U.S. IMMIGRATION JUDGE RODGER P. HARRIS REPORTEDLY STANDS TALL FOR DUE PROCESS AS NEW COURT SUIT ALLEGES THAT HIS COLLEAGUES ON THE IMMIGRATION BENCH IN CHARLOTTE, N.C. ARE SCOFFLAWS WHO FAIL TO HOLD LEGALLY REQUIRED BOND HEARINGS!

https://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/immigration/b/immigration-law-blog/archive/2018/01/18/lawsuit-challenges-immigration-judges-who-refuse-to-hold-bond-hearings-palacios-v-sessions.aspx?Redirected=true

From LexisNexis Immigration Community online:

“Lawsuit Challenges Immigration Judges Who Refuse to Hold Bond Hearings: Palacios v. Sessions

AIC, Jan. 17, 2018

“The government cannot lock people up without giving them access to prompt bond hearings and an opportunity to show that they should be released for the months or years that it takes to adjudicate their removal cases. This lawsuit challenges the actions of immigration judges in Charlotte, North Carolina who have done just that: refused to conduct bond hearings for people who properly file bond motions with the Charlotte Immigration Court.  The case was filed as a class action in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina by the American Immigration Council, the CAIR Coalition, and Cauley Forsythe Law Group.”

Complaint

Brief in Support of Motion for Class Certification”

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Go on over to LexisNexis Immigration Community at the link for the complete story.
Check out paragraph 6 of the Complaint which contrasts the conduct of Judge Harris, who holds bond hearing in accordance with the law and established procedures, and the alleged conduct of his judicial colleagues in Charlotte.
Not surprising to me! Judge Harris was my colleague for years at the U.S. Immigration Court in Arlington Virginia where he had a reputation for scrupulously following the law and providing full due process to all who came before him. Just like a U.S. Immigration Judge is supposed to do.
On the other hand, prior to Judge Harris’s arrival, the Charlotte Immigration Court had a reputation among the private bar, commentators, and the press as a place where due process was often given short shrift, particularly in asylum cases.
Of course, these are merely allegations at this time. We’ll see what happens as the case progresses in Federal District Court.
While Sessions, McHenry, and the “Falls Church Crew” are screwing around with imaginary “goals and timetables’ — untethered to reality in a system with a 660,000 backlog and no real plan for resolving it — these are the real due process problems that are festering in the U.S. Immigration Courts and denying individuals their legal right to due process on a regular basis. Where’s the concern from “on high” with a court system that’s failing in its mission to provide due process to individuals under our Constitution? Obviously, the problem starts with a “Scofflaw Attorney General” who cares more about expediting removals and a White Nationalist immigration enforcement agenda than he does about the Constitution, Due Process, and the integrity of the U.S. Immigration Court system.
We need an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court now!
PWS
01-18-18

 

GONZO’S WORLD: HIS HIGHLY DISINGENUOUS “TRIBUTE” TO DR. KING WHILE ACTIVELY UNDERMINING MLK’S VISION OF RACIAL EQUALITY IN AMERICA OUTRAGES CIVIL RIGHTS ADVOCATES! — Hollow Words From An Empty Man!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/sessions-in-remarks-criticized-as-beyond-ironic-praises-martin-luther-king-jr/2018/01/16/cb3a8bd8-fae3-11e7-a46b-a3614530bd87_story.html

 

Sari Horwitz reports for the Washington Post:

“All he had were his words and the power of truth,” Sessions said. “ . . . His message, his life and his death changed hearts and minds. Those changed souls then changed the laws of this land.”

But civil rights leaders criticized Sessions’s remarks, made at a time, they said, when the Justice Department is rolling back efforts to promote civil and voting rights.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions called Tuesday for Justice Department employees to “remember, celebrate and act” in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

“It is beyond ironic for Jeff Sessions to celebrate the architecture of civil rights protections inspired by Dr. King and other leaders as he works to tear down these very protections,” said Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division under President Barack Obama and now president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

“Make no mistake,” Gupta said. “If Dr. King were alive today, he would be protesting outside of Jeff Sessions’s office.”

Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said that in the past year, the Justice Department under Sessions has taken action to “obstruct and reverse civil rights enforcement.”

She and others point to a new policy that calls for federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges even if that might mean minority defendants face stiff, mandatory-minimum penalties. Sessions has defended President Trump’s travel ban and threatened to take away funding from cities with policies he considers too lenient toward undocumented immigrants. The department’s new guidance and stances on voting rights and LGBT issues also might disenfranchise minorities and poor people, civil rights advocates say.

Justice officials say that Sessions’s actions reflect an aggressive, by-the-book interpretation of federal law and that his policies are geared toward fighting violent crime and drug trafficking.”

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Read the complete article at the above link.

Absurd and insulting! Actions speak louder than words, Gonzo! Every day that you spend in office mocks our Constitution, the rule of law, human decency, and the legacy of MLK and others who fought for racial and social equality and social justice under the law.

I have no doubt that if Dr. King were alive today, he and his followers would be on your and Trump’s  “hit list.” Indeed, peacefully but forcefully standing up to and shaming tone-deaf, White Nationalist, racially challenged politicos like you, who lived in the past and inhibited America’s future with their racism, was one of the defining marks of MLK’s life!

How do things like increasing civil immigration detention, building the “New American Gulag,” stripping unaccompanied children of their rights to an Immigration Court hearing, mindlessly attacking so-called “sanctuary cities,” mocking hard-working pro bono immigration attorneys and their efforts, reducing the number of refugees, excluding Muslims, building a wall, stripping protections from Dreamers, reducing legal immigration, favoring White immigrants, and spreading false narratives about Latino migrants and crime “honor” the legacy of Dr. King?

Indeed, the “Sanctuary Cities Movement” appears to have a direct historical connection to King’s non-violent civil disobedience aimed at the enforcement of “Jim Crow” laws. Much as today, those on the “wrong side of history” wrapped themselves in hypocritical bogus “rule of law” arguments as they mocked and violated the civil rights of African Americans. 

At some point, America needs and deserves a real Attorney General, one who recognizes and fights for the rights of everyone in America, including minorities, the poor, the most vulnerable, and the so-called undocumented population, who, contrary to your actions and rhetoric, are entitled to full Due Process of law under our Constitution. Imagine how a real Attorney General, one like say Vanita Gupta, might act. Now that would truly honor Dr. King’s memory.

PWS

01-17-18

 

DEPORTATION TO DEATH — HOW AMERICA FAILS TO LIVE UP TO ITS HUMANITARIAN OBLIGATIONS!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/theworldpost/wp/2018/01/15/lgbt-el-salvador/

Josefina Salomon reports from Mexico fro the Washington Post:

“MEXICO CITY — Cristel woke up on the freezing floor of a tiny room in a detention center in San Diego. She was alone, dirty, hungry and exhausted. It was April. Eight days earlier, she had been arrested on the American side of the border crossing at Tijuana, where she planned to claim asylum. She had been in solitary confinement since then. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers had given her no reason for her detention.

Five years on the run had left her drained. From the floor of that San Diego cell, it seemed like she was out of options. She could not bear the thought of being forced by ICE to return to El Salvador. That would be a death sentence.

Death threats from violent gangs had chased Cristel from her native El Salvador, through Guatemala and Mexico, up to the U.S. border. They kept her awake at night, echoing in the back of her head. In El Salvador and on her journey north, she had been bullied, threatened, robbed, beaten and raped. At one point, she had turned to sex work. She had been kidnapped and abused. She had escaped, but she still didn’t feel safe.

Cristel is not her real name. She is 25 and grew up in San Salvador. As a transgender woman, she has faced discrimination and violence nearly her entire life. My colleagues and I met Cristel half a dozen times over the last 18 months, first in San Salvador, and later at different points along her journey, as she moved toward what she hoped was salvation in the U.S.

Over time, Cristel lost weight and dark circles appeared under her eyes as fear, exhaustion and frustration took hold. Sometimes while we were talking, there would be seemingly unstoppable bursts of tears. Weeks might go by before we heard from her. Had she been hurt, or worse? The question, “What is going to happen to me?”, which she asked at every one of our meetings, became more and more urgent.\

. . . .

Starting in the 1990s, the U.S. was one of the first countries to begin admitting asylum seekers and refugees who were persecuted on the basis of their sexual orientation. While the Trump administration has not sought to change U.S. asylum law, it has made it clear that it aims to decrease the overall number of refugees admitted into the country and to raise the threshold for asylum seekers’ “credible fear” of persecution as a basis for their asylum.

According to figures from the U.S. Department of Justice, the number of asylum claims by people from El Salvador has been increasing dramatically in the past few years. There were nearly 18,000 claims in 2016 alone. While the number of people who have secured asylum in the U.S. increased in that period, so did the number of claims that were denied, abandoned or withdrawn. Many prospective asylum seekers and analysts have said this is because of the arduous process and the harsh detention conditions asylum seekers are forced to endure. The most vulnerable, like Cristel, often have few options but return to the danger they were desperately trying to escape in the first place.

In San Diego, after first being confined to solitary, Cristel was transferred to a cell that she shared with eight men. She was kept there for a month and a half. At her hearing, when it eventually came, she was appointed a pro bono lawyer, but her claim for asylum was denied. She was transferred to another detention center in Arizona, where she was handcuffed, put on a plane and sent back to a nightmare.

. . . .

She had gone back to live at her mother’s house, but the gang found her anyway. The extortion had resumed. Every time she is late with her payments, even by a day or two, gang members beat her. “I’m exhausted of being forced to pay to live. I want to leave but there’s nowhere to go.”

Sobbing, she said, “They are going to kill me.”

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Read the complete story at the link.

This is what “Trumpism” and “GOP restrictionism” are really about — turning our backs on those in the most need of protection.

One of the most disturbing things about this story is that, as noted by Solomon, the U.S. actually has been fairly routinely granting gender-based cases like this since at least the mid-1990s. See, e.g., Matter of Tobaso-Alfonso,20 I&N Dec. 819 (BIA 1990). In many U.S. Immigration Courts cases like this would routinely be granted, often with the DHS’s concurrence.

So, “Cristel” was unlucky.  She got the got the wrong Court, the wrong Judge, the wrong time, and perhaps the wrong pro bono attorney — and it’s likely to cost her life! That’s not justice, and that’s not a properly functioning U.S. Immigration Court that “guarantees fairness and due process to all.” Instead, the “captive” U.S. Immigration Court is turning into a “whistle-stop on the Trump/Sessions Deportation Railroad!” That’s something of which every true American should be ashamed. We need an independent, Due Process focused U.S. Immigration Court now!

PWS

01-16-18

THE HILL: PROFESSOR (& FORMER USCIS CHIEF COUNSEL) STEPHEN LEGOMSKY ON WHY THE TRUMP/SESSIONS FALSE NARRATIVE ATTEMPTING TO DEMONIZE & CRIMINALIZE ALL IMMIGRANTS IS SO TOXIC FOR AMERICA!

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/367269-trumps-lumps-all-immigrants-together-at-americas-risk

Steve writes:

“As we approach the first anniversary of the Trump presidency, a clear pattern emerges.

A Muslim immigrant and her U.S.-born husband kill civilians. Candidate Donald Trump’s reaction was to propose a ban on all Muslim immigrants.

Some refugees commit crimes. His reaction is to bar all refugees for 120 days and drastically cut refugee admissions after that.

A diversity-visa immigrant commits a terrorist act. President Trump‘s reaction is to call for repealing the diversity immigrant program.

A man is admitted under the sibling preference. His accompanying child attempts a terrorist attack years later. President Trump’s reaction is that all “chain immigration” should be banned.

 

The absurdity of condemning an entire group because of the actions of a single member seems self-evident. If a left-handed immigrant commits a crime, no one would propose banning all left-handed immigrants. The real question is whether there is a causal link between the commission of the crime and either the substantive criteria or the processes of the particular program.

No such link exists. For one thing, everyone who seeks admission to the United States under any of these programs is rigorously vetted. I know this firsthand, from my experience as chief counsel of the federal agency that admits immigrants and refugees.

. . . .

Anti-immigrant groups are fond of pointing out that, if an individual who committed a crime had never been allowed to enter, the crime would not have occurred. And that is true. But that observation could be made about any admission program. No matter how strict the criteria or how rigorous the vetting, there is always some possibility, however remote, that a given individual will one day commit a crime. Short of banning all foreign nationals from ever setting foot on U.S. soil, there is no way to reduce the risk to zero.

As with any other policy decision, the risks have to be balanced against the benefits. And there are benefits in allowing U.S. citizens to reunite with their family members, benefits in attracting workers with needed skills, benefits in diversifying the immigrant stream, and benefits in fulfilling a moral responsibility to welcome our fair share of those who fear for their lives.

Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Stephen Legomsky is an emeritus law professor at Washington University, the former chief counsel of the federal immigration services agency, and the principal author of “Immigration and Refugee Law and Policy,” which has been the required text for immigration courses at 185 law schools.”

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Go on over to The Hill at the link to read Steve’s complete article.

Thanks, Steve, for sending this my way and for these great and appropriate thoughts on MLK Day! It’s important for those of us who have spent a lifetime working in the field and have served the public in our Government to speak out against the various false narratives and perversions of programs that have served America well being pushed by the restrictionists who control this Administration’s immigration policies. Hate, fear, and loathing are not the answers that Dr. King was promoting!

PWS

01-15-18

LA TIMES: GOP APPARENTLY ADOPTS TRUMP’S WHITE NATIONALIST RESTRICTIONIST IMMIGRATION AGENDA WHILE ESSENTIALLY DEFENDING HIS RACISM — GOP Now Openly RepresentsThe Forces Of Ignorance & Intolerance In America!

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_popover_share.aspx?guid=c072dbb1-9778-4e79-a635-ce0b9b58b8d4

Lisa Mascaro reports for the LA Times:

“WASHINGTON — The furor over President Trump’s language about immigrants from “shithole countries” has partially obscured the substance of what he was demanding and the profound shift among Republicans beyond opposing illegal immigration to also pushing new limits on legal migrants, particularly of color.

Trump made the remark as he rejected a bipartisan proposal from Sens. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to resolve the status of some 700,000 so-called Dreamers facing deportation. In exchange for protecting them, Trump wanted more restrictions on legal immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, among other changes.

Those demands come as Trump has already put the country on track to remove 1 million immigrants over the next two years. Among them are the Dreamers — young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children — and more than 200,000 Salvadorans, nearly 60,000 Haitians and others from Central America who have lived in the U.S. legally, in some cases for decades, under temporary protected status that the administration is ending.

The mounting total is a policy reversal for Republicans, who until recently insisted that welcoming new arrivals was vital not just to the fabric of American life but in boosting the domestic economy. Now, many Republicans in Congress have moved to a more restrictionist position, following Trump’s lead.

Trump “has taken our issues off the back burner and thrust them into the spotlight,” said Roy Beck, executive director at Numbers USA, which argues for reducing immigration to midcentury levels, before passage of the 1965 immigration overhaul ushered in a new era of diverse migrants.

Beck marvels at the turn of events.

“The president has done as much as we hoped for,” he said.

Trump’s insistence on immigration restrictions may have increased the odds of a confrontation this week when Congress must vote on a measure to fund agencies or risk a partial government shutdown.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Aligning yourselves with Roy Beck says it all. The GOP’s push on undocumented immigration has become a smokescreen for a war on legal immigrants from non-European countries. That, in turn, is part of the White Nationalist attack on ethnic Americans, particularly individuals of color.

Trump’s crassness and lack of judgment has just blown the smokescreen and exposed the ugly racist and xenophobic underpinnings of the GOP’s “merit based” immigration charade. Folks who care about America’s future must resist this un-American GOP initiative.

Eventually, the majority of us who believe in a tolerant, diverse, welcoming, unafraid America that can resume its world leadership role must regain power from those driven by the toxic, intolerant views of a minority of Americans who foisted the national disaster of Trump upon our country!

PWS

01-14-18

GONZO’S WORLD: PROFESSOR KARI HONG EXPLAINS SIX WAYS THAT TRUMP, SESSIONS, & CO. ARE THE REAL SCOFFLAWS IN THEIR MISGUIDED CRUDSADE AGAINST SO-CALLED “SANCTUARY CITIES!”

https://thecrimereport.org/2018/01/08/sanctuary-cities-vs-trump-whos-really-breaking-the-law/

Professor Hong writes in The Crime Report:

“As we start a new year, the status of “sanctuary cities” promises to be a continuing flashpoint in the immigration debate. The Trump Administration cites the “rule of law,” and immigrants’ supposed failure to follow it, to justify its crackdown on cities that fail to refer undocumented immigrants who are arrested to federal immigration authorities.

But the president’s attempt to withhold funds from sanctuary jurisdictions doesn’t meet that rule-of-law standard.

Here’s some background. Since 2008, the federal government has sought state and local cooperation in enforcing immigration law under a program originally named Secure Communities, which allows police to check a person’s immigration status in a database maintained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), after he or she is stopped for a traffic violation or arrested for a state crime.

If there is a match, ICE asks the local entity to detain the individual until ICE determines whether an immigration hearing is required, and a judge will then decide if deportation is merited.

Those who support this program, including Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, claim states and cities must use Secure Communities to catch murderers and rapists. Trump issued an executive order deputizing state and local officers to make immigration arrests, and threatened to withhold money from any city and state that does not cooperate.

But ironically, according to four federal judges and a growing number of state courts, it’s Trump’s request that fails to follow the law.

The request flouts the rule of law on six counts.

First, the president seeks to punish “sanctuary jurisdictions.” But only Congress—not the president—can give or withhold federal funds.

The federal government’s lawyers understand the flaws in Trump’s order to withhold funding from jurisdictions. In one of the California cases, the Department of Justice argued that the federal judge should not enforce its order because Trump’s request is unenforceable and should just be ignored. (The judge didn’t buy that argument.)

Second, no one knows what the term “sanctuary jurisdictions” means. When John Kelly, currently the president’s chief of staff, headed the Department of Homeland Security and was tasked with penalizing such jurisdictions, he testified that he “do[esn’t] have a clue” on how to define a “sanctuary city.”

Generally, the term is understood to apply to cities and states that cooperate with the federal government on immigration arrests. But there are no means to define what a failure to act means. It could arise from a decision not to cooperate, but it could also be the result of a lack of opportunity.

That’s like penalizing a backup quarterback for not scoring touchdowns every time the starter plays; it’s simply not his job.

Third, the ICE database is filled with errors. In 2010, ICE detained an individual for three days who was in fact born in Puerto Rico, and therefore a U.S. citizen. This year, ICE agents erroneously detained Mohammed Ali’s son questioning his citizenship. They also detained a visiting Holocaust scholar for violating his visitor’s visa by accepting payment for a speech, not knowing that academics are exempt from that rule.

Fourth, the program is expensive. The federal government requires states and cities to pay for the detention of the non-citizen. Los Angeles stopped doing it after paying $26 million in one year. And when mistakes occur, ICE will not indemnify states or cities.

That means if a state or local police officer detains someone ICE has mistakenly determined is deportable, the state and city will be exposed to a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary compensation for that wrongful detention.

Fifth, even when predicated on correct information, a growing number of stateand federal courts are finding ICE’s requests unlawful and unconstitutional because they do not relate to any ongoing or prospective criminal activity.

Living in the country without status is not a crime. ICE’s requests thus run afoul of the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that the government detain only people who are suspected of committing crimes.

Sixth, the program is ineffectual.

In the nearly 10 years Secure Communities has existed, only a minority of the millions identified have a prior conviction for violent crime. Around 12 percent of the millions of non-citizens identified in this program had been convicted of “serious crimes”, which is a category that includes both violent crimes and non-violent crimes of forgery, fraud, and non-violent drug offenses. Another 25 percent had minor crimes or traffic infractions, such as driving their child to school without a license.

And approximately 40 percent of non-citizens who were picked up in this program had no criminal record.

Under Trump, although the number of immigration arrests increased 40 percent from last year, no more than six percent of those arrested had criminal records.

That low number should not be surprising.

If someone truly is a murderer, rapist, or posed a real danger, they would be rotting in a prison cell. They would not be in the streets, afraid that an ICE officer could somehow discover that they overstayed their visa 20 years ago.

This logic plays out in fact. A recent study concluded that residents in sanctuary cities experience lower crime rates than their counterparts. The case of Kathryn Steinle, 32, who was killed while walking in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf area in 2015, was used by Trump and immigration opponents as an example of the dangers posed to Americans by undocumented immigrants.

But while the perpetrator was a man who had already been deported five times because of criminal convictions, he proved to be the wrong symbol. Last month, a jury concluded that her death was a tragic accident from a gun misfiring and rejected both murder and manslaughter charges.

Editor’s Note: In response to the acquittal, the Justice Department announced it would file federal charges against the man, and issued an arrest warrant.

Worse, requiring local communities to enforce immigration law is harming its citizenry.

Police chiefs and commissioners have been outspoken in their support of sanctuary policies, arguing they are critical tools to encourage crime victims and witnesses in the immigrant community to cooperate with the police.

Their concerns were well-founded. In the first three months of 2017, the Los Angeles Chief of Police reported that among all ethnicities, only Latino individuals had a 25 percent drop in reporting rapes and domestic violence.

Keep in mind that those with criminal records are not always the so-called “bad hombres,” to use the president’s notorious phrase. Minor crimes have been used to deport combat veterans. A drug crime was the reason to deport a 9/11 volunteer who helped clean up the rubble of the World Trade Center.

Misdemeanors, expunged convictions, and even pardoned state crimes are deportable offenses. And immigration law sweeps in old convictions, so that green card holders who are middle-aged become deportable, regardless of years of proven rehabilitation.

It is too bad that “sanctuary” is the term to describe the jurisdictions that opt out of this program, because it wrongly implies that cities and states are providing amnesty. It would be unimaginable for local police—while issuing speeding tickets or investigating murders—to double check if the driver, the suspects or witnesses had properly filed their respective taxes with all the appropriate deductions, and then detain them until an IRS agent could review their past tax returns.

But that is exactly what is happening with immigration, or at least it was, until four federal judges—and counting—stopped Trump for failing to follow the law.

Kari Hong

Kari Hong

The lesson is clear. Actual criminals are best apprehended and punished by state criminal justice systems. Congress should focus on fixing the broken immigration system that had last seen reform over 20 years ago, and local cities should spend their time and money on local matters.

Casting blame on cities doesn’t solve anything. Forcing cities to do the work of the federal government is truly making things worse.

Kari Hong, an Assistant Professor at Boston College Law School, teaches immigration and criminal law. She founded a clinic representing non-citizens with criminal convictions in the Ninth Circuit, and has argued over 100 Ninth Circuit cases and 50 state criminal appeals.”

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The concept that Scofflaw Gonzo is “restoring the rule of law” at Justice is a cruel joke. “Gonzo’s law” has no real room for the rights of Blacks, Hispanics, Gays, Immigrants, Women, Muslims, or others who don’t fit his “Bannon-Miller” White Nationalist restrictionist agenda.

PWS

01-14-18

ELIZABETH BRUENIG @ WASHPOST GIVES THE MORAL ARGUMENT FOR A USG SHUTDOWN!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/democrats-should-shut-down-the-government-to-protect-innocent-people/2018/01/11/bc992c0c-f6ff-11e7-a9e3-ab18ce41436a_story.html

Breunig writes:

“If Congress cannot agree on a budget plan by Jan. 19, the government will shut down. This isn’t the outcome anyone wants. But Democrats ought to start steeling themselves now: If the Republican majority’s budget plan leaves the “dreamers” in limbo, fails to supply desperately needed aid to Puerto Rico and coastal states battered by natural disaster, or allows the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to wither away, Democrats need to be ready to shut the whole thing down.

It is necessary to recognize the damage a shutdown could cause in the course of recommending, as I am, that the Democrats prepare to let it happen. If the outcome were sure to be harmless, the possible costs would be small. But the moral stakes of this budget negotiation are extraordinarily high. Taking a stand for dreamers, children and disaster-stricken citizens will come with a price.

Trump has said a shutdown could be politically useful for him, and Democrats seem nervous. It’s hard to predict, at this point, which party (if either) a shutdown would benefit: Republicans could wind up with the blame, but they could also gain from underscoring the notion that government is broken. As Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and a Post contributor, warned me on Wednesday: “These government shutdowns feed into a narrative that is not politically neutral.”

There are practical concerns, too. “The biggest impact tends to be on people who work for the government [and] are nonessential employees,” Bernstein said. During past shutdowns, nonessential employees have been paid after the fact, but there is no guaranteeCongress would elect to do the same this time. Bernstein added that a shutdown would be “a ding to the economy” and “massive inconvenience,” putting all kinds of activities — from sorting out Social Security questions to visiting national parks to getting passports renewed — on hold. A shutdown wouldn’t grind daily life to a halt. But it would affect millions, with serious ramifications for many.

But there are potential strategic upsides for Democrats. For one, triggering a shutdown could demonstrate that Democrats take the interests and desires of the American people seriously. “The public wants CHIP, Puerto Rico and Texas to get relief, and wants to protect dreamers,” said Ben Wikler, Washington director of MoveOn.org. “Keeping all these priorities on hold in a perpetual game of kick-the-can doesn’t actually line up with what most Americans want.”

In an October Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 62 percent of respondents said Puerto Rico has not received the help it needs in the wake of Hurricane Maria; a November Kaiser survey likewise found that 62 percent of Americans consider funding CHIP a top priority — far above tax reform or strengthening immigration controls. In that same poll, only 16 percent of respondents said dreamers shouldn’t be allowed to remain in the country. Likewise, a Post-ABC News poll found that 86 percent of Americans want dreamers to be allowed to stay.

But it isn’t just the premise of democracy or the possibility of 2018 advantage that demands relentless commitment to these three causes. It’s ordinary morality.

The beneficiaries of CHIP, disaster aid and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals are innocent insofar as none of them brought onto themselves the statuses that have made them vulnerable. It is important to understand them as innocents at the mercy of a merciless faction; otherwise the harms they face might appear more morally complicated than they are. As the Roman Catholic Archbishop José Gomez recently wrote: “It would be cruel to punish [dreamers] for the wrongs of their parents, deporting them to countries of origin that they have never seen, where they may not even know the language.” It would likewise be cruel to allow children with diabetes to die for lack of insulin or to plunge poor families deep into debt because they happened to have a child with a disability. The same can be said for those who had the misfortune of living in areas struck by storms, the ne plus ultra of situations one didn’t cause and cannot prevent.

A shutdown would cause real problems for real people. It is, in the words of Wikler, “something to be avoided if possible, but not at the expense of fundamental priorities.” What is remarkable about the priorities at hand, however, is that they have no business being articles of compromise. These aren’t ordinary policy squabbles; they constitute a choice between America as a humane nation with democratic principles and America as a negligent sovereign with a dim future. The protection of innocents shouldn’t be up for debate. But it is. And Democrats can’t back down.”

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As a “Retired Fed” and a lifelong “Good Government” advocate who values the career Civil Service and what it does for America, I sure hate Government shutdowns! I’ve been through a number of them, some as an “essential” Senior Executive and some as a “non-essential employee.”

But, I think Breunig makes a strong argument that there are some issues that can’t really be “compromised” because they cross over strongly held moral and ethical values.

 

PWS

01-14-18

THE HILL: NOLAN SUMMARIZES THE NEW HOUSE GOP IMMIGRATION BILL, H.R. 4760, SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO READ 414 PAGES!

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/368746-dont-bother-with-gop-daca-bill-trump-already-has-a-winning-plan

Family Pictures

Nolan writes:

“. . . .

Republicans have introduced a DACA bill, the Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760), but the ACLU may be right in describing it as a “collection of hard line provisions designed to sabotage, rather than advance, the possibility of a bipartisan breakthrough.”

 

Highlights from this 414-page bill:

Legal immigration

Border security

Prevent future illegal immigration 

DACA

  • Provide temporary legal status for the 790,000 DACA participants that would have to be renewed every three years.

. . . .

It is apparent that Trump’s approach to putting together a DACA fix is far more likely to succeed than the one proposed by House Republicans.”

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Go on over to The Hill for Nolan’s complete, yet refreshingly succinct, analysis.

PWS

01-14-18

 

GONZO’S WORLD: PERVERSION @ JUSTICE: IN THE NAME OF TRUMP & WHITE NATIONALISM, HE’S TRASHED THE U.S. CONSTITUTION, THE RULE OF LAW, THE RIGHTS OF MINORITIES, GAYS, IMMIGRANTS, WOMEN, & OTHERS, AND OVERALL HUMAN COMPASSION & DECENCY– BUT, SESSIONS’S ONE NOTABLE INSTANCE OF ACTING ETHICALLY AND LAWFULLY IS UNFORGIVABLE IN TRUMP’S EYES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/sessions-tries-to-impress-trump-with-moves-at-justice-it-hasnt-worked/2018/01/10/e2053d84-f478-11e7-91af-31ac729add94_story.html?utm_term=.c7613a002b16

Josh Dawsey and Matt Zapotosky report for the Washington Post:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions is trying to find his way back into President Trump’s good graces.

For months, Sessions has asked senior White House aides to make sure the president knows what he is doing at the Justice Department, two White House advisers said, and has told allies he hopes policy decisions that garner news coverage will please Trump. ­Sessions’s team at Justice has crafted a public campaign to highlight the work it is doing to advance the president’s agenda. The department has also begun looking into matters that Trump has publicly complained are not being pursued.

Top Trump advisers, including White House counsel Donald McGahn and counselor Kellyanne Conway and former chief of staff Reince Priebus and former strategist Stephen K. Bannon, have at times joined the effort and pressed Trump to give his attorney general a second chance. They note that his department has helped reduce illegal border crossings and carried out a number of the president’s initiatives, such as cracking down on leaks and targeting the MS-13 street gang.

But Sessions, who was one of Trump’s earliest backers and gave up a safe Senate seat to join the administration, has, by all accounts, been unable to repair his relationship with the president. Trump has dismissed praise of Sessions, according to four White House officials and advisers, as he continues to rage about the Russia investigationand Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the probe into Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election and whether there was any coordination with the Trump campaign.

“He’s one of the most active Cabinet secretaries there is,” one White House official said. “He’s done a fine job. Does it wash away the sin of recusal? I don’t think so.”

. . . .

At the Justice Department, officials have tried to publicly tout their successes, hopeful that political allies and the president, a frequent television viewer, will take notice. They have done work that — in their view — should appeal to the president and his base, such as settling lawsuits with tea party groups, issuing guidance on religious liberty, cracking down on illegal immigration and rolling back various Obama-era guidances, including one advising courts to be wary of imposing heavy fines on those who can’t afford them.

“We’re trying to get our successes out in the ether,” one department official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss dynamics with the White House.

The official said Justice has communicated with some conservative constituencies, like law enforcement groups, and was recently heartened when the Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement praising Sessions’s decision to make it easier for U.S. prosecutors to enforce federal marijuana laws in states that had legalized the substance, advisers said.

“It’s that kind of stuff that you figure will lead to this tipping point where the audience of one says, ‘Wow, that’s pretty impressive,’ ” the official said.

But the official acknowledged that the department can’t seem to overcome the president’s frustration over Sessions’s recusal, and even some publicizing of successes can lead to mixed results. The department has allowed its top spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, to make television appearances, but while half of the interview will be about work officials want to promote, the conversation often turns to the Russia investigation, which is not helpful to Sessions, if Trump is watching.

. . . .

One department official said Sessions had no real option under federal regulations but to recuse himself. Even a number of top White House lawyers and aides argued to Trump that Sessions needed to step aside.

. . . .

Sessions is widely disliked among liberals, who say his policies are rolling back decades of social and civil rights progress. But among conservatives and those on the far right, Sessions is a strong spot in the administration.

A few months ago, Leonard Leo, a legal adviser to Trump, said the president asked him about Sessions. Leo said he told the president he was impressed by the department, particularly its “religious liberty” guidance and the performance of the solicitor general’s office. Leo said Trump largely listened to his assessment.

“For conservatives going into the Trump administration, the question was whether the department’s morale could be restored and whether there would be a greater sensitivity to respect for the rule of law in the department,” Leo said in an interview. “I think Attorney General Sessions has done a good job of creating the right atmosphere in the department.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Poor Gonzo! Here he thought that a heavy dose of White Nationalism, racism, voter suppression, xenophobia, and scoffing at Constitutional rights like abortion at the DOJ would overcome a single unavoidable act of acting ethically and following the law. Boy, was he wrong! What Trump really wanted was a complete toady dedicated to protecting Trump, his family, and a few of his friends from the natural consequences of their inappropriate behavior. Gonzo should have taken Mike Pence’s class in “Toadyism 101” before accepting the job!

PWS

01-12-18

 

NY TIMES: YES, HE’S A RACIST! — AND THE GOP ENCOURAGES/ENABLES HIM! – NOBODY IS GOING TO “SAVE” US FROM TRUMP & THE GOP IF WE DON’T!

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/12/opinion/trump-racist.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region&_r=0

David Leonhardt writes in the NY Times:

“When it comes to President Trump and race, there is a predictable cycle. He makes a remark that seems racist, and people engage in an extended debate about whether he is personally racist. His critics say he is. His defenders argue for an interpretation in which race plays a secondary role (such as: Haiti really is a worse place to live than Norway).

It’s time to end this cycle.

No one except Trump can know what Trump’s private thoughts or motivations are. But the public record and his behavior are now abundantly clear. Donald Trump treats black people and Latinos differently than he treats white people.

And that makes him a racist.

Is it possible to defend some of his racially charged statements by pointing out that something other than race might explain them? Sure. Is it possible that he doesn’t think of himself as a racist who views white people as superior to nonwhite people? Yes.

But the definition of a racist — the textbook definition, as Paul Ryan might say — is someone who treats some people better than others because of their race. Trump fits that definition many times over:

• Trump’s real-estate company was sued twice by the federal government in the 1970s for discouraging the renting of apartments to African-Americans and preferring white tenants, such as “Jews and executives.”

• He spent years claiming that the nation’s first black president was born not in the United States but in Africa, an outright lie that Trump still has not acknowledged as such.

• He began his 2016 presidential campaign by disparaging Mexican immigrants as criminals and “rapists.”

• He has retweeted white nationalists without apology.

• He frequently criticizes prominent African-Americans for being unpatriotic, ungrateful and disrespectful.

• He called some of those who marched alongside white supremacists in Charlottesville last August “very fine people.”

• He is quick to highlight crimes committed by dark-skinned people, sometimes exaggerating or lying about it (such as a claim about growing crime from “radical Islamic terror” in Britain). He is very slow to decry hate crimes committed against dark-skinned people (such as the murder of an Indian man in Kansas last year).

• At the White House yesterday, Trump vulgarly called for less immigration from Haiti and Africa and more from Norway.

If you think this list is incomplete, email me at Leonhardt@nytimes.com.

For more on this topic, read my colleague Nick Kristof wrestling with the topic during the 2016 campaign: “Here we have a man who for more than four decades has been repeatedly associated with racial discrimination or bigoted comments about minorities,” he wrote. “While any one episode may be ambiguous, what emerges over more than four decades is a narrative arc, a consistent pattern — and I don’t see what else to call it but racism.”

And Slate’s Jamelle Bouie: “It’s impossible to know what’s in his heart. But what Trump feels is less important than what he does.”

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Meanwhile, elsewhere on the NYT editorial page, Professor Roxane Gay, a distinguished Haitian American writes:

“I could write a passionate rebuttal extolling all the virtues of Haiti, the island my parents are from, the first free black nation in the Western Hemisphere. I could write about the beauty of the island, the music and vibrant art, the majesty of the mountains, the crystalline blue of the water surrounding her, the resilience of the Haitian people, our incredible work ethic, our faith. I could tell you about my parents, how they came to this country with so many other Haitians, how they embraced the American dream and thrived, how I and so many first-generation Haitian-Americans are products of our parents’ American dreams.

Or I could tell you about the singular, oppressive narrative the media trots out when talking about Haiti, the one about an island mired in poverty and misery, the one about AIDS, the one about a country plagued by natural and man-made disasters, because these are the stories people want to hear, the stories that make Haiti into a pitiable spectacle instead of the proud, complicated country it is. I could tell you how I have spent an inordinate amount of time and energy, throughout my life, educating people about Haiti and disabusing them of the damaging, incorrect notions they have about the country of my parents’ birth.

On the eve of the eighth anniversary of the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake that devastated Haiti, the president, in the Oval Office, is said to have wondered aloud why he should allow immigrants from “shithole countries” like Haiti, El Salvador and African nations to enter the United States. Mr. Trump has tweeted a denial that he made this statement. “He said those hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly,” Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, who was in the room, said Friday.

But the president has to know that even if video footage of the comment existed, there wouldn’t be any political consequences for him. He has to know, like we all do, that xenophobic commentary plays well with his base, the people who were more than happy to put him in office because they could seamlessly project their racism and misogyny onto his celebrity persona. It’s no wonder Fox News hosts have defended the comment.

Now, in response to the news about the reports of the vile remark, there are people saying “vote” and highlighting the importance of the 2018 midterm elections, as if American democracy is unfettered from interference and corruption. There is a lot of trite rambling about how the president isn’t really reflecting American values when, in fact, he is reflecting the values of many Americans. And there are entreaties to educate the president about the truth of Haiti as if he simply suffers from ignorance.

But the president is not alone in thinking so poorly of the developing world. He didn’t reveal any new racism. He, once again, revealed racism that has been there all along. It is grotesque and we must endure it for another three or seven years, given that the Republicans have a stranglehold on power right now and are more invested in holding onto that power than working for the greater good of all Americans.

What I’m supposed to do now is offer hope. I’m supposed to tell you that no president serves forever. I’m supposed to offer up words like “resist” and “fight” as if rebellious enthusiasm is enough to overcome federally, electorally sanctioned white supremacy. And I’m supposed to remind Americans, once more, of Haiti’s value, as if we deserve consideration and a modicum of respect from the president of the United States only because as a people we are virtuous enough.

But I am not going to do any of that. I am tired of comfortable lies. I have lost patience with the shock supposedly well-meaning people express every time Mr. Trump says or does something terrible but well in character. I don’t have any hope to offer. I am not going to turn this into a teaching moment to justify the existence of millions of Haitian or African or El Salvadoran people because of the gleeful, unchecked racism of a world leader. I am not going to make people feel better about the gilded idea of America that becomes more and more compromised and impoverished with each passing day of the Trump presidency.

This is a painful, uncomfortable moment. Instead of trying to get past this moment, we should sit with it, wrap ourselves in the sorrow, distress and humiliation of it. We need to sit with the discomfort of the president of the United States referring to several countries as “shitholes” during a meeting, a meeting that continued, his comments unchallenged. No one is coming to save us. Before we can figure out how to save ourselves from this travesty, we need to sit with that, too.

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Thanks primarily to the African-American Community in Alabama, we all were saved from the nightmare of having racist, xenophobic, homophobic theocrat Roy Moore thrust upon the U.S. Senate. But, “White Folks” are going to chip in big time to save the country from Trump and his GOP apologists/handlers/fellow travelers. No less than the future of American Democracy and that of the so-called “Free World” is at stake.

PWS

01-12-18

NEWS FROM THE NEW DUE PROCESS ARMY (“NDPA”) – MICHELLE MENDEZ AT CLINIC REPORTS HIRING OF THREE NEW LITIGATORS!

My friend and NDPA stalwart Michelle Mendez over at CLINIC reports thei hiring of three new immigration litigators to assist in the battle to keep the Trump Administration from trampling the Due Process rights of immigrants (and others):

“We are thrilled to announce the addition of three outstanding advocates to our Defending Vulnerable Populations team within CLINIC’s Training and Legal Support Program:

 

Georges Francis, Senior Attorney

Rachel Naggar, Remote Legal Teams Project Attorney

Vickie Neilson, Senior Attorney

 

Georges Francis obtained his J.D. from Florida International University where he previously obtained a B.A. in business administration. He was compelled to attend law school after volunteering at the Krome Detention Center where he witnessed the disparate treatment of Haitians in removal proceedings and the hardships all ICE detainees and their families endured while trying to navigate the complicated immigration court process. Since graduating from law school and prior to CLINIC, Georges served as managing attorney for Catholic Charities Legal Services of the Archdiocese of Miami from 2006 to 2017. There, he gained over 11 years of experience litigating and managing detained and non-detained removal cases. Georges is fluent in Creole, proficient in French, and speaks basic Spanish. He is a member of the New Jersey bar and will be working remotely initially from Coral Gables, Florida and then from Charlotte, North Carolina where he will represent CLINIC in the Center of Excellence collaboration.  

 

Rachel Naggar holds a B.S. in Family Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park and a J.D. from Boston College Law School. During law school, Rachel was a summer clinical fellow at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. Rachel then worked as a staff attorney at the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project in Arizona from September 2009 to May 2011 before transitioning to the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem in the Immigration Defense Practice from June 2011 to June 2015. Thereafter, Rachel was an associate attorney Glickman Turley LLP handling immigration and criminal matters, including federal criminal appeals, and then a staff attorney at Project Citizenship. She is a member of the Maryland and Massachusetts bars. Rachel will represent CLINIC in a new pilot project in collaboration with AILA and American Immigration Council’s Immigration Justice Campaign. She works remotely from Brookline, Massachusetts.

Vickie Neilson has worked as the Legal Director of Immigrant Justice Corps, an immigration legal fellowship program that seeks to expand the quality and quantity of immigration legal services, since 2014.  Vickie has also worked in the Office of Chief Counsel of USCIS Refugee and Asylum Division, as the legal director of Immigration Equality, and as the legal director of the HIV Law Project.  She has taught as an adjunct professor at CUNY School of Law and New York University School of Law.  Vickie is the Chair of the Immigration Committee of the New York City Bar Association and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association where she is co-chair of the AILA New York Ethics Committee and a member of the National Asylum Committee.  She is the editor and co-author of Immigration Law and the Transgender Client, and is a contributing author to AILA’s Guide to U.S. Citizenship & Naturalization Law.  She is a graduate of CUNY School of Law and Harvard University.  She is admitted to the New York Bar. Starting February 26th, she will work remotely from Pleasantville, New York.

 

And, if you know anyone who may be interested in joining our team as the E-Learning Program Developer, send that person our way! Thank you!

 

Gratefully,

 

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

 

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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Congrats to all! And thanks for joining the (unfortunately) never ending battle to force the U.S. Government and this Administration to live up to the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution! What if we had a Government that actually believed in and followed the Constitution for vulnerable migrants and everyone else in the United States? Now, THAT would be a “Great America!”

PWS

01-11-17

 

ADMINISTRATION PANICS AS BORDER ARRIVALS (NOT SURPRISINGLY) CONTINUE TO RISE – BUT, CLAIMS OF AN “EMERGENCY” ARE TOTALLY BOGUS! – TAL @ CNN REPORTS!

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/10/politics/border-crossings-up-trump-effect/index.html

Tal isn’t just following DACA. She “does it all” when it comes to migration. Here’s her latest report:

“Trump admin grapples with rise in border crossing numbers it once touted

By Tal Kopan, CNN

The Trump administration is pointing to a recent uptick in illegal border crossings as evidence that it needs more authority — even as it continues to tout a longer-term decrease as proof of the effectiveness of its policies.

Illegal entries to the US have risen substantially over the past few months.

In a rare statement on its monthly report of apprehensions and rejections at the border, the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday both praised the numbers and said work remained.

“The final border apprehension numbers of 2017, specifically at the southern border, undeniably prove the effectiveness of President Trump’s commitment to securing our borders,” said DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton, noting the numbers over the last year were 40% below the final year of President Barack Obama’s tenure.

But, Houlton said, the recent increase spelled trouble.

“The significant increase over the last month in the number of family units and unaccompanied children coming across the border illegally highlights the dire need for Congress to immediately adopt responsible pro-American immigration reforms. … The Secretary will require fixes to these loopholes as part of any immigration package negotiated (in a meeting Tuesday) at the White House.”

After a sharp drop in the number of undocumented immigrants attempting to cross the border at the beginning of the Trump administration, the President and his administration frequently cited the low numbers as evidence that Trump’s immigration policy works.

But starting in the summer, crossings began to again approach historic levels. With 40,513 apprehensions and rejections at the southern border in December, the total numbers are behind fiscal years 2016 and 2017, but surpass crossings in fiscal years 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The administration has employed aggressive rhetoric and spoken consistently about securing the border and cracking down on undocumented immigrants in the US. Arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement are up — but little has operationally changed at the border and deportations last year lagged behind the last year of Obama’s presidency.

Trump is pushing for aggressive policies as part of a deal to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, as conservatives argue that allowing undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship will only add incentives for potential illegal crossings in the future.”

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

We’re clearly dealing with “Amateur Night at the Bijou” here! Anybody with even passing familiarity with or competency in immigration policy would know better than to do the “victory dance” based on a couple of months of DHS enforcement data. It’s not like DHS is renowned for either the accuracy of its enforcement statistics or the depth and quality of analysis thereof.

First, and foremost, the increased arrivals of families and children from the Northern Triangle presents no real security issue. Most turn themselves in at the border or the nearest Border Patrol Station and seek asylum. Indeed, if anything, the unrelentingly negative rhetoric of the Trumpsters probably leads a few individuals who would otherwise turn themselves in or apply at the port of entry to try to get inland to avoid more or less mandatory detention.

Clearly, the driver here is conditions in the Northern Triangle, which continue to deteriorate, notwithstanding the absurd political determination by Secretary Neilsen that it was” A-OK” to send long term residents from El Salvador back there. The solution is definitely not more militarization of the border or more unnecessary and inhumane detention.

No, its a combination of 1) working to improve conditions that force folks to flee the Northern Triangle; 2) working with the UNHCR other stable countries in the Americas to distribute the flow more evenly among “receiving countries;” and 3) developing either a temporary refuge program or a more realistic, generous, and easily administered program to grant asylum, withholding, and/or relief under the CAT to those many who meet the legal requirements properly interpreted.

At bottom, there really isn’t much difference between these folks and waves of Cuban refugees whom we accepted, processed, and successfully integrated into our society with greatly beneficial results for both the Cubans and America.

Time to be done with the xenophobia and the racially-inspired bias against Central Americans fleeing for their lives.  No, this Administration is unlikely to do that. And, that’s why the problems caused by irregular migration are likely to continue long into the future no matter how much “tough guy” rhetoric Trump or anyone else spews out and how much we spend on unnecessary border militarization.

Yes, there are real security and law enforcement problems at the Southern Border. For sure! But more women and children fleeing conditions in the Northern Triangle aren’t among them. If anything, the Trump Administration’s fixation on those who aren’t a real security problem deflects focus from the real problems of drug and human smuggling and the possible entry of those who would actually be risks to our safety and security.

PWS

01-10-18

 

ROBIN UREVICH @ CAPITAL & MAIN: “ICEY DEATH” — How The “New American Gulag” Is Killing Civil Immigration Detainees!

Investigative Reporter Robin Urevich of Capital & Main is writing a continuing series on immigration detainee deaths in ICE detention. Here are excerpts from her first two articles.

“Since 2016, 23 men and women have died inside Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers. They came from 15 countries in Latin America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the Caribbean, and ranged in age from 23 to 65. The detainees included Osmar Gonzalez Gadba, a Nicaraguan national who hanged himself in his cell at the Adelanto Detention Facility near San Bernardino; a Panamanian named Jean Jimenez Joseph, who also committed suicide, in Georgia’s Stewart Detention Center; and Moises Tino Lopez, a young Guatemalan who died of “cardiac arrest” in a Nebraska jail. They were not prisoners serving criminal sentences, but immigrants who existed in a legal twilight without the freedom to leave their places of incarceration — in at least one case, because the detainee couldn’t afford the cost of bail.

Read “The Lonely Death of Moises Tino Lopez”
Capital & Main has launched a new project, Deadly Detention, to give names and faces to these 23 dead, and to explain how they met such sad fates in the country most had come to in search of better lives. It is a counterweight to ICE’s secrecy and comes as the Trump administration expands an already sprawling detention system to accommodate the growing number of immigrants caught up in its deportation surge. (In September and October of this year, the Department of Homeland Security issued notices to potential bidders that it was interested in establishing new detention centers near Chicago, Detroit, St. Paul, Salt Lake City and one in South Texas that would hold some 1,000 detainees.)

We have petitioned for detailed information about each detainee death since 2016 under the federal Freedom of Information Act. ICE publicly released 13 of these detainee death reviews this month. Although far from conclusive, the reviews aim a rare spotlight on poor and often delayed care at the nation’s nearly 250 detention centers and county jails that house immigration detainees, many of which are in remote locations and largely hidden from public view.

Capital & Main has dug deeply into how and why these and other deaths occurred, whether or how they could be prevented, who is responsible and how the system can function more humanely.

This project begins as ICE signals a move toward even less openness than it has previously displayed. The agency has received preliminary approval from the National Archive and Record Administration to destroy records of detainee deaths and in-custody sexual assaults after 20 years, and solitary confinement documents after just three years.”

Read the rest of Robin’s First article here:

Deadly Detention: Why Are Immigrants Dying in ICE Custody?

Here’s Part Il:

“It’s an open question whether Tino Lopez would be alive if he hadn’t landed in the Hall County Jail. But it was clearly bad luck that got him locked up in the first place.

According to Rose Godinez, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney, Tino Lopez would have had a chance to fight his case with a competent immigration attorney. He hadn’t committed a crime in the United States; he was ordered deported simply because he had entered here illegally, was caught and later failed to check in with immigration authorities, possibly because he didn’t understand the requirement.

He probably had a case for asylum, according to Godinez. Tino Lopez and his wife claimed they had been threatened by gun-wielding supporters of a mayoral candidate they had opposed in Guatemala, and said they feared for their lives. Juarez has since been granted a work permit in her asylum case on the same grounds, and has been told by her attorney that she’ll likely prevail.

Tino Lopez’s death triggered a criminal investigation by the Nebraska State Patrol and a grand jury proceeding, both required by Nebraska law following inmate deaths. The grand jury determined no crime was committed in his death. But an ICE review concluded that the Hall County Jail, which currently houses some 80 immigrant detainees, violated a number of ICE federal detention standards on medical care, and took other questionable actions that concern the agency.

All told, the documents raise questions about the jail’s ability to properly care for medically vulnerable detainees.

“The first [seizure] should have prompted a high level of concern and attention,” said Dr. Marc Stern, a correctional health-care expert. “And if the first one didn’t, the second one should have.”
In recent years ICE has come under fire for alleged substandard medical care in detention centers and in county jails. In a Human Rights Watch report released earlier this year, two physicians who reviewed 18 ICE detainee deaths found that poor care probably contributed to seven of them.

At the Hall County Jail, as in many ICE detention facilities, health care is provided by a for-profit contractor. Advanced Correctional Healthcare, based in Peoria, Illinois, serves over 250 jails and prisons in 17 Midwestern and Southern states and, on its website, states the company is saving thousands of dollars for local governments. But in the past 12 years, more than 150 inmates or their families have filed suit against the company and the local jails it serves, alleging they were hurt or their loved one killed as a result of poor care from ACH. Three wrongful death suits have been lodged in federal court against the company in the past six months alone.”

Here’s the link to the complete article:

Deadly Detention: The Lonely Death of Moises Tino Lopez

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Congress is legally and morally responsible for funding, and in many cases actively encouraging, the New American Gulag. But, “We the People” are also responsible for those supposedly elected to govern in accordance with our Constitution and values. Tell your Senators and Representatives that it’s time to drastically reduce and carefully regulate civil immigration detention!

PWS

01-06-18

 

JRUBE IN WASHPOST; GONZO’S SCAPEGOATING OF UNDOCUMENTED RESIDENTS IMMORAL & STUPID!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/12/27/scapegoating-illegal-immigrants-isnt-just-immoral-its-bad-crime-policy/

Rubin writes:

“Anti-immigrant voices’ smokescreen that they were only opposed to illegal immigration has been shredded. They now revel in their calls for immigration exclusionism. If allowed to persist, it will distort and damage our economy and impede entrepreneurship. It has already encouraged a wholly-misguided approach to crime fighting.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Trump have concocted a theory that we are awash in crime because of illegal immigrants, especially those living in “sanctuary cities.” That is patently false, and Sessions’ efforts to punish cities that refuse to do the feds bidding in detaining and helping to deport illegal immigrant have been swatted down in court. However, the barrage of litigation over sanctuary cities and obsession with the issue has led us to ignore both the successes and failures in crime fighting — and the causes of each.

. . . .

So when Los Angeles mayors and police chiefs tell the Justice Department that making police into immigration agents will impair their community policing success and divert valuable resources, maybe we should listen to them. Conservatives used to understand that in federalism we have the “laboratories of democracy,” namely the opportunities to find through experimentation what works and what doesn’t. Rather than riding roughshod of localities, Sessions should highlight the successes of local police departments, urge others to follow suit and increase funding — rather than threaten to yank it for spurious reasons — for those localities that need it the most. Alas, his ideological fixation with demonizing illegal immigrants seems to preclude such a fact-based approach.“

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Read JRube’s compleat article at the link.

As she indicates, Gonzo is undoubtedly the most “fact and law free” Attorney General in our lifetime. Almost every one of his amazingly horrible and destructive  decisions is driven by deeply ingrained ideological bias. Senator Liz Warren and the others who spoke up at the confirmation hearings were right. But, the GOP Senate tuned them out. Remember that the next time you go to the polls!

PWS

12-27-17

 

THE NY TIMES TAKES YOU INSIDE THE “NERVE CENTER” OF THE WHITE NATIONALIST EMPIRE: TRUMP’S “GONZO” IMMIGRATION POLICIES DRIVEN BY XENOPHOBIA, RACISM, IRRATIONAL FEAR, FAKE NEWS, MISINFORMATON, AND BIAS! – Trump & Cronies Deny Our Nation’s Immigrant Past While Seeking To Destroy Our Future As A Powerful and Diverse Democracy!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/23/us/politics/trump-immigration.html?_r=0

 

Michael D. Shear & Julie Hirschfield Davis report for the NY Times:

“WASHINGTON — Late to his own meeting and waving a sheet of numbers, President Trump stormed into the Oval Office one day in June, plainly enraged.

Five months before, Mr. Trump had dispatched federal officers to the nation’s airports to stop travelers from several Muslim countries from entering the United States in a dramatic demonstration of how he would deliver on his campaign promise to fortify the nation’s borders.

But so many foreigners had flooded into the country since January, he vented to his national security team, that it was making a mockery of his pledge. Friends were calling to say he looked like a fool, Mr. Trump said.

According to six officials who attended or were briefed about the meeting, Mr. Trump then began reading aloud from the document, which his domestic policy adviser, Stephen Miller, had given him just before the meeting. The document listed how many immigrants had received visas to enter the United States in 2017.

More than 2,500 were from Afghanistan, a terrorist haven, the president complained.

Haiti had sent 15,000 people. They “all have AIDS,” he grumbled, according to one person who attended the meeting and another person who was briefed about it by a different person who was there.

Forty thousand had come from Nigeria, Mr. Trump added. Once they had seen the United States, they would never “go back to their huts” in Africa, recalled the two officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive conversation in the Oval Office.

As the meeting continued, John F. Kelly, then the secretary of homeland security, and Rex W. Tillerson, the secretary of state, tried to interject, explaining that many were short-term travelers making one-time visits. But as the president continued, Mr. Kelly and Mr. Miller turned their ire on Mr. Tillerson, blaming him for the influx of foreigners and prompting the secretary of state to throw up his arms in frustration. If he was so bad at his job, maybe he should stop issuing visas altogether, Mr. Tillerson fired back.

Tempers flared and Mr. Kelly asked that the room be cleared of staff members. But even after the door to the Oval Office was closed, aides could still hear the president berating his most senior advisers.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, denied on Saturday morning that Mr. Trump had made derogatory statements about immigrants during the meeting.

“General Kelly, General McMaster, Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Nielsen and all other senior staff actually in the meeting deny these outrageous claims,” she said, referring to the current White House chief of staff, the national security adviser and the secretaries of state and homeland security. “It’s both sad and telling The New York Times would print the lies of their anonymous ‘sources’ anyway.”

While the White House did not deny the overall description of the meeting, officials strenuously insisted that Mr. Trump never used the words “AIDS” or “huts” to describe people from any country. Several participants in the meeting told Times reporters that they did not recall the president using those words and did not think he had, but the two officials who described the comments found them so noteworthy that they related them to others at the time.

The meeting in June reflects Mr. Trump’s visceral approach to an issue that defined his campaign and has indelibly shaped the first year of his presidency.

How We Reported This Story

The Times conducted over three dozen interviews with current and former administration officials, lawmakers and others close to the process.

Seizing on immigration as the cause of countless social and economic problems, Mr. Trump entered office with an agenda of symbolic but incompletely thought-out goals, the product not of rigorous policy debate but of emotionally charged personal interactions and an instinct for tapping into the nativist views of white working-class Americans.

Like many of his initiatives, his effort to change American immigration policy has been executed through a disorderly and dysfunctional process that sought from the start to defy the bureaucracy charged with enforcing it, according to interviews with three dozen current and former administration officials, lawmakers and others close to the process, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail private interactions.

But while Mr. Trump has been repeatedly frustrated by the limits of his power, his efforts to remake decades of immigration policy have gained increasing momentum as the White House became more disciplined and adept at either ignoring or undercutting the entrenched opposition of many parts of the government. The resulting changes have had far-reaching consequences, not only for the immigrants who have sought to make a new home in this country, but also for the United States’ image in the world.

“We have taken a giant steamliner barreling full speed,” Mr. Miller said in a recent interview. “Slowed it, stopped it, begun to turn it around and started sailing in the other direction.”

It is an assessment shared ruefully by Mr. Trump’s harshest critics, who see a darker view of the past year. Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigration group, argues that the president’s immigration agenda is motivated by racism.

“He’s basically saying, ‘You people of color coming to America seeking the American dream are a threat to the white people,’” said Mr. Sharry, an outspoken critic of the president. “He’s come into office with an aggressive strategy of trying to reverse the demographic changes underway in America.”

. . . .

Even as the administration was engaged in a court battle over the travel ban, it began to turn its attention to another way of tightening the border — by limiting the number of refugees admitted each year to the United States. And if there was one “deep state” stronghold of Obama holdovers that Mr. Trump and his allies suspected of undermining them on immigration, it was the State Department, which administers the refugee program.

At the department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, there was a sense of foreboding about a president who had once warned that any refugee might be a “Trojan horse” or part of a “terrorist army.”

Mr. Trump had already used the travel ban to cut the number of allowable refugees admitted to the United States in 2017 to 50,000, a fraction of the 110,000 set by Mr. Obama. Now, Mr. Trump would have to decide the level for 2018.

At an April meeting with top officials from the bureau in the West Wing’s Roosevelt Room, Mr. Miller cited statistics from the restrictionist Center for Immigration Studies that indicated that resettling refugees in the United States was far costlier than helping them in their own region.

Mr. Miller was visibly displeased, according to people present, when State Department officials pushed back, citing another study that found refugees to be a net benefit to the economy. He called the contention absurd and said it was exactly the wrong kind of thinking.

But the travel ban had been a lesson for Mr. Trump and his aides on the dangers of dictating a major policy change without involving the people who enforce it. This time, instead of shutting out those officials, they worked to tightly control the process.

In previous years, State Department officials had recommended a refugee level to the president. Now, Mr. Miller told officials the number would be determined by the Department of Homeland Security under a new policy that treated the issue as a security matter, not a diplomatic one.

When he got word that the Office of Refugee Resettlement had drafted a 55-page report showing that refugees were a net positive to the economy, Mr. Miller swiftly intervened, requesting a meeting to discuss it. The study never made it to the White House; it was shelved in favor of a three-page list of all the federal assistance programs that refugees used.

At the United Nations General Assembly in September, Mr. Trump cited the Center for Immigration Studies report, arguing that it was more cost-effective to keep refugees out than to bring them into the United States.

“Uncontrolled migration,” Mr. Trump declared, “is deeply unfair to both the sending and receiving countries.”

. . . .

As the new year approached, officials began considering a plan to separate parents from their children when families are caught entering the country illegally, a move that immigrant groups called draconian.

At times, though, Mr. Trump has shown an openness to a different approach. In private discussions, he returns periodically to the idea of a “comprehensive immigration” compromise, though aides have warned him against using the phrase because it is seen by his core supporters as code for amnesty. During a fall dinner with Democratic leaders, Mr. Trump explored the possibility of a bargain to legalize Dreamers in exchange for border security.

Mr. Trump even told Republicans recently that he wanted to think bigger, envisioning a deal early next year that would include a wall, protection for Dreamers, work permits for their parents, a shift to merit-based immigration with tougher work site enforcement, and ultimately, legal status for some undocumented immigrants.

The idea would prevent Dreamers from sponsoring the parents who brought them illegally for citizenship, limiting what Mr. Trump refers to as “chain migration.”

“He wants to make a deal,” said Mr. Graham, who spoke with Mr. Trump about the issue last week. “He wants to fix the entire system.”

Yet publicly, Mr. Trump has only employed the absolutist language that defined his campaign and has dominated his presidency.

After an Uzbek immigrant was arrested on suspicion of plowing a truck into a bicycle path in Lower Manhattan in October, killing eight people, the president seized on the episode.

Privately, in the Oval Office, the president expressed disbelief about the visa program that had admitted the suspect, confiding to a group of visiting senators that it was yet another piece of evidence that the United States’ immigration policies were “a joke.”

Even after a year of progress toward a country sealed off from foreign threats, the president still viewed the immigration system as plagued by complacency.

“We’re so politically correct,” he complained to reporters in the cabinet room, “that we’re afraid to do anything.”

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Read the full, much more comprehensive and detailed, article at the link.

Disturbing for sure, but unfortunately not particularly surprising for those of us who have watched the Administration roll out its toxic, ill-informed immigration policies. Perhaps ironically, while the immigration issue has certainly allowed Trump to capture and control the GOP, polls show that his extreme restrictionist, xenophobic views on immigration are generally out of line with the majority of Americans (although not necessarily the majority of GOP voters).

PWS

12-23-17