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

HELP TEMPLE LAW STUDENTS & THE WASHINGTON OFFICE ON LATIN AMERICA (“WOLA”) DEVELOP BETTER COUNTRY INFORMATION ON THE NORTHERN TRIANGLE TO SUPPORT ASYLUM APPLICATIONS! — Take This Very Short Survey!

Dear Asylum Lawyer,

We are  students seeking your feedback on a project we are working on with the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) to support asylum claims from the Northern Triangle.  We aim to provide asylum lawyers with country conditions information tailored to specific issues that arise commonly in cases from the Northern Triangle but lack sufficient easily accessible factual support.This is where you come in.  We need your advice to determine which issues and countries we should prioritize in our efforts.  To that end, we’d be grateful if you could complete this survey, which should take approximately 5 minutes of your time: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TLSWOLA.  We’d appreciate your feedback at your earliest convenience, and ideally by February 25.

Please contact us at templelaw.asylum.project@gmail.com with any questions about this survey.  Thank you very much for your valuable time and input into this project. We appreciate your assistance!

Kindest regards,

Shannon McGuire and Jasper Katz
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Many thanks to Shannon, Jasper, and their colleagues for undertaking this really important and timely project. It’s even more necessary because of the recent announcement that the State Department will “tank” on various aspects of women’s rights in newly propagandized so-called Country Reports.
The good news is that the field should now be “wide open” for more objective and unbiased information to replace Country Reports as the primary source of human rights and country background information in asylum cases.
But, it’s going to take some great research and persuasive arguments to get judges “off” their traditional (probably over) reliance on the Country Reports. Once discredited, however, the Country Reports are unlikely to ever regain their “privileged position” in the hierarchy of country information.  Actually, a pretty dumb move on the part of the Trumpsters. But, perhaps something that will benefit the system in the long run by leading to use of better and more reliable sources of information.
The survey takes no more than five (5) minutes to complete.
PWS
02-23-18

NO LONGER THE GOLD STANDARD: ONCE RESPECTED USDOS “COUNTRY REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS” WILL NOW BE RIGHT-WING PROPAGANDA SHEETS — WOMEN’S REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS, RACIAL, SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION NO LONGER MAJOR CONCERNS — Will Advocates Be Prepared With Credible Alternatives & To Prove Administration’s Anti-Human-Rights Bias In Court?

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/state-department-womens-reproductive-rights_us_5a8eeb5ce4b0746ba2acef1e

Laura Bassett reports for HuffPost

“NEW YORK― President Donald Trump’s State Department has been ordered to strip language about women’s reproductive rights from its annual global human rights report, Politico reported on Thursday.

The report, compiled each year with information from U.S. embassies around the world, typically details the lack of contraception and abortion access in various countries and sheds light on racial and sexual discrimination.

This year, a senior aide to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has reportedly directed the department to remove much of that information from the document. The new report will focus instead on forced sterilization and abortions, and the “Reproductive Rights” subsection in the report will be renamed “Coercion in Population Control.”

The section on racial and sexual discrimination will be pared down, according to the Politico story.

The move follows a string of attempts by the Trump administration to de-prioritize women’s rights and roll back women’s access to contraception and abortion around the world.

“This development is a transparent attempt by the Trump administration to not only deprioritize reproductive rights, but effectively erase them from the broader conversation on human rights,” said Tarah Demant, director of gender, sexuality, and identity at Amnesty International USA.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the department is “better focusing some sections of the report for clarity,” and sharpening it to spotlight “the most egregious issues.”

The administration’s proposed budget for the 2019 fiscal year, released earlier this month, would cut nearly $2.5 billion from the Global Health Programs Account, slashing global family planning funding by half.

Trump also reinstated and massively expanded the Global Gag Rule, restricting $8.8 billion in U.S. foreign aid funding for international health programs that provide or even mention abortion services. And he defunded the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a global maternal health organization that provides contraception and pregnancy care to low-income women in 150 countries.

Girls aren’t able to get contraception, and they’re starting to come back pregnant, suicidal, bereftLisa Shannon, a global women’s rights advocate who works with reproductive health clinics in East Africa.

Women’s health workers around the world are already seeing the effects of Trump’s policies on women and girls, who are seeking dangerous and sometimes deadly back-alley abortions as family planning clinics are forced to shut down. Unsafe abortion is a leading cause of maternal mortality globally.

“Girls aren’t able to get contraception, and they’re starting to come back pregnant, suicidal, bereft,” said Lisa Shannon, a global women’s rights advocate who works with reproductive health clinics in East Africa. “They’re desperate, and they’ll do whatever it takes.”

Stripping language about reproductive rights from the U.S. government’s annual report is more than symbolic. Because the U.S. is the largest donor to women’s health groups in the world, effectively holding the purse strings for many non-profits and international organizations, any move the administration makes on the issue can have a chilling effect on contraception and abortion access in developing countries.

Brian Dixon, a spokesman for Population Connection, said the State Department is using the report “to provide cover to violations of women’s fundamental human rights rather than to provide a tool for accountability.”

“Denial of care isn’t ― as Trump and [Vice President Mike] Pence would have it ― an act of faith; it’s an act of violence,” he told HuffPost. “And the refusal to acknowledge that in a report created to hold autocrats and oppressors accountable is just disgraceful.”

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Advocates for women asylum seekers are going to have to fight the Trumpsters every inch of the way! In the end, abandoning an honest, largely objective approach to human rights will be costly to the US, as we continue to sink toward “Third World” status.  The full ugliness of “Trumpism” and a White Nationalist, largely misogynistic agenda are coming into focus. And, as I have pointed out in other areas, once the Country Reports lose credibility, it probably never will be regained.

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

 

 

PRO BONO LAWYERS SAY CHANGES IN EOIR POLICIES IN NEW YORK SHAFT CHILDREN NEEDING REPRESENTATION IN COURT!

NYC’s Immigration Court Erodes Accommodations for Children Without Attorneys

David Brand reports for CityLife.org;

. . . .

Thousands of other undocumented immigrant children never get a lawyer and continue to experience that fear and uncertainty during deportation proceedings. Others choose to avoid court, exposing themselves to in-absentia removal orders.

Over the past few months, finding legal representation has become even more challenging for immigrant children in New York City because Manhattan’s federal immigration court has eroded several of the practices and provisions designed to help children connect with nonprofit and pro bono attorneys inside the courthouse, say four lawyers who direct programs that connect with unrepresented children at 26 Federal Plaza.

Legal Aid Society’s Immigrant Youth Project supervising attorney Beth Krause says the changes have led to fewer children getting legal representation and will likely doom more children to deportation — even if their situations or experiences merit asylum, protected status or visa eligibility.

“What this means is there are many, many children who are not getting consultation with a lawyer and many kids who do have relief available but, if they don’t talk to a lawyer, might not know it and give up,” Krause says.

Though children have no legal right to government-funded counsel in immigration court — a reality reaffirmed by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in late-January — New York City’s court used to provide some accommodations to help children find attorneys. The court consolidated the juvenile docket on specific days and assigned the cases to specific judges with experience presiding over children’s proceedings.

The court also shared docket information with nonprofits like New York Law School’s Safe Passage Project, Catholic Charities, Legal Aid, The Door and other Immigrant Child Advocates Relief Effort (ICARE) participants and permitted the organizations to meet with children in empty courtrooms or other spaces.

These provisions enabled children to access free legal counsel because the organizations knew how many unrepresented children would appear at court and when their case would be called. The accommodations also facilitated more efficient courtrooms — especially on days when a judge’s docket includes dozens of cases — because lawyers could prepare their young clients for court and guide them through proceedings.

Gradually, however, the court has scattered children’s proceedings throughout the month and assigned the cases to various judges who are at times unfamiliar with child-friendly practices or special legal provisions granted to children, such as longer filing deadlines, say Krause, Safe Passage Project Director Lenni Benson, Catholic Charities Supervising Attorney Jodi Ziesemer and The Door’s Director of Legal Services Eve Stotland.

The court has even prevented the nonprofit organizations from screening children inside empty courtrooms or other spaces throughout the building, the four attorneys say.

. . . .

 

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

Read the complete article at the link.

This is the “New EOIR,” where “customer service” has become a dirty word!  Anti-Due Process, Anti-Child, Anti-Lawyer, Anti-Asylum, ungrateful to those who are trying against all odds to provide fair hearings to those caught up in our totally screwed up and grotesquely mal-administered Immigration Courts.

EOIR has basically come “full circle.” Unfortunately, it now replicates some of the worst features of the “Legacy INS’s” administration of the courts that led to the creation of EOIR in the first place.

One long-time pro bono stalwart told me she actually had tears of rage in her eyes over the disrespectful treatment she and her colleagues received while trying to provide pro bono assistance at one local Immigration Court. “I’ve been doing this for years. It’s in addition to my other two full-time jobs. It costs me money to provide pro bono. Now this — no cooperation, no appreciation. I’m trying to help EOIR avoid gross injustices. And, they just put BS bureaucratic roadblocks in the way. I’m so angry!”

We need an independent, Due-Process-focused Article I U.S. Immigration Court!

PWS

01-21-18

 

 

 

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.

10

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

 

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.

\

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

 

JAMES HOHMANN @ WASHPOST DAILY 202 — TRUMP, GOP DON’T APPEAR SERIOUS ABOUT PROTECTING DREAMERS OR IMMIGRATION REFORM — RATHER, SEEK WAYS TO ADVANCE INTENTIONALLY DIVISIVE, RACIALLY BIASED, “FACT-FREE” WHITE NATIONALIST AGENDA! — Plus, My Point By Point Analysis Of Why The Democrats Should “Hang Tough” On A Dreamer Deal!

Hohmann reports:

THE BIG IDEA: Democrats are so eager to shield young foreign-born “dreamers” from deportation that they’re now offering to make compromises that would have been hard to imagine a year ago. Republicans, who feel like they have them over the barrel, are demanding more.

Showing his pragmatic side, for instance, Bernie Sanders says he’s willing to pony up big for border security if that’s what it takes. “I would go much further than I think is right,” the Vermont senator said in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “Unwillingly. Unhappily. I think it’s a stupid thing to do. But we have to protect the dreamers. … I’m willing to make some painful concessions.”

Sanders said a wall is still a “totally absurd idea” and that there are better ways to secure the border with Mexico, but he also emphasized that there will be “a horrible moral stain” on the country if President Trump goes through with his order to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program next month.

— Anti-immigration hardliners are staking out a firm position because most of them are not actually concerned about the plight of the dreamers. They have never thought these young people, whose undocumented parents brought them to the United States as children, should be here anyway. They agitated for Trump to end the program.

This means they’ll be fine if no bill passes, and they know that gives them way more leverage to demand wholesale changes to the entire legal immigration system. “The president’s framework bill is not an opening bid for negotiations. It’s a best and final offer,” said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who has emerged as the leader of this group in the Senate. He made this comment yesterday on “Fox and Friends,” knowing the president watches. Sure enough, Trump echoed the same talking point on Twitter, calling this the “last chance” for action.

— Mitch McConnell wants to use this week’s immigration debate to force show votes that can be used to embarrass vulnerable Democratic senators from red states. For example, the majority leader introduced a measure yesterday that would penalize so-called sanctuary cities for not cooperating with federal immigration laws. This issue tests well in polls and focus groups in most of the 10 states Trump carried in 2016 where a Democrat is now up for reelection. GOP insiders on the Hill say that McConnell is mainly focused on doing whatever it takes to protect his majority now that 2018 has arrived, and he has a narrower majority after the loss in Alabama.

— Democrats stuck together to block the Senate from taking up the poison pill on sanctuary cities, but the fact that the debate has so quickly devolved into a fight over process offered another data point – if for some reason you needed one – of how dysfunctional the Senate has become.

Trump urges senators to back his immigration proposal

— “Most Republicans on Tuesday appeared to be rallying behind a proposal by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and six other GOP senators that fulfills Trump’s calls to legalize 1.8 million dreamers, immediately authorizes spending at least $25 billion to bolster defenses along the U.S.-Mexico border, makes changes to family-based legal immigration programs and ends a diversity lottery system used by immigrants from smaller countries,” Ed O’Keefe reports. Senate Minority Leader Chuck “Schumer said the Grassley plan unfairly targets family-based immigration and that making such broad changes as part of a plan to legalize just a few million people ‘makes no sense.’

In a bid to soften Trump’s proposals and win over Democrats, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) unveiled a watered-down version of the GOP proposal — but had not won support from members of either party by late Tuesday. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a longtime proponent of comprehensive immigration changes, said the Grassley proposal should be the focus of the Senate’s debate. … Schumer and other Democrats, meanwhile, voiced support for a plan by Sens. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would grant legal status to dreamers in the country since 2013 but would not immediately authorize money to build out southern border walls and fencing.”

— Democrats would like to pass a narrow bill that only protects DACA recipients, but they know that’s not possible with Republicans in control of Congress and the presidency. To get the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster, they’re conceding on at least some of Trump’s demands related to security. Sanders said there are between 55 to 57 votes for a compromise that would save the dreamers and fund border protections. “We are scrambling now for three to five more votes,” he said.

— The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. to continue debate, as negotiations behind the scenes continue. Somewhat counterintuitively, conservative hardliners believe that Latinos will be less likely to turn out this November if nothing passes in Congress because activists will blame Democrats for not delivering.

Bernie Sanders heads to a Democratic caucus meeting in the Capitol. (Oliver Contreras for The Washington Post)

Bernie Sanders heads to a Democratic caucus meeting in the Capitol. (Oliver Contreras for The Washington Post)

— Despite concerted efforts by Trump and McConnell to drive a wedge through the Democratic caucus, there remains a remarkable degree of unity. This highlights how much the terms of the immigration debate have shifted over the past decade. Every Democrat in Congress now wants to protect DACA recipients. It wasn’t always this way. The House passed a Dream Act in 2010 that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to apply for citizenship if they entered the United States as children, graduated from high school or got an equivalent degree, and had been in the United States for at least five years. Five moderate Democrats in the Senate voted no. If each of them had supported it, the bill would have become law, and DACA would have been unnecessary. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) is the only one of those five Democrats still left. (The others retired or lost.) Now Tester speaks out against the president’s decision to end DACA. (I explored this dynamic in-depth last September.)

Sanders marveled during our interview at how much the polling has shifted in recent years toward protecting dreamers, with some public surveys showing that as many 90 percent of Americans don’t think they should be deported. The share who think they should also have a pathway to become U.S. citizens has also risen. “If we talked a year or two ago, I’m not sure I would have thought that would be possible,” he said.

Hillary Clinton relentlessly attacked Bernie during the debates in 2016 for voting to kill comprehensive immigration reform in 2007. Sanders – working closely with some of the leading unions – expressed concern back then that the bill would drive down wages for native-born workers by flooding the labor market with cheap foreign workers. This position caused him problems with Hispanics during his presidential bid.

Sanders rejects the idea that his views have changed since 2007, and he still defends his 11-year-old vote. He noted that the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) opposed that bill, as did the Southern Poverty Law Center, because it included a guest worker program that was “akin to slavery.” He said he remains just as concerned about guest worker programs as he was back then, but that he’s always favored a comprehensive solution that includes legal protections for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants who live here. “You can say you support immigration reform, but obviously the devil is in the details on what that means,” the senator explained. “I stood with progressive organizations who said you don’t want to bring indentured servitude.”

Sanders criticized a guest worker program in his home state that allows resorts to hire ski instructors from Europe instead of native Vermonters. “Now do you not think we can find young people in Vermont who know how to ski and snowboard? But if you go to some of the resorts, that’s what you would find,” he said. “When I was a kid, we worked at summer jobs to help pay for college. … So I think we want to take a hard look at guest worker programs. Some of them remain very unfair.”

— After coming surprisingly close to toppling Clinton and winning the Democratic nomination two years ago, Sanders is at or near the top of the pack in every poll of potential 2020 primary match-ups. He’s going to Des Moines next Friday for a rally with congressional candidate Pete D’Alessandro, his first visit to Iowa this year. Sanders will also go to Wisconsin for Randy Bryce, who is running against Speaker Paul Ryan, and Illinois, where he’ll boost Chuy Garcia’s bid for retiring Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s open seat. A few weeks after that, he plans a tour of the Southwest. “I’m going to do everything I can to help people in 2018,” Sanders said.

Lobbying for their lives

— Republicans have gone the other direction. Before Trump came on the scene, the party was divided but GOP elites agreed that, for the long-term survival of the party, they needed to embrace more inclusive policies. Losses in 2012 prompted many Senate Republicans to endorse a comprehensive bill the next year (Sanders voted for it too), but the legislation was doomed in the House after Majority Leader Eric Cantor went down in a Virginia primary partly because of his perceived softness on the issue.

Elected Republicans used to insist adamantly that they were not anti-immigration but anti-illegal immigration. That’s changed. At the behest of Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Republicans are rallying around the idea of dramatic reductions in legal immigration. Two years ago, this was an extreme idea that most GOP senators would have quickly distanced themselves from. Now it’s considered mainstream and the centerpiece of the bill that McConnell has rallied his members behind.

To put it in perspective: By cutting the rate of legal immigration, Trump’s proposal – codified in Grassley’s bill — would delay the date that white Americans become a minority of the population by as many as five additional years, according to expert analysis.

“What’s very sad, but not unusual given the moment we’re living in, is that Republicans are more concerned about their right-wing, extremist, xenophobic base,” said Sanders. “You would think that, with 85 to 90 percent of people supporting protections for the dreamers, that it would not take a profile in courage to pass legislation to protect them.”

Kelly: ‘Dreamers’ who didn’t sign up for DACA were ‘too afraid’ or ‘too lazy’

— A dual-track fight over DACA is playing out in the courts. A federal judge in New York issued a preliminary injunction last night that keeps the program alive beyond Trump’s March 5 deadline so that legal challenges can play out. “A federal judge in California has issued a similar injunction, and the Supreme Court is expected this week to consider whether it will take up the fight over DACA,” Matt Zapotosky reports.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis recognized that Trump “indisputably” has the authority to end the program put in place by Barack Obama, but he also called the administration’s arguments that DACA was unconstitutional and illegal under federal law flimsy. “Because that conclusion was erroneous, the decision to end the DACA program cannot stand,” he wrote.

— Happy Valentine’s Day. Don’t forget to get a gift.

— What I’m especially excited about this morning is baseball. Pitchers and catchers are reporting for spring tr

Listen to James’s quick summary of today’s Big Idea and the headlines you need to know to start your day:

 

 

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Contrary to most of the “chatter,” I think that the Dreamers and the Democrats have the upper hand in this one. I’ll tell you why below!

A “border security package,” could involve the Wall, technology and much needed management improvements at DHS (but certainly no additional detention money — stop the “New American Gulag” — or personnel for the Border Patrol until they full current vacancies and account for how they are currently are deploying agents).

Beyond that, the Dems probably could agree to a reallocation of diversity and some preference visas while maintaining current legal immigration levels. Cutting legal immigration levels, eliminating family immigration, or authorizing further denials of due process (the totally bogus and essentially evil claim that the current already inadequate protections for children and other vulnerable migrant’s are “loopholes”) should be “non-starters.”

If they can’t get the deal they want, the Dems can walk away and still win for the Dreamers in the long run. Here is why:

  • I doubt that Trump would actually veto a compromise bill passed by both Houses that protected Dreamers without his full “Four Pillars of White Nationalism” program.
    • If he does, any Democrat who can’t make Trump and the GOP pay for such a dumb move in the next election cycle doesn’t deserve to be a Democrat.
    • The “full Dreamer protection” trade for border security with no other changes should be a “no brainer.” If Trump or the GOP “tank” it over the restrictionist agenda, the Democrats should be able to make them pay at the polls.
  • Right now, the Administration is under two injunctions halting the repeal of the “core DACA” program.
    • If the Supremes don’t intervene, that issue could be tied up in the lower Federal Courts for years.
      • It’s very clear that the Administration’s current position is ultimately a loser before the lower Federal Courts.
      • If the Administration tries to “short-circuit” the process by going through APA to promulgate a regulation to terminate DACA, that process also is likely to be successfully challenged in the Federal Courts.
        • The so-called “legal rationale” that Sessions has invoked for ending DACA has literally been “laughed out of court.”
        • Trump himself has said that there is really no reason to remove Dreamers from the U.S.
        • So, on  the merits, an attempt to terminate DACA by regulation probably would be held “without any legal or rational basis” by the lower Federal Courts.
  • Even if the Supremes give the “green light” to terminate DACA, most “Dreamers” by now have plausible cases for other forms of relief.
    • Many DACA recipients have never been in removal proceedings. If they have been here for at least 10 years, have clean criminal backgrounds, and have spouses or children who are U.S. citizens they can apply for “cancellation of removal.”
    • “Former DACA” recipients appear to be a “particular social group” for asylum and withholding of removal purposes. They are “particularized,  the characteristic of having DACA revoked is “immutable,” and they are highly “socially distinct.”  Many of them come from countries with abysmal human rights records and ongoing, directed violence. They therefore would have plausible asylum or withholding claims, or claims under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”).
    • If ICE tries to use information voluntarily given by the Dreamers during the application process to establish removability or for any other adverse reason, that is likely to provoke a challenge that will be successful in at least some lower Federal Courts.
  • Safety in numbers.
    • There is nothing that Trump, Sessions, and the DHS can actually do to remove 700,000+ Dreamers.
    • The U.S. Immigration Courts are backed up for years, with nearly 700,000 already pending cases! Sessions is doing everything he can to make the backlog even worse. Dreamers will go to the “end of the line.”
    • Sure Sessions would like to speed up the deportation “assembly line” (a/k/a “The Deportation Railway”).
      • But, his boneheaded and transparently unfair attempts to do that are highly likely to cause “big time” pushback from the Federal Courts and actually “tie up” the entire system — not just “Dreamers.”
      • The last time the DOJ tied to mindlessly accelerate the process, under AG John Ashcroft, the Courts of Appeals remanded defective deportation orders by the basket-load for various due process and legal violations — many with stinging published opinions.
        • Finally, even former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez (“Gonzo I”), hardly a “Due Process Junkie” had enough and slowed down the train. It took years for the “haste makes waste” Circuit Court remands to work their way back through the system. Some might still be hanging around.
      • Because the GOP White Nationalists and Trump read off of “restrictionist cue cards” that don’t take account of the law, facts, or history, the Dems should have a huge advantage here if and when individual “Dreamer” removal cases get to the Federal Courts.
    • Each “Dreamer removal case” should present the Democrats with excellent example of the cruelty, stupidity, and total wastefulness of the Trump/Sessions/DHS enforcement policies. Wasting money to “Make America Worse.” Come on, man!
    • Bottom Line: Trump and Sessions have created a “false Dreamer emergency” that they can’t escape without some help from the Democrats. If the Democrats see an opportunity to make a “good deal” for the Dreamers, they should take it. But, they shouldn’t trade the Dreamers for the harmful White Nationalist restrictionist agenda! Eventually, the problem will be solved in a way that is favorable for most Dreamers, regardless of what the White Nationalists threaten right now. The Dreamers might just have to hang on longer until we get at least some degree of “regime change.”

PWS

02-13-18

ON SATURDAY, “COURTSIDE” & SLATE’S JEREMY STAHL GAVE YOU THE “REAL LOWDOWN” ON AAG RACHEL BRAND’S “FLIGHT FROM JUSTICE!” — Two Days Later, NBC News Confirms What We Already Said!

Here’s a link to the prior blog on immigrationcourtside.com:

https://wp.me/p8eeJm-26R

Here’s the NBC report by one of my favorite Washington reporters, Julia Edwards Ainsley:

http://nbcnews.to/2CfKuHi

Julia reports:

“WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s No. 3 attorney had been unhappy with her job for months before the department announced her departure on Friday, according to multiple sources close to Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand.

Brand grew frustrated by vacancies at the department and feared she would be asked to oversee the Russia investigation, the sources said.

She will be leaving the Justice Department in the coming weeks to take a position with Walmart as the company’s executive vice president of global governance and corporate secretary, a job change that had been in the works for some time, the sources said.

Sources: Brand left DOJ over fear of overseeing Russia probe 3:40

As far back as last fall, Brand had expressed to friends that she felt overwhelmed and unsupported in her job, especially as many key positions under her jurisdiction had still not been filled with permanent, Senate-confirmed officials.

Four of the 13 divisions overseen by the associate attorney general remain unfilled, including the civil rights division and the civil division, over one year into the Trump administration.

While Brand has largely stayed out of the spotlight, public criticism of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein by President Donald Trump worried Brand that Rosenstein’s job could be in danger.

Should Rosenstein be fired, Brand would be next in line to oversee Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, thrusting her into a political spotlight that Brand told friends she did not want to enter.

The Justice Department pushed back on NBC’s report.

“It is clear these anonymous sources have never met Rachel Brand let alone know her thinking. All of this is false and frankly ridiculous,” said Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Flores.

Brand has had a long legal career that has spanned several administrations, including under Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican George W. Bush.

In announcing her departure, Attorney General Jeff Sessions described Brand as “a lawyer’s lawyer,” noting that she graduated from Harvard Law School and clerked at the Supreme Court.

In the same statement, Brand said, “I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish over my time here.”

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Undoubtedly, the DOJ under Trump and Sessions has made some great strides in attacking the rule of law, undermining social justice, mal-administering the Immigration Courts, eroding the credibility of DOJ attorneys in court, and generally diminishing the quality and fairness of the justice system in the United States.

While those might give Rachel “bragging rights” over at Wal-Mart or in right-wing legal circles, I don’t see that they are anything to “write home about.”  Hopefully, at some point in the future, having served as a politico in the Trump/Sessions DOJ will become a “career killer” for any future Government appointments.

But, in today’s topsy-turvy legal-political climate, it’s still a shrewd “self-preservation” move on Brand’s part. And, she’s somewhat less likely to be stomping on anyone’s civil rights over at Wal-Mart (although you never know when an opportunity to dump on the civil rights of the  LGBTQ community, African-Americans, Latinos, immigrants, women, the poor, or to promote religious intelerance might present itself in a corporate setting).

Looking forward to more DOJ reporting from the super-talented Julia! I’ve missed her on the “immigration beat!”

PWS

02-12-18