LA TIMES: NEW DHS ENFORCEMENT POLICIES SEEK TO PUNISH CHILDREN AND PARENTS SEEKING ASYLUM – Really, Is This What We’ve Become As a Nation In The “Age of Trump?”

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=371cd9b8-56d5-4cca-a96c-53e177ee2201

Molly Hennessy-Fiske reports for the LA Times

EL PASO — Thousands of parents who crossed illegally into the U.S. in recent years have been held with their children at immigration detention centers. But the case of a Brazilian woman and her son illustrates what migrant advocates call a harsher approach to immigration enforcement that aims to separate parents and children.

She’s being held in Texas, while her son was taken to a shelter in Illinois. The unspoken goal, advocates say, is to discourage parents from crossing illegally or attempting to request asylum.

The Brazilian mother — who asked to be identified only as Jocelyn because she was fleeing domestic violence — entered the U.S. in August with her 14-year-old son, who she said was being threatened by gangs. They hoped to apply for asylum.

Migrant families like Jocelyn’s are usually processed by immigration courts, an administrative process. Such families are detained together or released with notices to appear at later court proceedings. President Trump promised to end the practice, dismissing it as “catch and release.”

Historically, most border crossers were sent back to their home countries, but the Trump administration has threatened to prosecute some migrant parents because entering the country illegally is a federal crime. The first offense is a misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of six months. Those caught a second time face a felony charge with a maximum sentence of up to 20 years, depending on their criminal record. Once a case becomes a criminal matter, parents and children are separated.

According to public defenders and immigrant advocates, more and more immigrant families who come to the southern border seeking asylum are being charged in federal criminal courts from El Paso to Arizona. Jocelyn was charged with a misdemeanor, and her son was sent to a shelter in Chicago. Comprehensive statistics do not exist, but activists and attorneys say anecdotal evidence suggests the practice is spreading.

“There’s not supposed to be blanket detention of people seeking asylum, but in reality, that’s what’s happening” in El Paso, said Dylan Corbett, director of the Hope Border Institute, a nonprofit social justice group. “We’re still in this limbo in our sector and across the border: What’s going on? What are the new policies?”

Last week, 75 congressional Democrats led by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Downey) sent a letter to the secretary of Homeland Security expressing outrage at increased family separations and demanding officials clarify their policies within two weeks.

“We are gravely concerned that these practices are expanding and worsening, further traumatizing families and impeding access to a fair process for seeking asylum,” they wrote.

Homeland Security won’t say it is targeting families but does say it is making procedural and policy changes to deter illegal immigration.

“The administration is committed to using all legal tools at its disposal to secure our nation’s borders,” said Tyler Houlton, a Homeland Security spokesman.

Jocelyn said she fled Brazil to escape an abusive husband. During a recent meeting at the El Paso detention center where she is being held, she lifted the sleeve of her white uniform to show scars on her arm that she said came from beatings by her husband, an armed security guard who refused to grant her a divorce.

She and her son flew to Mexico on Aug. 24, crossed the border two days later, turned themselves in to Border Patrol near El Paso and were told they would be separated.

“I didn’t know where they were taking him,” she said of her son. “They didn’t tell me. I asked many times. They just said ‘Don’t worry.’ ”

Elsewhere on the border, including Texas’ Rio Grande Valley to the east where most migrants cross illegally, many parents and children are still released together with notices to appear in immigration court.

To opponents of illegal immigration, the practice of charging migrants with criminal offenses is a good thing. Andrew Arthur, a former immigration judge now serving as a resident fellow at the conservative Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, said criminal charges are a deterrent.

“The reason the children are there to begin with is this belief [among immigrants] that a parent with a child will not be detained,” Arthur said. He added that exposing children to smugglers who could abuse and kidnap them “borders frankly on child abuse.”

Last April, Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions issued guidance to U.S. attorneys urging more aggressive prosecution of those illegally reentering the country. As the number of migrant families crossing illegally increased last summer, parents were detained by U.S. marshals, but their children were reclassified as unaccompanied minors and placed at shelters across the country by the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Migrant advocates sued in federal court, arguing that when asylum seekers declare a fear of returning to their home country, federal law dictates that they be referred to an asylum officer, even if they crossed the border illegally, and their cases considered by immigration judges.

In October, El Paso immigrant advocates asked Border Patrol officials whether they were separating migrant parents from their children.

“They volunteered yes, we’re doing family separation,” Corbett recalled, adding that one agent “said it was standard practice locally here in the sector to separate all children 10 years and older from their family. We were all shocked.”

Afterward, Border Patrol attorney Lisa Donaldson emailed those who had attended the meeting, insisting that the “Border Patrol does not have a blanket policy requiring the separation of family units” and that any increase in separations “is due primarily to the increase in prosecutions of immigration-related crimes.”

Daryl Fields, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in western Texas, which files federal criminal charges, said each case is considered individually and that “we do not target individuals for prosecution based on their parental status.”

Federal public defenders said that criminally charging asylum seekers not only violates international treaties, it encourages migrants to plead guilty so they can end their case quickly, get deported and try to reunite with their children.

“It impacts the lawfulness or constitutionality of their guilty plea,” said Maureen Franco, the federal public defender for the western district of Texas. “They’re under the misconception ‘The quicker I get my case over with, the quicker I’ll get my children back.’ Any lawyer worth their salt will tell them it’s not like that.”

Franco’s office has asked a federal court to dismiss improper entry charges against four Central American parents and a grandmother whose children were removed after the adults were detained. A judge ruled in favor of the government Jan. 5. Federal public defenders are appealing.

Immigration attorney Bridget Cambria has handled 15 family separation cases, including several mothers charged and separated from their children in El Paso.

“There’s huge questions about whether it’s legal when they’re seeking asylum. They’re using the federal statutes as a reason to take their child,” Cambria said.

It’s not clear how many migrant parents like Jocelyn have been charged and separated from their children. Federal public defenders and U.S. district courts do not track them. U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported just five migrant family members referred for prosecution in federal criminal court this year fiscal year, which started in October. It reported seven last fiscal year and 21 the year before that.

Estimates from migrant advocacy groups are much higher.

In Arizona, the Tucson-based Florence Immigration and Refugee Rights Project saw 213 such cases last year, an increase from the 190 cases the year before. Legal director Laura St. John said the group has already served 23 separated families this year.

A dozen cases of family separation were reported by Washington-based Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. Hope Border Institute surveyed attorneys representing 90 asylum seekers in the El Paso area between June and November 2017 and found 94% had clients separated from their children.

In December, a host of immigrant advocacy groups filed a complaint with Homeland Security alleging that parents have been charged and separated from their children, “without a clear or reasonable justification, as a means of punishment and/or deterrence, and with few mechanisms to locate, contact, or reunite with family members.” The complaint is pending.

As for Jocelyn, a federal judge in Las Cruces found her guilty of crossing the border illegally, a misdemeanor, on Sept. 22. She received a suspended sentence and was transferred to immigration detention in El Paso. Instead of self-deporting, Jocelyn stayed to pursue her asylum claim.

She learned through the Brazilian Consulate that her son was at a Chicago shelter and she has since spoken to him by phone four times.

She said her son told her that other children of migrants in the shelter tried to run away because they missed their parents. Jocelyn urged her son to stay put. He promised he would.

She worries, but is hopeful. Immigration officials recently found she has a credible fear of returning home, the first step toward obtaining asylum, and a pro bono attorney is trying to get her released on bond.

She tried to reassure her son during a recent phone call. “As soon as I get out,” she said, “I will come get you.”

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Wow! What a great way to spend U.S. Government funds! Picking on refugees —  abused women and kids who have the audacity to seek to exercise their legal rights under our laws and International Conventions.

Let’s get down to the truth here. “Jocelyn” in the above article appears to be a legitimate refugee. Assuming she’s telling the truth — and she has the scars to prove it, she should be a “slam dunk” asylum grant under Matter of A-R-C-G-, 26 I&N Dec. 388 (BIA 2014) (domestic violence can be a basis for asylum).

The logical way of proceeding would be to release her while making sure she gets linked up with a good pro bono organization who can assign a lawyer to investigate, confirm, and document her case and then file the asylum application with the Immigration Court. In my experience, a well-documented case like this could go on an “accelerated short docket.” There it could be granted, basically by stipulation of the parties, after short testimony to confirm key events and double-check for any criminal or security grounds. With adequate preparation, and cooperation between the pro bono lawyer and the DHS Assistant Chief Counsel, this case should take no more than 30 minutes, one hour “tops,” of precious hearing time.

No need for detention, clogging the Immigration Courts’ Individual Hearing dockets, or any other form of “Aimless Docket reshuffling.” Best of all, we’re in compliance with the laws and our Constitutional guarantees of Due Process. Sounds like a “winner” to me for all concerned.

I have no doubt that there are many “Jocelyns” out there among recent border arrivals. Even those who don’t technically have “grantable” asylum claims under the overly restrictive precedents, should, if credible, be able to document strong cases for relief under the Convention Against Torture given the breakdown in government authority and de facto control by gangs in most parts of the Northern Triangle, the source of most of today’s Southern Border asylum  applicants.

So, why are we wasting money on detention and criminal prosecution to keep folks who seldom if ever present any threats to the United States from getting the protection to which our laws entitle them? Why are we trying to send (usually ineffective in any event) “don’t come” messages to people who have a right to seek protection under our laws? Why would we make it difficult for individuals to exercise their statutory right to be represented by counsel and to have adequate time to prepare their cases?

Sounds to me like DHS and the Administration are abusing our laws and our Constitutional guarantees and wasting lots of time and money in the process. Ultimately, that’s something of which we should be ashamed.

PWS

02-20-18

HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST – JOIN THE BATTLE – TELL YOUR SENATORS TO ”JUST SAY NO” TO ADMINISTRATION’S SLEAZY WHITE NATIONALIST ATTACK ON HUMAN RIGHTS, DREAMERS, AND HUMAN DECENCY!

Human Rights First - American Ideals. Universal Values.
Paul,

The Dreamers—immigrants brought to the United States as children—have become the quintessential political football. And today, the battle continues.

The Senate will vote on bills today to protect the Dreamers, but many of them include inhumane provisions that would turn our backs on asylum seekers—some of the most vulnerable individuals in the world.

President Trump and his allies are using Dreamers, asylum seekers, and refugees as bargaining chips to pursue extreme immigration restrictions.

Take Action Now

Under the Trump Administration, the United States is turning away migrants at the border, restricting their ability to seek asylum, and increasing criminal prosecutions. And today, the Senate may vote to expand these cruel practices further, punishing refugees fleeing violence and prosecution, and families left in harm’s way.

Join with us and call on your senators to stand firm on protections for refugees, asylum seekers, and families.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Quigley

Advocacy Strategist

On human rights, the United States must be a beacon. America is strongest when our policies and actions match our values.
Human Rights First - American Ideals. Universal Values.
Human Rights First is an independent advocacy and action organization that challenges America to live up to its ideals. We believe American leadership is essential in the struggle for human rights so we press the U.S. government and private companies to respect human rights and the rule of law. When they don’t, we step in to demand reform, accountability and justice. Around the world, we work where we can best harness American influence to secure core freedoms.

Human Rights First
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Click on “Take Action Now” to stop the White Nationalist assault on American Values and Human Rights.  “Harm to one, is harm to all.” 

“We can diminish ourselves as a Nation, but that won’t stop human migration!”

PWS

02-15-18

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

Hohmann reports:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump urges senators to back his immigration proposal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lobbying for their lives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

02-13-18

A WASHINGTON ANOMOLY – THE SENATE IS ABOUT TO EMBARK ON AN “IMMIGRATION DEBATE” WHERE THE OUTCOME HASN’T ACTUALLY BEEN “COOKED” IN ADVANCE! — Tal Tells All @CNN!

“Open-ended immigration debate to grip Senate

By Tal Kopan, CNN

The Senate is set to begin debating immigration Monday evening, and in a rare occurrence for the upper chamber of Congress, no one is quite sure how that will go.

Late Sunday, a group of Republicans introduced a version of President Donald Trump’s proposal on how to handle the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation before Trump decided to terminate it. That is expected to be one of the amendments that will compete for votes this week.

Some things are known: McConnell teed up the debate early Friday morning, as he had pledged, immediately after the Senate voted to end a government shutdown. The bill McConnell chose was entirely unrelated to immigration, which he said he planned to do to allow a blank slate for proposals to compete for votes.

Let the debate begin

At 5:30 p.m. Monday, senators will vote on whether to open debate on the bill, a vote that is largely expected to succeed.

From there, a lot will be up to senators. Both sides will be able to offer amendments that will compete for 60 votes — the threshold to advance legislation in the Senate. It’s expected that amendments will be subject to that threshold and will require consent agreements from senators for votes, opening up the process to negotiations.

If a proposal can garner 60 votes, it will likely pass the Senate, but it will still face an uncertain fate. The House Republican leadership has made no commitment to consider the Senate bill or hold a debate of its own, and House Speaker Paul Ryan has pledged repeatedly to consider a bill only if President Donald Trump will sign it.

Different groups have been working to prepare legislation for the immigration effort, including the conservatives who worked off the White House framework and a group of bipartisan senators who have been meeting nearly daily to try to reach agreement on the issue. Trump has proposed giving 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship in exchange for $25 billion for his long-promised border wall and a host of other strict immigration reforms.

The bill from GOP senators largely sticks to those bullet points, including sharp cuts to family-based migration, ending the diversity lottery and giving federal authorities enhanced deportation and detention powers.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of about 20 senators was drafting legislation over the weekend to offer perhaps multiple amendments and potentially keep the debate focused on a narrow DACA-border security bill. Multiple members of the group have expressed confidence that only such a narrow approach could pass the Senate — and hope that a strong vote could move Trump to endorse the approach and pave the way for passage in the House.

Advocates on the left may offer a clean DACA fix, like the DREAM Act, as well as the conservative White House proposal — though neither is expected to have 60 votes.

The move to hold an unpredictable Senate debate next week fulfills the promise McConnell made on the Senate floor to end the last government shutdown in mid-January, when he pledged to hold a neutral debate on the immigration issue that was “fair to all sides.”

Even Sunday, leadership aides weren’t able to say entirely how the week would go. The debate could easily go beyond one week, and with a scheduled recess coming next week, it could stretch on through February or even longer.

One Democratic aide said there will likely be an effort to reach an agreement between Republicans and Democrats on timing so that amendments can be dealt with efficiently, and, absent that, alternating proposals may be considered under time-consuming procedural steps.

“We just have to see how the week goes and how high the level of cooperation is,” the aide said.

Many Democrats and moderate Republicans were placing hope in the bipartisan group’s progress.

“We’re waiting for the moderates to see if they can produce a bill,” said the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin, on Thursday. “And considering options, there are lots of them, on the Democratic side. There’s no understanding now about the first Democratic amendment.”

Durbin said traditionally both sides have shared a few amendments with each other to begin to figure out the process’ structure. He also said the bipartisan group could be an influential voting bloc, if they can work together.

“They could be the deciding factor, and I’ve been hopeful that they would be, because I’ve had friends in those Common Sense (Coalition), whatever they call themselves, and reported back the conversations, and I think they’re on the right track.”

As she was leaving the Senate floor Friday night after the Senate voted to pass a budget deal and fund government into March, Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins was optimistic about the preparedness of the bipartisan group she has been leading for the all-Senate debate.

“We’ll be ready,” she told reporters.

Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford, who has been working both with the group introducing the White House proposal and the bipartisan group, said late Friday night that his plan is “to get things done.”

“It’s no grand secret that I have no problem with the President’s proposal; the challenge is going to be trying to get 60 votes,” Lankford said. “So I would have no issue with what (Sens. John) Cornyn and (Chuck) Grassley are working on and with the President supporting that, but I also want to continue to try finding out and see, if that doesn’t get 60 votes, what could.”

He said everyone is waiting to find out what happens next.

“Everybody’s trying to figure out the chaos of next week, and I’m with you,” Lankford said. “I don’t know yet how open the process is going to be. I hope it’s very open.”

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

Fortunately, we can rely on Tal’s amazing up to the minute reporting and analysis to keep us abreast of what’s happening on the Senate floor and in the cloakrooms!

Stay tuned!

PWS

02-12-18

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

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

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

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

http://nbcnews.to/2CfKuHi

Julia reports:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Justice Department pushed back on NBC’s report.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

02-12-18

 

 

 

SEE, HEAR, READ TAL’S ANALYSIS OF LATEST GOP IMMIGRATION PROPOSAL ON CNN!

https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/11/politics/republican-senators-white-house-framework/index.html

“GOP senators introduce version of White House immigration framework

By Tal Kopan, CNN
Updated 6:13 PM ET, Sun February 11, 2018
Trump proposes path to citizenship for 1.8M

Washington (CNN)A group of Republican senators on Sunday night released a version of President Donald Trump’s immigration proposal ahead of a floor debate on immigration this week.

The proposal is expected to be one of several amendments the Senate will consider this week as it debates immigration. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has used a bill unrelated to immigration as the starting point for the debate, which will allow senators to offer proposals that can compete for 60 votes to advance.
The bill from Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley, John Cornyn, James Lankford, Thom Tillis, David Perdue, Tom Cotton and Joni Ernst largely resembles what Trump has proposed.
At its base is still a resolution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has protected young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation. Trump has decided to terminate the Obama-era program.
With DACA left out again, advocates figure out their next move
With DACA left out again, advocates figure out their next move
The White House proposal offered a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million eligible immigrants, more than the 800,000 of whom registered for DACA in the five years of the program. In exchange, the White House sought upwards of $25 billion for border security and a wall, a number of changes to laws to make it easier to deport and detain immigrants, a substantial cut to legal immigration based on family relationships and an end to the diversity visa lottery.
The Grassley bill essentially makes those bullet points a reality, including the proposals that would toughen immigration enforcement and limiting family-based visas only to spouses and children under 18 years old — a vastly reduced number of eligible immigrants from the current system.
As proposed by the White House, the cuts to the family system and diversity lottery would be used to allow in the 4 million to 5 million immigrants already waiting years — and in some cases decades — in the backlog for visas. Cuts to yearly visas would only occur after that backlog is cleared, allowing Congress time to make reforms, the lawmakers said.
McConnell officially tees up immigration debate next week
McConnell officially tees up immigration debate next week
The bill is not expected to have 60 votes in support of it, the threshold required to advance legislation in the Senate. Democrats have uniformly objected to the cuts to family migration and have issues with the ending of the diversity visa without another way to support immigrants from countries that are otherwise underrepresented in immigration to the US. The so-called reforms to current immigration laws also face steep opposition.“

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Click the above link to see Tal on TV!

Unfortunately, “closing loopholes” is a euphemism for increasing unnecessary, expensive, and inhumane civil immigration detention (the “New American Gulag”).

It also involves denying due process to tens of thousands of “unaccompanied children” seeking protection for which many should qualify were they given a fair opportunity to obtain counsel, adequate time to document applications, and truly fair hearings in Immigration Court.

In plain terms, it’s a cowardly and disingenuous attack on the rights of the most vulnerable migrants. Hopefully there are enough legislators on both sides of the aisle committed to due process, human rights, and just plain human decency to expose and defeat these highly abusive and dishonest parts of the GOP proposal.

PWS

02-11-18

ONLY WHITE LIVES MATTER IN TRUMP’S WORLD — DUE PROCESS IS FOR WIFE BEATERS, CORRUPT GOP POLITICOS, CHILD MOLESTERS, & TRUMP FAMILY MEMBERS — NOT SO MUCH FOR ASYLUM SEEKERS, UNACCOMPANIED CHILDREN, AFRICAN AMERICANS, LATINOS, & HILLARY!

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/president-who-loves-making-false-accusations-suddenly-pleads-due-process_us_5a7f167be4b044b3821dd798

Sebastian Murdock reports for HuffPost:

“President Donald Trump, a man notorious for throwing around patently false accusations, has suddenly appealed for “due process” as top White House aides have been cast out over domestic violence allegations.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted that people’s lives “are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.”

“Some are true and some are false,” he tweeted. “Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused.”

The president was likely referring to the recent departure of White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who resigned earlier this week after allegations from his two ex-wives surfaced, detailing that he was abusive to them. Colbie Holderness, Porter’s first wife, alleged that he punched her in 2005 and provided photos of bruises she says he inflicted on her.

And on Friday, White House speechwriter David Sorensen resigned after his ex-wife accused him of physically abusing her.

Trump himself, a man who once bragged about being able to grab women “by the pussy,” has been accused by more than 20 women of sexual misconduct and abuse. It might not come as a surprise, then, that Trump would be eager to protect those accused of sexual abuse rather than those who say they’ve been victimized by it.

“Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?” the president asked in a tweet. It’s a fair question, for sure. It’s also something Trump has previously not seemed to care about. Here are just a few times that “due process” didn’t matter to Trump.

The Central Park Five

In 1989, a group of black and Hispanic men were convicted but later exonerated in the rape of a female jogger in New York City’s Central Park.

As police coercion and false allegations ruined these men’s lives, Trump spent $85,000to place ads in four daily New York City newspapers to demand the innocent men be killed.

“Muggers and murderers should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes,” Trump wrote in the ad at the time.

Despite their names eventually being cleared, Trump still wouldn’t stop saying they were guilty.

“The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty,” Trump told CNN in 2016. “The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same.”

President Barack Obama

For years, Trump has also promoted the conspiracy that former President Barack Obama is a Muslim who was actually born in Kenya and is lying about his identity. None of that is true.

Trump later retracted his false statement during his bid to become president. But the damage was done.

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“I say nothing,” Trump said during a 2016 debate with candidate Hillary Clinton regarding Obama’s long-form birth certificate. “I say nothing because I was able to get him to produce it.”

Last year, Trump falsely accused Obama of having ”wires tapped” in Trump Tower. The Department of Justice flatly denied the claim.

Hillary Clinton

Even after winning the election, Trump has been unable to stop focusing on Clinton. Trump has repeatedly said Clinton lied to the FBI regarding her private email server. Meanwhile, former Trump administration official Flynn pleaded guilty last December to misleading the FBI about talks he had with Russian officials.

“Hillary Clinton lied many times to the FBI, nothing happened to her,” Trump said last December. “Flynn lied and they’ve destroyed his life. I think it’s a shame.”

Former head of the FBI James Comey, who Trump eventually fired, told Congress in a July 2017 testimony there was “no basis to conclude she lied to the FBI.”

‘Treasonous’ Democrats

Just this month, Trump made the bold and outrageous accusation that Democrats who did not clap and praise the president during his recent State of the Union address are “treasonous.” 

“Can we call that treason?” Trump said of Democrats last week during a campaign-style rally in Cincinnati. “Why not? I mean, they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.”

Committing treason is a deeply serious accusation for a president to make. U.S. law states that whoever “owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason.”

To be clear: Not clapping for the president does not qualify as treason.

‘Mexican’ Judge

In June of 2016, Trump accused U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel of not being able to make a fair ruling regarding lawsuits against Trump University. The president alleged that because he has made it clear he wants to build a wall to separate Mexico and the U.S., the judge’s heritage would be a “conflict.”

Curiel had “an absolute conflict” because of his “Mexican heritage,” Trump claimed.

He then doubled down on the claim in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper that same month.

“Look, he’s proud of his heritage, OK? I’m building a wall,” Trump told Tapper.

Curiel is an American who was born in Indiana.

That same judge will now preside over a case to determine whether or not Trump will get his border wall.

For all his Saturday chest pounding about making false, unverified accusations, Trump has made clear that same logic has never applied to his perceived enemies.”

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I’ve noted before the deep irony in the attitude of our disingenuous Attorney General Jeff “Gonzo Apocalyoto” Sessions toward due process. Sessions smears hard-working, often pro bono, immigration lawyers, promotes actions that inhibit the ability of individuals to obtain counsel, intentionally makes practice before the U.S. Immigration Courts “user unfriendly,” and constantly promotes totally bogus changes in the law to deprive hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of migrants of even the rudiments of a due process hearing before an Immigration Judge.

On the other hand, Gonzo was among the first Trump Cabinet members to “lawyer up” for himself. He hired hotshot DC attorney and former Assistant AG Charles “Chuckie” Cooper to help him “beat the rap” for his disingenuous and inaccurate sworn testimony before Congress.

In the world of Trump and Sessions, “White Guys” are entitled to due process. Everyone else can just “Go pound sand!”

PWS

02-11-18

TRUMP & RESTRICTIONISTS JUST DON’T “GET” IT: HUMAN MIGRATION IS A DYNAMIC FORCE THAT CAN BE HARNESSED OR CHANNELED, BUT WON’T BE SHUT DOWN BY WALLS, FENCES, ABUSIVE DETENTION, DENIAL OF RIGHTS, KANGAROO COURTS, SUMMARY REMOVAL, OR OTHER INTENTIONALLY “NASTY” ENFORCEMENT MEASURES – “But migrants and advocates said they were driven to cross the border more by conditions in Central America — gang violence and economic downturns — than by U.S. policies. “Many of these countries, you just cannot live in them,” said Ruben Garcia of El Paso’s Annunciation House shelter. “People will tell you ‘It’s just dangerous to walk around in our neighborhood.’ ” – WE CAN DIMINISH OURSELVES AS A NATION, BUT THAT WON’T HALT HUMAN MIGRATION!

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=2b1d32e6-30fa-40dc-8203-88f9b77b1203

 

Molly Hennessy-Fiske reports for the LA Times:

“McALLEN, Texas — Illegal crossings along the U.S.-Mexico border, after declining in early 2017, began an unexpected upturn last spring that only recently receded, according to new government figures.

The figures reflect the up-and-down nature of illegal immigration and are reminders that multiple factors — from politics to weather to conditions in home countries — influence who tries to come to the United States and when.

Apprehensions on the southern border in October 2016, a month before Donald Trump’s election, topped 66,000. After Trump’s victory, the number of migrants trying to enter the U.S. illegally reached a 17-year low.

Monthly apprehensions continued to drop into 2017, hitting 15,766 in April, when the downward trend reversed. Apprehensions rose each month to 40,513 in December. Migrant advocates said the “Trump effect” discouraging illegal immigration might be wearing off.

But last month, apprehensions decreased again. It’s not clear whether the post-holiday decrease is seasonal, or whether it will continue.

There were 35,822 migrants apprehended on the southern border in January, according to figures released Wednesday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. That’s not as many as in December, but it’s more than were apprehended each month last February to October.

The number of families and unaccompanied children caught crossing the border, which rose nearly every month since last spring, also dropped slightly last month to 25,980, but remained more than twice April’s total, 11,127.

In releasing the numbers Wednesday, Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Houlton noted the apprehension figures for children and families were still high.

“Front-line personnel are required to release tens of thousands of unaccompanied alien children and illegal family units into the United States each year due to current loopholes in our immigration laws. This month we saw an unacceptable number of UACs [unaccompanied children] and family units flood our border because of these catch and release loopholes,” he said. “To secure our borders and make America safer, Congress must act to close these legal loopholes that have created incentives for illegal immigrants.”

In Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, so many migrant families with small children arrive daily — more than 15,500 family members so far this fiscal year — that volunteers at a local shelter set up a play area in the corner.

When the number of unaccompanied migrant children caught crossing began to increase in April, fewer than 1,000 were apprehended a month. By last month, that had grown to 3,227. The number of family members caught crossing grew even faster during that time, from 1,118 in April to 5,656 last month.

When Elvis Antonio Muniya Mendez arrived at the shelter last month from Honduras with his 15-year-old son, the playpen was packed with the children of 100 fellow Central American migrants caught crossing the border illegally and released that day. Muniya, 36, had fled a gang that killed his 26-year-old brother the month before. He was hoping to join another brother in Indiana. He and his son were released with a notice to appear in immigration court, which he planned to attend.

“I want to live here legally, without fear,” he said.

Trump administration officials have proposed detaining more families, but that’s not happening in the Rio Grande Valley, where many are released like Muniya with notices to appear in court. The shelter where Muniya stopped, Sacred Heart, saw the number of migrants arriving drop at the end of last year only to increase recently, said the director, Sister Norma Pimentel.

“I’ve never seen so many children be part of this migration,” Pimentel said.

Children who cross the border unaccompanied by an adult are sheltered by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement and placed with relatives or other sponsors in the U.S. The agency has about 9,900 shelter beds at various facilities. As of this week, the agency was sheltering 7,800 youths.

Children who cross the border with a parent may be released with notices to appear in court or held at special family detention centers.

Trump administration officials have proposed detaining more of the families. But space is limited. As of Monday, the detention centers held 1,896 people. Only one of them can hold fathers, and attorneys said it’s always full, so men who cross with children are often released with a notice to appear in court.

Advocates for greater restrictions on immigration say more needs to be done to hold parents who cross with their children accountable. They say such parents put their children at risk by making the dangerous journey. Andrew Arthur, a former immigration judge now serving as a resident fellow in law and policy at the conservative Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, said the way migrants are treated on the border encourages family migration.

“The reason the children are there to begin with is this belief that a parent with a child will not be detained,” Arthur said. That assumption, he said, is wrong.

He said Congress and the Trump administration’s unwillingness to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has also encouraged migrant families to make the trip now in hopes of benefiting from a “DACA amnesty,” even though the program is limited to those who grew up in the U.S.

But migrants and advocates said they were driven to cross the border more by conditions in Central America — gang violence and economic downturns — than by U.S. policies.

“Many of these countries, you just cannot live in them,” said Ruben Garcia of El Paso’s Annunciation House shelter. “People will tell you ‘It’s just dangerous to walk around in our neighborhood.’ ”

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

Quite contrary to Tyler Houlton, the Trump Administration, and the restrictionists, this isn’t about “loopholes” in the law! Individuals arriving at our borders have a right to apply for asylum and they have a right to receive Due Process and fair treatment in connection with those “life or death” applications.

But for the purposely convoluted decisions of the BIA, individuals resisting gang violence would be “slam dunk” asylum, withholding of removal, or Convention Against Torture (“CAT”) cases. If we just screened them for crimes or gang connections and granted their applications, they could easily be absorbed by our country.

But, even if we don’t want to interpret “protection laws” to actually grant much protection, we could devise humanitarian relief short of asylum or full legal status that would allow individuals whose lives were in danger to find safety in the U.S. Or, we could work with the sending countries, the UNHCR, and other countries in the Americas to solve the problem of “safe havens.”

While the Trump Administration largely ignores the lessons of history and what happens abroad, one has only to look at the “European example” to see the inevitable failure of the restrictionist agenda. The European Union has done everything within it power to” slam the door” on refugees, make them feel unwelcome, unwanted, threatened, and targets for repatriation regardless of the harm that might befall them. But, still determined refugees continue to risk their lives to flee to Europe.

What the restrictive policies have accomplished is to force more refugees to use the services of professional smugglers, and to attempt more dangerous routes. Killing more refugees en route does somewhat reduce the flow — at the cost of the humanity of the nations involved.

Likewise, although border apprehensions were down last year, deaths of migrants crossing the Southern Border were up. See e.g., “US-Mexico border migrant deaths rose in 2017 even as crossings fell, UN says,” The Guardianhttps://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/06/us-mexico-border-migrant-deaths-rose-2017

I suspect that the increase in deaths has to do with more individuals having to use the services of professional smugglers, who are more unscrupulous than “Mom & Pop” and “Do It Yourself” operations, and smugglers having to use more dangerous routes to avoid increased border security.

I suppose that restrictionists can be cheered by the fact that more individuals will be killed coming to and into the United States, thus decreasing the overall  flow of unwanted human beings. But 1) it won’t stop people from coming, and 2) I doubt that finding way to kill more refugees will look that good in historical perspective.

As one of my colleagues told me early on in my career as an Immigration Judge: “Desperate people do desperate things!” That’s not going to change, no matter how much the restrictionists want to believe that institutional cruelty, inhumanity, “sending messages,” denying legal rights, and “get tough tactics” can completely squelch the flow of human migration. However, it certainly can squelch the flame of our own humanity.

PWS

02-08-18

 

 

NY TIMES COGENTLY EXPLAINS WHY TRUMP GOP NATIVIST IMMIGRATION PROGRAM WOULD BE BAD FOR AMERICA!

“Congress now appears likely to reach a budget deal to keep the government functioning without treating as bargaining chips hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States when they were children. It also appears, though, that President Trump will consider undoing his threat of deportation for these young “Dreamers” only if Congress considers the first deep cuts to legal immigration since the 1920s.
The changes the president is demanding stem from a nativist, zero-sum view that what’s good for immigrants is bad for America. That view runs counter not just to the best of American tradition and principles, but to evidence of what’s best for the country.
The programs targeted by Mr. Trump are designed to make legal immigration more diverse and humane. One is the lottery system that offers the chance for visas to people from countries that are underrepresented as sources of American immigrants; the other is family-based immigration, which offers visas to close relatives of citizens and legal residents.
Mr. Trump, who has regularly smeared immigrants as terrorists and criminals, has lately been focusing his fear-mongering on the diversity visa program. Last month, his Department of Homeland Security released a report that dishonestly claimed that those who entered the country via the lottery were more likely to be tied to terrorist attacks. The Cato Institute found that lottery visa holders actually killed only eight of 3,037 Americans murdered by foreign-born terrorists since 1975. The immigrants chosen in the lottery, moreover, are not chosen “without any regard for skill, merit or the safety of our people,” as Mr. Trump said in his State of the Union address. They must have at least a high school education or two years of experience in skilled work, and they must also undergo criminal, national security and medical checks. The 50,000 recipients of the visas are not guaranteed permanent residence, only a chance at getting through the rest of the immigration process.
Mr. Trump has said that the family reunification program — which he and other immigration opponents prefer to call “chain migration” — opens the floodgates to “virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.” In fact, relatives other than spouses, parents and minor children are subject to annual caps and country quotas, so that, today, the backlog is almost four million applicants, most of them facing many years of waiting to get a visa. Mr. Trump would allow no new applicants other than immediate family members, and even these would no longer include parents. Imposing these restrictions and ending the diversity visa lottery would cut in half the number of legal immigrants.
It is hard to gauge how much of what Mr. Trump says is meant as a scare tactic and how much he really will demand. The one notion that runs through all he says or tweets about immigration is that it is a door for criminals and terrorists to enter the United States. Yet data studied by the Cato Institute indicates that diversity-visa holders and illegal immigrants, the groups most maligned by Mr. Trump, are far less prone to crime than native-born Americans.
Politicians have wrestled for decades with how to deal with immigrants who are in the United States illegally — now around 11 million people. But immigration in itself has been widely regarded as good for America and for the American dream. The preponderance of evidence shows that immigrants help the economy grow. They are more likely to own businesses or to start businesses than the native-born; of the 87 privately held companies currently valued at more than $1 billion, 51 percent had immigrant founders.
There are questions worth examining and debating about whether the United States ought to admit more skilled immigrants and what criteria it uses to screen applicants. But such a debate can’t unfold in the shadow of Mr. Trump’s threat to imminently expel the Dreamers. So what is Mr. Trump really after?
A Gallup poll last June found 62 percent of Americans support maintaining current levels of immigration or even increasing them. And since the country is at nearly full employment, the timing of these anti-immigrant demands might seem odd. Yet it’s no more odd than the president’s tough-on-crime talk at a time when crime is lower than it’s ever been, or his obsession with Islamist terrorists, even though the Government Accountability Office found that right-wing extremists have committed far more domestic attacks against Americans since 2001. Mr. Trump’s approach seems intended less to rationalize the immigration system than to inflame his core supporters by demonizing nonwhite people, as he did when he disparaged immigrants from nations like Haiti and Mexico while praising Norwegians.
Members of Congress know better, and they are aware that there are sensible measures that would clear the immediate hurdle and produce a bipartisan deal. Senators John McCain, the Arizona Republican, and Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, have offered a stopgap bill that would end the threat to the Dreamers while strengthening border security. Nothing about diversity visas or family-based migration, nothing for the wasteful wall.
That makes sense. The way we deal with legal immigration should not be changed without a thorough, honest debate.
Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTOpinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.”

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When policies are driven by White Nationalism, racism, and the need to throw “red meat” to a base that has abandoned inclusiveness, humanity, and “enlightened self interest,” there isn’t much room for rationality, facts, or the common good. Unfortunately, that’s a description of the modern GOP.

PWS

02-08-18

 

AILA URGES CONGRESS TO CREATE INDEPENDENT ARTICLE I U.S. IMMIGRATION COURT TO REPLACE CURRENT DUE PROCESS TRAVESTY! – “In fact, instead of working to improve the system, DOJ recently announced initiatives that severely jeopardize an immigration judge’s ability to remain independent and impartial. These new policies are designed only to accelerate deportations, further eroding the integrity of the court system.”

RESOLUTION ON IMMIGRATION COURT REFORM AILA Board of Governors Winter 2018

PROPONENT: AILA Executive Committee and AILA EOIR Liaison Committee

Introduction:

Our immigration court system does not meet the standards which justice demands. Chronic and systemic problems have resulted in a severe lack of public confidence in the system’s capacity to deliver just and fair decisions in a timely manner. As a component of the Department of Justice (DOJ), EOIR has been particularly vulnerable to political pressure. Immigration judges, who are currently appointed by the Attorney General and are DOJ employees, have struggled to maintain independence in their decision making. In certain jurisdictions, the immigration court practices and adjudications have fallen far below constitutional norms. Years of disproportionately low court funding levels – as compared to other components of the immigration system such as ICE and CBP – have contributed to an ever-growing backlog of cases that is now well over 600,000.

Despite the well-documented history of structural flaws within the current immigration court system, DOJ and EOIR have failed to propose any viable plan to address these concerns. In fact, instead of working to improve the system, DOJ recently announced initiatives that severely jeopardize an immigration judge’s ability to remain independent and impartial. These new policies are designed only to accelerate deportations, further eroding the integrity of the court system.

RESOLUTION: The Board hereby reaffirms and clarifies its position on immigration court reform as follows:

In its current state, the immigration court system requires a complete structural overhaul to address several fundamental problems. AILA recommends that Congress create an independent immigration court system in the form of an Article I court, modeled after the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Such an entity would protect and advance America’s core values of fairness and equality by safeguarding the independence and impartiality of the immigration court system.

Below is an outline of the basic features that should be included in the Article I court.

Independent System: Congress should establish an immigration court system under Article I of the Constitution, with both trial and appellate divisions, to adjudicate immigration cases.

This structural overhaul advances the immigration court’s status as a neutral arbiter, ensuring the independent functioning of the immigration judiciary.

Appellate Review:

AILA recommends that the new Article I court system provide trial level immigration courts and appellate level review, with further review to the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. To prevent overburdening Article III courts, it is necessary to include an appellate court within the Article I court system.

Judicial Appointment Process:

AILA recommends the appointment of trial-level and appellate-level judges for a fixed term of no less than 10 years, with the possibility of reappointment. These judges would be appointed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the federal circuit in which the immigration court resides. The traditional Article I judicial appointment process, which relies on Presidential appointment with Senate confirmation, would be unworkable for the immigration court system and could easily create a backlog in judicial vacancies. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court system, which uses a different appointment process than other Article I courts, is a better model for the immigration court system, due to the comparable size and the volume of cases. Like the U.S. Bankruptcy Court System, which has 352 judges, the immigration court currently has over 300 judges. Traditional Article I courts have far fewer judges than that of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court System. Therefore, AILA recommends a judicial appointment system that closely resembles that of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Hiring Criteria for Judges:

Trial and appellate judges that are selected should be highly qualified, and well-trained, and should represent diverse backgrounds. In addition to ensuring racial ethnic, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, religious, and geographic diversity, AILA advocates for a recruitment and selection process that is designed to ensure that the overall corps of immigration judges is balanced between individuals with a nongovernment, private sector background, and individuals from the public sector. We believe this balance best promotes the development of the law in the nation’s interest.

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Read the complete report here:

AILA Resolution Passed 2.3.2018

The proposal that U.S. Immigration Judges be appointed by the U.S. Courts of Appeals for renewable 10 year terms is particularly salutary. The current process needs to be professionalized and de-politicized. The U.S. Courts of Appeals are the “primary professional consumers” of the work product of the U.S. Immigration Judges. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court Appointment System recommended by AILA has earned high praise for producing  a fair, impartial, merit-based, apolitical judiciary.

The current ridiculous selection and appointment process within the DOJ has two stunning deficiencies.

First, it has become an “insider-only” judiciary. Over the past three Administrations nearly 90% of the newly appointed U.S. Immigration Judges have been from government backgrounds, primarily DHS/ICE prosecutors. Outside expertise, including that gained from representing individuals in Immigration Court, clinical teaching, and working for NGOs and pro bono groups has been systematically excluded from the Immigration Court judiciary, giving it a built-in “one-sided” appearance.

Remarkably, the situation at the appellate level, the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) has been even worse! No Appellate Immigration Judge/Board Member has been appointed from “outside Government” since 2000, and both of those have long since been removed or otherwise moved on.

Indeed, even sitting (as opposed to “administrative”) U.S. Immigration Judges are seldom appointed or even interviewed for BIA vacancies. There is only one current Appellate Immigration Judge who was appointed directly from the trial court, and that individual had only a modest (approximately three years) amount of trial experience. Thus, a number of sources of what would logically be the most expert and experienced appellate judicial candidates have been systematically excluded from the appointment process at the DOJ.

Second, while the results produced are highly problematic, the DOJ hiring process for U.S. Immigration Judges has been amazingly glacial! According to the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) the Immigration Judge appointment process during the last Administration took an average of two years! That’s longer than the Senate confirmation process for Article III Judges!

Much of the delay has reportedly been attributed to the slowness of the “background check process.” Come on man! Background checks are significant, but are essentially ministerial functions that can be speeded up at the will of the Attorney General.

It’s not like Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch, or Jeff Sessions were willing to wait two years for background clearance for their other high-level appointees in the DOJ. No, it’s simply a matter of screwed up priorities and incompetence at the highest levels of the DOJ. And, let’s not forget that most of the appointees are already working for the DHS or the DOJ. So they currently have high-level background clearances that merely have to be “updated.”

It should be “child’s play” — a “no-brainer.” When Anthony C. “Tony” Moscato was the Director and Janet Reno was the Attorney General, background checks often were completed for Immigration Judges and BIA Members in less than 60 days. And, if Tony really needed someone on board immediately, he picked up the phone, called “downtown,” and it happened. Immediately! Competence and priorities!

Our oldest son Wick has been private bar member of the U.S. Magistrate Judge Recommendation Committee for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Their process was much more open, timely, and merit-focused than the current DOJ hiring process (whatever that might actually be) and fairly considered candidates from both inside and outside government.

Also, the slowness of the background check process unfairly prejudices “outside applicants.” Sure, it’s annoying for a “Government insider” to have to wait for clearance. But, his or her job and paycheck continue without problem during the process.

On the other hand, “outside applicants” have to make “business decisions,” — whether to take on additional employees or accept new clients; whether to commit to another year of teaching; whether to accept promotions, etc — that can be “deal breakers” as the process creeps along without much useful feedback from EOIR.

Attorney General Sessions has  claimed that he has a “secret process” for expediting appointments. But, so far, except for a “brief flurry” of appointments that were reportedly “already in  the pipeline” under Lynch, there hasn’t been much noticeable change in the timelines. Additionally, the process is often delayed because DOJ and EOIR have not planned adequately, and therefore have not acquired adequate space and equipment for new judges to actually start hearing cases.

Government bureaucrats love acronyms (so do I, in case you hadn’t noticed)! There is only one acronym that can adequately capture the current sorry state of administration of the U.S Immigration Courts under DOJ and EOIR administration: “FUBAR!”

And that’s without even getting to the all-out assault on Due Process for vulnerable respondents in the U.S. Immigration Courts being carried out by Jeff Sessions and his minions. According to my information, DOJ/EOIR “management” is pushing Immigration Judges to render twenty-minute “oral decisions;” complete “quotas” of 4-5 cases a day to get “satisfactory” ratings; and not include bond cases, administrative closure, Change of Venue, Credible Fear Reviews, or Motion to Reopen rulings in completions.

Since it takes an experienced Immigration Judge 3-4 hours to do a good job on a “fully contested” asylum decision with oral decision, that’s a “designed to fail” proposal that will undoubtedly lead to cutting of corners, numerous denials of Due Process, and remands from the U.s. courts of Appeals. But despite some disingenuous “rote references” to Due Process, it’s not even an afterthought in Sessions’s plan to turn Immigration Court into “Just Another Whistle Stop on The Deportation Railroad.”

As I say, “Bad ideas never die; they have a life of their own within the bureaucracy.” That’s why we need to get Immigration Courts out of the bureaucracy!
This Congress, which “can barely even tie its own  shoes,” so to speak, isn’t likely to get around to creating an Article I Immigration Court. But, every day that the current mal-administered and unfair  system remains within the DOJ is a Due Process and fairness disaster. That’s something that even Congress should be concerned about!   
Thanks to Attorney (and former Immigraton Judge) Sue Roy of New Jersey for  sending me the AILA Resolution.

PWS

02-07-18

 

 

 

WASHPOST WONKBLOG: THE REAL STAKES IN THE TRUMP GOP RESTRICTIONIST IMMIGRATION PROPOSAL – AN ADDITIONAL 1-5 YEARS OF WHITE SUPREMACY! — “By greatly slashing the number of Hispanic and black African immigrants entering America, this proposal would reshape the future United States. Decades ahead, many fewer of us would be nonwhite or have nonwhite people in our families.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/02/06/trump-immigration-plan-could-keep-whites-in-u-s-majority-for-up-to-five-more-years/?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_wonk-trumpimmigration-1215pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.39256eab8ac1

“President Trump’s proposal to cut legal immigration rates would delay the date that white Americans become a minority of the population by as few as one or as many as five additional years, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.

The plan, released by the White House last month, would scale back a program that allows people residing in the United States to sponsor family members living abroad for green cards, and would eliminate the “diversity visa program” that benefits immigrants in countries with historically low levels of migration to the United States. Together, the changes would disproportionately affect immigrants from Latin America and Africa.

The Census Bureau projects that minority groups will outnumber non-Hispanic whites in the United States in 2044. The Post’s analysis projects that, were Trump’s plan to be carried out, the date would be between 2045 and 2049, depending on how parts of it are implemented.

(The Post’s methodology for estimating the annual impact of Trump’s proposed cuts is explained in more detail at the bottom of this story. Projecting this far into the future entails certain assumptions that could alter the range, but demographic experts said The Post’s approach was reasonable.)

All told, the proposal could cut off entry for more than 20 million legal immigrants over the next four decades. The change could have profound effects on the size of the U.S. population and its composition, altering projections for economic growth and the age of the nation’s workforce, as well as shaping its politics and culture, demographers and immigration experts say.

“By greatly slashing the number of Hispanic and black African immigrants entering America, this proposal would reshape the future United States. Decades ahead, many fewer of us would be nonwhite or have nonwhite people in our families,” said Michael Clemens, an economist at the Center for Global Development, a think tank that has been critical of the proposal. “Selectively blocking immigrant groups changes who America is. This is the biggest attempt in a century to do that.”

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Read the complete article, along with supporting “wonkie” stats, at the above link.

Yup! It is, and probably always has been, about White Nationalism and racism! Trump and his gang have just made it “fashionable” to be overtly racist again.

And, make no mistake about it, the REAL targets here are African American and Latino American citizens —  immigrants are just a subterfuge. After all, if African Americans and Latinos were “good for America” why wouldn’t we want more of them and their families?

No, as Trumpie let on in his White House debacle, it’s all about trying (futilely) to make America “more White like Norway.” “Making America Great Again”  is not so subtile “code language” for “Making America White Again.” Trump and his restrictionist cronies and misguided followers are not good for the future of America, or for the world.

PWS

02-06-18

GONZO’S WORLD: NO DEFENSE! – SESSIONS MIA AS TRUMP AND GOP ATTACK INTEGRITY OF DOJ!

https://www.newsmax.com/politics/attorney-general-department-of-justice-the-new-york-times-doj/2018/02/05/id/841477/

Brian Freeman reports for Newsmax:

“Even as President Donald Trump has led the most prolonged and public attack on the Justice Department in history, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has broken a long tradition of those in his position of protecting the institution from such interference by remaining largely silent, The New York Times reported Monday.

“What is unusual is the FBI and the Justice Department being attacked, the president leading the charge and the attorney general missing in action,” said Harvard Law Prof. Jack Goldsmith, who headed the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel under President Geoerge W. Bush. “Why isn’t he sticking up for the department?”

Many prosecutors say Sessions’ tepid response is deflating morale among department employees and has increased fears prosecutors cannot depend on protection from political interference.

“Attorneys general swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, not the president,” said Matthew Axelrod, a former Justice Department official who is a partner at Linklaters. “Institutions like the DOJ rely on their leaders to be a voice that defends them. It’s critically important to this institution that its leadership have its back.”

Although the Business Insider reported Sessions did praise his second-in-command Rod Rosenstein hours before the disputed Devin Nunes memo was released Friday by saying he represents “the kind of quality and leadership we want in the department” and he had “great confidence in the men and women of this department,” many commentators said that backing was quite meager when he added, “But no department is perfect.”

One such previous example often cited of far more courageous and strong backing is when ailing attorney general John Ashcroft from his hospital bed allowed his acting replacement, James Comey, to defy the Bush administration over a surveillance program that Justice Department lawyers had called unconstitutional.

Sessions, who has been heavily and publicly criticized by Trump in the past year, declined to comment to the Times.

“Sessions’ silence is evidence that Trump’s public neutering of anyone close to this investigation is working,” said Paul Pelletier, a Democratic candidate for Congress in Virginia who was a long-time federal prosecutor. “It is deleterious to the whole criminal justice process.”

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The law enforcement community might have thought that they were getting a strong defender/advocate in the right-winger Sessions. After all, he’s out to bust those recreational legalized marijuana users and hard-working maids and janitors who have been in the U.S. without documents for decades waiting for the immigration reform that never came because he helped block it in the Senate.

But, what they actually got was a disingenuous “Gonzo Apocalypto” White Nationalist interested primarily in advancing his racially inspired agenda at the expense of the U.S. justice system and anyone who might stand in the way. Oh yeah, and a guy who is also very interested in “covering his own tail.” That’s why he didn’t hesitate to hire DC Lawyer Chuck Cooper to defend him once his continuing “memory lapses” came to light in the Russia investigation and things started “hitting the fan.”

A guy with no time for the rights of African-Americans Latinos, Immigrants, LGBTQ Americans, women, or apparently his subordinates and employees at the DOJ seems to have an excellent sense of his own rights and self-preservation. And, he isn’t so silent when it comes to an opportunity for slandering and diminishing the achievements of DACA recipients, Immigrants, sanctuary cities, asylum seekers, or people of color who are supposed to be entitled to justice and protection from his more or less “Whites only” DOJ.

PWS

02-06-18

 

HON. JEFFREY CHASE: Matter of W-Y-C- & H-O-B- & The Unresolved Tension In Asylum Adjudication! – Plus My Added Commentary On EOIR Training!

https://www.jeffreyschase.com/blog/2018/2/4/the-proper-role-of-immigration-judges-as-asylum-adjudicators

The Proper Role of Immigration Judges as Asylum Adjudicators

I would like to expand on the topic raised in my response to the BIA’s recent precedent decision in Matter of W-Y-C- & H-O-B-.  In the U.S. system, what tensions exist between an immigration judge’s role as an independent judge within an adversarial system, and his or her overlapping role as an adjudicator of asylum claims?

As we all know, the 1980 Refugee Act was enacted to put the U.S. in compliance with the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees (to which the U.S. acceded through the 1967 Protocol).  For that reason, numerous courts through the years have found the UNHCR Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status to provide “significant guidance in construing the Protocol” and a useful instrument “in giving content to the obligations the Protocol establishes,” as the U.S. Supreme Court stated in INS v. Cardoza-Fonseca.  The BIA has referenced the UNHCR Handbook in at least ten precedent decisions, as have numerous circuit courts.

Paragraphs 66 and 67 of the Handbook state the following:

66. In order to be considered a refugee, a person must show well-founded fear of persecution for one of the reasons stated above. It is immaterial whether the persecution arises from any single one of these reasons or from a combination of two or more of them. Often the applicant himself may not be aware of the reasons for the persecution feared. It is not, however, his duty to analyze his case to such an extent as to identify the reasons in detail.

67. It is for the examiner, when investigating the facts of the case, to ascertain the reason or reasons for the persecution feared and to decide whether the definition in the 1951 Convention is met with in this respect… (emphasis added.)

Not surprisingly, this approach is employed by the USCIS Asylum Office.  Created in the implementation of the 1990 asylum regulations, the office’s first director, Gregg Beyer, previously worked for UNHCR for more than 12 years.  The Asylum Officer Basic Training Manual (“AOBTM”) on the topic of nexus states that although the applicant bears the burden of proving nexus, the asylum officer has an affirmative duty to elicit all relevant information, and “should fully explore the motivations of any persecutor involved in the case.”  The AOBTC therefore directs the asylum officer to “make reasonable inferences, keeping in mind the difficulty, in many cases, of establishing with precision a persecutor’s motives.”

The AOBTC also cites the 1988 BIA precedent decision in Matter of Fuentes.1  In that case, the Board held that “an applicant does not bear the unreasonable burden of establishing the exact motivation of a ‘persecutor’ where different reasons for actions are possible.  However, an applicant does bear the burden of establishing facts on which a reasonable person would fear that the danger arises on account of” a protected ground.

In Canada, the Immigration and Refugee Board takes the view that “it is for the Refugee Division to determine the ground, if any, applicable to the claimant’s fear of persecution.”  The U.S. is unusual, if not unique, among western nations in not also delegating this responsibility to immigration judges. Also, note that the IRB references the “Refugee Division;” like many countries, Canada’s equivalent of immigration courts is divided into immigration and refugee divisions, in recognition of the special obligations and knowledge that asylum determinations require.  The U.S. immigration court system does not have a separate refugee determination division; asylum claims are heard by the same judges and under the same conditions as all other types of immigration cases.  Furthermore, as noted above, U.S. immigration judges hear cases in an adversarial setting, in which judges assume a passive, neutral role.

The role of asylum adjudicator carries responsibilities that are at odds with the the role of neutral arbiter.  Asylum adjudicators are required to share the burden of documenting the asylum claim; the UNHCR Handbook at para. 196 states that “in some cases, it may be for the examiner to use all of the means at his disposal to produce the necessary evidence in support of the application.”2  And, as discussed above, once the facts are ascertained, it is the adjudicator who should identify the reasons for the feared persecution and determine if such reasons bear a nexus to a protected ground.

During the Department of Justice’s asylum reform discussions in the early 1990s, Gregg Beyer stated that the idea of separate asylum judges was considered, but ultimately rejected.  To my knowledge, EOIR has never conducted an in-depth analysis of the conflicts between the judge’s responsibilities as an asylum adjudicator and his or her role as a neutral arbiter in adversarial proceedings.  I discussed the Board’s incorrect holding in Matter of W-Y-C- & H-O-B- under which genuine refugees may be ordered returned to countries where they will face persecution because the asylum applicants lacked the sophistication to properly delineate a particular social group, a complex legal exercise that many immigration attorneys (and immigration judges) are unable to do.  The problem also extends to other protected grounds.  Would an unrepresented asylum applicant (who might be a child) understand what an imputed political opinion is?  Would most asylum applicants be able to explain that actions viewed as resisting the authority of a third-generation gang such as MS-13 might constitute a political opinion?  Regulations should be enacted making it the responsibility of immigration judges to consider these questions.  Additionally, immigration judges, BIA Board Members and staff attorneys should be required to undergo specialized training to enable them to identify and properly analyze these issues.

Notes:

1. 19 I&N Dec. 658 (BIA 1988).

2. See also the BIA’s precedent decision in Matter of S-M-J-, 21 I&N Dec. 722 (BIA 1997), which I have referenced in other articles.

Copyright 2017 Jeffrey S. Chase.  All rights reserved.

 

 

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Jeffrey S. Chase is an immigration lawyer in New York City.  Jeffrey is a former Immigration Judge, senior legal advisor at the Board of Immigration Appeals, and volunteer staff attorney at Human Rights First.  He is a past recipient of AILA’s annual Pro Bono Award, and previously chaired AILA’s Asylum Reform Task Force.”

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Jeffrey points out the pressing need for better “specialized training” in asylum adjudication for Immigration Judges at both the BIA and Immigration Court levels. Sadly, however, DOJ & EOIR appear to be moving in exactly the opposite direction.

  • Last year, notwithstanding the addition of many new Immigration Judges and retirement of some of the most experienced Immigraton Judges, DOJ cancelled the nationwide Immigration Judge Conference, the only “off the bench” training that most Judges get.
  • Cancellation of the annual training conference or resort to ridiculously amateurish “CD training” was a fairly regular occurrence in the “Post-Moscato Era” (post-2000) of EOIR.
  • Too often so-called “asylum training” at EOIR was conducted by DOJ Attorneys from the Office of Immigration Litigation (“OIL”), Board Members, or Board Staff. The emphasis was basically on “how to write denials that will stand up on appeal” rather than how to recognize and grant legally required protection.
  • Immigration Judges with “special insights” into the situation of asylum seekers seldom were invited to be speakers. For example, one of my most distinguished colleagues was Judge Dana Leigh Marks of the San Francisco Immigration Court. Judge Marks successfully represented the applicant in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case INS v. Cardoza-Fonseca, 480 U.S. 421 (1987)  (as the INS Deputy G.C. & Acting G.C. I was helping the Solicitor General with the “losing argument” in behalf of my “client.”) Cardoza-Fonseca established the “well founded fear” standard for asylum and probably is the most important case in the history of U.S. asylum law. Yet, I never remember hearing Judge Marks on any panel at the Annual Conference, let alone one dealing with asylum.
  • One notable exception were the “mandatory” presentations by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (“USCIRF”), an independent Government agency. Led by Senior Advisor on Refugee Issues Mark Hetfield (now President and CEO of HIAS) the USCIRF provided examples of bias in asylum adjudication and explained how Immigration Judges and the BIA sometimes erred by filtering religious claims through our “Americanized Judeo-Christian prism” instead of taking time to understand the unique conditions affecting religion and religious freedom in each country.
  • There was never much positive follow-up on the USCIRF observations. I was probably one of the few Immigration Judges who regularly consulted and discussed the reports and findings of the USCIRF in my decision-making (even many experienced asylum advocates often overlooked this invaluable resource).
  • I remember at my “Immigration Judge Basic Training” in 2003 being told to prepare for the fact that most of my “oral decisions” would be asylum denials. I was skeptical then and found that quite to the contrary, the majority of asylum cases that got to Individual Hearing in Arlington were eminently “grantable.” Pretty much as I had unsuccessfully argued for years with my colleagues while I was on the BIA. For the most part, the U.S. Courts of Appeals eventually reaffirmed much of what my long-since banished “dissenting colleagues” and I had been saying all along about the overly restrictive application of U.S. asylum law by the BIA and many U.S. Immigration Judges.
  • There is absolutely nothing in the recent anti-asylum campaign (based on distorted narratives, no facts, or just plain intentional misinformation) by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and EOIR leadership that would lead me to believe that any type of fair, professional, properly balanced asylum training for Immigration Judges and BIA Appellate Immigration Judges is in the offing.
  • All of this adds up to the pressing need for the elimination of USDOJ control over the U.S. Immigration Courts, the creation of an independent U.S. Immigration Court, and the restructuring of the Immigration Courts into a true Due Process oriented court system, rather than a mere “whistle-stop on the deportation railroad!”

PWS

02-05-18

ANOTHER US JUDGE, THIS TIME IN NJ, CALLS A HALT TO “GONZO” ENFORCEMENT — Now It’s Indonesian Christians In The ICEMEN’s Crosshairs!

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2018/02/last_minute_court_appeal_halts_deportation_of_indo.html

Ted Sherman reports for NJ Advantage Advance Media for NJ.com:

“A federal judge in Newark on Friday issued a temporary restraining order halting the deportations of two Indonesian Christians taken into custody last week while they were dropping their daughters off for school.

U.S. District Judge Esther Salas issued the order after the ACLU went to court, arguing that the summary deportation of the men violated their due process and deprived them of the opportunity to argue their case for asylum.

“These community members, our neighbors, are entitled to argue their case with the protections of due process, especially when the stakes are life-and-death,” said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha.

Gunawan Liem of Franklin Park and Roby Sanger of Metuchen, who both had pending removal orders, were arrested a week ago without warning by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as part of an increasingly aggressive enforcement effort by the Trump Administration targeting illegal immigration.

A third man, Harry Pangemanan, was not home when ICE agents showed up at his house and he sought sanctuary at the Reformed Church of Highland Park, where Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale has long been championing the cause of the Indonesian Christian community.

“This case involves life-and-death stakes and we are simply asking that these longtime residents be given opportunity to show that they are entitled to remain here,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “As in other recent similar cases in Detroit, Boston, Miami and Los Angeles involving mass deportations, we are asking the court to make clear that the fundamental protections of due process apply to non-citizens.”

ICE officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this week, a federal judge in a similar case in Massachusetts also ordered the government to halt the removal of another group of Indonesian Christians, according to the ACLU, which filed that case too.

The judge ruled that they needed more time to file and receive decisions on motions to re-open their immigration cases over their claims of increasingly perilous conditions for Christians in Indonesia, a predominately Muslim nation.

A sign reads “Let the stay” at The Reformed Church of Highland Park. (Jody Somers | For The Star-Ledger)
According to court documents filed in the New Jersey case, the ACLU sought stays of removal for Liem, Sanger and others to give them a reasonable period of time “to compile and present evidence that would permit them to file motions to reopen their removal cases, including evidence of recent changes in country conditions that make Indonesia increasingly dangerous for Christians.”

In its the complaint against ICE, its Newark director for enforcement and removal, and the Department of Homeland Security, the ACLU said most of those facing detention had U.S. citizen children, and argued their removal would rip apart families.

“They are devout and extremely active in their churches, some in official roles. Many volunteer their time to help disadvantaged members of their local community and beyond: participating in disaster relief efforts and volunteering through their churches,” they said in the complaint.

In a statement, Farrin Anello, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of New Jersey, said the Constitution and laws recognizes that people must not be jailed or deported without an opportunity to seek court review of those harsh actions.

“We are extremely heartened and relieved that Judge Salas has ruled that these families may not be deported while she reviews their case,” she said.

Ted Sherman may be reached at tsherman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TedShermanSL. Facebook: @TedSherman.reporter. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

A federal judge in Newark on Friday issued a temporary restraining order halting the deportations of two Indonesian Christians taken into custody last week while they were dropping their daughters off for school.

U.S. District Judge Esther Salas issued the order after the ACLU went to court, arguing that the summary deportation of the men violated their due process and deprived them of the opportunity to argue their case for asylum.

“These community members, our neighbors, are entitled to argue their case with the protections of due process, especially when the stakes are life-and-death,” said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha.

Gunawan Liem of Franklin Park and Roby Sanger of Metuchen, who both had pending removal orders, were arrested a week ago without warning by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as part of an increasingly aggressive enforcement effort by the Trump Administration targeting illegal immigration.

A third man, Harry Pangemanan, was not home when ICE agents showed up at his house and he sought sanctuary at the Reformed Church of Highland Park, where Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale has long been championing the cause of the Indonesian Christian community.

“This case involves life-and-death stakes and we are simply asking that these longtime residents be given opportunity to show that they are entitled to remain here,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “As in other recent similar cases in Detroit, Boston, Miami and Los Angeles involving mass deportations, we are asking the court to make clear that the fundamental protections of due process apply to non-citizens.”

ICE officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this week, a federal judge in a similar case in Massachusetts also ordered the government to halt the removal of another group of Indonesian Christians, according to the ACLU, which filed that case too.

The judge ruled that they needed more time to file and receive decisions on motions to re-open their immigration cases over their claims of increasingly perilous conditions for Christians in Indonesia, a predominately Muslim nation.

A sign reads “Let the stay” at The Reformed Church of Highland Park. (Jody Somers | For The Star-Ledger)
According to court documents filed in the New Jersey case, the ACLU sought stays of removal for Liem, Sanger and others to give them a reasonable period of time “to compile and present evidence that would permit them to file motions to reopen their removal cases, including evidence of recent changes in country conditions that make Indonesia increasingly dangerous for Christians.”

In its the complaint against ICE, its Newark director for enforcement and removal, and the Department of Homeland Security, the ACLU said most of those facing detention had U.S. citizen children, and argued their removal would rip apart families.

“They are devout and extremely active in their churches, some in official roles. Many volunteer their time to help disadvantaged members of their local community and beyond: participating in disaster relief efforts and volunteering through their churches,” they said in the complaint.

In a statement, Farrin Anello, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of New Jersey, said the Constitution and laws recognizes that people must not be jailed or deported without an opportunity to seek court review of those harsh actions.

“We are extremely heartened and relieved that Judge Salas has ruled that these families may not be deported while she reviews their case,” she said.

Ted Sherman may be reached at tsherman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TedShermanSL. Facebook: @TedSherman.reporter. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

issued the order after the ACLU went to court, arguing that the summary deportation of the men violated their due process and deprived them of the opportunity to argue their case for asylum.

“These community members, our neighbors, are entitled to argue their case with the protections of due process, especially when the stakes are life-and-death,” said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha.

Gunawan Liem of Franklin Park and Roby Sanger of Metuchen, who both had pending removal orders, were arrested a week ago without warning by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as part of an increasingly aggressive enforcement effort by the Trump Administration targeting illegal immigration.

A third man, Harry Pangemanan, was not home when ICE agents showed up at his house and he sought sanctuary at the Reformed Church of Highland Park, where Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale has long been championing the cause of the Indonesian Christian community.

“This case involves life-and-death stakes and we are simply asking that these longtime residents be given opportunity to show that they are entitled to remain here,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “As in other recent similar cases in Detroit, Boston, Miami and Los Angeles involving mass deportations, we are asking the court to make clear that the fundamental protections of due process apply to non-citizens.”

ICE officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this week, a federal judge in a similar case in Massachusetts also ordered the government to halt the removal of another group of Indonesian Christians, according to the ACLU, which filed that case too.

The judge ruled that they needed more time to file and receive decisions on motions to re-open their immigration cases over their claims of increasingly perilous conditions for Christians in Indonesia, a predominately Muslim nation.

A sign reads “Let the stay” at The Reformed Church of Highland Park. (Jody Somers | For The Star-Ledger)
According to court documents filed in the New Jersey case, the ACLU sought stays of removal for Liem, Sanger and others to give them a reasonable period of time “to compile and present evidence that would permit them to file motions to reopen their removal cases, including evidence of recent changes in country conditions that make Indonesia increasingly dangerous for Christians.”

In its the complaint against ICE, its Newark director for enforcement and removal, and the Department of Homeland Security, the ACLU said most of those facing detention had U.S. citizen children, and argued their removal would rip apart families.

“They are devout and extremely active in their churches, some in official roles. Many volunteer their time to help disadvantaged members of their local community and beyond: participating in disaster relief efforts and volunteering through their churches,” they said in the complaint.

In a statement, Farrin Anello, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of New Jersey, said the Constitution and laws recognizes that people must not be jailed or deported without an opportunity to seek court review of those harsh actions.

“We are extremely heartened and relieved that Judge Salas has ruled that these families may not be deported while she reviews their case,” she said.

Ted Sherman may be reached at tsherman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TedShermanSL. Facebook: @TedSherman.reporter. Find NJ.com on Facebook.”

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Wasting tax dollars, hurting families, dividing communities, teeing off Federal Judges, what more could you ask from the “New American Gestapo?”

PWS

02-04-18

THE SPLC ANALYZES TRUMP’S CONTORTED AND CONTRIVED MESSAGE OF HATE, INTOLERANCE, & DIVISION!

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FIGHTING HATE // TEACHING TOLERANCE // SEEKING JUSTICE

FEBRUARY 3, 2018

“In his State of the Union address this week, President Trump congratulated his administration for having “taken historic actions to protect religious liberty.”

It certainly was historic in October when Trump became the first sitting president to give the keynote address at an annual summit hosted by an anti-LGBT hate group, the Family Research Council.

And it was historic when his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, issued religious freedom guidance eroding protections for LGBT people after he consulted with another anti-LGBT hate group, the Alliance Defending Freedom.

But it was an anti-immigrant hate group, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), whose talking points laced the State of the Union address this week.

CIS presents itself as an independent think tank, but it began as a project of the anti-immigrant hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform and was founded by white nationalist John Tanton.

CIS frequently manipulates its findings to achieve results that further its anti-immigrant agenda. Last fall, for instance, CIS staffer Jessica Vaughn published a report exaggerating how many people would enter America via a process that CIS calls “chain migration” — the hate group’s preferred phrase to stigmatize the idea of immigrant families reuniting.

The phrase “chain migration” appeared twice in this week’s State of the Union, alongside dangerous and hateful misinformation about immigrants taken directly from CIS talking points.

Given the State of the Union’s author, that should be no surprise.

Senior adviser Stephen Miller, who took the lead writing the speech, served for years as an aide to Jeff Sessions, who has himself endorsed CIS’ work, spoken on a CIS panel, and taken whispered counsel from a former CIS staffer during immigration debates on the Senate floor.

When Sessions hired Miller fresh from Duke University, he did so at the recommendation of anti-Muslim extremist David Horowitz. Now in the White House, Miller has been claimed and praised by extremists for advocating policy on hate group wish lists and pushing anti-immigrant narratives like the one we heard in the State of the Union.

“For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities. They have allowed millions of low-wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against the poorest Americans,” Trump said Tuesday, reading Miller’s text off a teleprompter.

But studies consistently show that immigrants help — not hurt — the U.S. economy.

“Most tragically, they have caused the loss of many innocent lives,” Trump said Tuesday — despite study after study finding immigrants commit crime at rates lowerthan native-born Americans, not higher.

Hate groups should not have a seat at the table on matters of national policy or influence what talking points to highlight in the State of the Union.

But thanks to Stephen Miller, they have exactly that.

The Editors

P.S. Here are some other pieces we think are valuable this week:

What kids are really learning about slavery by Melinda Anderson for The Atlantic

How the far right has perfected the art of deniable racism by Gary Younge for The Guardian

Indian slavery once thrived in New Mexico. Latinos are finding family ties to it by Simon Romero for The New York Times

The terrifying rise of alt-right fight clubs by Bryan Schatz for Mother Jones

View this email in your browser.”

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Yup. Sadly, Trump and his cohorts Sessions & Miller are out to divide, not unify America (except in the sense that they are unifying all decent Americans against their White Nationalist, racist agenda). For years, the GOP right-wing has “talked around” the racism and White Nationalism inherent in many of their programs and actions, using euphemisms like “reform,” “streamlining,” “right to work,” “combatting voter fraud,” etc. And, while occasionally it earns them a mild “tisk, tisk” from so-called “moderate” or “mainstream” Republicans, for the most part the spineless leadership of the GOP has given racism, White Nationalism, and xenophobia a “free Pass.”

Just look at the “hero of the GOP moderates,” Mitt Romney. “The Mittster” appears poised to reenter politics as the Junior Senator from Utah, replacing the retiring Orrin Hatch.

While carefully steering a moderate line on immigration during his governorship of “Blue State” Massachusetts, once nominated for the Presidency, Romney hired the notorious racist/White Nationalist/vote suppressor Kris Kobach as his “Immigration Advisor.” He then proceeded to largely adopt the White Nationalist line in immigration, including the famous Kobach initiative that sought to make life so miserable for hardworking, law-abiding undocumented residents (known in White Nationalist lingo as “illegals”) that they would “self-deport.”

Who is the real Mitt Romney? Nobody knows. But, my guess is that he’ll stand with the White Nationalists on immigration.

Although he has been sharply critical of Trump at times, it’s likely that when push comes to shove, he’ll line up behind the Trump-far right agenda just like other so-called “critics” such as Sen. “Bobby the Cork” Corker, Sen. Jeff Flake, Sen. John McCain, Sen. Susan Collins, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski when it came to “sticking it to America” with the GOP Tax ripoff. After all, remember how quick Mitt was to “pretzel himself up” and grovel before Trump on the off-chance that he would be allowed to serve the Great Con-Master as Secretary of State!

PWS

02-03-18