Musings on Events in U.S. Immigration Court, Immigration Law, Sports, and Other Random Topics by Retired United States Immigration Judge (Arlington, Virginia) and former Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals Paul Wickham Schmidt. To see my complete professional bio, just click on the link below.
Joel Rubin & Paige St. John report for the LA Times:
“Sergio Carrillo had already been handcuffed in the Home Depot parking lot when an officer wearing a Homeland Security uniform appeared.
“Homeland Security?” Carrillo asked. “What do you want with me?”
Ignoring Carrillo’s demands for an explanation, the officer ordered the 39-year-old taken to a federal detention facility in downtown Los Angeles for people believed to be in the country illegally.
“You’re making a big mistake,” Carrillo recalled saying from the back seat to the officers driving him. “I am a U.S. citizen.”
The arrest last year was the start of a perplexing and frightening ordeal for Carrillo, who said in an interview with The Times that immigration officials scoffed at his repeated claims of citizenship and instead opened a case against him in immigration court to have him deported. It would take four days for government officials to concede their mistake and release Carrillo.
The case, say civil rights attorneys and other critics of the country’s immigration enforcement system, highlights broader problems with how people are targeted for deportation. They argue databases used by immigration officials to determine who is and isn’t in the country legally are beset by outdated and inaccurate information that leads to an unknown number of U.S. citizens being detained each year.
Since 2002, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has wrongly identified at least 2,840 United States citizens as possibly eligible for deportation, and at least 214 of them were taken into custody for some period of time, according to ICE records analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
Because ICE in January stopped releasing data on those it takes into custody, it is impossible to know how many citizens have been caught up in the aggressive push to increase arrests and deportations being carried out under President Trump.
In one such case, Guadalupe Plascencia complained that she was transferred from San Bernardino County jail to ICE custody in March despite having become a citizen two decades earlier. The 59-year-old hairdresser said she was released only when her daughter showed ICE agents her passport.
On Wednesday, attorneys for Carrillo announced a settlement deal in which the government will pay him $20,000 to resolve a civil lawsuit he filed over the arrest.
ICE officials could not be immediately reached Wednesday.”
Read the complete article at the link. Many thanks to Nolan Rappaport for sending this my way.
If you read the complete story, you will see that even after learning of their likely mistake, ICE was in no hurry to correct it. In fact, it appears that but for the intervention of his lawyer, this individual might well have remained in detention and been scheduled for a removal hearing before an Immigration Judge. At no point does in this article does it appear that ICE was in any way apologetic for its mistake. Indeed, it took a civil lawsuit and a $20,000 settlement to get any satisfaction.
What if this U.S. citizen had been an “Anglo” dressed in a business suit? Would he have been treated the same way by ICE? I doubt it.
As I have pointed out before, Trump, Sessions, Miller and their White Nationalist cronies are in the process of constructing an internal security police force using ICE as the spearhead. Today, their targets are mostly people of color — be they migrants, legal immigrants, refugees, or U.S. citizens — and most in the “Anglo Community” seem happy to ignore what’s really happening to their neighbors and in their communities.
But, the “Day of the Anglos” might still come. After all, there is a long list of Americans who are not entitled to full legal protections according to “Jeff’s Law:” LGBTQ individuals, reporters, liberal counter demonstrators, those who challenge police brutality, voters in gerrymandered districts, women who want to exercise their Constitutional right to an abortion, non-Christians, etc. Who is going to speak up for YOUR rights if your Government won’t?
According to DHS propaganda, the “hard-line” policies of the Trump Administration have resulted in spectacularly diminished illegal border crossings and are discouraging individuals from coming here or staying under our legal system. As I’ve observed, some immigration agents have so little “real” law enforcement work to do that they can take time to engage in such “enforcement overkill” as staking out a kid’s hospital room or arresting and deporting working parents of U.S. citizens and local soccer stars who have no serious criminal records.
So, with everything under control, why does the Trump Administration need 15,000 additional immigration agents, a Border Wall, and an expanded private immigration detention Gulag? What’s the “ultimate purpose” here? Who’s going to speak up for YOUR legal rights when the Trumpsters show up at your door to take them away?
“Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions repeatedly denied Tuesday that he deliberately misled or lied to Congress about the Trump campaign’s multiple contacts with Russia, saying he forgot that two aides told him about their meetings with Russian government officials during the 2016 race.
In an often-contentious House Judiciary Committee hearing, Sessions sparred for more than five hours with Democrats, who faulted him for changing his story each time he has testified under oath before Congress, and some Republicans, who pushed him to appoint a second special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton.
Sessions grew visibly angry at times, insisting again and again that he “always told the truth” as he recalled it, even as he confirmed for the first time that an aide offered to help arrange a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin last March. Sessions said he “pushed back” against the offer.
“In all of my testimony, I can only do my best to answer all of your questions as I understand them and to the best of my memory,” he said.
“But I will not accept, and reject accusations, that I have ever lied,” he added. “That is a lie.”
The nationally-televised hearing was the latest sign of how last year’s bitter presidential campaign has yet to recede. Harsh questions about the Democratic nominee’s alleged misdeeds collided with national security concerns of whether President Trump’s current or former aides helped Russia meddle in an American election — the focus of a special counsel investigation led by former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.
Sessions held firm against Republicans who pressed him to swiftly appoint another special counsel to focus on Clinton. Senior prosecutors at the Justice Department were reviewing the record and it would “be done without political influence,” he said.
After Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) laid out a long list of allegations that he said indicated wrongdoing, Sessions responded sharply. “I would say ‘looks like’ is not enough basis to appoint a special counsel,” he said.
Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the House committee’s top Democrat, said the allegations against Clinton — which chiefly involve her use of a private email server as secretary of State, fundraising for the Clinton Foundation, and an Obama administration decision in 2010 to approve sales of uranium to a Russian company — have been “carefully examined and completely debunked” and said the threat of jailing political opponents after an election is something that would happen in “a banana republic.”
The often testy back-and-forth on Russia largely echoed Sessions’ three previous appearances on Capitol Hill this year, creating more heat than light as lawmakers confronted Sessions with his previous statements and other evidence that contradicted his claims, and the attorney general insisting he did “not recall” dozens of times in response.
“I have been asked to remember details from a year ago, such as who I saw on what day, in what meeting, and who said what when,” he said.
He blamed his faulty memory on the political and organizational maelstrom of Trump’s insurgent presidential campaign. The four-term senator from Alabama joined Trump’s side early on and became his top foreign policy advisor.
“It was a brilliant campaign in many ways,” he said. “But it was a form of chaos every day from Day One. We traveled all the time, sometimes to several places in one day. Sleep was in short supply.”
. . . .
Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) challenged Sessions to explain an FBI report made public in October that said “black identity extremists” were intent on killing law enforcement officers. She said all the groups named were from decades ago, and asked him if any such groups existed today. He said he did not know of any.
He said he was aware of no similar report on white extremist groups, such as the white supremacists who rallied in Charlottesville, Va., in August. Later, he said he did not have a senior staff member who is African American, and said Trump has appointed just one African American as a U.S. attorney.
Sessions also declined to defend Roy Moore, the Republican candidate in the special election to decide Sessions’ old Senate seat in Alabama. Moore now faces charges of being a serial predator of teenage girls, with five women coming forward to describe their encounters.
“I have no reason to doubt these young women,” he said of Moore’s accusers, adding that he would consider whether the Justice Department should open an investigation. “We would do our duty,” he said. He said he has followed advice from the department’s ethics lawyers and avoided any involvement in the campaign.”
Read the complete article at the link.
Doesn’t seem that unreasonable to expect a former Senator and a guy who got himself appointed and confirmed to the highest legal job in the country to remember key events that happened less than two years ago.
Sessions should contrast his performance with the way some U.S. Immigration Judges exercising his delegated authority treat memory lapses by barely literate individuals trying to go back into traumatic events that happened a decade or more ago. Would that our U.S. Immigration Courts were all as forgiving of others as Sessions is of himself. Perhaps, he needs to ease up a bit on the “gonzo enforcement” push and act more like a human being. Not a bad idea for someone seeking better and more sympathetic treatment for himself.
“A federal appeals court Monday partially revived President Trump’s travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries, allowing it to go into effect against people without a “bona fide” connection in the U.S., such as close family members.
The decision by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals means that the federal government can start blocking travel into the U.S. by most nationals of Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Somalia and Chad who lack family in the country.
The order partially reversed one from Honolulu-based federal judge Derrick K. Watson, who blocked nearly the entire ban on the grounds that it “plainly discriminates based on nationality.” Watson ruled on a lawsuit brought by the state of Hawaii.
The 9th Circuit decision is a temporary measure before judges hear arguments Dec. 6 over the government’s appeal of Watson’s ruling. A panel of three judges — Michael Daly Hawkins, Ronald M. Gould and Richard A. Paez — is considering the appeal. All were appointed by President Bill Clinton.
Trump signed his newest travel ban on Sept. 24 to indefinitely halt travel from most citizens of the six countries, but Hawaii- and Maryland-based federal judges issued orders stopping it just as it was about to go into effect in October.
Trump’s travel order also applied to North Koreans and certain Venezuelan government officials and their families, but judges allowed bans on those nationals to continue.
The 9th Circuit decision is a win for the Trump administration, which has struggled since January in three attempts to push similar travel bans that immigration advocates and federal judges have largely described as illegal.”
Read the full article at the link.
Some good news for the Administration. But, less than a complete victory. And, the merits of the appeal remain to be decided. Stay tuned!
“The GAO report examined how the Border Patrol deploys agents and the effectiveness of checkpoints it staffs. Auditors say the agency has fewer agents now than it is supposed to have under a 2011 congressional mandate, which required 21,370 agents.
But as of this May the agency had just 19,500, or 1,870 fewer than required.
Compounding the problem is that agents are leaving faster than they can be replaced. Auditors say that between 2013 and 2016 the Border Patrol hired an average of 523 agents each year — and saw an average of 904 leave.
Reasons include better pay at competing agencies, a hiring process that requires applicants to pass a polygraph exam (which other agencies don’t require) and assignments that often send new agents to remote locations along the border.
The audit also sheds new light on where immigrants without permission to enter are apprehended and where drug are seized.
Four in 10 apprehensions between 2012 and 2016 occurred within half a mile of the border.
However, between 64% and 70% of all drug seizures by the agencies occurred more than 10 miles from the border, where immigration officials operate a network of checkpoints.Only 11% of drug seizures occurred close to the border, and checkpoints account for less than 2% of apprehensions of unauthorized immigrants.
The checkpoints are controversial, with critics saying they are not effective, easily circumvented and violate constitutional rights.
The audit said that the effectiveness of these checkpoints can’t be resolved in large part because the agency still does not have good data collection practices. Auditors have urged better data collection as far back as 2009 but say there are still gaps in reporting that make analyzing the checkpoints’ effectiveness problematic.
The inspector general’s report examines the management challenges facing Homeland Security, which includes Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol and ICE, and says the agencies can’t yet justify hiring thousands more agents and officers.
“Neither CBP nor ICE could provide complete data to support the operational need or deployment strategies for the 15,000 additional agents and officers they were directed to hire,” the report said, adding that the agencies faced “notable difficulties” in making hires.
In a report one year ago the inspector general said that it took about nine months to hire a single Border Patrol agent and about seven months to hire an ICE officer.
The new report noted that while hiring times have improved there are still “significant delays.” It attributed those delays to not having enough hiring staff or the internal systems needed to hire staff efficiently.”
Read the complete story at the link.
The incompetence of DHS Immigration Enforcement is an issue that needs to be addressed before Congress throws yet more money and bodies into the morass. A rational approach would look something like this:
Hire the currently authorized number of agents first;
Retain the current more rigorous hiring standards (immigration enforcement has significant corruption issues; lowering standards to put more agents on duty is like an “open invitation” for infiltration by international criminal cartels and even terrorist organizations);
Improve pay, training, and working conditions for agents to reduce attrition;
Improve data collection to ascertain whether additional agents would meaningfully contribute to enforcement and how additional agents would be deployed;
Improve hiring times without sacrificing quality;
Focus and prioritize enforcement on criminals, antisocial individuals, and new arrivals not claiming asylum or other protection;
Work for a legislative solution that would legalize the bulk of the productive, law-abiding, undocumented migrants currently present, thus removing them from the “enforcement map;”
Create additional avenues for legal immigration to meet US employer needs and largely eliminate the “employment magnet” for illegal migration;
Once the foregoing are complete, do an objective analysis of whether additional enforcement agents are really necessary (chances are that with management improvements and legislative reforms, the current number of positions, if actually filled and on duty, is more than adequate).
“Despite the Trump administration’s repeated attempts to frame illegal immigration as a threat to public safety, the poll also found an overwhelming majority believe that people without legal residency help revitalize cities as opposed to increasing crime.
The survey results, poll analysts and policy experts said, reflect ongoing trends in California, where through the decades the public has tended to support immigrants in the country illegally, even when federal or state political leaders have stoked anti-immigrant sentiment to rally their bases.
“We have seen this in California forever,” said Jill Darling, the survey director for the Center for Economic and Social Research at USC. “People, including Republicans, have been more supportive of immigrants and reform, even to the point of supporting a path to citizenship, more so than Republican leadership.”
Most poll participants also expressed positive perceptions of people without legal residency in the country.
Nearly 63% of people surveyed said they believed immigrants without legal status strengthened the economy, as opposed to roughly 38% who said they took away jobs. Sixty-six percent said immigrants in the country illegally helped revitalize cities, and about 34% — including more than 72% of Republicans — believed they increased crime.
Policy experts said the poll results reflect the explosive growth of Latinos, Asians and other minority communities that tend to lean Democratic. California’s families are so diverse, they said, that nearly everyone knows someone who came to the country as an immigrant — legally or illegally.
It also reflects a shift away from the “us-versus-them” rhetoric that damaged the Republican brand in the 1990s, political consultants and immigration policy experts said. During that time, Gov. Pete Wilson was criticized for using footage of people running across the border to dramatize the problem of illegal immigration, and voters passed propositions to bar immigrants in the country illegally from public benefits, outlaw affirmative action programs and teach only English in schools.
That “no longer reflects our reality,” said Mindy Romero, director of the California Civic Engagement Project. “In a state like California, immigrants are us.”
Andrew Medina, state policy manager for Asian Americans Advancing Justice, said he wasn’t surprised by the results of the poll — or by the approval among California residents for the sanctuary state law. A study released in February by the Public Policy Institute of California found that a solid majority of Californians believe the state and local governments should make their own policies and take action to protect the rights of immigrants who are here illegally.
The final language of the sanctuary state law was the result of months of tough negotiations among Gov. Jerry Brown, Senate leader and bill author Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), and law enforcement officials.
It will largely prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from holding or sharing information about people with federal immigration agents unless those individuals have been convicted of one or more offenses from a list of 800 crimes outlined in a 2013 state law.
Federal immigration authorities still will be able to work with state corrections officials — a key concession Brown had demanded — and will be able to enter county jails to question immigrants. But the state attorney general’s office will be required to publish guidelines and training recommendations to limit immigration agents’ access to personal information.
“It is positive that these polls show that there is support for immigrant communities, and it is especially positive in this era,” Medina said.
Still, Romero advised caution.
“Discrimination against immigrants is very real and a danger,” she said, pointing to anti-immigrant rhetoric at the national level. “I think we can’t rest on a changing landscape in California and just assume that things will continue to be more receptive and open.”
Read the complete article at the link.
The Trump-Sessions-Miller-Bannon bogus White Nationalist program of portraying bigotry and racism as “law enforcement” ultimately will fail. Truth will win out. But, that doesn’t mean that lots of damage won’t be inflicted along the way by restrictionists on vulnerable individuals, their defenders, our society, our economy, and our international leadership and reputation.
Resist the false messages with truth! Support truth with action!
“The Trump administration said Monday it will end a special reprieve from deportation for thousands of Nicaraguans who have been allowed to stay in the U.S. for years, but delayed a decision on similar protections for tens of thousands of Hondurans.
The Department of Homeland Security announced that it would not renew Temporary Protected Status for about 5,300 Nicaraguans whose protections under the program expire on Jan. 5. They will be allowed to stay in the U.S. only until Jan. 5, 2019, unless they qualify to stay under other provisions of immigration law, senior administration officials told reporters.
But the administration gave a six month reprieve to some 86,000 Hondurans also covered by the program. The officials said that acting Homeland Security secretary Elaine Duke needed more time to determine if conditions in Honduras had improved enough to allow them to return home.
. . . .
The administration’s actions have been closely eyed for any signal about similar protections for larger groups of people who came from other troubled countries, including Haiti and El Salvador. Deadlines come due soon for deciding on whether to renew protections for those groups.“
Read the complete article at the link.
I wonder whether the absence of a permanent Secretary entered into the decision to defer/delay decisions on the most numerous and controversial TPS categories.
“MEXICO CITY — The United States and Mexico are teaming up in a new effort to stem the flow of immigrants from Central America, even as President Trump carries out policy changes that critics argue could spur insecurity in the region and drive more people north.
In recent years, more people entering the U.S. illegally have come from Central American countries than from Mexico, with more than 200,000 Central Americans detained at the border in 2016.
The new initiative aims to discourage people from leaving Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala by funding projects over the next six months to improve the economies and security situation in those countries while reducing corruption.
“We’re taking on what we both recognize as the drivers of mass migration,” said Mark Green, the administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, who announced the collaboration Thursday after meeting with his counterparts in Mexico City.
Migrants don’t want to leave their homes and family behind, Green said. “If we can take on those drivers at home, then kids get a normal life.”
While Trump asked for a reduction in funding for Central America in his proposed budget to Congress earlier this year — part of a suggested 30% cutback across the State Department — the initiative is a continuation of a strategy forged by his predecessor.
President Obama persuaded Congress to approve more than $750 million in development aid for Central America after more than 68,000 children traveling without an adult were apprehended at the border in 2014. Most of them came from the so-called Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
In June, Vice President Mike Pence seemed committed to that approach when he met with leaders from Mexico and the Northern Triangle to discuss ways to prevent citizens from migrating to the United States.
Still, experts said those efforts could be undercut by Trump’s other actions in the region.
In August, Trump ended an Obama-era program that granted temporary legal residence in the U.S. to Central American children who could prove they were under threat of violence. The program was designed as a safe and legal alternative for children who might have otherwise sought to migrate alone. Without it, migrant advocates fear more minors will head north with smugglers.
Advocates also warn that other migration-related policies the administration has enacted or is weighing could destabilize the region by leading to much higher levels of deportations of Central Americans from the U.S.
In September, Trump announced that he would be ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era initiative that shields from deportation 800,000 migrants brought to the U.S. as children.
Trump is also weighing whether to renew protections for immigrants living in the country with Temporary Protected Status, which was granted to tens of thousands of migrants in the wake of natural disasters in Honduras, El Salvador and several other countries.
The president has repeatedly called for deporting members of MS-13, a gang active in both the U.S. and El Salvador. In a speech this summer, Trump called the gang members “animals” and promised “they’ll be out of here quickly.”
Mass deportations could be seriously disruptive in the small, poor countries of Central America, said Eric Olson, an expert on the region at the nonpartisan Wilson Center think tank in Washington. It was the large-scale deportation of MS-13 gang members to El Salvador beginning in the 1990s, he said, that helped turn the country into one of the most violent in the world.
“The Trump administration runs the risk of undermining its own policy goals,” Olson said. “If at the same time they’re sending back tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people who can’t really integrate well, you may create more instability, and eventually more migration.”
Read the rest of the article at the link.
When policy is driven by irrational factors like White Nationalism, xenophobia, and desire to score “points” with a political-cultural “base,” bad things are bound to happen. I strongly doubt that immigration issues can be solved just by enforcement on the “receiving end” without some realistic program to deal with the “push” factors driving human migration (including country conditions and market forces on both ends).
“Judy London merges onto the freeway, heading northeast toward a high desert already baking under a recently risen sun. From West Los Angeles, she faces a two-hour, 100-mile drive to the Adelanto Detention Facility to meet a client who is being deported. The commute time can double if rush-hour traffic is particularly bad.
London arrives at the facility and walks up a concrete path flanked by gravel to the detention facility’s entrance. Once inside, rows of chairs and lockers greet her, as does a guard. She checks in but can’t meet her client yet — the facility is undergoing its daily head count, and she has to wait until it’s finished.
It can take another hour from this moment. London still has to be cleared through security and have a guard escort her client to her.
Finally, she has to wait for an interview room. Adelanto Detention Facility has an average daily population of 1,785, but only a handful of rooms designated for lawyer-client meetings. And once a room is available, she’ll have to take all her notes by hand. The facility prohibits the use of phones, laptops and other electronic devices.
London, like many immigration attorneys, spends a lot of time just trying to meet face-to-face with her clients. It’s a good day when she actually meets them. On bad days, she can spend hours traveling, only to be turned away.
The facility in recent months has refused entrance to attorneys for a variety of reasons, including a chickenpox outbreak and hunger strikes.
“Generally, it is far easier for me, as an attorney, to walk into a high-security local or federal prison unannounced to visit a client than it is to get into a detention facility to see someone. And that is odd,” said London, directing attorney for Public Counsel’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.
Most immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement while their deportation cases are being considered don’t have an attorney.
Immigration detention is considered civil detention and, as a result, detainees do not have a right to counsel as they would in criminal cases.
Immigration attorneys say geography is a significant hurdle.
Many ICE facilities in the U.S. are located in smaller cities, hours from cities where most legal aid organizations operate. So even if the government makes legal aid resources available, they can be miles away.
About 30% of detained immigrants are held in facilities more than 100 miles from the nearest government-listed legal aid resource, according to a Times analysis of 70 ICE detention centers.
Of these, the median distance between the facilities and the nearest government-listed legal aid was 56 miles.
The farthest is Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden, Ala. Alabama doesn’t have an immigration court, so immigrants detained there are referred to the Loyola Law Clinic — 408 miles away in New Orleans.
Immigrants facing deportation are provided with a list of available pro bono legal aid and services. The list is administered by the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, which calls it an “essential tool.”
Providers on the pro bono list — mostly nonprofits — aren’t required to offer free services to every detainee, according to the Justice Department, and only a lucky few get help from pro bono lawyers.
UCLA law professor Ingrid Eagly analyzed 1.2 million deportation cases between 2007 and 2012 and found that just 2% of immigration detainees had free legal representation. Most immigrant attorneys came from solo practitioners or small firms.
The location of detention facilities in remote locations can pose a logistical challenge to the court system as well as the attorneys. Court procedure can vary by jurisdiction. Some have judges at the facility. Some conduct business by teleconference. Some use a combination of the two.
. . . . .
ICE officials did not answer specific questions about why detained immigrants are significantly less likely to obtain counsel or allegations that systemic hurdles limit access to legal representation.
The agency has previously said that it is “very supportive and very accommodating” to detainees who wish to have a lawyer. ICE spokeswoman Jennifer D. Elzea said the department maintained that position.
“ICE is committed to allowing detainees access to visits, telephones, legal counsel and law library resources. Additionally, all facilities have notifications posted throughout providing information about pro bono legal services,” Elzea said in a statement.
No attorney or legal aid group interviewed for this report agreed with ICE’s position.
“The government is locking people up in remote jails and prisons hundreds of miles from attorneys, and arguing that having phones there that sometimes work is sufficient access to counsel,” National Immigrant Justice Center Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy said in response to ICE’s statement.
“The government spends billions of dollars to sustain — and expand — a system that obstructs lawyers’ ability to defend their clients’ due process rights. We’ve been told by ICE that the agency does not consider availability or proximity of counsel as any part of its assessment of the suitability of a new detention center, and we have no reason to believe that it cares at all whether people in detention have lawyers,” she said.
Immigrant rights proponents see little chance of reform under President Trump.
The administration’s executive orders on immigration have reversed enforcement priorities. Arrests increased by 37.6% during Trump’s first 100 days in office compared with the same period in 2016, according to ICE data.
The fight for reform will take place in more liberal cities and states, and through the efforts of legal aid groups.
The Southern Poverty Law Center recently started the Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative. The goal is to provide counsel to every detained immigrant in the Southeast — a region with a high number of deportation cases.
But the program, said Dan Werner, who directs the initiative, was a stopgap measure built out of necessity.
“The real solution is systemic reform of immigration policy,” he said.
In March, New York became the first state to dedicate funding to providing pro bono legal services to every detained immigrant.
And in June, California lawmakers put $45 million in the state budget to expand legal services for immigrants.
Attorneys and advocates view such measures as incremental.
“In most cases, there won’t be accountability in the government,” London said, “so there’s no incentive for them to address it.”
Read the complete article at the link.
Next time you hear Jeff “Gonzo Apocalyto” Sessions deliver one of his self-righteous, fact-free attacks on asylum seekers and their advocates, remember that the REAL FRAUDSTER HERE IS “GONZO” HIMSELF and his knowingly false narrative about asylum seekers that he uses to “cover up” the intentional abuses of legal and human rights being carried out by ICE and EOIR under his direction. Accountability, addressing the real need for reforms in the immigration enforcement and Immigration Court systems to insure Constitutional Due Process? Not going to happen on “Gonzo’s Watch.”
“The woman on the other end of the line said her husband had been beating her for years, even while she was pregnant.
She was in danger and wanted help, but was in the country illegally — and was convinced she would be deported if she called authorities. Fearful her husband would gain custody of her children, she wanted nothing to do with the legal system.
It is a story that Jocelyn Maya, program supervisor at the domestic violence shelter Su Casa in Long Beach, has heard often this year.
In the first six months of 2017, reports of domestic violence have declined among Latino residents in some of California’s largest cities, a retreat that crisis professionals say is driven by a fear that interacting with police or entering a courthouse could make immigrants easy targets for deportation.
President Trump’s aggressive stance on illegal immigration, executive orders greatly expanding the number of people who can be targeted for deportation and news reports of U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement agents making arrests at courthouses have contributed to the downturn, according to civil liberties and immigrant rights advocates.
In Los Angeles, Latinos reported 3.5% fewer instances of spousal abuse in the first six months of the year compared with 2016, while reporting among non-Latino victims was virtually unchanged, records show. That pattern extends beyond Los Angeles to cities such as San Francisco and San Diego, which recorded even steeper declines of 18% and 13%, respectively.
Domestic violence is traditionally an under-reported crime. Some police officials and advocates now say immigrants without legal status also may become targets for other crimes because of their reluctance to contact law enforcement.
The Long Beach abuse victim, fearing she had no other recourse, sent her oldest children back to Mexico to live with relatives.
“We’re supposed to be that assurance that they don’t have. That safety net,” Maya said. “But it’s getting harder for us to have a positive word for them and say: ‘It’s going to be OK. You can go into a courtroom. You can call the police.’ ”
Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputy Marino Gonzalez said he addresses such apprehension frequently as he patrols the streets of East L.A. — even though his department doesn’t question people about their immigration status.
“They’re afraid of us. And the reason they’re afraid of us is because they think we’re going to deport them. They don’t know that we don’t deport them; we don’t ask for their immigration status,” he said. “They just gotta go based on what they see on social media and what they hear from other people.”
On a warm afternoon, Gonzalez pulled his cruiser to a stop near a row of apartments in Cudahy, ahead of a community meeting in a predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhood. There was a lone woman waiting for Gonzalez and a few other deputies, offering lemonade to passersby.
Gonzalez spoke calmly to the assembly of several dozen people sipping from Styrofoam cups.
“We’re not here to ask you where you’re from,” he said in Spanish, drawing thankful nods.
Gonzalez, who came to the U.S. from Mexico as a child, said he knows why people are scared, but hopes face-to-face conversations will persuade more victims to come forward.
“The community here, they don’t know, and they won’t know, unless we reach out,” he said.
ICE officials also said they do not target crime victims for deportation and, in fact, often extend visas to those who report violent crime and sexual abuse.
Officials in the agency’s Los Angeles office declined to be interviewed. ICE issued a statement dismissing links between immigration enforcement and a decline in crime reporting among immigrants as “speculative and irresponsible.”
The drop in reporting could result from an overall decrease in domestic violence crimes, the agency said. But police statistics reviewed by The Times suggest that statement is inaccurate. The decline in domestic violence reports among Latinos in several cities is far steeper than overall declines in reporting of those crimes.
In Los Angeles and San Diego, reporting of domestic violence crimes remained unchanged among non-Latinos. The decline among Latinos in San Diego was more than double the overall citywide decrease, records show. In San Francisco, the reporting decline among Latinos was nearly triple the citywide decrease.
The pattern extends outside California.
In April, Houston police Chief Art Acevedo said the number of Latino victims reporting sexual assault had dropped 42% in his city. In Denver, at least nine women abandoned pursuit of restraining orders against their abusers after immigration enforcement agents were filmed making an arrest in a city courthouse earlier this year, according to City Atty. Kristi Bronson.
Claude Arnold, who oversaw ICE operations in Southern California from 2010 to 2015, said misconceptions about the agency may be driving the downswing. Crime victims are far more likely to receive a visa application than a removal order by reporting an attack, he said.
“ICE still has a policy that we don’t pursue removal proceedings against victims or witnesses of crime, and I haven’t seen any documented instances where that actually happened,” he said. “To a great degree, we facilitate those people having legal status in the U.S.”
Nationwide, the number of arrests made by ICE agents for violations of immigration law surged by 37% in the first half of 2017. In Southern California, those arrests increased by 4.5%.
Arnold said some immigrants’ rights activists have helped facilitate a climate of fear by spreading inaccurate information about ICE sweeps that either didn’t happen, or were in line with the Obama administration’s policies.
But professionals who deal with domestic violence victims say the perception of hardcore enforcement tactics under Trump has led to widespread panic.
Adam Dodge, legal director at an Orange County domestic violence shelter called Laura’s House, said that before February, nearly half of the center’s client base were immigrants in the country illegally. That month, ICE agents in Texas entered a courthouse to arrest a woman without legal status who was seeking a restraining order against an abuser.
“We went from half our clients being undocumented, to zero undocumented clients,” he said.
A video recording earlier this year of a father being arrested by ICE agents moments after dropping his daughter off at a Lincoln Heights school had a similar effect on abuse victims in neighboring Boyle Heights, said Rebeca Melendez, director of wellness programs for the East L.A. Women’s Center.
“They instilled the ultimate fear into our community,” she said. “They know they can trust us, but they are not trusting very many people past us.”
Even when victims come forward, defense attorneys sometimes use the specter of ICE as a weapon against them, to the frustration of prosecutors.
In the Bay Area, a Daly City man was facing battery charges earlier this year after flashing a knife and striking the mother of his girlfriend, according to court records. The man’s defense attorney raised the fact that the victim was in the country illegally during pretrial hearings, although a judge eventually ruled that evidence was irrelevant and inadmissible at trial, records show.
The case ended in a hung jury. But when prosecutors sought a retrial, the victim said she would not cooperate, in part, because her immigration status was raised during the trial, said Max Szabo, a spokesman for the San Francisco district attorney’s office.
San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascon said the case was one of several where his prosecutors felt defense attorneys sought to leverage heightened fears of deportation against victims. He believes that tactic, combined with ICE’s expanded priorities and presence in courthouses, is driving down domestic violence reporting among immigrants in the city’s sprawling Latino and Asian communities.
Gascon described the situation as a “replay” of the fear he saw in the immigrant community while he was the police chief in Mesa, Ariz., during notorious Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s crusade against people without legal status, which led to accusations of racial profiling.
Stephanie Penrod, managing attorney for the Family Violence Law Center in Oakland, also said the number of immigrants without legal status willing to seek aid from law enforcement has dwindled.
Abusers frequently will threaten to call immigration enforcement agents on their victims, a threat Penrod believes has more teeth now given ICE’s increased presence in courthouses.
“The biggest difference for us now is those threats are legitimate,” she said. “Previously we used to advise them we couldn’t prevent an abuser from calling ICE, but that it was unlikely ICE would do anything.”
If the problem persists, Gascon fears the consequences could be deadly.
“The level of violence increases,” he said. “It could, in some cases, lead to severe injury or homicide.”
ICE, of course, denies this is happening. But, as shown by this article, the denials simply are refuted by the facts (as shown in the above charts) and by the officers and social services agencies who actually deal with the community. We simply can’t trust any statement on immigration emanating from the Trump Administration. They lack credibility. Something that is going to be a long term problem for ICE once immigration enforcement is finally “normalized.” Once lost, trust is unlikely to be regained any time soon. “Gonzo” enforcement does long-term irreparable damage. That’s why so many communities are resisting the Trump Administration program.
“When Jennye Pagoada Lopez arrived at the U.S. border post of San Ysidro in July seeking political asylum, she showed agents ultrasound images of her pregnancy and told them she was bleeding and needed immediate medical attention.
But instead of taking her to the hospital, they detained her for more than a day before transferring her to the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego.
It took two days to get a medical exam. Four days after that, she was informed that she had a miscarriage.
That was the account she gave in a sworn declaration to her lawyers.
“I was neglected, subjected to abusive conditions and denied medical treatment when requested,” she testified.
Pagoada is among ten women whose testimony was included in a complaint filed this week against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security by seven rights groups accusing immigration officials of improperly detaining pregnant women and failing to provide them with adequate medical care.
The complaint — made to the department’s inspector general and civil rights officer — alleges that the women suffered physical and psychological harm and asks the department to investigate the cases and report on what steps immigration authorities will take to enforce its policies on the detention and treatment of pregnant women.
“We are gravely concerned with the agency’s failure to abide by its own policy against detaining pregnant women, the detention conditions that have been reported by pregnant women in various detention facilities across the country, and the lack of quality medical care provided to women who are pregnant or have suffered miscarriages while in custody,” the complaint said.”
Read the rest of Melissa’s report at the link.
The American Gulag intends to demean, dehumanize, demoralize, and discourage migrants like Jenny Pagoda Lopez.
But, the reality is that Lopez and others like her come out as human, brave, and courageous.
The truth is that all Americans are demeaned and dehumanized by unnecessary immigraton detention. It is a stain on our humanity, our professed values, and our national conscience that will not easily be washed away.
“JUST SAY NO” to politicos who support, actively or passively, this un-American regime!
“California’s new “sanctuary state” bill limiting local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration agents drew support Saturday from Los Angeles officials, but a stinging rebuke from the Trump administration, whose Justice Department said the measure “undermines national security and law enforcement.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti said he was “grateful” to the legislature, while Police Chief Charlie Beck said the bill built on 40 years of the city’s efforts to foster trust in immigrant communities.
“We are committed to reducing crime through community partnerships and constitutional policing,” said Beck.
The legislation passed early Saturday drastically scaled back the version first introduced, the result of tough negotiations between Gov. Jerry Brown and the bill’s author, Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), in the final weeks of the legislative session. The bill, SB 54, must still be signed by the governor.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, an early and prominent opponent of the bill, said the changes had satisfied his concerns that it would hurt immigrants more than it would help them.
“While not perfect, [the bill] kept intact our ability to maintain partnerships with federal law enforcement officials who help us in the fight against gangs, drugs and human trafficking,” McDonnell said in a written statement. “It also retains the controlled access that the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement has to our jails.”
The Trump administration, which earlier threatened to withhold federal grants from sanctuary cities, warned that the bill threatened public safety.
“Just last month another illegal alien allegedly killed a community volunteer, yet state lawmakers inexplicably voted today to return criminal aliens back onto our streets,” said Devin O’Malley, a spokesman for the U.S Department of Justice. “This abandonment of the rule of law by the Legislature continues to put Californians at risk, and undermines national security and law enforcement.”
Read the rest of the article at the link.
As usual, the DOJ’s inflammatory reference to “another illegal alien” is totally counterproductive and spreads the “Sessions myth” that that the migrant community is synonymous with a crime wave and that gonzo law enforcement is good law enforcement.
But, the Trump Administration actually spends more time and effort removing so-called “collaterals” — individuals with no criminal record — from their communities — than it does either solving or preventing serious crime. And, it is destroying hard-earned trust between local communities and police while further and unnecessarily destroying the already overburdened U.S. Immigration Courts in the process. Now, that’s what I call “gonzo enforcement.” Everybody loses, including the Feds.
Obviously, communities want to remain safe from dangerous individuals. The overwhelming number of undocumented individuals in the community are law abiding residents who share the desire for a safe community in which to raise their families and are more likely to be victims of crime, key witnesses, or police informants than they are to be criminals.
From what I can see, the California law, at the insistence of Governor Brown (who helped out the GOP and the Administration when they punted), has preserved large areas of cooperation between the Feds and locals in taking dangerous individuals who happen to be foreign nationals off the streets. Rather than building upon this, and expressing some appreciation for the work of the Governor’s office in adjusting the bill to meet the legitimate needs for cooperation between state and local authorities, the DOJ just keeps reading from its shopworn (largely imaginary) “parade of horribles” that is intended to scapegoat migrant communities, and even ethnic Americans, many of whom live in those communities, without addressing the realistic needs for cooperative community policing or serious immigration reform.
We’ll see what happens. But, what California has come up with could conceivably serve as a model for smart local-federal cooperation on immigraton enforcement with a future and “smarter” and less ideologically driven DOJ and Administration.
“California lawmakers on Saturday passed a “sanctuary state” bill to protect immigrants without legal residency in the U.S., part of a broader push by Democrats to counter expanded deportation orders under the Trump administration.
The legislation by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), the most far-reaching of its kind in the country, would limit state and local law enforcement communication with federal immigration authorities, and prevent officers from questioning and holding people on immigration violations.
After passionate debate in both houses of the Legislature, staunch opposition from Republican sheriffs and threats from Trump administration officials against sanctuary cities, Senate Bill 54 was approved Saturday with a 27-11 vote along party lines. But the bill sent to Gov. Jerry Brown drastically scaled back the version first introduced, the result of tough negotiations between Brown and De León in the final weeks of the legislative session.
On the Senate floor minutes before 2 a.m. on Saturday, De León said the changes were reasonable, and reflected a powerful compromise between law enforcement officials and advocates.
“These amendments do not mean to erode the core mission of this measure, which is to protect hardworking families that have contributed greatly to our culture and the economy,” he said. “This is a measure that reflects the values of who we are as a great state.”
It’s a wrap for the California Legislature for 2017. Here’s what lawmakers accomplished
Officially dubbed the “California Values Act,” the legislation initially would have prohibited state and local law enforcement agencies from using any resources to hold, question or share information about people with federal immigration agents, unless they had violent or serious criminal convictions.
After talks with Brown, amendments to the bill made this week would allow federal immigration authorities to keep working with state corrections officials and to continue entering county jails to question immigrants. The legislation would also permit police and sheriffs to share information and transfer people to immigration authorities if they have been convicted of one or more crimes from a list of 800 outlined in a previous law, the California Trust Act.
Some immigrant rights advocates who were previously disappointed with the list of offenses under the Trust Act, were dismayed to see the same exceptions applied in the so-called sanctuary state bill. The list includes many violent and serious crimes, as well as some nonviolent charges and “wobblers,” offenses that can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, which advocates said has the potential to ensnare people who do not pose a danger to the public.
But immigrant rights groups did not withdraw their support for Senate Bill 54 and also won some concessions. Under the additions to the bill, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation would have to develop new standards to protect people held on immigration violations, and to allow immigrant inmates to receive credits toward their sentences serviced if they undergo rehabilitation and educational programs while incarcerated.”
Read the full article at the link.
While termed a “Sanctuary State” law, I think that is a misnomer. I’d call it more of a “Smart Immigration Enforcement” law.
The bill provides for a wide scope of cooperation, access, and information sharing aimed at getting dangerous migrants off the streets. At the same time, the bill does limit ICE’s notorious “bait and switch” tactic.
That’s when ICE puts out lots of hyperbole about “removing criminals” and “making communities safer,” while actually using state authorities to assist them in “sacking up” lots of so-called “collaterals” — generally law abiding productive members of the community who are among the millions residing in the United States without status. It’s the latter rather random use of Federal Immigration Enforcement authority that actually hurts communities, sows unnecessary fear, wastes resources, and makes communities less safe for everyone, regardless of status.
It appears that Gov. Brown took a proactive role in achieving this balance, since Republicans evidently were more anxious to pontificate than negotiate. Also, if, Trump and Sessions were truly interested in making America safer, it seems like negotiating deals with the locals that addressed the common need to remove criminals without creating unnecessary barriers between the police and otherwise law abiding members of the community without status would have made more sense than threats and public shaming. It’s also significant that although they had reservations about the compromise version, leaders of the immigrant community strongly supported the revised bill.
I’m sure that this new law will quickly end up in court.
“Within days of the terrorist attack that destroyed the World Trade Center, word spread in the immigrant neighborhoods of New York that workers were desperately needed to aid in the cleanup. The job would pay cash, about $10 an hour — no questions asked about Society Security cards or immigration status.
Then 32, Carlos Cardona had watched with horror from a construction site across the river in Brooklyn. Although his construction job paid a little better, he felt he ought to pitch in to help the country where he’d lived since his teens, having moved illegally from Colombia. He was married to a U.S. citizen and raising a 2-year-old daughter.
“The money wasn’t very good. But I felt I had to be there to do what I could,’’ Cardona said. “It was an emergency. We had to serve.”
Today he suffers from respiratory and digestive disorders, known as “World Trade Center syndrome,” that have left him unable to climb a flight of stairs and dependent for his medical care on clinics set up for 9/11 responders.
He also faces a predicament shared by up to 2,000 immigrants who helped to clean up after Sept. 11, 2001: the threat of deportation.
After more than three decades in the United States, Cardona was detained Feb. 28 after showing up for one of his regularly scheduled check-ins with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in New York. Days earlier, the Trump administration had issued a memorandum prioritizing the removal of immigrants in the U.S. illegally with criminal records.
“They told me there is a new president and the law has changed,’’ Cardona said. He had plead guilty to a nonviolent drug offense in 1990 and served 28 days in jail — which later hurt his ability to legalize his status despite being married to a U.S. citizen.
He was transferred to an immigrant detention center in Kearny, N.J., and then to a facility in Louisiana. His deportation was averted in June only through the intervention of his congressman, Joseph Crowley, and the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, who issued Cardona a hasty pardon for the drug offense.”
Read the complete article, which also describes legislative efforts to save these deserving Americans from the Trump-Sessions gonzo enforcement insanity.
Lets take a look behind The Administration’s misleading removal numbers. We already know that most of the removals are “collaterals” without any serious criminal records.
But someone like Cardona is no-doubt misleadingly chalked up as a “drug felon deportation.” Yet, his nonviolent drug conviction was nearly three decades ago for which he served a grand total of 28 days (probably less time than he recently spent in ICE detention before politicos intervened in his behalf).
Since then, he apparently has lived a productive law abiding life, and is the husband of a US citizen and the father of a US citizen daughter. He had been faithfully and voluntarily showing up for his immigration check-ins until the Trump-Sessions-Kelly redefinition of “criminal priorities” snared him. (This is what passes for “law enforcement” in the Trump Administration.) And, he is disabled as a result of the dangerous work he undertook for our country after 9-11. He doesn’t fit any sane definition of a “criminal alien” or an “enforcement priority.”
Under the Obama Administration’s more reasonable and realistic “enforcement priorities” he would have been given prosecutorial discretion (“PD”). Yet, but for some unusual high level intervention, he would have been summarily removed by this Administration (and, by no means it it clear hat he won’t eventually be removed).
So, the next time you hear Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions or anyone else in this Administration pontificate about the importance of immigration enforcement, you can be pretty sure that the real story is something quite different from the White Nationalist restrictionist narrative they are trying to pass off on the public. Sessions and Trump are proven, and brazen, liars. And their “gonzo” immigration enforcement program is hurting, not protecting, America.
“A federal judge in Detroit has temporarily halted the deportations of more than 1,400 Iraqi immigrants, ruling that they deserve to have their cases play out in court because of the risk that they could be targeted for persecution in Iraq.
In a ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith said the immigrants faced a “compelling confluence of extraordinary circumstances” and that the government’s attempt to rush their deportations was a violation of their rights.
Many of the Iraqis arrived in the U.S. as children as far back as the 1980s and have few ties to their native country. The majority are members of religious or ethnic minorities such as Chaldean Christians or Kurds, who have been subjected to torture and other forms of repression in Iraq.
They face deportation because they had overstayed visas or committed crimes, typically misdemeanors such as driving under the influence of alcohol.
They had been allowed to stay in the U.S. because for decades Iraq had refused to take them back. But in March, the Trump administration reached a deal with the Iraqi government to accept them and in June began rounding them up in immigration raids.
As of July 1, 234 had been arrested and detained around the country, including large numbers in Detroit, home to thousands of Chaldean Christians.
Returning the immigrants to Iraq would in some cases be akin to issuing a death sentence, according to civil rights and immigrant rights groups that filed a lawsuit in Detroit federal court in late June to block deportations of those immigrants who had been living in Detroit.
Many had been transferred multiple times to various detention facilities, making it harder for them to get legal representation and prepare their cases, advocates said.”
Here is a full copy of Judge Goldsmith’s opinion in Hamama v. Adducci detailing the Government’s efforts to obstruct and derail due process:
“Minors who enter the U.S. without permission must be given a court hearing to determine whether they can be released, a federal appeals court panel decided unanimously Wednesday.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said immigration authorities continue to be bound by a 1997 lawsuit settlement that guaranteed court hearings for minor immigrants, set standards for their detention and established a policy in favor of their release.
Following that settlement, Congress passed two laws dealing with unaccompanied minor immigrants. The federal government argued those laws replaced the settlement and revoked the right to bond hearings.
The 9th Circuit disagreed.
“In the absence of such hearings, these children are held in bureaucratic limbo, left to rely upon the [government’s] alleged benevolence and opaque decision making,” Judge Stephen Reinhardt, a Carter appointee, wrote for the court.
The settlement of Flores vs. Janet Reno required that juveniles detained near the border or elsewhere without a parent must be given bond hearings.
The hearings gave minors the right to a lawyer, an opportunity to learn and challenge government evidence against them and the right to contest being locked up, the panel said.
The 9th Circuit cited evidence that the government has been holding minors for months or even years without hearings, even when parents are nearby and can care for them.
Among them was a boy identified only as Hector, who was detained in California at the age of 15 for 480 days, mostly in a locked facility in Yolo County. The ruling did not say why Hector was picked up.
In a declaration, Hector described the Yolo County facility as a prison, where minors were locked in cells at night to sleep on cement benches with mattresses.
During 16 months there, Hector was not given a lawyer or an explanation about why he was being held even though his mother in Los Angeles was seeking his release, the 9th Circuit said.
Without any explanation, the federal government released Hector in December “into the custody of the person who had been advocating for his freedom all along — his mother,” Reinhardt wrote.
The court cited evidence that some juveniles have agreed to deportation rather than face continued incarceration without their families.
“Unaccompanied minors today face an impossible choice between what is, in effect, indefinite detention in prison, and agreeing to their own removal and possible persecution” in their native countries, Reinhardt wrote.
The ruling upheld a decision by Los Angeles-based U.S. Dist. Judge Dolly M. Gee, an Obama appointee.
The government may appeal the panel’s decision to a larger 9th Circuit panel or to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lawyers in the case could not be reached for comment.”
Here’s a link to the 9th Circuit’s full 40-page opinion:
If you want to skip the legal gobbledygook (although the fact situations described are interesting and meaningful), the bottom lines are: 1) the last four Administrations have been to varying degrees tone-deaf to the needs of unaccompanied minors subject to immigration proceedings; 2) bond hearing before U.S. Immigration Judges play a critical role in protecting the rights of children and insuring due process.