BETH FERTIG AT NPR: “ADR” Moves Into High Gear, Devastating U.S. Immigration Courts, As Half Of NY Immigration Court “Goes Dark” — U.S. Immigration Judges Become Adjuncts Of DHS Border Enforcement Program — Dockets At Interior Courts “Orbited Into Never-Never Land!”

ADR = “Aimless Docket Reshuffling”

http://www.wnyc.org/story/even-more-immigration-judges-are-reassigned-trumps-crackdown-border/

Beth reports for WNYC/NPR:

“In its crackdown on illegal immigration, the Trump administration is moving an increasing number of immigration judges closer to the border with Mexico. The practice is so widespread that half of New York City’s 30 immigration judges have been temporarily reassigned for two-to-four weeks at a time between early April and July.

The judges have been sent to hear deportation cases in Louisiana, California, New Mexico and Texas, along with Elizabeth, New Jersey, where there’s a detention center. In June, WNYC reported that at least eight of New York City’s immigration judges have been temporarily moved to Texas and Louisiana since March. New information obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request revealed the number to be much higher.

All this reshuffling causes cases to get delayed for months. And New York City’s immigration court already has a backlog of more than 80,000 cases. People wait an average of more than two years go to court to fight against deportation. Some might welcome a prolonged wait. But immigration lawyer Edain Butterfield said her clients get anxious because they’re ready to make their case, when they suddenly learn their judge has had to postpone.

“They don’t know if their judge is going to stay on their case,” she said. “They sometimes have to get new documents, ask for another day off from work, ask their family to take another day off from work.”

David Wilkins, an attorney with Central American Legal Assistance in Brooklyn, said he’s representing a woman seeking asylum whose hearing was recently postponed almost a year — until the summer of 2018. He said she left her children in her home country back in 2012 because of domestic abuse. “It’s extremely difficult for her,” he said. “She’s been separated from her family for so long to sort of live with the constant uncertainty of not knowing what’s going to happen with her immigration proceeding.”

Judges from New York City aren’t the only ones being moved. According to the latest data obtained by WNYC, 128 of the nation’s approximately 325 immigration judges have been shuffled to other locations between early April and the middle of July. Many of those judges come from Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. These assignments, known as details, last for two or four weeks. Some judges have been shifted around multiple times.

The data does not include all judges assigned to hear cases in other locations by video teleconference. A couple of judges in New York City were seeing cases by video at a Texas detention center in May and June.

The reassignments are expected to continue until early 2018, but the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which runs the immigration courts, would not reveal the schedule beyond July.

In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that all adults crossing the Mexican border would be sent to detention. To support the mission, he said, the Department of Justice had “already surged 25 immigration judges to detention centers along the border.”

Dana Leigh Marks, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, said her union remains very concerned about the situation.

“The temporary assignment of judges to border courts creates increasing backlogs in the dockets they leave behind in their home courts and may not be conducive to the overall reduction of our burgeoning caseload.”

Nationally, the backlog has surged to more than 600,000 cases and observers believe that number is growing partly because of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

Moving judges south might sound counterintuitive because illegal border crossings have actually dropped since President Trump took office. But Bryan Johnson, an immigration lawyer on Long Island, has a theory about why more judges are needed down south.

“The people that are deported will be deported in less time,” he explained. “And that is the message they want to send people in the home countries from where the migrants come from.”

There is no guaranteed right to counsel in immigration court, and experts said there are few low-cost immigration attorneys near the border — making it even easier to swiftly deport someone because they are not likely to have representation.

The Executive Office for Immigration Review did not respond to a request for comment. However, the agency has said it is hiring more judges.”

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Get the accompanying audio/video report at the link.

David Wilkins from the Central American Legal Defense Center in Brooklyn, quoted in Beth’s article, is one of my former Georgetown Law Refugee Law & Policy students, a former CALS Asylum Clinic participant, and a former Legal Intern at the Arlington Immigration Court. David was also an Immigrant Justice Crops fellow. He is a “charter member” of the “New Due Process Army.” Congratulations David, we’re all proud of what you are doing!

Attorney Bryan Johnson simply restates the obvious. Under A.G. Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions, the U.S. Immigration Courts are once again being used as an arm of DHS Enforcement rather than a protector and dispenser of constitutional due process. Nobody in their right mind seriously thinks that Sessions is “surging” Immigration Judges to the border to grant more bonds, reverse more “credible fear” and “reasonable fear” denials, or grant more asylum, withholding of removal, or relief under the CAT.

No, the “surge” program is clearly all about detention, coercion, denial, deportation and sending a “don’t come, we don’t want you” message to folks living in fear and danger in countries of the Northern Triangle of Central America. In other words, you might as well cooperate with, support, and/or join the gangs and narco-traffickers — the U.S. has absolutely no intention of saving your life! Nice message!

Don’t be too surprised when multinational gangs and narco-traffickers eventually seize political power in Central America (they have already infiltrated or compromised many government functions). And, we will have sent away the very folks who might have helped us stem the tide. At the same time, we are destroying the last vestiges of due process in the U.S. Immigration Courts, leaving hundreds of thousands of cases and lives “up in the air” and our justice system without a fair and effective mechanism for deciding and reviewing immigration cases. At some point, somebody is going to have to fix this mess. But, you can be sure it won’t be the Trump (“We Don’t Take Responsibility For Nothin'”) Administration.

PWS

07-24-17

 

Steven Pearlstein In WonkBlog In The WashPost: When It Comes To Governing, The GOP Is NQRFPT — By A Long Shot! — The President & Party Of Irresponsibility Can’t Duck Responsibility For The Mess THEY Have Created!

NQRFPT = Not Quite Ready For Prime Time 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/07/20/pearlstein-on-gop-health-care-debacle/?utm_term=.d51013b98429

Pearlstein writes:

“The inability of a Republican Congress and a Republican president to repeal Obamacare, or even just dial it back, is yet the latest demonstration that Republicans simply aren’t ready to govern.

The facile explanation for this is the unresolved division, within the party, between its radical tea party populist wing and its more moderate, business-friendly establishment wing. But the bigger issue is that the party’s elected politicians are unwilling to make the trade-offs that are the essence of what governing is about.

On health care, for example, they promised to lower premiums but refused to embrace any of the three approaches that could accomplish that: increase co-payments and deductibles; squeeze the incomes of doctors, hospitals and drug companies; or finance more of the country’s health care through higher taxes.

. . . .

As a group, they have demonstrated a breathtaking lack of policy knowledge and sophistication, a stubborn disregard for intellectual honesty, lousy political instincts and a broken moral compass. Their leaders have forgotten what it means to lead, if they ever knew, while their backbenchers don’t have a clue of what it takes to be constructive followers. If there were a bankruptcy code for politics, it’s safe to say the Republicans would be in Chapter 11.

This complete abdication of governing responsibility was confirmed Tuesday when the party’s nominal leader, President Trump, announced to the country, “I think we are probably in that position where we will just let Obamacare fail. … I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it.”

Even Sen. Shelly Caputo, the reliably party-line toting Republican from West Virginia, was moved to distance herself from that cynical win-at-any-cost strategy. “I did not come to Washington to hurt people,” she said.

“It’s almost an embarrassment being an American citizen traveling around the world … listening to the stupid s‑‑‑ we have to deal with in this country,” Jamie Dimon, the chairman of JPMorgan Chase, said in an unguarded moment last week. Dimon was quick to add, reflexively, that it wasn’t a Republican or a Democratic issue, but he knows better than that. Republicans were handed a golden opportunity to govern and they have blown it. This one is on them.”

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At the link, read Pearlstein’s complete op-ed which contains many great examples of how the GOP fails to “do the right thing” over and over. And, he only touches on the “gonzoness,” moral vapidness, and complete disregard for sound government and prudent expenditure of public funds demonstrated by Trump’s immigration policies.

PWS

07-21-17

 

GONZO MIGHT BE NEXT TO GO AFTER NEW BOMBSHELL REVELATIONS CAST FURTHER DOUBT ON HIS ALREADY SHAKY CREDIBILITY!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/sessions-discussed-trump-campaign-related-matters-with-russian-ambassador-us-intelligence-intercepts-show/2017/07/21/3e704692-6e44-11e7-9c15-177740635e83_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-high_sessions-7pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.3ade0f8bbe22

Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller report in the Washington Post:

“Russia’s ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions — then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump — were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials both in the United States and in Russia. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign.

One U.S. official said that Sessions — who testified that he has no recollection of an April encounter — has provided “misleading” statements that are “contradicted by other evidence.” A former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.

Sessions has said repeatedly that he never discussed campaign-related issues with Russian officials and that it was only in his capacity as a U.S. senator that he met with Kislyak.

“I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign,” Sessions said in March when he announced that he would recuse himself from matters relating to the FBI probe of Russian interference in the election and any connections to the Trump campaign.

Current and former U.S. officials said that assertion is at odds with Kislyak’s accounts of conversations during two encounters over the course of the campaign, one in April ahead of Trump’s first major foreign policy speech and another in July on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention.

The apparent discrepancy could pose new problems for Sessions at a time when his position in the administration appears increasingly tenuous.”

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“Contradicted by the evidence.” Hmmm, that seems to be the definition of “not credible” if not outright perjury. If Sessions were a migrant pleading for his life in one of his Immigration Courts, he would long ago have been sent packing based on his misleading statements and highly implausible explanations. And, don’t forget that this is a dude who has been peddling the White Nationalist agenda of lies and misrepresentations about immigrants and denying their fundamental contributions to America’s greatness, not to mention their fundamental humanity and rights, for years. He’s also squandering taxpayer dollars every day by picking unnecessary fights with states and localities trying to straighten out the shambles that Sessions and his cohorts have made out of immigration enforcement policy. He’s undone years of progress on voting rights, race relations, policing, forensic science, private prisons, transgender tolerance, prosecutions of minor crimes, sentencing, and protection of property rights, in addition to accelerating the destructions of due process in the U.S. Immigration Courts.

About the only decent thing he has done since assuming office has been, under pressure, properly to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. But, that single exercise of appropriate judgement under the law has gotten him in trouble with his Boss who was counting on a complete regime of lawlessness at the DOJ.

PWS

07-21-17

NOT GONZO ENOUGH: AG Jeff Sessions Has Faithfully Advanced The White House’s White Nationalist Agenda At The DOJ — But The Donald Also Wanted Someone Who Would “Throw” The Russia Investigation — Expects “Cabinet Of Toadies”

In a far ranging interview with the NY Times that some would call “unhinged,” President Trump trashed Jeff Sessions, Rod Rosenstein (he’s from Baltimore, home of Democrats), James Comey, and Robert Mueller for showing any modicum of ethics and independence.

Here’s the entire article by Times reporters 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/19/us/politics/trump-interview-sessions-russia.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Here are some key excerpts:

“WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Wednesday that he never would have appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions had he known Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation that has dogged his presidency, calling the decision “very unfair to the president.”

In a remarkable public break with one of his earliest political supporters, Mr. Trump complained that Mr. Sessions’s decision ultimately led to the appointment of a special counsel that should not have happened. “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Mr. Trump said.

In a wide-ranging interview with The New York Times, the president also accused James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director he fired in May, of trying to leverage a dossier of compromising material to keep his job. Mr. Trump criticized both the acting F.B.I. director who has been filling in since Mr. Comey’s dismissal and the deputy attorney general who recommended it. And he took on Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel now leading the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election.

Mr. Trump said Mr. Mueller was running an office rife with conflicts of interest and warned investigators against delving into matters too far afield from Russia. Mr. Trump never said he would order the Justice Department to fire Mr. Mueller, nor would he outline circumstances under which he might do so. But he left open the possibility as he expressed deep grievance over an investigation that has taken a political toll in the six months since he took office.

. . . .

But Mr. Trump left little doubt during the interview that the Russia investigation remained a sore point. His pique at Mr. Sessions, in particular, seemed fresh even months after the attorney general’s recusal. Mr. Sessions was the first senator to endorse Mr. Trump’s candidacy and was rewarded with a key cabinet slot, but has been more distant from the president lately.

“Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president,” he added. “How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.”

Mr. Trump also faulted Mr. Sessions for his testimony during Senate confirmation hearings when Mr. Sessions said he had not had “communications with the Russians” even though he had met at least twice with Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak. “Jeff Sessions gave some bad answers,” the president said. “He gave some answers that were simple questions and should have been simple answers, but they weren’t.”

A spokesman for Mr. Sessions declined to comment on Wednesday.

The president added a new allegation against Mr. Comey, whose dismissal has become a central issue for critics who said it amounted to an attempt to obstruct the investigation into Russian meddling in the election and any possible collusion with Mr. Trump’s team.

. . . .

Mr. Trump rebutted Mr. Comey’s claim that in a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office on Feb. 14, the president asked him to end the investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. Mr. Comey testified before Congress that Mr. Trump kicked the vice president, attorney general and several other senior administration officials out of the room before having the discussion with Mr. Comey.

“I don’t remember even talking to him about any of this stuff,” Mr. Trump said. “He said I asked people to go. Look, you look at his testimony. His testimony is loaded up with lies, O.K.?”

He expressed no second thoughts about firing Mr. Comey, saying, “I did a great thing for the American people.”

Mr. Trump was also critical of Mr. Mueller, a former F.B.I. director, reprising some of his past complaints that lawyers in his office contributed money to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. He noted that he actually interviewed Mr. Mueller to replace Mr. Comey just before his appointment as special counsel.

“He was up here and he wanted the job,” Mr. Trump said. After he was named special counsel, “I said, ‘What the hell is this all about?’ Talk about conflicts. But he was interviewing for the job. There were many other conflicts that I haven’t said, but I will at some point.”

The president also expressed discontent with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, a former federal prosecutor from Baltimore. When Mr. Sessions recused himself, the president said he was irritated to learn where his deputy was from. “There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any,” he said of the predominantly Democratic city.

He complained that Mr. Rosenstein had in effect been on both sides when it came to Mr. Comey. The deputy attorney general recommended Mr. Comey be fired but then appointed Mr. Mueller, who may be investigating whether the dismissal was an obstruction of justice. “Well, that’s a conflict of interest,” Mr. Trump said. “Do you know how many conflicts of interests there are?”

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I guess reversing Obama-era civil rights, voting rights, transgender rights protections, switching sides in several lawsuits to oppose plaintiffs seeking to vindicate Constitutional rights, turning local police loose on minorities, trashing forensic science, firing U.S. Attorneys, going to war with states and localities over immigration enforcement, re-instituting the use of private prisons operated by those with political ties, rearranging U.S. Immigration Court Dockets to support more or less random DHS enforcement priorities, defending some over the top positions on immigration in court, seizing property from non-criminals, and hastily coming up with some contrived reasons for firing James Comey after Trump had already decided to do so aren’t enough to stay in favor with the Boss.

It’s not that one would have to be a “rocket scientist” to figure out that Sessions, a member of the campaign team, would ethically have to recuse himself from an investigation into the activities of the campaign team. And, if anyone at DOJ beyond Mueller and the now departed Comey have shown any bit of independence from the White House, it certainly hasn’t been obvious to the public. Indeed the DOJ appears to be in lockstep with the Administration’s most extreme and Constitutionally questionable plans. But, I guess “complete toadyism” requires going “an extra mile.”

The latest from the NY Times is that Sessions says he’s going to stay, at least for now.

PWS

07-20-17

GOP’S WAR ON OUR GOVERNMENT CONTINUES — FEDS’ COMPENSATION, RETIREMENT PROGRAMS TARGETED! — GOP WOULD SOCK IT TO MIDDLE CLASS TO GIVE UNNEEDED TAX CUTS TO RICH CRONIES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/07/18/gop-again-hits-federal-retirement-in-latest-budget-plan/?utm_term=.4446f1d6d7d6&wpisrc=nl_buzz&wpmm=1

Joe Davidson & Eric Yoder report in the Washington Post:

“The House budget proposal released Tuesday continues Republican efforts to cut federal employees’ compensation by making them pay more for retirement benefits.

Saying they seek “reforms to civil service pensions to put them on a better fiscal path,” the spending plan released by the House Budget Committee calls on staffers “to make greater contributions to their own defined benefit retirement plans.”

While the Republican’s “Plan for Fiscal Responsibility” did not provide details, it echoes previous proposals, including one offered by President Trump this year. He proposed increasing individual out-of-pocket payments toward retirement by 1 percentage point each year until they equal the government’s contribution for those in the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).

Over a six-year period, this would result in increased payments of about 6 percent. With no increase in benefits, that would equal a 6 percent drop in pay.

The budget “blueprint” assumes that the main panel overseeing federal employment in the House will take those steps to find the $32 billion in savings over 10 years that the blueprint would require.

The budget plan released by Committee Chairwoman Diane Black (R-Tenn.) also would end the “special retirement supplement,” which pays FERS employees “the equivalent of their Social Security benefit at an earlier age.”

“These plans put the ownership, flexibility, and portfolio risk on the employee as opposed to the employer,” the GOP document says. “Similarly, federal employees would have more control over their own retirement security under this option.”

Federal employee leaders sharply disagree.

“Slashing the pay and benefits of America’s civil servants while lining the pockets of the wealthiest of the wealthy is a shameful way to govern the country and is emblematic of everything that’s wrong with this horrible budget,” said J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees.”

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

Read the complete article with charts at the above link.

These guys are shameless. The USG’s career civil service was once a “model program” that states, private employers, and even other countries sought to emulate. It produced an overall talented, motivated, honest, and effective workforce. And, the promise of an adequate, stable, and predictable retirement program underwritten by Uncle Sam was an important part of that success.

The GOP proposes to end all of that and turn the USG into just another lousy employer more interested in his or her own welfare than the well-being of the employees who are the heart and soul of the business. Shifting risk from the “big guys” like the Government, who can actually leverage investment and insurance markets and raise revenues when necessary, to individual employees who are much less well positioned to bear that risk is immoral, not to mention stupid. You get what you pay for. Reducing government employment to the lowest common denominator will essentially make us a third world country.

I dealt with this in Immigration Court all the time. The main difference between the U.S. and countries folks were fleeing (many of which had plenty of natural and human resources) was the lack of government structure and the inability or unwillingness of government to be an “honest broker” serving the needs of the people at large. In too many countries, corrupt governments are seen as primarily furthering the power and interests of those at the “top of the pile” and keeping everyone else in line.

We once had a President who sought to create a U.S. Government of “the best and the brightest.” Sadly, those days are long gone. Ultimately, all of us, and particularly those who come after us, will pay the price for the GOP’s endemic lack of vision and decency and their failure to honor and appreciate the massive contributions of career civil servants to to overall success of our nation.

PWS

07-18-17

 

BREAKING: Senate GOP Implodes On Healthcare — Trump Reaches New Heights Of Incompetence & Irresponsibility By Tweeting Call For Complete Repeal Without A Plan For Replacement!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-health-care-bill-response_us_596d719ee4b010d7767345ff?s69&ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Nick Visser reports for HuffPost:

“President Donald Trump called on congressional Republicans to craft an outright repeal of Obamacare late Monday, an hour after the GOP’s controversial Senate health care bill appeared dead once again after losing two more Republican votes.

“Republicans should just REPEAL failing Obamacare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate,” the president tweeted, adding that “Dems will join in!”

The “clean repeal” option is unpopular in both parties, and it’s unclear how much support the president’s proposal will garner in Congress. It would take 60 votes in the Senate for an outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and Republicans only hold a 52-seat majority.

Trump’s response came after Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) announced Monday evening that they planned to vote no on a “motion to proceed” for the Senate’s legislation ― a step needed to begin debate on the bill.”

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Duh, after being treated with total disrespect and contempt by the President and the GOP for 6 months, why is it that Democrats would suddenly jump at the chance to pull the Administration’s chestnuts out of the fire?

On the other hand, a nuanced “fix” of Obamacare probably would have had enough votes to pass both Houses with bipartisan support from all or most Democrats and enough Republicans. But, that wouldn’t have allowed the GOP and Trump to have claimed “victory” on an Obamacare repeal. Talk about a President and a party who have long ago abandoned the best interests of America!

And, just think about all the time and taxpayer money the GOP has wasted over the past few years passing boneheaded, cosmetic “Obamacare repeals.” Obviously, the folks who voted for such nonsense were posturing rather than legislating.

PWS

07-18-17

HE MIGHT BE A BIGGER THREAT TO PRIVATE PROPERTY THAN BURGLARS: Sessions’s Next Target — Americans’ Private Property — Plans To Reinstitute Discredited Seizure & Forfeiture Policies! — “In 2014, federal law enforcement officers took more property from citizens than burglars did.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/07/17/jeff-sessions-wants-police-to-take-more-cash-from-american-citizens/

Christopher Ingraham reports in the Washington Post:

“Asset forfeiture is a disputed practice that allows law enforcement officials to permanently take money and goods from individuals suspected of crime. There is little disagreement among lawmakers, authorities and criminal justice reformers that “no criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime.” But in many cases, neither a criminal conviction nor even a criminal charge is necessary — under forfeiture laws in most states and at the federal level, mere suspicion of wrongdoing is enough to allow police to seize items permanentlAdditionally, many states allow law enforcement agencies to keep cashthat they seize, creating what critics characterize as a profit motive. The practice is widespread: In 2014, federal law enforcement officers took more property from citizens than burglars did. State and local authorities seized untold millions more.

Since 2007, the Drug Enforcement Administration alone has taken more than $3 billion in cash from people not charged with any crime, according to the Justice Department’s Inspector General.

The practice is ripe for abuse. In one case in 2016, Oklahoma police seized $53,000 owned by a Christian band, an orphanage and a church after stopping a man on a highway for a broken taillight. A few years earlier, a Michigan drug task force raided the home of a self-described “soccer mom,” suspecting she was not in compliance with the state’s medical marijuana law. They proceeded to take “every belonging” from the family, including tools, a bicycle and her daughter’s birthday money.

In recent years, states have begun to clamp down on the practice.

“Thirteen states now allow forfeiture only in cases where there’s been a criminal conviction,” said Robert Everett Johnson, an attorney for the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm that represents forfeiture defendants.

In 2015, Eric Holder’s Justice Department issued a memo sharply curtailing a particular type of forfeiture practice that allowed local police to share part of their forfeiture proceeds with federal authorities. Known as “adoptive” forfeiture, it allowed state and local authorities to sidestep sometimes stricter state laws, processing forfeiture cases under the more permissive federal statute.

These types of forfeitures amounted to a small total of assets seized by federal authorities, so the overall impact on forfeiture practices was relatively muted. Still, criminal justice reform groups on the left and the right cheered the move as a signal that the Obama administration was serious about curtailing forfeiture abuses.

In his speech Monday, Attorney General Sessions appeared to specifically call out adoptive forfeitures as an area for potential expansion. “Adoptive forfeitures are appropriate,” he said, “as is sharing with our partners.”

“This is a federalism issue,” Johnson said. “Any return to federal adoptive forfeitures would “circumvent limitations on civil forfeiture that are imposed by state legislatures … the Department of Justice is saying ‘we’re going to help state and local law enforcement to get around those reforms.’”

The Department of Justice did not return a request for comment.”

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Gee, for a “states rights” guy, Sessions seems pretty anxious to exert Federal authority over all sorts of state prerogatives!

PWS

07-17-17

 

WASHPOST: Sessions Earns “Three Pinocchios” For Bogus Claims About Sanctuary Cities!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/07/17/attorney-general-jeff-sessionss-claim-that-criminals-take-notice-of-cities-with-sanctuary-policies/

Michelle Ye Hee Lee reports in the Fact Checker column in the Washington Post:

“Sessions is being rather misleading by citing data from a study that doesn’t support his point.

Sessions says that “criminals take notice” when cities make it known that they have “sanctuary” policies that restrict local cooperation with federal authorities about people who may be in the country illegally. He cites data from a study by the University of California Riverside, to say that “cities with these policies have more violent crime on average than those that don’t.”

But he omits the other side of the research, which is that this data point is not statistically significant. The study by the researchers did not find that sanctuary policies had any effect on crime — a point that they have emphasized in the past and which Sessions appears to have willfully ignored for political purposes. We award Sessions Three Pinocchios for twisting the data out of context to make the opposite point that the researchers made.

Three Pinocchios

 

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It isn’t every day that the Attorney General of the United States can earn “Three Pinocchios” for intentional dishonesty. But, then, Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions isn’t just “any” Attorney General.
PWS
07-17-17

 

COLBERT I. KING IN WASHPOST OP-ED: “Americans put Trump in the Oval Office. What does that say about the country?”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/americans-put-trump-in-the-oval-office-what-does-that-say-about-americans/2017/07/14/e6dd8996-67e8-11e7-a1d7-9a32c91c6f40_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-a%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.490e8d0e535b

King writes:

“The vaudeville show that’s running at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue didn’t book itself into the White House. Nearly 63 million Americans sent that burlesque comedy with headliner Donald Trump to Washington. That 66 million other voters thought otherwise is beside the point. Trump didn’t anoint himself president. Millions put him in office.

What does that tell us about the country?

Was hatred of President Barack Obama, fear of Hillary Clinton, outrage over America’s perceived direction enough to transfer the reins to Trump?

It’s not as if the Trump on display in the Oval Office is not the same Trump we saw on the campaign trail or on reality TV or out and about touting his businesses. He was, by any yardstick, the most unqualified presidential nominee in modern history.

Trump didn’t seize the presidency by deception. For months on end, he was out there for all voters to see, measure and judge. Some of us did offer our preelection assessments, based upon his campaign, well before time came to cast ballots.

In my view, Trump showed himself to be one who could be neither out-demagogued nor out-nastied.

Well in advance of the vote, the country heard Trump’s vile insults and claims: Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists; Obama wasn’t born in the United States and was an illegitimate president.

 

And his attacks on people. Megyn Kelly: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” Jews: “The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.): “He’s not a war hero . . . I like people that weren’t captured.” My journalist colleague Serge Kovaleski, who has limited mobility in his arms: “Now the poor guy, you ought to see this guy,” Trump said, before contorting his arms in an apparent impersonation.

Trump the candidate showed himself to be an ignorant, undisciplined, ranting bully who exaggerated and lied without shame. A man who wore a tough-guy masculinity but was actually a coward, who picked on women, demeaned minorities and was thoroughly lacking in human decency.

Trump’s character defects were on full display well before the polls opened.

President Trump’s behavior in the White House has been equally as disgusting and beneath the dignity of that high office.

And now our nation’s capital is being wrenched apart by the Trump-Russia scandal and congressional and federal investigations into the Kremlin’s intrusion in the election.

The country can’t claim not to have seen this coming.”

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Read King’s full op-ed at the link.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the Trump fiasco is that although he might be “historically unpopular,” his support in the polls has remained steady at around 35% – 40%. That means that at least 1/3 of Americans are willing to accept incompetence, dishonesty, bias, racism, xenophobia, intentional cruelty and divisiveness, nepotism, bullying, anti-intellectualism, scientific ignorance, undermining national security, and misogyny as the “new norms” in America. It essentially means that a substantial number of our fellow Americans have put themselves out of reach of rational political dialogue. That’s going to make America “tough to govern” no matter who wins the next round of elections.

PWS

07-15-17

SESSIONS DISTORTS STUDY ON SANCTUARY CITIES!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeff-sessions-sanctuary-cities_us_5967b870e4b0174186260c2b?ncid=

Elise Foley reports in HuffPost:

“WASHINGTON ― When Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Wednesday that a study had found so-called sanctuary cities have more violent crime than others, it came as a surprise to the people who conducted the research.

“When cities like Philadelphia, Boston or San Francisco advertise that they have these policies, the criminals are taking notice, too. They’ve got a good idea of where they might want to go, it seems to me,” Sessions said during a speech railing against jurisdictions that don’t fully cooperate with deportation efforts. “According to a recent study from the University of California, Riverside, cities with these policies have more violent crime on average than those that don’t.”

But that’s not what the study showed, according to one of its authors. In fact, it found that there’s no evidence of sanctuary policies having any effect on crime ― and researchers say they believe Sessions and the conservative media are twisting their study to fit their own narratives about the dangers of immigration.

Sessions, along with President Donald Trump and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, has made a mission of forcing jurisdictions to cooperate with immigration enforcement.

“This narrative that sanctuary policies increase crime rates is one that has not been backed up by a single shred of evidence,” said Benjamin Gonzalez-O’Brien, one of the authors of the study and an assistant professor of political science at Highline College.

Gonzalez-O’Brien co-authored a study on sanctuary policies with Loren Collingwood, assistant professor of political science at University of California, Riverside, and Stephen El-Khatib, a graduate student at the same university. They looked at data from 55 cities and found that a sanctuary designation had no statistical effect on crime.

If the administration is so convinced that sanctuary cities breed crime we would encourage them to actually do some research … and to actually show that this is in fact the case.
Benjamin Gonzalez-O’Brien, assistant professor of political science at Highline College.”

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Read Foley’s complete article at the link.

Sessions, of course, has a history of playing fast and loose with the truth not only on the Russia Investigation but in putting together arguments in favor of his white nationalist “Gonzo Apocalypto” agenda. But, when you get your info from Fox News and other right wing shills, that’s going to be an occupational hazard.

PWS

07-13-17

NEW SUIT IN CAL. ALLEGES THAT DHS FLOUTS ASYLUM LAW AT BORDER!

https://www.buzzfeed.com/adolfoflores/us-officials-accused-of-intimidating-asylum-seekers?utm_te

Adolfo Flores writes in BuzzFeed News:

“Border agents are systematically intimidating and turning away asylum seekers at the US–Mexico border, a lawsuit filed on Wednesday alleges.

The federal class-action lawsuit filed in US District Court in California by immigrant rights groups alleges that US Customs and Border Protection agents have told migrants that “Donald Trump just signed new laws saying there is no asylum for anyone.” They have also allegedly coerced asylum seekers into signing forms abandoning their claims by threatening to take their children away.

“CBP’s illegal conduct is occurring as a humanitarian crisis drives vulnerable people experiencing persecution in their home countries to seek refugee protection in the United States,” the complaint states.

CBP said in a statement that it does not comment on pending litigation.

One of the plaintiffs, identified as Abigail Doe in the complaint, is a Mexican native with two children under the age of 10. She attempted to flee Mexico after the cartels threatened to kill her family.

Lenny Ignelzi / AP

She arrived in Tijuana with her two kids and approached border agents at the San Ysidro point of entry. The lawsuit states CBP agents coerced her into recanting her fear of staying in Mexico and signing a form withdrawing her application for admission to the US.

Abigail Doe and other women in the lawsuit said they were told by agents that if they continued to pursue their asylum claims they would be separated from their children.

“As a result of this coercion, the form falsely states that [Abigail Doe] and her children were unable to access the asylum process and were forced to return to Tijuana, where they remain in fear for their lives,” the lawsuit states.

Another woman, identified as Dinora Doe from Honduras, presented herself to US border authorities after her and her 18-year-old daughter were threatened and repeatedly raped by MS-13 gang members. The complaint accuses CBP officials of misinforming Dinora Doe of her rights under US law, and denying her the chance to apply for asylum.

The lawsuit also names Al Otro Lado, a legal aid organization that helps migrants on both sides of the border, as a plaintiff because it has allegedly been forced to divert significant resources to counteract CBP’s actions.”

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The article with a copy of the plaintiffs’ filing is at the link.

While the Trump Administration often disingenuously pontificates about the “rule of law,” in fact, they appear to have little concern for the Constitution, the Immigration and Nationality Act, International Treaties and Conventions, and a host of other legal requirements.

PWS

07-12-17

“STOPPING IMMIGRATION SERVICES SCAMS” — A New Tool For Advocates And Lawmakers!

Prepared by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (“CLINIC”) and The Washington College of Law at American University.  Here it is:

Stopping-Immigration-Services-Scams-A-Tool-for-Advocates-and-Lawmakers

PWS

07-12-17

 

UNTRAINED JUDGES + GONZO POLICIES = DUE PROCESS NIGHTMARE IN U.S. IMMIGRATION COURTS!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/immigration-judges-were-always-overworked-now-theyll-be-untrained-too/2017/07/11/e71bb1fa-4c93-11e7-a186-60c031eab644_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-e%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.35cde7464fad

Sarah Sherman-Stokes writes in an op-ed in today’s Washington Post:

“Sarah Sherman-Stokes is a clinical instructor and the associate director of the Immigrants’ Rights and Human Trafficking Program at Boston University School of Law.

America’s immigration judges have long been overburdened and under-resourced. One immigration judge has compared her job to “doing death-penalty cases in a traffic-court setting.” The stakes are high, while support and procedural protections for noncitizens facing deportation are negligible. It’s no surprise, then, that immigration judges suffer greater stress and burnout than prison wardens or doctors in busy hospitals.

Now, the Trump administration is making a difficult situation almost untenable. In an effort to expand and accelerate the deportation machine, the Trump administration has hit immigration judges with a one-two punch: dramatically increasing their caseloads and, at perhaps the worst time, canceling the annual week-long training conference for immigration judges. The impact on the entire removal system — and, more importantly, on the rights and lives of our most vulnerable noncitizen neighbors — will be devastating.

On average, an immigration judge completes more than 1,500 cases per year, with a ratio of 1 law clerk for every 4 judges, according to a recent report of the National Association of Immigration Judges. By comparison, the typical district court judge trying civil suits has a pending caseload of 400 cases and three law clerks for assistance.

This imbalance is poised to deteriorate even further. In January, the administration issued an executive order that effectively repealed and replaced a tiered system of immigration enforcement and removal priorities crafted by the Obama administration, which focused deportation efforts on the most serious offenders. President Trump’s executive order places a priority on every noncitizen suspected of violating the law. This includes noncitizens who have been charged with (but not convicted of) any offense or who have committed acts that constitute a criminal offense (though they have been neither charged nor arrested). In fact, a recently leaked February 2017 memo from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official is even more explicit, instructing ICE agents to “take enforcement action against all removable aliens encountered in the course of their duties.” It adds that the agency “will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

How much longer does this due process and administrative disaster have to go on before the U.S. Immigration Courts are taken out of the Justice Department and authorized to operate as an independent Article I judiciary?

PWS

0712-17

REVEAL: DUE PROCESS OUTRAGE — DHS MOVES TO DEPORT VULNERABLE CHILDREN WHO HAVE BEEN APPROVED FOR GREEN CARDS — FEDERAL COURTS NEED TO STEP UP TO THE PLATE AND END THE MISUSE OF EXPEDITED REMOVAL BY DHS!

https://www.revealnews.org/article/a-judge-said-these-kids-get-a-green-card-ice-says-they-get-deported/

Bernice Yeung writes in Reveal:

. . . .

“A Pennsylvania judge and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security, have decided that V.G. deserves to stay in the United States.

But another arm of department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, says he must go. And, under what’s known as “expedited removal,” immigration officials can skip the traditional removal process in front of immigration judges.

Instead, officials are given wide latitude to deport migrants under expedited removal, if those migrants are captured within 100 miles of the U.S. border, have been in the country for less than two weeks and don’t have valid travel documents.

Under this deportation regime, the U.S. government has freedom to deport migrants like V.G. and his mother – who were found soon after they crossed the border without immigration papers – with little due process and limited ways for migrants to contest the order.

President Barack Obama made wide use of the policy, and President Donald Trump favors expanding it further.

Created in 1996, the expedited removal policy has been controversial since the start. Those who seek to tighten the borders laud the policy for its efficiency and for promoting deterrence. But immigrant and asylum advocates say that it lacks checks and balances and gives too much discretion to border patrol agents.

But it’s a policy susceptible to errors without a meaningful process to correct them.

Once an immigration official has placed a migrant into expedited removal, there are few ways to contest it. People who can show they are authorized to live in the country are able to challenge expedited removal in federal court. Asylum-seekers also have a chance to make a case that they have a fear of returning to their home countries, but they cannot appeal an unfavorable decision.

Everyone else is returned to their home countries as quickly as possible. They are then barred from returning to the United States for five years.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which has observed expedited removal proceedings since 2005, has found “serious flaws placing asylum seekers at risk of return to countries where they could face persecution.” The ACLU has also documented a case of an asylum-seeker who was quickly deported, only to be raped after she was sent back across the southern border.

Multiple U.S. citizens have been accidentally deported through expedited removal. Foreign workers and tourists with valid visas have also been turned away, prompting a judge to write in a 2010 decision that the expedited removal process is “fraught with risk of arbitrary, mistaken, or discriminatory behavior.”

Nonetheless, various courts across the country have agreed that the law is clear: The courts cannot intercede in expedited removal cases, even if there’s a reason to believe the outcome was unjust.

This has put kids like V.G. in legal limbo, stuck between two competing government mandates. They have a special status to stay in the United States. At the same time, the Department of Homeland Security says it has the authority to deport them.

Immigration officials declined to comment on pending litigation. But in court documents filed in V.G.’s case, the government says the children’s deportation orders are final and their special status doesn’t change things, especially since they have not yet received their green cards.

V.G.’s attorneys argue, among other things, that a federal court has previously required the government to revisit the deportation orders of children once they’re granted the humanitarian status.

That requirement, they say, also extends to expedited removal cases.”

. . . .

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In addition to being bad policy, this clearly isn’t due process! It’s time for Federal Judges get out of the ivory tower and start enforcing the requirements of our Constitution! Assuming that recent arrivals apprehended at the border with no claim to stay in the U.S. might not get full judicial review (a proposition that I question), these kids are different, having been approved for green cards and merely waiting in line of a number to  become available in the near future. In the past, the policy of the DHS has invariably been to allow such individuals to remain in the U.s. pending availability of a visa number — even when that process might take years.

Thanks much to Nolan Rappaport for spotting this item and forwarding it to me!

PWS

07-10-17

THERE IS A REAL THREAT TO OUR NATIONAL SECURITY — AND IT’S GOT NOTHING TO DO WITH GRANDPARENTS, MEXICAN WORKERS, OR CENTRAL AMERICAN REFUGEES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-behavior-is-the-biggest-threat-to-us-national-security/2017/07/09/a5d3a842-64a8-11e7-8eb5-cbccc2e7bfbf_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-b%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.6a555fb6107b

Lawrence H. Summers writes in a WashPost op-ed:

“Confusing civility with comity is a grave mistake in human or international relations. Yes, the Group of 20 summit issued a common communique after the leaders’ meeting. Some see this as an indication that some normality is being restored in international relations between the United States and other countries. The truth is that at no previous G-20 did the possibility occur to anyone that a common statement might not be agreed to by all participants.

Rather than considering agreement on a communique as an achievement, it is more honest and accurate to see its content as a confirmation of the breakdown of international order that many have feared since Donald Trump’s election. And the president’s behavior in and around the summit was unsettling to U.S. allies and confirmed the fears of those who believe that his conduct is currently the greatest threat to American national security.

The existence of the G-20 as an annual forum arose out of a common belief of major nations in a global community with common interests in peace, mutual security, prosperity and economic integration, and the containment of global threats, even as there was competition among nations in the security and economic realms. The idea that the United States should lead in the development of international community has been a central tenet of American foreign policy since the end of World War II. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the aspiration to international community has been an aspiration to global community.

All of this is troubling enough. The elephant in the room, however, is the president’s character and likely behavior in the difficult times that come during any presidential term. Biographer Robert Caro has observed that power may or may not corrupt but it always reveals. Trump has yet to experience a period of economic difficulty or international economic crisis. He has not yet had to make a major military decision in a time of crisis. Yet his behavior has been, to put it mildly, erratic.

. . . .

A corporate chief executive whose public behavior was as erratic as Trump’s would already have been replaced. The standard for democratically elected officials is appropriately different. But one cannot look at the past months and rule out the possibility of even more aberrant behavior in the future. The president’s Cabinet and his political allies in Congress should never forget that the oaths they swore were not to the defense of the president but to the defense of the Constitution.”

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The Administration’s fear-mongering, xenophobia, insulting rhetoric, environmental destruction, and sometimes outright racism is a smokescreen to divert attention from the real threat to American’s national security — Donald Trump, some of his right wing extremest supporters, and the “fellow travelers” in Congress otherwise known as the GOP.

PWS

07-09-17