TIS INDEED THE “SEASON OF MIRACLES” — I WOKE UP THIS MORNING AND FOUND MYSELF IN COMPLETE AGREEMENT WITH CHARLES KOCH!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/congress-must-act-on-the-dreamers/2017/12/14/3dc0ab98-e053-11e7-bbd0-9dfb2e37492a_story.html

From the Washington Post:

Congress must act on the ‘dreamers’


A woman holds up a sign outside the U.S. Capitol in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on Dec. 5. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
December 14

Tim Cook is chief executive of Apple. Charles Koch is chairman and chief executive of Koch Industries.

The holidays are upon us, and families across the United States are coming together to celebrate. Yet for about 690,000 of our neighbors, colleagues and friends, this holiday season is marked by uncertainty and fear.

These are the “dreamers” — children of undocumented immigrants who are working, in countless ways, to make the United States stronger. Unless Congress acts, this holiday season might be the last one the dreamers get to spend in the country they love and call home.

We must do better. The United States is at its best when all people are free to pursue their dreams. Our country has enjoyed unparalleled success by welcoming people from around the world who seek to make a better life for themselves and their families, no matter what their backgrounds. It is our differences that help us to learn from each other, to challenge our old ways of thinking and to discover innovative solutions that benefit us all. To advance that prosperity and build an even stronger future, each successive generation — including, today, our own — must show the courage to embrace that diversity and to do what is right.

We have no illusions about how difficult it can be to get things done in Washington, and we know that people of good faith disagree about aspects of immigration policy. If ever there were an occasion to come together to help people improve their lives, this is it. By acting now to ensure that dreamers can realize their potential by continuing to contribute to our country, Congress can reaffirm this essential American ideal.

This is a political, economic and moral imperative. The sooner Congress resolves this situation — on a permanent basis — the sooner dreamers can seize the opportunity to plan their lives and develop their talents.

This extraordinary set of circumstances has brought the two of us together as co-authors. We are business leaders who sometimes differ on the issues of the day. Yet, on a question as straightforward as this one, we are firmly aligned.

As a matter of both policy and principle, we strongly agree that Congress must act before the end of the year to bring certainty and security to the lives of dreamers. Delay is not an option. Too many people’s futures hang in the balance.

Both of our companies are fortunate to have dreamers on our teams. We know from experience that the success of our businesses depends on having employees with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. It fuels creativity, broadens knowledge and helps drive innovation. For our nation to maximize progress and prosperity, we need more, not fewer, talented people at the table.

Another foundation of our country’s success is our consistent and equal application of the law. In a free nation, individuals must be able to trust that when our government makes a promise, it is kept. Having laws that are reliable is what gives people the confidence to plan their futures and to invest in their businesses, their communities and themselves.

The United States should not hold hard-working, patriotic people hostage to the debate over immigration — or, worse, expel them because we have yet to resolve a complex national argument. Most Americans agree. In fact, more than 8 in 10 Americans support a straightforward solution to allow dreamers to stay.

No society can truly flourish when a significant portion of its people feel threatened or unable to fulfill their potential. Nor can it prosper by excluding those who want to make positive contributions. This isn’t just a noble principle; it’s a basic fact, borne out through our national history.

Dreamers are doing their part. They have shown great faith in the United States by coming forward, subjecting themselves to background checks, and submitting personal and biometric data.

Now, the rest of us need to do our part. Congress should act quickly, ideally before year’s end, to ensure that these decent people can work and stay and dream in the United States. As a nation, we must show that the dreamers’ faith in our word and goodwill was not misplaced. And we should make clear that the United States welcomes their contributions as part of our national life.

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

I agree with every word.

My only question: Why are Ol’ Charlie and his bro David (the “Koch Bros”) bankrolling a GOP that has been taken over by repulsive, dishonest, backward looking, fundamentally dumb, anti-American guys like Trump, Sessions, Bannon, Miller and their racist, White Nationalist, xenophobic, homophobic, religiously intolerant, exclusionary agenda of hate, fear, and loathing, which if followed to its logical conclusion, would destroy America and quite possibly the world?

Even though the Koch Bros are White, many of the employees they depend on to maintain their billionaire status aren’t White, Christian, straight, or U.S. citizens. They have no place in the Trump GOP’s vision of America. Trump and his band wouldn’t exempt the Koch Bros from their planned Armageddon just because of their Whiteness or past services to the party.

So, why keep supporting these heinous individuals and their anti-American agenda? The only reason we have this problem is because a minority of voters with incredibly poor judgement and total disregard for the common good, in an intentionally gerrymandered America, voted for the absurdly unqualified Trump rather than the clearly more qualified candidate. And, if the Kochs had supported Clinton, America would be closer to the place that Charlie Koch and Tim Cook describe in their article. Indeed, the whole costly, divisive, and totally unnecessary self-created “Dreamer Disaster” need never have occurred. What do you expect when you enable a racist xenophobe like Jeff Sessions (who doesn’t know much, if any, law either) to serve as our Attorney General?

At some point, decent folks (and, I’d be willing to admit the Kochs into that company even if I don’t agree with them on most things) who believe in America have to either 1) support Democrats, or 2) form an honest Third Party that excludes the White Nationalist haters. Today’s GOP is not that party.

Realizing that I actually have a fundamental area of agreement with the Koch Bros makes their overall conduct all the more inexplicable.

PWS

12-14-17

TWO NEW FROM TAL@CNN: 1) Will “Radical Moderation” Be The Next Great Political Movement? – 2) How Will Dems Negotiate The DACA Endgame?

Here’s what Tal has to say:

1) Will “Radical Moderation” Be The Next Great Political Movement?

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/14/politics/congress-moderate-republicans-revenge/index.html

Can moderates get their revenge on DACA?

By: Tal Kopan, CNN

As year-end funding decisions loom, a familiar pattern is repeating, with House conservative Republicans playing hardball to pull their colleagues to the right.

And moderates are increasingly tiring of it — especially after Tuesday’s repudiation of a candidate seen as emblematic of the GOP’s right flank in the Alabama special election.

Government funding and efforts to abolish Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a popular program for young undocumented immigrants, have some moderates increasingly wondering: Why can’t we play hardball, too?

Moderate Republicans and House members in districts that are either generally competitive or which Hillary Clinton carried in the 2016 presidential election are starting to grow frustrated with the effectiveness of groups like the House Freedom Caucus in influencing legislation, often by withholding their votes as a bloc until demands are met.

“Yes,” Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo said with exasperation when CNN asked Wednesday if the time had come for centrists to borrow tactics from the far right.

“We cannot be spectators here,” Curbelo said. “Other groups have used their leverage to influence the process, and we must do so as well, especially when there are 800,000 lives which could be radically changed for the worse if we don’t take care of (DACA).”

“I think last night’s election’s going to cause a lot of people to re-think where we are and what we’re doing,” said New York Republican Rep. Pete King of Democrat Doug Jones’s victory in Alabama.

While the current focus is on passing tax reform, one Republican staffer said patience could be limited once it’s dispensed with, as vulnerable moderates are frustrated with being forced to take tough votes seen in many cases as messaging exercises to appease the conservative base.

“It’s the moderates who are going to have to run in tough elections on this sh**,” the staffer said.

But there remains skepticism that, despite the frustration, moderates can hold together as a group the way conservatives have been able to do, or are willing to stomach the tough tactics the right flank employs.

The conservative House Freedom Caucus, for example, almost tanked a procedural measure on tax reform in a public show of force on the House floor earlier this month to send a message to Speaker Paul Ryan about year-end funding.

And according to a Republican source, rumors have been building around the Capitol that the farther right lawmakers are prepared to challenge Ryan’s speakership immediately if he calls a stand-alone fix for DACA to the floor.

Nearly three dozen moderates, on the other hand, sent a carefully worded letter to Ryan urging him to move on a fix for DACA, which protects young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children, by the end of the year, without making any concrete threats to withhold any votes on government funding.

Curbelo has committed to oppose government funding without clear progress toward a DACA fix, and is urging fellow Republicans to do the same.

Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent, a moderate Republican who has decided to not seek reelection, said he agreed with Curbelo that a DACA fix should go on an upcoming must-pass bill, though it could potentially be in January.

“The power of 25 here can force a lot of things,” Dent said, referring to the GOP margin of the majority in the House. “And Freedom Caucus has been effective at it, they can put their votes together, and we need to do that from time to time, (though) we need to pick our fights carefully.”

But one conservative Republican source noted that moderates have always had difficulty being as united as more conservative groups. That sentiment was echoed by King, who referred to the group that former House Speaker John Boehner once called “legislative terrorist(s)” as “crazies” even as he distanced himself from moderates.

“I consider myself actually a blue-collar conservative, I’m not really in the moderate wing, I’m just against some of the crazies,” King told CNN, speaking of his unsuccessful fight against the GOP tax bill he sees as devastating for his state. “It’s hard to unify everybody.”

Some moderates gave credit to the Freedom Caucus, saying their effectiveness should only be a source of inspiration.

“I don’t fault anybody for doing what they believe is best in their way of representing their district,” said Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse, who helped organize the DACA letter. “I respect that. …(But) it’s also incumbent upon me to do the same thing.”

2) How Will Dems Negotiate The DACA Endgame?

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/14/politics/daca-likely-slip-january/index.html

Democrats wrestle with likelihood DACA slips to January

Washington (CNN)Democrats are increasingly grappling with the likelihood that Congress could push a decision on a popular immigration program into January, even as they’ve spent weeks saying it should be dealt with by the end of the year.

“To some extent, yes,” Congressional Hispanic Caucus member and Arizona Democrat Rep. Raúl Grijalva said Thursday on Capitol Hill when asked if there’s a growing realization that the issue will likely slip to January.
“Some of us are holdouts, but if you talk about reality, yeah,” he continued. “I mean, if leadership is not pushing it, they’re not holding the line with members and we have a CR that includes (children’s health funding), which is really, really important, funding for community health centers, then not seeing it before the end of the year becomes more and more precarious.”
Democrats and even some Republicans have not given up on trying to get done a deal to maintain a version of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protected young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation but which President Donald Trump has opted to terminate.
Advocates note the issue is more urgent than portrayed by the administration. More than 20,000 DACA recipients either did not renew or were rejected in the window the government offered, meaning more than 100 lose their status every day before the March 6 deadline the administration intended to set.
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But even as negotiations continue and intensify on both sides of the Capitol to reach a bipartisan compromise on the issue, the likelihood of being able to pass something by the end of the year is rapidly slipping away.
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat, hosted a meeting of the Senate negotiators on Thursday afternoon, including Republicans Lindsey Graham, James Lankford, Cory Gardner, Jeff Flake and staff from Sen. Thom Tillis. But all exiting the meeting said while negotiations progressed, no break-throughs have been reached yet. And while some wouldn’t rule it out as a possibility, none expressed much optimism it could be done by the end of the year.
“It’s starting to take form, but we’re still negotiating,” Durbin said.
Tillis, R-North Carolina, said earlier Thursday that negotiators are working on a consensus on how to handle the DACA component of the deal, reconciling different bill approaches that are out there.
“What we’re trying to do is figure out where we have common ground there,” Tillis said. “But we’ll be reaching a point pretty soon to where we have to have a discussion about chain migration, which is very important, the President’s told us, and border security and other things. I would say when we talk about ‘we’re close to an agreement,’ we’re only talking about one half of the broader agreement, so maybe we’re a third of the way there.”
“I think people are having good faith discussions,” he continued. “I can’t imagine it being done by year end.”

Strategic maneuvering

Democrats know that their greatest leverage for many of their priorities is on government funding, which expires a week from Friday. Republicans will likely need Democratic votes to pass a full year of funding, in the Senate and likely in the House where budget hawks traditionally reject domestic spending levels.
But they also have a laundry list of priorities for negotiation, including an overall deal on domestic spending, community health centers, children’s health insurance, pensions and immigration. And five legislative days before funding runs out.
The current plan, according to multiple lawmakers and aides, is for the House to pass a bill that would fund defense for a year, reauthorize children’s health insurance, and punt the rest into January. That bill is dead on arrival in the Senate, where 44 Democrats have gone on record opposing it. The belief is that the Senate will send something back to the House, likely with Obamacare payments or possibly just a short-term funding extension into January. All the while, parties negotiating a DACA deal in both chambers remain optimistic about the progress of talks.
Such a plan could squeeze Democrats, especially in the Senate, to weigh rejecting an opportunity to keep negotiating and risk the government shutting down, or to hold out for more offers from Republicans.
It’s possible that a short-term extension could pass the House without Democratic votes, taking pressure of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who with her caucus has been more vocal about rejecting anything that doesn’t include DACA by the end of the year. House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said many of his members, who are the more troublesome Republicans for the party on funding, could support a punt.
“If it’s just looking at a (continuing resolution) that gets us to January 19 where we can negotiate on a bigger omnibus, I think most of my members will support that,” Meadows, R-North Carolina, told reporters Thursday. “There are some who won’t, but most would be supportive of that.”
In the Senate, Democratic aides believe that January could be an option. They feel there would be no need to force a bad deal now, if a good deal is still attainable in a few weeks’ time. Senators have also been more cautious than their House colleagues.
“I’m hopeful that it will happen. And we’re not there yet on what will happen if it doesn’t happen,” Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono said at a press conference Thursday about pushing for all of Democrats’ priorities by the end of the year, asked whether members would reject a deal to keep making progress on some issues.

Warnings to Democratic leadership

Still, Democrats are warning their leadership that they can’t appear to surrender.
“I think there is a Plan A, a Plan B, a Plan C, a Plan D and a Plan E in the House, I can see that there are more heightened negotiations in the Senate, and I’m dedicated to working 24/7 and I have to say my caucus has been doing that,” Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham said Thursday. “We want something to vote on next week, and we are making that clear to leadership. … So I think we have to stay the course and any conversation that we can wait even 15 days is cruel, unjust, wrong and there’s real harm.”
“I’m not ready to wave the white flag and say let’s see what happens,” Grijalva echoed. “I think the pressure has to be constant on this thing or it will fail.”
The deputy chair of the Democratic Party, Minneosta Rep. Keith Ellison, said Democratic leadership should know that the party base will not accept less than a full fight.
“My advice to anybody in leadership in the House of Representatives is we better do everything imaginable to deliver on DACA or we better we be visibly shown to have done every single thing that could be done,” Ellison said. “Our grassroots base is expecting us to deliver on DACA, and that’s it. … I feel so strongly about this. We cannot fail on this.”

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

Tal is amazing! As you probably can tell, I’m a big fan of her reporting: Timely, informative, balanced, easy to read. I’m glad she is on the CNN “immigration beat” — particularly for the “Dreamers” story which is so critical to the fate of our nation (not to mention the Dreamers).

The “Freedom Caucus” is in fact the “Bakuninist Wing” of the GOP: Out to destroy American Government and perhaps take the world with it. They are an existential threat to every American, nearly on the same level as the Trump Administration itself.

Somewhere, Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin –– the “Grandaddy of all Anarchists — must be smiling at how these “valueless bad dudes” can actually “con” constituents into voting for their own (and everyone else’s destruction). Of course, on the way to destruction, they don’t mind freeloading off the public purse. They just mind it when others get their fair share of the pie.

The Dems need to peel off enough GOP moderate support to enact a decent Dream Act. They definitely can’t go with the White Nationalist inspired — essentially racist (let’s be upfront about it) — end of so-called “chain migration.”

Chain migration is actually the White Nationalists’ misnomer for “Beneficial Family Migration” that has helped make America great and is essential to our future success. Yeah, they aren’t all White Christians who arrive with PhDs speaking English (although some family members undoubtedly fit this mold). And, that’s a good thing for both us and them that “they aren’t, and they don’t.”

While I can see a case for some additional immigration enforcement resources, increases  should be limited to technology, management improvements, and  increased legal resources for the ICE Offices of Chief Counsel.

Under NO circumstances should more immigration agents be authorized unless and until DHS improves their current hiring and training practices; abandons “Gonzo enforcement” for a rationally tailored enforcement program along the lines of other law enforcement agencies; and closes down the majority of their unnecessary, wasteful, and counterproductive “American Gulag,” starting with substandard and corrupt private immigration detention facilities.

With the border largely under control, interior enforcement without any discernible plan, rational objectives, or meaningful results, and the U.S. Immigration Courts in complete disarray under Sessions, there is no need for yet more immigration agents at present.

What on earth would they do? “Bust” more janitors, maids, landscapers, mothers, and students who are helping America? Then what? Throw them into the collapsing Immigration Courts which already have enough work for the balance of this Administration?

It’s much more likely that White Nationalists Trump, Sessions, and their cronies would build up an internal security police, to be used against America, than that additional agents would be put to any reasonable, permissible, and constructive use. It’s a prescription for disaster. And, ironically, one that should worry the GOP “Bakuninists.”  Hard to see how expanding Government domestic police resources without rational assignments or goals should be a priority for folks who want to “shrink government, then drown it in a teacup.”

And anyone who says that the so-called “Trump Executive Orders” (an exercise in “Gonzo racist irrationalism” if I’ve ever seen one) is some sort of “reasonable blueprint” has been smoking some stuff stronger than can legally be bought in Colorado. Yeah, Trump can issue any Executive Order he wants to. But, he can’t fund most of his unnecessary initiatives without Congressional permission. This is Congress’s chance to force some rationality back into the U.S. Immigration enforcement system, which has taken a decidedly irrational, racist, and xenophobic turn under Trump and Sessions.

PWS

12-14-17

START YOUR WEDNESDAY WITH SOME UPLIFTING BREAKING NEWS – IT’S A GREAT DAY FOR THE USA: 1) Alabama Comes Through For U.S. By Electing Democrat Doug Jones To US Senate; 2) Aaron Rodgers Cleared To Return To Pack & Will Start Against The Carolina Panthers on Sunday! –- “Ayatollah Roy” Will Not Be Bringing His Agenda Of Bigotry, Hate, & Un-American Views & His Total Scumbag Persona To Washington – One Of America’s Favorite — & Most Fun To Watch – Sports Stars Will Return To “Primetime!”

First, we can all thank Senator Elect Doug Jones and the voters of Alabama for saving America from the horrible spectacle and damage that would have been caused by the election of the heinous bigot, liar, slanderer, racist, homophobe, xenophobe, theocrat of a false religion, coward, scofflaw, and apparent sexual predator Roy Moore. Jones’s election is a striking rebuke to that other sleazy, corrupt, dishonest, bigoted unrepentant sexual predator in America, Trump. And, by narrowing the GOP advantage in the Senate to a razor-thin 51-49, it raises the possibility that the Democrats with the help of just two responsible Republicans could block substantial parts of Trump’s and the GOP’s insane “War on America” and protect us from some of Trump’s worst excesses.

How ironic that White Nationalist and “Jim Crow relic” Attorney General Jeff “Gonzo Apocalyopto” Sessions is being replaced by a by a competent and decent person who believes in American democracy and governing for the “common good” rather than as an out of touch ideologue with a strong anti-American, anti-Diversity, hate promoting agenda.

It’s also ironic that Jones has done the GOP a favor by relieving them of the lengthy circus of both expelling him from their party and ultimately removing him from the Senate. Anything short of that would have been a continuing embarrassment for the party. Quite contrary to Trump’s outrageous statements in support of the Ayatollah, any vote that a party wins because of support of a total scumbag like Moore damages that party as well as our country. (It does, however, raise in my mind the question of when they are going to expel the anti-American, racist, bigot Steve King from their party. There is no room in any major party for the likes of King.)

Hats off to the African-American community in Alabama who were not deterred by the Sessions/GOP voter suppression anti-Civil Rights initiatives and showed up in the numbers required to make a difference in the election. After being shut out of their fair share of political power in Alabama for over 300 years, African-Americans are finally in a position to make their voices and feelings heard in the U.S. Senate.

Also, hats off to GOP Southern Senators Richard Shelby of Alabama and Tim Scott of South Carolina for standing up and “Just Saying No” to the Moore nonsense. As pointed out by Shelby, Alabama could do better than Ayatollah Roy (not a very high hurdle), and they now have in the person of Doug Jones.

Hopefully, Jones will over time find a way to “win over” most of those misguided souls who voted for Ayatollah Roy notwithstanding the very credible evidence of sexual misconduct with minors in his past, his arrogant “not credible” defense, the clear lies that he told in attempting to smear those who came forward, and his scofflaw, anti-American views. What a jerk!

Here’s the Washington Post’s editorial on Jones’s stunning upset:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/thank-you-alabama/2017/12/12/176388de-df64-11e7-bbd0-9dfb2e37492a_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-d%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.4ea2f1920de1

“THANK YOU, Alabama.

In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alabama, seemingly confirming every negative stereotype about the Deep South state, the shame would have been national. Instead, Alabama voters chose Democrat Doug Jones to represent them until 2021.

Mr. Jones is not in perfect sync with many Alabama voters on some issues, most notably abortion. But he is an honorable man with an admirable record of public service who ran a respectful campaign. His behavior suggests he will serve with decency and care in the Senate. He should make his state proud. None of these fine things could have been said of Mr. Moore. It is beyond heartening that Alabamians refused to overlook or forgive Mr. Moore’s misshapen character.

Mr. Jones’s victory shows that, while partisanship might be extreme, it still has limits. Even in deep-red Alabama, enough voters refused to succumb to lies about how negative stories on Mr. Moore were merely fake news cooked up by a hostile media.

Americans do not send senators to Washington merely to vote mechanically on a few hot-button issues, but to exercise judgment when cameras are not rolling, on issues that are important but not headline-grabbing. Good lawmakers also protect the nation’s democratic institutions, preserve the independence of their branch of government and work with people with whom they disagree. It takes character to fulfill these responsibilities. Mr. Jones seems ready to do such work. Mr. Moore did not.

Mr. Jones’s victory also suggests that the nation’s recent awakening on sexual harassment and assault is spreading across the country. Enough Alabamians believed the women.

If Americans should feel grateful to Alabama voters, so should the Republican Party, much of which debased itself by following President Trump into the gutter of support for Mr. Moore. Its majority in the Senate will be slightly narrower, but the dignity of the Senate GOP caucus will be at least partially salvaged. Alabama voters spared the Senate Ethics Committee the dilemma of how to handle a senator who was clearly unfit but who nevertheless won a popular election. Instead of inviting controversy and chaos, they elected Mr. Jones, a man who deserves the honor.

Thanks to Alabama, Americans can wake up Wednesday morning feeling hopeful about the decency and dignity of their democracy.”

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

On to the other big story, Aaron Rodgers (“AR”). AR’s recovery from a broken collarbone which required surgery, two plates, and 13 screws is about as amazing as Jones’s victory.

AR is a smart player, tough guy, and great competitor. It’s certainly possible that he will be able to lead the Pack (currently 7-6 and “on the outside looking in” for a playoff spot) to a sweep of the final three games and a possible playoff birth. But, certainly no “slam dunk!”

The O line will have to do a perfect job of protecting AR. He will have to suppress his tendency to run with the football when nobody is open and the Pack needs a first down.

If the Pack should lose to the Panthers on Sunday, they will have to make a decision on whether to play AR in the final two games. A defeat would pretty much end any realistic hope of the playoffs this year. So, it might make sense to let backup Brett Hundley (3-4 as a starter in AR’s absence) start the last two games. On the other hand, being the competitor that he is, AR will want to play.

Congrats to AR on his return, good luck, and stay tuned.

Here’s a report from the Green Bay Press Gazette on AR’s return:

http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/sports/nfl/packers/2017/12/12/silence-prevails-packers-ponder-aaron-rodgers-decision/943774001/

“The news catapults the Packers’ playoff chances from a pipe dream to a legitimate possibility with three games remaining. Conventional wisdom says the Packers must win all three — at Carolina, vs. Minnesota and at Detroit — to have a chance at a wild card in the top-heavy NFC. Accomplishing that feat with Brett Hundley at quarterback was unlikely after he won just three games in seven starts; but with Rodgers the odds shift dramatically.

Beginning Wednesday, Rodgers will have three days of practice to prepare for his first game since Oct. 15, when a hit from Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr resulted in a broken right collarbone. Rodgers underwent surgery in California to stabilize the fracture, and the Packers ultimately placed him on injured reserve. He returned to practice on a limited basis Dec. 2 and spent the last two weeks running the scout team, dazzling his teammates each day.

His initial return meant nothing, though, if Rodgers could not be medically cleared. He underwent a series of scans Monday to reveal the progress of his collarbone, and the interpretations of those scans by team physician Patrick McKenzie, several outside specialists and general manager Ted Thompson would determine whether the risk of further injury would be worth the reward of having Rodgers for a potential playoff run.

For a while it appeared bleak. Monday came and went with nothing but party-line comments by coach Mike McCarthy, who reiterated during a news conference that any decision on Rodgers’ future would be made by medical professionals. That Rodgers spun the football during pregame at Heinz Field or zinged passes in the Don Hutson Center was irrelevant, just as his assistant coaching efforts in Cleveland did nothing but reinforce his passion.

With Tuesday morning came additional silence, and social media wondered if the lengthy delay lessened Rodgers’ chances of returning. But the results of his scans were sent to specialists around the country, in multiple time zones, and the coordination of gathering various opinions certainly influenced the timeline. It’s quite possible that Rodgers’ surgeon in California, who at this point is unidentified, had a large say in the discussion.

If nothing else, the painstaking deliberation surrounding Rodgers’ health captures the importance of franchise quarterbacks, and in particular elite franchise quarterbacks. In breadth alone the discussion might have stretched to a dozen people: McKenzie, Thompson, McCarthy, the doctor who performed surgery, several outside experts and, of course, Rodgers himself. The crew needed 36 hours to probe the conundrum from various angles.

Everything started, of course, with the fairly black-and-white question of whether Rodgers’ collarbone had calcified since two plates and 13 screws were inserted to stabilize the fracture eight weeks ago. Enough time had passed for the bone to heal significantly, though perhaps not entirely, and therein lies the gray area for whoever reviewed the scans. How sturdy must his collarbone be to withstand the punishment of 300-pound defensive linemen or hard-charging linebackers?

There were also football questions that clouded the equation. At 7-6, the Packers must win out to have a realistic shot at the playoffs — and even then, they could fall short. Why risk Rodgers’ throwing shoulder when the Packers don’t control their postseason destiny? Surely that question irked the conscience of Thompson, whose conservative disposition is well-documented in Green Bay.

One has to wonder if the two-day uncertainty weighed on Hundley as well. With Sunday’s win over the Browns came the cleansing exhale of accomplishing his primary job: keeping the Packers in playoff contention until Rodgers was eligible to return. He achieved that feat with consecutive overtime victories that cast light on his moxie.

But narrow escapes against the Browns and Buccaneers bear little resemblance to the challenge of the next three weeks. To beat the Panthers (9-4), Vikings (10-3) and Lions (7-6) — two of which are on the road — the Packers will need reinforcements.

As it turns out, that’s just what the doctor ordered.”

Not often these days that we get to wake up to good news. Go Doug, go AR, go Pack, go America!

PWS

12/13/17

THIRD WORLD AMERICA! – THE ATTACK OF THE SWAMP RATS! — Under Trump’s GOP, Americans Now Correctly View White House As The Most Corrupt Institution — But, Who Are The Fools Who Voted These Immoral Jokers Into Control?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/2017/12/12/report-americans-view-trump-white-house-as-the-most-corrupt-government-institution/

Josh Rogin reports in the Washington Post:

“Almost half of Americans believe that corruption is pervasive in the White House under President Trump, a sharp increase over last year, according to a new survey. Americans now see Trump and his top officials as the most corrupt public officials in government, despite his campaign pledge to drain the swamp.

A new report out Tuesday compiled by Transparency International, the leading nonprofit organization tracking corruption worldwide, shows Americans have significantly lost faith that their government is ably fighting corruption, compared to last year. Overall, Washington-based government institutions are viewed by Americans are more corrupt than those outside the Beltway, the report found. But the Trump White House tops the list.

According to the group’s 2017 U.S. Corruption Barometer, 44 percent of respondents said that most or all of the officials in the office of the president are corrupt, up from 38 percent at the end of Obama’s second term.

Members of Congress are seen as the second most corrupt group of government officials of the nine categories in the survey, with 38 percent of Americans viewing them as mostly or all corrupt. After that, Americans perceive corruption as pervasive in non-White House government officials, business executives, local officials and business leaders in decreasing proportions. Only 16 percent of respondents viewed judges and magistrates as mostly or all corrupt, according to the data.

Meanwhile, 69 percent of respondents said the U.S. government is fighting corruption “fairly badly” or “very badly,” up from 51 percent in 2016. More than half of respondents said people don’t report corruption due to fear of retaliation.

Transparency International defines corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.” Key issues within that definition include the influence of wealthy individuals over government, “pay for play” politics, revolving doors between government and corporate entities and the abuse of the financial system by elites.

The perception of Trump and his top officials as being corrupt is easy to understand. Trump and his family have scores of well-documented conflicts of interest they have dealt with in an opaque manner. Meanwhile, Trump’s failure to divest fully from his businesses, combined with his failure to release his tax returns, has fueled suspicions.

The phone survey, performed by the company Efficience3, included interviews of 1,005 randomly selected Americans in October and November. The data were weighted to be demographically representative of all American adults by age, race, gender, urbanization, social grade and ethnicity.

Zoe Reiter, Transparency International’s U.S. representative, said that the study was meant to form a basis for understanding how government is failing to uphold high anti-corruption standards and provide a call to action for Americans to respond. She pointed out that 74 percent of respondents said they believed ordinary people still can make a difference.

“The good news is a majority of Americans feel empowered to fight corruption,” she said. “Since our elected officials are failing to deliver, we need to figure out a way to push them much harder to take these issues more seriously.”

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

Read the rest of the article at the link.

There is some disconnect here, because some of the folks who now are concerned about corruption voted for Trump and the GOP, despite more than ample public evidence of his endemic dishonesty, congenital lying, incompetence, and general immorality. Garbage in — garbage out!

But, the answer to the problem is still pretty obvious:

  • Vote Trump and his corrupt cronies out of office;
  • Dismantle the current version of the GOP, which has become an “aider and abettor” of corruption, greed, immorality, and bad government.

Yes, we could and should have a viable two-party system. But, no major party should include horrible immoral individuals like Donald Trump, “Ayatollah Roy,” Steve King, Stephen Miller, or Steve Bannon whose views are deeply Anti-American and threatening to our continued existence as a nation and to the entire free world!

PWS

12-12-17

 

EXPOSED! — AILA’S JOHNSON SHOWS HOW “GONZO” INTENTIONALLY MISUSES DATA TO CREATE A FALSE ANTI-ASYLUM, ANTI-LAWYER NARRATIVE TO CONCEAL THE REAL GLARING PROBLEM DRIVING US IMMIGRATION COURT BACKLOGS — AIMLESS DOCKET RESHUFFLING (“ADR”) DRIVEN BY POLITICOS ATTEMPTING TO STACK THE COURT SYSTEM AGAINST DUE PROCESS AND TILT IT IN FAVOR OF DHS/ADMINISTRATION ENFORCEMENT INITIATIVES!!!!!!! — SURPRISE — By Far The Biggest Increase In Continuances Comes From DHS & EOIR Itself!

http://www.aila.org/advo-media/press-releases/2017/ag-sessions-cites-flawed-facts-imm-court-system

From AILA Executive Director Ben Johnson:

“Once again, the Attorney General cites flawed facts to castigate the immigration bar for the significant case backlog and inefficiencies in our immigration court system,” said Benjamin Johnson, AILA Executive Director. “He blames immigration attorneys for seeking case continuances, disregarding the fact that continuances are also routinely requested by counsel for the government, or are issued unilaterally by the court for administrative reasons. In fact, although the report cited by the Attorney General indicates an 18% increase in continuances requested by respondents, that same report found a 54% increase in continuances requested by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and a 33% increase in ‘Operational-related’ continuances. That said, continuances are often a necessary means to ensure due process is afforded in removal proceedings. The number one reason a continuance is requested by a respondent is to find counsel. Other reasons include securing and authenticating documentary evidence from foreign countries, or to locating critical witnesses. And when the government refuses to share information from a client’s immigration file and instead makes them go through the lengthy process of a Freedom of Information/Privacy Act request, a continuance is often a client’s only lifeline to justice. For the AG to blame immigration lawyers for imagined trespasses is both malicious and wrong. We will not let that misinformation pass without setting the record straight.

“The immigration court backlog is a function of years and years of government spending on enforcement without a commensurate investment in court resources. Our nation would be better served if the immigration courts were an independent judiciary, free from the auspices of the Department of Justice, where every immigrant has access to counsel. Immigration court is not small claims court or traffic court; each decision has the potential to tear apart families or keep them together, to destroy businesses or build our economy, to send someone back to certain death, or bring hope for a new and better life. Immigration judges should make those decisions with all information at hand, without any undue influence or arbitrary case completion requirements. That is a goal we can all work toward.”

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

Sure matches my observations from the latter part of my career at the U.S. immigration Court in Arlington, VA!

Probably 75% of the cases on my “Non-Detained Docket” were there NOT at the request of a respondent or his or her attorney. No, they were “mass transferred and continued” to my docket unilaterally by EOIR to fulfill “Border Priorities” established by the DOJ during the Obama Administration as an adjunct to changing DHS Enforcement priorities.

And, these weren’t “short continuances” to find a lawyer or prepare an application as might be requested by a respondent or a private bar lawyer. NO, these were “Merits Hearing” cases that had often been set for late 2016 or 2017 hearings before one of my colleagues, only to be “continued” by EOIR to my docket for dates many additional years in the future. Indeed, many of these cases were unilaterally removed by EOIR from “Individual Dockets” and “orbited” to my “Master Calendars” (arraignments) years in the future — indeed years after I would be retired. That’s because my docket was already completely full for several years when this chapter of ADR started.

And the same was true for my colleague Judge Lawrence O. Burman. Indeed, at the time I retired, Judge Burman and I were the ONLY judges hearing “nonpriority, non-detained cases” — even though those cases were BY FAR the majority of cases on the Arlington Court Docket. And, to make things worse, my “replacement” retired at the end of 2016 thus resulting in a whole new “round” of ADR. 

Talk about ADR driven by incompetent administration and improper political meddling from the DOJ. And, from everything “Gonzo” has said and I have heard about what’s happening at EOIR, such impropriety has become “normalized” under the Trump Administration.

No court system can run efficiently and fairly when the perceived interests of one of the parties are elevated over fairness, Due Process, equal justice, and reaching correct decisions under the law. No court system can run efficiently and fairly when control over day-to-day dockets is stripped from the local US Immigration Judges and Court Administrators and hijacked by officials in Washington and Falls Church driven by political performance objectives  not by practical knowledge and day-to-day considerations of how to construct and run a docket for maximum fairness and efficiency under local conditions (the most important of which is the an adequate number of pro bono lawyers to represent respondents).

NO OTHER MAJOR COURT SYSTEM IN AMERICA OPERATES THE WAY EOIR DOES! THAT SHOULD TELL US SOMETHING!

So, why is “Gonzo Apocalypto” being allowed to get away with misrepresenting the facts and intentionally running the Immigration Court system for the perceived benefit of one of the parties and against the interests of the other? There is a simple term for such conduct: Ethical Misconduct. Usually, it results in the loss or suspension of the offender’s license to practice law. Why is Gonzo above accountability?

PWS

12-12-17

WASHINGTON POST: “DEATH PENALTY IN TRAFFIC COURT” — BIG STAKES, LITTLE COURTS, FLAWED PROCEDURES, IMPROPER POLITICAL INFLUENCE, SOME JUDGES WHO FAIL TO PROTECT INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS LEAD TO LIFE-THREATENING ERRORS ON A DAILY BASIS IN OVERWHELMED U.S. IMMIGRATION COURTS. — What If YOU or YOUR Loved Were On Trial In This Godforsaken Corner Of Our Justice System Controlled By Jeff “Gonzo Aocalypto” Sessions!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-mexican-journalists-life-hangs-in-the-balance/2017/12/11/9783ab1a-deac-11e7-8679-a9728984779c_story.html

The WashPost Editorial Board writes:

“As he awaits his fate in a remote Texas jail, Mr. Gutierrez, 54, remains convinced of the peril he faces if deported to his native country. “My life depends on this [appeal],” he said by telephone in a news conference organized Monday by the National Press Club. “I’m terrified to set foot in Mexico.”

The judge who denied asylum in the case, Robert S. Hough, pointed to an absence of documentary and testimonial corroboration of Mr. Gutierrez’s claim. The woman who relayed word of the alleged death threat did not come forward; neither did Mr. Gutierrez’s former boss at the newspaper for which he worked in Chihuahua. Much of Mr. Gutierrez’s case comes down to his word.

Nonetheless, the judge’s cut-and-dried application of the law fails to take into account conditions in Mexico generally and the peril faced there by journalists in particular. It’s not surprising that Mr. Gutierrez cannot recover copies of his articles, written more than a decade ago for a regional newspaper. Nor is it unusual that witnesses are reluctant to come forward, given the fear with which many Mexicans regard the security forces.

As a U.N. report published this month concluded, citing the deaths, disappearances and attacks on dozens of journalists tallied by Mexico’s Human Rights Commission, “The data . . . presents a picture for the situation of journalists in Mexico that cannot be described as other than catastrophic.” Against that background, it seems cavalier to dismiss the threat Mr. Gutierrez faces should he be deported to Mexico. He should be granted asylum.”

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

Read the complete Editorial at the link.

Unfortunately, a “cut and dried application of the law” without proper regard to the facts or reality is a disturbingly accurate snapshot of what all too often happens daily in our Immigration Courts, a “wholly owned subsidiary” of the US Department of Justice and part of the “Trump Conglomerate” (formerly known as the US Government).

Our failing US Immigration Court system and its aggravation by AG “Gonzo Apocalypto’s” oft-expressed hostility to immigrants, asylum, the rule of law (except his 1950s “Jim Crow” views on the law and how it should be a tool for injustice and advancing White Nationalism), lawyers, Latinos, Mexicans, and the press has become an almost daily topic for major editorial boards. At least someone (other than me) is watching and documenting as this mockery of American justice unfolds before us.

In particular, too many U.S. Immigration Judges are tone-deaf to Mexican asylum claims, not wanting to be accused of “opening the floodgates” ( a concept that is nowhere to be found in the actual law) and knowing that “Gonzo” wants lots of  “quick removals” rather than asylum grants.  Additionally, the only administrative check on the Immigration Judges’ authority is a weak Appeals Board that never “calls out” overly restrictive Immigration Judges by name and seldom publishes precedents granting asylum. Truly, a prescription for a “Due Process Disaster!”

Judge Hough seems to have forgotten that under the law:

  • ”Corroborating evidence” can only be required if it is “reasonably available;”
  • Testimony may be corroborated by country condition information describing the same abuses that the applicant claims;
  • The standard for granting asylum is a  generous “well-founded fear” or “reasonable likelihood” of future harm which can be “significantly less than probable — as little as a 10% chance can suffice;
  • Asylum applicants are supposed to be given the “benefit of the doubt” in recognition of the evidentiary challenges of providing proof of persecution and the difficulties of relating traumatic events in the past.

It remain to be seen whether the Board of Immigration Appeals, EOIR’s “Appellate Court,” will correct Judge Hough’s life-threatening errors and, further, issue a strong precedent on asylum for foreign journalists (traditionally one of the most vulnerable and persecuted groups) to prevent further miscarriages of Justice such as this. Such a precedent would also discourage the DHS from continuing to abuse our system by pushing for removal (and needless detention) in cases such as this where a grant of asylum at the DHS  Asylum Office or at the hearing following the testimony would be the correct result.

Or, will the next major editorial describe and decry Mr. Gutierrez’s death in Mexico!

In a well-functioning justice system, this case should have been a “Short-docket, No-brainer Grant.” But, Gonzo Apocalypto seeks to use the US Immigration Courts as an extension of DHS enforcement rather than, as they were intended, as Courts guaranteeing fairness, Due Process, and equal justice for all! We need change. Lots of it!

[NOTE: For those interested, Judge Hough apparently has not decided enough asylum cases on the merits in El Paso to be listed on the statistical profile of asylum outcomes maintained by TRAC Immigration.]

PWS

12-12-17

 

WASHINGTON POST: GONZO’S IMMIGRATION COURT “REFORMS” WILL CREATE “KANGAROO COURTS!” —Recent “moves to evaluate judges based on the speed with which they handle dockets that typically exceed 2,000 cases, rather than on fair adjudication, is a recipe for assembly-line injustice.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-deportation-tough-talk-hurts-law-abiding-immigrants/2017/12/10/9a87524a-a93b-11e7-850e-2bdd1236be5d_story.html

The Post Editorial Board writes:

“The broader dysfunction in America’s immigration system remains largely unchanged. Federal immigration courts are grappling with a backlog of some 600,000 cases, an epic logjam. The administration wants to more than double the number of the 300 or so immigration judges, but that will take time. And its recent moves to evaluate judges based on the speed with which they handle dockets that typically exceed 2,000 cases, rather than on fair adjudication, is a recipe for assembly-line injustice.

Mr. Trump’s campaign bluster on deportation was detached from reality. He said he’d quickly deport 2 million or 3 million criminal illegal immigrants, but unless he’s counting parking scofflaws and jaywalkers, he won’t find that many “bad hombres” on the loose. In fact, legal and illegal immigrants are much less likely to end up in jail than U.S. citizens, according to a study by the Cato Institute.

The president’s sound and fury on deportation signify little. He has intensified arrests, disrupting settled and productive lives, families and communities — but to what end? Only an overhaul of America’s broken immigration system offers the prospect of a more lasting fix.”

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

Read the full article at the link.

The Post also points out the damage caused by Trump’s racist “bad hombres” rabble rousing and the largely bogus nature of the Administration’s claims to be removing “dangerous criminals.” No, the latter would require some professionalism and real law enforcement skills. Those characteristics are non-existent among Trump Politicos and seem to be in disturbingly short supply at DHS. To crib from Alabama GOP Senator Richard Shelby’s statement about “Ayatollah Roy:” Certainly DHS can do better than Tom Homan.

And certainly America can do better than a US Immigration Court run by White Nationalist Attorney General Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions. Gonzo’s warped concept of Constitutional Due Process is limited to insuring that he himself is represented by competent counsel as he forgets, misrepresents, misleads, mis-construes, and falsifies his way through the halls of justice.

Jeff Sessions does not represent America or American justice. The majority of American voters who did not want the Trump debacle in the first place still have the power to use the system to eventually restore decency, reasonableness, compassion, and integrity to American Government and to send the “Trump White Nationalist carpetbaggers” packing. The only question is whether or not we are up to the task!

PWS

12-12-17

 

THE TRUMP/SESSIONS XENOPHOBIC ANTI-REFUGEE BIAS THREATENS TO DESTROY EVERY ASPECT OF AMERICAN SOCIETY, INCLUDING OUR STAR CHEFS & OUR IMMIGRATION-INSPIRED CRUSINE!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/in-praise-of-refugee-chefs-they-came-from-syria-but-they-represent-an-american-ideal/2017/12/06/64e7c4be-c400-11e7-aae0-cb18a8c29c65_story.html

Marin Cogan reports for the Washington Post:

“On a Thursday morning in June, near the end of Ramadan, Majed Abdulraheem arrives for work at Union Kitchen. The brightly lit, shared commercial kitchen space in Northeast Washington is filled with chef’s tables, pastry racks and the bustling of a dozen cooks building fledgling businesses. It’s Chef Majed’s second time at work today. Fasting makes the daytime heat of the kitchen too hard to manage, and so he was in the kitchen preparing orders late last night, into the early morning.

Abdulraheem, 29, works at Foodhini, a meal delivery service that employs immigrant chefs in Washington. The start-up was founded by Noobtsaa Philip Vang, a child of refugees from Laos, who discovered, after arriving from Minnesota to Georgetown three years ago to get his MBA, that he was missing the Hmong cuisine he grew up with. “I was really craving some of my mom’s food,” says Vang, “and I was thinking I wanted to find a grandma or auntie that was living in the neighborhood somewhere and just buy some of their food.”

He started mulling his own family’s immigration story: When his mom came to the United States, she had limited English skills, and finding work was difficult. His dad sometimes worked multiple jobs, sleeping in his car between shifts, to make sure the family had enough money to survive. What his mother did have, which might have been marketable if only she’d had the resources, was incredible skill as a chef. “There’s got to be a way to create opportunities for people like my mom,” he thought.

Abdulraheem is one of Foodhini’s first chefs. On its website, he offers a menu of his own design: bamiatan, a dish of crisp mini okra sauteed in garlic and topped with cilantro; mutabbal, an eggplant-tahini dip similar to baba ghanouj; and kebab hindi, meatballs cooked in a spiced tomato stew. Like Vang, his love for food and for family are inextricably intertwined: Many of the items on Abdulraheem’s menu are dishes his mother used to make for him when he was a kid growing up in a small town in southern Syria. Even after attending culinary school in Syria, and after years of working in restaurants, he still considers her, his original teacher, to be the better chef.

“You have to love cooking to be good at it,” Abdulraheem tells me through an interpreter. He is preparing the vegetables for fattoush, a staple salad of lettuce, tomato and crunchy pita chips. He stacks long leaves of romaine lettuce, one on top of the other, slicing them crosswise into small confetti ribbons as he talks, before perfectly dicing tomatoes. He cuts huge lemons in half, just once, and squeezes the juice out of them effortlessly. It’s a simple dish but one he loves to make, because it’s both universal and endlessly customizable. “I’m making fattoush, my wife will make fattoush, you can make fattoush,” he says. “But each time it will come out a little bit different, because it’s a reflection of you.”


Majed Abdulraheem and wife Walaa Jadallah at their home in Riverdale Park, Md. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

When Abdulraheem arrived here in 2016, he became part of a long history of immigrants — often refugees — who reached the United States and began making food. You can find this tradition in Eden Center, the Northern Virginia strip mall packed with pho restaurants and pan-Asian groceries, built up by Vietnamese refugees in the 1980s. You can see it in the popular Ethiopian restaurants on U Street; in the restaurants of Peter Chang, who fled Washington’s Chinese Embassy in 2003 and acquired one of the most loyal followings of any chef in America; or in the Thai and Indian restaurants in large cities and small towns across the country.

. . . .

What Abdulraheem and other refugee chefs bring when they come to America has implications beyond the kitchen. Cooking the dishes — sharing the foods of their home country — is a way of ensuring “that identity and heritage are not lost just because the homeland is,” says Poopa Dweck, author of the book “Aromas of Aleppo: The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews.” They are “documenting history, in some way, for the next generation.”

It’s this diversity — the richness of so many cuisines and cultures, brought from all over the world — that makes American food so outstanding. At the moment, however, that tradition is under threat. The Trump administration has dedicated a lot of energy to barring Syrian refugees like Abdulraheem from coming into the country, while waging a multifront campaign against undocumented immigrants from Latin America. Continuing on this path would have a profound impact — not just on our food, but on our national identity.

It can be hard to explain to people who view immigration as a threat just what we stand to lose when we turn away from this ideal. Maybe a grand argument about American values isn’t the best place to begin. Maybe it’s best to start smaller, somewhere closer to home — somewhere like the dinner table.


Abdulraheem’s kebab hindi (meatballs cooked in a spiced tomato stew). (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

There are things that Majed Abdulraheem doesn’t usually talk about when he’s at work chopping vegetables. But they’re on his mind a lot: How, on his last visit to his parents’ home in 2013, they begged him not to return to his apartment in Damascus but to flee Syria across the border to Jordan instead. How he did as his parents asked. And how he never got to see his father, who became ill during his exile, before he died.

. . . .

The culinary education of refugee chefs is unusual. It is at once cosmopolitan — thanks to the fusing of different influences during the chef’s travels — and narrowly defined by both physical barriers and the limitations of circumstance. The journeys of refugee chefs often spark creativity, born of necessity. The education, just like the migration, is sui generis. Just like America.”

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

Read the complete article at the above link.

The irony is certainly not lost on me. Refugees overcome great obstacles to contribute to America’s greatness; immigrants (including, yes, those without legal status) help us prosper as a society; guys like Trump and Sessions are corrosive negative influences who contribute little of positive value and do great damage to our country, our society, and our collective future every day they hold power, despite having having been given every chance to make positive contributions.

America’s continued greatness, and perhaps our ultimate survival as a nation, depends on whether we can use the legal system and the ballot box to remove corrosive influences like Trump, Sessions, and their ill-intentioned cronies from office before they can completely destroy our country.

PWS

12-10-17

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE? — Mexican Journalist Emilio Gutierrez Who Exposed Government Corruption Received A Press Freedom Award from the National Press Club In Washington, DC. In Oct. 2016 – Now He Says The Trump Administration Plans To Kill Him By Denying His Asylum Application!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/denied-asylum-and-facing-deportation-mexican-journalist-says-hell-be-killed-if-sent-home/2017/12/08/15e96746-dc4c-11e7-b859-fb0995360725_story.html?utm_term=.eb9496127724

Nick Miroff reports for the Washington Post:

“A Mexican journalist who sought asylum in the United States in 2008 was arrested by U.S. immigration agents this week and told he would be deported, though an appeals board temporarily halted his removal Friday — sparing his life for now, he said.

Emilio Gutierrez, 54, who in October received a press freedom award from the National Press Club in Washington, said he and his 24-year-old son, Oscar, were taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Thursday while trying to enter an appeal to their asylum claim.

“We can’t go back to Mexico. They’ll kill us,” Gutierrez said, using his attorney’s cellphone to speak from an ICE detention center in Sierra Blanca, Texas.

Gutierrez said he and his son fled northern Mexico’s Chihuahua state in 2008 after he published stories exposing the abuses committed by soldiers who robbed and extorted residents in his hometown, Ascención, a notorious drug trafficking hub.

After soldiers ransacked his home, Gutierrez said he learned his name appeared on a military “kill list,” so he fled across the border into Texas with his then-teeange son.

In July, after living nine years in the United States, Gutierrez’s asylum request was denied, and an appeal was rejected in early November. His attorney, Eduardo Beckett, said Gutierrez and his son were handcuffed and jailed Thursday when they presented themselves at an ICE processing center to enter an emergency appeal.

. . . .

With drug-related violence at record levels, Mexico has become one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the press, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. More than 40 Mexican reporters have been murdered since 1992 for performing their jobs, including at least five this year. Only Iraq and Syria were more dangerous for the press in 2017, according to CPJ.

Journalists working in small towns plagued by drug cartel violence are especially vulnerable, but the dead have included staffers at some of Mexico’s leading publications.

Bill McCarren, the executive director of the National Press Club, said the organization gave Gutierrez this year’s press freedom award to draw attention to the plight of Mexico’s imperiled journalists. McCarren was alarmed to find out ICE agents were trying to send Gutierrez back to a place where his life would be in danger.

“This is a critical, existential issue for Emilio, but also a critical issue for all journalists in Mexico,” McCarren said in an interview. “It’s a concern for us that the United States, that stands for free press as a bedrock principle of our democracy, would not make a place for him here when he’s so clearly at risk.”

. . . .

But Hootsen said his organization cautions reporters against seeking asylum in the United States because the requests are likely to be denied. “The United States is obviously the place that first comes to mind for Mexican reporters who need to flee the country,” said Hootsen, “so it’s important for U.S. authorities to take their claims seriously and give them a fair hearing.”

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

Read Miroff’s complete story at the link.

Jeff Sessions would have you believe that frivolous asylum cases and failure to crank denials off the Immigration Court assembly line more quickly are the biggest problems. Not true!

Those of us who have spent a lifetime working in the system and actually understand asylum law, the correct legal criteria, and the shortcomings of EOIR know that the real crisis here is that far too many meritorious claims for protection are being denied by stressed and rushed Immigration Judges who don’t correctly understand asylum and protection law, are unsympathetic to asylum seekers, are forced to deal with unrepresented or underrepresented asylum applicants, or are afraid to put their careers on the line to stand up to politicos in this and other Administrations who seek to artificially limit the number of asylum grants at the potential expense of individual’s lives and safety.

PWS

12-10-17

 

PREVENTABLE HUMAN DISASTER: THE WANTON CRUELTY, WASTEFULNESS, & TOTAL STUPIDITY OF THE TRUMP/SESSIONS “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM PORTRAYED IN GRAPHIC HUMAN TERMS — The Damage To America Of Mistreating Our Families & Our Citizen Youth Will Long Outlive The Misguided Officials Carrying It Out!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/classic-apps/deported-divided-how-a-moms-return-to-el-salvador-tore-her-family-in-two/2017/12/08/70f81724-9a37-11e7-87fc-c3f7ee4035c9_story.html

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

Bermudez works all the time, so Cruz Mendez cares for Steve from afar. She calls the babysitter after school to make sure he arrived safely. She checks on his health insurance and his dental appointments.

Steve no longer asks when the family will be together.

In Falls Church, Cruz Mendez was an independent woman with a salary and dreams for the future. Now she sits inside the little gray house. Bermudez cannot afford to send her money for college, so she has set those plans aside.

Over the phone, he urges her to have faith that they will be together again.

She still wears her wedding ring, and he still wears his.

 

Bermudez works all the time, so Cruz Mendez cares for Steve from afar. She calls the babysitter after school to make sure he arrived safely. She checks on his health insurance and his dental appointments.

Steve no longer asks when the family will be together.

In Falls Church, Cruz Mendez was an independent woman with a salary and dreams for the future. Now she sits inside the little gray house. Bermudez cannot afford to send her money for college, so she has set those plans aside.

Over the phone, he urges her to have faith that they will be together again.

She still wears her wedding ring, and he still wears his.

Bermudez works all the time, so Cruz Mendez cares for Steve from afar. She calls the babysitter after school to make sure he arrived safely. She checks on his health insurance and his dental appointments.

Steve no longer asks when the family will be together.

In Falls Church, Cruz Mendez was an independent woman with a salary and dreams for the future. Now she sits inside the little gray house. Bermudez cannot afford to send her money for college, so she has set those plans aside.

Over the phone, he urges her to have faith that they will be together again.

She still wears her wedding ring, and he still wears his.

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

“Cruz Mendez, 30, made this trip in reverse when she was 18 years old, skipping her high school graduation to flee a neighborhood man who had harassed her in San Salvador. She was detained at the U.S.-Mexico border, released and allowed to join her brother in Virginia. Two months later, an immigration judge in Texas ordered her deported. Cruz Mendez says she never knew about the hearing.

In Fairfax, she was crowned beauty queen at a local Salvadoran festival and met Rene Bermudez, a hazel-eyed laborer who worked construction.

Steve was born in 2007, Danyca in 2012.

Late in 2013, police stopped Cruz Mendez for failing to turn on the lights on her minivan and charged her with driving without a license, an arrest that alerted federal agents to her old deportation order.

While President Barack Obama deported high numbers of undocumented immigrants during parts of his tenure, parents of American citizens with little to no criminal record were not priorities for expulsion. So officials released Cruz Mendez with orders to stay out of trouble and check in with them once a year.

But under President Trump, who campaigned on a promise to crack down on illegal immigration, anyone here without papers can be expelled.

Interior deportations — of people already living in the United States, as opposed to those caught crossing the border — have risen 37 percent since Trump took office. Deportation arrests of non-criminals such as Cruz Mendez — many, like her, with children who were born in this country and are U.S. citizens — surged past 31,000 from inauguration to the end of September, triple the same period last year.

On the May morning when she was scheduled for her yearly check-in, Cruz Mendez lingered in the apartment, which she’d decorated with family photographs, Danyca’s art projects and Steve’s citizen-of-the-month award from elementary school.

She considered the possibility of skipping the check-in, aware of other longtime immigrants who had been deported after similar appointments. But she could not fathom life as a fugitive. Worried, Bermudez warned her that she was going to be late.

“Why are you trying to turn me over so fast?” Cruz Mendez snapped in Spanish.

She eventually walked into the immigration agency’s Fairfax office, accompanied by advocates and loved ones. Agents took her into custody as her supporters shouted.

For a month, her husband and lawyers fought to free her. Steve tried, too, writing letters to Immigration and Customs Enforcement that were full of pleas and questions.

“Plz don’t deport my mom,” one of the letters said.

Who will take me to the doctor, the dentist? Who will take care of me and my sister? Who will I live with?

It didn’t work. On June 14, they sent her back. Bermudez and the kids filled a giant cardboard box with her dresses and shoes, pots and pans, and placed it by the front door, waiting for a courier to take it away.

Steve Bermudez, 10, wrote immigration officials in May to ask them not to deport his mother. For a month, Cruz Mendez’s husband and lawyers fought to free her and stop the deportation. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Steve looks out the window of the bedroom he used in his mother’s childhood home in El Salvador. The sign advertises fruit and vegetables his family sells. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
‘How can I go?’
Deportations can shatter a family or a marriage. In one study of the aftermath of six immigration raids, family income dropped an average of 70 percent. Another study, of U.S.-born Latino children, found that those whose parents had been detained or deported experienced significantly higher post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms than their peers.

“That child’s more likely to be poor. They’re more likely to be depend on public benefits,” said Randy Capps, U.S. research director for the Migration Policy Institute. “And then psychologically, you just don’t know. There could be an immediate impact; it could be a long time before that psychological impact shows up.”

In the Falls Church apartment, Steve and Danyca cried all the time after Cruz Mendez was deported. No one wanted to eat.

. . . .

Bermudez works all the time, so Cruz Mendez cares for Steve from afar. She calls the babysitter after school to make sure he arrived safely. She checks on his health insurance and his dental appointments.

Steve no longer asks when the family will be together.

In Falls Church, Cruz Mendez was an independent woman with a salary and dreams for the future. Now she sits inside the little gray house. Bermudez cannot afford to send her money for college, so she has set those plans aside.

Over the phone, he urges her to have faith that they will be together again.

She still wears her wedding ring, and he still wears his.“

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

Read Maria’s entire story of this grotesque failure of responsible government, common sense, and human decency at the link!

THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS FUTURE

What kind of country abuses its youth  — our hope for the future —  this way? What kind of county wastes its human capital and potential in this manner? What kind of country empowers leaders who are intentionally cruel, immoral, dishonest, and stupid? What kind of country intentionally turns valued friends and positive contributors into potential disgruntled enemies?

This is the way that a once great nation transforms itself into an “overstuffed banana republic!”

But, it’s not yet too late to change the grim vision of “Christmas Future” being promoted by Trump, Sessions, Kelly, Homan, Bannon, Miller, and their cronies. We can resist the horrible policies of the Trump Administration in the courts of law and the courts of public opinion! Ultimately, totally unqualified officials like Trump, Sessions, and their White Nationalist cronies — who are plotting the end of America as we know it — can be defeated at the ballot box and removed from office.

But, there will come a “point of no return” when the damage done by these corrupt individuals and their enablers (both willing and unwitting) cannot be undone! Are we as smart, human, and capable of leaving behind selfishness and embracing decency and human kindness as Ebineezer Scrooge? Or will the Ghost prove to be the Prophet in this version of the Christmas Carol?

PWS

12-09-17

FOURTH CIRCUIT JOINS 9TH, 2d, & 6TH IN REVERSING BIA’S OVERLY RESTRICTIVE READING OF ASYLUM ELIGIBILITY – ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE OF A PRE-EXISTING CLAIM CAN BE A “CHANGED CIRCUMSTANCE” JUSTIFYING “LATE” ASYLUM FILING! — ZAMBRANO V. SESSIONS (PUBLISHED)!

4th Cir on changed circumstances-1yr

Zambrano v. Sessions, 4th Cir., 12-05-17 (published)

PANEL: KEENAN and WYNN, Circuit Judges, and John A. GIBNEY, Jr., United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, sitting by designation.

OPINION BY: Judge Gibney

KEY QUOTE:

“This Court agrees with the logic of the Ninth, Second, and Sixth circuits. New facts that provide additional support for a pre-existing asylum claim can constitute a changed circumstance. These facts may include circumstances that show an intensification of a preexisting threat of persecution or new instances of persecution of the same kind suffered in the past. The Court remands to the BIA and leaves the determination of whether the facts on record constitute changed circumstances which materially affect the petitioner’s eligibility for asylum to the BIA’s sound discretion.

III.
The BIA erred when it categorically held that additional proof of an existing claim

does not establish changed circumstances. Accordingly, we grant the petition for review, vacate the BIA’s order, and remand the case to the BIA for further consideration in light of this opinion.”

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

This is a very important decision for asylum applicants in the Fourth Circuit, as this situation arises frequently in Immigration Court.

With three well-reasoned Circuit decisions already in the books, why is the BIA holding out for a discredited rationale? How many individuals who weren’t fortunate enough to have Ben Winograd or an equally talented lawyer argue for them in the Court of Appeals have already been wrongfully removed under the BIA’s discredited rationale? Where’s the BIA precedent adopting this rationale and making it binding on IJ’s nationwide before more individuals are wrongfully removed? How is this “through teamwork and innovation being the world’s best administrative tribunal guaranteeing fairness and due process for all?”

The answer to the latter question is sadly obvious. While the BIA’s problems predated his tenure, the attitude of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as demonstrated in his recent pronouncement on so-called “Immigration Court efficiency” elevates “false efficiency,” speed, and cranking out removals above fundamental fairness and Due Process. Why have an elaborate administrative court system that doesn’t put Due Process first and foremost as “real” (non-captive) courts generally do? Why not just send all removal cases to U.S. District Judges and Magistrate Judges who make Due Process and fairness “job one” and aren’t preoccupied with “jacking up” removal statistics to please political bosses?

And, I’d like to see how far the DHS/Sessions’s (they are pretty much the same these days) boneheaded, arrogant, unrealistic, and wasteful “no PD” policy would get in a “real” court system where widespread, reasonable, and prudent use of PD by prosecutors is understood and accepted as an essential part of fairness, efficiency, and responsible use of publicly-funded judicial resources. Indeed, in some of my past “off the record” conversations with Article III Judges, they were absolutely flabbergasted to discover the unwillingness of DHS to meaningfully exercise “PD” in the pre-Obama era and to learn that at DHS the “cops,” rather than the prosecutors were responsible for setting PD policies!

PWS

12-08-17

 

VICTORY DANCE! — ICE’S HOMAN SAYS CLIMATE OF FEAR HAS STEMMED BORDER CROSSINGS & PROVES UNRESTRAINED, ARBITRARY IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT WORKS! — “There’s no population that’s off the table,” he said. “If you’re in the country illegally, we’re looking for you and we’re looking to apprehend you.” — America Won’t Be Truly Safe Until The Last Cook, Gardner, Construction Worker, Nanny, Janitor, Tree Cutter, Mechanic, Handyman, Carpenter, Home Health Aide, Computer Programmer, Healthcare Worker, Lettuce Picker, Cow Milker, Landscaper, Lawnmower, Bricklayer, Roofer, Window Washer, Waiter, Sandwich Artist, Teacher, Minister, Coach, Student, Parent, Clerk, Fisherman, Farmer, Maid, Chicken Plucker, Meat Processor, Etc., Without Docs Is Removed And US Citizens Take Over All These Jobs!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/arrests-along-mexico-border-drop-sharply-under-trump-new-statistics-show/2017/12/05/743c6b54-d9c7-11e7-b859-fb0995360725_story.html

Nick Miroff reports in the Washington Post:

“The number of people caught trying to sneak over the border from Mexico has fallen to the lowest level in 46 years, according to Department of Homeland Security statistics released Tuesday that offer the first comprehensive look at how immigration enforcement is changing under the Trump administration.

During the government’s 2017 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, U.S. border agents made 310,531 arrests, a decline of 24 percent from the previous year and the fewest overall since 1971.

The figures show a sharp drop in apprehensions immediately after President Trump’s election win, possibly reflecting the deterrent effect of his rhetoric on would-be border crossers; starting in May, the number of people taken into custody began increasing again.

Arrests of foreigners living illegally in the United States have surged under Trump. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers made 110,568 such arrests between inauguration and the end of September, according to the figures published Tuesday, a 42 percent increase over the same period during the previous year.

Tom Homan, ICE’s temporary director and Trump’s nominee to lead the agency, praised the president and gave a vigorous defense of ICE’s more aggressive approach.

“This president, like him or love him, is doing the right thing,” Homan told reporters at a news conference in Washington, accompanied by the heads of the U.S. Border Patrol and Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“A 45-year low in border crossings? That’s not a coincidence,” Homan said. “That’s based on this president and his belief and letting the men and women of ICE and the Border Patrol do their job.”

[How Trump is building a border wall no one can see]

Trump’s sweeping promises to crack down on illegal immigration fueled his presidential campaign and are at the center of his most ambitious domestic policy proposals, including construction of a wall along the border with Mexico.

Asked whether such a barrier was justifiable given its high cost and the decline in illegal immigration, DHS officials endorsed the president’s plan.

“In this society, we use walls and fences to protect things. It shouldn’t be different on the border,” said Ronald Vitiello, chief of the Border Patrol.

Apprehensions by Border Patrol agents peaked at more than 1.6 million in 2000 and began falling substantially after 2008. The previous low point was 331,333 arrests, during fiscal 2015. Experts have attributed the decline to tougher U.S. enforcement, improving job prospects in Mexico and long-term demographic changes that have driven down the country’s birthrate.

3:32
On the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump supporters wait for th
Still, the drop in border arrests is among the sharpest year-to-year changes on record, one that only casts more doubt on the wisdom of building a border wall, said Doris Meissner, senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington think tank.

“It’s a throwback response to yesterday’s problems,” she said, arguing that the money would be better spent addressing what accounts for a growing share of illegal migration: families with children fleeing rampant violence and dismal poverty in Central America.

Border agents took more than 75,000 “family units,” classified as at least one child and a related adult, into custody during fiscal 2017. But the number of unaccompanied minors fell 31 percent, to 41,435.”

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

Read the complete article at the link.

This has to be what true greatness looks like! Imagine a world without those pesky undocumented workers to support our economy, our society, and our “American” way of life! That’s making America Great Again!

I’m sure future generations will be inspired by Homan’s humanity and wisdom as they pick produce or pound shingles in 100 degree heat, clean toilets, empty urine bags for the elderly and handicapped, clean tables, wash dishes, limb trees, shuck oysters, schlep concrete blocks, dig ditches, and, horror of horrors, take care of their own children while working full-time. Man, that’s going to be “America the Great” just as Trump, Sessions, Bannon, Miller, Homan, and others envision it!

And, the best part: we won’t have to worry about any of that burdensome, nasty “globalism” and the unfair burden of global leadership! That’s because the Chinese, Indians, Canadians, Mexicans, and Europeans will be in charge of the world economy and the Ruskies will control world politics. So we can enjoy our little White Nationalist enclave modeled on post-revolutionary Cuba — life in the 1950’s preserved forever! Save those “Classic ’57 Chevies!”

Kinda sorry I won’t be here to enjoy it! But, then again, I already lived through the real 1950’s once — Cold War, Jim Crow, segregation, anti-semitism, racial covenants, no women doctors, lawyers, or execs, African Americans only welcome on the football fields and basketball courts of a few Northern colleges! Boy, it was great! But, not sure I want  to do it again, even to experience the pure, unadulterated joy of having “my Milwaukee Braves” win the 1957 World Series (before fleeing to Atlanta)!

On the flip side, at Homan’s “record pace” of “law enforcement,” he and his minions will have every single undocumented American resident removed from the U.S by 2080 — that’s if no more arrive in the interim. And, the really great thing — they and those around them (including U.S. citizen kids and family members) will be living in fear every moment for the next six decades! Now, that’s something of which we can be truly proud! Of course, this all assumes that the North Koreans don’t nuke us and the rest of the world out of existence first!

PWS

12-06-17

 

DUE PROCESS DENIED! — NIJC REPORT FINDS THAT DHS DETENTION IN OBSCURE LOCATIONS DEPRIVES MIGRANTS OF MEANINGFUL ACCESS TO COUNSEL! — This Is What Happens When We Enable The “American Gulag!”

http://www.immigrantjustice.org/research-items/report-what-kind-miracle-systematic-violation-immigrants-right-counsel-cibola-county

A new in-depth study by the National Immigrant Justice Center (“NIJC”) shows how the Administration is intentionally using detention to deny Constitutional Due Process of Law to some of the most vulnerable:

“Introduction

Cibola County Correctional Center in Milan, New Mexico

When Donald Trump was elected president, the immigration detention system was already mired in such dysfunction that it routinely threatened the lives of those trapped inside. More than a year later, the administration intentionally uses its broken network of hundreds of immigration jails to advance an agenda that prioritizes mass deportation above respect for basic rights. This report focuses on the Cibola County Correctional Center, a prison complex in rural New Mexico owned and operated by the private prison giant CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America)1 with the capacity to jail 1,100 immigrants facing deportation. Located far from any major urban center in a state with no immigration court, the prison has become a black hole of due process rights.

The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) is particularly alarmed by the lack of meaningful access to counsel at the Cibola prison. Federal immigration law allows immigrants the right to counsel in deportation proceedings, but immigrants must locate and pay for it themselves. Immigrants detained in Cibola and many other immigration jails nationally are unable to avail themselves of this right because the capacity of nearby legal service organizations to provide representation is dwarfed by the need. An NIJC survey of legal service providers reveals that New Mexico and Texas immigration attorneys, at their maximum capacity, are only able to represent approximately 42 detained individuals at the Cibola prison at any given time — six percent of the jail’s population in April 2017. The due process violations occurring at Cibola and other Department of Homeland Security (DHS) prisons are the latest consequences of the Trump administration’s scheme to jail so many immigrants, and in such remote locations, that their right to representation is rendered meaningless.

An NIJC survey of legal service providers reveals that New Mexico and Texas immigration attorneys, at their maximum capacity, are only able to represent approximately 42 detained individuals at the Cibola prison at any given time – six percent of the jail’s population in April 2017.

In light of DHS’s systematic and willful rights violations, NIJC calls on the agency to close detention facilities like Cibola, where due process is non-existent given individuals’ lack of access to counsel, and demands that Congress immediately cut funding for DHS’s enforcement and detention operations. (See Recommendations.)

U.S. Immigration Detention National Average Daily Population From 1994 To 20172
U.S. Immigration Detention National Average Daily Population from 1994 to 2017
. . . .
Cibola County Correctional Center in Milan, NM

 

The Future Of Immigration Detention: Why Cibola Matters

DHS paid little heed to the dearth of affordable legal services near Cibola when it entered its agreement with Cibola County and CoreCivic. Such a lapse is by no means new or unique. DHS has grown and maintained the immigration detention system in a manner incompatible with civil rights and due process protections.

In many ways, the Trump administration inherited an immigration detention system already riddled with abuse and neglect. Detained individuals, advocacy organizations including NIJC, and DHS’s Office of Inspector General have reported for decades on the profoundly inhumane conditions pervasive throughout the detention system, including: the excessive and arbitrary use of solitary confinement;22 inadequate, unsafe and spoiled food service;23 abuse of force by officers;24 and deaths attributable to medical negligence.25 Rather than assess possible reforms to address these problems—as the non-partisan Homeland Security Advisory Council advised in late 201626—the Trump administration quickly implemented changes that exacerbated existing harms. Today, DHS jails approximately 40,000 immigrants daily —more than any administration in recent history27— and holds them longer.28 The administration has publicly embraced the use of prolonged detention for asylum seekers29 and moved to weaken the standards governing conditions of detention.30

The administration seems poised to duplicate Cibola throughout the country. Its goal is clear: by undermining detained immigrants’ access to counsel, the administration ratchets up its removal rates.

Immigrants in detention centers throughout the country face the same frustrations as those jailed at Cibola when they try to find a lawyer. Nationally, fewer than one in every five immigrants in detention is able to find a lawyer.31 The Los Angeles Times recently reported that about 30 percent of detained immigrants are jailed more than 100 miles from the nearest government-listed legal service provider,32 with a median distance between the facility and the service provider of 56 miles.33

Access to counsel is important. Unrepresented, a detained immigrant, who often does not speak English, must develop her own legal arguments for relief eligibility, gather evidence that is often only available from within her country of origin (where she may fear for her own or her family’s safety), complete an application in English, and present a coherent presentation of her case to an immigration judge, all while a government-funded DHS prosecutor argues for her deportation.34 Faced with such a daunting task, immigrants enduring the isolation of detention are far less likely than those living in the community to defend against deportation and less likely to win their cases when they do so. The psychological harms caused by detention, especially for those with previous histories of torture or trauma,35 are so debilitating that even those with the strongest claims to legal protection in the United States often abandon the process and choose deportation instead.36 Detained immigrants with lawyers are 11 times more likely to pursue relief and are at least twice as likely to obtain relief as detained immigrants without counsel.37 A study analyzing the impact of appointed counsel for detained immigrants in New York City found a 1,100 percent increase in successful outcomes when universal representation became available..38

There is no doubt that DHS knows what it is doing. NIJC’s 2010 report Isolated in Detention documented the due process crisis already unfolding in the immigration detention system. At that time, NIJC found that 80 percent of detained immigrants were held in facilities that were severely underserved by legal aid organizations, with more than 100 immigrants for every full-time nonprofit attorney providing legal services.”40 The report presented eight recommendations to DHS and the Department of Justice to improve access to legal counsel for detained immigrants.41 Not one of the recommendations has been adopted or implemented by either agency.

Recently, DHS announced its interest in building new prisons in or near southern Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Salt Lake City, Utah. The agency stated its goal was to increase the system’s capacity by up to 4,000 more beds.42Legal aid organizations in these regions sent a letter to DHS explaining that they would have little or no capacity to provide meaningful access to counsel if the government carries out this expansion.43 As of publication of this report, DHS has not responded to this letter nor contacted any of the organizations to assess access to legal counsel.

The administration seems poised to duplicate Cibola throughout the country. Its goal is clear: by undermining detained immigrants’ access to counsel, the administration ratchets up its removal rates.

When the administration flaunts its record rates of deportations, it is telling a story of what happens to immigrants like Christopher and hundreds of others at Cibola who face insurmountable barriers to justice, not describing a legitimate outcome of enforcement of United States law. Jailing immigrants during their deportation proceedings makes it significantly more likely they will be deported, regardless of the merits or strength of their defense to deportation. At Cibola and prisons like it throughout the United States, incarceration has become another weapon in the administration’s arsenal, intended to facilitate mass removals no matter the cost to due process or civil rights.

 

Recommendations

DHS must close detention facilities like Cibola, where due process is non-existent given individuals’ lack of access to counsel.

Congress must cut appropriated funds for immigration detention, in light of the civil rights and due process crisis within the system.

Specifically, Congress must:

  1. Cease funding to detain individuals where there is no evidence of flight or security risk.
  2. Engage in robust oversight to ensure that when DHS does utilize detention, funding is only available for facilities where there  is sufficient access to legal counsel (an established immigration bar) and adequate health care for individuals in detention.

 

A Note On Methodology

For the survey cited in this report, the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) undertook a census of all the attorneys we could identify who regularly practice immigration law in New Mexico and Texas. The intent was to determine 1) the number of attorneys available to take immigration cases out of the Cibola County Correctional Center and 2) the maximum number of cases each attorney could take at a given time. NIJC staff identified all attorneys in New Mexico who, as of July 2017, were members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the primary membership association for immigration attorneys in the United States (identified using the membership directory at http://www.aila.org/member-directory). Through informal conversations with AILA members and legal aid organizations, NIJC staff added other New Mexico- and Texas-based attorneys to the list who were identified as providing even minimal legal representation at Cibola. NIJC staff and interns reached out to each of these attorneys via email and telephone. NIJC communicated directly via phone or email with an attorney or authorized staff person at all but nine of the 60 offices on the final list. Each attorney was asked whether they were able and willing to provide legal representation to individuals detained at Cibola, for a fee or on a low-cost or pro bono basis, and if so approximately how many cases they could take at maximum capacity. The detailed results of this census are on record with NIJC.

In addition to these census questions, NIJC staff held more extensive interviews with staff members at the following nonprofit legal service providers: Catholic Charities of Southern New Mexico (Las Cruces, NM); Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services (El Paso, TX); Instituto Legal (Albuquerque, NM); Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center (El Paso, TX); the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center (Albuquerque, NM); and Santa Fe Dreamers Project (Santa Fe, NM). Additionally, in June 2017 NIJC staff members visited the Cibola prison, where they spoke with 12 individuals detained at the facility whose insights inspired and contributed to this report. Notes from these conversations are on record with NIJC. Notes from all of these conversations are on record with NIJC.

Acknowledgements

The principal authors of this report are NIJC Director of Policy Heidi Altman and NIJC Director of Communications Tara Tidwell Cullen, with research and editing contributions from NIJC colleagues Keren Zwick, Diane Eikenberry, Mary Meg McCarthy, Claudia Valenzuela, Julia Toepfer, and Isabel Dieppa. NIJC interns Linda Song and Anya Martin also contributed to this report. Sincere thanks for insights and support from Jessica Martin and Rebekah Wolf of the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center, Allegra Love of the Santa Fe Dreamers Project, Yazmin Ruiz of United We Dream, and the detained immigrants whose experiences are described in this report.

All photos credit the National Immigrant Justice Center.”

 

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

Read the complete report at the link.

NIJC confirms what most of us involved in the immigration justice system already know — that the Trump Administration has “doubled down” on the Obama Administration’s misguided detention policies to create an “American Gulag.” A key feature of the Gulag is using captive so-called “U.S. Immigration Courts” in prisons. Such “captive prison courts” actually are parodies of real independent courts empowered to require Due Process for migrants and adherence to the rule of law. Immigration detention is a national disgrace for which all of us should be ashamed.

But, don’t expect any improvement from the Trump Administration unless the Article III Courts require it or we get a different Congress at some point. (I note that a few Democrats have honed in on this issue and introduced the “Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act” which unfortunately is DOA in this Congress.) Given the performance of the Article IIIs to date in this area, and the Trump Administration’s “quietly successful” program to stock the Article IIIs with right-wing ideologues, I wouldn’t count on that either. On the other hand, I’ve seen even very committed conservative jurists reach their “breaking point” on Government immigration abuses once they become life-tenured Federal Judges and are no longer directly accountable to their right-wing “political rabbis.” Denial of statutory, Constitutional, and Human Rights sometimes crosses over ideological fault lines.

Kudos to my good friends and dedicated defenders of Due Process and Human Rights Heidi Altman and Diane Eikenberry of the DC Office of the of the NIJC/Heartland Alliance for their leadership role in exposing these continuing abuses and making a record for future generations to understand and hopefully act on our current failure to make “equal justice for all” a reality in America and the related failure of our U.S. Immigration Courts to live up to their commitment to use “best practices” to “guarantee fairness and due process for all.”

PWS

12-05-17

WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL RIPS TRUMP/SESSIONS “GONZO” IMMIGRATION AGENDA AS “ANTI-AMERICAN!”– White Nationalist Inspired Restrictionism Is Suppressing The Real Dialogue We Should Be Having!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-crusade-against-immigrants-is-an-attack-on-america/2017/12/03/0ac43dec-d624-11e7-b62d-d9345ced896d_story.html?utm_term=.71780d337509

December 3 at 8:10 PM

THE TRUMP administration likes to justify its multi-front crusade against immigration and immigrants as a revival of the rule of law, or a recalibration of the rules to favor disadvantaged American workers. In fact, it is largely a resurrection of xenophobia that coincides with a spike, nearly 50 years in the making, in the number of foreign-born residents living in the United States.

“For decades,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a speech in October, “the American people have been begging and pleading . . . for an immigration system that’s lawful and serves the national interest. Now we have a president who supports that.”

Mr. Sessions’s claims are specious. An embrace of legality is not the driving force behind the president’s decision to slash the admission of refugees to levels unseen in nearly 40 years. It is not what compelled Mr. Trump to endorse Republican legislation that would cut the annual allotment of green cards by a half-million, mainly by barring relatives of existing legal permanent residents of the United States. It is not why the Pentagon has considered ending a recruitment program that put skilled foreigners on a fast track for citizenship if they served in this country’s armed forces. And it is not why the administration favors ending the so-called diversity visa lottery program, under which immigrants are admitted from nations underrepresented in other programs.

Those programs were all legally enacted and, by and large, carried out in compliance with the law. The animating force in targeting them, as the administration is now doing, is an effort to turn back the tide of foreigners in our midst and exorcise what the president evidently sees as the demon of diversity.

The administration’s goal is not to reshape America’s immigration policy but to prune immigration itself. While Mr. Trump backs a GOP plan that would give preference to immigrants with skills rather than family connections in the United States, the effect would be not simply to shift the mix while maintaining the current level of legal immigration but to drastically reduce overall numbers of admissions.”

. . . .

Unfortunately, Mr. Trump has poisoned the debate on immigration so thoroughly that he has twisted the frame through which many Americans see the issue. His slurs — labeling Mexican immigrants as rapists and Muslim immigrants as terrorists — form the context from which the administration’s policies arise. They are affronts to U.S. tradition and values.

They’re also an assault on what Mr. Sessions refers to as “the national interest” and specifically the United States’ economic well-being. Legions of employers dependent on immigrant workers, especially to fill low-skilled jobs for which native-born Americans are too well educated and in short supply, will be harmed by choking off the flow of immigrant labor. With unemployment at a 16-year low and approaching levels unseen in a half-century, the Trump policies threaten to sap the economy by depriving it of the energy of striving newcomers who have fueled this nation’s ambitions since its founding.

It is within the president’s discretion to intensify efforts at deportation, though the humanitarian price — in shattered communities and families, including those whose children, born in this country, are Americans — is high. It is reasonable to take steps to tighten border security, though with illegal crossings already at a 40-year low and the Border Patrol’s staffing having already been doubled since the George W. Bush administration, a significant new investment along those lines faces the risk of diminishing returns. The administration may arguably have had a valid legal basis for ending the Obama-era program granting deportation protection for “dreamers” — undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children, often brought by their parents — though only a smallish minority of Americans believes they should be removed from this country.

But what value, other than sheer bigotry, is served by reducing the resettlement of refugees in the United States at a time when the number of displaced people worldwide has soared to staggering levels? In a country founded and in many respects shaped by refugees — a country that has resettled some 3 million refugees since 1980, more than any other nation — why does the Trump administration insist on turning its back on them now, when some 17 million people have been displaced from their homes across international borders around the world due to conflict or persecution, the highest number in a quarter-century?

It is clearly jarring to some Americans that the foreign-born portion of the overall population has nearly tripled since 1970. Many communities, towns and cities have been transformed culturally and socially by that surge, about a third of which was driven by illegal immigrants.

In some places, local government budgets have strained to provide services for immigrants, particularly public education, and the economic dislocation felt by many working-class Americans is a fact. But that dislocation is not mostly caused by immigrants. The United States is a more prosperous place today than it was before the surge in immigration, and immigrants have fed that prosperity — by helping to harvest America’s crops, build its cities, care for its young and elderly, and found some of its most buoyant companies.

. . . .The Trump administration’s crusade against immigration and immigrants is not just a quest to diminish the influence of the “other”; it is an assault on the nation’s future and prospects.”

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

Read the complete editorial at the link.

This is largely (not entirely — I believe that there is a sound legal basis for continuing DACA, for example) what I’ve been saying all along:

  • Jeff Sessions is a bigoted, xenophobic, anti-American scofflaw whose disingenuous, self-righteous claims to be restoring the “Rule of Law” (that would be the “Jim Crow laws” of Sessions’s Alabama past) are totally outrageous;
  • The real purpose of the Administration’s xenophobic program is to divide and weaken America  by stirring up racial, religious, and ethnic animosities;
  • The “Gonzo,” arbitrary interior enforcement program serves no useful purpose other than playing to the “biases of the base” and the wishes of some (not all) disgruntled immigration enforcement agents for unbridled authority;
  • Our xenophobic anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies are costing us leadership and respect on the world scene (just this weekend, the Administration withdrew from the UN Global Migration Pact);
  • Our past strength as a nation and our future success and prosperity is based on immigration (and, the US clearly has benefitted from BOTH legal and “extra-legal” migration);
  • The Trump Administrations’s rhetoric and actions are preventing us from having the serious discussion we need: how we can better regulate (not cut off, diminish, or eliminate) future legal migration of all types to serve our national interest (and to be more “in tune” with “market realities” that drive much immigration), reflect our humanitarian values and the legitimate needs of current and future migrants, and encourage use of our legal immigration system, thereby diminishing the incentives for extra-legal migration.

As long as U.S. immigration policy remains in the hands of White Nationalist xenophobes like Trump, Sessions, Miller, and Bannon (yes, Stevie “Vlad the Lenin” has vacated his perch in the West Wing, but he continues to pull strings through his White Nationalist disciples Sessions and Miller and to stir the pot through his alt-right “news” apparatus Breitbart News) we won’t get the constructive dialogue and the humane, realistic “immigration reform” that we really  need. In other words, under current leadership, the real “Rule of Law” will continue to be diminished.

PWS

12-04-17

 

HON. JEFFREY CHASE DISCUSSES ASYLUM BASED ON FEAR OF HONOR KILLINGS!

https://www.jeffreyschase.com/blog/2017/12/2/honor-killings-and-particular-social-group

Honor Killings and Particular Social Group

The threat of honor killing may form the basis of an asylum claim.  While men may be targeted as well,1 honor killings are a gender-based form of persecution, as the underlying basis is the view in certain societies that a woman’s failure to strictly adhere to a rigid moral code imposed upon her brings such dishonor on her family in the eyes of the community that nothing short of her murder (at the hands of her own family) can restore the family’s “honor.”  The BIA has issued no precedent decisions relating to these types of claims; there are not many published circuit court decisions.  In a recent published decision, Kamar v. Sessions, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the BIA’s incorrect determination that a woman from Jordan who credibly fears an honor killing was not genuinely at risk, and did not show that the government of Jordan was unwilling or unable to protect her.  However, I would like to focus in this article on the particular social group aspects of such claims.

As I have stated in other posts, the BIA established a requirement in its 1985 precedent decision Matter of Acosta that members of a particular social group must share an immutable characteristic.  In a series of later decisions beginning with it’s 2006 precedent  Matter of C-A-, the BIA additionally required cognizable social groups to satisfy its particularity and social distinction requirements.  The former requires that there be a clear benchmark of who is and is not included in the group.  The latter requires that the society in question (i.e. not the persecutors alone) view the members as forming a distinct group.  It is not easy for a group to meet all three of these requirements.

However, I believe that women (and sometimes men) targeted for honor killings must be found to meet all three of these requirements, as they are inextricably built into the social code which gives rise to such horrific actions.  First, being targeted for an honor killing is clearly an immutable characteristic.  The entire reason the society in question requires an act as drastic as murder is that nothing short of eliminating the individual will undo the perceived shame on the family.  There is no lesser form of rehabilitation or restitution available.  Nor will the passage of time or the target’s departure from the society suffice.  USCIS itself states in its own training materials for asylum officers on gender-based persecution that “the family may go to great lengths to pursue women (and men) accused of violating the family’s honor.  Families employ bounty hunters, private detectives and social networks to pursue victims and searches may persist over years.  In cultures with extended family networks over a large geographic area, relocation may offer no real protection.”2  This is the definition of an immutable characteristic.

Additionally, the group satisfies the particularity requirement.  The code giving rise to honor killings (a term which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has called “an oxymoron if we’ve ever heard one”)3 specifies who must be targeted.  In societies in which such killings take place, if a family that adheres to a rigid moral code believes that a female member of the family has behaved in a way that tarnished its reputation to the point that an honor killing is required, the family cannot decide to kill, e.g., the third person that walks down the street, or a more distant relative, or the gardener to achieve the goal of restoring honor.  The code governing such killings is specific as to who must be targeted.

Furthermore, social distinction is a given in such cases, as it is the perception of the society in question itself that is entirely responsible for both the family’s perceived loss of honor and for the “need” to carry out the murder.  It is  the society’s moral code that has been violated by the group member’s behavior; it is the society that has distinguished the violator in a manner that brings shame on her family; and it is the society’s perception that the honor killing is intended to appease.  Therefore, while the asylum officer, immigration judge, or BIA may deny asylum for another reason, if credible, an asylum applicant who fears an honor killing should not be denied based on a failure to meet her burden of establishing membership in a cognizable particular social group.

In order to avoid the Board’s prohibition against the group being defined in a circular manner, it is best not to include the term “honor killing” in the definition of the proposed group itself.  The membership in the group is the reason the person fears persecution.  The definition should therefore generally not include the actual harm feared, because a person is not targeted for an honor killing because they are targeted for an honor killing- this is what the Board terms a circular argument.  However, a person may be targeted for persecution because they are a member of the group consisting of, for example, “women from country X whose behavior is perceived to have brought dishonor on their family by flouting repressive moral norms.”  The honor killing is the type of persecution that the applicant fears as a result of their membership in the group.

Copyright 2017 Jeffrey S. Chase.  All rights reserved.

Notes:

1.  On the topic of males targeted for honor killings, see Caitlin Steinke, Male Asylum Applicants Who Fear Becoming the Victims of Honor Killings: The Case for Gender Equality, 17 CUNY L.Rev. 233,(2013).

2.  See USCIS, RAIO Directorate, Combined Training Course, Gender Related Claims Training Module, p. 24 (Rev. 9/26/2011)https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/About%20Us/Directorates%20and%20Program%20Offices/RAIO/Gender%20Related%20Claims%20LP%20%28RAIO%29.pdf.

3.  Sarhan v. Holder, 658 F.3d 649 (7th Cir. 2011).

 

 

 

 

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

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My recent blog blog on this same case is here:

https://wp.me/p8eeJm-1IB

Instead of being on the wrong side of the law and history here, why hasn’t the BIA taken the lead in issuing a precedent establishing protection under the INA and the Conventions for these vulnerable individuals?

The was a time when the BIA had the courage to stand up for the rights of the oppressed and take a leadership role in recognizing legal protections.  See Matter of Kasinga, 21 I&N Dec. 357 (BIA 1996). Decisions like Kasinga both saved lives and promoted the fair and orderly administration of immigration, refugee, and asylum laws in accordance with Due Process.

Today’s BIA appears more interested in serving as an apologist for the extreme anti-immigrant policies of Jeff Sessions and the Trump Administration and helping the DOJ’s OIL justify legally questionable positions in the U.S. Courts of Appeals than in standing up for the Due Process and statutory rights of migrants. What’s the purpose of a supposedly deliberative body that seldom visibly “deliberates” and all too often fails to perform its SOLE FUNCTION of “guaranteeing fairness and Due Process for all?”

PWS

12-04-17