamed.

PWS

02-20-18

A BIA WIN FOR THE GOOD GUYS! – MICHELLE MENDEZ & HER CLINIC TEAM GET REOPENING FOR ASYLUM APPLICANTS IN ATLANTA! (Submitted By Dan Kowalski at LexisNexis)!

From: Michelle Mendez [mailto:mmendez@cliniclegal.org]
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2018 10:00 AM
To: Artesia OTG <artesiaotg@lists.aila.org>
Subject: [artesiaotg] Good news — the BIA has issued a great unpublished decision on late-filed appeals! (Attached.)

 

Greetings,

The ASAP team of Swapna Reddy, Dorothy Tegeler, and  Liz Willis has done it again. With just a few days before her check-in with Atlanta ICE ERO, a mother reached out to us via our Facebook group. Taylor, Lee & Associates had represented her and accepted an order of removal without fighting her case. Many of us are familiar with this law firm having heard about or helped the families targeted in January 2016 by the Obama Administration who were also represented by this firm in the same manner. By “representation” I mean that the law firm did not defend her against removal before the IJ instead accepting an order of removal in exchange for seeking a stay of removal and promising an EAD.

When we learned her case involved the same “salvo conducto” practice by this law firm and that the mother had not actually consent to this practice, we knew we had to help this mother. But time was not on our side as her imminent check-in with Atlanta ICE EOR was supposed to be her last. After strategically considering our options, we rushed to prepare an untimely BIA appeal….a two-year untimely appeal. We prepared a stay of removal application and recruited a local advocate, Keith Farmer, to attend the Atlanta ICE ERO check-in with her and submit the stay. Keith handled the situation like a professional, and the mother was ultimately never detained at her subsequent check-ins at which Shana Tabak artfully accompanied her.

The BIA accepted the Notice to Appeal and issued a briefing schedule. We followed this with an emergency motion for a stay of removal with the BIA. While the Notice to Appeal was pending and we awaited the briefing schedule, we complied with the Lozada procedures and obtained a psych evaluation of the client thanks to Craig Katz, Elizabeth Singer, and Varsha Subramaniam. We reached out to Trina Realmuto and Kristin Macleod-Ball, who provided strategic advice and an amicus brief in support of our untimely appeal. Katie Shephard provided an invaluable declaration given her work on the cases of the families represented by this law firm and targeted in January 2016 by the Obama Administration who were taken to Dilley. Laura Lichter also pitched in with strategic feedback and sample filings given her tireless work on the January 2016 cases, and her input was essential. And, last but not least, we reached out to Bradley Jenkins andLory Rosenberg for their wisdom, who helped us to frame arguments in the most compelling way.

The BIA dismissed the appeal as untimely instructing us to file a Motion to Reconsider and Remand on the question of timeliness. As was done in five nearly identical cases involving this law firm, we asked the BIA to accept this late-filed appeal on certification, or in the alternative, equitably toll the notice of appeal deadline and remand the case for further proceedings before the Immigration Judge. The BIA decision is attached. Huge thanks to ASAP volunteer law student Mayu Arimoto for her assistance with this briefing. Of course, and as always, thanks to Ben Winograd for his filing assistance with the BIA.

The moral of this story is that defending the rights of immigrants is tough work. We battle inhumane policies, cowardly or openly authoritarian leaders, greedy representatives who fill their coffers with private prison money, negative public opinion, intentional and unintentional media misinformation, notarios/unauthorized practitioners of law, and even other attorneys who abandon their duty to zealously represent their vulnerable clients. But when competent and caring advocates join forces, we can do anything.

Michelle N. Mendez

Training and Legal Support Senior Attorney

Defending Vulnerable Populations Project Manager

Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)

Mailing Address: 8757 Georgia Avenue, Suite 850, Silver Spring, MD 20910

Physical Address: OPD, 217 E. Redwood Street, Suite 1020, Baltimore, MD 21202

Cellular Phone: 540.907.1761

Fax Number: 301.565.4824

Email: mmendez@cliniclegal.org

Website: www.cliniclegal.org

 

Save the date for CLINIC’s 20th annual Convening!

Defending hope and the American Dream

May 30 – June 1, 2018 | Tucson, AZ

cliniclegal.org/convening

 

Embracing the Gospel value of welcoming the stranger, CLINIC promotes the dignity and protects the rights of immigrants in partnership with a dedicated network of Catholic and community legal immigration programs.

 

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HERE’S A COPY OF THE (UNFORTUNATELY UNPUBLISHED) BIA DECISION BY APPELLATE IMMIGRATION JUDGE MOLLY KENDALL CLARK:

Redacted S-H-O BIA Remand

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

Congrats to Michelle and her CLINIC team for winning a great victory for fairness, Due Process, and the New Due Process Army!

This also reminds us that notwithstanding the pressure from the Sessions DOJ to turn the Immigration Courts and the BIA into an “assembly line” churning out more removal orders, every day talented, conscientious, hard-working jurists like Judge Kendall Clark and others like her in the Immigration Court System remain firmly committed to the original “Due Process Mission” and independent decision-making that were supposed to be the sole focus of EOIR (before the “politicos” intervened with their attempts to “game” the system against migrants to achieve DHS enforcement goals).

We need an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court (including an Appellate Division) so that judges can do their jobs of unbiased, scholarly, independent, Due Process focused decision making without “quotas,” “performance evaluations,” directives from administrators not actively involved in judging, and other improper political interference!

 

PWS

02-19-18

 

 

GONZO’S WORLD: TRUMP & SESSIONS ARE SYSTEMATICALLY DISMANTLING OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM – THE “BOGUS FOCUS” ON IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT IS KEY TO THEIR DESTRUCTIVE STRATEGY! — “Perhaps the most insidious part of the Trump administration’s approach to criminal justice lies in its efforts to link crime to its broader crackdown on immigration.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/17/opinion/sunday/donald-trump-and-the-undoing-of-justice-reform.html

The New York Times Editorial Board writes:

“In the decade or so before Donald Trump became president, America’s approach to criminal justice was changing fast — reckoning with decades of destructive and ineffective policies that had ballooned the prison population and destroyed countless lives. Red and blue states were putting in place smart, sensible reforms like reducing harsh sentencing laws, slashing prison populations and crime rates, and providing more resources for the thousands of people who are released every week.

President Obama’s record on the issue was far from perfect, but he and his first attorney general, Eric Holder Jr., took several key steps: weakening racially discriminatory sentencing laws, shortening thousands of absurdly long drug sentences, and pulling back on the prosecution of low-level drug offenders and of federal marijuana offenses in states that have legalized it. This approach reflected state-level efforts and sent a message of encouragement to those still leery of reform.

Within minutes of taking office, Mr. Trump turned back the dial, warning darkly in his Inaugural Address of “American carnage,” of cities and towns gutted by crime — even though crime rates are at their lowest in decades. Things only got worse with the confirmation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who, along with Mr. Trump, appears to be stuck in the 1980s, when politicians exploited the public’s fear of rising crime to sell absurdly harsh laws and win themselves re-election. Perhaps that’s why both men seem happy to distort, if not outright lie about, crime statistics that no longer support their narrative.

Last February, Mr. Trump claimed that “the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years.” Wrong: The national rate remains at an all-time low. It’s true that the 10.8 percent increase in murders between 2014 and 2015 was the largest one-year rise in more than four decades, but the total number of murders is still far below what it was in the early 1990s.

 

As bad as the dishonesty is the fact that Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions have managed to engineer their backward worldview largely under the public’s radar, as a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice documents. Last May, Mr. Sessions ordered federal prosecutors to charge as aggressively as possible in every case — reversing a policy of Mr. Holder’s that had eased up on nonviolent drug offenders and others who fill the nation’s federal prisons. In January, Mr. Sessions rescinded another Obama-era policy that discouraged federal marijuana prosecutions in states where its sale and use are legal. (Mr. Sessions has long insisted, contrary to all available evidence, that marijuana is “a dangerous drug” and “only slightly less awful” than heroin.)

These sorts of moves don’t get much attention, but as the report notes, they could end up increasing the federal prison population, which began to fall for the first time in decades under Mr. Obama.

The reversal of sensible criminal justice reform doesn’t stop there. Under Mr. Trump, the Justice Department has pulled back from his predecessor’s investigations of police abuse and misconduct; resumed the use of private, for-profit prisons; and stopped granting commutations to low-level drug offenders who have spent years or decades behind bars.

Meanwhile, Mr. Sessions, who as a senator was one of the most reliable roadblocks to long-overdue federal sentencing reform, is still throwing wrenches into the works as Congress inches toward a bipartisan deal. Mr. Sessions called the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, a sweeping bill that would reduce some mandatory-minimum sentences, and that cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, a “grave error.” That earned him a rebuke from the committee’s chairman, Senator Charles Grassley, who pointed out that the attorney general is tasked with enforcing the laws, not writing them. “If General Sessions wanted to be involved in marking up this legislation, maybe he should have quit his job and run for the Republican Senate seat in Alabama,” Mr. Grassley said.

Mr. Grassley is no one’s idea of a justice reformer, but he supports the bill because, he said, it “strikes the right balance of improving public safety and ensuring fairness in the criminal justice system.”

So what has this administration done right? The list is short and uninspiring. In October, Mr. Trump declared the epidemic of opioid abuse a national emergency, which could be a good step toward addressing it — but he’s since done almost nothing to combat a crisis that killed more than 64,000 Americans in 2016.

In his State of the Union address last month, Mr. Trump promised to “embark on reforming our prisons to help former inmates who have served their time get a second chance.” It’s great if he really means that, but it’s hard to square his assurance with his own attorney general’s opposition to a bill that includes recidivism-reduction programs intended to achieve precisely this goal.

Perhaps the most insidious part of the Trump administration’s approach to criminal justice lies in its efforts to link crime to its broader crackdown on immigration. In a speech last month, Mr. Sessions said undocumented immigrants are far more likely than American citizens to commit crimes, a claim he found in a paper by John Lott, the disreputable economist best known for misusing statistics to suit his own ideological ends. In this case, it appears Mr. Lott misread his own data, which came from Arizona and in fact showed the opposite of what he claimed: Undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes than citizens, as the vast majority of research on the topic has found.

But no matter; Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions don’t need facts to run their anti-immigrant agenda, which has already resulted in more than double the number of arrests of immigrants with no criminal convictions as in 2016, as the Brennan Center report noted. Soon after taking office, Mr. Trump issued an executive order cutting off federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities, jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials. A federal judge blocked the order in November for violating the Constitution.

The rhetoric from the White House and the Justice Department has emboldened some state and local officials to talk tougher, even if just as ignorantly, about crime. The good news is that it’s not working as well anymore. In Virginia’s race for governor last fall, the Republican candidate, Ed Gillespie, attacked his opponent, Ralph Northam, with ads blaming him for violence by the MS-13 gang.

It was a despicable stunt, its fearmongering recalling the racist but effective Willie Horton ad that George H. W. Bush ran on in his successful 1988 presidential campaign. Thankfully, Virginia’s voters overwhelmingly rejected Mr. Gillespie, another sign that criminal justice reform is an issue with strong support across the political spectrum. In the era of Donald Trump, candidates of both parties should be proud to run as reformers — but particularly Democrats, who can cast the issue not only as a central component of a broader progressive agenda, but as yet another example of just how out of touch with the country Mr. Trump and his administration are.”

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

I know it’s quoted above, but two paragraphs of this article deserve re-emphasis:

Perhaps the most insidious part of the Trump administration’s approach to criminal justice lies in its efforts to link crime to its broader crackdown on immigration. In a speech last month, Mr. Sessions said undocumented immigrants are far more likely than American citizens to commit crimes, a claim he found in a paper by John Lott, the disreputable economist best known for misusing statistics to suit his own ideological ends. In this case, it appears Mr. Lott misread his own data, which came from Arizona and in fact showed the opposite of what he claimed: Undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes than citizens, as the vast majority of research on the topic has found.

But no matter; Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions don’t need facts to run their anti-immigrant agenda, which has already resulted in more than double the number of arrests of immigrants with no criminal convictions as in 2016, as the Brennan Center report noted. Soon after taking office, Mr. Trump issued an executive order cutting off federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities, jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials. A federal judge blocked the order in November for violating the Constitution.

Gonzo consistently uses bogus statistics, fear-mongering, racial innuendo, and outright slurs of immigrants, including Dreamers, and their advocates to advance his White Nationalist agenda at Justice.

At the same time, he largely ignores or proposes laughably inadequate steps to address the real justice problems in America: Russian interference, the opioid crisis, uncontrolled gun violence (much of it involving mass shootings by disgruntled White Guys with assault-type weapons), overcrowded prisons, lack of an effective Federal community-based anti-gang effort in major cities, hate crimes committed by White Supremacists, grotesquely substandard conditions in civil immigration detention, and the uncontrolled backlogs and glaring denials of Due Process and fairness to migrants in our U.S. Immigration Court System.

How long can America go without a real Attorney General who acknowledges the rights of all people in America? How will we ever recover from the damage that Gonzo does every day he remains in the office for which he is so supremely unqualified?

PWS

02-19-18

 

“GANG OF 14” FORMER IMMIGRATION JUDGES AND BIA APPELLATE IMMIGRATION JUDGES (INCLUDING ME) FILE AMICUS BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF ADMINISTRATIVE CLOSING! – Matter of Castro-Tum

HERE’S “OUR HERO” STEVEN H. SCHULMAN OF AKIN GUMP’S DC OFFICE WHO DID ALL THE “HEAVY LIFTING” OF DRAFTING THE BRIEF:

HERE’S THE “CAST OF CHARACTERS” (A/K/A “GANG OF 14”):

Amici curiae are retired Immigration Judges and former members of the Board of Immigration Appeals, who seek to address the Attorney General’s certified questions regarding administrative closure. Amici were appointed to serve at immigration courts around the United States and with the Board, and at senior positions with the Executive Office of Immigration Review. From their many combined years of service, amici have intimate knowledge of the operation of the immigration courts, including the importance of various procedural mechanisms to maintain efficient dockets. As explained in detail, administrative closure, when used judiciously, is a critical tool for immigration judges in managing their dockets. Without tools like administrative closure, immigration judges would be hampered, unable to set aside those matters that do not yet require court intervention and thus prevented from focusing on the removal cases that demand immediate attention.

In particular, the Honorable Sarah M. Burr served as a U.S. Immigration Judge in New York from 1994 and was appointed as Assistant Chief Immigration Judge in charge of the New York, Fishkill, Ulster, Bedford Hills and Varick Street immigration courts in 2006. She served in this capacity until January 2011, when she returned to the bench full-time until she retired in 2012. Prior to her appointment, she worked as a staff attorney for the Criminal Defense Division of the Legal Aid Society in its trial and appeals bureaus and also as the supervising attorney in its immigration unit. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Immigrant Justice Corps.

The Honorable Jeffrey S. Chase served as an Immigration Judge in New York City from 1995 to 2007 and was an attorney advisor and senior legal advisor at the Board from 2007 to 2017. He is presently in private practice as an independent consultant on immigration law, and Page 2 of 32 is of counsel to the law firm of DiRaimondo & Masi in New York City. Prior to his appointment, he was a sole practitioner and volunteer staff attorney at Human Rights First. He also was the recipient of the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s annual pro bono award in 1994 and chaired AILA’s Asylum Reform Task Force.

The Honorable Bruce J. Einhorn served as a United States Immigration Judge in Los Angeles from 1990 to 2007. He now serves as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California, and a Visiting Professor of International, Immigration, and Refugee Law at the University of Oxford, England. He is also a contributing op-ed columnist at D.C.-based The Hill newspaper. He is a member of the Bars of Washington D.C., New York, Pennsylvania, and the Supreme Court of the United States.

The Honorable Cecelia M. Espenoza served as a Member of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”) Board of Immigration Appeals from 2000-2003 and in the Office of the General Counsel from 2003-2017 where she served as Senior Associate General Counsel, Privacy Officer, Records Officer and Senior FOIA Counsel. She is presently in private practice as an independent consultant on immigration law, and a member of the World Bank’s Access to Information Appeals Board. Prior to her EOIR appointments, she was a law professor at St. Mary’s University (1997-2000) and the University of Denver College of Law (1990-1997) where she taught Immigration Law and Crimes and supervised students in the Immigration and Criminal Law Clinics. She has published several articles on Immigration Law. She is a graduate of the University of Utah and the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. She was recognized as the University of Utah Law School’s Alumna of the Year in 2014 and received the Outstanding Service Award from the Colorado Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Page 3 of 32 Association in 1997 and the Distinguished Lawyer in Public Service Award from the Utah State Bar in 1989-1990.

The Honorable Noel Ferris served as an Immigration Judge in New York from 1994 to 2013 and an attorney advisor to the Board from 2013 to 2016, until her retirement. Previously, she served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York from 1985 to 1990 and as Chief of the Immigration Unit from 1987 to 1990.

The Honorable John F. Gossart, Jr. served as a U.S. Immigration Judge from 1982 until his retirement in 2013 and is the former president of the National Association of Immigration Judges. At the time of his retirement, he was the third most senior immigration judge in the United States. Judge Gossart was awarded the Attorney General Medal by then Attorney General Eric Holder. From 1975 to 1982, he served in various positions with the former Immigration Naturalization Service, including as general attorney, naturalization attorney, trial attorney, and deputy assistant commissioner for naturalization. He is also the co-author of the National Immigration Court Practice Manual, which is used by all practitioners throughout the United States in immigration court proceedings. From 1997 to 2016, Judge Gossart was an adjunct professor of law at the University of Baltimore School of Law teaching immigration law, and more recently was an adjunct professor of law at the University of Maryland School of Law also teaching immigration law. He has been a faculty member of the National Judicial College, and has guest lectured at numerous law schools, the Judicial Institute of Maryland and the former Maryland Institute for the Continuing Education of Lawyers. He is also a past board member of the Immigration Law Section of the Federal Bar Association. Judge Gossart served in the United States Army from 1967 to 1969 and is a veteran of the Vietnam War. Page 4 of 32

The Honorable William P. Joyce served as an Immigration Judge in Boston, Massachusetts. Subsequent to retiring from the bench, he has been the Managing Partner of Joyce and Associates with 1,500 active immigration cases. Prior to his appointment to the bench, he served as legal counsel to the Chief Immigration Judge. Judge Joyce also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Associate General Counsel for enforcement for INS. He is a graduate of Georgetown School of Foreign Service and Georgetown Law School.

The Honorable Edward Kandler was appointed as an Immigration Judge in October 1998. Prior to his appointment to the Immigration Court in Seattle in June 2004, he served as an Immigration Judge at the Immigration Court in San Francisco from August 2000 to June 2004 and at the Immigration Court in New York City from October 1998 to August 2000. Judge Kandler received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1971 from California State University at San Francisco, a Master of Arts degree in 1974 from California State University at Hayward, and a Juris Doctorate in 1981 from the University of California at Davis. Judge Kandler served as an assistant U.S. trustee for the Western District of Washington from 1988 to 1998. He worked as an attorney for the law firm of Chinello, Chinello, Shelton & Auchard in Fresno, California, in 1988. From 1983 to 1988, Judge Kandler served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of California. He was also with the San Francisco law firm of Breon, Galgani, Godino from 1981 to 1983. Judge Kandler is a member of the California Bar.

The Honorable Carol King served as an Immigration Judge from 1995 to 2017 in San Francisco and was a temporary Board member for six months between 2010 and 2011. She previously practiced immigration law for ten years, both with the Law Offices of Marc Van Der Page 5 of 32 Hout and in her own private practice. She also taught immigration law for five years at Golden Gate University School of Law and is currently on the faculty of the Stanford University Law School Trial Advocacy Program. Judge King now works as a Removal Defense Strategist, advising attorneys and assisting with research and writing related to complex removal defense issues.

The Honorable Lory D. Rosenberg served on the Board from 1995 to 2002. She then served as Director of the Defending Immigrants Partnership of the National Legal Aid & Defender Association from 2002 until 2004. Prior to her appointment, she worked with the American Immigration Law Foundation from 1991 to 1995. She was also an adjunct Immigration Professor at American University Washington College of Law from 1997 to 2004. She is the founder of IDEAS Consulting and Coaching, LLC., a consulting service for immigration lawyers, and is the author of Immigration Law and Crimes. She currently works as Senior Advisor for the Immigrant Defenders Law Group.

The Honorable Susan Roy started her legal career as a Staff Attorney at the Board of Immigration Appeals, a position she received through the Attorney General Honors Program. She served as Assistant Chief Counsel, National Security Attorney, and Senior Attorney for the DHS Office of Chief Counsel in Newark, NJ, and then became an Immigration Judge, also in Newark. Sue has been in private practice for nearly 5 years, and two years ago, opened her own immigration law firm. Sue is the NJ AILA Chapter Liaison to EOIR, is the Vice Chair of the Immigration Law Section of the NJ State Bar Association, and in 2016 was awarded the Outstanding Prop Bono Attorney of the Year by the NJ Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. Page 6 of 32

The Honorable Paul W. Schmidt served as an Immigration Judge from 2003 to 2016 in Arlington, virginia. He previously served as Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals from 1995 to 2001, and as a Board Member from 2001 to 2003. He authored the landmark decision Matter of Kasinga, 21 I&N Dec. 357 (BIA 1995) extending asylum protection to victims of female genital mutilation. He served as Deputy General Counsel of the former INS from 1978 to 1987, serving as Acting General Counsel from 1986-87 and 1979-81. He was the managing partner of the Washington, D.C. office of Fragomen, DelRey & Bernsen from 1993 to 1995, and practiced business immigration law with the Washington, D.C. office of Jones, Day, Reavis and Pogue from 1987 to 1992, where he was a partner from 1990 to 1992. He served as an adjunct professor of law at George Mason University School of Law in 1989, and at Georgetown University Law Center from 2012 to 2014 and 2017 to present. He was a founding member of the International Association of Refugee Law Judges (IARLJ), which he presently serves as Americas Vice President. He also serves on the Advisory Board of AYUDA, and assists the National Immigrant Justice Center/Heartland Alliance on various projects; and speaks, writes and lectures at various forums throughout the country on immigration law topics. He also created the immigration law blog immigrationcourtside.com.

The Honorable Polly A. Webber served as an Immigration Judge from 1995 to 2016 in San Francisco, with details in facilities in Tacoma, Port Isabel, Boise, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Orlando. Previously, she practiced immigration law from 1980 to 1995 in her own private practice in San Jose. She was a national officer in AILA from 1985 to 1991 and served as National President of AILA from 1989 to 1990. She has also taught immigration and nationality law at both Santa Clara University School of Law and Lincoln Law School. Page 7 of 32

The Honorable Gustavo D. Villageliu served as a Board of Immigration Appeals Member from July 1995 to April 2003. He then served as Senior Associate General Counsel for the Executive Office for Immigration Review until he retired in 2011, helping manage FOIA, Privacy and Security as EOIR Records Manager. Before becoming a Board Member, Villageliu was an Immigration Judge in Miami, with both detained and non-detained dockets, as well as the Florida Northern Region Institutional Criminal Alien Hearing Docket 1990-95. Mr. Villageliu was a member of the Iowa, Florida and District of Columbia Bars. He graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1977. After working as a Johnson County Attorney prosecutor intern in Iowa City, Iowa he joined the Board as a staff attorney in January 1978, specializing in war criminal, investor, and criminal alien cases.

HERE’S A SUMMARY OF OUR ARGUMENT:

ARGUMENT………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 7

I. Immigration Judges and the Board have inherent and delegated authority to order administrative closure in a case ……………………………………………………………………………… 7

A. Federal courts have recognized that judges possess an inherent authority to order administrative closure………………………………………………………………………… 8

B. Regulations establishing and governing Immigration Judges ratify their inherent authority to order administrative closure. …………………………………………. 9

II. The Board’s decisions in Matter of Avetisyan, 25 I&N Dec. 688 (BIA 2012), and Matter of W-Y-U-, 27 I&N Dec. 17 (BIA 2017), articulate the appropriate standard for administrative closure……………………………………………………………………….. 13

A. The legal standard set forth in Avetisyan and W-Y-U- gives the Immigration Judge the correct degree of independence in deciding motions for administrative closure. ……………………………………………………………………………… 13

B. The facts and disposition of the case at bar show that the legal standard under Avetisyan and W-Y-U- is working correctly. ………………………………………………… 16

III. Fundamental principles of administrative law hold that the Attorney General cannot change the regulations that grant this authority without proper notice and comment rulemaking. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 18

A. Practical docket management considerations weigh in favor of retaining administrative closure. ……………………………………………………………………………… 19

B. Due process considerations also weigh in favor of retaining administrative closure. …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 21

IV. Options such as continuances, dismissal without prejudice, and termination without prejudice, are suboptimal as compared to administrative closure. …………………………….. 22

V. There is no reason to attach legal consequences to administrative closure. ………………… 25

FINALLY, HERE’S THE COMPLETE BRIEF FOR YOUR INFORMATION AND READING PLEASURE:

Former IJs and Retired BIA Members – FINAL Castro-Tum Brief

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  • Thanks again to all retired my colleagues. What a great opportunity to “reunite online” in support of a critically important cause affecting the American Justice System!
  • Special thanks to Judge Jeffrey Chase for spearheading the effort and getting all of us together!
  • “Super Special Thanks” to the amazing Steven H. Schulman, Partner at Akin Gump DC and to Akin Gump for donating your valuable time and expertise and making this happen!

PWS

02-17-18

 

 

 

 

MEET THE GOOD GUYS: NOVA SUPERSTAR IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY AVA BENACH HELPS “DREAMER TYPES” & THEY HELP AMERICA – THIS IS THE WAY THE SYSTEM CAN WORK WHEN YOU GET BEYOND THE WHITE NATIONALIST XENOPHOBIA OF TRUMP, SESSIONS, & MILLER & WHEN GREAT LAWYERS GET INVOLVED!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/she-was-almost-deported-as-a-teen-now-she-helps-frightened-versions-of-herself/2018/02/15/b39969a8-1245-11e8-9065-e55346f6de81_story.html

Petula Dvorak writes in the Washington Post:

“She was almost deported as a teen. Now she helps frightened versions of herself.


Liana Montecinos is a senior paralegal at Benach Collopy in Washington. She was 17 and about to be deported when lawyer Ava Benach helped her win asylum. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Columnist February 15 at 3:39 PM

On many days in the shiny, sleek law office — in her sharp suit and sweeping view of Washington — she revisits all the horrors most people would want to forget:

The drunk men bursting into her tiny, adobe home at night, terrorizing the 15 children who lived there.

The walk across three countries, fearing for her life the entire way.

The months of eating nothing but beans and rice.

These are the same stories Liana Montecinos hears just about every time the 29-year-old paralegal sits down with a client.

Ava Benach, from left, Satsita Muradova and Liana Montecinos chat at their law office. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

She doesn’t have to go there. She’s an American citizen and a third-year law student with a great future in front of her. But instead of going into something lucrative — corporate law, for example — she’s sticking with the law firm that helped her get political asylum.

“Being an immigrant and serving immigrants, it’s a very special connection,” Montecinos said.

And by doing that, she spends her days with frightened versions of herself.

I wanted to tell Montecinos’s story as Congress grapples with the fate of 1.8 million “dreamers,” the undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children. They face deportation under President Trump unless Congress can find a way to reinstate the protection they were given by President Barack Obama.

Montecinos was brought across the border by a relative in 1999, when she was 11 years old, after walking — yes, actually walking — from Honduras, across Guatemala, then across Mexico, crossing the Rio Grande into the United States.

She joined her mother in Northern Virginia — they had been separated since she was an infant and she had been raised by her grandmother — and her life was transformed.

She played volleyball and basketball in her Falls Church high school. She was a cheerleader and soccer player. She took Advanced Placement classes.

But no matter how well she was doing in school and no matter how faint her accent became, she knew it could all fall apart any second.

And it nearly did when she was 17 and applied for legal status. Instead, the government began removal proceedings. She was going to be deported.

But it didn’t stop her from graduating from high school and enrolling at George Mason University, where she received a scholarship to cover the triple-tuition she had to pay as an undocumented student.

The scholarship’s donor — Helen Ackerman — introduced Montecinos to D.C. immigration attorney Ava Benach, who took on her complex case. What followed was a 10-year struggle.

“I met Liana when she was 17 years old,” Benach said. “And I knew she was special. She was out there, trying to figure out her own immigration status. I felt a very parental desire to help her.”

So they took on the case together, with Montecinos never giving up.

“I’d be doing an all-nighter, knowing I had a hearing the next day and the judge could send me away and it would all be for nothing,” she said.

But she kept studying, striving and working. You know how folks are always saying “Why don’t they just get legal?” It’s not that easy.

It took 10 years of hearings and arguments to convince a judge that she faced threats and violence in Honduras, in that tiny, adobe house, and that her hard work in school, model citizenship and potential were enough to grant her a place in American society.

Asylum is granted only to someone who faces persecution in their home country. And that persecution has to be for one of five reasons: your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or your political opinion.

“It has to fit in one of five boxes,” Benach said. And her life’s work is helping her frightened clients qualify.

Montecinos was granted asylum and citizenship on June 29, 2016.

“For many, becoming a U.S. citizen is the last part of the process,” Montecinos wrote on her Facebook page that day. “For others, like myself, it is the beginning to end 16 plus years of uncertainty and of fear of a forceful return to imminent harm.”

She called herself “extremely blessed and thankful for such a privilege, which is denied to many,” she said. “This path, however, was not easy. It was not short. It was not cheap.”

She is in her third year of law school at the University of the District of Columbia, where she received a Student Humanitarian and Civic Engagement award on Thursday.

In her spare time, you see, she runs a nonprofit group she founded, United for Social Justice, which helps low-income, first-generation Americans get access to higher education. Oh, and she coaches and plays on a bunch of soccer teams.

When she meets with the undocumented children who are like her, the ones she is fighting for, it reminds her of her struggle.

Though her own story is horrible — think of being 11 and scared, hiding your face with blankets as you cross strange villages where people are yelling “pollos mojados” (wet chickens) at you, not knowing where you’re going — her clients recount even more heart-stopping stories.

She hears from children who were kidnapped, who rode for days on top of speeding trains, afraid to fall asleep because they’d fall off, from a little girl who was gang-raped in front of her father.”

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

Ava has a “Major League” legal mind to go with a “heart of gold!” She and her colleagues from her firm appeared on many occasions before me at the Arlington Immigration Court.

This article aptly illustrates one of the points I often make.  Asylum law has intentionally been “jacked” against Central Americans by a non-independent BIA working under pressure from politicos to limit protections to large groups. Nevertheless, with a good lawyer (e.g., one who isn’t afraid to argue the BIA’s — often otherwise ignored — favorable precedents back to them and to take wrong BIA denials to the Court of Appeals if necessary), resources to build and document a case, and persistence, most of the “Dreamers” probably could win some type of relief in Immigration Court if not at the Asylum Office or elsewhere at USCIS.

But, what rational reason could there be for forcing folks like Liana Montecinos who are already here, part of our society, and just want to become taxpaying citizens and REALLY “Make America Great” (not to be confused with the disingenuous racist slogan of Trump and his White Nationalist “base”) go through such a laborious process? And what possible rationale could there be for wasting the time of an already overburdened Immigration Court system with cases of individuals who clearly should be welcomed and accepted into American society without being placed in “Removal Proceedings?” Also, what would be the rationale for trying to artificially “speed up” complex cases like Liana’s and trying to make life difficult for talented lawyers like Ava?

The answer is clear: there is NO rationale for the “Gonzo” Immigration enforcement and “designed chaos and attack on Due Process in Immigration Court” that Trump, Miller, Sessions, Nielsen, Tom Homan and their ilk are trying to ram down our throats. Sessions is the problem for justice in our Immigration Courts; lawyers like Ava are a key part of the solution! Clearly, the U.S. Immigration Courts are too important to our system of justice to be left in the clutches of a biased, “enforcement only,” White Nationalist, xenophobic opponent of individual due process like Jeff Sessions! American needs an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court! Harm to the least and most vulnerable among us is harm to all!

The good news is that folks like Ava and her fellow “Generals” of the “New Due Process Army” are out there to fight Trump, Sessions & Company and their White Nationalist, anti-American actions every step of the way and to vindicate the Constitutional and legal rights of great American migrants like Liliana and millions of others similarly situated. They are “American’s future!” Trump, Sessions, Miller, et al., are the ugly past of America that all decent Americans should be committed to “putting in the rear-view mirror” where the “Trumpsters” live and belong! And, it won’t be long before Liliana becomes an attorney and a “full-fledged member” of the “New Due Process Army!”

Go Ava! Go Liliana! Due Process Forever! 

PWS

02-16-18

 

HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST – JOIN THE BATTLE – TELL YOUR SENATORS TO ”JUST SAY NO” TO ADMINISTRATION’S SLEAZY WHITE NATIONALIST ATTACK ON HUMAN RIGHTS, DREAMERS, AND HUMAN DECENCY!

Human Rights First - American Ideals. Universal Values.
Paul,

The Dreamers—immigrants brought to the United States as children—have become the quintessential political football. And today, the battle continues.

The Senate will vote on bills today to protect the Dreamers, but many of them include inhumane provisions that would turn our backs on asylum seekers—some of the most vulnerable individuals in the world.

President Trump and his allies are using Dreamers, asylum seekers, and refugees as bargaining chips to pursue extreme immigration restrictions.

Take Action Now

Under the Trump Administration, the United States is turning away migrants at the border, restricting their ability to seek asylum, and increasing criminal prosecutions. And today, the Senate may vote to expand these cruel practices further, punishing refugees fleeing violence and prosecution, and families left in harm’s way.

Join with us and call on your senators to stand firm on protections for refugees, asylum seekers, and families.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Quigley

Advocacy Strategist

On human rights, the United States must be a beacon. America is strongest when our policies and actions match our values.
Human Rights First - American Ideals. Universal Values.
Human Rights First is an independent advocacy and action organization that challenges America to live up to its ideals. We believe American leadership is essential in the struggle for human rights so we press the U.S. government and private companies to respect human rights and the rule of law. When they don’t, we step in to demand reform, accountability and justice. Around the world, we work where we can best harness American influence to secure core freedoms.

Human Rights First
New York: 75 Broad Street, 31st Floor, New York, NY 10004
Washington: 805 15th Street, NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20005
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Los Angeles: 333 South Hope Street, 43rd Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90071
www.humanrightsfirst.org | Click here to unsubscribe | Click here to signup

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

Click on “Take Action Now” to stop the White Nationalist assault on American Values and Human Rights.  “Harm to one, is harm to all.” 

“We can diminish ourselves as a Nation, but that won’t stop human migration!”

PWS

02-15-18

REP. LLOYD DOGGERT (D-TX) SUCCINCTLY EXPLAINS HOW ICE “GONZO ENFORCEMENT” DESTROYS AMERICAN FAMILIES, SPREADS TERROR – AND ICE ALSO LIES! — “We are all made less safe . . . .”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/austin-reveals-how-ice-raids-are-tearing-apart-families/2018/02/14/e953ea68-10cf-11e8-a68c-e9374188170e_story.html?utm_term=.f5a47bbd1b3d

Doggert writes in a letter to the Washington Post:

“Regarding the Feb. 12 front-page article “ICE’s wide net boosts arrests”:

During four days last February, Immigration and Customs Enforcement targeted Austin, apparently in retaliation for Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez’s justified refusal to honor some warrantless detainers. Despite claims by ICE that its operation targeted “public safety threats,” most of those arrested had no criminal background and most of those who did committed only relatively minor offenses.

ICE was not straightforward about its operation. Only through Gus Bova’s Texas Observer Freedom of Information Act request did I learn that ICE had apprehended almost three times the number initially disclosed to me. And, of those, many were also law-abiding residents. I still await answers from ICE concerning whether its deceit extended beyond Austin and has continued.

One “dreamer” reported that for weeks following these raids, her parents would leave home only one at a time for fear of leaving their children without any caregiver.

Indiscriminate raids make immigrants fearful of assisting local law enforcement. ” but the Trump administration does not conduct these for safety. Its objective is to instill fear and to intimidate immigrants into leaving. And this is the same treatment that dreamers could receive beginning next month if House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) continues to block a vote to secure their status.

ICE raids on the innocent rip apart families, devastate communities and satisfy only President Trump’s anti-immigrant hysteria.

Lloyd Doggett, Washington

The writer, a Democrat, represents Texas’s
35th District in the House.”

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

“Right on,” Lloyd!

Almost every day, America’s most despised and least trusted police force “earns their chops” with cruel, inhumane, dishonest, and ultimately senseless acts of “Gonzo ” enforcement.

“We can diminish ourselves as a Nation, but it won’t stop human migration!”

PWS

02-15-18

THOROUGHLY CORRUPT: IT’S NOT JUST THE IMMORAL AND INCOMPETENT LEADERSHIP AT DHS AND ICE – THERE’S “OLD FASHIONED CRIMINAL CORRUPTION” IN THE RANKS – ICE CHIEF COUNSEL IN SEATTLE STOLE MIGRANTS’ IDENTITIES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/02/14/top-seattle-ice-official-stole-immigrants-personal-information-feds-say/?utm_term=.3b52e692b83d

Derek Hawkins reports for the Washington Post:

“The top attorney for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Seattle is accused of stealing immigrants’ identities in an attempt to defraud several credit card companies.

Raphael A. Sanchez, ICE’s chief counsel in the city, was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, according to a charging document filed this week in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

The charges, both felonies, were first reported Tuesday by the Associated Press, which also reported that Sanchez had resigned from ICE effective Monday.

A defense attorney for Sanchez did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. A spokeswoman for ICE’s Seattle field office referred questions to the Department of Justice, where no one was immediately available to discuss the case.

The charging document states that between October 2013 and October 2017 Sanchez used the personal information of seven immigrants to try to defraud several financial institutions, including American Express, Citibank and Bank of America. The immigrants were all “in various stages of immigration proceedings,” read the document signed by attorneys from Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section.

The document, known as an information, offers few details about Sanchez’s alleged offenses. But in one example, prosecutors alleged Sanchez stole the name, Social Security number and birth date of a Chinese national identified only as R.H.

The charges state that on April 18, 2016, Sanchez sent himself an email through his government account containing an image of a U.S. permanent resident card and the biographical page of a Chinese passport issued to R.H. The email also allegedly contained a Puget Sound Energy bill in R.H.’s name for service at an address in a southern Seattle neighborhood with a large Asian population.

Property records list Raphael A. Sanchez as the owner of the address cited in the information.

Sanchez is scheduled to appear in court for a plea hearing Thursday morning, according to the court calendar. The filing of an information typically signals that a defendant has waived indictment by a grand jury and intends to work out a plea agreement with prosecutors.

As chief counsel, Sanchez negotiated a $2.25 million civil settlement in 2015 with a Washington apple orchard owner that was accused of hiring more than 900 employees who were not authorized to work in the United States.

ICE agents in Washington have played an active role in President Trump’s immigration crackdown. They arrested dozens of undocumented immigrants in September’s Operation Safe City, a four-day effort in which the administration targeted “sanctuary cities” around the country, including Seattle, where local officials do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.”

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For the most part, the ICE Offices of Chief Counsel have been some of the “bright spots” in an agency noted for its problematic performance in many areas. But, in this case, not so much. Preying on the vulnerable? Using Government e-mail to do it? What was he thinking? At least they eventually caught up with him!

Bad stuff!

PWS

02-15-18

 

FORMER GOVERNMENT IMMIGRATION EXECUTIVES (INCLUDING ME) FILE AMICUS BRIEF IN HAMAMA V. HOMAN IN 6TH CIRCUIT (“The Iraqi Christian Case”)

Here’s a copy of the brief prepared by Michael P. Doss, Esquire, of Sidley & Austin, Chicago IL:

Filed stamped copy of amicus brief

HERE’S THE INTRODUCTION  SETTING FORTH “THE PLAYERS:”

IDENTITY AND INTEREST OF AMICI CURIAE

Amici have served in the U.S. Department of Justice and senior positions in the federal agencies charged with enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, and in those capacities have played substantial roles in the development, implementation, and adjudication of federal immigration policy and laws. Amici thus have an interest in this case, and in the just and efficient operation of the U.S. immigration enforcement system.

Mónica Ramírez Almadani served in the U.S. Department of Justice as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division from 2009 to 2012, and as Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General from 2011 to 2012, during which time she, among other things, advised on immigration

1 Amici submit this brief pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 29(a)(2). The parties have consented to the filing of this brief. Amici further state, pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 29(a)(4)(E), that no counsel for a party authored this brief in whole or in part, and no person other than the amicus curiae or their counsel made a monetary contribution intended to fund the preparation or submission of this brief.

1

Case: 17-2171 Document: 43 Filed: 02/12/2018 Page: 6

policy and litigation and worked closely with the Executive Office of Immigration Review.

Seth Grossman served as Chief of Staff to the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) from 2010 to 2011, as Deputy General Counsel of DHS from 2011 to 2013, and as Counselor to the Secretary of Homeland Security in 2013.

Stephen Legomsky served as Chief Counsel of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2011 to 2013, and as Senior Counselor to the Secretary of Homeland Security in 2015.

Leon Rodriguez served as Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2013 to 2017.

John Sandweg served as the Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) in 2013 and 2014, and as the Acting General Counsel of DHS from 2012 to 2013.

Paul Wickham Schmidt served as an Immigration Judge for the U.S. Immigration Court from May 2003 until his retirement from the bench in June 2016. Before his Immigration Judge appointment, Judge Schmidt served as a Board Member and Board Chairman for the Board

of Immigration Appeals, Executive Office for Immigration Review, from 2

Case: 17-2171 Document: 43 Filed: 02/12/2018 Page: 7

1995 until 2003. Judge Schmidt also served as acting General Counsel of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) from 1979 to 1981 and again from 1986 to 1987, and as the Deputy General Counsel of INS from 1978 to 1987.

As former leaders of the nation’s primary immigration agencies and the U.S. Department of Justice, and a former longtime Immigration Judge, amici are familiar with the operation of the United States immigration enforcement system. Amici support the district court’s preliminary injunction order and urge this Court to affirm that decision. Amici focus here on two issues before this Court: (i) first, whether the “motion to reopen” process currently available before our immigration courts provides Petitioners with an “adequate and effective” substitute for habeas relief; and (ii) second, whether the public interest is served by briefly staying enforcement of removal orders regarding these Iraqi nationals so that the immigration courts have a fair opportunity to review their claims.

3

Case: 17-2171 Document: 43 Filed: 02/12/2018 Page: 8

Based on our experience helping to lead the federal agencies charged with enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, we are compelled to conclude that the district court reached the correct conclusion on both these issues. In particular, without the “breathing room” provided by the district court’s temporary stay of removal, our overburdened immigration courts are unable to provide an adequate and effective remedy for Petitioners having valid claims for protection from removal due to the likelihood they face persecution or torture on return to Iraq. In addition, given the clearly established changed circumstances in Iraq, which show that the Petitioners would have an objective well- founded fear of persecution if forced to return, the district court’s order furthers the public interest by affording aliens threatened with persecution on removal to Iraq a meaningful opportunity to have these claims heard. The some-1,400 Iraqi nationals impacted by the district court’s order represent a drop in the bucket compared to those subject to removal each year by immigration authorities, and a temporary stay of their removal to allow immigration courts time to assess their claims will not undermine the United States’ immigration enforcement system.

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AND, HERE’S AN OUTLINE OF THE ARGUMENT:

ARGUMENT ……………………………………………………………………………….. 5

I.  The District Court Was Correct In Finding That, Under Current Circumstances, The Immigration Courts Do Not Provide Petitioners with Adequate and Effective Alternatives To Habeas Relief…………………….5

A.  The Immigration Courts System ……………………….. 5

B.  Our Immigration Courts Are Overburdened and Underfunded………………………………………………………. 6

C.  Emergency Stay Motions before Our Immigration Courts Do Not Currently Offer Petitioners an Adequate and Effective Alternative Remedy …..10

II. Allowing Petitioners Time to Obtain Review of Their Motions To Reopen Is In the Public Interest and Will Not Unreasonably Interfere with Immigration Enforcement ……………………………………………………………..15

A.  The United States has a Strong Interest In Protecting from Removal Those Petitioners Who Will Face Persecution or Torture in Iraq…………15

B.  The District Court’s Order Will Not Interfere With the United States’ Immigration Enforcement Scheme………………………………………..18

CONCLUSION…………………………………………………………………………… 21

CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE…………………………………………….23

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE…………………………………………………….24

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Many thanks to my “Fellow Amici” and to Michael Doss & his team at Sidley & Austin for a “Super Outstanding Job!” May Due Process prevail!!!!

PWS

02-14-18

 

INDEFENSIBLE: DHS’S “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT IS CRUEL, WASTEFUL, COUNTERPRODUCTIVE, AND ARBITRARY – IT’S THE VERY ANTITHESIS OF THE “RULE OF LAW” THAT TRUMP, SESSIONS, HOMAN & OTHERS AT THE DHS DISINGENUOUSLY TOUT IN WORDS WHILE MOCKING AND DISPARAGING BY THEIR DEEDS! – EXPOSE FRAUD, RESIST EVIL! – JOIN THE NEW DUE PROCESS ARMY!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-takes-shackles-off-ice-which-is-slapping-them-on-immigrants-who-thought-they-were-safe/2018/02/11/4bd5c164-083a-11e8-b48c-b07fea957bd5_story.html

Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti report for the Washington Post:

“A week after he won the election, President Trump promised that his administration would round up millions of immigrant gang members and drug dealers. And after he took office, arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers surged 40 percent.

Officials at the agency commonly known as ICE praise Trump for putting teeth back into immigration enforcement, and they say their agency continues to prioritize national security threats and violent criminals, much as the Obama administration did.

But as ICE officers get wider latitude to determine whom they detain, the biggest jump in arrests has been of immigrants with no criminal convictions. The agency made 37,734 “noncriminal” arrests in the government’s 2017 fiscal year, more than twice the number in the previous year. The category includes suspects facing possible charges as well as those without criminal records.

Critics say ICE is increasingly grabbing at the lowest-hanging fruit of deportation-eligible immigrants to meet the president’s unrealistic goals, replacing a targeted system with a scattershot approach aimed at boosting the agency’s enforcement statistics.

ICE has not carried out mass roundups or major workplace raids under Trump, but nearly every week brings a contentious new arrest.

2:42
Trump said he would deport millions. Now ICE is in the spotlight.

The White House has said they are focused on deporting undocumented immigrants who “pose a threat to this country.”

Virginia mother was sent back to El Salvador in June after her 11 years in the United States unraveled because of a traffic stop. A Connecticut man with an American-born wife and children and no criminal record was deported to Guatemala last week. And an immigration activist in New York, Ravi Ragbir, was detained in January in a case that brought ICE a scathing rebuke from a federal judge.

“It ought not to be — and it has never before been — that those who have lived without incident in this country for years are subjected to treatment we associate with regimes we revile as unjust,” said U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest, reading her opinion in court before ordering ICE to release Ragbir.

“We are not that country,” she said.

Immigrants whose only crime was living in the country illegally were largely left alone during the latter years of the Obama administration. But that policy has been scrapped.

Those facing deportation who show up for periodic “check-ins” with ICE to appeal for more time in the United States can no longer be confident that good behavior will spare them from detention. Once-routine appointments now can end with the immigrants in handcuffs.

More broadly, the Trump administration has given street-level ICE officers and field directors greater latitude to determine whom they arrest and under what conditions, breaking with the more selective enforcement approach of President Barack Obama’s second term.

Trump officials have likened this to taking “the shackles off,” and they say morale at ICE is up because its officers have regained the authority to detain anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally.

1:36
ICE arrests chemistry professor in U.S. for 30 years

Syed Ahmed Jamal was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents Jan. 24 after living in the United States for more than 30 years.

Officers are detaining suspects in courthouses more often, and ICE teams no longer shy from taking additional people into custody when they knock on doors to arrest a targeted person. 

“What are we supposed to do?” said Matthew Albence, the top official in the agency’s immigration enforcement division, who described the administration’s goal as simply restoring the rule of law. If ICE fails to uphold its duties to enforce immigration laws, he added, “then the system has no integrity.”

In addition to arresting twice as many immigrants who have not been convicted of crimes, ICE also arrested 105,736 immigrants with criminal convictions, a slight increase. That figure includes people with serious or violent offenses as well as those with lesser convictions, such as driving without a license or entering the country illegally.

ICE’s arrest totals in Trump’s first year in office are still much lower than they were during Obama’s early tenure, which the agency says is partly because it is contending with far more resistance from state and local governments that oppose Trump’s policies. And the president’s repeated negative characterizations of some immigrant groups have created an atmosphere in which arrests that were once standard now erupt as political flash points.

Obama initially earned the moniker “deporter in chief” because his administration expelled hundreds of thousands of immigrants, including people with no criminal records. But when Republicans blocked his effort to create a path to citizenship for millions living in the country illegally, Obama curtailed ICE enforcement, especially for those without serious criminal violations. Those measures incensed Republicans — and eventually helped to propel Trump into office.

An estimated 11 million people are living in the United States without legal residency, and the new era of ICE enforcement has shattered the presumption that their social and economic integration into American life would protect them.

Because immigration records are generally secret, it is difficult to independently verify how federal agents decide to make arrests. Immigrant advocates and ICE often clash over immigration cases, and both sides frequently present incomplete versions of an immigrant’s case.

Last month, a college chemistry instructor in Kansas, Syed Ahmed Jamal, was taken into custody on his lawn while preparing to take his daughter to school. He arrived from Bangladesh 30 years ago and built a life in the United States. More than 57,000 people signed an online petition asking ICE to stop his deportation, describing him as a community leader and loving father.

An immigration judge placed a temporary stay Wednesday on ICE’s attempt to deport him, but the agency’s account of Jamal’s case is starkly different. ICE said he arrived in 1987 on a temporary visa. He was ordered to leave the United States in 2002, and he complied, but three months later, he returned — legally — and overstayed again. A judge ordered him to leave the country in 2011, but he did not. ICE said agents took Jamal into custody in 2012. He lost his appeal in 2013.

At first glance, Albence said, many of ICE’s arrests may seem like “sympathetic cases — individuals who are here, and who have been here a long time.”

“But the reason they’ve been here a long time is because they gamed the system,” he said.

Defenders of the tougher approach applaud ICE’s new resolve and say it is U.S. immigration courts — not ICE — that are determining who should be allowed to stay. And they reject the idea that the longer someone has lived in the country, the more the person deserves to be left alone.

“As someone who has practiced law for 20-plus years, I find strange the idea the longer you get away with a violation, the less stiff the punishment should be, and that your continued violation of the law is basis for the argument that you shouldn’t suffer the consequences of that violation,” said Matthew O’Brien, director of research at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, which backs Trump’s approach.

No statute of limitations

The furor that has followed recent ICE arrests reflects a deeper disagreement — not unlike the fight over young, undocumented “dreamers” — about the consequences that those in the country illegally should face.

Living in the United States without legal status is generally treated as a civil violation, not a criminal one. And many Americans, especially Democrats, do not view it as an offense worthy of arrest and deportation once someone has settled into American life.

But in the hyper-politicized atmosphere of the immigration debate, where the merits of these arrests are increasingly litigated in public, partisans now argue over each immigrant’s perceived worthiness to remain in the country, even when a full grasp of the facts is lacking.

When a 43-year-old Polish-born doctor in Michigan who came to the United States at age 5 was arrested last month, supporters rushed to his defense. ICE justified its decision by saying the doctor, who was a permanent legal resident, had had repeated encounters with local police and two 1992 misdemeanor convictions for destruction of property and receiving stolen items, crimes that under U.S. immigration law are considered evidence of “moral turpitude.”

Others who committed crimes long ago and satisfied their obligations to the American justice system have learned there is no statute of limitations on ICE’s ability to use the immigrants’ offenses as grounds to arrest and deport them.

When Ragbir, the New York immigration activist, was detained last month during a scheduled check-in with ICE, his supporters accused the agency of targeting him for retaliation.

But Ragbir is the type of person who is now a top priority for ICE. After becoming a lawful U.S. resident in 1994, he was convicted of mortgage and wire fraud in 2000.

Ragbir served two years in prison, then married a U.S. citizen in 2010. Immigration courts repeatedly spared him from deportation, but his most recent appeal was denied, and ICE took him into custody eight days before his residency was due to expire.

Ragbir was so stunned that he lost consciousness, court records show, and was taken to a hospital.

The ‘sanctuary’ campaign

Former acting ICE director John Sandweg, who helped draft the 2014 memo that prioritized arrests based on the severity of immigrants’ criminal offenses, said the agency has resources to deport only about 200,000 cases a year from the interior of the United States.

“The problem is, when you remove all priorities, it’s like a fisherman who could just get his quota anywhere,” Sandweg said. “It diminishes the incentives on the agents to go get the bad criminals. Now their job is to fill the beds.”

Albence said the agency’s priority remains those who represent a threat to public safety or national security, just as it was under Obama. The difference now is that agents are also enforcing judges’ deportation orders against all immigrants who are subject to such orders, regardless of whether they have criminal records.

“There’s no list where we rank ‘This is illegal alien number 1 all the way down to 2.3 million,’ ” he said.

Albence said ICE prioritizes its caseload using government databases and law enforcement methods to track fugitives. But in the vast majority of cases, ICE takes custody of someone after state or local police have arrested the person.

This approach dovetailed with ICE’s enforcement emphasis on targeting serious criminals, and at first, the Obama administration and other Democrats embraced it. But activists protested that ICE was arresting people pulled over for driving infractions and other minor offenses at a time when Congress was debating whether to grant undocumented immigrants legal residency. Advocacy groups pushed cities and towns to become “sanctuary” cities that refused to cooperate with ICE.

ICE’s caseload far exceeds the capacity of its jails. In addition to the 41,500 immigrants in detention, according to the most recent data, the agency has a caseload of roughly 3 million deportation-eligible foreigners, equal to about 1 in 4 of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants nationwide.

More than 542,000 of those are considered fugitives, meaning they did not show up for their immigration hearings and were ordered deported, or they failed to leave the country after losing their cases. Nearly 2 in 3 were not considered a priority for deportation under Obama. They are now.

An additional 2.4 million undocumented immigrants are free pending hearings or appeals, or because the agency has not been able to deport them yet and the Supreme Court has ruled that such individuals cannot be jailed indefinitely. Nearly 1 million of this group have final deportation orders, including 178,000 convicted criminals.

They include the Michigan doctor and Ragbir, the New York activist.

“It’s true that all these people are deportable, but that doesn’t mean they should all have equal value,” said Cecilia Muñoz, a former policy adviser to Obama who helped shape the administration’s tiered enforcement approach.

“By crowding the courts with all kinds of people, you’re creating a resource problem,” Muñoz said.

“If you apply that logic to local police forces, you’re saying that every robber and rapist is the same as a jaywalker. And then you’re clogging your courts with jaywalkers.”

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

The Trump/Sessions/DHS “Gonzo” enforcement program that claims to be targeting criminals but actually busts lots of “collaterals” who are residing here peacefully and contributing to our society is a total sham. It has nothing to do with the “Rule of Law” or real law enforcement.

Unnecessary cruelty, wasting resources, arbitrariness, terrorizing communities, overloading already overwhelmed courts, and undermining the efforts of local politicians and law enforcement are not, and never have been, part of the “Rule of Law,” nor are they professional law enforcement techniques. They are part of the White Nationalist agenda to “beat up” on Latinos and other minorities, lump all immigrants in with “criminals,” stir up xenophobia, and throw some “red meat” to an essentially racist Trump/GOP “base.”

“By crowding the courts with all kinds of people, you’re creating a resource problem,” Muñoz said.

“If you apply that logic to local police forces, you’re saying that every robber and rapist is the same as a jaywalker. And then you’re clogging your courts with jaywalkers.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

As I say over and over, ICE under Trump is well on its way to becoming the most distrusted and despised “law enforcement” agency in America. That damage is likely to hamper their mission of legitimate enforcement well beyond the Trump era.

As some commentators have suggested, the only long-term solution might well be eventually dissolving ICE and turning the functions over to a new agency that will operate within the normal bounds of reasonable, professional law enforcement, rather than as a political appendage.

In the meantime, those who believe in American values and the true “Rule of Law,” should resist the out of control DHS at every step. While Trump and the GOP appear unwilling to place any limits on the abuses by the “ICEMEN,” Federal Courts have proved more receptive to the arguments that there are at least some outer limits on the conduct of law enforcement.

Join the “New Due Process Army” today!

 

PWS

01-12-18

 

GONZO’S WORLD: How “Gonzo” Immigration Enforcement & The All-Out Attack On So-Called “Sanctuary Cities” Actually IMPEDE Effective Law Enforcement! — “The bottom line is, you just can’t trust ICE during the Trump administration!”

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=9cb0eda5-8512-4812-9d46-0b07c60a000b

Frank Shyong reports for the LA Times:

“For the better part of a decade, an agency that bilked Chinese immigrant investors out of nearly $50 million operated in plain sight from a storefront in the front lobby of the bustling Hilton San Gabriel hotel.

Their crimes came to light last year after a task force of San Gabriel police and federal immigration officials tracked transactions between Chinese and U.S. banks, conducted cross-border surveillance operations, launched an undercover sting and sought information from the Chinese government.

San Gabriel Valley police departments often use federal partnerships to tackle crimes like these — many of which target vulnerable new immigrants — because they lack the necessary resources, skills and technology to pursue them.

But the largely immigrant communities that they police are starting to protest these partnerships in the wake of aggressive, Trump-era immigration enforcement that has stoked widespread fears over deportations.

On Tuesday, San Gabriel city leaders rescinded a Police Department agreement with immigration officials, citing doubts about the arrangement’s necessity and heightened fears about deportations.

The memorandum of understanding, signed by Police Chief Eugene Harris in December, designates a San Gabriel police detective to act as a customs officer on a task force that investigates various types of immigration-related crimes.

Although the memo states that the designated officer does not have the authority to enforce administrative violations of immigration law, city leaders said the decision should have been brought before the City Council.

The partnership sends the wrong message about the city’s stance toward immigrants, Councilman Jason Pu said. The city’s population is 61% Asian and 25% Latino, and more than half of of all residents are foreign-born. He also asked the City Council to consider a “sanctuary city” resolution at a later meeting.

“The city of San Gabriel embraces our immigrant communities. If the message becomes ‘Come to San Gabriel and get deported,’ it would be devastating to our community and to our businesses,” Pu said.

Harris said the partnership with Homeland Security Investigations was designed to fight crimes, not deport immigrants. Contributing an officer to an HSI task force allowed the department to access federal databases, among other resources.

Councilman John Harrington voted against canceling the agreement and accused other council members of playing politics.

“This sends the message that politics are more important than residents’ safety,” Harrington said.

The news of the agreement was met with alarm in San Gabriel.

Advocacy groups and residents chanted slogans and waved signs before the Tuesday night meeting, which was so crowded that the city was forced to relocate it from City Hall to the nearby San Gabriel Mission Playhouse.

San Gabriel’s agreement was one of dozens that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have struck with local agencies across Southern California, including jurisdictions as small as Monterey Park and as large as the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The documents lay out terms for information-sharing, compensation for labor costs and, in some cases, the designation of a local police officer to work on a task force with Homeland Security Investigations, ICE’s criminal investigations arm.

But California’s new “sanctuary state” law largely prohibits the use of local funds and personnel on both criminal and civil immigration enforcement.

Jurisdictions around the state are scrutinizing these agreements and other local collaborations with ICE — and in some cases canceling them.

Pasadena city leaders recently voided an agreement signed by Police Chief Phillip L. Sanchez, saying that it required the signature of the city manager.

Santa Monica also canceled its Police Department’s arrangement with ICE in a letter from the city manager last year, citing concerns about “implied or inadvertent involvement in civil immigration enforcement by the SMPD.”

Oakland city leaders canceled their agreement with ICE after activists learned that two Oakland police officers had stopped traffic during a raid that resulted in the arrests of two people. One was placed in deportation proceedings. Federal officials said the operation was targeting a human trafficking ring, but no criminal charges have been filed.

In Santa Cruz, a criminal investigation targeting gang members also brought about the arrests of several non-gang members for immigration violations. The city police chief, Kevin Vogel, said he was never informed about the possibility of collateral arrests.

“They misled my department as to the actual scope of the operation. I feel like I was lied to,” Vogel said.

ICE officials said they told Vogel that collateral arrests of non-gang members could occur during the operations several days before the raids, which Vogel disputes.

Though Santa Cruz had no agreement with ICE, Vogel warned other police departments to clarify the terms of their cooperation with ICE up front.

“I’m not in a position to tell authorities which laws to enforce,” said Vogel, a 30-year veteran of the Santa Cruz Police Department who retired in June. “But you have to be straight with me if you’re going to come into my city for an operation.”

A detective in San Gabriel has been assigned to an HSI task force since June. The group has arrested two people it says were posing as immigration attorneys in order to charge exorbitant fees for fraudulent legal services. It has also investigated a counterfeit driver’s license and passport operation, and is looking for the owners of 30 Chinese passports discovered in a package.

These cases are typically too small to draw the attention of state and federal law enforcement agencies but too complicated for local police departments to handle with their own resources, Harris said.

Police departments and immigration authorities say these partnerships are strictly for criminal investigations.

But advocates say it may be impossible to ensure these partnerships won’t include what the Trump administration has called “collateral arrests,” or arrests of immigrants who are in the country illegally but are not the target of criminal investigations.

“Even if the original intent is to investigate a crime, if they find neighbors, bystanders that they believe are removable, they will also arrest and detain them,” said Angela Chan of Advancing Justice — Asian Law Caucus, a coauthor of Senate Bill 54, the sanctuary state bill.

Of the 111,000 immigration arrests reported by ICE between Jan. 20 and Sept. 30 of last year, about 8% were collateral arrests. And last year, ICE’s acting director, Thomas Homan, warned that more collateral arrests might be one result of California’s passing a sanctuary state bill.

Agreements like San Gabriel’s, immigrant rights advocates say, often are broadly worded and rarely include any mention of collateral arrests or consequences for violating the agreement, said Ana Muñiz, assistant professor of criminology at UC Irvine.

“On one hand, ICE and HSI can technically comply with agreements, but on the other hand, there are rhetorical and technical loopholes,” Muñiz said.

Police officers working with HSI task forces are “not authorized” to arrest people for administrative violations of immigration law, said Jennifer Reyes, assistant special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations Los Angeles. But immigration officers working on HSI task forces have no such restrictions.

“HSI special agents, however, have the authority to make administrative arrests during criminal investigations as part of enforcing our nation’s laws,” Reyes said.

Harris said he thinks proper oversight of joint operations with immigration authorities could ensure that no local resources are used to enforce immigration law.

Federal, state and local agencies work together to emphasize that public safety is a shared goal across all law enforcement agencies, Harris said.

But cities are increasingly wary of the perception of endorsing the Trump administration’s immigration policies. And some city leaders, like Pu, don’t see ICE and HSI as trustworthy law enforcement partners.

“The bottom line is, you just can’t trust ICE during the Trump administration,” Pu said.”

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Yup. Declaring  “open season” on law-abiding undocumented members of the community (treating them basically the same as criminals and gangsters) and picking fights with local officials is one of the dumbest “law enforcement” strategies I could imagine. Even after the “Trumpsters” eventually depart, ICE might never be able to re-establish trust and credibility in many communities.

PWS

02-09-18