Welcome To Jeff Sessions’s America — In 1957 Sessions Was 10 Years Old And His White Christian Fellow Alabamans Were Busy Perverting The “Rule Of Law” To Deny Their African American Fellow Citizens Constitutional Rights, Fundamental Justice, & Human Dignity!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-white-cop-dies-and-a-young-black-man-spends-years-in-jail-for-a-crime-he-didnt-do/2017/06/16/d771059e-4706-11e7-a196-a1bb629f64cb_story.html?hpid=hp_regional-hp-cards_rhp-card-arts%3Ahomepage%2Fcard&utm_term=.a94b2ba61075

Colbert I. king writes in the Washington Post:

“How is it possible in a country that prides itself on having a Bill of Rights, expresses reverence for due process and touts equal protection that a 17-year-old can be arrested, put on trial and sentenced to death, and then spend 13 years being shuttled among death row cellblocks in disgusting jails and prisons with his case under appeal, all for a crime he didn’t commit?

The answer contains some simple prerequisites: He had to be black, live in the Jim Crow South and be accused of committing, as one deputy sheriff put it, a “supreme offense, on the same level of a white woman being raped by a black man” — that is, the murder of a white police officer.

Teenager Caliph Washington, a native of Bessemer, Ala., was on the receiving end of all three conditions. And as such, Washington became a sure-fire candidate to suffer the kind of tyrannical law enforcement and rotten jurisprudence that Southern justice reserved for blacks of any age.

In “He Calls Me by Lightning,” S. Jonathan Bass, a professor at Alabama’s Samford University and a son of Bessemer parents, resurrects the life of Washington, who died in 2001 finally out of prison — but with charges still hanging over his head.

 

Bass, however, does more than tell Washington’s tale, as Washington’s widow, Christine, had asked him to do in a phone call. Bass dives deeply into the Bessemer society of 1957 where Washington was accused of shooting white police officer James “Cowboy” Clark on an empty dead-end street near a row of run-down houses on unpaved Exeter Alley.

Bessemer-style justice cannot be known, let alone understood, however, without learning about that neo-hardscrabble town 13 miles southwest of Birmingham.

Bessemer served as home to a sizable black majority, an entrenched white power structure and an all-white police department, consisting at the time of a “ragtag crew of poorly paid, ill-trained, and hot-tempered individuals” who earned less than Bessemer’s street and sanitation workers.

Bessemer was a town with its own quaint racial customs, such as forcing black men to “walk in the middle of the downtown streets, not on the sidewalks, after dark — presumably to keep them from any close contact with white women.”

 

Bessemer was a town where in 1944 the police forced black prisoners to participate in an Independence Day watermelon run. White citizens reportedly cheered as firefighters blasted the inmates with high-pressure hoses to make the race more challenging. Winners, it is said, received reduced sentences and the watermelons.

It was in that town that Caliph Washington was born in 1939, the same year of my birth in Washington, D.C.

Bessemer’s racial climate was no different the year Washington was accused of killing Cowboy Clark. The town’s prevailing attitude on race was captured at the time in a pamphlet distributed by a segregationist group, the Bessemer Citizens’ Council. Black Christians, the white citizens’ council said, should remain content with being “our brothers in Christ without also wanting to become our brothers-in-law.”

If ever there was a place to not get caught “driving while black” — which is what Washington was doing on that fateful night in July 1957 — it was Bessemer. And that night’s hazard appeared in the form of Clark and his partner, Thurman Avery, who were cruising the streets in their patrol car looking for whiskey bootleggers.”

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Read the rest of King’s op-ed at the link.

So, when you hear Sessions and his White Nationalist buddies like Bannon, Miller, Kobach, and Pence extolling the virtues of a small Federal Government (except for the migrant-bashing mechanisms) state control of voting, civil rights, police conduct, gender fairness, environmental regulations, labor relations, filling the prisons with maximum sentences, a new war on drugs, etc., it’s just clever code for “let’s make sure that white-dominated state and local governments can keep blacks, hispanics, immigrants, Muslims, and other minorities from achieving power, equality, and a fair share of the pie.” After all, if you believe, as these guys do, that true democracy can be a bad thing if it means diversity and power sharing, then you’re going to abuse the legal and political systems any way you can to maintain your hold on power.

And, of course, right-wing pontificating about the “rule of law” means  nothing other than selective application of some laws to the disadvantage of minorities, immigrants, and often women. You can see how selective Sessions’s commitment to the rule of law is when he withdraws DOJ participation in voting rights cases in the face of strong evidence of racial gerrymandering, withdraws support from protections for LGBT individuals, supports imprisonment in substandard prisons, targets legal marijuana, and “green lights” troubled police departments to prioritize aggressive law enforcement over the protection of minority citizens’ rights. Ethics laws, in particular, seems to be far removed from the Sessions/Trump concept of “Rule of Law.” And, sadly, this is only the beginning of the Trump Administration’s assault on our Constitution, our fundamental values, and the “real” “Rule of Law.”

PWS

06-18-17

H-1B NONIMMIGRANTS: A Needed Visa In Need Of Reform — It’s Essential For Our Economy, But It’s Wrong When US Workers Are Displaced & Degraded — A Plea For Reform By One Who Has Benefitted From The System But Sees The Abuses!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/04/us/understanding-the-h-1b-visa/index.html

Moni Bassu writes in CNN:

“Palmer and other H-1B reformers want accountability.
They say US companies must be required to document their searches to fill positions with American workers. Employers must pay prevailing wages and be prevented from subcontracting or outsourcing H-1B jobs.
Reform advocates are pushing for a system of government enforcement and oversight of the H-1B regulations, not one that is reliant on whistleblowers to expose abuse.
Technology is here to stay. And it is changing at warp speed. The demand for smart talent is not going away. That’s why even the biggest critics of H-1B are the most ardent backers of reform, not elimination.
What I hear them saying is the system ought to work the way it used to, when my father obtained an H-1 visa. He was hired for a job he was uniquely qualified for, and he was compensated with a decent wage.
No one wants to see Americans lose their jobs unfairly, and if my father were still alive, I know he’d be troubled by what I learned about the current H-1B program.
I also know he would be heartened to see that some of the most ardent backers of visa reform are Indian Americans. After all, we are the ones who have most reaped the rewards of H-1B.”
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The full article, which gives actual examples of both the benefits and the abuses of the H-1B program is a “must read.” Get it at the link.
Several thoughts. I was very critical, and still am, of House Immigration Subcommittee GOP Members for starting off with controversial, “in your face,” and unneeded enforcement-only bills. See http://wp.me/p8eeJm-Qw
Why not instead start with something bipartisan that would be good for America, like H-1B reform. Chairman Grassley in the Senate has expressed strong interest in reforming the H-1B category to eliminate abuses. And, it appears that most major U.S. employers who use H-1Bs also see the need for reform to preserve and improve the program.
Additionally, things like investment visa “EB-5” reform also appear likely to attract support from both sides of the aisle in both houses.
A second thought, why don’t U.S. companies, particularly those started or run by immigrants, which use H-1Bs start the reforms now. “Reverse” the process. Use highly talented H-1B workers to train U.S. workers, particularly in places where the economic rebound has not yet reached, for whatever reason.
For example, in a recent blog dealt with the situation in the small city of Gillette, WY. http://wp.me/p8eeJm-UY  The folks seemed nice, optimistic, and interested in a brighter future for their community. But, with or without Trump and his environment-busting policies, coal mining as a way of life is on the way out. I can’t imagine that too many of the younger generation are hanging around places like Gillette.
Why not go in and establish some tech centers using H-1Bs as trainers. Sure, working on a computer in an office isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I get that. But, it is something that can be done from anywhere.
And, the costs of doing business, at least initially, are likely to be less in a place like Gillette. Increased economic activity brings with it other needs: buildings, houses, markets, auto dealers, repair shops, HVAC technicians, public servants, schools, teachers, etc. So, there could be something for everyone, even those who don’t want to work at a desk all day.
Maybe, it’s time for those who want immigration reform to stop talking and whining and start doing. Things that demonstrably work and help folks out build their own bases of support. That’s better than trying to convince folks with statistics and pie charts!
PWS
06-05-17

NYT Sunday Maggie: The “Deportation Resistance” In Trump’s America — Re-energized Or Outgunned? — The “country woke up in Arizona!”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/23/magazine/is-it-possible-to-resist-deportation-in-trumps-america.html?em_pos=medium&emc=edit_ma_20170525&nl=magazine&nl_art=1&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

Marcela Valdes writes:

“On Monday, Feb. 6, two days before Guadalupe García Aguilar made headlines as the first person deported under President Donald Trump’s new executive orders on immigration, she and her family drove to the modest stucco offices of Puente, an organization that represents undocumented immigrants. It was a postcard day: warm and dry, hovering around 70 degrees, the kind of winter afternoon that had long ago turned Phoenix into a magnet for American retirees and the younger, mostly Latin American immigrants who mulch their gardens and build their homes.
García Aguilar and her family — her husband and two children — squeezed together with four Puente staff members into the cramped little office that the group uses for private consultations. Carlos Garcia, Puente’s executive director, had bought a fresh pack of cigarettes right before the talk; he needed nicotine to carry him through the discomfort of telling García Aguilar that she would almost certainly be deported on Wednesday. Until that moment, she and her family had not wanted to believe that the executive orders Trump signed on Jan. 25 had made her expulsion a priority. She had been living in the United States for 22 years, since she was 14 years old; she was the mother of two American citizens; she had missed being eligible for DACA by just a few months. Suddenly, none of that counted anymore.
García Aguilar’s troubles with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began in 2008, after police raided Golfland Sunsplash, the amusement park in Mesa, Ariz., where she worked. She spent three months in jail and three months in detention. (ICE booked her under the last name “García de Rayos.”) In 2013, an immigration court ordered her removal. Yet under pressure from Puente, which ultimately filed a class-action lawsuit contending that Maricopa County’s work-site raids were unconstitutional, ICE allowed García Aguilar (and dozens of others) to remain in Arizona under what is known as an order of supervision. ICE could stay her removal because the Obama administration’s guidelines for the agency specified terrorists and violent criminals as priorities for deportation. But Trump’s January orders effectively vacated those guidelines; one order specifically instructed that “aliens ordered removed from the United States are promptly removed.” García Aguilar, who had a felony for using a fabricated Social Security number, was unlikely to be spared.
Orders of supervision are similar to parole; undocumented immigrants who have them must appear before ICE officers periodically for “check-ins.” García Aguilar’s next check-in was scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 8. She had three options, Garcia explained. She could appear as usual and hope for the best. She could try to hide. Or she could put up a fight, either from a place of sanctuary or by appearing for her check-in amid media coverage that Puente would organize on her behalf. Whatever she decided, he said, she would be wise to spend Tuesday preparing for separation from her children.
The family was devastated. García Aguilar left the meeting red-faced with tears.
The next day a dozen activists gathered at Puente to strategize for García Aguilar’s case. After reviewing the logistics for the usual public maneuvers — Facebook post, news release, online petition, sidewalk rally, Twitter hashtag, phone campaign — they debated the pros and cons of using civil disobedience. In the final years of the Obama administration, activists in Arizona had come to rely on “C.D.,” as they called it, to make their dissatisfaction known. Puente members had blocked roads and chained themselves in front of the entrance to Phoenix’s Fourth Avenue Jail. Yet Francisca Porchas, one of Puente’s organizers, worried about setting an unrealistic precedent with its membership. “For Lupita we go cray-cray and then everyone expects that,” she said. What would they do if Puente members wanted them to risk arrest every time one of them had a check-in?
Ernesto Lopez argued that they needed to take advantage of this rare opportunity. A week earlier, thousands of people had swarmed airports around the country to protest the executive order barring citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations. “There’s been a lot of conversation about the ban, but for everything else it’s dead,” Lopez said. “Nobody is talking about people getting deported. In a couple of months, it won’t be possible to get that media attention.”
Garcia wasn’t sure a rally for García Aguilar would work. “We’re literally in survival mode,” Garcia told me that week. It was too early to tell how ICE would behave under Trump, but they were braced for the worst. Nobody had a long-term plan yet. Even as he and his staff moved to organize the news conference, his mind kept running through the possibilities: Would it help García Aguilar stay with her family? Would it snowball into an airport-style protest? Would it cause ICE to double down on her deportation? He decided it was worth trying.
Shortly before noon on Wednesday, García Aguilar and her lawyer, Ray Ybarra Maldonado, entered ICE’s field office as supporters chanted “No está sola!” (You are not alone!) behind her. Telemundo, Univision and ABC shot footage. Supporters posted their own videos on Twitter and Facebook. ICE security warily eyed the scene. An hour later, Ybarra Maldonado exited ICE alone. García Aguilar had been taken into custody. All around the tree-shaded patio adjacent to ICE’s building, Puente members teared up, imagining the same dark future for themselves. Ybarra Maldonado filed a stay of deportation, and Porchas told everyone to come back later for a candlelight vigil.
That night a handful of protesters tried to block several vans as they sped from the building’s side exit. More protesters came running from an ICE decoy bus that had initially distracted those attending the vigil out front. Manuel Saldaña, an Army veteran who did two tours in Afghanistan, planted himself on the ground next to one van’s front tire, wrapping his arms and legs around the wheel. The driver looked incredulous; if he moved the van forward now, he would break one of Saldaña’s legs. Peering through the van windows with cellphone flashlights, protesters found García Aguilar sitting in handcuffs. The crowd doubled in size. “Those shifty [expletive],” Ybarra Maldonado said as he stared at the van. ICE, he said, had never notified him that her stay of deportation had been denied.
Four hours later, García Aguilar was gone. After the Phoenix Police arrested seven people and dispersed the crowd, ICE took her to Nogales, Mexico. By then images of García Aguilar and the protest were already all over television and social media. She and her children became celebrities within the immigrant rights movement. Carlos Garcia, who was with her in Nogales, told me that Mexican officials stalked her hotel, hoping to snag a photo. “Everyone wanted to be the one to help her,” he said. “Everyone wanted a piece.” Later that month, her children — Jacqueline, 14, and Angel, 16 — sat in the audience of Trump’s first address to Congress, guests of two Democratic representatives from Arizona, Raúl Grijalva and Ruben Gallego.
During the Obama years, most immigrant rights organizations focused on big, idealistic legislation: the Dream Act and comprehensive immigration reform, neither of which ever made it through Congress. But Puente kept its focus on front-line battles against police-ICE collaboration. For Garcia, who was undocumented until a stepfather adopted him at 16, the most important thing is simply to contest all deportations, without exception. He estimates that Puente has had a hand in stopping about 300 deportations in Arizona since 2012.
Ever since Arizona passed Senate Bill 1070, one of the toughest anti-undocumented bills ever signed into law, the state has been known for pioneering the kind of draconian tactics that the Trump administration is now turning into federal policy. But if Arizona has been a testing ground for the nativist agenda, it has also been an incubator for resistance to it. Among the state’s many immigrant rights groups, Puente stands out as the most seasoned and most confrontational. In the weeks and months following Election Day 2016 — as progressive groups suddenly found themselves on defense, struggling to figure out how to handle America’s new political landscape — Garcia was inundated with calls for advice. He flew around the country for training sessions with field organizers, strategy meetings with lawyers and policy experts and an off-the-record round table with Senators Dick Durbin and Bernie Sanders in Washington. A soft-spoken man with a stoic demeanor and a long, black ponytail, Garcia was also stunned by Trump’s victory. But organizers in Phoenix had one clear advantage. “All the scary things that folks are talking about,” he told me, “we’ve seen before.” On Nov. 9, he likes to say, the country woke up in Arizona.”

. . . .

On May 3, the day Arreola was to have been deported, Arreola and Andiola gathered with friends, family and supporters for a prayer breakfast at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Phoenix, which had offered to house Arreola if she chose sanctuary. Pastor James Pennington had been active in the fight for gay rights. The patio of First Congregational was decorated with several flags, including a rainbow flag, an Arizona state flag and an American flag. Inside the church, members of Puente and former members of ADAC formed a circle with several non-Hispanics who had only recently allied themselves with the undocumented. Standing together they recited Psalm 30 in Spanish:

Te ensalzaré, oh Señor, porque me has elevado, y no has permitido que mis enemigos se rían de mi.

I’ll praise you, Lord, because you’ve lifted me up. You haven’t let my enemies laugh at me.

Yet their enemies remained hard at work. A week later, Marco Tulio Coss Ponce, who had been living in Arizona under an order of supervision since 2013, appeared at ICE’s field office in Phoenix with his lawyer, Ravindar Arora, for a check-in. ICE officers, Arora said, knew that Coss Ponce was about to file an application for asylum — several of his relatives had been recently killed or threatened by the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico — and they had assured Arora several times that Coss Ponce would not be removed. They said he simply needed to wear an ankle monitor to make sure he didn’t disappear. The fitting was delayed several times until finally Arora had to leave to argue a case in court. After he departed, ICE officers handcuffed Coss Ponce and put him in a van, alone. Three hours later, he was in Nogales.”

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Read the entire, very lengthy but worthwhile, article at the link.

Wow, can’t help but think “what if” all the energy, emotion, and activity on both sides of the immigration issue were re-directed at working together to “make America greater,” rather than engaging in a dangerous, counterproductive “grown up” game of hide and seek aimed at intimidating and removing productive members of American society who aren’t causing anyone any particular harm!

I’ve got some bad news for “the enforcers.” The U.S. families of most of the deportees aren’t going anywhere. And, there will be a steep price to pay in future generations for intentionally alienating some of America’s “best and brightest,” and our hope for the future as a nation.

Actions have consequences. Hate and disrespect aren’t quickly forgotten. Witness that even today, more than a century after the event, we’re still struggling as a nation with the misguided and hateful cause that created the short-lived “Confederate States of America,” killed hundreds of thousands of Americans of all races, and ruined millions of lives.

Something to think about on Memorial Day.

PWS

05-29-17

LEGISLATION: House GOP Takes The Low Road — Eschews Compromise — Goes For Enforcement Overkill!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/18/politics/immigration-bill-house-committee/index.html

Tal Kopan reports for CNN:

“Washington (CNN)Democrats and Republicans on Thursday faced off over immigration policy as a House committee began considering a set of immigration bills that Democrats say would amount to the creation of a “mass deportation force.”

Proponents of the first bill under consideration by the House judiciary committee — named after two law enforcement officers who were allegedly murdered by an undocumented immigrant — advocated for the bill as important to public safety and rule of law.
But Democrats on the committee decried the bill as an unnecessarily harsh anti-immigrant push by President Donald Trump.
“Proponents of this bill say that it’s necessary to keep us safe, but what the bill really does is pander to the noxious notion that immigrants are criminals and should be dealt with harshly,” said immigration subcommittee ranking member Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat. “This bill gives Trump and (adviser Steve) Bannon the legislation to establish their mass deportation force. … This bill should really be called the ‘Mass Deportation Act,’ because that’s what it is.”
Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte said the bill was not intended to target immigrants, but to “respect the rule of law.”
“This is simply a bill that gives any administration, the current one and future ones, the authority to enforce our laws properly, and gives to state and local governments … the ability to participate in that enforcement,” Goodlatte said.
The committee was set to mark up three Republican bills related to immigration on Thursday — one that would vastly expand the role of state and local jurisdictions in immigration enforcement and two others that would authorize immigration components of the Department of Homeland Security.
But by mid-afternoon, the committee recessed until next week after only making its way through two amendments. Both were brought by Democrats to strike portions of the bill, and after lengthy debate, both were rejected by the Republican majority committee. Democrats were expected to continue bringing a number of similar amendments when the markup continues on the nearly 200 page bill.
The main bill the committee discussed, the Michael Davis Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act, was introduced by Republican Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho, and closely resembles similar legislation that the House judiciary committee has advanced in the past and that now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions introduced in his time in the Senate.
The Davis-Oliver Act would substantially increase the capabilities of federal and local immigration enforcement, including empowering state and local law enforcement to enact their own immigration laws and penalties. It also would give the government powers to revoke visas, beef up Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ability to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants, increase criminal penalties for undocumented immigrants and punish sanctuary jurisdictions.

The two parties went back and forth on the bill, with Democrats decrying it as demonization of all immigrants, as an increase in mass incarceration and as a promotion of racial profiling and as unconstitutional federal overreach. They noted that local law enforcement in sanctuary cities say their policies are important for victims and witnesses of crimes to feel comfortable coming forward.
But Labrador said the notion that the bill harms public safety is “the most preposterous and outrageous argument I’ve ever heard.”
“For too long we have allowed individuals to enter our country illegally and in many cases do us harm,” he said. “While other reforms are needed, this bill is vital to a long-term fix.”
The other two bills, introduced by Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, would serve as authorizations for ICE and US Citizenship and Immigration Services, codifying the mission statements of both entities. The USCIS bill would focus the agency, which oversees the issuance of visas and grants immigrants the ability to enter the U.S. . . . .”

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America has all the immigration enforcement we need at present. Undocumented entries are down, the undocumented population is stable, and all reputable studies show that migrants of all types are among the most law-abiding sectors of our society.  Also, the DHS is unable to remove everyone who is currently under a final order of removal.  The U.S. Immigration Court system is completely backlogged, with nearly an astounding 600,000 pending cases.

Consequently, beyond funding “fixes” for the overwhelmed Immigration Courts and the DHS program for executing final orders of removal, there is no need for additional immigration enforcement personnel and authority at this time.  Nor is there any need to push reluctant cities to help DHS out with immigration enforcement.

No, notwithstanding the disingenuous statements by GOP Reps. Goodlatte and Labrador, this is all about generating anti-immigrant sentiment and promoting a non-existent link among  immigrants, crime, and national security..

What America really needs is some type of legalization program to allow the millions of law-abiding undocumented individual already here to continue to work and contribute to our society.  Additionally, we need immigration reform that would expand the legal immigration system to more realistically match supply with demand. This, in turn, would encourage individuals to enter through the legal system and thereby register and submit themselves to complete pre-entry vetting.  That’s what would actually promote the safety and prosperity of America!

PWS

05-19-17

 

 

“GONZO-APOCALYPTO:” The Ominous Cloud Hanging Over American Justice — In Good Friday Editorials, Both NYT & WashPost Blast Sessions’s Dark, Distorted, “Gonzo-Apocalypto” Vision Of America!

First, the Washington Post ripped Sessions’s “embarrassing” withdrawal of support from African Americans and other minorities challenging the State of Texas’s scheme to disenfranchise them. A Federal Judge has twice found in favor of the plaintiffs — once with the DOJ’s support and once without!

“BLASTING “A PATTERN of conduct unexplainable on nonracial grounds, to suppress minority voting,” U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos on Monday repudiated Texas’s voter-ID law, the strictest in the country. Asked by appeals court judges to reconsider her expansive 2014 ruling against the law using slightly different evidence, Ms. Ramos reaffirmed her previous determination that “the law places a substantial burden on the right to vote, which is hardly offset by Texas’s claimed benefits to voting integrity.” She found that racial discrimination was at least a partial motivation for the law, a step toward reestablishing federal supervision over Texas’s voting procedures, per the Voting Rights Act.

Given the ruling and the mountain of evidence, it is embarrassing that the Trump Justice Department dropped its support for the contention that the Texas voter law is purposely discriminatory.

The legal question is not close. “There has been a clear and disturbing pattern of discrimination in the name of combating voter fraud,” Ms. Ramos wrote in 2014. The only type of fraud the law could combat — voter impersonation — hardly ever happens. Meanwhile, the law’s backers knew it would disproportionately impact minority voters; in fact, they designed it so. “The Texas Legislature accepted amendments that would broaden Anglo voting and rejected amendments that would broaden minority voting,” Ms. Ramos found in her 2014 examination. Texas accepts relatively few forms of identification at the polls, and those it does accept, such as gun licenses, are those white Texans tend to hold. Unlike many voter-ID states, Texas does not relax ID rules much for the elderly or the indigent, though obtaining an accepted ID can be surprisingly time-consuming and expensive.”

Read the complete editorial here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/its-time-for-the-justice-department-to-disown-texass-discriminatory-voting-law/2017/04/13/ee63a0e0-1ef7-11e7-ad74-3a742a6e93a7_story.html

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Meanwhile, A NY Times editorial slammed Session’s disingenuous plan to make immigrants the “#1 target” of law enforcement in the “Trump era.” The emphasis is mine.

Here’s the full editorial:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions went to the border in Arizona on Tuesday and declared it a hellscape, a “ground zero” of death and violence where Americans must “take our stand” against a tide of evil flooding up from Mexico.

It was familiar Sessions-speak, about drug cartels and “transnational gangs” poisoning and raping and chopping off heads, things he said for years on the Senate floor as the gentleman from Alabama. But with a big difference:  Now he controls the machinery of federal law enforcement, and his gonzo-apocalypto vision of immigration suddenly has force and weight behind it, from the officers and prosecutors and judges who answer to him.

When Mr. Sessions got to the part about the “criminal aliens and the coyotes and the document forgers” overthrowing our immigration system, the American flag behind him had clearly heard enough — it leaned back and fell over as if in a stupor. An agent rushed to rescue it, and stood there for the rest of the speech: a human flag stand and metaphor. A guy with a uniform and gun, wrapped in Old Glory, helping to give the Trump administration’s nativist policies a patriotic sheen.

It was in the details of Mr. Sessions’s oratory that his game was exposed. He talked of cities and suburbs as immigrant-afflicted “war zones,” but the crackdown he seeks focuses overwhelmingly on nonviolent offenses, the document fraud and unauthorized entry and other misdeeds that implicate many people who fit no sane definition of brutal criminal or threat to the homeland.

The problem with Mr. Sessions’s turbocharging of the Justice Department’s efforts against what he paints as machete-wielding “depravity” is how grossly it distorts the bigger picture. It reflects his long fixation — shared by his boss, President Trump — on immigration not as an often unruly, essentially salutary force in American history, but as a dire threat. It denies the existence of millions of people who are a force for good, economic mainstays and community assets, less prone to crime than the native-born — workers, parents, children, neighbors and, above all, human beings deserving of dignity and fair treatment under the law.

Mr. Sessions is ordering his prosecutors to make immigration a priority, to consider prosecution in any case involving “transportation and harboring of aliens” and to consider felony charges for an extended menu of offenses, like trying to re-enter after deportation, “aggravated identity theft” and fraudulent marriage.

He said the government was now detaining every adult stopped at the border, and vowed to “surge” the supply of immigration judges, to increase the flow of unauthorized immigrants through the courts and out of the country. He has ordered all 94 United States attorney’s offices to designate “border security coordinators,” no matter how far from “ground zero” they are.

Mr. Sessions and the administration are being led by their bleak vision to the dark side of the law. The pieces are falling into place for the indiscriminate “deportation force” that the president promised. Mr. Sessions and the homeland security secretary, John Kelly, have attacked cities and states that decline to participate in the crackdown. Mr. Sessions has threatened these “sanctuary” locales with loss of criminal-justice funding, on the false assertion that they are defying the law. (In fact, “sanctuary” cities are upholding law and order. They recognize that enlisting state and local law enforcement for deportation undermines community trust, local policing and public safety.)

Mr. Kelly recently told a Senate committee that all unauthorized immigrants are now potential targets for arrest and deportation. And so an administration that talks about machete-waving narco killers is also busily trying to deport people like Maribel Trujillo-Diaz, of Fairfield, Ohio, the mother of four citizen children, who has no criminal record.

“Be forewarned,” Mr. Sessions said in Arizona. “This is a new era. This is the Trump era.”

Let’s talk about this era. It’s an era when the illegal border flow, particularly from Mexico, has been falling for 20 years. When many of those arriving from Central America immediately surrender to border agents — having fled to the United States to find safety, not to do it harm. When American border cities enjoy safety and vitality, thanks to immigrants. When a large portion of the unauthorized population has lived here for years, if not decades, with clean records and strong roots. When polls show that Americans back reasonable and humane immigration policies giving millions a chance to get right with the law.

President Trump has shown his mind to be a place where ideas and principles can morph without warning or explanation. It is a vacuum that allows ideologues like Mr. Sessions — who know their minds — to do their worst. On immigration, that is a frightening thing to contemplate.

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“Gonzo-Apocalypto” has to be the “word of the day.” What a perfect term to describe Jeff Sessions.

In a grotesque display of disingenuous hypocrisy, Sessions referred to “drug cartels and ‘transnational gangs’ poisoning and raping and chopping off heads.” These are exactly the things causing scared, defenseless women and children to flee for their lives from the Northern Triangle and seek refuge in the U.S. But, instead of refuge they find: well, Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Gen. John Kelly and others anxious to stomp out their humanity in the false name of “law enforcement.”

Turning to civil rights, I watched on the TV news last night two clips of brutal beatings and stompings of African Americans by white police officers. One victim was accused of “jaywalking”  — that’s right, “jaywalking.” The other was “driving without a license plate.” I was wondering how, after all the recent publicity, those officers could have engaged in such conduct, “on camera” no less.

Unfortunately, the answer is pretty simple “Black Lives Don’t Matter,” an attitude that obviously has just become instinctive for too many U.S. police officers. I couldn’t imagine a white pedestrian or a white motorist being treated that way in our multi-racial but predominantly white neighborhood.

Yes, the officers involved were disciplined. I believe that most or all of them were either fired, prosecuted, or both. But, that’s not the point!

The object is to prevent misuse of force by police, not to fire, prosecute, or otherwise discipline more policemen. And, prevention without compromising effectiveness of policing is exactly what the carefully crafted “consent decrees” with some problematic cities developed by the Civil Rights Division under AGs Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder achieved.

Those are the very decrees that Sessions immediately announced an intent to “review” with an obvious eye toward withdrawing or undermining them. Look at the childish behavior in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore, MD, when DOJ attorneys, acting on Sessions’s behalf, withdrew their support from the consent decree and basically refused to participate in a long-scheduled public hearing. Fortunately, the judge has the good sense to go ahead and approve and finalize the consent decree without any participation by DOJ, leading to even more childish whining from Sessions about the horrors of infringing on local law enforcement in the name of African American citizen’s constitutional rights.

The very public “green light” that Sessions has given to law enforcement to run over citizen’s rights as they please, without any fear of DOJ intervention, so long as they are “enforcing the law” — like busting jaywalkers, license plate violators, and presumably undocumented aliens — no doubt plays a role in the continuing anti-minority policing being conducted by some law enforcement agencies.

Sessions “bristles” when anyone uses the term “racist” to describe him. Sessions was given a chance to make good on his (obviously false) promise during his confirmation hearings to turn over a new leaf and look at the responsibilities of being Attorney General for all Americans differently from representing Alabama in the U.S. Senate.

Unfortunately,  his actions have proved that all of the charges his detractors made against him are as true now as they were when he was, quite properly, denied a U.S. judgeship many decades ago. If the shoe fits, wear it. And, sadly, this “shoe” fits Sessions “like a glove.” Liz was “right on.”

Finally, DHS Secretary John Kelly will see his distinguished career in public service end in ignomany if he continues “toadying up” to the ethno-nationalist views of the Sessions-Bannon-Miller crowd on immigration enforcement. Most of the arrests, deportations, detentions, denials of asylum, and removals Sessions is touting in his haste to become the new “Immigration Czar,” actually are within the jurisdiction of DHS. But, these days, you’d hardly know that Sessions isn’t in charge of DHS enforcement as well as Justice. If Kelly isn’t careful, he’s going to develop a neck injury from constantly nodding his head to every absurd “gonzo-apocalypto” immigration enforcement initiative announced by Sessions.

PWS

04-14-17

THE HILL: N. Rappaport Says Time For Congress To Pull The Plug On Troubled EB-5 Investor Program

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/328386-congress-pull-fraud-laden-visa-program-for-mostly-chinese

Nolan concludes:

“So, should the EB-5 program be terminated?

Yes, Congress has had more than 25 years to fix the EB-5 program. There is not going to be a legislative “fix.” The only viable alternative is to terminate it and start over.

I have a few suggestions for the new investment program. It should:

  • Raise the investment amounts;
  • Establish more detailed statutory requirements for regional centers;
  • Require Chinese investors to establish that they have permission from the Chinese government to remove enough money from China to meet the investment requirement;
  • Provide for input from the states on designating Targeted Employment Areas but have the designations made by the federal government;
  • Establish guidelines for making the “Targeted Employment Area” designations which eliminate the current gerrymandering process and ensure that the investment money goes where it is supposed to go; and
  • Include measures to eliminate fraud from the program.

Some lawmakers have given up already. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced bills to terminate the EB-5 program. These members have the right idea. It is time to put an end to a failing, faulty program and implement immigration policies that actually yield the intended result.”

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Go on over to The Hill at the above link to read Nolan’s complete analysis.

PWS

04/12/17

 

WashPost: 3 Iraqi Refugees in VA Charged with Immigration Fraud — Allegedly Hid Family Ties & Made Up Stories Of Abuse

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/iraqi-refugees-in-va-accused-of-hiding-tie-to-a-kidnapper-to-get-into-us/2017/03/28/2997716e-13c2-11e7-833c-503e1f6394c9_story.html?utm_term=.b05079ddbe27&wpisrc=nl_buzz&wpmm=1

Rachel Weiner reports:

“When Yousif Al Mashhadani came to the United States as a refugee in 2008, he told officials he had been kidnapped in his native Iraq because of his anti-corruption efforts and wanted to come to America for his own safety.

Now, prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia say Al Mashhadani lied about being kidnapped and about his own connection to a vicious kidnapper.

On Tuesday, Al Mashhadani, his brother Adil Hasan, and Hasan’s wife, Enas Ibrahim, appeared in court on charges of naturalization fraud.

All three live in Fairfax County; they moved here from Iraq in 2008. But when they applied to become lawful permanent U.S. residents, none of them acknowledged a relationship to Majid Al Mashhadani, a convicted kidnapper who is Yousif Al Mashhadani and Hasan’s brother, an affidavit from FBI agent Sean MacDougal said.”

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Obviously, the defendants are innocent until proven guilty.  But, if the Government does prove these charges, then these three individuals have not only compromised the integrity of the U.S. refugee system, but also endangered the lives of many Iraqis who legitimately qualify for protection, but are caught up in the anti-refugee hysteria being promoted by the Trump Administration. Cases like this damage the chances of all legitimate refugees to receive the life-saving protection which they need and deserve.

I’d also like to put in a good word for the DHS criminal enforcement operation. Taking apart complicated cases like this and developing them into viable criminal prosecutions takes skill, sophisticated knowledge, perseverance, and dogged attention to detail.

My personal experience has been that the DHS generally does an outstanding job of ferreting out and prosecuting refugee and asylum fraud, even when, as here, the cases takes years to develop. Then, cases that shouldn’t have been granted are reopened, status is revoked, and removal proceedings are instituted.

During my time at the Arlington Immigration Court, the DHS and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria “broke” major asylum fraud cases relating to Indonesians and Cameroonians. The principals went to jail and those who knowingly participated in the fraud had their status revoked and were removed from the United States. So, in the end, the DHS did their job well, and justice was served.

As a judge, I was an adjudicator, not an investigator. So, I appreciated the investigative skills of those who brought the truth to light and thereby helped us keep our system honest.

PWS

03/28/17

 

 

NY Times: What Does It REALLY Take To Get A U.S. Nonimmigrant Visa?

From listening to some members of the Administration, nonimmigrant visas for visitors, students, professors, businessmen, and tech workers are being handed out like candy abroad. But, those of us who have actually practiced immigration law for a living at one time or another know the hard truth: getting a U.S. nonimmigrant visa for a client can be a long, detailed, and often frustrating process.

I left private practice 22 years ago.  But, even then, getting a business visa for a client in India, Pakistan, or the Philippines, to name just a few consulates, could be a major project. I can remember being on our basement dial phone at 3:00 AM with my files and papers spread across an ironing board as I tried to negotiate what “additional evidence” might be necessary for my business client to establish his or her bona fides, during the one-hour period that many consulates halfway around the world allocated to speak with attorneys about visa cases. And this was after the INS had approved a visa petition. I’m sure it has only gotten more difficult and exacting since then.

Here is a good step-by-step guide to the visa issuing process by Ron Nixon and Jasmine C. Lee in the NY Times. And, this is just for a “typical” visa. In countries where terrorism is a threat, this would only be the beginning of the inquiry.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/03/16/us/visa-process-united-states.html?emc=edit_nn_20170324&nl=morning-briefing&nlid=79213886&te=1&_r=0

PWS

03/24/17

 

 

NYT EDITORIAL: Like Preceding Administrations, Trump Happy To Punish Workers, But Not So Much Employers Who Violate The Laws — Why We Need Sensible Immigration Reform Including Legalization Now!

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/opinion/no-crackdown-on-illegal-employers.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170320&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=0&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0&referer=

“President Trump began his campaign assailing immigrants as ruthless lawbreakers who steal American jobs with impunity. To halt them, he has vowed to build a wall along the border with Mexico, hire thousands of new immigration agents, ramp up immigrant detention and subject visa applicants to even more rigorous vetting. His administration has been largely silent, however, about the strongest magnet that has drawn millions of immigrants, legal and not, to the United States for generations: jobs.

American employers continue to assume relatively little risk by hiring undocumented immigrants to perform menial, backbreaking work, often for little pay. Meanwhile, as Mr. Trump’s deportation crackdown accelerates, families are being ripped apart, and communities of hard-working immigrants with deep roots in this country are gripped by fear and uncertainty. As long as employers remain off the hook, a border wall and an expanded dragnet can only make temporary dents in the flows of undocumented immigrants.”

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The truth is pretty obvious. Employers and businesspersons vote and contribute to both parties. And, as we know, “money talks.” It’s also very clear that these workers are fulfilling a continuing need in our economy. So, why not get everyone “on the books,” have taxes withheld, and document them?

While I don’t  believe the Administration’s hype about undocumented migrants threatening our national security, I do think that it is a good idea to find our exactly who we have here, get them their own working Social Security numbers, withhold Federal and State taxes, Social Security, and Medicare as appropriate, and run fingerprint and background screening to weed out any serious criminals or genuine security risks.

It’s long past time to ditch the xenophobia campaign and have the parties work together for meaningful immigration reform, including some type of legalization, reasonable and effective enforcement, and an independent U.S. Immigration Court.

PWS

03/20/17

Law You Can Use — Arlington Immigration Court Attorney Advisor Roberta Oluwaseun Roberts Explains How Possible Document Fraud Can Be Examined In Immigration Court While Respecting Due Process!

vol11no2_final-RORonfraud

From the February 2017 edition of EOIR’s Immigration Law Advisor:

“The Board of Immigration Appeals has long emphasized that “no decision should ever rest, or even give the slightest appearance of resting, upon generalizations derived from evaluations of the actions of members of any group of aliens. Every adjudication must be on a case-by-case basis.” Matter of Blas, 15 I&N Dec. 626, 628 (BIA 1974). But what if counsel for the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) or the Immigration Judge notices significant similarities between the documents submitted in an applicant’s proceedings and the proceedings of another applicant with a similar claim? How can officers of the court raise these types of concerns about possible indications of fraud without compromising confidentiality or the due process rights of the applicant? In 2007, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit encouraged the Board to provide a framework for addressing inter-proceeding similarities and provide “expert guidance as to the most appropriate way to avoid mistaken findings of falsity, and yet identify instances of fraud.” Mei Chai Ye v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 489 F.3d 517, 524 (2d Cir. 2007). The Board provided this guidance in a 2015 decision, Matter of R-K-K-, 26 I&N Dec. 658 (BIA 2015), which has thus far been cited approvingly in published and unpublished decisions by two circuit courts of appeals. See, e.g., Wang v. Lynch, 824 F.3d 587, 591–92 (6th Cir. 2016); Zhang v. Lynch, 652 F. App’x 23, 24 (2d Cir. 2016).

This article analyzes the procedural framework articulated by the Board in Matter of R-K-K- for considering document similarities in immigration proceedings. First, the article will briefly discuss the need for such a framework. Second, the article will provide examples of what may—or may not—constitute each step that must be met in the three-step framework. Finally, the article will discuss due process and confidentiality concerns that arise when considering inter-proceeding similarities in making credibility determinations.”

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My friend Roberta is one of the all-star Attorney Advisors and Judicial Law Clerks who help the U.S. Immigration Judges at the U.S. Immigration Court in Arlington, VA with their most difficult decisions. Working with Roberta and others like her, both present and past, was one of the true high points of being an Immigration Judge. I’m sure that their intellectual engagement, enthusiasm, and overall positive outlook helped extend my career. Thanks again to Roberta for passing along this terrific scholarly contribution. Due process forever!

PWS

03/01/17