Musings on Events in U.S. Immigration Court, Immigration Law, Sports, and Other Random Topics by Retired United States Immigration Judge (Arlington, Virginia) and former Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals Paul Wickham Schmidt. To see my complete professional bio, just click on the link below.
Category: Office of Immigration Litigation (“OIL”)
I’ll be on two local radio shows hosted by Richmond Attorney Pablo Fantl tomorrow.
Both are am radio stations, and are available online. They also will broadcast on Facebook Live, and will be available in the archives afterwards. I will post links on immigrationcourtside.com once the recordings are available.
These are programs directed at informing the Hispanic community in Richmond. Although I’m not bilingual, Pablo has promised excellent interpretation services. And, gosh knows, I’m pretty used to being translated into many languages from my days on the immigration bench.
Since taking office, President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been trying illegally to strong-arm law enforcement agencies across the country into colluding with the Department of Homeland Security’s mass deportation agenda. But the courts have blocked them every step of the way.
President Trump took his first shot across the bow just a few days after inauguration. A single provision buried in Executive Order 13768 threatened to cut off all federal funds to so-called sanctuary cities. The provision was broad and undefined. It appeared to target jurisdictions that have adopted a range of lawful and sensible law-enforcement policies.
A federal court in California quickly put the executive order’s provision on hold. And last Monday, after months of hearings, the court permanently blocked the unconstitutional provision, ruling that it violated separation of powers, the Constitution’s Spending Clause, and the Tenth Amendment. The court also ruled that the provision was unconstitutionally vague. The judge in the case wrote that “[f]ederal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the President disapproves.” The government has appealed this case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but for the time being, the president cannot carry out his threat.
Attorney General Sessions tried another way to coerce local governments into adopting anti-immigrant policies. His strategy was to attach new conditions to existing federal law enforcement grants. In July, he announced that recipients of Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) funds, which support a wide range of local programs including indigent defense, crime prevention, and drug treatment, would henceforth be required to allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to enter jails to interrogate inmates and provide 48 hours’ notice of an inmate’s release date if ICE requests it.In September, a federal court in Chicago blocked these conditions nationwide, ruling that the Justice Department had no authority to impose new requirements on the grant money – that’s the job of Congress. Again, the Trump administration has appealed to the Seventh Circuit. Earlier this month, a federal court in Philadelphia also ruled that these new conditions are illegal.Not to be discouraged, Sessions tried the same tactic with a different pot of Justice Department money. In September, he announced that applicants for Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office grants would receive preferential consideration if they cooperated with ICE’s interrogation and notification demands. Last week, the Justice Department announced more than $98 million in COPS grants to hire 802 new full-time law enforcement officers across the country — and claimed that 80 percent of the grantees had agreed to cooperate with the feds on immigration enforcement. COPS funds are intended to help build trust between communities and law enforcement. Instead, Sessions is trying to incentivize police departments to do the exact opposite – discouraging immigrants from contacting the police if they are victims or witnesses to a crime, for fear that they or their family members might be detained and deported.
And sometimes Sessions resorts to naked threats. Since August, the Justice Department has sent at least two rounds of letters to states and local jurisdictions it deems to have insufficient immigration policies. The letters are impressive in their desperation, proposing a new and expansive interpretation of federal law that would strip Byrne JAG funds from almost any local law enforcement agency that limits entanglement with federal immigration enforcement. They are meant to frighten cities and states into agreeing to dedicate government personnel and taxpayer dollars to help the federal government advance its harsh vision of immigration enforcement — but, as its repeated losses in courts confirm, the Justice Department’s legal footing is weak.
With these letters, the administration continues its campaign to harass cities and states that support immigrant communities and advance public safety by focusing their efforts locally and leaving federal immigration enforcement to the feds. The law, however, is clear: Trump and Sessions cannot force state and local governments to do their bidding, no matter how hard they try.”
Although Gonzo sanctimoniously and disingenuously pontificates about the “rule of law” and lobs restrictionist-inspired grenades about “dirty immigration lawyers,” in fact Gonzo and Trump are the one engaging in gross abuses of the U.S. legal system in support of an illegal, racist, White Nationalist Agenda.
Because of the rules giving wide latitude to those in political positions, it’s doubtful that either one of these anti-American zealots will ever be held fully liable for his actions. But, their misguided campaign can be thwarted if enough of us who believe in the Constitution and representative government “Just Say No” to their antics.
Romero v. Evans, ___ F. Supp. 3d ___, 2017 WL 5560659 (EDVA 11-17-17) (published)
U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema
ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENTS: Ivan Yacub, Yacub Law Office, Woodbridge, VA, Nicholas Cooper Marritz, Legal Aid Justice Center, Falls Church, VA, Simon Yehuda Sandoval–Moshenberg, Simon Sandoval Moshenburg, Falls Church, VA, Rachel Colleen McFarland, Legal Aid Justice Center, Charlottesville, VA, Mark Alastair Stevens, Murray Osorio PLLC, Fairfax, VA, for Cristian Flores Romero, et al., Petitioners
KEY QUOTES (From Westlaw Version):
“Moreover, Congress clearly intended to have § 1231 govern only the final logistical period, in which the government has actual authority to remove the alien and need only schedule and execute the deportation. Congress has specifically limited the normal “removal period” to 90 days, a limitation that makes sense if the removal period is only meant to govern the final logistical steps of physically removing an alien. Based on the length of petitioners’ detentions to date, it is obvious that withholding-only proceedings take substantially longer than 90 days. As such, it would be contrary to congressional intent to shoehorn a class of aliens whose proceedings will typically far exceed 90 days into the “removal period” for which Congress has specifically intended a 90–day limit.”
. . . .
All told, this petition presents a difficult question of statutory interpretation. Although respondents’ arguments have some merit, petitioners’ position, which attempts to harmonize § 1226 and § 1231 by locating the dividing line between the two sections as the moment when the government has final legal authority to remove the alien, better accords with the text, structure, and intent of the relevant provisions. Accordingly, the Court concludes that petitioners are detained under § 1226(a), not § 1231, and therefore are entitled to individualized bond hearings. For the reasons stated above, respondents’ Motion to Dismiss in Part will be granted, petitioners’ Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted, and respondents’ Motion for Summary Judgment will be denied by an appropriate Order to be issued with this Memorandum Opinion.”
Those with full Westlaw and/or PACER access can get Judge Brinkema’s full opinion at those sites.
There were quite a few of these “Withholding Only” cases on the Detained Docket when I was at the Arlington Immigration Court. I imagine there are even more now. So, this decision could have a major impact.
Judge Brinkema noted quite correctly that “withholding-only proceedings take substantially longer than 90 days.” In other words, “real due process” can’t be rolled off the “judicial assembly line” like it is in some Border Detention Courts where most of the respondents are unrepresented and many are essentially “duressed” by prolonged detention in poor conditions, intentional lack of access to legal assistance, and orchestrated inaccessibility of material evidence into giving up viable claims for protection under our laws.
Nice work by the NDPA “Legal Team!”I know each of the attorneys personally from their work in my courtroom, my classroom, or my “CLE outreach” since retirement. This just continues to demonstrate how “good lawyering” from “outstanding attorneys” can turn potential losers into “winners.”
That’s why the “Sessions Proposals” to “speed up” the U.S. Immigration Judges and put more roadblocks in the way of pro bono legal representation and full due process hearings are so invidious. We need an independent Article I Immigration Court fully committed to Constitutional Due Process! And, we need it now!
“Washington (CNN)One of the Trump administration’s top immigration policy staffers is leaving the Department of Homeland Security to join the attorney general’s office at the Department of Justice — reuniting him with Jeff Sessions.
Gene Hamilton, a senior counselor to the Homeland Security secretary since January and top immigration policy expert for the administration, confirmed the move to CNN.
Hamilton’s departure will be a blow to Homeland Security’s policy shop, sources familiar with the situation said. The agency is tasked with managing the vast majority of the administration’s immigration portfolio.
But the move will reunite Hamilton, a former Sessions staffer, with the Cabinet’s strongest immigration policy hardliner, an early supporter of President Donald Trump who has been a key proponent of his aggressive immigration agenda from his perch at DOJ.
Hamilton was a general counsel for Sessions on Capitol Hill and will work directly with the attorney general in his new role. The switch is tentatively expected to begin next week, the sources said.
. . . .
While the move would take Hamilton out of the development of DHS immigration policies, where the secretary’s office oversees components including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection and US Citizenship and Immigration Services, DOJ under Sessions has been taking a stronger role in immigration policy during this administration.
Sessions himself remains a thought leader in the administration on the tough immigration agenda of the President, and DOJ manages the nation’s Immigration courts.
Justice also is charged with representing the government in litigation — which would include all the sanctuary cities litigation, DACA lawsuits and ongoing travel ban litigation.“
Read Tal’s complete report at the link.
With the DOJ abandoning the last pretenses of objectivity and assuming the “point position” on the Administration’s xenophobic anti-immigrant agenda, how could Immigration Courts held “captive” within the DOJ possibly provide individuals with the “fair and unbiased decision-making” required by the Due Process Clause of our Constitution? Only an independent Article I Court can save this deeply compromised system!
Mark Joseph Stern and Perry Grossman report for Slate:
THE LAW, LAWYERS, AND THE COURT.OCT. 19 2017 6:32 PM
Trump’s Dred Scott
In a case about the abortion rights of undocumented minors, the Department of Justice evokes the worst Supreme Court decision of all time.
By Perry Grossman and Mark Joseph Stern
Jeff Sessions and Roger B. Taney
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, left, and Chief Justice Roger B. Taney
Saul Loeb/Getty Images and Library of Congress
Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump maligned undocumented immigrants as violent criminals and sexual predators who deserved to be rounded up and deported. Once in office, Trump transformed this rhetoric into policy, implementing a nationwide crackdown on immigrant communities. Now, the president’s dehumanizing disparagement of undocumented people has now seeped into his administration’s legal positions. This week, the Department of Justice is arguing in court that undocumented, unaccompanied minors have no right to abortions—and that undocumented immigrants may have no constitutional rights at all. This argument does not only contravene Supreme Court precedent. It also draws upon an inhuman notion of constitutional liberty most notoriously espoused in Dred Scott v. Sandford.
The Justice Department’s radical new theory arose out of a disturbing case in Texas that revolves around a 17-year-old referred to as Jane Doe in court filings. Doe arrived in the United States several months ago, unaccompanied by her parents and lacking documentation. She was placed in a federally funded Texas shelter, at which point she learned she was pregnant. Doe requested an abortion, but under state law, minors cannot receive the procedure without either parental consent or judicial approval. So Doe obtained what’s known as a judicial bypass and asked permission to attend a state-mandated counseling session before undergoing the procedure.
Her shelter refused to allow her to attend that counseling session, citing federal regulations promulgated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a wing of the Department of Health and Human Services. In March, ORR announced that federally funded shelters could not take “any action that facilitates” abortion for unaccompanied minors, including “scheduling appointments, transportation, or other arrangement,” without “direction and approval” from Scott Lloyd, the agency’s director. A Trump appointee and longtime anti-abortion activist, Lloyd has refused to allow minors to access abortion services. Instead, he has directed shelters to take these women to “crisis pregnancy centers,” which “counsel” them not to get abortions. At least once, Lloyd himself called a pregnant minor to talk her out of terminating her pregnancy. If a minor still wants to get an abortion after navigating these obstacles, ORR instructs its shelters to block her from attending her appointment.
Doe’s shelter followed these guidelines, taking her to a crisis pregnancy center and calling her mother to tell her Doe was pregnant. But Doe persisted, and in October, her court-appointed attorneys filed suit along with the American Civil Liberties Union in a federal district court in Washington, where ORR is headquartered. Doe argues that ORR’s rules violate her constitutional rights by placing an undue burden on her access to abortion.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan held a hearing in the case. While defending the government, Department of Justice attorney Scott Stewart strongly implied that undocumented women do not have a right to abortion. Here, Stewart was echoing an amicus brief filed by the Texas attorney general’s office, which proclaimed that “unlawfully present aliens” living in the United States have no constitutional right to abortion access. Chutkan then asked Stewart whether Doe has any constitutional rights; Stewart declined to make that “concession.”
Chutkan ruled against the government and issued a temporary restraining order guaranteeing Doe the ability to terminate her pregnancy. (She is currently 15 weeks pregnant, and abortion is illegal after 20 weeks in Texas.) The DOJ appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which will hear arguments in the case on Friday morning. In its motion, the agency argued that the government’s “interest in promoting fetal life and childbirth over abortion” justified its refusal to let a minor go to an abortion clinic. It also claimed that, even if undocumented minors have a constitutional right to abortion care, the administration was not unduly burdening that right, because minors who want to terminate their pregnancies can leave the country. This argument is merely another way of stating that women like Doe have no right to an abortion in the United States.
By excluding undocumented immigrants from the protections of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Trump administration is essentially asserting that they do not qualify as “person[s]” under the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and 14th Amendments. The Supreme Court has ruled that the liberty component of the Due Process Clause protects a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy without a substantial obstacle. If arbitrary regulations that severely burden clinics qualify as such an unconstitutional obstacle, as the Supreme Court has held, then surely self-deportation does as well. Thus, the sole plausible interpretation of the DOJ’s posture is that the Due Process Clause does not protect undocumented women like Doe. Put simply, undocumented women are not people for constitutional purposes.
If the government can force Doe to carry her pregnancy to term, what can’t it do?
This theory parallels the Supreme Court’s most infamous ruling. Dred Scott was a black man born into slavery who moved with his “master” from a slave state to a free state. Upon his master’s death, Scott sued for his freedom. In 1857, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney—a virulent racist whose statue was removed from the grounds of the Maryland State House in August—wrote an opinion dismissing Scott’s suit. Taney held that black people were not “persons” based on the language of the Constitution and that Scott, as a black man, therefore had no right to sue in the federal courts. Black men, Taney wrote, were “so far inferior” to whites that they had “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”
Following the Civil War, Dred Scott was overturned by the 13th and 14th Amendments. These amendments ensured that everyone born in the United States would be a citizen. They also granted all “person[s]”—not just citizens—due process and equal protection under the law. Trump has already raised the specter of Dred Scott through his call to end birthright citizenship, the constitutional command that lay at the heart of the Civil War amendments. Now his administration is invoking the decision again in its attempt to deprive undocumented immigrants of their personhood under the Constitution.
The government has rarely alleged that undocumented immigrants may be deprived of rights protected by the liberty component of due process, what’s also known as “substantive” due process. Its few attempts have been unsuccessful. In 2003, the Bush administration argued that substantive due process does not apply to immigrants who reside in the country illegally. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, emphatically rejected this claim, explaining
If excludable aliens were not protected by even the substantive component of constitutional due process, as the government appears to argue, we do not see why the United States government could not torture or summarily execute them. … [W]e do not believe that our Constitution could permit persons living in the United States—whether they can be admitted for permanent residence or not—to be subjected to any government action without limit.
Perhaps recognizing the extremism of its argument, the Trump administration has left open the possibility that undocumented immigrants are entitled to some unspecified “minimal standards” of constitutional protection. But if those minimal standards don’t include the basic right to bodily autonomy, then the 6th Circuit’s query still stands. If the government can force Doe to carry her pregnancy to term against her will, what can’t it do? The administration’s attempt to exert complete control over Doe’s reproductive system is a straightforward deprivation of constitutional liberty that opens the door to equally egregious future abuses.
On Friday morning, the Justice Department will return to court once more to argue, in effect, that Jane Doe is not a “person” worthy of due process protections. It might as well cite Dred Scott for the proposition that the government may strip undocumented immigrants of their constitutionally protected liberty. The 14th Amendment was designed to end such capricious discrimination against individuals living in the United States. But to the Trump administration, immigrants like Doe aren’t even people—just possessions of the state, awaiting deportation.”
Just when you think that Gonzo Apocalypto can’t sink any lower, he manages to achieve new depths!
Baez-Sanchez v. Sessions, 7th Cir., 10-06-17 (published)
PANEL: Before BAUER, EASTERBROOK, and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.
OPINION BY: Judge EASTERBROOK
“LDG addressed the question whether the Attorney Gen‐ eral has the authority to waive the inadmissibility of an alien seeking a U visa. We assumed that, in removal proceedings, IJs may exercise all of the Attorney General’s discretionary powers over immigration. The panel did not justify that as‐ sumption, because the parties had not doubted its correct‐ ness. But after LDG the Board concluded that the assumption is mistaken. In re Khan, 26 I&N Dec. 797 (2016), holds that IJs have only such powers as have been delegated and that the power to waive an alien’s inadmissibility during proceedings seeking U visas is not among them. The Third Circuit has agreed with that conclusion. Sunday v. Attorney General, 832 F.3d 211 (3d Cir. 2016). We must decide in this case whether to follow Sunday and Khan.
Delegation from the Attorney General to immigration judges is a matter of regulation, and arguably pertinent reg‐ ulations are scattered through Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The BIA in Khan observed, correctly, that the panel in LDG had not mentioned 8 C.F.R. §§235.2(d), 1235.2(d), which omit any delegation to IJs of the power to waive an alien’s admissibility. And that’s true, for those regu‐ lations concern the powers of District Directors rather than the powers of IJs. The principal regulation that does cover IJs’ authority is 8 C.F.R. §1003.10, which provides in part:
(a) Appointment. The immigration judges are attorneys whom the Attorney General appoints as administrative judges within the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge to conduct specified classes of proceedings, including hearings under section 240 of the [Immigration and Nationality] Act. Immigration judges shall act as the Attorney General’s delegates in the cases that come be‐ fore them.
(b) Powers and duties. In conducting hearings under section 240 of the Act and such other proceedings the Attorney General may assign to them, immigration judges shall exercise the powers and duties delegated to them by the Act and by the Attorney General through regulation. In deciding the individual cases be‐ fore them, and subject to the applicable governing standards, immigration judges shall exercise their independent judgment and discretion and may take any action consistent with their au‐ thorities under the Act and regulations that is appropriate and necessary for the disposition of such cases. Immigration judges shall administer oaths, receive evidence, and interrogate, exam‐ ine, and cross‐examine aliens and any witnesses. Subject to §§ 1003.35 and 1287.4 of this chapter, they may issue administra‐ tive subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and the presenta‐ tion of evidence. In all cases, immigration judges shall seek to re‐ solve the questions before them in a timely and impartial man‐ ner consistent with the Act and regulations.
The Attorney General’s brief in this court observes that §1003.10(b) does not delegate to IJs any power to waive an alien’s inadmissibility. Sure enough, it doesn’t. But §1003.10(a) does. It says that “[i]mmigration judges shall act as the Attorney General’s delegates in the cases that come before them.” This sounds like a declaration that IJs may ex‐ ercise all of the Attorney General’s powers “in the cases that come before them”, unless some other regulation limits that general delegation. The BIA in Khan did not identify any provision that subtracts from the delegation in §1003.10(a). Nor did the Third Circuit in Sunday. Indeed, neither the BIA nor the Third Circuit cited §1003.10(a). We therefore adhere to the view of LDG that IJs may exercise the Attorney Gen‐ eral’s powers over immigration.”
In the end, of course, the respondent didn’t win much. The 7th Circuit remanded the case to the BIA to “exercise Chevron authority” on the question of whether the Attorney General himself has been stripped of authority to grant these waivers by the legislation that established the DHS as a separate entity.
But, we already know the answer to that question. The BIA has no desire to exercise jurisdiction over this waiver. Indeed, to do so, could turn out to be “career threatening” if you work for notorious xenophobe Jeff Sessions.
Moreover, even before the advent of Sessions, the BIA abandoned any pretense of impartiality in exercising Chevron jurisdiction. The BIA usually looks for the interpretation least favorable to the respondent, that of the DHS, and adopts that as it “preferred interpretation.” To do otherwise could hamper any Administration’s efforts to achieve enforcement objectives, thereby endangering the BIA as an institution. Moreover, agreeing with the private litigant in a published decision could undermine the efforts of the DOJ’s Office of Immigration Litigation to facilitate successful defense of petitions for review removal orders in the Article III Courts.
If this sounds like a strange scenario for a supposedly fair, impartial, and unbiased “court” to adopt, that’s because it is! The BIA is there primarily to slap a “patina of due process” on removal orders without really interfering with the DHS’s “removal railroad.” And that’s useful because of Chevron and the ability of OIL and the DOJ to disingenuously claim that respondents receive “full due process” from the Immigration Courts and the BIA and that Article III Courts, therefore, ought not to worry themselves about the results. And, in a surprising number of cases, the Article IIIs oblige. They don’t want to be stuck having to redo tens of thousands of mass produced BIA appeals.
So, what’s not to like about this system? The Attorney General gets his wholly owned courts to churn out removal orders that look fair (but really aren’t in many cases). The BIA Appellate Judges get to keep their high paying jobs in the Falls Church Tower without having to personally “face up” to the poor folks they are railroading out of the country to places where their lives and futures are in danger. OIL gets to buttress its narrow readings of immigration statutes against immigrants with so-called “court decisions” from the BIA that really aren’t really decisions by independent decision makers. The DHS gets lots of removal orders to keep the “Enforcer In Chief” happy, plus they gain leverage to use against any U.S. Immigration Judge who keeps ruling in favor of respondents. “We’ll just take you to the BIA and get it reversed.” The Article IIIs get to largely avoid moral or legal responsibility for this facade of fairness and due process. Out of sight (which folks are when they get removed), out of mind. We’re just “deferring” to the BIA. Don’t blame us! And, don’t forget Congress! They get to pretend like none of this is happening and claim they are “solving” the problem just by throwing a few more positions and a little more money at EOIR. No need for meaningful oversight into the charade of due process in the U.S. Immigration Courts. And, there are a few guys over on the GOP side of the Hill who hate immigrants and despise due process as much as Sessions does. They undoubtedly see this as a model for the entire U.S. justice system, or better yet, have lots of ideas on how to avoid the Immigration Courts entirely and make the “removal railway” run even faster.
The only folks who aren’t served are the poor folks looking to the U.S. Immigration Courts as courts of last resort to save their lives, preserve their futures, or at least listen sympathetically to their case for remaining. Some of these poor fools actually believe all they stuff about Americans being fair and humane. Those guys were really discombobulated when I had to tell them that while I had absolutely no doubt that some very ”bad things” were going to happen to them upon return, that just doesn’t matter to the U.S. legal system. While I sometimes had the unenviable task of “telling it like it is,” the BIA, the DOJ, and the Federal Courts really couldn’t care less if migrants end up getting killed, raped, or maimed upon return or if their families in the U.S. have to go on welfare. There’s just no place for them in our system.
The other folks who might not come out so well are the rest of America — the non-xenophobes. Most Americans aren’t actually xenophobes in the Trump-Sessions-MIller-Bannon-GOP Restrictionist tradition. While those of us who know what’s happening might be powerless to stop it, we can document it for future generations. We’re making a record.
In the age of information, none of this is going away or going to be swept under an “eternal carpet.” Someday there will be a “day or recokening” for our descendants, just like the one for those of us whose current privilege was built on enslaved African American labor and its many benefits as well as by a century of “Jim Crow” laws which siphoned off African American Citizens’ Constitutional rights and human dignity and conferred them instead on undeserving white folks in both the South and the North.
We have certainly demonstrated that we can be “tone deaf” to both the motivations and the actual effects of our current broken immigration policies. Indeed, there can be no better evidence of that than the election of Trump and empowerment of his xenophobe racist cronies like Sessions and Miller.
But, in the end, we won’t escape the judgement of history, nor will they. The ugliness of our current immigration policies and practices, and the “false debate” about them (there, in fact is no legitimate case for the “restrictionist agenda” — just a racial and cultural one), might be buried in a barrage of alt-right media and “Sessions bogus law and fact free pronouncements.” But, someday, those are going to look just as “legit’ as Conferederate broadsides or the racially hateful rhetoric of Jefferson Davis do today outside the membership of various hate groups and the alt-right.
“On September 4, immigration judge Denise Slavin followed orders from the Department of Justice to drop everything and travel to the U.S.-Mexico border. She would be leaving behind an overwhelming docket in Baltimore, but she was needed at “ground zero,” as Attorney General Jeff Sessions called it—the “sliver of land” where Americans take a stand against machete-wielding, poison-smuggling criminal gangs and drug cartels.
As part of a new Trump administration program to send justices on short-term missions to the border to speed up deportations and, Sessions pledged, reduce “significant backlogs in our immigration courts,” Slavin was to spend two weeks at New Mexico’s Otero County Processing Center.
But when Slavin arrived at Otero, she found her caseload was nearly half empty. The problem was so widespread that, according to internal Justice Department memos, nearly half the 13 courts charged with implementing Sessions’ directive could not keep their visiting judges busy in the first two months of the new program.
“Judges were reading the newspaper,” says Slavin, the executive vice president of the National Immigration Judges Association and an immigration judge since 1995. One, she told POLITICO Magazine, “spent a day helping them stock the supply room because she had nothing else to do.”
Slavin ended up leaving Otero early because she had no cases her last day. “One clerk said it was so great, it was like being on vacation,” she recalls.
In January, President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing the DOJ to deploy U.S. immigration judges to U.S. detention facilities—most of which are located on or near the U.S.-Mexico border. The temporary reassignments were intended to lead to more and faster deportations, as well astake some pressure off thecurrently overloaded immigration court system. But, according to interviews and internal DOJ memos, since the new policy went into effect in March, it seems to have had the opposite result: Judges have frequently had to cancel cases on their overloaded home dockets only to find barely any work at their assigned courts—exacerbating the U.S. immigration court backlog that now exceeds 600,000 cases.
According to internal memos sent by the DOJ’s Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) and obtained by the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) via a Freedom of Information Act request, judges delayed more than 20,000 home court hearings for their details to the border from March to May.
“I canceled about 100 cases in my home court to hear 20,” says Slavin, who was forced to postpone those Baltimore hearings by a year since her court schedule was already booked through most of 2018. In Otero, she had no more than 50 hours of work over the course of two weeks (she typically clocks 50 hours per week in Baltimore). But she couldn’t catch up on her work at home because she had no access to her files.
Her three colleagues at the facility who had also been ordered there by the DOJwere no busier. One who had been sent to Otero previously told her the empty caseloads were normal.
“Sending judges to the border has made the backlog in the interior of the country grow,” says Slavin, “It’s done exactly the opposite of what they hoped to accomplish.”
On April 11 in Nogales, Arizona, Sessions formally rolled out the DOJ’s judge relocation program. “I am also pleased to announce a series of reforms regarding immigration judges to reduce the significant backlogs in our immigration courts,” he told the crowd of Customs and Border Protection personnel gathered to hear him. “Pursuant to the president’s executive order, we will now be detaining all adults who are apprehended at the border. To support this mission, we have already surged 25 immigration judges to detention centers along the border.”
The idea was to send U.S. immigration court judges currently handling “non-detained” immigration cases—cases such as final asylum decisions and immigrants’ applications for legal status—to centers where they would only adjudicate cases of those detained crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, along with others who had been picked up by ICE for possible deportation. More judges would follow, the attorney general said.
But as Sessions spoke, nearly half of those 25 “surge” judges—whose deployments typically last two weeks or a month—were largely unoccupied. One week before the attorney general’s Nogales announcement, EOIR—the Justice Department office that handles immigration cases—published an internal memo identifying six of 13 detention centersas offering inadequate work for their visiting justices.
“There are not enough cases to fill one immigration judge’s docket, let alone five,” the DOJ wrote of Texas’ T. Don Hutto facility, which had been assigned five Miami judges to hold hearings via video teleconference with the women detained there.
One judge sent to the South Texas Residential Center, a family detention facility, had no cases at all; a judge at another family facility, Karnes Residential Center, had a “light” docket; and Texas’ Prairieland Detention Center, which had received a judge, also was “not receiving enough cases to fill a docket or even come close to it,” the memo stated.
The two judges assigned to New Mexico’s Cibola Detention Facility also had barely any work to do, and Louisiana’s La Salle Detention Center—not on the border but treated as such in its receipt of five “surge” judges—had similarly been overstaffed. “There is not enough work for five judges,” said one DOJ memo. “There is enough work for a reasonable docket and three judges.”
The Justice Department documents also revealed a number of logistical issues with the border courts, including a lack of phone lines or internet connectivity, and noise infiltrating the courtroom from the detention facility. “The courtrooms at Imperial Regional Detention Facility are not suitable for in-person hearings because security is wholly inadequate,” said one memo of the California facility. “The court cannot do telephonic interpreters and the request for in-person interpreters remains pending. … Last week an immigration judge was left in the courtroom without a bailiff.”
Meanwhile, the judges sent to the border were forced to abandon thousands of home court cases—which the DOJ was aware could increase pressure on the U.S. immigration court system, where a specialized cadre of judges handles questions over whether people can remain in the country or face deportation. “It is likely that the backlog will increase for the locations from which a judge is assigned,” predicted one March 29 document, which also projected the deployments would cost $21 million per fiscal year.
Within the first three months of the program, judges postponed about 22,000 cases around the country, including 2,774 in New York City alone, according to the DOJ memos. (The delays added to an already clogged system: New York City’s immigration court backlog stood at 81,842 as of July, according to the immigration data tracker TRAC Immigration.)
When asked about these FOIA documents, and why the DOJ had deployed judges where they were not needed, a Justice Department spokesmanresponded that the program had improved in recent months. “After the initial deployment, an assessment was done to determine appropriate locations to increase the adjudication of immigration court cases without compromising due process,” he said.
Immigration judges and advocates acknowledge that the program has slightly improved since May—but many say that’s largely because the DOJ is sending fewer judges on temporary missions. “Some of the least productive assignments have either been discontinued or converted to video teleconferencing hearings, and it seems that fewer judges are being sent overall,” says National Association of Immigration Judges President Dana Marks, who serves as an immigration judge in San Francisco. But, she says, “the basic problem still persists.”
More than 100 total judges have been reassigned since March, but Politico was not able to obtain data on whether deployments are declining or increasing, or how many judges are still facing empty caseloads.
The spokesperson declined to comment on Slavin’s experience at Otero. But the DOJ discontinued deployments to Otero this month, as soon as Slavin completed her assignment there.
The U.S. immigration court backlog has increased under Trump, moving from 540,000 in January to 600,000 in July. But the DOJ spokesperson denied thatthe deployments were responsible for the bump, instead blaming the overloaded system on the Obama administration’s policies. He noted that the first six months of the Trump administration had seen a14.5 percent increase in final immigration court rulings from the previous year,and that more than 90 percent of cases by “surge” judges had led to deportation orders.
But just because judges have ruled on more cases doesn’t mean the Trump administration hasn’t worsened the backlog, NIJC communications director Tara Tidwell Cullen says. In fact, it could likely mean the opposite. Trump’s first six months in power saw 40 percent more immigration arrests in the country’s interior than the year before, adding more cases to already overloaded dockets.
“The ‘home’ courts where judges are sent from continue to be understaffed and their caseloads are adversely impacted as judges are sent to temporary assignments,” adds Marks, the San Francisco judge. Adding to the problem, she points out, istheadministration’s decision to detain immigrants without allowing the Department of Homeland Security to grant them bonds. Now, detainees have to go to immigration court to get a bond, creating extra work for those justices.
Not everyone thinks sending judges to the border is a bad idea.
“The best use of resources is to throw them all at detention,” says Leon Fresco, who served as deputy assistant attorney general under President Barack Obama. Judges typically release individuals detained for more than 90 days with no trial on habeas corpus, he explains, in which case the government has “wasted money in detaining them” to start. Better, then, to hear all the detained cases quickly.
Any administration will have to make tough calls, says Fresco. “You have just about 300 judges to hear more than 500,000 cases, so you have to prioritize.” Under Obama, the DOJ—while it hadn’t sent judges to the border—had also prioritized recent border crossers in order to send a message that the U.S. would immediately hear their cases, rather than allow them to “wait eight years to be adjudicated” while staying in the country, Fresco says. Trump’s priorities similarly send a message to potential border crossers that “we do have quick justice.”
The problem, Fresco adds, is that the Trump administration has been clumsy in its border deployments—sending judges to places where they aren’t needed. “There are ways to do this, but they need to be more flexible and nimble, and they’re not being as nimble as they can be,” he says. “EOIR is an agency badly in need of some sort of consulting firm. … There’s still too little rhyme or reason about how case assignments work—you shouldn’t have weeks with judges with hours of idle time.”
Chicago immigration judge Robert D. Vinikoor says his deployment went smoothly. He had a full caseload in his two-week detail at Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego this April, and he maintains that the reassigned judges were necessary to get immigrants out of detention as expeditiously as possible. “DHS is detaining more and more people and keeping them in custody, so that’s the need for the judges,” says Vinikoor, who retired in June after serving 33 years as an immigration judge. “The question is: Are they over-detailing? In some cases they put the cart before the horse.”
But Marks, who has been an immigration judge for 30 years, disagrees. Even if the DOJ gets deployments right, she says, the surge policy shows the administration has the wrong priorities. She says the administration’s biggest mistake was making a “politically motivated decision” and not consulting immigration judges. “The judges weren’t asked and that’s always been our big frustration,” she says.” The judges are the ones who are the experts in handling their cases.”
Marks notes that her union had similar frustrations with the Obama administration’s prioritization of recent border crossers—predominantly Central American women and children seeking asylum—to send a message they would be deported quickly if they could not prove they qualified for asylum. That decision, she says, worsened the backlog, too.
The overloaded system jeopardizes due process for immigrants, says NIJC’s policy director Heidi Altman, who filed the FOIA for EOIR’s memos after hearing about “chaos” in the courts when the border details began.
“When the backlog is exacerbated it makes it exponentially harder for us and other legal services to take on clients,” says Altman, whose NIJC organizes pro-bono attorneys handling immigration cases, which do not guarantee legal representation. Without a lawyer handling a case, she says, it is less likely to proceed fairly.
But there’s another reason that Trump might want to reconsider the border surge, says John Sandweg, former acting director of ICE under the Obama administration: It takes the pressure off the undocumented immigrants who have lived in the country for years and may be fighting to prevent an order of deportation.“They’re basically giving amnesty ironically to the non-detained docket.”
“By shifting the judges away they’ll never have their hearing so they’ll never be ordered deported,” he says. “You’re letting them stay.”
“The Trump administration is drafting a new policy to quickly deport more than 150,000 child migrants from Central America who arrived alone in the U.S. illegally, creating a new class of undocumented migrants.
The Department of Justice and Homeland Security is drawing up a policy proposal in a series of memos, according to two sources with knowledge of the internal debate who spoke to the Miami Herald.
As it stands, the plan would allow for teens and children who arrived in the U.S. illegally by themselves to be put on a fast track to deportation when they turn 18. Most of these children have traveled thousands of miles alone from Central American countries, including Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, to escape violence and poverty.
The policy wouldn’t allow the teens to plead their case before an immigration judge.
The discussions follow controversy within the government about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, a program implemented by Barack Obama, which protects children brought to the country illegally by their parents from deportation.
Speaking about the new policy plans, a former U.S. Justice Department official told the Herald, “The concern is that most people at DOJ know this will likely be viewed as illegal and do not want to have to defend this in court if they can avoid it.”
Current law “doesn’t give the administration a lot of flexibility with how to deal with unaccompanied children,” said a U.S. official familiar with the internal debate about the policy. “This administration still has its hands somewhat tied with what it can do with that population,” that person said.
. . . .
The new policy around unaccompanied children is part of the Attorney General’s efforts to avoid creating a another protected group of illegal immigrants like those under DACA, the Herald’s sources said.
The arrival of unaccompanied children and families from Central America peaked in 2014. In the year between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) says it encountered 67,339 unaccompanied children.
At the height of the influx in June 2014, 27,000 people, including unaccompanied children and families, crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. Three months later the number dropped below 5,000 following crackdowns by the U.S. and Mexico governments.
More than 150,000 children have been referred by Homeland Security to the Office of Refugee Resettlement since that time. The program cares for unaccompanied children after they are caught at the border by officials and either places them in shelters, with sponsors, or relatives in the U.S.
About 63 percent and 73 percent of the unaccompanied youth who arrive at the border are between 15 and 17 years old, making a large group of those who are in the U.S vulnerable to deportation if the administration moves ahead with the policy.
“For a growing population of migrants deported from Mexico and the United States to Central America, the conditions upon return typically are worse than when they left, setting up a revolving-door cycle of migration, deportation, and remigration,” according to the nonprofit Migration Policy Institute. The group advocates better programs to reintegrate those who are deported to their home country.
If the Trump administration decides to move ahead with the policy proposal it will it will likely meet similar opposition to Trump’s travel ban on people coming to the U.S. from six Muslim-majority nations. Elements of the ban have been blocked by federal courts and a legal case against the policy will be heard in the U.S. Supreme Court this fall.
The new policy on unaccompanied minors could be blocked by the courts almost immediately, said Leon Fresco, the former head of the Office of Immigration Litigation at the Justice Department during the Obama administration.
The question is, Fresco said, “whether the administration wants to add this to the travel ban, sanctuary cities, Byrne Jag grants, and DACA repeal to the issues they would want the Supreme Court to have to decide this year.”
Read the complete report at the link.
These kids clearly are entitled to full and fair hearings before U.S. Immigration Judges with full rights of appeal. So, whatever Gonzo Apocalypto has up his sleeve must be clearly illegal.
DOJ career lawyers probably realize that their law licenses, and perhaps their individual freedom, could be at stake for participating in such an illegal operation. It would be nice to think that Sessions could also be held accountable under the law. But, as a high-ranking Government official, he’s likely to escape liability under the current Supreme Court rulings. Besides, Trump (or Pence) would probably pardon him anyway in the tradition of his fellow racist xenophobe “Racist Joe.”
· Memorandum on Rescission Of Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
· Overview of proposed legislation to replace DACA
· Litigation: AGs, Make the Road, University of California
· ILRC DACA Info Sheets
· DACA renewal loan fund
· Wellness: NYC WELL is a free and confidential resource that is available regardless of immigration status, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and in 200 languages – regardless of your immigration status. Dial 1-888-NYC-WELL, text WELL to 65173 or chat with a counselor online at nyc.gov/NYCWELL.
· Removal: DHS is already moving to recalendar DACA cases. Argue that this is premature and a waste of judicial resources.
· See Resources below for more.
DA Election for Kings County
Primaries tomorrow (Tuesday) include selecting a new DA. Medium has a breakdown of the candidates’ stances on immigration and broken windows policies.
After word leaked that ICE was planning to target 6,000 to 10,000 immigrants in raids Sept. 17-22, ICE announced it was rescheduling the raids due to hurricanes. However, this does not mean there won’t necessarily be any raids. ICE Statement Regarding Questions on Enforcement Planning.
Bill bars transfer of PRM from State to DHS
FP: “In a stark repudiation of the Trump administration, lawmakers on Thursday passed a spending bill that overturned the president’s steep proposed cuts to foreign aid and diplomacy. Folded into the bill are management amendments that straitjacket some of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s efforts to redesign the State Department.”
US Justice Department Set to Appeal Ninth Circuit Travel Ban Ruling to Supreme Court
VOA: “According to a Justice Department official, the agency plans to ask the high court to weigh in on an appeals court ruling that says grandparents and cousins are close enough relatives to constitute an exemption from the Trump administration’s travel order. The court also said that refugees accepted by a resettlement agency should be allowed to travel to the United States.”
OIL filed a petition for panel rehearing in Harbin v. Sessions
IDP: I’m sad to report that OIL filed a petition for panel rehearing in Harbin v. Sessions. IDP and Legal Aid are working with Mr. Harbin’s lawyers on plans moving forward. Hopefully the panel will stick to its guns and deny the government’s request. And quickly.
CALLS TO ACTION
Call Congress to Pass the Dream Act (S. 1615/H.R. 3440)
Call your Congress members and urge them to pass the Dream Act, a bipartisan bill that would provide Dreamers a chance to adjust their immigration status, if they meet certain requirements. If Congress fails to act, 800,000 Dreamers who were protected by DACA will be at risk of being deported.
AILA Doc. No. 17090533
DACA Fee Donations Outside NYC
New York has several resources for assisting DACA recipients with renewal fees. Consider donating to organizations outside New York where the need may be greater. RAICES DACA fund.
Detention of UACs
NYLCU: Reaching out to the listserv to see if anyone has heard of any UACs that have been re-detained & placed in either secure facilities or at the non-secure Dobb’s Ferry facility in Westchester. NYCLU has heard reports that kids are being held with no good reason and we are doing some work around this issue. We’re hoping to speak to some kids or their parents, preferably at Dobb’s Ferry! Feel free to forward if you know folks who do a lot of UAC work or to other listservs! Please send any sensitive info to my work email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
I see the DOJ just won’t quit on some of its positions that have been rejected by the Article IIIs on review. Hopefully, the Sessions’ DOJ will wear out its welcome and further tank its credibility with the Article IIIs.
Jennifer Rubin writes in “Right Turn” in the Washington Post:
“The 9th Circuit gave the back of the hand to the argument that the Trump administration could borrow a definition from another section of the immigration statute to exclude grandmothers. The Supreme Court had used mothers-in-law as an example of a close familial relationship it wanted to protect. The 9th Circuit judges wrote: “Plaintiffs correctly point out that the familial relationships the Government seeks to bar from entry are within the same ‘degree of kinship’ as a mother-in-law.” It’s hard to make a case that grandmothers would not qualify. It does not appear that the government even made a good-faith effort to apply the Supreme Court’s direction.
On one level, it’s shocking that a Republican administration that is supposed to be a defender of “family values” would take such a miserly position. But, of course, family values are of little consequence to an administration that is more than willing to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, auguring for the breakup of intimate family relations (e.g., one sibling gets deported but American-born siblings remain).
The 9th Circuit also looked at the administration’s argument that a refugee with a formal assurance of settlement lacks a bona fide relationship with some entity or individual in the United States. The court set out the laborious screening process refugees undertake (making a mockery of the notion these people are a security threat) and noted that after all those steps are completed the refugee gets a sponsorship assurance “from one of nine private non-profit organizations, known as resettlement agencies.” The 9th Circuit held: “The Government contends that a formal assurance does not create a bona fide relationship between a resettlement agency and a refugee, and stresses that ‘[t]he assurance is not an agreement between the resettlement agency and the refugee; rather, it is an agreement between the agency and the federal government.’ But the Supreme Court’s stay decision specifies that a qualifying relationship is one that is ‘formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading [the Executive Order].”’”
Again, one cannot help but come away with the impression that the government is throwing up every half-baked idea it can find to limit the number of people entering the country, regardless of the national security risk or the hardship its action inflicts. The Trump administration is plainly reasoning backward — deny as many people as possible admittance and then think up a reason to justify its position.
In its fixation with keeping as many immigrants out of the United States as possible, the Trump administration cannot claim to merely be following the dictates of the law. (Gosh it’s out of our hands — “Dreamers” and grandmas have to go!) It is making up rules willy-nilly so as to show its rabid xenophobic base it is adhering to its promise of racial and ethnic exclusion. It’s hard to believe seasoned career Justice Department lawyers agree with these arguments. In its oversight hearings Congress should start grilling Attorney General Jeff Sessions as to how he comes up with his cockamamie legal arguments and whether political appointees are running roughshod over career DOJ lawyers.
Read Rubin’s full article at the link.
TIME FOR ACTION ON THE BROKEN U.S. IMMIGRATION COURTS — IF CONGRESS WON’T ACT, THE FEDERAL COURTS MUST
Paul Wickham Schmidt
United States Immigration Judge (Retired)
If nothing else, the Trump Administration has given me a new appreciation for the Post’s “JRube.” She certainly has “dialed up” Gonzo’s number and exposed what’s behind his pompous, disingenuous misuse of the term “rule of law.”
No chance that a GOP Senate with Chuck Grassley as Judiciary Chair is going to hold Gonzo accountable for his daily perversions of “justice.” But, at some point, Federal Courts could begin sanctioning DOJ lawyers for willful misrepresentations (the Hawaii arguments before the 9th contained several) and frivolous positions in litigation. It’s possible that some DOJ lawyers all the way up to Gonzo himself could be referred by Federal Judges to state bar authorities for a look at whether their multiple violations of ethical standards should result suspension of their law licenses.
Another thought kicking around inside my head is that Gonzo’s actions and his public statements are starting to make a plausible case for a due process challenge to the continued operation of the U.S. Immigration Courts.
As with school desegregation, prison reform, and voting rights, a Federal Court could find systematic bias and failure to protect due process. That could result in something like 1) a requirement that the DOJ submit a “due process restoration” plan to the court for approval, or 2) the court appointment of an independent “judicial monitor” to run the courts in a fair and unbiased manner consistent with due process, or 3) the Federal Courts could take over supervision of the US Immigration Courts pending the creation of an Article I (or Article III) replacement.
High on the list of constitutionally-required reforms would be ending the location of courts within DHS detention facilities. All courts should be located in areas where adequate pro bono counsel is reasonably available and accessible. Immigration Courts should be located outside of DHS facilities in buildings accessible to the public with reasonable security requirements. Immigration Judges must be required to continue cases until pro bono counsel can be retained. Alternatively, the Government could provide for appointed counsel.
Another obvious due process reform would be to strip the Attorney General of his (conflict of interest) authority to establish or review precedents and operating procedures for the U.S. Immigration Courts. Along with that, the DHS should be given an equal right to appeal adverse BIA appellate decisions to the Courts of Appeals (rather than seeking relief from the AG — clearly an interested party in relation to immigration enforcement).
There also should be an immediate end to the appointment and supervision of U.S. Immigration Judges by the politically-biased AG. U.S. Immigration Judges and BIA Appellate Immigration Judges should be appointed on a strict merit basis by either an independent judicial monitor or by the U.S. Courts of Appeals until Congress enacts statutory reforms.
The current U.S. Immigration Court system mocks justice in the same way that Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions mocks it almost every day. There might be no practical way to legally remove Gonzo at present, but the Federal Courts could step in to force the U.S. Immigration Courts to undertake due process reforms. The current situation is unacceptable from a constitutional due process standpoint. Something has to change for the better!
PANEL: Michael Daly Hawkins, Ronald M. Gould, and Richard A. Paez, Circuit Judges.
OPINION: Per Curiam
“We are asked to review the district court’s modified preliminary injunction,
which enjoins the Government from enforcing Executive Order 13780 against (1) grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States; and (2) refugees who have formal assurances from resettlement agencies or are in the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (“USRAP”) through the Lautenberg Amendment.
For the reasons that follow, we conclude that in modifying the preliminary injunction to preserve the status quo, the district court carefully and correctly balanced the hardships and the equitable considerations as directed by the Supreme Court in Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project, 137 S. Ct. 2080, 2088 (2017), and did not abuse its discretion. We affirm.
. . . .
The Government also raises concerns that because about 24,000 refugees have been assured, the district court’s ruling causes the Supreme Court’s stay order to “cover virtually no refugee” and renders the order inoperative. The Supreme Court’s stay considered the concrete hardship of U.S.-based persons and entities. See Trump, 137 S. Ct. at 2088–89. The Court’s equitable decision did not express concern about the number of refugees that would fall within the scope of the injunction; rather, the Court’s order clarifies that the Government is still enjoined from enforcing the 50,000-person cap of § 6(b) to exclude refugees who have a bona fide relationship with a U.S. person or entity and are otherwise eligible to enter the United States. Id. at 2089.
Furthermore, the Government’s assertion that the modified injunction renders the Court’s stay order inoperative is false. More than 175,000 refugees currently lack formal assurances. Without another bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States, the Executive Order suspends those refugees’ applications. See U.S. Dep’t of Homeland Security, Frequently Asked Questions on Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States at Q.27, https://www.dhs.gov/news/2017/06/29/frequently-asked-questions- protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states (last visited Aug. 30, 2017)
(“USCIS officers have been instructed that they should not approve a refugee application unless the officer is satisfied that the applicant’s relationship complies with the requirement to have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States and was not formed for the purpose of evading the Executive Order.”).
Resettlement agencies will face concrete harms and burdens if refugees with formal assurances are not admitted. In the same way that the Court considered the harms of the U.S. citizen who wants to be reunited with his mother-in-law and the permanent resident who wants to be reunited with his wife, the employer that hired an employee, the university that admitted a student, and the American audience that invited a lecturer, the district court correctly considered the resettlement agency that has given a formal assurance for specific refugees. The district court did not abuse its discretion with regard to this portion of the modified preliminary injunction.
Our decision affirming the district court’s modified preliminary injunction will not take effect until the mandate issues, which would not ordinarily occur until at least 52 days after this opinion is filed. See Fed. R. App. P. 41; Fed. R. App. P. 40(a)(1).
Refugees’ lives remain in vulnerable limbo during the pendency of the Supreme Court’s stay. Refugees have only a narrow window of time to complete their travel, as certain security and medical checks expire and must then be re- initiated. Even short delays may prolong a refugee’s admittance.
Because this case is governed by equitable principles, and because many refugees without the benefit of the injunction are gravely imperiled, we shorten the time for the mandate to issue. See Fed. R. App. P. 41(b). The mandate shall issue five days after the filing of this opinion.
We affirm the district court’s order modifying the preliminary injunction. The mandate shall issue five days after the filing of this opinion.”
This is how the Trump-Sessions DOJ squanders taxpayer money and wastes U.S Courts’ time. Advancing positions unsupported by law or facts is also what “Gonzo Apocalypto” means when he disingenuously refers to “restoring the rule of law.” Meanwhile, Sessions ignores the real threats to America’s security posed by his buddy Bannon, his flunky Miller, and their White Supremacist allies.
I have predicted that the career DOJ Attorneys in the Solicitor General’s Office, the Office of Immigration Litigation, and elsewhere who are charged with defending Session’s gonzo and often disingenuous political agenda will have “zero credibility” by the time his reign at Justice is over. Problem is that our justice system and particularly our Immigration Courts will be in shambles by the time Sessions is done.
Before: McKEE, JORDAN, and VANASKIE, Circuit Judges.
OPINION BY: JUDGE VANASKIE
“The petitioner in Baptiste, like Mateo, faced removal on the basis of his purported status as an alien convicted of a crime of violence under § 16(b). As stated previously, § 16(b) defines a crime of violence as “any other offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.” In order to determine whether the crime of conviction is a crime of violence under § 16(b), courts utilize the same categorical approach that was applied to the ACCA’s residual clause. Baptiste, 841 F.3d at 617. The petitioner in Baptiste argued that the Supreme Court’s holding in Johnson striking down the residual clause should apply to negate § 16(b). After comparing the features of the § 16(b) analysis to those found to contribute to the unconstitutionality of the residual clause in Johnson, we agreed that the same defects were present in § 16(b), rendering the provision unconstitutional. Regarding the first feature, we recognized that the same “ordinary case inquiry” is used when applying the categorical approach in both contexts. Id. Like the residual clause, § 16(b) “offers no reliable way to choose between . . . competing accounts of what” that “judge- imagined abstraction” of the crime involves. Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 2558. Thus, we concluded in Baptiste that “the ordinary case inquiry is as indeterminate in the § 16(b) context as it was in the residual clause context.” 841 F.3d at 617. Turning to the second feature—the risk inquiry—we observed that despite slight linguistic differences between the provisions, the same indeterminacy inherent in the residual clause was present in § 16(b). Id. “[B]ecause the two inquiries under the residual clause that the Supreme Court found to be indeterminate—the ordinary case inquiry and the serious potential risk inquiry—are materially the same as the inquiries under § 16(b),” we concluded that “§ 16(b) is unconstitutionally vague.” Id. at 621. This conclusion applies equally to Mateo’s petition. Our treatment of § 16(b) is in step with the Sixth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits, which have all similarly deemed the provision to be void for vagueness in immigration cases. See Shuti, 828 F.3d at 451; Dimaya, 803 F.3d at 1120; Golicov v. Lynch, 837 F.3d 1065, 1072 (10th Cir. 2016). The Seventh Circuit has also taken this position in the criminal context. See United States v. Vivas-Ceja, 808 F.3d 719, 723 (7th Cir. 2015). In fact, the only circuit that has broken stride is the Fifth Circuit.7 See United States v. Gonzalez-Longoria, 831 F.3d 670, 677 (5th Cir. 2016) (en banc). In the meantime, we await the Supreme Court’s decision in the appeal of Dimaya.”
The Dimaya case before the Supremes (again) should be a good test of whether newest Justice Gorsuch will adhere to his strict constructionist principles where they will produce a favorable result for a migrant under the immigration laws.
The Johnson case, relied on by the Third Circuit, was written by none other than the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a leading strict constructionist and conservative judicial icon, who nevertheless found that his path sometimes assisted migrants in avoiding removal. So, on paper, this should be a “no brainer” for Justice Gorsuch, who has also been critical of some of the BIA’s “Chevron overreach” and non-responsiveness to Article III Courts.
“Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump’s expected decision to end DACA, but leave some time to save it, punts the popular program that protects young undocumented immigrants to Congress — but passage of a legislative solution remains a steep uphill climb.
Trump is expected to announce Tuesday that he will end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but will offer a six-month delay to give Congress time to come up with a fix, according to sources familiar. Those sources have cautioned that this was the President’s thinking as of Sunday night and could shift ahead of his scheduled Tuesday announcement.
Such a plan would put the issue on Congress’ shoulders amid a busy fall, squeezing Republican and Democratic leadership to decide what their bases could swallow to find a compromise that would keep the nearly 800,000 people who benefit from the program from having their lives upended.
. . . . But the devil is in the details — and it remains unclear to insiders of the debate whether both sides can swallow enough of a compromise to reach a solution.
They have been adamant that they will not accept any deal to fund even small amounts of a border wall or increased immigration enforcement, and cuts to legal immigration would be unacceptable.
“Already you’ve seen the fracturing with people saying you need to pass this as part of border security, or other people saying you need to pass this with cuts in legal immigration, and another group saying you need to pass this on its own, and already that lack of consensus makes this unfeasible in Congress,” said Leon Fresco, an immigration attorney, former Obama administration immigration official and former aide to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Fresco also pointed to advocacy groups on the left as key to Democrats’ decision-making. As long as those groups insist, as they do, that they won’t accept a DACA fix in exchange for more enforcement, Democrats are stuck.
“The politicians are being bolstered by the groups, and the groups themselves are saying don’t trade any enforcement for DACA,” Fresco said. “If that were to change, then the fundamental dynamics of the issue would change, but at the moment that’s not where the advocacy community is — they want a fight on DACA to show that the President is on the wrong side of these issues.”
Wall funding in return for a DACA with a path to green cards and eventually citizenship seems like a deal that would allow Trump to throw some “red meat” to his base by delivering on a key campaign promise while minimizing the human damage to our country, our ecomomy, and our future.
Trump can’t legally remove 800,000 Dreamers during his Administration.
Trump will be able to inflict lots of pain and suffering on Dreamers while deporting thousands, forcing others to leave, and making the rest to live in fear or go underground. Dreamers won’t get a chance to vote the GOP out of office (although their kids and grandkids eventually will).
I have just learned that my friend and former colleague Juan P. Osuna tragically died suddenly of a heart attack last night. Until May of this year, Juan was the Director of EOIR. But, he was much more than that to those of us in the immigration world.
I first met Juan when he was an Editor for Interpreter Releases, the leading weekly immigration newsletter, working with one of my mentors, the late legendary Maurice A. Roberts. Juan later succeeded Maury as Editor-In-Chief and rose to a major editorial position within the West Publishing legal empire. He was serving in that position when I recommended him for a position as an Appellate Immigration Judge/Board Member of the Board of Immigration Appeals during my tenure as BIA Chair. Juan was appointed to that position by Attorney General Janet Reno in 2000.
While serving together on the BIA, Juan and I often joined forces in seeking full due process and legal protections for migrants. Sometimes, our voices were heard together in dissent. In one of those cases, Matter of J-E-, 23 I&N Dec. 291 (BIA 2002) we joined in finding that our colleagues in the majority were interpreting the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”) in an overly restrictive way. In another, Matter of Andazola, 23 I&N Dec. 219 (BIA 2003), we joined in finding that our colleagues in the majority had significantly undervalued the Immigration Judge’s careful findings of “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to U.S. citizen children.
Following my reassignment from the BIA to the Arlington Immigration Court, Juan became the Vice Chair and eventually the Chair of the BIA after the departure of Lori Scialabba. But, Juan’s meteoric rise through the DOJ hierarchy was by no means over. In 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder appointed Juan to the position of Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division with responsibility for the Office of Immigration Litigation. Later, he was promoted to Associate Deputy Attorney General with responsibility for the Department’s entire “immigration portfolio.”
Not surprisingly, following the departure of EOIR Director Kevin Ohlson, Attorney General Eric Holder named Juan Director of EOIR. In that position, Juan shepherded the U.S. Immigration Courts through some of the most difficult times in EOIR history, involving astronomically increasing caseloads and resource shortages. Throughout all of it, Juan remained calm, cool, and collected.
He was a frequent public speaker and testified before Congress on a number of occasions. He was known for his honesty and “straight answers.” Indeed, in one memorable television interview, Juan confessed that the Immigration Court system was “broken.”
One of my most vivid recollections of Juan’s sensitivity and humanity was when he occasionally stopped by the Arlington Immigration Court to “find out what’s happening at the grass roots.” After lunching with or meeting the judges, Juan invariably went to the desk of each and every staff member to ask them how their jobs were going and to thank them for their dedicated service. He understood that “the ship goes nowhere without a good crew.”
Shortly before I retired, Juan called me up and said he wanted to come over for lunch. We shared some of our “old times” at the BIA, including the day I called to tell him that he was Attorney General Janet Reno’s choice for a Board Member. We also batted around some ideas for Immigration Court reform and enhancing due process.
Back in my chambers, I thought somewhat wistfully that it was too bad that we hadn’t had an opportunity to talk more since my departure from the BIA. Little did I suspect that would be the last time I saw Juan. At the time of his death, he was an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown Law, where I am also on the adjunct faculty. Ironically, Juan took over the “Refugee Law and Policy” course that I taught from 2012-14.
Juan will always be remembered as a gentleman, a scholar, and an executive who appreciated the role that “ordinary folks” — be they migrants, staff, interpreters, or guards, — play in building and sustaining a successful justice system. He will be missed as a friend and a leader in the immigration world.
My thoughts and prayers go out to Juan’s wife, Wendy Young, President of Kids In Need of Defense (“KIND”), and the rest of Juan’s family and many friends. Rest in peace, my friend, colleague, and champion of due process for all!
“Instead of defending the conclusion that section 5101 is categorically a crime involving moral turpitude, the government requests a remand without decision to permit the BIA to reconsider its position in the matter. See Ren v. Gonzales, 440 F.3d 446, 448 (7th Cir. 2006); see generally SKF USA Inc. v. United States, 254 F.3d 1022, 1027-30 (Fed. Cir. 2001) (outlining approaches to agency remand requests). The government points out that the BIA is generally entitled to Chevron deference for reasonable interpretations of ambiguous terms, Mehboob, 549 F.3d at 275, and theorizes that the BIA might conjure up an interpretation of the term “moral turpitude” enabling a conclusion that section 5101 categorically involves “conduct that is inherently base, vile, or depraved,” Knapik, 384 F.3d at 89.
Yet the government has been unable, either in its brief or at oral argument, to articulate any understanding of the phrase “crime involving moral turpitude” that could plausibly encompass section 5101. This is not because of a failure of imagination. It instead reflects the simple fact that there is no conceivable way to describe the least culpable conduct covered by section 5101 — such as the illegal but nonviolent political protest described in Ripley — as inherently vile, or as “a reprehensible act committed with an appreciable level of consciousness or deliberation.” Partyka, 417 F.3d at 414. Moreover, no “emerging case law,” Ren, 440 F.3d at 448, involving either section 5101 or the definition of moral turpitude in other contexts calls for giving the BIA a second bite at the apple. See Jean-Louis, 582 F.3d at 469 (declining to remand where the relevant legal materials, including BIA decisions, “lead inexorably to the conclusion” that an offense is not morally turpitudinous).
Under the circumstances, we see no reason for remanding without correcting the legal error apparent on the face of the petition. See Mayorga v. Att’y Gen., 757 F.3d 126, 134 (3d Cir. 2014); cf. City of Arlington v. FCC, 133 S. Ct. 1863, 1874 (2013) (“[W]here Congress has established an ambiguous line, the agency can go no further than the ambiguity will fairly allow.”). We thus deny the government’s request for a voluntary remand and hold that 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5101 is not categorically a crime involving moral turpitude.”
PANEL: JORDAN, KRAUSE, Circuit Judges and STEARNS, District Judge.
Looks like the 3rd Circuit is starting to get the picture on how the BIA, under pressure from the politicos in the DOJ to produce more removals, has a strong tendency to construe the law against respondents and in favor of just about any DHS position that will facilitate removals.
That’s why it’s time for the Article III Courts to put an end to Chevron and the pro-Government, anti-individual results that it favors. “Captive” administrative tribunals responsible to Executive Branch politicos can’t be trusted to fairly and independently construe ambiguous statutory language. That’s properly the job of the Article III Courts; they have been shirking it for far too long! The Supremes have essentially reversed the results of Chief Justice John Marshall’s “victory” over President Thomas Jefferson in Marbury v. Madison!