U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith Halts Iraqi Removals

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-iraqi-deportations-20170724-story.html

Melissa Etehad reports in the LA Times:

“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:

https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/field_document/opinion_granting_pi.pdf

 

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Another defeat for the Trump Administration’s gonzo enforcement agenda.

PWS

07-25-17

9th Circuit Upholds Judge Gee’s Order Requiring Bond Hearings For Children! — Flores v. Sessions!

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-minor-immigrants-9th-circuit-20170705-story.html

Maura Dolan reports in the LA Times

“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:

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2017/07/05/17-55208.pdf

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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.

PWS

07-05-17

 

What Are The Five Most Cruel Provisions Of The Senate GOP’s “Trumpcare” Bill? — The GOP Tried To Bury Them, But The LA Times Exposed Them For You!

http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-senate-hidden-20170623-story.html

Michael Hiltzik reports for the LA Times:

“The Affordable Care Act repeal bill unveiled Thursday by Senate Republicanshas aptly drawn universal scorn from healthcare experts, hospital and physician groups and advocates for patients and the needy. That’s because the bill is a poorly-disguised massive tax cut for the wealthy, paid for by cutting Medicaid — which serves the middle class and the poor — to the bone.

Yet some of the measure’s most egregious, harshest provisions are well-disguised. They’re hidden deep in its underbrush or in the maze of legislative verbiage. We’ve ferreted out some of them and present them here in all their malevolent glory. In this effort we’ve built on ace detective work by Adrianna McIntyre, Nicholas Bagley of the University of Michigan, David Anderson of Duke University and balloon-juice.com, Andy Slavitt, the former head of Medicare and Medicaid in the Obama administration, and

Some of these provisions match those in the House Republicans’ repeal bill passed May 4, and some are even harsher — more “mean,” to use a term President Trump himself applied to the House bill. That bill, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would cost some 23 million Americans their health coverage by 2026. The Senate bill wouldn’t do much better, and might do worse.”

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Wow, how can members of the “national community” support doing in not only themselves (in many cases) but millions of their fellow citizens? I admit to “not getting it.”

I think it’s likely to pass. Why? Because if you forget the Dem & media “spin,” N/W/S “historic unpopularity,” Trump is still the most popular “active” politician in the US today. The Dems have failed to make any inroads whatsoever into the “Trump base.” And, the GOP is scared that failure to line up behind the Trump agenda will lead to their being punished by “the base.” So, in simple terms, the 60% of Americans who question or oppose the Trump Agenda are being “led around by the nose” by the 35-40% who love him (why is a total mystery). Trump is benefitting from the “leadership void” in American politics, particularly on the Democrats’ side.

PWS

06-23-17

 

Session’s Half Truths On Local Prosecutions

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/may/10/jeff-sessions/sessions-claims-district-attorneys-charge-immigran/

Miriam Valverde reports inPolitiFact:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions raised concerns to New York law enforcement officers over practices of some district attorneys that he said favored immigrants.

“It troubles me that we’ve seen district attorneys openly brag about not charging cases appropriately under the laws of our country, so that provides an opportunity for individuals not to be convicted of a crime that might lead to deportation,” Sessions said April 28 in Long Island, N.Y. “Some have advertised that they will charge a criminal alien with a lesser offense than presumably they would charge a United States citizen, so they won’t be deported. That baffles me.”

Is Sessions right about district attorneys advertising leniency in charges toward immigrants over U.S. citizens?

The Justice Department, led by Sessions, referred us to policies and practices of the Brooklyn District Attorney, Santa Clara District Attorney and Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office.

While all three jurisdictions refuted Sessions’ characterization of their policies, we found that some offices are considering alternative offenses a defendant can plead to in order to avoid “disproportionate collateral consequences,” such as deportation. They also point to a U.S. Supreme Court case that said considering deportation consequences in the plea-bargaining process may be a wise move for defendants and states.

Here’s an overview of those policies.”

. . . .

Sessions said district attorneys “advertise that they will charge a criminal alien with a lesser offense than presumably they would charge a United States citizen.”

District and state attorneys in Brooklyn, Santa Clara and Baltimore have issued directives for prosecutorial discretion in the handling of non-violent cases involving non-U.S. citizens (which includes immigrants living in the United States legally and illegally).

Attorneys told us that the alternative sentences are designed to help people avoid deportation for minor crimes, and that sometimes the plea deals mean the person ends up with a stricter or longer sentence, or a faster guilty plea. They also contend that they are not charging immigrants favorably over citizens, as policy consideration goes into effect after charges are made.

The Supreme Court recently recognized that deportations can represent a disproportionate punishment. A recent case found that defense attorneys must inform their clients when a plea carries a risk of deportation. Justices also noted that considering deportation consequences in the plea bargaining process may benefit both defendants and states.

Sessions’ statement is partially accurate, but leaves out important details or takes things out of context. We rate it Half True.”

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For a guy who plays as fast and loose with the truth as Sessions, I suppose half true is a relatively decent rating.  For anyone else, not so much. I’ve never seen even a shred of humanity and decency from this dude, at least on the issue of immigration.

Thanks to Nolan Rappaport for sending this in.

PWS

O5-15-17


 

Is Jeff Sessions About To Go After Tax Credits For U.S. Citizen Kids To Fund “The Wall?” — Sessions’s Motives Questioned — CA Girds For Legal Battle With USDOJ! — Trump Administration Fuels Federal Civil Litigation Bonanza!

http://theweek.com/speedreads/694129/sessions-says-mexicans-pay-border-wall-way-another

Bonnie Kristian reports in TheWeek.com:

“We’re going to get paid for it one way or the other,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said of President Trump’s proposed border wall while speaking with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. After raising the issue, Stephanopoulos asked if Sessions has any evidence Mexico will fund construction, as Trump repeatedly promised on the campaign trail.

Sessions conceded he does not expect the government of Mexico to “appropriate money,” but maintained the United States has other options to get money from Mexicans. We could “deal with our trade situation to create the revenue,” he suggested, or, “I know there’s $4 billion a year in excess payments,” Sessions continued, “tax credits that they shouldn’t get. Now, these are mostly Mexicans. And those kind of things add up — $4 billion a year for 10 years is $40 billion.”

Sessions appears to be referencing a 2011 audit report Trump also cited while campaigning. As Politifact explains, the report said that in 2011, $4.2 billion in child tax credits was paid to people filing income taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead of a Social Security number. Some of these filers are illegal immigrants, but many are legal foreign workers, and the audit did not say how many are Mexican.

“The vast majority of that $4.2 billion, the filer may be undocumented, but you have to have a child to receive it,” said Bob Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “And the children are overwhelmingly U.S. citizens.” Watch an excerpt of Sessions’ remarks below. Bonnie Kristian”

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Go to the above link to see the ABC clip that Kristian references at the end of her article.

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Reaction from Daily Kos wasn’t very subtile. Here’s Gabe Ortiz’s “headliner:”

Racist-as-all-hell Sessions: Child tax credits going to ‘mostly Mexicans’ can pay for the wall

Read Ortiz’s article here:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/04/24/1655786/-Racist-as-all-hell-Sessions-Tax-credits-to-mostly-Mexicans-can-pay-for-the-wall

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Ortiz isn’t the only one to publicly “call out” Sessions’s motivation for his almost daily attacks on immigrants. Here’s what California State Senate leader Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) had to say, as reported in the L.A. Times: “It has become abundantly clear that Atty. Gen. [Jeff] Sessions and the Trump administration are basing their law enforcement policies on principles of white supremacy — not American values. . . .”

Read the full L.A. Times article, including  Republican reaction to de Leon’s remarks, here:

http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-california-senate-leader-says-white-1492803106-htmlstory.html?utm_source=Politics&utm_campaign=b41d4376f3-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_01_03&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_db59b9bd47-b41d4376f3-81147225

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De Leon was not the only California public official to strike back at Sessions’s attack on so-called “Sanctuary cities” last week. As reported in the L.A. Times, in a “Battle of the AGs:”

“[California Attorney General Xavier] Becerra said on Friday that threats to withhold federal funds from states and cities that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities are reckless and undermine public safety.

. . . .

Becerra said Sunday that California is ready to fight any attempt to withhold federal funds.

“Whoever wants to come at us, that’s hostility, we’ll be ready,” Becerra said. “We’re going to continue to abide by federal law and the U.S. Constitution. And we’re hoping the federal government will also abide by the U.S. Constitution, which gives my state the right to decide how to do public safety.”

The state attorney general was skeptical about comments by President Trump in recent days that so-called Dreamers —young immigrants brought to this country illegally by a parent —  will not be targeted for immigration enforcement.

“It’s not clear what we can trust, what statement we can believe in, and that causes a great deal of not just anxiety, but confusion — not just for those immigrant families, but for our law enforcement personnel,” Becerra said.

He also denounced the Trump proposal to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border as a “medieval solution” to immigration issues, adding that neither U.S. taxpayers nor Mexico want to pay for the proposal.”

Read there full report here:

http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-u-s-atty-gen-sessions-disputes-1492964508-htmlstory.html?utm_source=Politics&utm_campaign=b41d4376f3-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_01_03&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_db59b9bd47-b41d4376f3-81147225

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I reported some time ago that California was “lawyering up” by hiring none other than former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to advise on litigation strategies to resist the Fed’s efforts to punish “sanctuary jurisdictions.” Here’s a link to my earlier blog: http://wp.me/p8eeJm-4w.

Lots of Attorneys General and former Attorneys General could be involved in this one before it’s over! As I’ve said from the beginning, whatever he might do for U.S. workers, President Trump is a huge boon to the legal industry! If you doubt this, just go on over to TRAC Immigration and see how civil immigration litigation has increased dramatically under Trump. http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/467/ . (Thanks to Nolan Rappaport for forwarding this to me!)

Instead of solving legal problems, it appears that A.G. Jeff “Gonzo-Apocalypto” Sessions is fixated on going to war with the “other America” that doesn’t share his and Trump’s negative views of immigrants. Stay tuned!

PWS

04-24-17

 

 

 

LA TIMES: Immigration Courts Not Only “Broken Piece” Of Trump’s Removal Regime — DHS Can’t Keep Up With Removals Even Now! — “Haste Makes Waste” Rush To Hire More Agents Likely To Dilute Standards, Threaten National Security!” — New IG Report Blasts Current Practices!

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-ice-oig-20170420-story.html

Joseph Tanfani reports:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, hampered by poor organization and an overworked staff, will have trouble keeping up with the Trump administration’s plans to ramp up deportations of people in the country illegally, government inspectors have concluded.

ICE has “overwhelming caseloads,” its records are “likely inaccurate” and its deportation policies and procedures “are outdated and unclear,” said a report released Thursday by the inspector general of the Homeland Security Department.

“ICE is almost certainly not deporting all the aliens who could be deported and will likely not be able to keep up with the growing number of deportable aliens,” the 19-page report concludes.

The harsh assessment is the latest dash of cold reality for Trump, who was swept into Washington promising vastly tougher enforcement of immigration laws, including more removals, thousands more Border Patrol agents and deportation officers, and construction of a formidable wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

LA TIMES: Trump’s Hard Line Immigration Positions Fueled His Election, But Could Cause His Downfall — Restrictionists On The Wrong Side Of Public Opinion (& History) — Will “Counter-Mobilization” Match Restrictionists’ Energy & Organization At Election Time?

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-klinker-immigration-election-20170417-story.html

Philip Klinkner writes in an op-ed:

“Ever since he announced his presidential campaign in July 2015, Donald Trump has made opposition to immigration central to his political strategy — and pundits have debated whether this strategy was effective. He won, of course, but did he win despite his aggressive rhetoric, or because of it?

Data from the recently released American National Election Study has finally provided an answer: Immigration was central to the election, and hostility toward immigrants animated Trump voters.

Comparing the results of the 2012 and 2016 ANES surveys shows that Trump increased his vote over Mitt Romney’s on a number of immigration-related issues. In 2012 and 2016, the ANES asked respondents their feelings toward immigrants in the country illegally. Respondents could rate them anywhere between 100 (most positive) or 0 (most negative). Among those with positive views (above 50), there was no change between 2012 and 2016, with Romney and Trump each receiving 22% of the vote. Among those who had negative views, however, Trump did better than Romney, capturing 60% of the vote compared with only 55% for Romney.

Attitudes toward immigrants in the country illegally speak to why some voters switched parties between 2012 and 2016. Among those who voted in both elections but didn’t switch their vote, the average rating of immigrants in the country illegally was 42. Among those who switched from Romney to Hillary Clinton, it was 41. But those who switched their vote from President Obama to Trump were much more negative, with an average rating of only 32.

However, Trump’s support wasn’t limited to just those who oppose immigrants residing in the country illegally — he also picked up votes among those who want to limit all immigration to the United States. In 2012, Romney received 58% of the vote among those who said they think that “the number of immigrants from foreign countries who are permitted to come to the United States” should be decreased. In 2016, Trump got 74% of the vote among those who held this view.

Overall, immigration represented one of the biggest divides between Trump and Clinton voters. Among Trump voters, 67% endorsed building a southern border wall and 47% of them favored it a great deal. In contrast, 77% of Clinton voters opposed building a wall and 67 % strongly opposed it.

. . . .

Trump won in 2016 by mobilizing the minority of Americans with anti-immigration views — but only because he avoided an offsetting counter-mobilization by the majority of Americans with pro-immigration views. Now that he is president and his immigration views can’t be dismissed as mere campaign rhetoric, that counter-mobilization may finally be manifesting itself.

Widespread protests against Trump’s executive order barring individuals from several Muslim countries, congressional skepticism about the effectiveness and cost of Trump’s proposed wall, and increased awareness of the negative effect that his policies are having on U.S. businesses, schools and families suggest a growing backlash. Should that backlash develop and sustain itself, the immigration views that helped Trump in 2016 might prove to be his undoing.”

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I’ve commented that notwithstanding Trump’s outrageous statements about immigrants, and the racist, white nationalist tinge to many of his supporters’ rallies, the passion and organization of the opposition that has appeared since the inauguration seems to greatly exceed that displayed by Hillary supporters during the election, when it probably would have made a material difference in the outcome.

And, yes, racism does appear to have been a significant factor driving a portion of the Trump electorate. See this article by Thomas Wood in the Washington Post “Racism motivated Trump voters more than authoritarianism” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/04/17/racism-motivated-trump-voters-more-than-authoritarianism-or-income-inequality/?utm_term=.9942049017ca.

PWS

04-17-17

LA TIMES EDITORIAL #5: “Conspiracy Theorist In Chief”

http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-ed-conspiracy-theorist-in-chief/

“It was bad enough back in 2011 when Donald Trump began peddling the crackpot conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was not a native-born American. But at least Trump was just a private citizen then.

By the time he tweeted last month that Obama had sunk so low as to “tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process,” Trump was a sitting president accusing a predecessor of what would have been an impeachable offense.

Trump went public with this absurd accusation without consulting the law enforcement and intelligence officials who would have disabused him of a conspiracy theory he apparently imbibed from right-wing media. After the FBI director debunked it, Trump held fast, claiming he hadn’t meant that he had been literally wiretapped.

Most people know by now that the new president of the United States trafficks in untruths and half-truths, and that his word cannot be taken at face value.

Even more troubling, though, is that much of his misinformation is of the creepiest kind. Implausible conspiracy theories from fly-by-night websites; unsubstantiated speculations from supermarket tabloids. Bigoted stories he may have simply made up; stuff he heard on TV talk shows.

. . . .
This is pathetic, but it’s also alarming. If Trump feels free to take to Twitter to make wild, paranoid, unsubstantiated accusations against his predecessor, why should the nation believe what he says about a North Korean missile test, Russian troop movements in Europe or a natural disaster in the United States?

Trump’s willingness to embrace unproven, conspiratorial and even racist theories became clear during the campaign, when he repeatedly told tall tales that seemed to reinforce ugly stereotypes about minorities. Take his now famous assertion that he watched thousands of people in “a heavy Arab population” in New Jersey cheer the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11, an astonishing account that no one has been able to verify. PolitiFact rated that as “Pants on Fire.”

Or his retweeting of a bogus crime statistic purporting to show that 81% of white homicide victims are killed by blacks. (The correct figure was 15%.)

On several occasions he retweeted white nationalists. (Remember the image of Hillary Clinton and the star of David, for instance?)

His engagement with, to put it politely, out-of-the-mainstream ideas has attracted some strange bedfellows. It may not be fair to attribute to his senior aide, Steve Bannon, all the views that were published on the controversial alt-right site Breitbart.com, of which Bannon was the executive chairman. But it is certainly fair to wonder why Trump has elevated to a senior West Wing position a man who has trafficked in nonsense, bigotry and rank speculation.”

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Read the entire editorial, part of a series that has been posted on this blog, at the above link.

For me, the key quote: “But it is certainly fair to wonder why Trump has elevated to a senior West Wing position a man who has trafficked in nonsense, bigotry and rank speculation.”

Apparently, Bannon and his crowd are now locked in a “death struggle” with the “Trump-Kushner Family” over who gets the President’s ear. Consider Bannon’s ouster from the NSC, where he had absolutely no business being in the first place (does this guy really have a security clearance?), as a victory for Kushner and Gen. McMaster. That’s notwithstanding planted “fake news” from the Bannon faction downplaying the move and absurdly attempting to pass it off as “normal evolution.”

But, Bannon is a lifetime “conspirator” and not someone who takes slights in stride (just like his boss). Probably only Kellyanne Conway had more to do with Trump being in the White House today. And, Bannon isn’t someone Trump wants on the “outside” lobbing bombs and grenades back at to Oval Office and talking trash to Trump’s Breitbart-reading base. So, I wouldn’t count him out.

PWS

04/06/17

LA TIMES EDITORIAL #3: “Trump’s Authoritarian Vision”

“Trump’s Authoritarian Vision”

“In a way, Trump represents a culmination of trends that have been years in the making.

Conservative talk radio hosts have long blasted federal judges as “activists” and regulators as meddlers in the economy, while advancing the myth of rampant election fraud. And gridlock in Washington has led previous presidents to try new ways to circumvent the checks on their power — witness President George W. Bush’s use of signing statements to invalidate parts of bills Congress passed, and President Obama’s aggressive use of executive orders when lawmakers balked at his proposals.

What’s uniquely threatening about Trump’s approach, though, is how many fronts he’s opened in this struggle for power and the vehemence with which he seeks to undermine the institutions that don’t go along.

It’s one thing to complain about a judicial decision or to argue for less regulation, but to the extent that Trump weakens public trust in essential institutions like the courts and the media, he undermines faith in democracy and in the system and processes that make it work.
Trump betrays no sense for the president’s place among the myriad of institutions in the continuum of governance. He seems willing to violate long-established political norms without a second thought, and he cavalierly rejects the civility and deference that allow the system to run smoothly. He sees himself as not merely a force for change, but as a wrecking ball.

Will Congress act as a check on Trump’s worst impulses as he moves forward? One test is the House and Senate intelligence committees’ investigation into Russia’s meddling in the presidential election; lawmakers need to muster the courage to follow the trail wherever it leads. Can the courts stand up to Trump? Already, several federal judges have issued rulings against the president’s travel ban. And although Trump has railed against the decisions, he has obeyed them.

None of these institutions are eager to cede authority to the White House and they won’t do so without a fight. It would be unrealistic to suggest that America’s most basic democratic institutions are in imminent jeopardy.

But we should not view them as invulnerable either. Remember that Trump’s verbal assaults are directed at the public, and are designed to chip away at people’s confidence in these institutions and deprive them of their validity. When a dispute arises, whose actions are you going to consider legitimate? Whom are you going to trust? That’s why the public has to be wary of Trump’s attacks on the courts, the “deep state,” the “swamp.” We can’t afford to be talked into losing our faith in the forces that protect us from an imperial presidency.

This is the third in a series.”

Read the complete editorial here: http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-ed-trumps-authoritarian-vision/

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PWS

04/04/17

LA TIMES CONFRONTS TRUMP IN FOUR PART EDITORIAL SERIES — Here Are Parts 1 & 2 — 1) “Our Dishonest President;” 2) “Why Trump Lies”

“Our Dishonest President”

“These are immensely dangerous developments which threaten to weaken this country’s moral standing in the world, imperil the planet and reverse years of slow but steady gains by marginalized or impoverished Americans. But, chilling as they are, these radically wrongheaded policy choices are not, in fact, the most frightening aspect of the Trump presidency.

What is most worrisome about Trump is Trump himself. He is a man so unpredictable, so reckless, so petulant, so full of blind self-regard, so untethered to reality that it is impossible to know where his presidency will lead or how much damage he will do to our nation. His obsession with his own fame, wealth and success, his determination to vanquish enemies real and imagined, his craving for adulation — these traits were, of course, at the very heart of his scorched-earth outsider campaign; indeed, some of them helped get him elected. But in a real presidency in which he wields unimaginable power, they are nothing short of disastrous.

Although his policies are, for the most part, variations on classic Republican positions (many of which would have been undertaken by a President Ted Cruz or a President Marco Rubio), they become far more dangerous in the hands of this imprudent and erratic man. Many Republicans, for instance, support tighter border security and a tougher response to illegal immigration, but Trump’s cockamamie border wall, his impracticable campaign promise to deport all 11 million people living in the country illegally and his blithe disregard for the effect of such proposals on the U.S. relationship with Mexico turn a very bad policy into an appalling one.

. . . .

On Inauguration Day, we wrote on this page that it was not yet time to declare a state of “wholesale panic” or to call for blanket “non-cooperation” with the Trump administration. Despite plenty of dispiriting signals, that is still our view. The role of the rational opposition is to stand up for the rule of law, the electoral process, the peaceful transfer of power and the role of institutions; we should not underestimate the resiliency of a system in which laws are greater than individuals and voters are as powerful as presidents. This nation survived Andrew Jackson and Richard Nixon. It survived slavery. It survived devastating wars. Most likely, it will survive again.

But if it is to do so, those who oppose the new president’s reckless and heartless agenda must make their voices heard. Protesters must raise their banners. Voters must turn out for elections. Members of Congress — including and especially Republicans — must find the political courage to stand up to Trump. Courts must safeguard the Constitution. State legislators must pass laws to protect their citizens and their policies from federal meddling. All of us who are in the business of holding leaders accountable must redouble our efforts to defend the truth from his cynical assaults.

The United States is not a perfect country, and it has a great distance to go before it fully achieves its goals of liberty and equality. But preserving what works and defending the rules and values on which democracy depends are a shared responsibility. Everybody has a role to play in this drama.

This is the first in a series.”

Read the entire editorial here:

http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-ed-our-dishonest-president/

“Why Trump Lies”

“Donald Trump did not invent the lie and is not even its master. Lies have oozed out of the White House for more than two centuries and out of politicians’ mouths — out of all people’s mouths — likely as long as there has been human speech.

But amid all those lies, told to ourselves and to one another in order to amass power, woo lovers, hurt enemies and shield ourselves against the often glaring discomfort of reality, humanity has always had an abiding respect for truth.

In the United States, born and periodically reborn out of the repeated recognition and rejection of the age-old lie that some people are meant to take dominion over others, truth is as vital a part of the civic, social and intellectual culture as justice and liberty. Our civilization is premised on the conviction that such a thing as truth exists, that it is knowable, that it is verifiable, that it exists independently of authority or popularity and that at some point — and preferably sooner rather than later — it will prevail.

Even American leaders who lie generally know the difference between their statements and the truth. Richard Nixon said “I am not a crook” but by that point must have seen that he was. Bill Clinton said “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” but knew that he did.
The insult that Donald Trump brings to the equation is an apparent disregard for fact so profound as to suggest that he may not see much practical distinction between lies, if he believes they serve him, and the truth.

His approach succeeds because of his preternaturally deft grasp of his audience. Though he is neither terribly articulate nor a seasoned politician, he has a remarkable instinct for discerning which conspiracy theories in which quasi-news source, or which of his own inner musings, will turn into ratings gold. He targets the darkness, anger and insecurity that hide in each of us and harnesses them for his own purposes. If one of his lies doesn’t work — well, then he lies about that.

If we harbor latent racism or if we fear terror attacks by Muslim extremists, then he elevates a rumor into a public debate: Was Barack Obama born in Kenya, and is he therefore not really president?
If his own ego is threatened — if broadcast footage and photos show a smaller-sized crowd at his inauguration than he wanted — then he targets the news media, falsely charging outlets with disseminating “fake news” and insisting, against all evidence, that he has proved his case (“We caught them in a beauty,” he said).

If his attempt to limit the number of Muslim visitors to the U.S. degenerates into an absolute fiasco and a display of his administration’s incompetence, then he falsely asserts that terrorist attacks are underreported. (One case in point offered by the White House was the 2015 attack in San Bernardino, which in fact received intensive worldwide news coverage. The Los Angeles Times won a Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on the subject).

If he detects that his audience may be wearying of his act, or if he worries about a probe into Russian meddling into the election that put him in office, he tweets in the middle of the night the astonishingly absurd claim that President Obama tapped his phones. And when evidence fails to support him he dispatches his aides to explain that by “phone tapping” he obviously didn’t mean phone tapping. Instead of backing down when confronted with reality, he insists that his rebutted assertions will be vindicated as true at some point in the future.

Trump’s easy embrace of untruth can sometimes be entertaining, in the vein of a Moammar Kadafi speech to the United Nations or the self-serving blathering of a 6-year-old.

. . . .

Our civilization is defined in part by the disciplines — science, law, journalism — that have developed systematic methods to arrive at the truth. Citizenship brings with it the obligation to engage in a similar process. Good citizens test assumptions, question leaders, argue details, research claims.

Investigate. Read. Write. Listen. Speak. Think. Be wary of those who disparage the investigators, the readers, the writers, the listeners, the speakers and the thinkers. Be suspicious of those who confuse reality with reality TV, and those who repeat falsehoods while insisting, against all evidence, that they are true. To defend freedom, demand fact.

This is the second in a series.”

Read the complete editorial here:

http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-ed-why-trump-lies/

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

Stay tuned for parts 3 & 4 in this LA Times editorial series.

PWS

04-03-17

 

LA TIMES: Sessions, Kelly Push Back At CAL Chief Justice — Say Problem Is State Sanctuary Policies, Not Feds — “Speak To California Governor Jerry Brown”

http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-essential-washington-updates-trump-administration-fires-back-at-1490973610-htmlstory.html

Del Quentin Wilber and Maura Dolan report:

“The Trump administration on Friday fired back at California’s top judge, disputing her characterization this month that federal immigration agents were “stalking” courthouses to make arrests.

In a letter to Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, leaders of Trump’s Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security called her description of federal agents’ conduct “troubling.”

They said agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were using courthouses to arrest immigrants in the U.S. illegally, in part, because California and some of its local jurisdictions prohibit their officials from cooperating with federal agencies in detaining such immigrants under most conditions.

Even for individuals already in local police custody, such policies may make it necessary for agents to make arrests in public places, rather than in jails, they said. By apprehending suspects after they have passed through security screening at courthouses, federal agents are less likely to encounter anyone who is armed, they added.

“The arrest of individuals by ICE officers and agents is predicated on investigation and targeting of specific persons who have been identified by ICE and other law enforcement agencies as subject to arrest,” wrote Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.”

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Looks like some states and the Feds are on a collision course. The “battle of letters” will likely soon morph into a  “battle in Federal Court.”

PWS

03-31-17

 

LA TIMES: Retired U.S. Immigration Judge Bruce J. Einhorn Speaks Out For Due Process — Challenges City Of L.A. To Provide Lawyers For Those Facing Removal!

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-einhorn-immigration-lawyers-deportation-ice-20170327-story.html

Like many of us, Bruce has witnessed first-hand the patent unfairness of requiring individuals to represent themselves in U.S. Immigration Court. In this L.A. Times op-ed he urges Los Angeles to follow the City of New York’s fine example in providing effective pro bono legal representation to those whose lives and futures are on the line in Immigration Court:

“In December, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the creation of a $10 million fund to provide lawyers to immigrants facing deportation. But the parameters of the program are still being determined. In order to be effective, the program needs to be implemented soon and expanded quickly.
For defendants in deportation proceedings, the stakes can be life or death, since some face torture or worse upon returning to their home countries. This is why a fellow immigration judge, Dana Marks, once said that deportation cases are “death penalty cases heard in traffic court settings.” Many other defendants face permanent separation from their families.

Yet immigrants who cannot afford a lawyer must argue against government prosecutors. More often than not, this includes immigrants who are detained — that is, jailed — while their cases move through the courts. Detention almost always means loss of income, while lawyers cost more than the majority of immigrants can afford. A person who speaks little or no English must gather information from police officers or medical experts, submit written declarations in English or find evidence to support their asylum claims, all without access to the Internet or to affordable phone calls. There are an estimated 3,700 immigrants in detention across the greater L.A. area, according to the mayor’s office.

With one side at such a great disadvantage, it becomes much harder for judges to apply the law in a just manner, increasing the risk of flawed decisions. Especially in cases where defendants are detained, a day in court without a lawyer isn’t a day in court at all. A recent study found that detained immigrants who are represented by an attorney are five times more likely to win their cases than immigrants without representation.

A court system without lawyers is not merely unjust — it is also inefficient and wasteful. Without adequate legal representation for immigrants, judges can’t spend their time making decisions. Instead, they must constantly explain the legal process, reschedule cases and answer questions. In some instances, judges issue decisions only to cover the same ground again if the defendant is lucky enough to find a lawyer and get the case re-heard.

All this waste results in a heavily backlogged immigration court system, and nowhere more so than in California, where almost 100,000 cases are waiting to be decided. In San Francisco, for instance, an immigrant in court today will have his next hearing over two years from now.

. . . .

After 17 years on the bench, I’m troubled to see a wave of new raids that are sure to clog the dockets for years to come. But I also see an opportunity for local leaders to take a stand and provide immigrant communities with the fair and responsive representation they deserve.”

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

Bruce makes an important point that many outside observers miss. In addition to being inherently unfair, hearings involving unrepresented individuals are tremendously inefficient. That is, if the Immigration Judge takes to time to provide at least some semblance of due process.

Aspects of the hearing system that lawyers understand have to be explained in detail, in simplified language, through an interpreter to the unrepresented respondent.

Because there is no lawyer to question the respondent, and it would be inappropriate to rely on the DHS lawyer to present the respondent’s case, the Immigration Judge effectively becomes the respondent’s “substitute attorney” — an impossible conflict of interest. I usually conducted the examination of an unrepresented respondent using a format similar to that I used for client intake interviews in private practice. It takes time to do a fair and thorough job.

Dictating a decision in an unrepresented detained case is a long, painstaking process. Where an attorney is involved, and the interpreter is with me in court, which is the norm, the attorney normally “waives” a verbatim contemporaneous interpretation in favor of a short summary and a promise to fully explain my ruling to the client afterwards.

But, with no attorney, I must stop every few sentences for the interpreter to do a “serial interpretation” to the respondent on televideo. The “simultaneous interpretation” system is not currently designed to work with the televideo system.

Appeals by the losing side are fairly common in detained unrepresented cases. When both sides have attorneys, I just say a few words reminding them about how strictly the BIA enforces filing deadlines.

But, when an unrepresented respondent is involved, I have to give a short “how to seminar” in the art of filing an appeal with a fee waiver in a timely manner. Occasionally, the detention center doesn’t even have the correct appeal and waiver forms available, so I have to note that “officer promised to serve forms” while attaching an “insurance copy” to my “minute order” (which itself might not actually get to the detained respondent until weeks after the hearing — halfway through the 30 day appeal period).

Also, Bruce accurately points out that if the respondent finally is able to find a pro bono lawyer during the appeal process, the chances of a remand for further development of the record before the Immigration Judge are significant.

Although claiming to be supportive of the role of pro bono counsel in Immigration Court, and providing some support to some programs, overall the U.S. Immigration Court is “user unfriendly” to the pro bono community. In all Administrations, artificial political prioritization of cases driven by the Department of Justice and decisions to “kowtow” to DHS enforcement by placing so-called “courts”‘ within out of the way detention centers (rather than insisting, as true independent court system would, that detention centers be located in the vicinity of already established courts, where there is an established immigration bar and family support is often available) actively undermine both access to, and effective participation by, pro bono attorneys.

It’s sad but clear that the current Administration has “no time” for due process for migrants. They appear to have every intention of taking an already out of control, user unfriendly court system and making it even worse.

Only the Article IIII Courts stand between this Administration and their apparent goal of a  “deportation express” with “no station stops” for due process. And, the only way that vulnerable migrants are going to be able to get into, and draw the attention of, the Article III Courts is by being well-represented by attorneys every step of the way.

That’s why it is critically important for Los Angeles and other cities who value their immigrant communities to heed Bruce’s call for the establishment of pro bono programs. Otherwise, the due process travesty being planned by this Administration will go forward unabated and become an indelible stain on American legal, political, and Constitutional history.

Other than that, I have no strong views on the subject.

PWS

03/31/17

THE HILL: Nolan Rappaport Says DHS Does Inadequate Job Of Tracking Unaccompanied Children!

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/325942-maryland-immigrant-rape-case-shows-failure-of-us-policy-on

Nolan writes:

“CBP is required by the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act to transfer the custody of unaccompanied alien children from Central America to ORR within 72 hours of determining that they are unaccompanied alien children. ORR promptly places them in the least restrictive setting that is in their best interests while they wait for an immigration hearing to be scheduled.

They normally are not held at a secure facility unless they are charged with criminal actions, pose a threat of violence, or are flight risks.

Unaccompanied alien children are not eligible for many forms of relief. Asylum is the most common. The only other possibilities I am aware of are “special immigrant juvenile status,” which requires a finding by a state juvenile court that they have been abused, neglected, or abandoned; and “T nonimmigrant status” for victims of trafficking.

Many of the children who are released from custody abscond instead of returning for their hearings. Between July 18, 2014, and June 28, 2016, removal proceedings were initiated in 69,540 cases. Only 31,091 of them were completed. Of the total completed cases, 12,977 resulted in removal orders, and 11,528 (89 percent) of the removal orders were issued in absentia because the children had absconded.

The post-Trump immigration court handles fewer unaccompanied alien children cases. This will increase the amount of time unaccompanied alien children have to wait for hearings, which is likely to increase the number of children who abscond.

Also, they will have less incentive to return for their hearings. In the more liberal Obama era, immigration judges granted asylum in up to 71 percent of their asylum cases. This is not likely to continue in the post-Trump era.

The fact that many unaccompanied alien children abscond is disturbing. We know very little about them.”

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

Please read Nolan’s complete article over on The Hill at the link.

I have a few thoughts. First, although at the end of my career I was not assigned to the juvenile docket, I handled many juvenile cases over my 13 year career at the Arlington Immigration Court.

Even when I was not responsible for the juvenile docket, “mis-assigned” juvenile cases appeared on my docket on a regular basis, probably a consequence of the “haste makes waste” prioritization of juveniles by the Obama Administration. I never had a significant problem with juveniles “absconding.”

Not surprisingly, this is borne out by the facts. Studies show that represented juveniles appear for their hearings about 95% of the time. That suggests that the real effort should be on working with the pro bono bar to ensure that juvenile cases are scheduled in a manner that promotes maximum representation at the first hearing. Presto, the largely imaginary problem with “absconding” juveniles disappears.

See this link to an American Immigration Council analysis:

Taking Attendance: New Data Finds Majority of Children Appear in Immigration Court | American Immigr

Second, in the small number of cases where juveniles did not appear, the problem was almost always with the Government system, not the juveniles. Indeed, the suggestion that children, some infants, other toddlers, “abscond” is prima facie absurd.

There are a number of reasons why juveniles might not appear: 1) in their haste to move these cases through the system, DHS often incorrectly transmits the U.S. address to the Immigration Court; 2) under pressure to fill “priority” dockets required by the Obama Administration, the Immigration Court, which still operates with a manual data entry system, sometimes sent the notice to a wrong address; and 3) almost all juveniles have to rely on adult “sponsors” to get them to court.  Depending on the degree of understanding and responsibility on the part of the sponsor, this might or might not happen.

When the court appearance requirements are properly communicated and understood by the sponsor, and where the juvenile has realistic access to legal representation, there simply are not many “no show” issues. In Immigration Courts that put due process first, most no-shows are eventually reopened when the juvenile and the sponsor discover the problem and explain the failure to appear. Therefore, large numbers of “in absentia” juvenile cases suggests to me a problem with the system, and, perhaps, with particular Immigration Judges, rather than the juveniles.

Here’s a link to a L.A. Times article on in absentia orders for unaccompanied children.

http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-children-deported-20150306-story.html

Third, Nolan’s reference to the “liberal” Obama administration seems gratuitous. The Obama Administration did little of substance to help juveniles and, to my knowledge, most of the precedents issued by the BIA made it more difficult, rather than easier, for juveniles from the Northern Triangle to get relief.

Nevertheless, juveniles were able to succeed at a fairly high rate where they obtained competent representation, Immigration Judges fairly applied the generous standards for asylum, and also gave the children adequate time to pursue other forms of relief such as those mentioned by Nolan.

The nationwide asylum grant rate in the most recent year was approximately 47%, not 71%.  The latter was just one of the courts with a higher rate. But, there were also courts like Atlanta, with a 2% rate who were not doing a fair job of asylum adjudication.

In any event, there is every reason to believe that most of the juveniles in the system had at least a “respectable” chance of success in remaining.

It’s possible that the Trump Administration will attempt to “game” to system to depress grant rates. Such conduct appears on its face to be both illegal and contrary to the generous standard for asylum established by the U.S. Supreme Court in INS v. Cardoza-Fonseca.

To date, I am aware of no such overt attempt by the Administration to interfere with the fair adjudication of asylum claims. However, I do acknowledge that the general tone of the Executive Orders is xenophobic and disparaging to refugees and immigrants. At some point, the Article III Courts will decide whether or not the Administration is complying with the requirements of U.S. law and various international protection agreements.

Finally, I think that Nolan’s suggestion that unaccompanied children be sent to third countries for U.N. processing would be a violation of both the INA and the Wilberforce Act. While there is a provision in the INA for sending individuals who arrived in “safe third countries” back to those countries for asylum adjudication, to date it only applies to Canada and is limited in a way that would make it inapplicable to the Southern Border Central American cases.

The U.S. would do far better to acknowledge the legitimate fears that cause women and children to flee countries in the Northern Triangle. Dealing with the problems at their source, which is likely to be a long-term prospect, while providing at least some type of screening and temporary refuge short of asylum, would, in my view, be a much better and more humane solution to this chronic issue than the enforcement initiatives proposed by the Trump Administration.

PWS

03/27/17

 

 

 

 

USG Bid To Max Criminal Deportation Law May Be On The Rocks Before The Supremes!

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-supreme-court-deport-burglars-20170117-story.html

David G. Savage writes in the L.A. Times:

“The law in this area is not entirely clear. Beginning in 1988, Congress ordered deportation for noncitizens who are convicted of an “aggravated felony,” and it cited specific examples such as murder and rape. Later the law was expanded to include a general category of “crimes of violence.” This was defined to include offenses that involve a use of physical force or a “substantial risk” that force would be used.

Judges have been divided as to what crimes call for deportation. Looming over Tuesday’s argument was an opinion written two years ago by the late Justice Antonin Scalia. He spoke for an 8-to-1 majority in striking down part of a federal law known as the Armed Career Criminal Act. It called for extra years in prison for people convicted of more than one violent felony.

In that case, the extra prison term was triggered by the defendant’s possession of a shotgun. In frustration, Scalia and his colleagues said the law was unconstitutionally vague because they could not decide whether gun possession is itself evidence of a violent crime.

“You could say the exact same thing about burglary,” Justice Elena Kagan said Tuesday. A midday burglary of a home could result in violence, she said, but perhaps not if it were an empty garage or an abandoned house. “So it seems like we’re replicating the same kind of confusion,” she said.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer said judges have no way to decide which crimes typically or usually involve violence. “We’re just left guessing,” he said, suggesting a better approach would be “look at what the person did.”

But Deputy Solicitor Gen. Edwin Kneedler said a home burglary poses a risk of violence. And he said the court should defer to the government on matters of immigration. The law, he said, calls for a “broad delegation” of authority to executive officials.

This is the argument government lawyers made in defense of President Obama’s use of executive authority to try to shield millions of immigrants from deportation. It is also the argument that would call for upholding an aggressive deportation policy if pursued by the Trump administration.”

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Interesting juxtaposition here!  The key opinion relied on by the immigrant is an 8-1 decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), written by conservative judicial icon Justice Antonin Scalia in which he ripped apart on constitutional vagueness grounds a provision of the Armed Career Criminal Act that is virtually identical to the deportation statute.

The Obama Administration reacted by vigorously reasserting in the lower courts and the Immigration Courts its right to ignore Justice Scalia’s reasoning in the civil deportation context and continue to deport individuals convicted of residential burglary.

But, liberal judicial icon Judge Stephen Reinhardt and one of his colleagues on the Ninth Court of Appeals seized on Scalia’s opinion and applied it to the immigration law to block such deportations.  The Seventh Circuit followed suit, but the Fifth Circuit did not, thereby setting up a “circuit split” — something that often convinces the Supreme Court to exercise its discretionary authority to intervene by granting a “writ of certiorari.”

The case is Lynch v. Dimaya, No. 15-1498 which, as pointed out by David Savage, will soon morph into Sessions v. Dimaya.  Stay tuned for the results!

Did you know that:  The Government’s lawyer in Dimaya, career Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler, a friend and an outstanding public servant, has argued more than 125 U.S. Supreme Court cases during his distinguished Government career, more than any other living lawyer!  

Wow!  Most lawyers would feel lucky and privileged to argue a single case before the Supreme Court.  I know I sure would.  Just think of the hours of preparation spent in preparing to argue well over 100 cases!  

When I was Deputy General Counsel and Acting General Counsel of the Legacy INS, I used to help the Solicitor General’s Office prepare for oral arguments in immigration cases.  So, I know how intensive the preparation process is.  

At least once, I was asked to sit with the Deputy SG arguing the case at counsel table in the Court.  That was as close as I ever got to appearing before the Court.  

I remember one case that I observed — I can’t remember if I was at counsel table or in the audience — was the immigration classic INS v. Cardoza-Fonseca, 480 U.S. 421 (1987) establishing the generous “well-founded fear = reasonable likelihood” standard for asylum, which I ended up having to apply thousands of times as a trial and appellate judge in the Immigration Courts.  That day, however, we were on the “losing” side of the argument, having presented the case for a more stringent standard.  Nevertheless, I think the Court got it completely right.  

The “winning” lawyer before the Court that day was a young immigration attorney from San Francisco, Dana Marks Keener, now known as Judge Dana Leigh Marks of the San Francisco Immigration Court and the President of the National Association of Immigration Judges.  Since then, of course, Dana and I have become judicial colleagues and great friends.  I often refer to her as “the founding mother of modern U.S. asylum law.”

Small world.

PWS

01/18/17