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

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

According to this article from HuffPost:

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

06-26-17

TRUMP THRILLS IOWA BACKERS BY PROMISING TO ENACT “NEW LEGISLATION” TARGETING LEGAL IMMIGRANTS THAT HAS BEEN IN THE LAW FOR MORE THAN TWO DECADES!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-welfare-law_us_594b5630e4b0a3a837bcef3d

Ed Mazza reports in HuffPost:

“President Donald Trump wants Congress to pass a law denying welfare benefits to immigrants for five years.

“I believe the time has come for new immigration rules which say that those seeking admission into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years,” Trump said on Wednesday night at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The crowd cheered wildly at this latest example of Trump’s tough-on-immigrants rhetoric, and the president soaked in the applause.

However, such a law already exists.

As The Hill noted, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, prohibits immigrants from receiving federal benefits.

One section of the law is even titled “Restricting Welfare and Public Benefits For Aliens,” and specifically sets a five-year threshold for “federal means-tested public benefit.” The section carves out some exceptions for refugees and those granted asylum as well as veterans and active-duty military, their spouses and dependents.

Although it’s not clear how Trump’s proposed law would be different, he still vowed to enact his legislation “very shortly.”

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What can you say? I suppose you could say that you were going to “crack down on foreigners by counting to ten backwards” and Trump backers would go wild with glee. Life in the parallel universe.

But, behind all Trump’s ignorance and silliness, there is a dark motive. By making such irresponsible statements, Trump gives his backers the false impression that legal immigrants are “all on welfare” and aren’t “paying their way.” And many Trump backers will now take it as gospel that legal immigrants come into the United States and go on welfare right away, repeating it to anyone who will listen. A lie repeated often enough gains traction as having a basis in truth. So, it’s just another way of encouraging xenophobia and drumming up unjustified resentment of legal immigrants.

PWS

06-22-17

 

THE AM TWEET: Trump Will Nominate DOJ Vet Christopher A. Wray For FBI Post!

Here’s the blurb from HuffPost:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-fbi-director-christopher-a-wray_us_5913503de4b05e1ca2041925?98s

Sounds like an appropriate choice. My questions: 1) why does he want this job working in the Trump Administration, which has demonstrated a lack of respect for an independent investigative authority within the DOJ, 2) how long will he last before he quits or is fired?

On the other hand, Wray leaves a lucrative “big law” partnership to which he can return at any time.

PWS

06-08-17

HuffPost: Trump Calls On Supremes For Help On Travel Ban 2.0!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-travel-ban-supreme-court_us_5930da0ae4b0c242ca229563

Nick Visser reports:

“The Trump administration on Thursday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to revive the president’s controversial executive order that intended to temporarily bar travel to the U.S. by citizens of six Muslim-majority countries.

Lawyers at the Department of Justice filed two emergency applications with the nation’s highest court asking it to block two lower court rulings that effectively halted the implementation of his second travel ban, which also halted refugees seeking to enter the U.S. The filing asks for a stay of a ruling made last week by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit and another stay of an injunction made by a judge in Hawaii.

The Justice Department has asked for expedited processing of the petitions so the court can hear the case when it begins a new session in October.

“We have asked the Supreme Court to hear this important case and are confident that President Trump’s executive order is well within his lawful authority to keep the Nation safe and protect our communities from terrorism,” Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement. “The president is not required to admit people from countries that sponsor or shelter terrorism, until he determines that they can be properly vetted and do not pose a security risk to the United States.”

The filing drew an almost immediate response from advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, which pledged to fight the ban in court yet again.
Trump’s executive order, signed March 6, was the White House’s second travel ban attempt. It sought to bar citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States. The watered-down order came after the bungled rollout of a similar ban, one that included Iraqis, which prompted nationwide protests and its own smack-down by a federal judge in Seattle.

In a 10-3 ruling last week, the 4th Circuit issued perhaps the biggest setback to the White House when a full panel of its judges refused to lift a nationwide injunction that halted key aspects of the revised ban.

U.S. Chief Circuit Judge Roger Gregory wrote at the time that the order “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.”

“Congress granted the President broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute,” Gregory continued. “It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the President wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation.”

Any travel ban’s chances have been harmed by Trump’s own rhetoric on the campaign trail, when he promised to completely ban Muslims from entering the country. He later backed down on those statements, but several judges cited them as evidence that the White House was targeting members of a religious group, not from any specific countries.

In one ruling, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson said the president’s “plainly worded statements” betrayed the ban’s “stated secular purpose.” U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang said Trump’s statements provided “a convincing case that the purpose of the second Executive Order remains the realization of the long-envisioned Muslim ban.”

Throughout the continued defeat in the courts, Trump and his administration have defiantly pledged to fight for the order and have denied the ban is intended to target members of the Islamic faith. After Watson ruled on the second order in Hawaii, the president called the decision “flawed” and slammed it as “unprecedented judicial overreach.”

“This ruling makes us look weak, which by the way we no longer are,” Trump said.

At the time, he pledged to bring the fight to the Supreme Court, a call Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated last month.”

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Most experts believe that the Administration has a reasonable chance of prevailing if the Court takes the case. But, I’m not sure that heaping intemperate insults on U.S. trial and appellate judges, and then asking the top U.S. judges to invoke emergency procedures to bail you out of difficulties caused to a large extent by your own inflammatory rhetoric is necessarily a winning litigation strategy. We’ll soon see how this plays out. Because the Court’s term concludes at the end of this month, expect a decision on the Government’s emergency requests by then. Even if the Court agrees to take the case, it’s unlikely that arguments on the merits will be heard until the beginning of the 2017 Term next Fall.

Thanks to Nolan Rappaport for sending me this link.

PWS

06-02-17

N. Rappaport Reviews Travel Ban Litigation For HuffPost!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/5929ff8ce4b08861ed0cca0e

Man, Nolan sure gets around in terms of different publications! And, he is both timely and highly relevant! Here, Nolan writes in HyuffPost:

“In April 2016, I wrote an article entitled, “If he is elected to the presidency, Donald Trump will have statutory authority to suspend the entry of all Muslim aliens.”

The article included a successful prediction of Trump’s temporary travel ban. But I failed to foresee that it would be rejected on the basis of his campaign statements, or that using campaign statements that way would put our country on the brink of a constitutional crisis.

. . . .

The campaign statements that Judge Gregory uses to justify his decision can be used again and again to attack anything Trump does that has a negative impact on a country with a large Muslim population.

If the Supreme Court does not reverse Judge Gregory’s decision, other courts will follow suit and President Trump ultimately will be faced with the constitutional crisis of not being able to meet his national security responsibilities as the Chief of the Executive Branch with respect to terrorism coming from Muslim countries unless he defies the orders of the Judicial Branch.”

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Read Nolan’s complete article on HuffPost at the above link!

I appreciate Nolan’s helpful summary of what has happened to date on the “Travel Ban” litigation.  Nevertheless, I disagree with his conclusion that the President will not be able to “meet his national security responsibilities as Chief Executive.”

I have little doubt that if there were a legitimate “national security” crisis, the Federal Courts would give the Executive considerable discretion to operate. President Trump’s problem is that there is no obvious national security crisis at present. Therefore, his attack on nationals of predominantly Muslim countries seems to be out of bounds, and motivated by religious animus and a desire to fulfill campaign promises, rather than by any legitimate national security considerations.

FPWS

05-29-17

THE HUMAN TOLL OF IMMIGRATION DETENTION: Mother Attempts Suicide After 6 Months In Texas “Family Detention Centers!”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mother-family-detention-suicide-attempt_us_59271267e4b062f96a34da5c?45b

Roque Planas reports in HuffPost:

“AUSTIN, Texas ― A woman locked at a family immigrant detention center tried to take her own life this month in what legal advocates described as a desperate effort to free her two kids.

Samira Hakimi, an Afghan national, has spent the last six months detained with her two young children despite a federal ruling that dictates they should have been released within three weeks. The case reinforces the longstanding concerns of immigrant rights groups that say asylum-seeking families should not be forced into prolonged detention.

“They told us you will only be a couple of days in there,” Hakimi told HuffPost. “I never thought that I would be detained here for such a long time. That I’m detained here because I’m from Afghanistan and that’s all. But I’m human.”

In Afghanistan, the Hakimi family had established a high school and multi-branch private university that used Western curricula, taught in both English and Dari and offered more than half its scholarships to women, according to lawyers representing Hakimi and her husband.

Since 2013, the Taliban repeatedly threatened the family for its work. To avoid the danger of commuting, the family moved onto the university campus and contracted private security guards that year.

It wasn’t enough for them to feel safe. “We could not go outside,” Hakimi said. “My children could not go to school. We thought they might be kidnapped. This was always in our minds…. They have their lives to live. They should live happy and free from every small thing, going to school and enjoying their lives.”

Last year, they fled Afghanistan with Hakimi’s brother-in-law and his pregnant wife, who were facing similar threats.

In December, the two families crossed into the United States from Mexico through a legal port of entry, where they all asked for asylum. The men were separated and sent to all-male immigrant detention centers, where they remain. Hakimi and her kids, as well as her sister-in-law and her newborn baby, were sent to the South Texas Family Detention Center in the town of Dilley and later transferred to the Karnes County Residential Center outside San Antonio.

Hakimi passed her “credible fear” interview ― the first step toward applying for asylum. It’s common practice for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to free people who pass these interviews so they can pursue their cases in immigration court, but ICE declined to release her and her children. The agency did not respond to a request for comment explaining why it refuses to release them. Hakimi’s sister-in-law is also still at Karnes with her 10-month-old baby.
DREW ANTHONY SMITH VIA GETTY IMAGES
The Karnes County Residential Center houses mothers who enter the United States with their children. Most of them seek asylum or other forms of humanitarian exemption from deportation.
Hakimi told HuffPost she had suffered from bouts of clinical depression before being detained. Advocates with RAICES, a nonprofit that provides legal services to detained families, say she had attempted suicide in the past and told medical workers at Karnes that her condition had worsened as her case appeared to stall. Neither medicine nor therapy would alleviate the problem, she argued. Her depression stemmed from remaining locked up in the detention center with her children.

As the months dragged on, she lost hope. “Here, no one talks to us,” Hakimi said. “They don’t give us the reason why I’m detained in here. I never thought that I would be detained here for such a long time.”

Her son came to her one day asking her why other families were allowed to leave but not them. “That was really triggering her,” Amy Fisher, RAICES’s policy director, told HuffPost. “She was crying and really depressed. And she went into this thought process, when she was really low, thinking, ‘Well, if I’m no longer here, maybe my children can be free.’” Kids cannot be held without their parents or guardians in family detention.

After she made an effort to take her own life, she woke up in the medical unit of the detention center and was taken to a nearby hospital, where two members of the detention center staff sat with her continuously.

“I told them, ‘I’m just crying for my children, please,’” she said in a recording with one of her legal providers. “I’m not sick. But they gave me medicine. And they told me take this every four hours, but I didn’t take it anymore.”

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Read the full story at the link.

Don’t think that a few (or even many) attempted suicides or preventable deaths in immigration detention are going to change the Administration’s plans to establish an “American Gulag.” After all, what better “deterrent” than death to put a dent in migration.

No, the only thing that might get in the way is if Democrats start winning elections and wielding some political power in Washington. (Not that Democrats have been particularly enlightened when it comes to immigration detention, either. After all, Dilley, Karnes, Berks County, and other “family residential prisons” were Obama initiatives. But, that’s another story.)

But, as I just pointed out in an earlier blog, Dems appear lost in the political wilderness with no path out.

PWS

05-26-16

 

Willie To Jeffie: “You Need To Toke Up, Dude!” — Challenges AG To Take A Hit Before Targeting Weed!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/willie-nelson-jeff-sessions_us_591d4534e4b034684b0960d9

Ed Mazza reports in HuffPost:

“Country music legend Willie Nelson has some advice for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who said marijuana is only “slightly less awful” than heroin.

Nelson, a longtime advocate for legal pot, told Rolling Stone:

“I wonder if he’s tried both of them. I don’t think you can really make a statement like that unless you tried it all. So I’d like to suggest to Jeff to try it and then let me know later if he thinks he’s still telling the truth!”
The 84-year-old County Music Hall of Famer has his own brand of marijuana, Willie’s Reserve, for sale where it’s legal and often speaks highly of his own personal experiences with the drug.

Rolling Stone asked if there’s been a downside to his own habit.

“I haven’t run into any yet,” he said. “I guess if you go somewhere where it’s illegal, that’s a pretty good downside.”

Police have arrested the singer several times for marijuana-related offenses.”

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Don’t think this will be happening anytime soon!

PWS

05-19-17

HUFFPOST: Inside Gonzoland — Sessions Accepts Award From “Crazy Eddie” At The DOJ!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeff-sessions-police-union-award-nypd_us_5915e292e4b00f308cf4f571

Ryan J. Reilly reports:

“WASHINGTON ― At the end of one of the most consequential weeks in the history of the U.S. Department of Justice ― a week that featured dramatic testimony from a former acting U.S. attorney general previously dismissed by the president, a week dominated by the commander-in-chief’s shock firing of the FBI director ― Attorney General Jeff Sessions walked into the room where the Justice Department makes news.

But it wasn’t Sessions who spoke first in the conference room on the seventh floor of the Justice Department’s hulking headquarters building along Pennsylvania Avenue. Nor was it someone in a leadership position at Justice. Nor was it a U.S. attorney, another federal prosecutor, an FBI official or any other federal law enforcement official authorized to speak on behalf of the DOJ.

The man standing behind the seal of the Justice Department had no affiliation with the nation’s federal law enforcement organization. He’s a controversial police union president, and he was there to give the 84th attorney general of the United States an award and declare Sessions an honorary member of his New York City police union.

RYAN J REILLY / HUFFPOST
Union president Edward Mullins gives Attorney General Jeff Sessions an award.

Police Sgt. Edward Mullins Jr. is the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York City. Standing before the cameras and reporters on Friday, Mullins said his police union was honoring Sessions because, “in a time when politicians and the top brass in police departments do not always have the courage to put the interests of non-citizens and officer safety ahead of political correctness and calculated re-election ploys,” the attorney general was committed to “having the backs” of cops in New York and beyond.

Mullins, a member of the city’s police force since 1982, is a polarizing figure in New York. The Village Voice calls him “a noisy troll” and “a shrill contrarian with little regard for the public’s welfare.” Former New York City police Commissioner Bill Bratton called him “Crazy Eddie.” Another website once declared him “the worst person in New York.” He often uses inflammatory language about police-citizen conflicts, once accusing then-President Barack Obama of being anti-cop and supporting the idea of a police boycott of a Beyonce tour following her 2016 Super Bowl performance.

After the murder of two New York City police officers in 2014, Mullins pinned their deaths on the mayor. “Mayor de Blasio, the blood of these two officers is clearly on your hands,” he said.

In 2015, when the city of New York reached a settlement with the family of Eric Garner ― the Staten Island man who died after NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a prohibited chokehold during an arrest ― Mullins called the settlement “obscene.”

In 2016, after current NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said officers had made a mistake when they shot a 66-year-old mentally ill woman armed with a baseball bat, Mullins stormed out of the meeting.

Speaking at Justice Department headquarters on Friday, Sessions said he respected Mullins. “I have long expressed my admiration for the successes you have achieved, Ed, you and your members,” the attorney general said.”

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Gives us some insight into where “Gonzo-Apocalypto” gets some of his ideas!

PWS

05-12-17

MARJORIE COHN IN HUFFPOST: Destroying American Justice From The Inside — The “Gonzo-Apocalypto Era” Takes Hold At The USDOJ!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeff-sessions-department-of-injustice_us_590dd80ee4b0f711807244f1

Cohn writes:

“Motivated by his deep-seated biases and those of President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is pursuing a draconian agenda on voting rights, immigration, crime, policing, the drug war, federal sentencing and the privatization of prisons.

Sessions, now head of the Department of Justice, which is charged with enforcing the Voting Rights Act, once called the act “intrusive.” In 2013, after the Supreme Court issued a decision in “Shelby County v. Holder” that struck down the section of the act that established a formula for preclearance of jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination, Sessions called it “a good day for the South.”

Sessions and Trump tout the existence of what the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School calls a “phantom crime wave.” While this administration scaremongers about high crime rates, in reality, national crime and murder rates are at a near-historic low: 50 percent less than they were at their peak in 1991.

Trump’s campaign mantra was “law and order,” a euphemism for tolerating excessive force by police officers, often against people of color. Trump speaks of “American carnage” in the cities and a “war” on the police. His bogus rhetoric is aimed at Black Lives Matter, which arose in response to increasing numbers of police shootings, particularly of nonwhites.

The president depicts police reform measures as “anti-law enforcement” and Sessions is fully on board with this framing. In 2015, when he was a senator, Sessions said that police reform movements endanger public safety and hinder police work.

Sessions opposes consent decrees, which are court-enforced agreements aimed at eliminating racial profiling and excessive force by police in agencies that demonstrate “a pattern or practice” of violating civil rights. Sessions says the federal government should not be “dictating to local police how to do their jobs” (except when it comes to immigration enforcement, that is).

Amnesty International warns that Trump and Sessions’ “law and order” rhetoric could lead to higher levels of mass incarceration, long sentences and prolonged solitary confinement.

. . . .

Trump and Sessions are not disappointing the white nationalists who favor using immigration policy as a wedge to further their “alt-right” program.

Kevin de León, President pro Tempore of the California State Senate, noted, “It has become abundantly clear” that Sessions and Trump “are basing their law enforcement policies on principles of white supremacy ― not American values.”

From January to mid-March of this year, immigration arrests have increased by 33 percent. Since Trump’s inauguration, the number of arrests of immigrants with no criminal records has doubled. Roughly half of the 675 arrested in early February raids had either driving convictions or no criminal record at all, according to data obtained by The Washington Post.

Sessions drastically increased penalties for illegal reentry into the United States and ordered immigration officials to charge undocumented immigrants with higher-penalty crimes.

Although Sessions’ heavy-handed actions are based on Trump’s spurious claim that immigrants disproportionately murder and rape US citizens, studies have shown that immigrants actually commit fewer crimes than citizens.

Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are arresting immigrants who come to the courthouse. This egregious practice motivated California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye to complain in a letter to the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security that ICE agents “appear to be stalking undocumented immigrants in our courthouses to make arrests.”

Terrorizing immigrants with frightful measures discourages immigrant witnesses from reporting crimes, and discourages victims from seeking legal measures and services that are meant to protect their own safety and well-being.

By March, the Los Angeles Police Department had seen a 25 percent drop in the number of Latinos reporting sexual assault and a 10 percent decrease in Latinos’ reports of domestic violence. By early April, there was a 42.8 percent drop in the number of Latinos who reported rapes to the Houston Police Department. And a health care center in Los Angeles reported a 20 percent decrease in food stamp enrollments and a 54 percent drop in enrollments for Medicaid.

The Trump administration has been arresting ― even deporting ― “Dreamers” who relied on Barack Obama’s assurances they would be protected if they came out of the shadows and provided their personal information to ICE. Dreamer Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez is a registrant in Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and was the first DACA recipient to be deported. Bojorquez, who is now in Mexico, is suing the US federal government.

On January 25, 2017, Trump signed an executive order to halt federal funding to municipal governments that don’t facilitate federal immigration enforcement. Trump’s order is aimed at “sanctuary cities” that protect immigrants from deportation.

In March, Sessions threatened officials in nine jurisdictions with losing their 2016 grants if they failed to certify by June 30 that they were in compliance with a law that forbids local authorities from forcing officials to withhold information about immigration status from federal authorities.

But the majority of sanctuary policies do not cover information sharing. Most address how to handle “detainers,” where federal immigration officials request that state or local authorities continue to detain people who are eligible for release. Courts have said jurisdictions cannot be forced to honor those detainers.

Trump’s January 25 order is blocked, for now. US District Judge William H. Orrick III issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that forbids the federal government from withholding funds from municipal governments that don’t fully cooperate with immigration agents.

Orrick also ruled the federal government can’t legally force counties to hold undocumented people beyond their release dates. The judge concluded Trump’s order likely violates due process, the separation of powers doctrine, and the 10th Amendment, which prevents federal interference with state and local self-government. Only Congress can limit spending, Orrick wrote.

This is Trump’s third executive order halted by federal courts. His first and second Muslim bans are now pending in the 9th and 4th Circuit Courts of Appeals.

. . . .

After Trump nominated Sessions for attorney general, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Illinois) stated, “No senator has fought harder against the hopes and aspirations of Latinos, immigrants and people of color than Sen. Sessions.”

Indeed, no one is worse equipped to lead the Department of Justice. Sessions’ racism is prominently on display in every action he has taken during his short tenure in Trump’s cabinet.

It is critical that “we the people” continue to resist, in every way we can, the Trump-Sessions pattern and practice of injustice.

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her books include The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse; Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law; and Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. Follow her on Twitter. Copyright Truthout. Reprinted with permission.”

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Read the entire article over on HuffPost.

So much damage in so little time. And, I’m sure the worst is yet to come. Most impressive in a depressingly negative way! Senators Liz Warren, Cory Booker, and others were right!

PWS

05-07-17

Two New Pieces From N. Rappaport: Perhaps “Lost In The Shuffle” — Trump’s Plans For An Expanded Travel Ban & “Super Expedited” Removals!

Nolan is one of the “hardest working op-ed writers”in the field! Here’s the intro to what he had to say in HuffPost about an expanded “travel ban.”

https://www.linkedin.com/redir/redirect?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ehuffingtonpost%2Ecom%2Fentry%2F5894ed61e4b061551b3dfe64&urlhash=nmYz&_t=tracking_anet

“Too much attention is being paid to a 90-day travel ban in President Donald Trump’s Executive Order Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States (Order). While it is a serious matter, the temporary suspension of admitting aliens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen into the United States is just the tip of the iceberg. Other provisions in the Order may cause much more serious consequences.

Section 3(a) of the Order directs the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Secretary of the Department of State (DOS) and the Director of National Intelligence, to determine what information is needed “from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) in order to determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat.” This applies to all countries, not just the seven that are subject to the 90-day suspension.

Those officials have 30 days from the date of the Order to report their “determination of the information needed for adjudications and a list of countries that do not provide adequate information (emphasis supplied).”

Section 3(d) directs the Secretary of State to “request all foreign governments that do not supply such information to start providing such information regarding their nationals within 60 days of notification.” Section 3(e) explains the consequences of failing to comply with this request. Note that this also applies to all countries, not just the seven that are subject to the 90-day delay.

(e) After the 60-day period described in subsection (d) of this section expires, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the President a list of countries recommended for inclusion on a Presidential proclamation that would prohibit the entry of foreign nationals (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, …) from countries that do not provide the information requested pursuant to subsection (d) of this section until compliance occurs (emphasis supplied).

This is far more serious than the 90-day ban on immigration from the seven designated countries. With some exceptions, President Trump is going to stop immigration from every country in the world that refuses to provide the requested information. And this ban will continue until compliance occurs.

Does the President have the authority to do this? Yes, he does. The main source of the president’s authority to declare such suspensions can been found in section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the pertinent part of which reads as follows:

(f) Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.

The Order permits the Secretaries of DOS and DHS to waive the restrictions on a case-by-case basis when it is in the national interest.

DHS Secretary John Kelly has applied this waiver to the entry of lawful permanent residents. In a statement released on January 29, 2017, he says, “absent the receipt of significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations.”

The ACLU Executive Director, Anthony D. Romero, claims that the Order is “a Muslim ban wrapped in a paper-thin national security rationale.”

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I understand Nolan’s point that President Trump could be within his rights to invoke the travel ban.  Nevertheless, in a recent blog on this site, former State Department visa officer Jeff Gorsky pointed out that historically the section 212(f) sanction of suspension of visa issuance has been used in a very narrow and focused manner. http://wp.me/p8eeJm-Hr

The prospect of large-scale visa suspensions in the current context also seems like unusual policy to me. Let’s take the most obvious example: Iran, a country with which we have famously strained relations.

Why would Iran want to provide us with any useful information about its nationals? And, if they did, why would we trust it?

For example, if there is a real “Iranian spy” out there I’m sure the Iranian Government will give him or her a “clean bill of health.” On the flip side, if there are some Iranian democracy advocates who are annoying to the Iranian Government but want to travel to the U.S., Iran would likely plant false information to make us believe they were “terrorists.

Hopefully, in Iranian visa cases we are getting our “vetting” information largely from sources other than the Iranian Government. Consequently, like so many of the Trump Administration’s actions, it is hard to take a threat to ban visa issuance as a serious effort to protect national security. It’s likely that national security is just a “smokescreen” for other possible motives. Who knows?

I’m incurred to think that if Trump decides to “go big” with 212(f) visa suspensions, at least some lower Federal Courts are likely to adopt the “Gorsky view” that “he can’t do that.”

You should read Nolan’s complete article in HuffPost at the above link!

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Next, Nolan writes about the Administration’s “expedited removal campaign” in The Hill:

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/332110-on-illegal-immigration-trump-puts-an-end-to-obamas-home-free

As of the end of January 2017, the immigrant court’s backlog was 542,411 cases.  Even if no additional cases are filed, it would take the court two-and-a-half years to catch up with its backlog.

President Trump finessed his way around this problem by expanding the use of expedited removal proceedings with his Executive Order, Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements.

In expedited removal proceedings, which are conducted by immigration officers, an alien who lacks proper documentation or has committed fraud or a willful misrepresentation to enter the country, will be deported without a hearing before an immigration judge, unless he requests an asylum hearing.

 

Asylum hearings, which are conducted by immigration judges, are available to aliens who establish a credible fear of persecution.  An asylum officer determines whether the alien has a credible fear of persecution.

The alien cannot have assistance from an attorney in these proceedings, and, because detention is mandatory, his ability to gather evidence in support of his case is severely restricted.

Moreover, Section 208(a)(2)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) limits asylum to aliens who have been in the United States for less than a year (with some exceptions).

If the asylum officer rejects the credible fear claim, the alien can request an expedited review of his credible fear case by an immigration judge, which usually is held within 24 hours but in no case later than seven days after the adverse credible fear determination.

Federal court review is available, but it is restricted to cases in which the alien makes a sufficient claim to being a United States citizen, to having lawful permanent resident status, or to having been admitted previously as a refugee or an asylee.

A federal judge recently held that asylum denials in expedited removal proceedings are not reviewable in federal court and the Supreme Court let the decision stand.

Previous administrations limited expedited removal proceedings to aliens at the border and aliens who had entered without inspection but were apprehended no more than 100 miles from the border after spending less than 14 days in the country.

The Executive Order expands expedited removal proceedings to the full extent of the law. Section 235(b)(1)(A)(iii)(ll) of the INA authorizes expedited removal proceedings for aliens who have been physically present in the United States for up to two years.

It is likely to be very difficult for aliens to establish physical presence of more than two years, and if they do, they will be faced with the one year deadline for asylum applications, which in many cases is the only form of relief available to an undocumented alien.

President Trump will be able to use expedited removal proceedings to deport millions of undocumented aliens without hearings before an immigration judge.

The only way to stop him is to find a way to work with him on a comprehensive immigration reform bill that meets the political needs of both parties, and time is running out.”

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I’m all for comprehensive immigration reform. But, if it doesn’t happen, I’m not so sure that Trump, Sessions & Co. won’t “push the envelope” on expedited removal to the point where  the Supremes “just say no.” After all, even noted conservative chief Justice John Roberts seemed unenthusiastic about giving the DHS total prosecutorial discretion in a recent citizenship case. See this earlier blog: http://wp.me/p8eeJm-Lv.

PWS

05-076-17

HUFFPOST: How White Nationalist “Know Nothing” Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions Tanked Needed Police Reform In Chicago Without Even BOTHERING TO READ The DOJ’s 160 Page Report!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/doj-police-reform-jeff-sessions-chicago_us_58f50a77e4b0da2ff86254cf?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000 report on HuffPost:

Ryan J. Reilly & Kim Bellware report in HuffPost:

“CHICAGO ― In the final months of the Obama administration, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division scrambled to complete its biggest-ever investigation of a city police department: a 13-month probe of Chicago’s 12,000-strong police force that wrapped up just a week before President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

For more than a year, the division’s lawyers reviewed thousands of Chicago Police Department documents, visited all 22 police districts, went on 60 ride-alongs, reviewed 170 police shooting files, examined over 425 incidents of less-lethal force, interviewed 340 department members and talked to about 1,000 Chicago residents.

Their final report, issued Jan. 13, recognized the tough job officers had in Chicago as they dealt with spiking gun violence, and praised the “diligent efforts and brave actions of countless” officers. But a “breach in trust” eroded Chicago’s ability to prevent crime, because officers were able to escape accountability when they broke the law, the report found. Because “trust and effectiveness in combating violent crime are inextricably intertwined,” the report found “broad, fundamental reform” was needed in Chicago.

Without a formal legal agreement to reform — known as a consent decree — and independent monitoring, the report concluded, reform efforts in Chicago were “not likely to be successful.”

JI SUB JEONG/HUFFPOST

Jeff Sessions, Trump’s attorney general, disagrees. In recent weeks, Sessions has expressed deep skepticism about the role of the federal government in fixing broken police departments, leaving serious doubts about the ultimate outcome of the Justice Department’s work in Chicago.

Sessions wants the Justice Department to serve as the “leading advocate for law enforcement in America.” While admitting he hadn’t read the full Chicago report, he called it “anecdotal” and “not so scientifically based.” Earlier this month in Baltimore, a Justice Department lawyer said Sessions had “grave concerns” about an agreement previously reached between that city and the Obama administration. A federal judge signed off on the deal over Sessions’ objections.

In an interview with a conservative radio host this month, Sessions seemed to suggest that Justice Department investigations and consent decrees were resulting in “big crime increases.” In an op-ed for USA Today last week, Sessions wrote that consent decrees could amount to “harmful federal intrusion” that could “cost more lives by handcuffing the police instead of the criminals.” There’s too much focus on “a small number of police who are bad actors,” Sessions wrote, and “too many people believe the solution is to impose consent decrees that discourage the proactive policing that keeps our cities safe.”

Chicago has a serious violent crime problem. Last year was the deadliest in the city in two decades, with 762 homicides. But supporters of police reform like Jonathan Smith, a former official in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said that Sessions was “simply wrong” to suggest that crime goes up as a result of reform (or, in Chicago’s case, an investigation). DOJ investigations can increase community confidence in police departments and make people safer, Smith argued.

JIM YOUNG / REUTERS
A protester takes part in a weekly nighttime peace march through the streets of a South Side Chicago neighborhood on September 16, 2016.

Lorie Fridell, a criminologist and police bias expert from whom the Chicago’s Police Accountability Task Force solicited information for its report released last year, said DOJ investigations not only help to usher in badly need reforms to the specific departments probed, but other departments also rely on the reports to determine if their own departments are meeting constitutional standards.

“I think it’s very unfortunate the DOJ is no longer going to prioritize police reform,” Fridell said. ”The future of police reform is therefore going to have to come from the ground up. It’s going to be important for concerned individuals to demand high-quality policing.”

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Read the complete HuffPost article at the above link. And, for those of you who would like to be better informed than AG “Gonzo Apocalypto” about the need for serious police reform in Chicago, you can read the complete DOJ Civil Rights Division report here: https://www.justice.gov/opa/file/925846/download.

Sen. Liz Warren, Sen. Cory Booker, and others who opposed Sessions’s nomination to be AG, and told the truth about his white nationalist views (which he tried to conceal/downplay during his confirmation hearing, in addition to lying under oath about his Russian contacts) were right!

PWS

04-29-17

INCARCERATION NATION: Private Prison Corps Win, Everyone Else Loses!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-100-days-private-prisons_us_590203d8e4b0026db1def8fb

Dana Liebelson reports for HuffPost:

“WASHINGTON ― When Donald Trump was running for president, the private prison industry in the United States was down for the count. An undercover reporter exposed abuse at a private prison in Louisiana. A report from the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General found private prisons had higher rates of assault than regular prisons.

The Obama administration announced in August that it was phasing out the use of private prisons to house federal inmates; private prison stock subsequently plunged. And Trump’s foe, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton — who had received donations from private prison lobbyists — said she was “glad” to see the end of private prisons. “You shouldn’t have a profit motivation to fill prison cells with young Americans,” she added.

Then Trump won.

In his first 100 days, Trump has failed to fulfill the populist promises of his campaign, while industries like Wall Street have made big gains. But the private prison industry in the U.S. — which is heavily dependent on federal contracts from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Marshals Service — has had one of the biggest turnarounds of all, winning Justice Department approval, new and extended contracts, and an administration that is expected to bolster the demand for a lot of detention beds.

The Obama administration’s 2016 directive to reduce and ultimately end the use of privately operated prisons on the federal level “put these companies on the defensive in a way that we had not seen for at least 15 years,” Carl Takei, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s national prison project, told HuffPost. “But now, we face a total reversal of that situation.”

In February, Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrew the Obama-era directive, claiming that it “impaired the [Bureau of Prisons’] ability to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system.” One day after that announcement, CNN reported that the stocks of CoreCivic (previously called Corrections Corporation of America) and GEO Group, the two largest private prison operators, were up 140 percent and 98 percent, respectively, since Trump’s election.

“The attorney general’s announcement in February validated our position that the DOJ’s previous direction was not reflective of the high-quality services we have provided,” said Jonathan Burns, a spokesman for CoreCivic.

But the wins for private prison operators go further than the Trump administration’s reversal of the Obama administration’s memo, which technically only applied to a sliver of federal prisons, not state lockups or immigration detention facilities.

The Trump administration is also expected to implement tough-on-crime policies and large-scale deportations. Just this month, Sessions announced plans to weigh criminal charges for any person caught in the U.S. who has been previously deported, regardless of where they’re arrested.

CoreCivic does not draft legislation or lobby for proposals that might determine the basis or duration of a person’s incarceration, the company spokesman told HuffPost.

But private prison operators acknowledge that “new policies, priorities under the new administration [have helped create] an increased need for detention bed space,” as J. David Donahue, GEO Group senior vice president, told investors in February.

Donahue said his company was having ongoing discussions with ICE about its capabilities, which included “3,000 idle beds and 2,000 underutilized beds.” In April, GEO Group announced it had been awarded an ICE contract to build a new 1,000-bed detention center in Texas.

CoreCivic also announced a contract extension in April at a 1,000-bed detention facility in Texas. The company cited “ICE’s expected detention capacity needs” and “the ideal location of our facility on the southern border” as reasons ICE might extend its contract even further.

The Department of Homeland Security has identified 33,000 more detention beds available to house undocumented immigrants as it ramps up immigration enforcement, according to an internal memo obtained by The Washington Post and dated April 25.

“We can expect that the private prison industry will get rich off of any push by the Trump to expand the number of people in federal custody,” the ACLU’s Takei said.

If you’re determined to lock everybody up as long as possible, whether they’re dangerous or not, you need a place to put them and lots of money to pay for it.Molly Gill, director of federal legislative affairs at FAMM

In February, Trump re-emphasized his support for Kate’s Law, backed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), which would establish a five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for undocumented immigrants who re-enter the United States after being convicted twice for illegal re-entry. The ACLU has estimated that even the most limited version of Kate’s Law would require nine new federal prisons.

Sessions has also tapped Steven Cook, who previously headed a group that opposed the Obama administration efforts to implement sentencing reforms, for a key role in a task force that will re-evaluate how the federal government deals with crime. This suggests that the Trump administration is planning to fulfill its promises to prosecute more drug and gun cases federally.

“If you’re determined to lock everybody up as long as possible, whether they’re dangerous or not, you need a place to put them and lots of money to pay for it,” said Molly Gill, director of federal legislative affairs at FAMM, a group that opposes mandatory minimums.

Although the federal prison population has declined in recent years, federal prisons are still over capacity. Congress “does not seem to have much of a taste for building new prisons,” Gill noted, so “private prison contractors could make up the difference.”

Private prison critics claim that the industry has an incentive to spend less money on inmate services, as well as sufficient staffing, which can have disastrous human rights consequences including reliance on solitary confinement, poor mental health care, and violence. Private prisons are also not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, which means any misconduct is often shrouded in secrecy. (The CoreCivic spokesman said “the comments raised by critic groups are misinformed and neglect the history of our company.”)

A spokesman for GEO Group told HuffPost that the company believes the Obama administration decision to phase out private prisons last August “was based on a misrepresentation” of an Inspector General report that he said demonstrated that privately run facilities “are at least as equally safe, secure, and humane as publicly run facilities and in fact experienced lower rates of inmate deaths.”

In fact, investigators found that in “most key areas, contract prisons incurred more safety and security incidents per capita than comparable [Bureau of Prisons] institutions.” (At the time, GEO Group said higher incidents numbers could be chalked up to better reporting.)

Civil rights advocates, nonetheless, have deep concerns. “Handing control of prisons to for-profit companies is a recipe for abuse and neglect,” Takei argued. “We expect that even greater reliance on private prisons will lead to similar problems, but on a larger scale,” he added.”

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For more on the Administration’s plans for a “New American Gulag,” see my recent post: http://wp.me/p8eeJm-KN.

And, while individuals subject to so-called “civil” detention clearly are the biggest losers, along with our self-respect as a nation with humane values, don’t forget the U.S. taxpayers who, along with shelling out billions for unnecessary incarceration, will also likely be on the tab for some big legal fees and damage awards once folks start suffering actual harm from the Administration’s abandonment of appropriate standards and safeguards on conditions of detention.

PWS

04-28-17

AMERICAN GULAG: NGOs Fear Administration’s Planned Detention Empire Will Be Deadly!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-immigrant-detention_us_58f0e2b7e4b0bb9638e34621

Elise Foley reports in HuffPost:

“WASHINGTON ― Human rights advocates spent years fighting for even small improvements to the system that detains men, women and children waiting to be either deported or released back into the U.S. Now they fear the progress they have made could disappear under President Donald Trump, who has promised harsher treatment of undocumented immigrants.

“This administration is prepared to make conditions at immigrant detention even worse than they already are, which, given that for some people they’re already fatal, is terrifying,” said Mary Small, policy director of the advocacy group Detention Watch Network.

Trump’s Department of Homeland Security is considering looser regulations for new contracts with jails to hold immigrants in deportation proceedings, The New York Times reported earlier this month. That agreement would allow jails to treat immigrants detained for civil offenses the same way they treat people charged with crimes.

The department also plans to eliminate an office at Immigration and Customs Enforcement that focuses on improving the detention system and to ramp up detention and deportation efforts.

Trump’s boosters consider these to be good things ― earlier this month, hosts on “Fox & Friends” gleefully remarked that the “party’s over” at immigrant detention centers, grumbling about detainees being given clean sheets and outdoor recreation time.

In reality, immigrant detention centers ― some of which are inside jails facilities or former prisons ― are bleak places. Inmates report being denied medical care, held in solitary confinement, given inedible food and other mistreatment. This is all on top of the struggle of being locked up, often far from family and legal help.

There’s always a tension between ‘Do we get rid of the cage or do we make a better cage?’Ruthie Epstein, formerly of Human Rights First

The facilities are supposed to be for civil detention, not criminal detention like a prison ― being in the country without authorization is not in itself a crime. Advocates are concerned that the Trump administration’s discussion of new contracts for jails to detain immigrants is more proof that officials will disregard standards meant to make immigrant detention less punitive.

Chris Daley, an attorney with Just Detention International, said his group is “very afraid” those standards aren’t going to be enforced and that “we’re just going to lose any sense that folks are not there under criminal charges.”

. . . .

“If ICE is no longer tracking the use of solitary confinement or no longer requiring that people who are in mental health crisis are checked on every 15 minutes, that can kill,” said Carl Takei, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project.

It would be difficult for ICE to dismiss the standards set forth in the Prison Rape Elimination Act because they are regulations. But weakening other standards would hurt PREA’s effectiveness, Daley said.

“You can’t have effective sexual abuse prevention programs if you have folks who don’t have access to appropriate materials in the right language; who can’t communicate concerns they have about threats or violence; who are just held in solitary confinement as a matter of course or who otherwise are just being treated in a demeaning way that compromises their dignity,” he said.

ICE hasn’t made any major changes yet, other than eliminating its Office of Detention Policy and Planning. The office’s staff and mission will be absorbed into other parts of the agency, according to ICE spokeswoman Sarah Rodriguez.

Officials are “examining a variety of detention models to determine which models would best meet anticipated detention needs” as part of one of Trump’s executive orders on immigration, Rodriguez said. “As new options are explored, ICE’s commitment to maintaining excellent facilities and providing first class medical care to those in our custody remains unchanged.”

The new contracts could be evaluated based on a checklist from the U.S. Marshals Service, The New York Times reported last week. That checklist is “ridiculous in its lack of detail,” Takei said. The contracts wouldn’t specify what policies jails holding immigrants must maintain for medical health, suicide prevention or solitary confinement, other than that they need to have some sort of policy, according to the Times.

Advocates are bracing for the worst.

“We’ve seen important but very incremental change, so to see change that’s taken so long to come about ― and that still had gaps but that was at least a step toward greater accountability and toward better conditions in these facilities ― to see that now be threatened to be reversed is troubling,” said Katharina Obser, senior program officer at the Women’s Refugee Commission.

They will be watching closely for human rights violations, from detainees being denied due process to poor conditions and even increased deaths in detention.

“These policies are a recipe for a human rights catastrophe in immigrant detention,” Takei said, “and we are prepared to sue as soon as that human rights catastrophe comes to pass.”

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Of course, an unstated reason for purposely allowing immigration detention conditions to deteriorate is to discourage migrants from 1) coming to the U.S. to seek refuge, 2) making claims for refuge, and 3) continuing to pursue those claims.

By locating U.S. Immigration Courts in private prisons and local facilities in obscure locations where counsel are not available, the Department of Justice purposely erodes due process for the purpose of making the courts part of the enforcement, deterrence. deportation mechanism.

At some point, the Article III Courts will have to decide how much of this unseemly travesty of justice they are willing to allow.

PWS

04-26-17

 

HUFFPOST “SHOCKER:” Jeff Sessions Is A Hypocrite! — Home State Of Alabama More Dangerous Than Most “Sanctuary Cities!”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-hypocrisy-behind-jeff-sessions-crackdown-on-new_us_58fba934e4b086ce589811b0

Cody Lyon reports:

“I live in the biggest sanctuary municipality of them all―New York City―a place that celebrates its diversity, a melting pot of countless cultures where hard- working immigrants and their children can climb the educational and economic ladder. And it’s incredibly safe for a city its size, especially when compared to the rest of the country. The fact is, I feel five times more safe here than in most of Session’s home state, Alabama, which also happens to be where I grew up and visit often. Although Alabama’s biggest city, Birmingham, is going through an exciting economic and cultural rebirth, there are pockets of nasty violent crime that statistically make New York City look like Mayberry in comparison.

And, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Alabama had the third-highest rate of death by guns in the United States (behind Alaska, Montana and Louisiana). Nonetheless, Alabama’s affection for guns runs deep. State leaders in Montgomery just passed a bill eliminating the requirement for a permit from a county sheriff to carry a concealed handgun.

The bloodshed in Session’s own backyard didn’t stop him from citing Chicago’s spike in gun violence or a gang-bust in the Bay Area, and then he launched into a rant about New York City and the danger it faces from immigrants and transnational gangs.

“New York City continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable consequence of the city’s ‘soft on crime’ stance,” said the DOJ statement.

New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio wasted no time hitting back on the “soft stance” quip. He wrote in the New York Daily News Saturday that “New York City’s record on public safety is nothing less than stunning. This is a city of 8.5 million people. We host around 60 million visitors a year. Yet, we continue to beat our own records on driving down crime.”

New York City has seen crime fall for the past quarter-century. “Last year was the safest in this city’s modern, recorded history. Last year, we had the fewest shootings,” wrote the mayor.

New York City has been doing something right. In 1990, more than 2,300 people were murdered here. By 2016, that number had dropped to 355. Since 1993 overall crime in this city has fallen 73 percent according to NYPD.

Meanwhile, in cities such as Memphis, population 600,000, there were 228 murders in 2016; in St. Louis, a town of just over 300,000, 188 murders in 2016. And, in mine and Jeff Sessions’ beloved native home state sits Birmingham, a city with barely more than 200,000 people which saw 104 people murdered in 2016.

Sanctuary cities do not permit municipal funds or resources to be applied in furtherance of enforcement of federal immigration laws―at least on paper. These cities normally do not permit police or municipal employees to inquire about one’s immigration status.

Truth be told, U.S. citizens are more likely to commit a violent crime than immigrants. Numerous studies have confirmed this. Jeff Sessions is promoting biased and xenophobic illogic. People like Sessions and President Trump are experts at exploiting fear and ignorance.

There is a also a deep scent of hypocrisy wafting from the Trump administration justice department. If Jeff Sessions and other Trump administration officials truly wanted to take a bite of crime, they would focus their energies on the abject poverty, isolationism, and the social, educational as well as economic inequity infecting many of our cities and rural areas. These are places where poverty equals hopelessness and hopelessness is a state where survival at any cost is the reality. Violent crime festers in communities and conditions like that. I’d argue that Jeff Sessions should consider New York City’s remarkable decline in violence as something to aspire to. Perhaps he could pay the city a visit, and learn a thing or two that could be implemented in places like Alabama.”

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Perhaps it’s time for Sessions to “can” the “Gonzo-Apocalypto” act, learn from the many things that so-called “sanctuary cities” are doing right, and concentrate on “getting his own house” in order in Alabama and other GOP-dominated southern states that consistently rank among the worst, and most dangerous, places to live in the U.S.

PWS

04-23-17

 

JEFF SESSIONS’S DREAM OF AN “AMERICAN GULAG:” Despite Mounting Evidence Of Substandard Conditions, Lack Of Accountability, & Hinky Contracting, Sessions Plans For “American Gulag” Using Private Prisons — Creating Corporate Profits From Human Misery While Ripping Off U.S. Taxpayers!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/prisons-and-profits_us_58ef9886e4b04cae050dc533?t0r

Christopher Brauchli reports in HuffPost:

“It turns out that the immigration crackdown that Donald Trump’s ICE is pursuing, though hard on illegals and their families by producing terrible uncertainty for them, is not without its “bright side.” The light that provides a bright side is shining on the shares of stock in the Geo Group and CoreCivic, and on jails in a number of Texas counties.

Geo Group and CoreCivic operate private, for-profit prisons. Before Trump became president, they were on hard times, and for good reason. In August 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General issued a report that was highly critical of the way those companies treated prisoners entrusted with their care. The report found that inmates in facilities run by those corporations “were nine times more likely to be placed on lockdown than inmates at other federal prisons and were frequently subjected to arbitrary solitary confinement simply because there was not space for them among the general population.”

Although placing them in solitary confinement so they would not add to overcrowding in the general prison population had the desired effect, solitary confinement is generally acknowledged to be equivalent to torture and has been repeatedly criticized for its excessive use in United States prisons. According to the report, the Bureau of Prisons was using the private prisons on a large scale to “confine federal inmates who are primarily low security, criminal alien adult males with 90 months or less remaining to serve on their sentences.” The report stated that “in a majority of the categories we examined, contract prisons incurred more safety and security incidents per capita than comparable Bureau of Prisons institutions.” It said that the contract prisons “do not provide comparable services [to those operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons], do not save substantially on costs, and do not maintain ‘the same level of safety and security.’”

At almost the same time that that report was issued, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, issued instructions to federal officials to reduce the use of private prisons because of the falling prison population throughout the country. The result was that stock in CoreCivic and GEO, the two largest private prison companies in the United States, fell precipitously. The election of Donald J. Trump reversed their fortunes.

The day after the election shares in CoreCivic rose 43 percent and share in GEO rose 21 percent. The investors’ optimism was rewarded when on February 21st, 2017, Attorney General Sessions, rescinded the order that the private prisons be phased out. Following the announcement, the prison companies enjoyed another jump in share prices. The order should not have been a surprise. Notwithstanding the Justice Department report that was highly critical of the private prisons, Trump―for whom facts are notoriously unimportant―said: “I do think we can do a lot of privatizations and private prisons. It seems to work a lot better.” Of course, private prisons are not the only ones rejoicing in the prospect of more inmates, thanks to the increased attention being paid to illegal immigrants and their incarceration. Jailers in small Texas counties are also excited.

. . . .

. . . . Now many of the counties that eagerly built new jails find themselves trying to pay off the cost of construction without adequate occupants to pay the debt that was incurred to build them. The good news for them is that since Trump has encouraged ICE to round up and jail illegal immigrants, the glut of jail space may soon vanish and cells that were empty and non-income producing, will once again be fully occupied with illegal immigrants and their families.

In a speech delivered to Police Chiefs Association on April 11, 2017, Attorney General Sessions announced a number of increased enforcement policies including a provision that those who get married to avoid immigration laws, will be charged with offenses that carry a two-year mandatory minimum prison sentence. If, notwithstanding the prospect of new occupants, counties no longer want to maintain their facilities, they may be able to sell them to private prison companies that will use the space for housing illegal immigrants. It’s a win-win situation for private prisons and Texas counties. The only loser is the pre-Trump United States we knew and loved.”

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Hey, the only “losers” here are humanity, values, taxpayers, and our self-respect. What’s not to like about that Sessions-Trump initiative?

And “Gulag” is definitely the right term to describe contemporary immigration detention. Just ask families whose loved ones, and lawyers whose clients are moved from facility to facility, and sometimes removed from the United States, without notice. Even U.S. Immigration Courts sometimes have a hard time locating the “respondents” on their detained dockets in the DHS detention maze. Not to mention that sometimes detainees with cases pending before one Immigration Court are more or less arbitrarily moved to another detention center in another jurisdiction (perhaps to save a few bucks on “bed rates”).

PWS

04-14-17