JASON DZUBOW IN THE ASYLUMIST: TRUMP’S 101 YEAR PLAN FOR REMOVALS! — “Malevolence tempered by incompetence!”

http://www.asylumist.com/2017/07/27/president-trumps-101-year-deportation-plan/

Jason writes:

“Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong had their five-year plans. Nikita Khrushchev had his seven-year plan. And now President Trump has a 101-year plan. That’s how long it will take to deport the country’s 11 million undocumented residents if current trends continue.

Happy Birthday! Now, get the hell out of my country!

The most recent statistics on case completions in Immigration Court show that the Trump Administration has issued an average of 8,996 removal (deportation) orders per month between February and June 2017 (and 11,000,000 divided by 8,996 cases/month = 1,222.8 months, or 101.9 years). That’s up from 6,913 during the same period last year, but still well-below the peak period during the early days of the Obama Administration, when courts were issuing 13,500 removal orders each month.

Of course, the Trump Administration has indicated that it wants to ramp up deportations, and to that end, the Executive Office for Immigration Review or EOIR–the office that oversees the nation’s Immigration Courts–plans to hire more Immigration Judges (“IJs”). Indeed, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, the Attorney General (at least for now) announced that EOIR would hire 50 more judges this year and 75 next year.

Assuming EOIR can find 125 new IJs, and also assuming that no currently-serving judges retire (a big assumption given that something like 50% of our country’s IJs are eligible to retire), then EOIR will go from 250 IJs to 375. So instead of 101 years to deport the nation’s 11 million undocumented residents, it will only take 68 years (assuming that no new people enter the U.S. illegally or overstay their visas, and assuming my math is correct–more big assumptions).

But frankly, I’m doubtful that 68 years–or even 101 years–is realistic. It’s partly that more people are entering the population of “illegals” all the time, and so even as the government chips away at the 11,000,000 figure, more people are joining that club, so to speak. Worse, from the federal government’s point of view, there is not enough of a national consensus to deport so many people, and there is significant legal resistance to Mr. Trump’s immigration agenda.

In addition to all this, there is the Trump Administration’s modus operandi, which is best characterized as malevolence tempered by incompetence. One statistic buried in the recent deportation numbers illustrates this point. In March 2017, judges issued 10,110 removal orders. A few months later, in June, judges issued 8,919 removal orders.

This means that the number of deportation orders dropped by 1,191 or about 11.8%. How can this be? In a word: Incompetence (I suppose if I wanted to be more generous—which I don’t—I could say, Inexperience). The Trump Administration has no idea how to run the government and their failure in the immigration realm is but one example.

There are at least a couple ways the Administration’s incompetence has manifested itself at EOIR.

One is in the distribution of judges. It makes sense to send IJs where they are needed. But that’s not exactly what is happening. Maybe it’s just opening night jitters for the new leadership at EOIR. Maybe they’ll find their feet and get organized. But so far, it seems EOIR is sending judges to the border, where they are underutilized. While this may have the appearance of action (which may be good enough for this Administration), the effect—as revealed in the statistical data—is that fewer people are actually being deported.

As I wrote previously, the new Acting Director of EOIR has essentially no management experience, and it’s still unclear whether he is receiving the support he needs, or whether his leadership team has the institutional memory to navigate the EOIR bureaucracy. Perhaps this is part of the reason for the inefficient use of judicial resources.

Another reason may be that shifting judges around is not as easy as moving pieces on a chess board. The IJs have families, homes, and ties to their communities. Not to mention a union to protect them (or try to protect them) from management. And it doesn’t help that many Immigration Courts are located in places that you wouldn’t really want to live, if you had a choice. So getting judges to where you need them, and keeping them there for long enough to make a difference, is not so easy.

A second way the Trump Administration has sabotaged itself is related to prosecutorial discretion or PD. In the pre-Trump era, DHS attorneys (the “prosecutors” in Immigration Court) had discretion to administratively close cases that were not a priority. This allowed DHS to focus on people who they wanted to deport: Criminals, human rights abusers, people perceived as a threat to national security. In other words, “Bad Hombres.” Now, PD is essentially gone. By the end of the Obama Administration, 2,400 cases per month were being closed through PD. Since President Trump came to office, the average is less than 100 PD cases per month. The result was predictable: DHS can’t prioritize cases and IJs are having a harder time managing their dockets. In essence, if everyone is a deportation priority, no one is a deportation priority.

Perhaps the Trump Administration hopes to “fix” these problems by making it easier to deport people. The Administration has floated the idea of reducing due process protections for non-citizens. Specifically, they are considering expanding the use of expedited removal, which is a way to bypass Immigration Courts for certain aliens who have been in the U.S. for less than 90 days. But most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants have been here much longer than that, and so they would not be affected. Also, expansion of expedited removal would presumably trigger legal challenges, which may make it difficult to implement.

Another “fix” is to prevent people from coming here in the first place. Build the wall. Deny visas to people overseas. Scare potential immigrants so they stay away. Illegally turn away asylum seekers at the border. Certainly, all this will reduce the number of people coming to America. But the cost will be high. Foreign tourists, students, and business people add many billions to our economy. Foreign scholars, scientists, artists, and other immigrants contribute to our country’s strength. Whether the U.S. is willing to forfeit the benefits of the global economy in order to restrict some people from coming or staying here unlawfully, I do not know. But the forces driving migration are powerful, and so I have real doubts that Mr. Trump’s efforts will have more than a marginal impact, especially over the long run. And even if he could stop the flow entirely, it still leaves 11 million people who are already here.

There is an obvious alternative to Mr. Trump’s plan. Instead of wasting billions of dollars, harming our economy, and ripping millions of families apart, why not move towards a broad legalization for those who are here? Focus on deporting criminals and other “bad hombres,” and leave hard-working immigrants in peace. Sadly, this is not the path we are on. And so, sometime in 2118, perhaps our country will finally say adieu to its last undocumented resident.”

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Amen!

PWS

08-14-17

 

NOLAN RAPPAPORT IN THE HILL: RAISE ACT COULD BE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR DREAMERS!

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/346367-how-trumps-legal-immigration-cuts-could-be-a-blessing-to

Nolan writes:

“Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) recently introduced a revised version of the bill addressing legal immigration into the United States, the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act.  It is supposed to spur economic growth and raise working Americans’ wages by giving priority to the best-skilled immigrants from around the world and reducing overall immigration by half.

Supporters include President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, andActing Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke.

Nevertheless, it will not reach the president’s desk without support from influential Democratic congressmen, which will be difficult to get and won’t be free.
According to Representative Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.), the RAISE Act “and the bear hug by the Bannon/Kelly/Trump White House — betrays the deep animosity towards legal immigration that has become the central, unifying tenet of the Republican Party.”

. . . .

Suggestions for a compromise.

The main price for Gutierrez’s support would be to establish a DREAM Act program that would be based on an appropriate merit-based point system.

The number of undocumented aliens who might benefit from a dream act can range from 2.5 to 3.3 million.  It isn’t likely that an agreement will be reached if Gutierrez insists on a number in that range.

Concessions have to be made to achieve an acceptable compromise, and allowing termination of the Visa Waiver Program would be a reasonable choice.  An alternative would be to keep the program as is but distribute the visas on a merit point system instead of using a lottery.

The refugee provision is problematic, but the president has sole authority to determine the number of admissions and the current president supports the 50,000 cap. The Democrats will try to eliminate this cap or raise it if they can’t eliminate it, but this should not be a deal breaker if the other issues are worked out satisfactorily.

The restrictions on family-based immigration, however, are another matter.  They should be modified.  Cotton and Purdue doomed their bill to failure with these provisions.  They hurt constituents on both sides of the aisle.

Moreover, they do not make any sense.  What does national interest mean if the family-unification needs of citizens and legal permanent residents don’t count?

Some advocates strongly opposes the point system because they think it fails to take into account the needs of U.S. businesses, but their concern is based on the point criterion in the current version of the RAISE Act, which has not been subjected to any hearings or markups yet.  If the senators and Gutierrez cannot work out a compromise that protects the needs of U.S. businesses, there will be plenty of time to make additional changes.

This isn’t just about moving these bills through congress.  According to recent Gallup polls, “Americans view Congress relatively poorly, with job approval ratings of the institution below 30% since October 2009.”

And the current Republican-controlled congress is not turning this around.  Reaching an agreement with the Democrats on an immigration reform bill that includes a DREAM Act legalization program would be a good place to start.”

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

PWS

08-13-17

 

WASHPOST: TRUMP/SESSIONS/KELLY “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT DEPORTS THE “GOOD GUYS!” — WHY? — BECAUSE THEY CAN!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-trump-administration-is-deporting-a-lot-of-good-people/2017/08/12/42c6bb96-7eba-11e7-a669-b400c5c7e1cc_story.html?utm_term=.8d4182d7737e

August 12 at 2:12 PM

PRESIDENT TRUMP vowed to deport “bad hombres” — undocumented immigrants with criminal records whose presence in this country is an unquestioned burden and menace. Instead, his administration has been content to seize and expel a teenage soccer star and his brother in suburban Maryland; a mother of three in Michigan who had spent 20 years in the United States; and, now in detention pending removal, a 43-year-old janitor at MIT whose three small children are U.S. citizens and whose mother, a permanent resident, planned to sponsor him for a green card next year.

None of them had criminal records. Both the Michigan mother and the MIT janitor ran their own businesses, paying taxes and contributing to the economy. All had active, honorable lives deeply entwined with their communities. Deporting them is not only inhumane but also senseless.

So why do it? Possibly, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is simply plucking the low-hanging fruit that crosses agents’ path. Possibly, the agency is trying to please the boss in the Oval Office by juicing deportation numbers with the easiest targets of opportunity.”

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Read the full editorial at the link.

Irrational enforcement against the most vulnerable makes weak leaders and bullies feel a false sense of strength, empowerment, and “being in charge.”

PWS

08-13-17

 

 

TRUMP’S “GONZO” ENFORCEMENT POLICIES PRODUCE MORE REMOVAL ORDERS BUT FEWER ACTUAL DEPORTATIONS! — CRIMINAL DEPORTATIONS FALL AS DHS PICKS ON NON-CRIMINALS! — MINDLESS ABUSE OF ALREADY OVERWHELMED IMMIGRATION COURT DOCKETS ACTUALLY INHIBITS ABILITY TO CONCENTRATE ON CRIMINALS!

Read this eye opener from Maria Sacchetti in the Washington Post about how the Administration manipulates data to leave a false impression of effective law enforcement.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/trump-is-deporting-fewer-immigrants-than-obama-including-criminals/2017/08/10/d8fa72e4-7e1d-11e7-9d08-b79f191668ed_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_immigration-540am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.a8889396e334

“By Maria Sacchetti August 10 at 9:43 PM
President Trump has vowed to swiftly deport “bad hombres” from the United States, but the latest deportation statistics show that slightly fewer criminals were expelled in June than when he took office.

In January, federal immigration officials deported 9,913 criminals. After a slight uptick under Trump, expulsions sank to 9,600 criminals in June.

Mostly deportations have remained lower than in past years under the Obama administration. From January to June, Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported 61,370 criminals, down from 70,603 during the same period last year.

During the election, Trump vowed to target criminals for deportation and warned that they were “going out fast.” Later, he suggested he would try to find a solution for the “terrific people” who never committed any crimes, and would first deport 2 million to 3 million criminals.

But analysts say he is unlikely to hit those targets. Since January, immigration officials have deported more than 105,000 immigrants, 42 percent of whom had never committed any crime.

Last year, a total of 121,170 people were deported during the same period, and a similar percentage had no criminal records.

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John Sandweg, the former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said part of the reason for the decline is that illegal border crossings have plunged since Trump took office pledging to build a “big, beautiful” wall and crack down on illegal immigration. Immigrants caught at the border accounted for a significant share of deportations under the Obama administration.

 

Another factor, however, is that immigration officials are arresting more people who never committed any crime — some 4,100 immigrants in June, more than double the number in January — clogging the already backlogged immigration courts and making it harder to focus on criminals.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement released the deportation figures, which the Post had requested, late Thursday, two days after the Justice Department announced that immigration courts ordered 57,069 people to leave the United States from February to July, a nearly 31 percent increase over the previous year.

However, Justice officials have not said how many of the immigrants ordered deported were actually in custody — or if their whereabouts are even known. Every year scores of immigrants are ordered deported in absentia, meaning they did not attend their hearings and could not immediately be deported.

The deportation figures come as the Trump administration is fighting with dozens of state and local officials nationwide over their refusal to help deport immigrants, and as the administration is attempting to reduce legal and illegal immigration.”

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It appears that many of the increased removal orders touted by DOJ/EOIR earlier this week might have been “in absentia” orders, issued without full due process hearings and all too often based on incorrect addresses or defective notices. Some of those orders turn out to be unenforceable. Many others require hearings to be reopened once the defects in notice or reasons for failure to appear are documented. But, since there wild inconsistencies among U.S. Immigration Judges in reopening in absentia cases, “jacking up” in absentia orders inevitably produces arbitrary justice.

The article also indicates that the Administration’s mindless overloading of already overwhelmed U.S. Immigration Courts with cases of non-criminal migrants has actually inhibited the courts’ ability to concentrate on criminals.

Taxpayer money is being squandered on “dumb” enforcement and a “captive court system” that no longer functions as a provider of fairness, due process, and justice. How long will legislators and Article III judges continue to be complicit in this facade of justice?

PWS

08-11-17

 

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

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

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Paul Wickham Schmidt

U.S. Immigration Judge (Retired)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

08-09-17

HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT: RAHM V. GONZO — Chicago Sues DOJ Over Sanctuary Cities!

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-rahm-emanuel-donald-trump-lawsuit-met-0808-2-20170807-story.html

The Chicago Tribune reports:

“Mayor Rahm Emanuel‘s Law Department on Monday filed its much-touted lawsuit against President Donald Trump‘s Justice Department over its effort to withhold some grant funding from so-called sanctuary cities.

Emanuel wants a federal judge to block the Trump administration from enforcing its new policy, which would affect not just Chicago, but other major U.S. cities like New York and San Francisco. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ funding decision also would affect Cook County, which also holds sanctuary status and operates the largest single-site jail in the country.

The Justice Department quickly fired back in an emailed response that notes last year more people were killed in Chicago than New York and Los Angeles combined. “It’s especially tragic that the mayor is less concerned with that staggering figure than he is spending time and taxpayer money protecting criminal aliens and putting Chicago’s law enforcement at greater risk,” the response stated.

Trump has long maintained that illegal immigration fuels crime, an assertion that critics say is not backed by statistics that show immigrants in the country without the required permission are less likely to commit crimes than U.S. citizens and legal residents. And Emanuel in a rare Sunday news conference maintained Trump’s policy would damage efforts to tamp down crime, because people in the city without documentation would then be afraid to cooperate with police.”

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Uh, cutting funding for law enforcement to make cities safer doesn’t make much sense either. And, I have no doubt that if Sessions were really interested in getting criminals off the streets, he and Emanuel could reach some type of working agreement. But, what Sessions and the DOJ are really after is to cause more “collateral damage.” To date, the “gonzo” increased enforcement efforts promoted by Trump, Sessions, Kelly, and some within ICE have netted about 70% “collaterals” — folks without any serious criminal record. So, either ICE is particularly incompetent at targeting criminals, or the whole beefed up interior enforcement program is just a smokescreen for more arbitrary enforcement by DHS. I think that’s why Emmanuel and others are concerned about the Trump Administrations “punish sanctuary cities” initiatives.

PWS

08-07-17

 

MORE DC AREA FAMILIES & COMMUNITIES TRASHED BY TRUMP’S ARBITRARY IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT POLICIES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/a-soccer-star-from-gaithersburg-won-a-college-scholarship-but-ice-plans-to-deport-him/2017/07/31/07ef1ff8-764b-11e7-8839-ec48ec4cae25_story.html?utm_term=.4783f45f9347&wpisrc=nl_buzz&wpmm=1

Rachel Chason reports for the Washington Post:

“Foster McCune will play Division I soccer at Georgetown University this fall. Matt and Ben Di Rosa, twins from the District’s Chevy Chase neighborhood, will play for the University of Maryland.

On Monday night, they stood with other members of their elite Bethesda Soccer Club outside Department of Homeland Security headquarters in Northwest Washington, protesting the arrest and pending deportation of a beloved teammate: Lizandro Claros Saravia.

Claros Saravia, 19, who had a scholarship to play college soccer in North Carolina, was detained along with his older brother, Diego, in Baltimore on Friday following one of their regular check-ins with immigration officials.

Lizandro Claros Saravia ( Courtesy of Bethesda Soccer Club )

They entered the United States illegally in 2009, fleeing violence in their native El Salvador. Lizandro Claros Saravia graduated from Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg this past spring and was planning to attend the two-year Louisburg College in North Carolina on a soccer scholarship this fall.

“He’s one of the hardest-working people on our team,” Matt Di Rosa said at the protest, which drew about 50 people, including family, teammates and immigration advocates. “He has a bright future, and that’s something he actively sought.”

Diego Claros Saravia, 22, graduated from high school a few years ago and works in a car repair shop.

Neither brother has a criminal record, said Nick Katz, senior manager of legal services at the immigration advocacy organization CASA de Maryland, who is representing the pair.

They would not have been priorities for deportation under the Obama administration, according to a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But President Trump’s administration has made clear that any undocumented immigrant is vulnerable to deportation, and there has been a steady increase in the number of people detained after otherwise routine check-ins, advocates say.

Play Video 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,” but advocates say undocumented immigrants without criminal records are being detained by ICE. (Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)

The brothers, who were detained by immigration officers when they arrived in the United States, were issued final removal orders by an immigration judge in November 2012, but were released pursuant to an order of supervision, ICE spokesman Matthew Bourke said.

They were both granted a stay of removal in 2013. But their two subsequent applications for stays were denied. Since 2016, Bourke said, ICE deportation officers have instructed the brothers to purchase tickets for departure.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” Katz said. “These are the kids who we want to stay.”

Fatima Claros Saravia, 25, cried as she held up a sign she had made for her brothers. “Stop separating families,” she wrote under photos of Lizandro playing soccer. “Let my brothers live their American dream.”

“They wanted to study and to work,” she said. “We are heartbroken — this is not fair, and it is not right.”

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Read the full story at the link.

This is an example of the type of “order” and “rationality” that Gen. John Kelly brought to DHS. That’s why I’m not as sanguine as some that he will bring any sense of order and decency to the gonzo crew in the West Wing.

“Dumb, divisive, and cruel” enforcement by DHS is likely to be the norm unless and until the majority of U.S. voters who don’t believe that this is the best use of taxpayer dollars rise up and put more responsible politicians in office.

PWS

08-01-17

 

CNN: American Families Are The Human Wreckage Of Trump’s Deportation Policies!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/27/politics/connecticut-family-deportations/index.html

Mallory Simon and Alex Marquardt report on CNN:

“New Fairfield, Connecticut (CNN)Six-year-old Preston Colindres runs up the driveway and front steps and jumps into his father’s arms.

“Hey buddy! How are you? Oh, I love you!” Joel Colindres says as he kisses his son’s cheek. He picks up his 2-year-old daughter, Lila, hugs her and tells her he loves her.
Colindres’ children don’t know their father’s heart is breaking.
Colindres, 33, fled from Guatemala more than a decade ago. He and his American wife, Samantha, can’t quite figure out how to tell their young children that in less than a month he may no longer greet them on the steps of their New Fairfield home.
How do you explain to a 6-year-old why their father is going to be deported? The couple is unsure — especially when they can’t figure it out themselves.
“I can’t seem to summon the courage to look them in the face and say all that,” Samantha Colindres said. “How can you say it before bed, how’s he going to sleep? How do you say it in the morning before school and ruin his day? When’s the right time?”
Colindres must produce an airline ticket to Guatemala on Thursday as proof that on August 17 he intends to comply with a deportation order.
Stopping illegal immigration and kicking out “bad hombres” was a central theme of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. In the days after his inauguration, he vowed to rid the country of violent criminals who enter the country illegally.
Trump administration widens net on deportation
Trump administration widens net on deportation 01:53
Since he came into office, the number of undocumented immigrant arrests has risen by roughly one-third, according to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement statistics. That was largely driven by an increase in the number of non-criminals arrested.
But the Colindres family never thought Joel would be a target for deportation. They, along with family, friends, and their lawyer Larry Delgado, maintain his case is typical of a change in the face of those targeted for deportation.
“This is one of the most compelling cases that we have ever seen in terms of the positives versus the negatives,” Delgado said.
Delgado counts off the positives rapidly: Colindres is married to a US citizen; has two children who are citizens; pays his taxes; owns his own home and is a skilled worker who has been with the same company for 12 years. Most importantly, Delgado said, Colindres has no criminal record.
Delgado believed Colindres’ case would be a “slam dunk” to at least get a stay of deportation. But a growing number of undocumented immigrants have found themselves expecting one outcome and getting another, Democratic Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal said.
“These individuals relied on the good word and promise of the American government. They were permitted to stay here, they reported periodically, they made no effort to hide, they violated no laws, they raised children here, US citizens, and contributed and worked hard,” Blumenthal said.

Unfairness should ‘strike the hearts of Americans’

Nury Chavarria, also a Guatemala native, sought sanctuary from deportation inside a church.

The Colindres family is not alone.
“There are hundreds and maybe thousands in Connecticut and many, many more around the country that find themselves in this trauma and tragedy,” Blumenthal said.
Similar cases include that of single mother Nury Chavarria, also a Guatemala native, who had taken sanctuary with her four children inside a New Haven, Connecticut, church last week to avoid deportation. Her eldest son, who is 21 years old, has cerebral palsy. Chavarria was granted a stay of deportation in her case on Wednesday night, according to her lawyer.
Sen. Blumenthal believes immigration laws should be enforced, but with discretion.
“We should be deporting people who are dangerous and who pose a threat to society, not people like Nury and Joel and others who have lived here, worked, paid taxes, raised families, and have people depending on them at work and in their homes,” Blumenthal said.
“That is a betrayal of American values, it’s also against our interest because our economy depends on the talents and energy of these people, and we should be providing some pathway to earned citizenship for them.”
But the Trump administration has made clear anyone here illegally can be subject to deportation.
“The fact that you are not a priority does not exempt you from potential enforcement,” a Department of Homeland Security official said. People with crimes like DUIs and status violations, or noncriminal histories but a final order of removal could be subject to deportation, the official added.
Blumenthal believes those like Colindres and Chavarria should get a chance to further present their cases to remain in America.
“The fundamental unfairness of it ought to strike the hearts of Americans,” he said.”
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Read the complete story at the link.
“Gonzo” enforcement in action. Diminishing America one arbitrary enforcement action at a time. Why do we deport them? “Because we can!”
PWS
07-31-17

NORTHERN VIRGINIA PASTOR CAUGHT UP IN DHS WEB OF CRUEL, INDISCRIMINATE, & WASTEFUL ENFORCEMENT — WHILE SON FIGHTS FOR OUR COUNTRY IN AIR FORCE, GEN. KELLY & CO. PLAN TO SHOW APPRECIATION BY DEPORTING HIS FATHER!

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/ICE-Detains-Northern-Virginia-Pastor-435897973.html

NBC Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reports:

“Faith groups around the Commonwealth are mobilizing to support a Northern Virginia pastor who may soon be deported.

Pastor Juan Gutierrez typically leads a small service of about 10 to 20 members at his home every Saturday in Dumfries, Virginia. But on Saturday, that number is expected to grow for a day-long vigil in support of his family.

Gutierrez went to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office for his usual check-in in late June, when he was suddenly taken into custody.

“I say why? He do everything like the rules say,” Gutierrez’s wife Aurelia Sicha said. “I was really sure surprised. I started to cry.”

Gutierrez came to the U.S. from Peru in 2002 with a visa to play music. Sicha, who is a U.S. citizen, became pregnant and he stayed to help care for their family.

ICE is now enforcing an order of removal Gutierrez received in 2012.

“I understand my husband broke the rules of this country because he’s here without the visa, but he’s a good man. Never he do [anything] wrong. He’s a pastor. He’s a preacher. The word of God,” Sicha said.

An ICE official confirmed to News4 that Gutierrez does not have a criminal record, writing in a statement, “As DHS Secretary Kelly and Acting ICE Director Homan have stated repeatedly, ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of national security and public safety threats; however, no class or category of alien in the United States is exempt from arrest or removal.”

The couple has a son in the U.S. Air Force and a 13-year-old daughter.”

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See Julie’s video report, which also appeared on NBC 4 locally at the link.

I have pointed out that Kelly’s once sterling reputation will end up in the trash bin unless he starts showing some backbone and standing up to the arbitrary and wasteful enforcement program espoused by the Trump White Nationalists and some (but not all) of his own agents. Good law enforcement is not just an exercise in keeping the line agents happy, any more than leading a successful military operation is just about keeping the troops happy. It’s about using limited resources wisely, humanely, and with some rational purpose in mind to achieve some legitimate strategic goal. Arbitrarily enforcing a broken and unworkable law does none of the foregoing. So far, Kelly has come up disturbingly short on almost all accounts.

PWS

07-21-17

 

Private Immigration Legislation & Change In DHS Policy Explained

http://www.ilw.com/immigrationdaily/news/20170712%20Policy%20changes.pdf

The following article prepared by CRS recently appeared in ilw.com. Nolan Rappaport was kind enough to forward it to me.

“Therefore, while private immigration bills have previously delayed an alien’s removal from the United States— sometimes indefinitely—ICE’s new policy markedly changes that established procedure. Aliens who are the beneficiaries of private immigration bills can no longer count on automatic stays of removal as their respective bills wind their way through the legislative process. Moreover, even if ICE is willing to grant a stay of removal, such a stay will be more limited in duration than in the past. Given these developments, Congress may be urged to modify its own existing rules governing the private immigration bill process to ensure that aliens seeking to benefit from such legislation receive prompt consideration by the agency of their requests to remain in the United States during that process. In addition, ICE’s change in policy may encourage some Members of Congress to work to expedite the disposition of private immigration bills in the future—potentially increasing the likelihood that some of these bills will be acted upon before the agency takes action. Congress also may consider legislative initiatives that would offer some removable aliens alternative and more practical ways to legalize their status and remain in this country.”

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Read the rest of the (short) article at the link.

PWS 07-13-17

CNN’S TAL KOPAN ON SANCTUARY CITIES: Trump Administration’s Statements Continue To Be a Goldmine Of Evidence For Opponents!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/07/politics/sanctuary-cities-trump-administration-words/index.html

Tal reports:

“Washington (CNN)The Trump administration does not shy away from tough rhetoric, and lawyers representing sanctuary cities are hoping that will come back to haunt it in court.

Attorneys representing Santa Clara County in California petitioned a federal judge late Thursday to enter a collection of statements made by members of the administration into the record in their case, saying that the administration’s public statements directly contradict what Justice Department lawyers are arguing before the court.
It’s the latest example of attorneys trying to use the public statements of the Trump administration against itself, a theme in court battles designed to try to block pieces of President Donald Trump’s agenda.
Santa Clara County is the lead plaintiff in a case challenging a piece of Trump’s January executive order on immigration that targeted sanctuary jurisdictions, a catch-all term generally used to describe states, cities and localities that do not fully cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.
The federal judge in the case in April blocked the administration from enforcing part of the order — a broad threat to take away federal funding from jurisdictions determined to be so-called sanctuaries.
The judge allowed a narrow interpretation of the threat to be enforced, hinging on a small piece of US law that requires localities to transmit immigration information about individuals to the federal government when asked. The judge said the government could withhold a small subset of federal grants related to law enforcement if cities didn’t comply with that law — a requirement already put in place as a precondition for those grants late in the Obama administration.
Despite months of statements that the administration would seek to potentially take away more grant monies for a broader range of perceived noncooperation from jurisdictions, the Justice Department in May released guidance clarifying that the narrow range of actions allowed by the federal judge were the only punishment the government intended to pursue.
After that, the Justice Department asked the court to dismiss the case, based in part on the new guidance.
But attorneys for Santa Clara County are asking the court to not buy the government’s argument, pointing to statements since the guidance that go far beyond what it says.
Attorneys are asking the judge to allow them to file an additional argument in the case, which compiles those statements.
Examples include testimony of Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting Director Thomas Homan before Congress in June, where he said the government expects “not only sharing the information, but (to) allow us access to the jails” — the latter piece of which is not required by US law. The attorneys also note that Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told Congress three days after the guidance memo: “With respect to ‘the Sanctuary Cities thing,’ he said: ‘Frankly, I don’t really know what it means. I don’t think anyone out there knows what it means.'”
The attorneys argue that because of the administration officials’ comments, the court can’t simply rely on the guidance memo from the Justice Department — accusing the administration of more than “moving the goalposts.”
“Defendants’ shifting positions, clarifications, and interpretations of the Executive Order make clear why the Court’s injunction is necessary,” the attorneys wrote. “Between counsel’s representations, the AG memorandum, relevant congressional testimony, and the President’s own statements, defendants aren’t merely moving the goalposts in this litigation; they’re switching sports entirely.”
*******************************************************
Read Tal’s complete article at the link.
Arrogance and ignorance are usually a toxic combination in litigation.
PWS
07-07-17

NO MERCY, NO JUDGEMENT, NO SANITY — “Deport ‘Em All — Create Universal Fear” (Paraphrased) Says Acting ICE Chief Homan!

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jun/13/thomas-homan-ice-chief-says-illegal-immigrants-sho/

Stephen Dinan reports in the Washington Times:

“Illegal immigrants should be living in fear of being deported, the chief of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Tuesday, pushing back against a growing sentiment among Democrats on Capitol Hill and activists across the country who have complained about agents enforcing the laws on the books.
Thomas D. Homan, acting director at ICE, said anyone in the country without authorization can be arrested and those who have been ordered deported by judges must be removed if laws are to have meaning.
His comments marked a major shift for an agency that President Obama forbade from enforcing the law when it came to more than 9 million of the country’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants. Unshackled from Mr. Obama’s strictures, agents have dramatically increased the number of arrests.
Advocacy groups are enraged and demand leniency for “traumatized” immigrants.
Mr. Homan makes no apologies.
“If you’re in this country illegally and you committed a crime by being in this country, you should be uncomfortable, you should look over your shoulder. You need to be worried,” Mr. Homan testified to the House Appropriations Committee. “No population is off the table.”

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  1. Homan’s definition of “criminal” (the “Trump definition”) is remarkable. It includes folks who have never been convicted of a crime, but might have committed one. So, by this definition, anyone who has ever driven a car while over the legal limit, left assets off of a Federal or State tax return, or tried marijuana in high school or college when it was against the law is a “criminal.” That probably would include the majority of the U.S. population, and even lots of folks who work for Homan. Fortunately for them, they aren’t subject to Homan’s arbitrary removal policies.
  2. Homan’s over-broad use of “criminal” nevertheless excludes a large portion of the undocumented population who entered the U.S. legally on visas or visa waivers and then overstayed. Recent studies estimate that the visa overstays surpassed illegal entrants as a source of undocumented arrivals in 2008 and might amount to as much as 60% of the “new” undocumented population in recent years. Overstaying is not, in and of itself, a “crime.”
  3. Some of the individuals under “final orders” of removal were ordered removed in absentia. Many of these individuals have a right to file a motion to reopen which automatically stays removal and requires immediate attention by an Immigration Judge. In my experience, because of the “haste makes waste” priorities followed by the last few Administrations, many “Notices To Appear” (NTA’s) had incorrect addresses or were otherwise were defectively served. (Keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of NTAs and Notices of Hearing Date are served by regular U.S. Mail, rather than actual personal service.) Consequently, many of these supposed “scofflaws” might not actually have had their day in court and will be entitled to a reopened individual hearing in the future.
  4. Make no mistake about it, what Homan really is advocating is arbitrary enforcement. We can’t remove millions of individuals, but by arbitrarily removing a limited number, even if they are actually benefitting the US, we can spread fear among millions. And, by sowing fear, we can make these individuals afraid to report crime or cooperate with authorities in solving crime.
  5. It’s not really Homan’s fault. His pride in his largely arbitrary use of the enforcement resources at his disposal is just the logical outcome of years of intentional neglect of needed immigration reforms by Congress and successive Administrations. Arbitrary enforcement is what the Trump Administration asked for, and Homan is giving it to them. Big time! Eventually, it’s likely to crash the entire system. And, that will finally force Congress to do what it hates most: legislate.
  6. It also would be wrong to think of Acting Director Homan as a creation of the Trump Administration. He is a career civil servant who is exceptionally good at doing what he is told to do. So good, in fact, that he received a Presidential Rank SES Award from the Obama Administration for “jacking up” removals. Don’t forget that until Trump and his bombast arrived on the scene, President Obama was known as the “Deporter-in-Chief.” Obama made mistakes, but he did temper some of his counterproductive enforcement efforts with at least some amount of mercy, common sense, and the very beginnings of a rational system of enforcement along the lines of almost every other law enforcement agency in America. With Trump, the age of “full gonzo enforcement” has returned.

PWS

06-14-17

 

TRUMP IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT POLICIES: BOON FOR DOMESTIC ABUSERS, BUST FOR VICTIMS! — Many Victims Now Fear Reporting Abuse Or Seeking Help!

http://www.self.com/story/immigration-policies-domestic-violence-survivors

Haley Goldberg reports in Self:

Over the past several months, counselors at Laura’s House domestic violence agency in Orange County, California, have seen fewer and fewer undocumented immigrants coming in to report abuse. The agency’s legal director, Adam Dodge, does not see this as a good sign. He says undocumented domestic violence victims are facing a heightened fear that if they speak out against an abuser or take legal action, they could get deported—so they’re keeping quiet.

The trend started in February, when Dodge says the agency saw a dramatic change among the roughly 80 people who come in over the course of a typical month. “We went from 40 to 45 percent of our clients being undocumented—helping them get restraining orders for themselves and their children—to nearly zero,” he tells SELF.

Dodge says Laura’s House—which provides vital services like emergency shelter, counseling, and legal aid to survivors of domestic violence—first noticed a decrease in undocumented immigrant clients after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents detained an undocumented domestic violence survivor on Feb. 9, in El Paso, Texas, when she was in court filing a protective order against her alleged abuser. “That just spread like wildfire through the undocumented community across the United States and created this chilling effect where no one’s going in to seek restraining orders,” Dodge says. “People are just so scared of having their name in any system. We can’t tell them with any certainty that they won’t get picked up by ICE if they come to court.”

In the first few months following the El Paso incident, he says only one openly undocumented survivor came to their agency. Her situation was grave. “She thought she was going to die if she stayed in the relationship,” Dodge says. “She said she was willing to risk deportation to get a restraining order.” Now, the agency has seen a slight increase to one or two undocumented clients each week—but it’s still well below the norm. “The situation is still very dire,” he says.

El Paso was an early and powerful example of how ramped up ICE activity, spurred by President Trump’s aggressive and expansive new rules on immigration, can have a devastating impact on immigrants living in the U.S. without documentation. In February, the President issued new immigration policies, calling for the deportation of illegal immigrants even if they haven’t been formally convicted of a crime and an increase in ICE resources. In March, a video surfaced showing ICE officers poised to make an arrest at a Denver courthouse, a place where victims of domestic violence also appear when their cases go to court. NPR reported that after the video came out, four women dropped domestic violence cases in Denver, fearing they’d be spotted at the courthouse and deported.

When incidents like these happen, experts say the news—and fear of deportation—spreads, affecting how many survivors come forward. At the end of March, reports of sexual assault in Los Angeles had dropped 25 percent among the Latino population and reports of domestic violence had fallen 10 percent among the community compared to the previous year. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said similar decreases in reports weren’t seen in any other ethnic groups, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Ruth Glenn, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, tells SELF the perception of how survivors are treated matters—and it can affect how undocumented immigrants proceed if they find themselves in an abusive situation. “If you have a case and you’re thinking about going forward, and then this environment that we’re in right now does not seem supportive, then you’re not going to follow through,” Glenn says. “It’s very disturbing.”

Critics of the administration’s treatment of undocumented survivors sounded an alarm in May, when it was discovered that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s new Victim Information and Notification Exchange—an online database created to track when criminals are released from or into ICE custody—publicly listed the names and detainment location of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking who’ve applied to stay legally in the U.S. on special protective visas. DHS is prohibited from releasing identifying information about immigrants seeking these protections because of the dangers it poses to them. The Tahirih Justice Center, a nonprofit that serves immigrant women and girls, first contacted the DHS about the issue on May 12. As of the May 25, the organization said the names of abuse victims were still searchable in the database. In response to the uproar, an ICE spokesman told BuzzFeed News they were working to “correct” and “prevent” any non-releasable information disclosed on the site.”

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Read the complete story at the link.

While the Trump Administration has turned the VOICE Program for victims of crime committed by undocumented aliens into a big showpiece, they have basically declared an “open season” on undocumented victims of crime. Years of hard work by local police and social agencies to get the undocumented community its to report crimes, help in solving them, and seek appropriate victim assistance are going down the drain. And, I suspect that once lost, that trust will be difficult, if not impossible to regain.

At the same time, by discouraging individuals from reporting crime, I suppose the Administration can achieve fake “reduction in crime” stats resulting from its enforcement efforts.

PWS

06-03-17

Administration’s Enforcement Policies: More Arrests, Fewer Removals — Backlogs Grow!

https://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2017/05/under-trump-immigrants-arrests-are-up-but-deportation-is-down/527103/

Aria Bendix reports in The Atlantic:

“Notably, Trump’s second executive order also expands the number of undocumented immigrants who are considered “priorities for removal.” Under the new legislation, any undocumented immigrant who poses a “risk to public safety or national security” qualifies as a priority. This marks a significant departure from the Obama administration, which designated immigrants convicted of serious crimes—including gang members, convicted felons, or those convicted of multiple misdemeanors—as priorities. In January, the president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association called Trump’s plan “a blueprint for mass deportation”—a claim both the White House and the Department of Homeland Security have denounced.

In February, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly released two memos describing how Trump’s executive orders would be enforced in the U.S. According to Wednesday’s ICE report, Kelly “has made it clear that ICE will no longer exempt any class of individuals from removal proceedings if they are found to be in the country illegally.” Despite these new security measures, Homan told reporters that deportations have actually declined by 12 percent under the Trump administration. This is because more undocumented immigrants are being arrested in the interior of the country rather than along the border. As a result, they often face lengthy hearings in the nation’s immigration court system.”

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Doesn’t seem like increasing Immigration Court backlogs is sound enforcement policy. But, other reports suggest that the FEAR strategy is prompting undocumented residents to leave the US. So, perhaps from that standpoint it is succeeding.

ICE Gets Jollies By Busting More Non-Criminals, Adding to Immigration Court Backlogs!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration-arrests-up-during-trump/2017/05/17/74399a04-3b12-11e7-9e48-c4f199710b69_story.html

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

“Federal immigration agents are arresting more than 400 immigrants a day, a sharp leap from last year that reflects one of President Trump’s most far-reaching campaign promises.

In Trump’s first 100 days in office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 41,318 immigrants, up 37.6 percent over the same period last year, the agency said Wednesday. Almost 3 out of 4 of those arrested have criminal records, including gang members and fugitives wanted for murder. But the biggest increase by far is among immigrants with no criminal records.

“This administration is fully implementing its mass-deportation agenda,” said Gregory Chen, government relations director for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “They’re going after people who have lived here for a long time.”

. . . .

Acting ICE director Thomas Homan said the statistics released Wednesday show that agents still prioritize lawbreakers: 30,473 criminals were arrested from Jan. 22 to April 29, an 18 percent increase from the same period in 2016.

Meanwhile, arrests of immigrants with no criminal records more than doubled to nearly 11,000, the fastest-growing category by far.

“Will the number of noncriminal arrests and removals increase this year? Absolutely,” Homan said. “That’s enforcing the laws that are on the books.”

What is less clear is what is happening to the immigrants who are being taken into custody.

Overall, deportations have fallen about 12 percent this year, to about 56,315 people, which Homan attributed to a severe backlog in federal immigration courts. He also said it can take longer to deport criminals than those without criminal records, because those in the former category may have additional court proceedings. The Trump administration has called for additional immigration judges and detention space to speed deportations.

Homan did not say how many of the 41,318 people whose arrests were announced Wednesday have been deported, remain in custody or have been released.

Unlike criminal arrests, records of immigration arrests — which are considered civil violations — are not publicly accessible.

The secrecy allows immigration officials to pick and choose which examples of their work to highlight. On Wednesday, they said the immigrants arrested since Trump’s executive order include Estivan Rafael Marques Velasquez, an alleged MS-13 gang member from El Salvador captured in New York in February; Juan Antonio Melchor Molina, a fugitive wanted for a 2008 murder in Mexico who was arrested last month in Dallas; and William Magana-Contreras, another reputed MS-13 member arrested in Houston last month. Magana-Contreras is wanted for aggravated homicide in El Salvador, officials said.

Some advocates questioned whether ICE is truly prioritizing the most serious criminals.

Parastoo Zahedi, an immigration lawyer in Virginia, said ICE is actively trying to deport one of her clients to Italy because of a conviction for possession of a small amount of marijuana. He has lived in the United States nearly all his life.

“It’s not criminal aliens,” Zahedi said. “It’s anyone that they can catch.”

Ava Benach, a D.C. immigration lawyer, said ICE agents are “empowered, emboldened and . . . eager to enforce the law aggressively.”

Advocates also questioned the wisdom of arresting thousands more immigrants — especially those who pose no known public safety threat — when immigration courts are severely backlogged. But Homan said that is the agency’s job.

. . . .

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Let’s put this in plain language.  We have a law that doesn’t work, and a system that is broken. There are an estimated 11 million undocumented individuals residing in the U.S. Most of them work, pay taxes (in some form), and contribute to the economy. Many have immediate relatives who are US citizens or otherwise in the country legally.

Because everyone can’t possibly be removed, the “unfocused” enforcement advocated by Homan on behalf of the Trump Administration turns out to be highly if not completely arbitrary. In most cases of those without serious criminal records, removal would be a net loss to our country.

Moreover, the Administration has reassigned U.S. Immigration Judges away from their regular dockets to work on detained cases, which, understandably, are the highest priority. By mindlessly “jacking up” the detained docket, the Administration  guarantees that backlogs will continue to build on the “non-detained” dockets.

The Immigration Courts now have a backlog approaching 600,000, and it continues to grow by leaps and bounds even though there are more Immigration Judges on duty now than in past years and productivity has remained constant over the past few years (although Immigration Judges still complete multiples of what other similarly situated Federal Judges do, and far more cases than the
“ideal”). This is because of the “Aimless Docket Reshuffling” — ADR — foisted on the Immigration Courts by the past two Administrations.

While, at the very end of the Obama Administration ICE was making some progress toward smarter, more focused use of enforcement resources, which took into account the finite limits of Immigration Court dockets, the Trump Administration has returned to a policy of random irrational enforcement. They have also limited the discretion of individual ICE Assistant Chief Counsel to exercise discretion to get what should be “low priority” cases off the docket — in other words, to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” — “PD” — as other prosecutors do.

PWS

05-17-17