Supremes Drop Back, Boot It Deep, J. Gorsuch Calls For Fair Catch, Play To Resume In Fall Quarter! — I.O.W. They “Punted” The 3 Remaining Immigration Cases On The Fall 2016 Docket!

Actually, only two of them”went to Gorsuch,” that is, were set for re-arguement next Fall, presumably because the Justices were tied 4-4. The other case was kicked back to the 9th Circuit to reconsider in light of Ziglar v. Abbasi, the Court’s recent decision on “Bivens actions.” Here’s a link to my prior Ziglar blog:

http://immigrationcourtside.com/2017/06/19/relax-cabinet-members-supremes-say-no-monetary-damages-for-unconstitutional-acts-ziglar-v-abbasi/

You can read all about it over on ImmigrationProf Blog in a short article by Dean Kevin Johnson at this link:

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/immigration/2017/06/supreme-court-ends-2016-term-with-three-immigration-decisions.html

 

PWS

06-26-17

The Gibson Report, June 26, 2017 — Note EOIR Is Recruiting For US Immigration Judges, Application Period Closes JUNE 29, 2017

The Gibson Report, June 26, 2017

The IJ Recruitment link is under “Calls for Action.” I agree wholeheartedly with Elizabeth that it would be great to see some folks who have been advocates for immigrants included in the modern Immigration Judiciary. But, based on the last 16 years, don’t hold your breath. The Immigration Judiciary for decades to come is being put together without fair consideration of those whose primary experience was gained outside of government.

PWS

06-26-17

BREAKING: SUPREMES GRANT CERT., ALLOW TRUMP’S TRAVEL BAN TO GO INTO EFFECT — WITH IMPORTANT EXCEPTIONS — CASE DOCKETED FOR OCT. — MIGHT BE “MOOT” BY THEN!

Here’s the Court’s complete “per curiam” (unsigned) opinion with separate concurring and dissenting opinion by Justices Thomas, Gorsuch, & Alito:

SCTravelBan16-1436_l6hc

The Supreme Court handed the Trump Administration at least a partial victory on the controversial “Travel Ban 2.0” which had been enjoined by the Ninth and Fourth U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. The Court: 1) granted the petitions for certiorari filed by the Solicitor General in behalf of the Trump Administration and scheduled the case for Oral Argument at the beginning of the October 2017 Term; and 2) granted in part the Solicitor General’s request to stay the lower courts’ injunctions pending review.

However, in partially lifting the injunctions, the Court left in effect a significant  part of those injunctions: the Travel Ban may not be applied to a) “foreign nationals who have a [pre-existing] credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” and b) “an individual seeking admission as a refugee who can credibly claim a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

The dissent would have stayed all parts of the lower courts’ injunctions. Justice Thomas, joined by Justices Alito and Gorsuch, criticized the majority for having cerated a non-statutory category of individuals who can “credibly claim a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” He fears that the meaning of these exceptions will itself become a fertile ground of additional litigation before the Court can resolve the merits of these cases.

Additionally, the Court noted that since the bar on internal review of procedures relating to visa issuance was lifted on June 14, 2017, and the Government has represented that the review will be completed within 90 days, the case with respect to visa issuance to non-refugees might well be moot before the Court can get to the merits. The court instructs the parties to brief that issue.

“Quickie Analysis”

The Trump Administration can legitimately view this as a much-needed (from their standpoint) victory. All nine Justices appear to be prepared to rule that the Executive has virtually unbridled authority to bar the admission, at least temporarily, of foreign nationals with no connections to the United States.

It also appears that Justices Thomas, Gorsuch, and Alito would find that the Executive’s essentially unreviewable authority extends even to individuals who have a connection with the United States.

However, those challenging the Travel Ban have some reason to hope because at least six Justices seem to remain open to the possibility of engaging in some type of meaningful judicial review of Executive decisions regarding foreign nationals abroad who have established some connections to the U.S.

There may also be mootness issues with respect to some or all of the injunction with respect to refugee admissions. The new fiscal year for refugee admissions begins on October 1, 2017, before the Court will have heard argument in these cases. Before the beginning of the fiscal year, the Trump Administration must under the Refugee Act of 1980  “consult” with Congress on the number and allocation of refugee admissions for fiscal year 2018.  “Statutory consultation” was one of the things that the Trump Administration neglected to do before purporting to suspend refugee admissions and dramatically slash the number of fiscal year 2017 refugee admissions established by the Obama Administration after undertaking the required statutory consultation.

The lack of any reasonable rationale by the Trump Administration for reversing the  prior statutory determination made by the the Obama Administration after consultation with Congress was cited by the Ninth Circuit in upholding the original injunction. But, that issue should also be moot before the Court decides theses cases on the merits.

PWS

06-26-17

 

CAT REOPENING: 9th Cir. Finds “the BIA abused its discretion by disregarding or discrediting the undisputed new evidence submitted by Agonafer regarding increased violence toward homosexuals in Ethiopia!” — AGONAFER v. SESSIONS!

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2017/06/23/13-73122.pdf

We conclude that the BIA abused its discretion because it clearly disregarded or failed to give credit to the post-2007 evidence submitted by Agonafer, which demonstrates that the country conditions regarding the treatment of homosexuals in Ethiopia are qualitatively different from the country conditions presented to the IJ in 2007. Whereas before, we noted that there was “no evidence in the record of any violence directed against homosexuals in Ethiopia,” Agonafer, 467 F. App’x at 754, at least two of the reports submitted with Agonafer’s motion to reopen provide reports of violence directed against homosexuals in Ethiopia since 2007, including violence in connection with imprisonment. Additionally, we reject the government’s contention that Agonafer must present categorically different evidence of “individual relevancy” from what he presented in his earlier proceedings. It is undisputed that Agonafer is a homosexual male. Given Agonafer’s sexual orientation and the evidence of the treatment of homosexuals in Ethiopia, there is sufficient evidence that, if proved, would establish his prima facie eligibility for deferral of removal under the CAT. See Aguilar-Ramos v. Holder, 594 F.3d 701, 705 (9th Cir. 2010) (“[A] CAT applicant may satisfy his burden with evidence of country conditions alone.”).”

Before: William A. Fletcher and Richard C. Tallman, Circuit Judges, and Paul C. Huck,* District Judge. Opinion by Judge Huck * United States District Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, sitting by designation.

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Yes, it’s only one case out of tens of thousands that the BIA reviews each year. But, mistakes like this from what is supposed to be an “expert judiciary” committed to using “best practices” to “guarantee fairness and due process for all” actually can cost lives!

And mindlessly ramming more cases into an overwhelmed system won’t help  the situation.

PWS

06-26-17

FORMER DEPUTY AG SALLY YATES SLAMS SESSIONS’S “GONZO APOCALYPTO” PLAN TO TURN AMERICA INTO “INCARCERATION NATION!”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/sally-yates-jeff-sessions_us_594eb52ee4b02734df2ac45b

According to this article from HuffPost:

“Sessions has long been a staunch conservative on crime. He once supported legislation in his home state of Alabama that would have required the death penalty for a second drug trafficking conviction, including for marijuana, which is now legalized in a number of states. Before the 2016 election, there was bipartisan agreement from groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Koch Industries, and on Capitol Hill about the need to pursue criminal justice reform. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to advance it.

Yates defended the work of Obama’s Justice Department, saying by allowing prosecutors to use their discretion on sentencing for low-level offenses, officials could dedicate resources to prosecuting the most dangerous individuals.

“Under Smart on Crime, the Justice Department took a more targeted approach, reserving the harshest of those penalties for the most violent and significant drug traffickers and encouraging prosecutors to use their discretion not to seek mandatory minimum sentences for lower-level, nonviolent offenders,” she wrote. “While there is always room to debate the most effective approach to criminal justice, that debate should be based on facts, not fear.”

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Fear and loathing are, of course, key ingredients of the “Gonzo Apocalypto Program.” Let’s see, in Tudor England they publicly hanged, mostly poor, folks for minor crimes; traitors were drawn and quartered; and the upper classes were beheaded for political, offenses, real or imagined. So, given the obvious deterrent effect, crime should have largely disappeared from the Anglo-Saxon heritage. No real historical record that even the most grisly and gruesome punishments had any real deterrent effect, not to mention that justice was often more or less arbitrary and imposed by an entrenched upper class. But, learning from history, or even knowing much about it, is hardly a Trump Administration specialty.

And, the opposite of “Smart” on Crime would be . . . ?

PWS

06-26-17

NOLAN HITS 100! — “Ninth Circuit gives green light for much larger travel ban” in THE HILL is Rappaport’s 100th Published Article! — Read It Here!

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/339300-ninth-circuit-gives-green-light-for-much-larger-travel-ban?amp

Nolan writes:

“The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a new decision on President Donald Trump’s March 6 Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.”

The court affirmed the portions of the district court injunction that apply to the 90-day, six-country travel ban, but it vacated the portions of the injunction that relate to the government doing an internal review of its vetting procedures, which could lead to a much larger ban based on a different criterion.

. . . .

Where this is headed

Unlike the travel ban, which, notwithstanding pessimistic claims to the contrary, is just a 90-day suspension, the new ban will apply to uncooperative governments until they agree to cooperate, which in some cases will never happen. What’s more, it almost certainly will apply to more than six countries. According to DHS Secretary John Kelley, in addition to the six countries on the travel ban list, 13 or 14 other countries also have very questionable vetting procedures.”

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Read Nolan’s complete article in The Hill at the link.

Congratulations, Nolan, on reaching then”century mark!” You are prolific. Just from putting together this blog, I can appreciate all of the hours of reaearch, writing, and interviews that 100 published articles represents. And, unlike you, I don’t even have to deal with an editor (although my wife Cathy points out that I could use one).

Here’s a link to a list of all 100 of Nolan’s published articles:

Article List

Congrats, again, Nolan! Looking forward to the “next 100.”

PWS

06-26-17

 

Sessions Says DOJ Will Help Defend States (Like Texas) Seeking To Punish “Sanctuary Cities” — House GOP Pushes Bill Targeting Sanctuary Jurisdictions!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trump-administration-backs-texas-in-lawsuit-over-harsh-sanctuary-city-law/2017/06/23/327ba290-581f-11e7-ba90-f5875b7d1876_story.html?utm_term=.4c47afa58d76

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday that the Trump administration “fully supports” Texas’s harsh new ban on sanctuary cities, and the Department of Justice will help defend it against a federal court challenge next week.

Lawyers for the tiny border city of El Cenizo, the League of United Latin American Citizens and major cities such as Dallas and Austin say the law requiring them to detain immigrants for federal deportation agents is “patently unconstitutional” for a number of reasons. On Monday, they will urge U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio to block the law from taking effect Sept. 1.

The state of Texas argues that the government is within its rights to bar localities from interfering with immigration enforcement. Under the law, officials could lose their jobs, police chiefs could go to jail, and governments could face fines of up to $25,500 a day if they adopt or enforce policies that prevent law enforcement officers from asking about a person’s immigration status or complying with requests to detain immigrants, a job that has been chiefly the responsibility of federal agents.

 

“President Trump has made a commitment to keep America safe and to ensure cooperation with federal immigration laws,” Sessions said in a statement. “Texas has admirably followed his lead by mandating state-wide cooperation with federal immigration laws that require the removal of illegal aliens who have committed crimes.”

Luis Roberto Vera, Jr. the national general counsel for the League of United Latin American Citizens, which is a plaintiff in the case, said the Texas law is discriminatory because it primarily targets Hispanics, one of the state’s largest groups.

El Cenizo Mayor Raul Reyes. El Cenizo is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit that will seek to temporarily halt Texas’ sanctuary cities ban before it takes effect Sept. 1. (Matthew Busch/Matthew Busch For The Washington Post)
“It’s a continuation of Donald Trump’s war on Mexicanos,” Vera said. “That’s the sad part about this.”

The faceoff comes amid rising tensions nationwide over the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration and its relentless march forward despite a string of losses in federal courts.

On Friday, congressional aides said House Republicans are advancing a bill that would withhold some federal grant money from so-called sanctuary cities; give greater legal weight to immigration detainers, which are requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to local jails to hold immigrants who are being targeted for deportation; and shield local governments from lawsuits related to detainers. A second bill would increase penalties against deported immigrants who return illegally.”

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Yup, full employment for lawyers, on all sides.

Bad time to be an immigrant, refugee, or minority in America. Great time to be a lawyer!

PWS

06-24-17

2D CIR Raps BIA, USIJ For Applying Wrong Tests For Agfel —- NY 5th Degree Sale Of A Controlled Substance Not A “Drug Trafficking Crime” — Respondent Eligible For Cancellation — KENNARD GARVIN HARBIN v. JEFFERSON SESSIONS III

http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-2nd-circuit/1865217.html

“We hold that NYPL § 220.31 defines a single crime and is therefore an “indivisible” statute. Accordingly, the agency should have applied the so-called “categorical approach,” which looks to the statutory definition of the offense of conviction, rather than the particulars of an individual’s behavior, to determine whether a prior conviction constitutes an aggravated felony. See Mellouli v. Lynch, 135 S. Ct. 1980, 1986 (2015). Now applying the categorical approach, we conclude that Harbin’s conviction under the NYPL § 220.31 did not constitute a commission of an aggravated felony. Harbin’s § 220.31 conviction therefore did not bar him from seeking cancellation of removal and asylum.”

PANEL: Circuit Judges CABRANES, POOLER, and PARKER.

OPINION BY:  Judge Pooler.

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When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn? Attempts by U.S. Immigration Judges and the BIA to “blow by” proper application of “divisibility analysis” and the “categorical approach” in an effort to maximize removals under the “aggravated felony” provisions of the INA continue to draw criticism from higher court judges. However, they probably are “less career threatening” with respect to the BIA’s relationship to their political bosses at the DOJ. Whoever heard of a due process court system being owned and operated by the chief prosecutor? And, nobody can doubt that Attorney General Jeff Sessions sees himself as the Chief Prosecutor of migrants in the United States. But, to be fair, the last Attorney General to actually attempt to let the BIA function as an an independent quasi-judicial body was the late Janet Reno. And, that was 17 years ago.

PWS

06-23-17

U.S. District Judge In Detroit Temporarily Halts DHS Effort To Expel Chaldean Christians To Iraq!

https://apnews.com/65537e11f1a941c7954faaebdd35f75d/Detroit-judge-halts-deportation-of-Iraqi-Christians

AP reports:

“DETROIT (AP) — A judge on Thursday temporarily halted the deportation of more than 100 Iraqi Christians living in the Detroit area who fear torture and possible death if sent back to Iraq.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith said in a written order that deportation is halted for 14 days while he decides if his court has jurisdiction to hear their plight.

The Justice Department had argued that the detainees, including many who were recently rounded up after decades in the U.S., must go to immigration court to try to remain in the U.S., not U.S. District Court. But the American Civil Liberties Union said they might be deported before an immigration judge can consider their requests to stay.

Goldsmith heard arguments Wednesday. He said he needs more time to consider complex legal issues.

Potential physical harm “far outweighs any conceivable interest the government might have in the immediate enforcement of the removal orders before this court can clarify whether it has jurisdiction to grant relief to petitioners on the merits of their claims,” Goldsmith said.

Most of the 114 Iraqis are Chaldean Christians, but some are Shiite Muslims and converts to Christianity. They were arrested on or about June 11 and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said all have criminal convictions.

Iraq recently agreed to accept Iraqi nationals subject to removal from the U.S.

“The court took a life-saving action by blocking our clients from being immediately sent back to Iraq,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a release. “They should have a chance to show that their lives are in jeopardy if forced to return.”

Besides the 114 arrested in the Detroit area, 85 other Iraqi nationals were arrested elsewhere in the country, according to ICE. As of April 17, there were 1,444 Iraqi nationals with final orders of removal from the U.S. Eight already have been returned to Iraq.

The detainees include Louis Akrawi, who served more than 20 years in Michigan prisons for second-degree murder. He was accused of arranging a shooting that killed an innocent bystander in 1993.

“He’s 69 years old, he has two artificial knees, and he needs surgery on both eyes. Sending him back to Iraq is unfair,” his son, Victor Akrawi, told The Detroit News.”

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Perhaps, Evangelical Christians who supported Trump thought they would get a break. But, in this particular operation, being a Christian doesn’t seem to have helped. Muslims are also being removed.

PWS

06-23-17

LOONY LAW: Absurdly Overbroad “Terrorist” Definition Punishes Our Friends And Comforts REAL Terrorists — Led By GOP, Legislators Shirk Duty To Restore Reason To Law!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/23/world/middleeast/immigration-asylum-syria-terrorism.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Somini Sengupta reports in the NY Times:

“A prominent Syrian dissident has been told he cannot get political asylum in the United States because he organized a conference with Syrian opposition groups — even though the American government has supported members of those same groups in the Syrian civil war.

The case of the dissident, Radwan Ziadeh, 41, who lives in a suburb of Washington, reveals a stark gap between American immigration law and foreign policy.

Ever since counterterrorism provisions were expanded after the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States government has considered many armed opposition groups around the world, including some that it backs diplomatically or financially, to be “undesignated terrorist organizations.” Anyone who provides “material support” to those groups can be disqualified from receiving immigration papers.

Mr. Ziadeh is a prominent political opponent of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. He has received fellowships at Harvard, Georgetown and the United States Institute of Peace, which is funded by Congress. He has testified in Congress, written books and served briefly as a spokesman for the Syrian opposition umbrella group that the American government supported.

But early this month, Mr. Ziadeh was informed that he would be denied political asylum in the United States. In a 12-page letter laying out the government’s “intent to deny” his asylum claim, Citizenship and Immigration Services explained that he had provided “material support” to Syrian groups that the government considered undesignated terrorist organizations.

Mr. Ziadeh said he was shocked. He and his wife have lived in the United States for 10 years on a series of temporary permits, the latest of which expires next spring. Their children were born here.

“Right now, I can’t even plan for the future,” he said. “What will happen? I have three American kids. I love, actually, the U.S. I visited all 50 states, even U.S. territories. I visited all the presidential libraries.”

Going back to Syria is not an option. The government there has a warrant out for his arrest; the Islamic State has him on a list of Syrians it wants dead.

At issue, specifically, is that Mr. Ziadeh organized a series of conferences from November 2012 to May 2013 to discuss a democratic transition in Syria.

Among those invited to the workshops, held in Istanbul, were self-described commanders in a loose confederation of rebel groups called the Free Syrian Army, as well as political leaders affiliated with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

Both groups are well known to the American government. For years, the Central Intelligence Agency and its counterparts in Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other countries have provided some Free Syrian Army factions with salaries, arms and other supplies. The State Department has also provided aid.

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood’s members also had central roles in the Syrian National Council, the political umbrella group that the United States supported.

Robert S. Ford, a former American ambassador to Syria, said in an email that the American government did not consider either of the groups that Mr. Ziadeh invited to the workshops to be a terrorist organization.

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, Mr. Ford added, has no “administrative connection” to Muslim Brotherhood factions in other countries. (President Trump’s advisers have debated but not decided whether to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group.)

Moreover, Mr. Ford said, both Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, as secretaries of state, met with opposition delegations that included Brotherhood members.

“The U.S. administration, myself included, regularly spoke with members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood who were themselves members of Syrian opposition coalitions and delegations,” he wrote.

In its letter to Mr. Ziadeh, Citizenship and Immigration Services said he had provided “material support” to members of the groups when his organization, the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies, paid for their airfare and hotel bills in Istanbul, using money from the Canadian government.

“As both the FSA and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood used weapons with the intent to endanger the safety of Syrian government officials, both groups have engaged in terrorist activity such that they met the definition of an undesignated terrorist organization (Tier III) at the time you provided material support,” the letter states.

“You have therefore ‘engaged in terrorist activity,’” it went on to say.

Mr. Ziadeh is appealing the government’s decision.

His lawyer, Steven H. Schulman, said that inviting members of opposition groups to a conference to discuss the political future of Syria should not be seen as promoting the groups’ agendas or providing them with material support.

“I find it offensive, because no reasonable person would sit down and say Radwan Ziadeh is a terrorist,” Mr. Schulman said. “There are real terrorists out there. We all know that. Somehow, we are unable to distinguish between people who actually engage in terrorist activity and who do not engage in terrorist activity.”

The label “undesignated terrorist organization” has been in place since the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Many organizations that have engaged in violence, whether or not the United States supported them, have fallen under that term, said Anwen Hughes, a lawyer who specializes in asylum cases at Human Rights First, an advocacy group.

Providing “material support” to those groups can mean anything from fighting alongside them to paying them ransom. In 2008, an Iraqi man who worked as an interpreter for American forces in Iraq was denied a green card because he had belonged to a Kurdish group seeking to oust Saddam Hussein.

Ms. Hughes said one of her former clients had been denied asylum because he paid a ransom to an armed group in order to release a kidnapped family member. “It’s a fairly widespread problem that’s not limited to Syrians,” she said.”

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Read the complete story at the link.

Unfortunately, U.S. Immigration Judges’ hands are tied on this provision. Not only must they apply it, but they have been denied authority to issue the limited waivers available. Instead, that authority has been given to lower level adjudicators at the USCIS with no right to appeal a denial. In fact, there isn’t even a process to actually apply for the waiver. Only ICE can “refer” a case from Immigration Court to USCIS for consideration of the waiver.

Article III Courts have had various opportunities to shut down this “arbitrary, capricious, and absurdly overbroad” abuse of Legislative and Executive authority. But, perhaps because they lack the backbone to stand up for individuals caught up in the aura of a “national security” problem, they have looked the other way.

To make things worse, the Trump Administration appears to be moving in the direction of revoking all or some of the currently existing waiver authority. No wonder our foreign policies in Syria and many other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere are so ineffective and in such disarray. Who would offer to help to a feckless country that treats its friends and allies like enemies?

PWS

06-23-17

Think The Federal Courts Are Going To Save Our Republic From Trump? — Guess Again! — Trump (Or, More Accurately The Heritage Foundation) Is About To Remake Them In His Own Image!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-judicial-nominees-federalist-society_us_59497166e4b04c5e50256f0c?lq

HuffPost reports:

“WASHINGTON ― Most days, it seems like President Donald Trump is sabotaging his own agenda, one tweet at a time. But the White House has been quietly plowing ahead in one area that will affect generations of people: the courts.

Trump is unbelievably well-positioned to fill up federal courts with lifetime judges. He inherited a whopping 108 court vacancies when he became president ― double the number of vacancies President Barack Obama inherited when he took office.

The reason Trump gets to fill so many seats is partly because Obama was slow to fill court vacancies early in his tenure. But the main reason is Republicans’ years-long strategy of denying votes to Obama’s court picks. They refused to recommend judicial nominees, filibustered others, used procedural rules to drag out the confirmation process and, by Obama’s final year, blocked nominees they had recommended just to prevent him from filling more seats.

ALISSA SCHELLER/HUFFPOST

Court vacancies have only increased since Trump took office, as older judges have steadily retired. Trump has already nominated more than three times as many judges as Obama had at this point in his presidency ― 21 compared with six for Obama.

With Republicans in control of the Senate, Trump’s court picks will have a relatively easy time getting confirmed, too. The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), has hinted that he may tweak the committee’s rules to make it easier for Republicans to advance some of Trump’s nominees without Democratic support. And once nominees make it to the Senate floor, it takes only 51 votes to advance their nominations and confirm them. There are 52 Republicans, which means they could confirm all of Trump’s district and circuit court nominees without a single Democratic vote.

It used to take 60 votes to advance district and circuit court nominees, but Senate Democrats changed the filibuster rule in 2013 in order to get around a Republican blockade on Obama’s court picks. Now Trump benefits from that change.

It is, in effect, the perfect combination of factors for conservatives eager to tilt the nation’s courts to the right. Trump has piles of seats to fill, a list of nominees recommended to the White House by outside conservative groups, and a Republican Senate eager to confirm them.

“It is a huge opportunity,” said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who specializes in judicial nominations. “The question is how quickly they will move in the future. A lot of what they’ve done so far is low-hanging fruit and pretty easy to do.”

ALISSA SCHELLER/HUFFPOST

A good chunk of Trump’s judicial nominees so far have come through recommendations from The Federalist Society, a right-wing legal organization. Its executive vice president, Leonard Leo, was instrumental in helping the White House put Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. He recommended Gorsuch to Trump last fall and took a temporary leave from his job earlier this year to help prepare Gorsuch for his Senate confirmation hearing.

Leo also gave Trump a list of names of potential judicial picks that conservatives would like to see on the federal bench. Trump has already nominated several of them.

One of them is John Bush, a Kentucky lawyer who runs a local chapter of The Federalist Society. Trump nominated Bush, 52, last month to a lifetime post on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Progressive groups are vowing to fight his confirmation given some of his past remarks, which include comparing abortion to slavery and referring to them as “the two greatest tragedies in our country.” Bush has also said he strongly disagrees with same-sex marriage, mocked climate change and proclaimed “the witch is dead” when he thought the Affordable Care Act might not be enacted.

Damien Schiff, also a member of The Federalist Society, is Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The 37-year-old attorney at the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation would serve a 15-year term if confirmed. He came under fire for calling Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy “a judicial prostitute” on a blog several years ago. He has also criticized efforts to prevent bullying of LGBTQ students, referring to messages of equality as “teaching ‘gayness’ in schools,” and has argued that states should be allowed to criminalize “consensual sodomy.”

Both of those nominees had their Senate confirmation hearings last week. They’re now waiting for the Judiciary Committee to reconvene and vote out their nominations.

It’s not unusual for a president to consult with outside groups for potential judicial nominees. What’s different, says Tobias, is how heavily Trump seems to be relying on this particular group versus working directly with senators for judicial recommendations from their states, which is the standard path.

“I think Leonard Leo is just feeding him those people,” he said. “There are real questions about that, whether that’s good for the courts and gets us the finest nominees.”

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Read the entire article at the above link.

Remember, folks, these are lifetime appointments, so although, one way or another, Trump will eventually be gone, his judges will be around for decades. And, because Democrats can’t win Senate elections, they have lost their power to exert any influence whatsoever over Trump’s choices.

PWS

06-22-17

 

THE NEW YORKER: Bureaucratic Delays Impede Due Process In U.S. Immigration Court!

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/what-will-trump-do-with-half-a-million-backlogged-immigration-cases

Jonathan Blitzer writes in The New Yorker:

“In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions travelled to Nogales, Arizona, to make an announcement. “This is the Trump era,” he said. “The lawlessness, the abdication of the duty to enforce our immigrations laws, and the catch-and-release practices of old are over.” While his tone was harsh, and many of the proposals he outlined were hostile to immigrants, he detailed one idea that even some of his critics support: the hiring of more immigration judges.

U.S. immigration courts are facing a backlog of over half a million cases—and each one, on average, takes almost two years to close. These delays mean that everyone from asylum seekers to green-card holders faces extended stays in detention while awaiting rulings. Speaking about the problem, one immigration judge recently told the Times, “The courts as a whole lose credibility.”

Much of the backlog can be traced back to the Obama Administration, when spending on immigration enforcement went up, while Congress dramatically limited funds for hiring more judges. The number of pending cases grew from a hundred and sixty-seven thousand, in 2008, to five hundred and sixty thousand, in 2017, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. The broader trend, though, goes back farther. Since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, in 2002, the increase in resources allocated for border security and immigration policing has always significantly outpaced funding for the courts. (Immigration courts are part of the Department of Justice.) As more and more people have been arrested, detained, and ordered deported, the courts have remained understaffed and underfunded. “We’ve always been an afterthought,” Dana Leigh Marks, the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, told me.

Roughly three hundred judges nationwide are responsible for the entire immigration caseload, and hiring is slow—filling a vacancy typically tak

es about two years, according to the Government Accountability Office. In Nogales, Sessions said that he would try to streamline the hiring process. But until that happens the Administration has been relocating judges to areas where they’re deemed most necessary. “We have already surged twenty-five immigration judges to detention centers along the border,” Sessions said, as if talking about military troop levels.”

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To state the obvious, a court should be run as an independent court system, not a bureaucratic agency within a highly politicized Executive Department like the DOJ. (If you ever wondered whether the DOJ was politicized, recent events should make it clear that it is.)

And, Jeff, these are judges, not troops; and the individuals are not an “invading army,” just mostly ordinary folks seeking refuge, due process, and fair treatment under our laws and the Constitution. Remember, it’s not an immigration crisis; it’s a crisis involving the steady degradation of due process within the U.S. Immigration Court system.

PWS

06-21-17

JOINING THE CLUB: Sessions “Lawyers Up!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/attorney-general-sessions-retains-a-personal-attorney/2017/06/20/698d9828-55f0-11e7-ba90-f5875b7d1876_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_sessionslawyer-941pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.7a3bb2306c43

Sari Horwitz reports in the Washington Post:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has been under fire in recent months for his contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential race, has retained the services of Washington lawyer Charles J. Cooper, a longtime friend.

Cooper was seen sitting behind Sessions when he testified last week before the Senate Intelligence Committee about President Trump and Russia.

“I do represent the Attorney General, but, as with all clients, do not comment on confidential client matters,” Cooper wrote in an email to The Washington Post.

Cooper, a partner with his own firm, Cooper & Kirk, would not say when he was retained by Sessions or whether he is representing Sessions in the special counsel’s investigation into Trump and Russia. Sessions, who was the first senator to endorse Trump on the campaign trail, was a top adviser to Trump during his race for president.

Cooper also assisted Sessions with his January confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, discussing those preparations in an interview with The Post at the time.

Sarah Isgur Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman, described Cooper as “the attorney general’s longtime friend and counsel.”

The National Law Journal first reported that Cooper is now Sessions’s personal attorney.

Cooper, who clerked for Justice William H. Rehnquist on the Supreme Court, served in the Justice Department’s civil rights division and was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as the assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel. He was also a partner at McGuireWoods and at Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge.

Cooper was also under consideration to serve as the Justice Department’s solicitor general. He withdrew his name in February, citing his concern after watching Sessions go through the confirmation process to become attorney general.

“After witnessing the treatment that my friend Jeff Sessions, a decent and honorable man who bears only good will and good cheer to everyone he meets, had to endure at the hands of a partisan opposition that will say anything and do anything to advance their political interests, I am unwilling to subject myself, my family and my friends to such a process,” Cooper said in a statement at the time.”

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Read the complete article at the above link.

I think Cooper confuses “geniality” with “goodwill.” That Sessions is a bearer of “goodwill” would be news to most blacks, hispanics, immigrants, migrants, and LGBT individuals in the U.S. Yes, we’ve all noted that he is “genial.” But the South has been famous for producing polite, charming, genial white politicians who spent careers making sure that African Americans were denied their legal and constitutional rights, their human dignity, and their rights to fully participate in American society. Actions speak louder than words. And, since assuming the office of Attorney General, Sessions’s actions have been geared specifically at implementing a nationalist agenda inconsistent with the interests of many Americans, particularly minorities, immigrants, and the LGBT community.

As I have said numerous times over the past five months, the Trump Administration has been a “lawyer’s dream.” Prosecutors, defense counsel, judges, and legal reporters have all been very busy, and that’s not likely to change.

PWS

06-20-17

 

Virginia Mother Of 2 Deported N/W/S Governor’s Pardon!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/liliana-cruz-mendez-falls-church-mother-of-two-deported-to-el-salvador/2017/06/20/23c317ea-5600-11e7-b38e-35fd8e0c288f_story.html?hpid=hp_local-news_fairfaxdeport-7pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.09aea91718af

“Federal immigration officials have deported a mother of two from Falls Church back to her native El Salvador despite ­eleventh-hour efforts by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and others to help her stay in the United States.

Liliana Cruz Mendez was deported Wednesday, according to CASA, the nonprofit group that represented her after she was detained in May at a routine check-in with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE confirmed the deportation.

After she was taken into custody, McAuliffe (D) pardoned Cruz Mendez’s 2014 conviction for a minor driving offense in hopes that it would spare her from having to leave the country.

The governor said she did not pose a public-safety threat. But federal immigration officials said she would be deported, noting that she had been in the United States illegally since 2006.

Cruz Mendez’s husband, Rene Bermudez, said the family was shattered by the deportation. He sobbed as he recounted how their children, aged 10 and 4, wept when they heard Cruz Mendez was gone.

“How can they take away their mother?” he said.

Bermudez said he cannot join his wife in El Salvador because he is in the process of obtaining a green card and must stay in the United States. He said he and his wife have been together for 15 years and have always paid taxes and gone to church.

He and his son and daughter last saw Cruz Mendez through a window at the immigration detention center.

“People don’t understand because they haven’t lived it. But believe me,” he said, his voice faltering, “I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”

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Read the entire story at the link.

Intentional cruelty and arbitrary enforcement usually come back to haunt those who smugly carry them out. Exercising power for power’s sake is abusive.

PWS

06-20-17

 

 

IMMIGRATION HISTORY: Here’s The Chase-Burman Mini-Library Of Immigration History, Courtesy Of “The Green Card!”

75 Years of the BIA

http://www.fedbar.org/Image-Library/Sections-and-Divisions/Immigration/Green-Card-Spring-2016-updated.aspx

“Matter of L-, 1 I&N Dec. 1 (BIA 1940), was issued on August 29, 1940, the day before the Board of Immigration Appeals came into existence.2 Some background about the Board’s early history is required to explain this. From 1922 until 1940, a five-member Board of Review existed within the Department of Labor to review all immigration cases. The Board of Review had no decision- making authority of its own; it could only recommend action to the Secretary of Labor. In 1933, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was formed within the Department of Labor,3 and from 1933 until 1939 the Board of Review made its recommendations to the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization.4″

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Commentary on “Pattern or Practice” Persecution

http://www.fedbar.org/Image-Library/Sections-and-Divisions/Immigration/Green-Card-Fall-2016-.aspx

In INS v. Cardoza-Fonseca, its landmark 1987 decision establishing that the burden of proving a “well-founded fear of persecution” is significantly less than fifty percent, the Supreme Court relied on the following scholarly example: “Let us…presume that it is known that in applicant’s country of origin every tenth adult male person is either put to death or sent to some remote labor camp… In such a case it would be only too apparent that anyone who managed to escape from the country would have ‘well-founded fear of being persecuted’ on his eventual return.”2 While the Court’s decision predates the “pattern or practice” regulation by more than three years, the example it relies on (which predates the regulation by 24 years) presents a classic “pattern or practice” scenario. The hypotheti- cal establishes (1) a group, i.e., all adult males in a particular country; and (2) information establishing systemic persecution of one in ten members of such group. all members of the group therefore have a well-founded without the need to explain their individual circumstances.”

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The History of Racism in U.S. Immigration


http://www.fedbar.org/Image-Library/Sections-and-Divisions/Immigration/the-green-card-winter-2017.aspx

“Racism was codified in this country’s original natu- ralization law. The Naturalization Act of 1790 limited the right to naturalize to “free white persons.” Following the Civil War, the Act of July 14, 1870, added “aliens of African nativity” and “aliens of African descent” to those eligible to naturalize. However, all others considered “non-white” continued to be barred from obtaining United States citizenship. In 1922, the Supreme Court denied Takao Ozawa, a Japanese immigrant who had lived in the U.S. for 20 years, the right to become a naturalized citizen because he “clearly” was “not Caucasian.” In interpreting the term “free white persons,” the Court found that “the framers did not have in mind the brown or yellow races of Asia.”1 In United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind,2 the Supreme Court reached the same conclusion regarding an “upper-caste Hindu” who claimed a lineage classi ed as “Aryan” or “Caucasian.” The Court determined that “Aryan” related to “linguistic, and not at all with physical, characteristics,” and concluded that the term “free white persons” as understood by the common man, would not include those of Hindu ancestry.3 It was not until passage of the McCarran-Walter Act in 1952 that the naturalization law was amended to read that “[t]he right of a person to become a naturalized citizen shall not be denied or abridged because of race or sex…”4

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Read all three of Judge Chase’s outstanding histories and get some “instant perspective” on how we got to where we are today as a nation of immigrants. There was no shortage of hypocracy. And, I submit that in the course of history some of today’s politicians advocating restrictive racially and religiously charged immigration policies are going to look just as distasteful, arrogant, prejudiced, and ignorant as some of the judges, lawmakers, and government officials described in these articles.

PWS

06-19-17

UPDATE

Judge Chase has reminded me that there is a fourth part to this collection:

The History of U.S. Asylum Law

http://www.fedbar.org/Image-Library/Sections-and-Divisions/Immigration/Green-Card-Summer-2016.aspx

“U.S. asylum policy is a product of the tension between the public sentiments of compassion and fear. In the words of a former Deputy UN High Commissioner: “The public will not allow governments to be generous if it believes they have lost control.” 1 Although asylum can be traced back at least to the Old Testament, for all practical purposes, U.S. asylum policy began on the eve of World War II.”

PWS

06-21-17