MICA ROSENBERG, READE LEVINSON, & RYAN McNEILL EXPOSE UNEQUAL JUSTICE & ABUSE OF VULNERABLE ASYLUM SEEKERS FROM “COURT” SYSTEM LACKING BASIC JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE! Sessions’s Chilling Response: Speed Things Up, Establish Deportation Quotas, Strip Asylum Seekers Of Rights To Due Process, Eliminate Professional Judicial Training, & Aimlessly Throw More Inexperienced, Untrained Judges Into This Mess! – Will He Get Away With His Atrocious Plan To Make Immigration Courts The “Killing Floor?” — AN IN-DEPTH LOOK AT THE TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE UNFOLDING IN U.S. IMMIGRATION COURT ON A DAILY BASIS!

https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-immigration-asylum/

Mica Rosenberg, Read Levinson, & Ryan McNeill report:

“They fled danger at home to make a high-stakes bet on U.S. immigration courts

Threatened by gangs in Honduras, two women sought asylum in the United States. Their stories illustrate what a Reuters analysis of thousands of court decisions found: The difference between residency and deportation depends largely on who hears the case, and where.

Filed

OAKLAND, California – The two Honduran women told nearly identical stories to the immigration courts: Fear for their lives and for the lives of their children drove them to seek asylum in the United States.

They were elected in 2013 to the board of the parent-teacher association at their children’s school in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa. They hoped that mothers working together could oust the violent gangs that plagued the campus.

Instead, they became targets. Weeks apart, in the spring of 2014, each of the women was confronted by armed gang members who vowed to kill them and their children if they didn’t meet the thugs’ demands.

Unaware of each other’s plight, both fled with their children, making the dangerous trek across Mexico. Both were taken into custody near Hidalgo, Texas, and ended up finding each other in the same U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Artesia, New Mexico. There, they applied for asylum.

That’s when their fates diverged.

Sandra Gutierrez joined her husband in California, where her case was heard by a San Francisco immigration court judge. At the end of her asylum hearing in September 2016, she received a one-page form, with an “X” in the box next to “granted.” She was free to settle into life with her family in the United States.

The other woman, Ana, joined her daughter’s father in the southeastern United States, and her case was assigned to an immigration court in Charlotte, North Carolina. The judge denied her petition and ordered her deported. She is now awaiting a court date after new lawyers got her case reopened.

Ana declined to be interviewed for this article. Through her lawyers, she asked that her full name not be used because of her uncertain status and her fear that Honduran gangs could find her.

The women’s lawyers framed their respective cases with some important differences. However, the women said their reasons for seeking asylum were the same: Gangs had targeted them because of their involvement in the parent-teacher association, and for that, they and their families had been threatened.

Taken together, the two cases – nearly indistinguishable in their outlines but with opposite outcomes – illustrate a troubling fact: An immigrant’s chance of being allowed to stay in the United States depends largely on who hears the case and where it is heard.

Judge Stuart Couch, who heard Ana’s case in Charlotte, orders immigrants deported 89 percent of the time, according to a Reuters analysis of more than 370,000 cases heard in all 58 U.S. immigration courts over the past 10 years. Judge Dalin Holyoak, who heard Gutierrez’s case in San Francisco, orders deportation in 43 percent of cases.

In Charlotte, immigrants are ordered deported in 84 percent of cases, more than twice the rate in San Francisco, where 36 percent of cases end in deportation.

Couch and Holyoak and their courts are not rare outliers, the analysis found. Variations among judges and courts are broad.

Judge Olivia Cassin in New York City allows immigrants to remain in the country in 93 percent of cases she hears. Judge Monique Harris in Houston allows immigrants to stay in just four percent of cases. In Atlanta, 89 percent of cases result in a deportation order. In New York City, 24 percent do.

The Reuters analysis used data from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the U.S. Justice Department unit that oversees immigration courts. The count of deportations included cases in which judges allowed immigrants to leave the country voluntarily.

The analysis excluded immigrants who were in detention when their cases were heard because such cases are handled differently. It also excluded cases in which the immigrant did not appear in court, which nearly always end in a deportation order, and cases terminated without a decision or closed at the request of a prosecutor.

About half the cases in the analysis were filed by asylum seekers like the two Honduran women. The rest were requests for cancellation of deportation orders or other adjustments to immigration status.

“GROSS DISPARITIES”

Of course, other factors influence outcomes in immigration court.  For example, U.S. government policy is more lenient toward people from some countries, less so for others.

Also, immigration judges are bound by precedents established in the federal appeals court that covers their location. Immigration courts in California and the Pacific Northwest fall under the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and they rule in favor of immigrants far more often than courts in the 4th Circuit, which includes North and South Carolina, Maryland and Virginia, Reuters found.

Even so, the Reuters analysis determined that after controlling for such factors, who hears a case and where it is heard remain reliable predictors of how a case will be decided. An immigrant was still four times as likely to be granted asylum by Holyoak in San Francisco as by Couch in Charlotte.

The Reuters analysis also found that an immigration judge’s particular characteristics and situation can affect outcomes. Men are more likely than women to order deportation, as are judges who have worked as ICE prosecutors.  The longer a judge has been serving, the more likely that judge is to grant asylum.

“These are life or death matters. … Whether you win or whether you lose shouldn’t depend on the roll of the dice of which judge gets your case.”

Karen Musalo, director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at the University of California Hastings School of the Law in San Francisco

The findings underscore what academics and government watchdogs have long complained about U.S. immigration courts: Differences among judges and courts can render the system unfair and even inhumane.

“It is clearly troubling when you have these kinds of gross disparities,” said Karen Musalo, director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at the University of California Hastings School of the Law in San Francisco. “These are life or death matters. … Whether you win or whether you lose shouldn’t depend on the roll of the dice of which judge gets your case.”

EOIR spokeswoman Kathryn Mattingly said the agency does not comment on external analyses of its data.

Devin O’Malley, a Department of Justice spokesman, challenged the Reuters analysis, citing “numerous conflicting statements, miscalculations, and other data errors,” but declined to elaborate further.

Immigration judges, appointed by the U.S. attorney general, are not authorized to speak on the record about cases.

Dana Marks, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, said each case is like “a 1,000 piece puzzle.” While two cases might look identical on the surface, she said, each judge has to weigh the nuances of immigration law to allow someone to stay in the country, which could lead to different outcomes.

The question of equality of treatment among judges has gained urgency as the number of cases in immigration court has ballooned to record highs. Under President Barack Obama, the courts began efforts to hire more immigration judges to reduce the system’s burgeoning backlog, which now stands at more than 620,000 cases, nearly 100,000 of them added since last December.

The administration of President Donald Trump is continuing the effort. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in April that the Justice Department planned to hire more than 50 judges this year and 75 in 2018, which would put the total number of sitting judges above 400.

Of the 28 immigration judges Sessions has appointed so far, 16 are former ICE prosecutors. That experience, the Reuters analysis found, makes them 23 percent more likely to order deportation. (Neither Holyoak nor Couch worked as an ICE prosecutor, according to their EOIR biographies.)

In a wish list of immigration proposals sent to Congress on Oct. 8, the White House said that “lax legal standards” had led to the immigration court backlog and that “misguided judicial decisions have prevented the removal of numerous criminal aliens, while also rendering those aliens eligible to apply for asylum.” Among the proposals offered in exchange for a deal with Congress on the roughly 800,000 “dreamers” – children brought to the country illegally by their parents – the Trump administration said it wanted to hire even more immigration judges and 1,000 ICE attorneys, while “establishing performance metrics for Immigration Judges.”

Video: High-stakes game of chance in U.S. immigration courts

CRISIS AT THE BORDER

In 2014, an unprecedented 68,000 parents and children, most of them fleeing violence and lawlessness in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, crossed into the United States from Mexico – a refugee crisis that has contributed to the bloated backlog of asylum petitions. Many of the migrants, including Gutierrez and Ana, convinced initial interviewers that they had a “credible fear” of returning home, the first step in filing an asylum claim.

Having come from a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world may have helped establish “credible fear.” But the two women were already at a disadvantage – precisely because they came from Honduras.

Country of origin is a big factor in determining who gets to stay in the United States because immigrants from some countries are afforded special protections. For example, courts ruled in favor of Chinese immigrants 75 percent of the time, the Reuters analysis found. A 1996 law expanded the definition of political refugees to include people who are forced to abort a child or undergo sterilization, allowing Chinese women to claim persecution under Beijing’s coercive birth-control policies.

Hondurans enjoy no special considerations. They were allowed to stay in the United States in just 16 percent of cases, the Reuters analysis found.

The mass exodus from Central America was under way when Gutierrez and Ana were elected to the board of the parent-teacher association at their children’s school in spring 2013.

Two rival gangs – the Barrio 18 and the Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13 – were operating brazenly in the neighborhood. The year before, according to police records in Honduras, gang members killed a school security guard. Now, they were extorting teachers, selling drugs openly and assaulting or killing anyone who confronted them.

The new six-member association board set about trying to improve security at the school, which sits on a dirt road behind a high wall topped with razor wire.

“Before, no one wanted to say anything about the gangs,” Gutierrez said. “We were the brave ones. The previous president was a man, so we thought, ‘We are women, they won’t do anything to us.’ ”

The school’s principal, who asked that he and the school not be identified out of fear of retaliation, worked with the board. They had early success, he said, when they persuaded police to provide officers to guard the school. But the patrols left after a few weeks, probably intimidated by the gangs.

One evening in April 2014, Gutierrez was watching television at home with her two sons, ages 5 and 11, when she heard banging at the front door. Her older boy recognized the three armed and heavily tattooed young men on the stoop as the same ones who had thrown him to the ground earlier that day, telling him, not for the first time, that they wanted him to join their ranks. Now they had come to deliver a message to Gutierrez.

“They said they knew I was involved in the parents’ association,” Gutierrez said. “They said they would kill me and my children.

“I began to panic and shake,” she said. “I thought, ‘I have to go now. I am not going to risk my child’s life.’ ”

She quickly packed some backpacks for her and her children and called the only friend she knew who had a car. They drove all night to her friend’s mother’s house in another town.

“NO POLICE HERE”

Two months later, according to court documents, Ana was walking her 7-year-old daughter home from school when three members of a rival gang confronted them. Two of them grabbed Ana and her daughter, pinned their wrists behind their backs, and pointed a gun at the child’s head. The third pointed a gun at Ana’s head. They demanded that a payment of more than $5,000 be delivered in 24 hours, a huge sum for a woman who sold tortillas for a living.

Ana testified in her asylum hearing that she knew they were gang members “because they were dressed in baggy clothing and they also had ugly tattoos … all over their bodies and faces.”

Ana and her daughter ran home and then, fearing the gang would come after them, fled out the back door. “We had to jump over a wall, and I hurt my foot doing so,” she said in an affidavit. “I was desperate and knew that I had to leave – my daughter’s life and mine were in danger.”

The school principal said he understands why Gutierrez and Ana left Honduras. “Because there were no police here, (the gangs) did what they wanted,” he said. “They said, ‘We’re going to kill the members of the parent-teacher association to get them out of here.’ So the women fled.”

Gutierrez hid for two months at her friend’s mother’s house outside Tegucigalpa. She joined another woman and, with their children, they set out to cross Mexico. On the journey, they were kidnapped – common for Central American migrants – and held for a $3,500 ransom. Gutierrez contacted relatives who wired the money. The kidnappers released her and her two sons near the U.S. border.

There they piled with another group of migrants into an inflatable raft and crossed the Rio Grande, the border between Mexico and the United States. They landed near Hidalgo, Texas.

After walking for an hour and a half, lost and desperate, Gutierrez and her sons sat down in the middle of a dirt road and waited for someone to pass. Two officials in uniforms picked them up. They were eventually transferred to the ICE detention center in Artesia.

Ana fled with her daughter the night the gang members threatened them on the street. “We bought a bus pass to go to Guatemala and from Guatemala to Mexico and to the U.S.-Mexico border,” according to her court testimony. The journey took three weeks. In Mexico, she hired a coyote – a smuggler – to help them cross into the United States and then turned herself in to Border Patrol agents near Hidalgo. She arrived at the Artesia detention center just weeks after Gutierrez.

“The other women in the center told me that there was someone else from Honduras who I might know, but I wasn’t sure who they were talking about,” Gutierrez said. “And then one day we went to lunch, and there they were.”

Gutierrez said that was when she first learned that her fellow parent-teacher association board member had been threatened and had fled from home.

Volunteer lawyers helped the women prepare and submit their applications for asylum.

In late 2014, the two women were released on bond. Gutierrez moved with her boys to Oakland, California, to join her husband, and petitioned to have her case moved to San Francisco. Ana moved with her daughter to live with her daughter’s father and petitioned to have her case moved to Charlotte.

“ASYLUM FREE ZONES”

Many immigrants released on bond before their cases are heard have no idea that where they settle could make the difference between obtaining legal status and deportation.

People familiar with the system are well aware of the difference. When Theodore Murphy, a former ICE prosecutor who now represents immigrants, has a client in a jurisdiction with a high deportation rate but near one with a lower rate, “I tell them to move,” he said.

The Charlotte court that would hear Ana’s case was one of five jurisdictions labeled “asylum free zones” by a group of immigrant advocates in written testimony last December before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The courts in Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas and Atlanta also received the designation.

The advocates testified that, while asylum is granted in nearly half of cases nationwide, Charlotte judges granted asylum in just 13 percent of cases in 2015. The Charlotte court was singled out for displaying a particular “bias against Central American gang and gender-related asylum claims.”

Couch is the toughest of Charlotte’s three immigration judges, according to the Reuters analysis.

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research organization at Syracuse University in New York, first sounded the alarm about disparities in immigration court decisions in 2006. The next year, researchers at Temple University and Georgetown Law School concluded in a study titled “Refugee Roulette” that “in many cases, the most important moment in an asylum case is the instant in which a clerk randomly assigns an application to a particular asylum officer or immigration judge.” In 2008, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found similar disparities in its own study.

In response to the rising criticism, the Executive Office for Immigration Review began tracking decisions to identify judges with unusually high or low rates of granting asylum. Mattingly, the EOIR spokeswoman, said the agency held training sessions for judges to address the disparities in 2008 and 2009. It then created a system for the public to file complaints against immigration judges.

In a 2016 report, the GAO found that little had changed. EOIR held a two-day training session last year. There is no training on the 2017 calendar.

From 2012 to 2016, EOIR received 624 complaints against judges. The 138 complaints lodged in 2016 alone included allegations of bias, as well as concerns about due process and judges’ conduct within the courtroom. Of the 102 complaints that had been resolved when the data were published, only three resulted in discipline, defined as “reprimand” or “suspension” of the judge. “Corrective actions” such as counseling or training were taken in 39 cases. Close to half the complaints were dismissed.

The agency does not identify judges who were the subjects of complaints.

Mattingly, the EOIR spokeswoman, said the agency “takes seriously any claims of unjustified and significant anomalies in immigration judge decision-making and takes steps to evaluate disparities in immigration adjudications.”

DAY IN COURT

Asylum applicants cannot gain legal U.S. residency because they fled their countries in mortal fear of civil strife or rampant crime or a natural disaster. They must convince the court that they have well-founded fears of persecution in their country because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinions or membership in a particular social group. The definition of a “particular social group” has been subject to conflicting interpretations in the courts, but in general, such a group comprises people who share basic beliefs or traits that can’t or shouldn’t have to be changed.

In the San Francisco court, Gutierrez’s lawyers argued that she qualified for asylum because as a leader of the parent-teacher association, she was at risk for her political opinion – her stand against gangs – and for belonging to a particular social group of Hondurans opposed to gang violence and recruitment in schools. The lawyers also argued that she was part of another particular social group as the family member of someone under threat, since the gangs had terrorized her son in trying to recruit him.

Holyoak was convinced. Gutierrez told Reuters that during her final hearing, the judge apologized for asking so many questions about what had been a painful time in her life, explaining that he had needed to establish her credibility.

In the Charlotte court, Ana’s lawyer focused more narrowly on her political opinion, arguing that she was at risk of persecution for her opposition to gangs in her position on the parent-teacher association board.

After hearing Ana’s case, Couch concluded in his written opinion that Ana was not eligible for asylum because she had “not demonstrated a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of a statutorily protected ground.” He wasn’t convinced that she risked persecution in Honduras because of her political opinion.

Well-established law recognizes family as a protected social group, according to the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies. Cases that claim opposition to gangs as a protected political opinion, the center says, have generated fewer precedent-setting decisions, making that argument a more difficult one to win in court, though it has prevailed in some cases.

Ana’s response to Couch’s extensive questioning played a part in the decision. In immigration court, the asylum seeker is typically the only witness.  As a result, “credibility is really the key factor. Persecutors don’t give affidavits,” said Andrew Arthur, a former immigration judge who now works at the Center for Immigration Studies, a nonprofit organization that supports lower levels of immigration.

Couch wrote in his opinion that Ana’s difficulty recounting the names of the women on the association board weighed against her credibility. He noted that she testified about her fears of the gang “with a flat affect and little emotion,” displaying a “poor demeanor” that “did not support her credibility.”

The judge also questioned why, in an early interview with an asylum officer, Ana never mentioned threats to the parent-teacher association, and instead said she thought the gangs were targeting her for the money her daughter’s father was sending from the United States to build a house in Honduras.

Ana’s assertion that she learned from Gutierrez in detention about gang threats to the parent-teacher association was not “persuasive,” Couch wrote. “The evidence indicates this is a case of criminal extortion that the respondent attempts to fashion into an imputed political opinion claim.”

“SOMEONE WANTS TO KILL THEM”

Gutierrez said Ana told her in one of their occasional phone conversations that she felt intimidated by the intense questioning of the ICE attorney. Gutierrez also said her friend “is very forgetful. … It’s not that she is lying. It’s just that she forgets things.”

Lisa Knox, the lawyer who represented Gutierrez, said judges where she practices tend to give applicants the benefit of the doubt. “They have more understanding of trauma survivors and the difficulty they might have in recounting certain details and little discrepancies,” she said.

Further, Knox said, asylum seekers aren’t thinking about the finer points of U.S. asylum law when they are fleeing persecution. “People show up in our office (and) they have no idea why someone wants to kill them. They just know someone wants to kill them.”

Ana’s lawyer appealed her case to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), the first step in the appellate process. This time, her lawyer included arguments about her membership in a particular social group. She lost. In a three-page ruling, one board member said Ana’s lawyer could not introduce a new argument on appeal and agreed with Couch that Ana hadn’t proved a political motive behind the gang members’ attack.

Ana missed the deadline to appeal the BIA decision to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals because her lawyer confused the deadline. She petitioned the BIA through new lawyers to reopen her case and send it back to the immigration court to allow her to present new evidence of her persecution. The new lawyers argued that her previous representation had been ineffective.

In July, the BIA granted Ana the right to a rehearing in immigration court, sending her case back to Charlotte, where it could be heard again by Couch.

Gutierrez can live and work legally in the United States and will ultimately be able to apply for citizenship. The 43-year-old, who worked as a nurse in Honduras, lives in a small one-bedroom apartment with her husband, her two sons – now 15 and 8 – her adult daughter and her grandson. She works as an office janitor and is taking English classes. Her boys are in school. The older one, once threatened by gangs in Honduras, likes studying history and math and is learning to play the cello.

Ana, 31, has had a baby since arriving in the United States and has been granted work authorization while she awaits a final decision on her case. She and her lawyers declined to share more detailed information about her situation because she remains fearful of the gangs in Honduras.

“I am very worried about her,” Gutierrez said. “The situation in our country is getting worse and worse.”

Last February, a 50-year-old woman and her 29-year-old son who were selling food at the school Gutierrez and Ana’s children attended were kidnapped from their home and decapitated, according to police records.

The head of the son was placed on the body of the mother and the head of the mother was placed on the body of the son. The murders, like more than 93 percent of crimes in Honduras, remain unsolved.

Additional reporting by Gustavo Palencia and Kristina Cooke

U.S. immigration courts are administrative courts within the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review. Unlike federal court judges, whose authority stems from the U.S. Constitution’s establishment of an independent judicial branch, immigration judges fall under the executive branch and thus are hired, and can be fired, by the attorney general.

More than 300 judges are spread among 58 U.S. immigration courts in 27 states, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands. Cases are assigned to an immigration court based on where the immigrant lives. Within each court, cases are assigned to judges on a random, rotational basis.

The courts handle cases to determine whether an individual should be deported. Possible outcomes include asylum; adjustments of status; stay of deportation; and deportation. Decisions can be appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals, an administrative body within the Department of Justice. From there, cases can be appealed to federal appeals court.

The Federal Bar Association and the National Association of Immigration Judges have endorsed the idea of creating an immigration court system independent of the executive branch. The Government Accountability Office studied some proposals for reform in 2017, without endorsing any particular model.

Reade Levinson

Heavy Odds

By Mica Rosenberg in Oakland, California, and Reade Levinson and Ryan McNeill in New York, with additional reporting by Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and Kristina Cooke in San Francisco

Data: Reade Levinson and Ryan McNeill

Graphics: Ashlyn Still

Photo editing: Steve McKinley and Barbara Adhiya

Video: Zachary Goelman

Design: Jeff Magness

Edited by Sue Horton, Janet Roberts and John Blanton”

Go to the link at the beginning to get the full benefit of the “interactive” features of this report on Reuters.

Also, here is an interactive presentation on the Trump Administration’s overall immigration policies:

http://www.reuters.com/trump-effect/immigration

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

Great reporting by Mica and her team!

Interesting to note that the Arlington Immigration Court, where I sat for 13 years, has one of the most consistent “grant rates” in the country, ranging from approximately 54% to 60% grants. Compare that with the Charlotte Immigration Court at 11% to 28% grants within the same judicial circuit (the Fourth Circuit). Something is seriously wrong here. And, Jeff Sessions has absolutely no intent of solving it except by pushing for 100% denials everywhere! That’s the very definition of a “Kangaroo Court!”

It’s time for an Article I Court. But, not sure it will happen any time soon. Meanwhile Sessions is making a mockery out of justice in the Immigration Courts just as he has in many other parts of the U.S. Justice system.

PWS

10-17-17

 

GONZO’S WORLD: Jeff Sessions Is The New Jim Crow – Public Officials Using Bogus “Rule Of Law” and False “Christian Values” To Advance An Agenda of Hate, Bigotry, Intolerance, and Resentment Is (Sadly) Nothing New In America – The Main Difference: African-Americans Aren’t Gonzo’s Only Targets! — LGBTQ Americans Last Week, Hispanic Asylum Seekers This Week, Who’s Next: Latino Communities, Minority Voters, Dreamers, Children, Women, Muslims, Democrats, Obama, Poor People, Property Owners, Marihuana Farmers, The Sick & Disabled? – The Majority of Americans Are Somewhere On Gonzo’s “Hit List!” – When Will It Be YOUR Turn? — Who Will Defend YOUR Rights Against Gonzo’s Nasty Crusade Of “Injustice At Justice?”

http://www.newsweek.com/sessions-deals-another-blow-lgbt-community-684572

Marci A. Hamilton writes in Newsweek:

“I never expected to speak the phrase: “As Mississippi goes, so goes the federal government.” But when it comes to demeaning and disempowering LGBT, it is now apropos.

The self-righteous drive to make others suffer for not living Evangelical beliefs appears to be unstoppable with Trump in power and with Sessions as his henchman for civil rights. They are taking their cues from the Deep South and particularly Mississippi.

Mississippi is the national leader on religiously-motivated discrimination against LGBT and generating divisiveness on these issues, as I discussed here.

Mississippi continues to aspire to fomenting the most discrimination against LGBT with HB 1523, which explicitly permits business owners to refuse service to LGBT for religious reasons. The trial court correctly held that it was unconstitutional and issued a preliminary injunction.

In June, the Fifth Circuit let the law go into effect, holding that the challengers lacked standing. On further review, the Fifth Circuit refused to vacate the ruling, which let the law stand. Now perhaps it goes to the Supreme Court.

Its sponsors put it into place so that Evangelicals can legally exclude LGBT from the marketplace. They say it’s about their “religious liberty,” by which they mean not the right to observe their own practices, but rather their supposed right to judge and condemn others before doing business with them.

The whole anti-LGBT project is so unbelievably hypocritical: they aren’t fighting to bar liars, adulterers, rapists, or pedophiles from their businesses, all of whom who violate plain biblical commands.

GettyImages-646266774Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice on February 28, 2017 in Washington, D.C. ZACH GIBSON/GETTY

What they are engineering is lives without having to associate with “those people.” One can only hope that good, old-fashioned profit motives enrich those businesses that provide service to LGBT and put out of business those who prefer the Jim Crow life.

Trump Administration Follows Mississippi’s Lead

Now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has piled onto this administration’s obsession with humiliating and harming transgender Americans here and here with a new document interpreting federal law to require accommodation of those in the government who believe LGBT are sinful.

That’s right, the drive is to accommodate the ones who cannot tolerate those who aren’t like them. This is all about deconstructing the LGBT civil rights the Obama administration put into place as discussed here and here.

For good measure, the administration is also rolling back protections intended to ensure LGBT are not discriminated against in long-term care facilities. (The administration also went after women’s rights to contraception as fellow columnist Joanna Grossman explains, again an issue where it is in lock step with Evangelical lobbyists.)

Where Did This Intolerance Come From?

The push to inflict exclusion and suffering on LGBT for religious reasons owes its origins to the working out of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in American culture. Whether you have read Hegel or Calvin, this is what happens when you put into place a “right” that has no natural limit.

The religious lobbyists, including knowing conservatives and some truly naïve liberals, backed this benighted law in 1993. It was declared unconstitutional in 1997 in Boerne v. Flores, because it was so far removed from anything that the First Amendment had ever required .

What was unleashed with this federal statute, which morphed into state laws and later federal law, was a theory that the default position for religious liberty should be that a religious believer has a right to overcome any law that burdens religiously-motivated conduct.

Many laws exist to protect the vulnerable. When religious believers seize a “right” to trump the law, they in effect hurt the vulnerable. That is true here.

This power grab—particularly by religious organizations who believe in imprinting their beliefs on the culture—paved the way for the depraved arguments now being made for “religious liberty” that amount to exclusion and harm to an entire category of citizens defined solely by their sexual orientation. They have falsely claimed the mantle of victimhood while making victims of others.

The powerful choose the labels and the vulnerable suffer. If you have not seen this power maneuver elsewhere in history or in the Trump Administration’s dealings with race, you are not paying attention.

Marci A. Hamilton is the Fox Professor of Practice and Fox Family Pavilion Resident Senior Fellow in the Program for Research on Religion in the Fox Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania; the founder, CEO, and Academic Director of the nonprofit think tank to prevent child abuse and neglect, CHILD USA, and author of God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty and Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children. She also runs two active websites covering her areas of expertise, the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, www.RFRAperils.com, and statutes of limitations for child sex abuse, www.sol-reform.com.”

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

While the Evangelical right wages a bogus war against the non-existent “Sharia law in America,” the real threat to our freedoms, our Constitution, and the rule of law is posed by these very same right wingers. Led by folks like Gonzo who have moved from the “wacko fringe” to positions of power, they are forcing their false interpretation of Christianity down the throats of the rest of us who don’t share their “Gospel of Hate & Intolerance.”

From a theological standpoint (after all, it is Sunday), Jesus’s ministry was not to the rich, powerful, rulers, or Pharisees enforcing the Jewish Law; no, Jesus’s ministry was one of love, compassion, forgiveness, and eternal hope  for the outsiders, the outcasts, the poor, and the “rejected” of Jewish and Roman society. If Jesus were among us today, he would much more likely be found “rubbing shoulders” and preaching to the gay community or the undocumented than he would wandering the halls of Jeff Sessions’s Department of (In)Justice.

 

PWS

10-15-17

 

AMERICA’S KANGAROO COURT SYSTEM: EOIR HELPING DHS COME UP WITH WAYS TO DUMP ON UNACCOMPANIED KIDS! — THE “THE FACADE OF JUSTICE AT JUSTICE” CONTINUES WHILE CONGRESS AND ARTICLE III COURTS ABDICATE RESPONSIBILITY FOR A SYSTEM THAT MOCKS DUE PROCESS AND THE CONSTITUTION! — CNN’S Tal Kopan With The Scoop!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/11/politics/trump-administration-dhs-immigration-policies/index.html

Tal reports:

“Washington (CNN)Even as the Trump administration is asking Congress to approve a tough overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws, the Department of Homeland Security is also quietly exploring ways it could transform the US immigration system on its own.

The department has been examining a range of subtle modifications to immigration policies that could have major consequences, including limiting protections for unaccompanied minors who come to the US illegally, expanding the use of speedy deportation proceedings, and tightening visa programs in ways that could limit legal immigration to the US, according to multiple sources familiar with the plans.
None of the policies being explored are finalized, according to the sources, and are in various stages of development. Any of them could change or fall by the wayside. Some of them are also included at least in part in the wish list of immigration priorities that President Donald Trump sent to Congress this week, and it’s unclear whether the administration will wait to see the results of negotiations over the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that President Donald Trump has chosen to end.

Still, the proposals under consideration illustrate the extent to which the administration could attempt to dramatically change immigration in the US through unilateral executive action.
“Do you think Obama did a lot? That’s my answer,” said one former DHS official when asked how transformative the change could be. “They could do quite a bit.”
DACA itself was an example of how former President Barack Obama, frustrated with congressional inaction, sought to use executive authority to take action on immigration, putting in place the program to protect young undocumented immigrations brought to the US as children from deportation in 2012.
But the administration is now exploring rolling back more Obama-era policies, and changing even older systems.
DHS did not respond to a request for comment about the policies being explored or its process.
Targeting protections for unaccompanied minors
One effort underway is exploring what can be done about unaccompanied children (UACs), a category of undocumented immigrants who are caught illegally crossing the border into the US, are under age 18, and are not accompanied or met by a parent or guardian in the US. Those UACs, by law and legal settlement, are handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services for settling in the US, given protections from expedited removal proceedings and given special opportunities to pursue asylum cases in the US.
DHS and the Department of Justice have been exploring options to tighten the protections for UACs, including no longer considering them UACs if they’re reunited with parents or guardians in the US by HHS or once they turn 18.

In a previously unreported memo, obtained by CNN, the general counsel of the Executive Office of Immigration Review, which manages the nation’s immigration courts, wrote in a legal opinion that the administration would be able to decide a UAC was no longer eligible for protections — a sea change in the way the 2008 law granting those protections has been interpreted.
The Trump administration has portrayed the UAC protections as a loophole in the law that can be exploited by gangs, though experts have testified before Congress that the minors under the program are more likely to be victimized by gangs in the US due to a lack of a support network than to be gang members. The administration also has sought to crack down on parents who pay smugglers to bring their children into the US illegally, even to escape dangerous situations in Central America.
The White House also asked Congress to amend the 2008 law to restrict UAC protections.
In previously unreported comments made last month at a security conference in Washington, acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Tom Homan said that ICE is actively looking at the adults HHS places UACs with, and if they are in the US illegally, they will be processed for deportation — and if a smuggler was paid, they could be prosecuted for human trafficking.
DOJ touts effects of surge of immigration judges sent to border
DOJ touts effects of surge of immigration judges sent to border
“You cannot hide in the shadows, you can’t be an illegal alien in the United States, have your undocumented child smuggled at the hands of a criminal organization, and stay in the shadows,” Homan said. “We’re going to put the parents in proceedings, immigration proceedings, at a minimum. … Is that cruel? I don’t think so. Because if that child is really escaping fear and persecution, he’s going to stand in front of an immigration judge to plead his case, his parents should be standing shoulder to shoulder with him. I call that parenting.”
DHS is also continuing to weigh its options to expand the use of expedited removal more generally — a speedier process of deportation that bypasses a lengthy court process in particular cases — as authorized by Trump’s January executive order on immigration.
Legal immigration tightening
Other efforts in the works include ways to tighten legal avenues to come to the US.
Two policies being looked at are the subject of litigation in the DC Circuit court — work authorizations for spouses of high-skilled visa holders and an expansion of a program that allows STEM students to stay in the US an extra two years for training.
Both policies were challenged in the courts, and now the administration is considering whether to roll them back.
On the spousal authorizations, DHS told the court as much in a filing last month, asking for extra time for the DHS review to finish.
That filing points to a DHS review of “all” of the agency’s immigration policies, citing the President’s Executive Order to “buy American and hire American.”
“Executive Order 13,788 is an intervening event necessitating careful, considered review of all of DHS’s immigration policies to ensure that the interests of US workers are being protected,” the attorneys wrote, citing the order’s instructions to create new rules, if necessary, “to protect the interests of United States workers in the administration of our immigration system.”
Trump admin quietly made asylum more difficult in the US
Trump admin quietly made asylum more difficult in the US
DHS has also moved to tighten asylum claim credibility thresholds, and is exploring asking Congress for more authority to do so. Another target is reportedly cultural exchange visas, which according to The Wall Street Journal are also under scrutiny after the “hire American” order.
Further unilateral moves wouldn’t even require policy changes, immigration attorneys fear. Attorneys who represent immigration clients fear that simply by slowing down the visa process, DHS could substantially decrease the number of immigrants admitted to the United States. US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced this summer it would begin requiring interviews for all green card applicants on employment and refugee grounds, and that it would roll out required interviews for other categories over time, adding a substantial and potentially lengthy hurdle to achieving legal permanent residency.
“If the wait time for naturalizations increases by three months, USCIS can naturalize 25% fewer people per year, which would mean millions of people over a four-year period,” said Leon Fresco, an immigration attorney and former Obama administration DOJ official. “Even without a policy change, the administration (can accomplish) dramatic reductions to legal immigration through increases in processing times and taking a hawkish approach to finding reasons for denials of immigration applications.”
DHS pointed CNN to statistics showing no increase in the rate of denials of immigration applications, though the backlog of pending applications has grown steadily over the past two years.
Internal jockeying
One-quarter of DACA renewals not in on deadline day
One-quarter of DACA renewals not in on deadline day
Sources familiar with the inner workings of DHS describe an environment where political appointees and policy staff with strongly held opinions circulate ideas that sometimes reach the press before front office and secretarial staff are even aware of the discussions.
While political appointees and career officials are not described as butting heads, some of policy ideas do end up moderated by career employees on practical grounds. One source also described some employees of USCIS, which administers DACA, as getting emotional when the plan was made to end the program.
“Once it gets to a senior level, there are pretty robust discussions,” another source familiar said. “And once it gets to that level there are folks with ideas, and then folks who have been around for a while who say, ‘That won’t work.'”
Those competing ideas are then ultimately decided on by the secretary and high-level decision makers, though sources say political appointees are sometimes in a position to have influence over what information flows to the front office and top officials.
“The secretary and the decision makers end up with that (dynamic),” the source said.”

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

Immigration “Courts” run and controlled by Political Enforcement Officials and actively engaged in looking for ways to diminish the rights of individuals coming before them are not “real courts” and are not capable for delivering fair, unbiased, and impartial justice in accordance with the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. This kangaroo court system, operating under false premises, is unconstitutional (in addition to be incompetently administered)! 

Will the Article III Courts ever do their duty, put this corrupt and unlawful system out of its misery, and restore at least some semblance of due process and justice for immigrants? Or, will they “go along to get along” and thus make themselves part of one of the most shameful charades of justice In American Legal History?

NEW FROM THE HILL: N. RAPPAPORT SAYS “NO” TO MOST OF CAL SB 54, BUT WOULD LIKE TO FIND A COMPROMISE LEGISLATIVE SOLUTON TO HELP DREAMERS AND OTHER UNDOCUMENTED RESIDENTS!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/59dad902e4b08ce873a8cf53

In encourage you to go over to The Hill at the above link and read Nolan’s complete article. As always, whether you agree with Nolan or not, his articles are always thought-provoking and timely. Nolan is definitely a “player” in the immigration dialogue! (And, frankly, by going over to The Hill, Nolan gets a few more “hits” which give him a few more “hard-earned nickels” in his pockets. Gotta help out my fellow retirees!)

I can agree with Nolan’s bottom line:

“It would be better to help undocumented aliens by working on comprehensive immigration reform legislation that meets essential political needs of both parties.”

The challenge will be figuring out what those points might be. So far, the GOP “Wish List” is basically an “incendiary White Nationalist screed” drafted by notorious racist xenophobe Stephen Miller (probably with backing from Sessions and certainly incorporating parts of Steve Bannon’s alt-right White Nationalist world view) that contains virtually nothing that any Democrat, or indeed any decent person, could agree with. Indeed, the very involvement of Miller in the legislative process is a “gut punch” to Democrats and whatever “moderate GOP” legislators remain.

What are some “smart enforcement” moves that Democrats could agree with: more funding for DHS/ICE technology; improvements in hiring and training for DHS enforcement personnel; U.S. Immigration Court reforms;  more attorneys and support (including paralegal support) for the ICE Legal Program; more funding for “Know Your Rights” presentations in Detention Centers.

But more agents for “gonzo enforcement,” more money for immigration prisons (a/k/a the “American Gulag”), and, most disgustingly, picking on and targeting scared, vulnerable kids seeking protection from harm in Central America by stripping them of their already meager due process protections: NO WAY!

Although “The Wall” is a money wasting folly with lots of negative racial and foreign policy implications, it probably comes down to a “victory” that Democrats could give to Trump and the GOP without actually hurting any human beings, violating any overriding principles of human rights law, or diminishing Constitutional Due process. It also inflicts less long-term damage on America than a racially-oriented “point system” or a totally disastrous and wrong-headed decrease in legal immigration when the country needs the total opposite, a significant increase in legal immigration opportunities, including those for so-called “unskilled labor.”

While this GOP Congress will never agree to such an increase — and therefore workable “Immigration Reform” will continue to elude them — the Democrats need to “hold the line” at current levels until such time as Americans can use the ballot box to achieve a Congress more cognizant of the actual long-term needs of the majority of Americans.

PWS

10-09-17

 

BRINGING OUR CONSTITUTION BACK TO LIFE — AN IMPORTANT FIRST STEP: “JAYAPAL, SMITH INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO REFORM IMMIGRATION DETENTION SYSTEM!”

https://www.theindianpanorama.news/unitedstates/jayapal-smith-introduce-legislation-reform-immigration-detention-system/

From Indian Panorama:

“WASHINGTON (TIP): Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) and Indian American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) introduced, on Oct 3, the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, legislation to reform the systemic problems in immigration detention system. This bill will end the use of private facilities and repeal mandatory detention, while restoring due process, oversight, accountability, and transparency to the immigration detention system.

“The high moral cost of our inhumane immigration detention system is reprehensible. Large, private corporations operating detention centers are profiting off the suffering of men, women and children. We need an overhaul,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “It’s clear that the Trump administration is dismantling the few protections in place for detained immigrants even as he ramps up enforcement against parents and vulnerable populations. This bill addresses the most egregious problems with our immigration detention system. It’s Congress’ responsibility to step up and pass this bill.”

“We must fix the injustices in our broken immigration detention system,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “As the Trump administration continues to push a misguided and dangerous immigration agenda, we need to ensure fair treatment and due process for immigrants and refugees faced with detention. This legislation will address some of the worst failings of our immigration policy, and restore integrity and humanity to immigration proceedings.”

In addition to repealing mandatory detention, a policy that often results in arbitrary and indefinite detention, the legislation creates a meaningful inspection process at detention facilities to ensure they meet the government’s own standards. The bill requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish legally enforceable civil detention standards in line with those adopted by the American Bar Association. With disturbing track records of abuse and neglect, DHS has a responsibility to ensure that facilities are held accountable for the humane treatment of those awaiting immigration proceedings.

Individuals held in immigration detention system are subject to civil law, but are often held in conditions identical to prisons. In many cases, detained people are simply awaiting their day in court. To correct the persistent failures of due process, the legislation requires the government to show probable cause to detain people, and implements a special rule for primary caregivers and vulnerable populations, including pregnant women and people with serious medical and mental health issues.”

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

Since these guys are Democrats, their bill is obviously DOA. But, it is important to start “laying down markers” — even symbolic ones — for the future.

As a  former administrative judge who was required to administer and enforce mandatory detention (under DOJ rules, we were not permitted to consider the constitutionality of the mandatory detention statutes and the DHS implementing regulations) for the better part of two decades, I can assure you that it was a totally unnecessary, grossly wasteful, and stunningly unhumane blot on our national conscience and our reputation as a nation that adheres to principles of simple human decency.

There is absolutely no reason why U.S. Imigration Judges cannot determine who needs to be detained as a flight risk or a danger to the community and who doesn’t! But, for that to happen, we also need an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court not beholden to the Attorney General (particularly one like Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions with a perverse ignorance of Constitutional protections, an overwhelming bias against immigrants, and a record largely devoid of notable acts of human decency.)

Every study conducted during the last Administration, including DHS’s own Advisory Committee, found serious problems and inadequate conditions in private detention and recommended that it be eliminated. Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch actually announced an end to private detention for criminals. Yet, remarkably and unconscionably, the response of the Trump Administration, led by Gonzo Apocalypto, was to double down and expand the use of expensive, inhumane private detention for convicted criminals and for “civil” immigration detainees whose sole “crime” is to seek justice from the courts in America.

Thanks much to Nolan Rappaport for sending this in!

PWS

10-06-17

 

TAL KOPAN AT CNN: Alarm Bells Ring As DACA Renewals Lag At Deadline! — Administration Refuses To Extend Deadline Despite Hurricanes & Inadequate Publicity! — Politico Reports That White House Racist Stephen Miller Planning To Torpedo Dreamer Relief — Immigration System & Country Facing Chaos!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/05/politics/daca-renewal-deadline-immigration/index.html

Tal reports:

“Washington (CNN)Democrats are raising alarms that more than a quarter of eligible recipients under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program have not yet filed to renew their status ahead of Thursday’s deadline.

According to data provided Wednesday by a senior Democratic congressional staffer and confirmed to CNN by US Citizenship and Immigration Services, 42,669 individuals nationwide — or 27.7% of the 154,234 people eligible — had not submitted their applications. That was slightly down from roughly 48,000 that the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday hadn’t yet submitted.
When President Donald Trump announced the end of the program, known as DACA, a month ago, he put in place a six-month delay on expiring protections by allowing any recipient whose DACA expires by March 5 until Thursday to apply for a two-year renewal. Otherwise, the program that protects young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation will begin to end on March 5, as the two-year permits of nearly 700,000 active protectees begin to run out.
Democrats have repeatedly implored DHS to extend the deadline, saying one month to gather paperwork — and the roughly $500 application fee — is not long enough for those affected.
Trump sketches out DACA deal with Republicans at White House dinner
They’ve been especially critical of DHS for not making special consideration for DACA recipients in states hit by hurricanes Irma and Harvey, though DHS did announce Tuesday it would make case-by-case decisions for recipients in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands affected by Maria.
The frustration bubbled up at a Senate hearing Tuesday, where Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin cited considerations the Internal Revenue Service was making for Texas, Louisiana and Florida residents.
“May I implore you, implore you, to do the same thing at DHS that our own Internal Revenue Service is doing,” Durbin said to the DHS officials testifying. “If it’s good enough for our tax collectors to have a heart, isn’t it good enough for DHS to have a heart?”
Senators’ frustration with Trump on DACA bubbles up at hearing
According to the Wednesday data, more than 2,600 of eligible recipients in Texas had yet to submit renewals, 28% of the total eligible in that state. In Florida, more than 2,000, or 35% of those eligible, had yet to renew. In the US islands hit by Irma, 16 of the 37 eligible hadn’t yet renewed.
Democrats have also been frustrated with DHS over its notification process, saying without individual notifications to those eligible for renewal, the administration should extend the deadline.
“We are very concerned that because DACA recipients were not individually notified of their eligibility for renewal, tens of thousands of DACA recipients could lose their work authorization and DACA status protections,” Congressional Hispanic Caucus leaders wrote in a letter to acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke on Tuesday repeating a request to meet about extending the deadline.
Trump said he was putting in place the six-month window to give Congress a sense of urgency to put the Obama administration executive action into law.
But despite Tuesday’s hearing, multiple working groups and meetings the President has had with lawmakers at the White House, little substantive progress has been made.
The fault lines have remained consistent. Democrats support the bipartisan Dream Act that would protect eligible young immigrants who arrived as children and put them on a path to citizenship. They say they could accept border security as a compromise with it, but insist they will not vote for anything that could put the families and friends of those protected at greater risk of deportation.
DACA deal: A list of just some of the things that could go wrong
But Republicans are also insistent that any DACA deal must include border security and likely immigration enforcement measures, and the more conservative members of the party are suggesting policies — like mandatory worker verification, cuts to the legal immigration system and expanded deportation authority — that would be almost impossible to get Democrats to agree to.
Any solution would likely have to include Democrats, as they’ll be needed for passage in the Senate and to make up for Republicans in the House who would never vote for any DACA deal. But House Speaker Paul Ryan has also pledged not to move any bill that doesn’t get the votes of a majority of Republicans, limiting the options.
Durbin was joined on Tuesday at the hearing by Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, in urging lawmakers and the White House to not try to concoct too big a compromise. Tillis has sponsored legislation similar to Durbin’s Dream Act that he bills as a conservative DACA solution.
Responding to a wish list articulated by a DHS senior staff member testifying about the White House’s aims, Tillis grew frustrated and urged members to focus on a narrow deal as a starting point.
“It reads like a laundry list for comprehensive immigration reform, and if Congress has proven an extraordinary ability to do anything, it’s to fail at comprehensive immigration reform,” Tillis said.”

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

Bad news on all fronts for Dreamers, and for America.  Over at the White House, notorious White Nationalist xenophobe racist and Sessions confidante Stephen Miller is plotting to destroy any chance of compromise legislation to aid Dreamers by attaching reductions in legal Immigraton and other parts of the White Nationalist agenda to the bill.

Politico reports:

“The White House is finalizing a plan to demand hard-line immigration reforms in exchange for supporting a fix on the DACA program, according to three people familiar with the talks — an approach that risks alienating Democrats and even many Republicans, potentially tanking any deal.

The White House proposal is being crafted by Stephen Miller, the administration’s top immigration adviser, and includes cutting legal immigration by half over the next decade, an idea that’s already been panned by lawmakers in both parties.

 

The principles would likely be a political non-starter for Democrats and infuriate Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who have negotiated with President Donald Trump on immigration and left a White House meeting last month indicating a solution was near. They could also divide Republicans, many of whom oppose cutting legal immigration.

Miller was upset after Trump’s dinner last month with Schumer and Pelosi and has been working since to bring the president back to the tougher stance he took during his campaign.

Miller has begun talking with Hill aides and White House officials about the principles in recent days. The administration is expected to send its immigration wish-list to Congress in the coming days, perhaps as soon as this weekend, said the people familiar with the plan, who include two administration officials. They requested anonymity to discuss the ongoing negotiations.

A White House official cautioned that the plans have not been finalized and could still change. Miller didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Unless they change dramatically from their current form, the immigration principles could short-circuit congressional negotiations aimed at finding a fix to DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — the Obama-era initiative that grants work permits to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as minors.

“Handing Stephen Miller the pen on any DACA deal after the revolt from their base is the quickest way to blow it up,” said a senior Democratic Senate aide.

Lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol panned an earlier White House immigration proposal spearheaded by Miller, the RAISE Act, when the White House rolled it out in August. Republicans including Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Ron Johnson .)of Wisconsin all but declared the proposal dead on arrival.

Trump announced last month that he would end the DACA program, but he said he’d give Congress six months to come up with a legislative solution.

Despite Trump’s efforts to make nice with Schumer and Pelosi, Republican lawmakers signaled this week that the president is prepared to demand tough immigration measures as part of the negotiations.

In addition to provisions in the RAISE Act, the White House’s immigration principles also include parts of the Davis-Oliver Act, including measures that would give state and local law enforcement power to enforce immigration laws, allow states to write their own immigration laws and expand criminal penalties for entering the U.S. illegally.

The principles would also incorporate a provision from the Davis-Oliver Act that puts the onus on Congress to designate Temporary Protected Status, which allows immigrants to temporarily stay in the United States because they are unable to return to their home country as a result of a natural disaster or other dangerous circumstances.

The Davis-Oliver Act gives Congress 90 days to approve a measure extending TPS protections to a foreign state. If Congress does not act, the designation will be terminated. Lawmakers have raised concerns that Congress will be unable to agree on the designations, effectively killing the program.

In addition, the principles call for billions of dollars in border security, as well as money for detention beds and more immigration judges, according to the people familiar with them. Republicans are likely to support those moves.”

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

Miller’s proposals are right out of the White Nationalist restrictionist playbook. It will be a non-starter for Democrats. Additionally, no decent human being of any party should ever be associated, in any way, with any idea emanating from the arrogant racist Miller.

If Miller is involved, Dreamer relief is DOA. That means that Dreamers are likely to be left to fight out their future one case at a time in the Federal Courts and in the Immigraton Courts. Given the existing 630,000+ case backlog in the U.S. Imigration Courts, and the relatively cumbersome process for restoring “Dreamer” cases to the Immigraton Court Docket, not many will actually be removed from the United States before 2000.

I also think that Dreamers will have a reasonable chance of succeeding in the Article III Courts in barring DHS from relying on any evidence furnished as part of the DACA application and interview process as evidence of removability. That’s likely to throw a further monkey wrench into any enforcement initiative aimed at Dreamers.

So, the best strategy might prove to be working hard to remove the Trump regime and enough White Nationalist GOPers through the ballot box to create a climate for reasonable immigraton reform in 2021.

Sad, but probably true. A country that mistreats its youth in this manner can expect “very bad things” to happen in the future.

PWS

10-05-17

 

GONZO’S WORLD: HOMOPHOBIC AG ATTACKS LGBTQ COMMUNITY WITH BOGUS LEGAL MEMO STRIPPING TRANSGENDER INDIVIDUALS OF CIVIL RIGHTS PROTECTIONS!

https://www.buzzfeed.com/dominicholden/jeff-sessions-just-reversed-a-policy-that-protects

Dominic Holden reports for BuzzFeed News:

“US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reversed a federal government policy that said transgender workers were protected from discrimination under a 1964 civil rights law, according to a memo on Wednesday sent to agency heads and US attorneys.

Sessions’ directive, obtained by BuzzFeed News, says, “Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status.”

It adds that the government will take this position in pending and future matters, which could have far-reaching implications across the federal government and may result in the Justice Department fighting against transgender workers in court.

“Although federal law, including Title VII, provides various protections to transgender individuals, Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se,” Sessions writes. “This is a conclusion of law, not policy. As a law enforcement agency, the Department of Justice must interpret Title VII as written by Congress.”

But Sharon McGowan, a former lawyer in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and now an attorney for the LGBT group Lambda Legal, countered that Sessions’ is ignoring a widespread trend in federal courts.

“It’s ironic for them to say this is law, and not policy,” McGowan told BuzzFeed News. “The memo is devoid of discussion of the way case law has been developing in this area for the last few years. It demonstrates that this memo is not actually a reflection of the law as it is — it’s a reflection of what the DOJ wishes the law were.”

“The sessions DOJ is trying to roll back the clock and pretend that the progress of the last decade hasnt’ happened,” she added. “The Justice Department is actually getting back in the business of making anti-transgender law in court.”

“The Justice Department is actually getting back in the business of making anti-transgender law in court.”
The memo reflects the Justice Department’s aggression toward LGBT rights under President Trump and Sessions, who reversed an Obama-era policy that protects transgender students after a few weeks in office. Last month, Sessions filed a brief at the Supreme Court in favor of a Christian baker who refused a wedding cake to a gay couple. And last week, the department argued in court that Title VII doesn’t protect a gay worker from discrimination, showing that Sessions will take his view on Title VII into private employment disputes.

At issue in the latest policy is how broadly the government interprets Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which does not address LGBT rights directly. Rather, it prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an independent agency that enforces civil rights law in the workplace, and a growing body of federal court decisions have found sex discrimination does include discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sex stereotyping — and that Title VII therefore bans anti-transgender discrimination as well.

Embracing that trend, former attorney general Eric Holder under President Obama announced the Justice Department would take that position as well, issuing a memo in 2014 that said, “I have determined that the best reading of Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination is that it encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status. The most straightforward reading of Title VII is that discrimination ‘because of … sex’ includes discrimination because an employee’s gender identification is as a member of a particular sex, or because the employee is transitioning, or has transitioned, to another sex.”

But Sessions said in his latest policy that he “withdraws the December 15, 2014, memorandum,” and adds his narrower view that the law only covers discrimination between “men and women.”

“The Department of Justice will take that position in all pending and future matters (except where controlling lower-court precedent dictates otherwise, in which event the issue should be preserved for potential future review),” Sessions writes.

Sessions adds: “The Justice Department must and will continue to affirm the dignity of all people, including transgender individuals. Nothing in this memorandum should be construed to condone mistreatment on the basis of gender identity, or to express a policy view on whether Congress should amend Title VII to provide different or additional protections.”

Devin O’Malley, a spokesperson for the Justice Department, explained the decision to issue the memo, telling BuzzFeed News, “The Department of Justice cannot expand the law beyond what Congress has provided. Unfortunately, the last administration abandoned that fundamental principle, which necessitated today’s action. This Department remains committed to protecting the civil and constitutional rights of all individuals, and will continue to enforce the numerous laws that Congress has enacted that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”

McGowan, from Lambda Legal, counters, “The memo is so weak that analysis is so thin, that it will courts will recognize it for what it is — a raw political document and not sound legal analysis that should be given any weight by them.”

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

Virulent homophobia has always been a key element of the “Gonzo Apocalypto Agenda.” Check out this report from Mark Joseph Stern at Slate about how when serving as Alabama’s Attorney General Gonzo attempted to use an Alabama statute that had been ruled unconstitutional by a Federal Judge to both publicly demean LGBTQ students and stomp on their First Amendment rights. (So much for the disingenuous BS speech that Gonzo delivered on Free Speech at Georgetown Law last week.)  Here’s what happened:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered a speech at Georgetown University Law Center in which he argued that “freedom of thought and speech on the American campus are under attack.” As my colleague Dahlia Lithwick explained, the attorney general said this in “a room full of prescreened students who asked him prescreened questions while political demonstrators outside were penned off in ‘free speech zones.’ ” Ensconced in a safe space of his own, Sessions blasted the notion that speech can be “hurtful,” criticizing administrators and students for their “crackdown” on “speech they may have disagreed with.”

Mark Joseph Stern
MARK JOSEPH STERN
Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers the law and LGBTQ issues.

Sessions’ hypocrisy on speech issues is not a new development. In 1996, the then–attorney general of Alabama used the full power of his office to try to shut down an LGBTQ conference at the University of Alabama. Sessions took his battle to court, asking a federal judge to let him block the conference altogether—or, at the very least, silence students who wished to discuss LGBTQ issues. He ultimately failed, but his campaign reveals a great deal about his highly selective view of free expression. Sessions claims to support freedom for “offensive” speech, but when speech offends him, he is all too happy to play the censor.

When Sessions served as Alabama attorney general, the state still criminalized sodomy. A 1992 law, Alabama Education Code Section 16-1-28, also barred public universities from funding, recognizing, or supporting any group “that fosters or promotes a lifestyle or actions prohibited by” the sodomy statute, either “directly or indirectly.” The law also forbade schools from allowing such organizations to use public facilities. Sessions’ predecessor, Jimmy Evans, had interpreted the statute to effectively outlaw the discussion or promotion of gay rights on public campuses, with that prohibition even extending to AIDS awareness campaigns.

In 1995, the University of South Alabama’s Gay Lesbian Bisexual Alliance sued in federal court to block Section 16-1-28. That summer, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that, under the First Amendment, public universities may not deny access to facilities or funding for student organizations on the basis of their viewpoints. This decision, the GLBA asserted, rendered Section 16-1-28 unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson agreed, holding the law to be invalid in a January 1996 ruling.

This decision was excellent news for the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Alliance at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. The GLBA had planned to host the Fifth Annual Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual College Conference of the Southeastern United States in February 1996. Sessions, by now attorney general, was trying his hardest to shut it down.

“University officials say they’re going to try to obey the law,” Sessions said at the time, as CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski reported in December of last year. “I don’t see how it can be done without canceling this conference. I remain hopeful that if the administration does not act, the board of trustees will.” Sessions didn’t give up even after Judge Thompson struck down the law. “I intend to do everything I can to stop that conference,” he said.

In a last-ditch effort, Sessions returned to Thompson’s court and asked permission to ban the conference. “The State of Alabama,” he explained in court filings, “will experience irreparable harm by funding a conference and activities in violation of state law.” Failing a total ban, Sessions implored Thompson to let him censor any discussion of “safe sex and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.” Sessions claimed that, by talking about LGBTQ issues, conference attendees were essentially conspiring to promote criminal activity, and Alabama should not be obligated to support their criminality. Predictably, Thompson rejected Sessions’ arguments, writing that the attorney general was endeavoring to violate students’ free speech rights. Sessions then appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which unanimously ruled against Alabama. The conference went on as planned.

Cathy Lopez Wessell, a lead organizer and spokeswoman for the conference, told me Sessions’ intervention “was incredibly stressful. We got threatening phone calls. We were attacked from all sides.” She continued, “We were the abomination of the month. I didn’t feel safe in the world for a while. I started to internalize some of the judgment leveled at our group. I thought, there must be something deeply wrong with you if you need to be silenced.”

Lopez Wessell explained that Sessions’ campaign against the conference registered as a broader attack on LGBTQ students.

“If we can’t talk, do we have a right to exist?” Lopez Wessell asked. “If our speech is so dangerous that it needs to be stopped, then are we dangerous? We weren’t promoting any particular activity; we just wanted to talk—about our experiences, about our existence.”

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

Denying the humanity as well as the human rights of those he is biased against is a staple of the Gonzo Apocalypto agenda. Just look at his constant attempts to tie all members of the Hispanic ethnic community to crime, drugs, and gangs (even though all credible studies show that immigrants or all types have markedly lower crime rates than native-born U.S. citizens) and his false and gratuitous attempts to tie “Dreamers” to crime, terrorism, and loss of jobs!

There is no more certain way of knowing that a DOJ “legal” memo is all policy and no law than the statement: “This is a conclusion of law, not policy.“ In other words, “Don’t you dare accuse me of doing what I’m actually doing!”

Since assuming the office of Attorney General for which he is so spectacularly unqualified, here’s a list of the folks whose rights or humanity Sessions has attacked or disparaged:

Hispanics

African Americans

LGBTQ Individuals

Dreamers

Immigrants

Refugees

Asylum Seekers

Poor People

Undocumented Migrants

Women

Muslims

Civil Rights Protesters

Black Athletes

City Officials Seeking To Foster Community Law Enforcement

Prisoners

Immigration Detainees

Forensic Scientists

State Governors Who Disagree With Him

Federal Judges Who Find Trump Policies Illegal

State & Federal Judges Who Object To Migrants Being Arrested At Their Courts

Convicts

Liberal Students & College Administrators

Anti-Facists

Anti-Hate-Group Activists

Reporters

Unaccompanied Migrant Children

President Obama

Whistleblowers (a/k/a “Leakers” in “Gonzopeak”)

DOJ Career Attorneys

I’m sure I’ve left a few out.  Feel free to send me additions. The list just keeps getting longer all the time.

The only group that appears to be “A-OK” with Gonzo is “White straight Christian male Republican ultra rightists.”

Liz was right!

PWS

10-05-17

 

 

 

 

 

TENNESSEE DOES THE RIGHT THING ON “SIJ” JURISDICTION – Will Other States Follow Suit? – Young Lives & Our Own Human Dignity Are At Stake!

https://herstontennesseefamilylaw.com/

The Herston Family Law Group reports:

Facts: Child was born in Guatemala 16 years ago. Child’s father abandoned the family over four years ago. Child’s mother struggled to provide for the family, which forced Child to drop out of school after the sixth grade because his mother was too poor to pay for him to continue. After dropping out of school, Child worked in the cornfields. Child’s family ate once or twice a day and typically ate only the corn they grew.

In 2015, Child left Guatemala and traveled to the United States, where he was apprehended by immigration authorities. He was placed in the temporary custody of his paternal uncle in Tennessee. Child has lived in Tennessee since that time, and has been enrolled in school in Tennessee.

In 2016, Child’s uncle petitioned for the appointment of a guardian for Child requesting, among other things, a specific finding regarding whether it is in Child’s best interest to be returned to Guatemala.

After hearing, the trial court found that both of Child’s parents had willfully abandoned Child. The trial court refused, however, to make a finding as to whether it was in Child’s best interest to be returned to Guatemala because the trial court ruled that it lacked jurisdiction to make such a determination.

Child’s uncle appealed.

On Appeal: The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court.

Some children present in the United States without legal immigration status are in need of humanitarian protection because they have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent. Special Immigrant Juvenile (“SIJ”) status is an immigration classification that may allow for these vulnerable children to immediately apply for lawful permanent resident status, i.e., a “green card.”

A child cannot apply for SIJ status without an order from the juvenile court that contains factual findings based on state law about the abuse, neglect, or abandonment, family reunification, and the best interest of the child. It should be noted, however, that the state court order does not grant SIJ status or a “green card”; only federal immigration authorities can grant or deny these benefits.

The state-court proceeding is just the first step of a three-step process to obtain a green card. Once the state court has made the specific findings, the child can apply to federal authorities for SIJ status. If SIJ status is granted, then the third step is applying for a green card.

The Court determined that the Tennessee trial court had jurisdiction to make the finding as to whether it is in Child’s best interest to be returned to Guatemala:

[T]he trial court had jurisdiction to hear the Petition for Appointment of Guardian pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 34-to-101.

*     *     *     *     *     *

In the case now before us, [federal law] establishes that in order to apply for special immigrant juvenile status, the Minor must have, among other things, an order from a Tennessee court placing him in the custody of an individual appointed by the court, a determination that reunification with his parents is not viable due to abandonment [or other possible grounds] as found under Tennessee law, and a determination that it would not be in the Minor’s best interest to be returned to Guatemala. The trial court’s Order Appointing Guardian appointed the Minor’s uncle [as the] guardian of the Minor, placed the Minor in the custody of the Minor’s uncle, and found that reunification of the Minor with his parents was not viable due to willful abandonment. The trial court, however, failed to make a finding with regard as to whether it is in the best interest of the Minor to be returned to Guatemala. We note . . . that making such finding does not guarantee that the Minor will be granted special immigrant juvenile status. This finding, however, is a required predicate for the Minor to apply for such status.

The Petition for Appointment of Guardian properly contained a request seeking a finding regarding whether it is in the Minor’s best interest to be returned to Guatemala. We find and hold the trial court had jurisdiction to make this requested finding.

Thus, the case was remanded to the trial court to determine whether it is in Child’s best interest to be returned to Guatemala.

In re Domingo C.L. (Tennessee Court of Appeals, Middle Section, August 30, 2017).

Information provided by K.O. Herston: Knoxville, Tennessee Divorce and Family-Law Attorney.”

“******************************************

In one of my long past lives, private practice, I had some role in the legislation that created the Special Immigrant Juvenile “SIJ” status. This seems one of the most appropriate uses of the law ever!  Saving young lives, getting them green cards, and building a better future for America, one case at a time! Can’t get much better than that!

Thanks so much to the always wonderful Roxanne Lea of Richmond, VA for sending this to me!

PWS

10-02-17

 

 

 

MAKING AMERICA GREAT: While Trump Tweets Insults, American Hero Jose Andres Feeds The Needy In Puerto Rico!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/food/wp/2017/09/29/jose-andres-a-naturalized-u-s-citizen-has-become-the-face-of-american-disaster-relief/

Tim Carman reports for the Washington Post:

October 1 at 1:11 PM
Families in the La Perla neighborhood of San Juan get water from a cistern truck. (Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post)

Unlike the president, Homeland Security or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, José Andrés has no responsibility to respond to natural disasters, and yet the Washington celebrity chef has become a reliable presence in disaster zones, deploying his Chef Network to help feed thousands of displaced people.

Andrés was among the first responders in Haiti and Houston, and now he and his crew from World Central Kitchen are on the ground in Puerto Rico, improvising ways to feed countless residents who are stranded without electricity, drinking water and food in the wake of Hurricane Maria. With little ability to speak with the outside world, Andrés has used his Twitter feed to keep followers updated on his progress in the U.S. territory.

If President Trump has become a target of criticism for the administration’s response in Puerto Rico, Andrés has become a hero. The restaurateur’s social networks are overflowing with words of praise for the native Spaniard who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2013.

Heroism has not come easy in Puerto Rico.

“Today’s a hard day,” he said in a video posted Thursday to Twitter. “We’ve been getting deliveries, but we’ve been missing a few things. When we have bread, we don’t have cheese . . . But more or less, things keep falling into place.”

Andrés and company landed in Puerto Rico on Monday and wasted little time. He posted a photo of himself ladling out sancocho — a Puerto Rican beef stew — to locals. He also started soliciting donations and volunteers to help with the massive task of feeding a population that has survived two hurricanes: Irma early in September, followed by Maria later in the month. The Category 4 Maria was the strongest storm to directly hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years, wiping out power to the entire island.

Since arriving, Andrés has teamed up with chef José Enrique, a native son whose eponymous restaurant in the Santurce district of San Juan has served as one of two bases for meal preparations. The other is Mesa 364, a private-events restaurant launched by chef Enrique L. Piñeiro. Volunteers from the island and the U.S. mainland, working under the hashtag #chefsforPuertoRico, have prepared stews, sandwiches, paella and pastelon (a Puerto Rican lasagna with fried sweet plantains for “noodles”) for those in hospitals, senior homes and San Juan neighborhoods. They’ve used food trucks to help distribute meals.

In a series of tweets published Sunday, in fact, Andrés offered a number of suggestions to the president.

This isn’t the first time Andrés has set himself against the president: In April, the two settled lawsuits against each other after Andrés backed out of his lease to open a restaurant in Trump International Hotel.

He also tweeted:

According to Andrés’s PR team back in Washington, the crews in Puerto Rico are now feeding 5,000 people a day, and since Monday, they have served more than 15,000 meals. (In late August, Andrés was in Houston with World Central Kitchen, where they served 20,000 meals for victims of Hurricane Harvey.)

You could make the argument that his relief efforts in Puerto Rico are more personal to Andrés. He has a restaurant on the island: Mi Casa is a modern Caribbean restaurant inside a Ritz-Carlton property in Dorado, just west of San Juan. The restaurant took a hit from Maria and remains closed.

“While they are undergoing efforts to restore operations at the property, guests are not able to make reservations,” emailed Margaret Chaffee, spokeswoman for ThinkFoodGroup, parent group for Andrés’s family of restaurants.

Despite poor cell coverage on the island and a packed schedule, Andrés called The Post to provide a brief update on his team’s efforts. Well, sort of. The first words out of the chef’s mouth were, “I’m sorry, but I cannot speak right now.”

Andrés then spent the next five minutes answering questions, as those around him urged the chef to move along to the next task at hand. Andrés said they’re feeding close to 8,000 people daily now, between the two San Juan restaurants and the food trucks.

When asked how he’s managing to get supplies on the island, Andrés just said, “When you have a credit card, everything is possible.”

Andrés would like to expand his relief operations to Vieques, the small island off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico. Vieques has been essentially cut off from all communications and supplies since Maria hit. But he’s not sure that will happen.

“We have to be realistic about what we can do,” Andrés said.

The celebrity chef said he was due back in Washington already but decided to extend his stay in Puerto Rico. He isn’t expected back in the District until next week.

“I cannot leave,” he said.

Then he begged off. His team was signaling him to get off the phone. “I really have to go,” he said.

This post originally published Sept. 29; it has been updated.”

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

Read the original with all of the tweets and pictures at the link.

Jose Andres, a naturalized U.s. citizen is a talented, decent, caring, giving human being and an inspirational leader. Native-born American Nativist Donald Trump, the Charlatan-In-Chief, not so much.

PWS

10-02-17

MAKING AMERICA GREAT: MEET THE FACE OF REAL AMERICAN SOCIAL JUSTICE AND PROGRESS — Madison Cap Times Profiles Justice Castañeda, Executive Director Of Madison’s Common Wealth

http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/q-a-justice-casta-eda-brings-a-unique-life-story/article_c4be73c7-2b00-5afb-9655-fc30cb096a44.html

Jason Joyce reports for The Cap Times:

“As the executive director of Madison’s Common Wealth, Justice Castañeda, 37, oversees an organization that is involved in affordable housing development and management, youth and adult job training, business incubation and community engagement.

It’s a unique operation and Castañeda brings to the job a unique life story and approach to his work. In a discussion with the Cap Times, Castañeda discussed his background, the organization’s efforts in the Meadowood Neighborhood, where it will soon open a second office, and how the city can better support its community development organizations.

Were you born in Madison?

I was born at 23 N. Ingersoll St., at home.

And you grew up in Madison? Went to Madison schools?

I went to a lot of them. I moved a lot, like 19 times before I was 18 years old.

My academic career started at Red Caboose daycare center, graduated fifth grade at Mendota Elementary, graduated eighth grade from O’Keeffe Middle School and by the grace of God I graduated from East High School. As an educator, I realize I was probably somebody’s project. A teacher got together with a guidance counselor and said look, here’s this guy. Let’s try to figure out a way to get him across the stage.

It turns out Madison is a really hard place to grow up as a person of color, boy of color in particular, but my father had a very strong network of people who wrapped their wings around me. As much as I had to deal with, I had this very strong orbit.

And after high school, you went into the military?

I worked construction for a couple years. I was charged with a felony because when I was 18, I got into a fight at East High School and because two of the kids were 17, I was charged with physical abuse to a minor. It got dismissed. I think about it every day. If kids get into fights should they get felony charges? By the skin of my teeth I beat that charge, but I think about how my life would have been dramatically different with a felony because I wouldn’t have been able to get into the Marine Corps.

What did you get out of your service?

In the Marine Corps, all those basic needs are taken care of and you have time to reflect. I thought a lot about Madison and why I was so angry. It gave me space to approach education from a healthy space where I wasn’t worrying about things. I was able to take random classes. I had a lot of things to learn. I started liking school.

A couple lessons learned: Don’t go back to Madison. That’s 101. I still think that, for folks of color, if you can get out of here, stay out. Especially if you’re educated. You don’t realize it until you leave, but in Southern California where everyone looks like me, it was critical. So I stayed in San Diego. I started at UC-San Diego when I was still in the military. Going back to school when you’re 25, education like youth is wasted on the young. It’s a whole different experience. I got straight As, I got my degree and started working as a teacher’s apprentice in San Diego. I was teaching kids who reject the hypocrisy of mainstream educational processes and institutions. Call them what you will.

They told me you should think about grad school. I ended up going to Stanford for policy organization and leadership studies in the school of education. When I finished that Master’s degree, I didn’t feel like I was done. I then went on to MIT, on the GI Bill, and did another Master’s in city planning, looking at housing, community and economic development.

And you got pulled back to Madison.

I was looking for a case study and I just happened to know about Madison and how there’s been an inordinate amount of money put into things and, from every indicator, it’s only gotten worse, particularly for people of color here. How is that possible? I wrote a proposal to the mayor to come here and study this and I would do some work for him, but I was funded through MIT. This was 2012.

We looked at land use, including economic development, and family and children’s health. It was three years we worked on this. We came here, we stayed here, we rode the buses. I had a group and it was helpful they were not from Madison. I think there’s a lot that we take for gospel where someone from the outside would say, explain that to me. Explain why you think the center of the city is a place that’s not accessible to the majority. What’s the history of that? Who was able to own land there? How did they get access to it? We looked at not just organizations, but their boards. You find that it’s a very small group of people who have been making decisions for a long time.

People say Madison is 77 square miles surrounded by reality, but it’s really 77 square miles that epitomize reality. I was able to take this Madison work and put together a huge framework for community and economic development. I started doing consulting for foundations and think tanks around these national community development initiatives. Ninety percent of what I used came out of Madison.

And when did you start at Common Wealth?

It will be eight months on Oct. 1.

Common Wealth has purchased and rehabbed housing in the Meadowood neighborhood. What are your goals there?

I was working for the city when they started doing job training out there. They ended up buying buildings around Meadowood Park. Organizationally, people weren’t sure we should be working out there. The neighborhoods aren’t well designed out there. The low-income housing was not designed aesthetically for human beings.

 

What do you mean by that?

Human beings respond to light. They are not well lit. And the air doesn’t move. People always want to know how you get kids to stop hanging out at the gas station and I say put benches in so they’re not standing in the thoroughfare. People disagree with that, so I say get some of your friends and on a 90-degree day, go spend a weekend in low-income housing. There’s no protective, defensible spaces like porches. Places for people to practice the art of parenthood.

Yahara View Apartments (Common Wealth’s building on East Main Street) is the only low-income housing project on the isthmus and nobody even knows it exists. Why is it different? It was made for human beings. The porches on the Meadowood buildings aren’t porches. They’re jump-off egress points that are for the fire code. That’s almost insulting.

What you’re looking at with housing rehab is, does the building have integrity to begin with? Are you creating housing for humans? Imagine what it’s like for people to fall in love there. To thrive there. Is that the housing we’re building? Build housing as if human beings matter, for children to grow up and fall in love.

And are you increasing the housing stock? We have a housing shortage, so if you’re doing all this rehab, why not build more housing? And is this being supported by comprehensive community development efforts? I compare housing to the wheels on a car. The engine is the most complex part of the car, but without wheels you’re not going nowhere.

So Common Wealth has housing, we do business incubation, we do adult and youth workforce development, we have a comprehensive violence prevention effort. We have a huge investment on the east side, so our staff has grown from the east side. Now we have this component of 39 units on the west side. It can’t be housing alone. We have to bring everyone.

We made a lot of promises to people when we bought buildings on the west side. But we’re going to leverage everything Common Wealth does to support that work. And by the way, we’re going to get an office out there. I have old ties to Allied Drive, old family and friends. A lot of the people I grew up with on the east side can’t live on the east side anymore, so they live out there. So we’re going to be good neighborhood partners. Common Wealth opened in ‘79 and it’s taken 38 years to help stabilize Willy Street. This takes a long time.

I see Common Wealth as a Madison asset. It’s an idea. It was a bunch of rogueish, badass hippies who saw a problem and said we’re going to fix it and it’s going to be weird, but we’re going to do it and try these things out. It’s a Madison thing. Going around the country, I’m really interested in youth development and education and then I’m also into housing, land use and land trusts. And also I think we need to talk about economic development and industrial relations and people look at me like, “Yo, you’re crazy. There’s no such place.” And I’m like, you don’t know from whence I came.

In Madison, a common concern is you’ve got all of these groups doing good work, operating in silos and they are too busy to talk to each other. People on the east side don’t talk to people on the west side. Is there a solution for that?

One of the advantages of growing up all over this town is I know people all over town. With this problem, you’ve got the four Cs: Competition in that I’m competing against you to get something. Then cooperation, we can sit at the same table. Coordination: I’m going to use the sink right now, and when I’m done you can use it. Collaboration: You’re going to make the pie crust, I’m going to pick the cherries, someone else is going to make the filling and we’re going to eat the pie together. It’s really important we understand the iterations there. Generally, people want to go from competition to collaboration. But there are steps in there.

A lot of that is driven through funding cycles. Are the funding cycles at the various organizations like Evjue (the charitable arm of the Cap Times) and the Madison Community Foundation and United Way aligned? Because we’re always asking organizations that don’t have any money, run by folks who are just passionate, who don’t have formal education. We want them to do advanced coordination and collaboration. Is that being asked of the funding entities? The city, county, state, university? And the private sector? Are we asking those areas to align? How about someone design a structure to look at all these things collectively.”

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

It’s fantastic that Justice was willing to return to Madison and help make things better for everyone, notwithstanding his reservations about the community from his youth. Some people are part of the problem; others, like Justice, are part of the solution.

Speaking of “the problem,” clueless, racist, old White guys like Sessions, Trump, and their GOP cronies are never going to improve conditions in minority communities, nor are they going to solve crime, gang, and drug problems with their wasteful and counterproductive “gonzo enforcement” that has proved spectacularly unsuccessful and counterproductive time after time. The only things they are doing is wasting money, making problems worse, driving ethnic communities into isolation, and throwing some expensive and socially damaging “red meat” to the racist White Nationalist “base.”

As I’ve pointed out before, making life better for all Americans, promoting social justice, increasing trust, and achieving community cooperation in law enforcement are painstakingly slow processes that take some real thought and reflection and an honest understanding of how America treats many in the minority community. There are no “silver bullets.” As I’ve said before, MS-13 started in the US and was exported by Reagan-era politicos who did not care about understanding either the causes of gangs or the effects of deporting gang members to a civil war torn El Salvador without a plan for helping to deal with what would happen on the “receiving” end. “Out of sight, out of mind” — but, not really. “What goes around comes around.”

PWS

10-01-17

 

“Warren Buffett on Immigration Reform: Buffett feels that immigrants (including undocumented ones) have been and continue to be a key part of our prosperity — not a part of the problem.“

https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/09/29/warren-buffett-on-immigration-reform.aspx

Matthew Frankel reports for The Motley Fool:

“Immigration reform has been a hot-button issue long before President Trump pledged to build a wall along our border. And while there’s certainly an argument to be made that we need to do a better job of controlling illegal immigration, there’s also a strong case to be made that immigrants are a big driving force behind America’s growth — past, present, and future.

Warren Buffett has been very outspoken in recent years about America and its amazing economic story. Not only does Buffett feel that immigrants have led us to where we are today, but he also thinks that immigrants are an essential component of our country’s future success.

Here’s what Warren Buffett thinks of immigrants
In a nutshell, Buffett feels that immigrants (including undocumented ones) have been and continue to be a key part of our prosperity — not a part of the problem. “This country has been blessed by immigrants,” Buffett said in February at Columbia University. “You can take them from any country you want, and they’ve come here and they found something that unleashed the potential that the place that they left did not, and we’re the product of it.”

Referring to Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard, both of whom were immigrants themselves, Buffett said, “If it hadn’t been for those two immigrants, who knows whether we’d be sitting in this room.”

In his most recent letter to Berkshire Hathaway’s (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B) shareholders, Buffett specifically mentioned immigrants as one of the major components of America’s success story. “From a standing start 240 years ago — a span of time less than triple my days on earth — Americans have combined human ingenuity, a market system, a tide of talented and ambitious immigrants, and the rule of law to deliver abundance beyond any dreams of our forefathers.”

On a pathway to citizenship
Buffett is an outspoken Democrat who actively campaigned for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential race. So it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Buffett doesn’t want to deport millions of illegal immigrants who are currently in the United States.

In a 2015 interview with Fox Business, Buffett said

People should be able to earn citizenship who are here. You know, I do not think we should deport millions of people. So, I think we should have a real path to citizenship.

Buffett was then asked specifically about the DREAM Act and its 800,000 minors who are in the country illegally and now face an uncertain future after the end of DACA, from the perspective of a successful American businessman. Buffett replied:

It is a question of being a human being not really a businessman. Immigrants came, our forefathers came as immigrants, they got here anyway they could. And who knows what I would have done if I were in some terrible situation in a country and wanted to come here…a great percentage of them are good citizens. I would have a path to citizenship for them, I would not send them back.

 

On immigration policy and reform
As we all know, the immigration debate has been going on for a long time. And Buffett’s stance hasn’t changed much over the past several years. In a 2013 interview with ABC’s This Week, Buffett said:

I think we should have a more logical immigration policy. It would mean we would attract a lot of people, but we would attract the people we want to attract in particular — in terms of education, tens or hundreds of thousands of people. We enhance their talents and have them stick around here.

Buffett went on to say that any reform package should “certainly offer [undocumented immigrants] the chance to become citizens,” and one main reason for doing so would be to deepen the talent pool of the labor force.

Buffett’s stance on immigration in a nutshell
Warren Buffett believes that allowing immigrants who are already in the country to stay and pursue citizenship is not only the right thing to do, but is essential to America’s continued economic prosperity. Buffett certainly sees the need for immigration reform, as most Americans of all political affiliations do, but wants to encourage and simplify the legal pathways to immigration.”

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

Buffet speaks simple truth: Immigrants, both documented and undocumented are not threats, but rather are a necessary ingredient for America’s greatness. We need to bring law-abiding undocumented individuals into our society in some type of legal, work authorized status. We also need substantial across the board increases in legal immigration, so that in the future the immigrants we need can come through the legal system (or wait in a realistic line) rather than coming through an underground system and working and living in the shadows.

The lies, misrepresentations, and false narratives being peddled by Trump, Sessions, Bannon, Miller, Kobach, Cotton, Perdue, King, Goodlatte, Labrador, the so called “Freedom” Caucus, and the rest of their White Nationalist restrictionist cronies are a path to national disaster. Removing existing non-criminal migrants who happen to be working here in undocumented status is a colossal waste of limited Government resources that actually hurts our country in numerous ways.

Time to stand up against the restrictionist, White Nationalist, xenophobic, anti-American blather. Demand that your Congressional representatives back sane, humane immigration reform that takes care of those already here and recognizes their great contributions while appropriately and significantly expanding future legal immigration opportunities so that we don’t keep repreating our mistakes over and over.

Let’s be honest about it. If the time, money, and resources that the U.S. Government is currently spending on the counterproductive aspects of immigration enforcement and inhumane immigration detention were shifted into constructive areas, there would be no “disaster relief crisis” in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands right now, and we’d have more money to spend on heath care, job training and retraining, infrastructure, addressing the opioid crisis, and many more legitimate national priorities!

PWS

09-30-17

BIA’S BOGUS BLATHER BLOWS BY BASICS IN TRYING TO “GET TO NO!” — Appellate Immigration Judges Invade IJ’s Authority To Reverse Favorable Credibility Determination — ALIMBAEV v. ATTORNEY GENERAL — When Will Article III Judges Stop Ducking The Glaring Constitutional Due Process Problems With The Current U.S. Immigration Court Structure?

http://www2.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/164313p.pdf

Alimbaev v. Attorney General, 3rd Cir., 09-25-17, published

Before: JORDAN and KRAUSE, Circuit Judges,

and STEARNS, District Judge.*

* The Honorable Richard G. Stearns, United States District Judge for the District of Massachusetts, sitting by designation.

OPINION BY: Judge Krause

KEY QUOTE:

“This disconcerting case, before our Court for the second time, has a lengthy procedural history marked by conflict between the Board of Immigrations Appeals (BIA) and the Immigration Judge (IJ) and fueled by troubling allegations that Petitioner, an Uzbek national, relished watching violent terroristic videos, while apparently harboring anti-American sympathies. The issue on appeal, however, is whether the BIA correctly applied the clear error standard of review, as required, when reviewing the IJ’s factfinding in this case—an inquiry that highlights the role of faithful adherence to applicable standards of review in preserving the rule of law, safeguarding the impartiality of our adjudicatory processes, and ensuring that fairness and objectivity are not usurped by emotion, regardless of the nature of the allegations. Because we conclude that the BIA misapplied the clear error standard when reversing the IJ’s finding that Petitioner’s testimony was credible, we will grant the petition for review of the BIA’s removal order, vacate the denial of Petitioner’s applications for adjustment of status, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), and remand once more to the BIA.”

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

Read the entire, rather lengthy, decision at the above link.

While the Third Circuit Judges were obviously unhappy with the performance of the BIA Panel here, I’ll bet decisions like this don’t hurt the Appellate Immigration Judges involved wth their boss, Jeff Sessions. Running over the regulations, Due Process, fairness, impartiality, and objectivity in the name of getting perceived “bad guys” out of the country is probably what “Old Gonzo” expects and even demands from his wholly owned judiciary.

There is a massive gap in expectations here. The Third Circuit speaks of “faithful adherence to applicable standards of review in preserving the rule of law, safeguarding the impartiality of our adjudicatory processes, and ensuring that fairness and objectivity.” But a U.S. Immigration Court System (including the BIA) headed by the “Immigration Enforcer in Chief,” could not possibly achieve “impartiality, fairness, and objectivity” either in appearance or in practice.

Sessions exudes anti-immigrant enforcement zeal, xenophobia, White Nationalism, and disregard for the rule of law as it is commonly understood on a daily basis. He also regularly misinterprets statistics to paint a false picture of an “alien crime wave” and positively gloried in the chance to publicly disrespect and threaten to remove Dreamers.

How could these very clear messages that Sessions despises both legal and undocumented immigrants of all types, considers them bad for America, and would like them gone and restricted in the future, possibly not get down to to the mere civil servants who work for him? Do you think that Sessions is really going to defend an Immigration Court and/or a BIA that publicly and regularly stands up for the Due Process rights of foreign nationals and their rights to favorable consideration under many provisions of the immigration law? That doesn’t fit with his “restrictionist myth” that all undocumented immigrants are “law breakers” who deserve to be “punished” by removal from the United States.

Look how Trump heaps disrespect on Article III Judges who don’t go along with his illegal programs. How do you think he’s going to react if one of Jeff Sessions’s wholly owned judges stands up to one of the Administration’s gonzo legal positions or illegal policies? And, neither Immigration Judges nor Appellate Immigration Judges have the protections of life tenure. Do you seriously think that Jeff Sessions is really going to stand up for the right of one of his judges to “Just Say No” to Trump. In any event, Sessions has the the totally inappropriate and legally questionable authority to reverse any Immigration Court decision he doesn’t like anyway. That robs the whole system of any semblance of fairness, impartiality, and objectivity.

So, the Third Circuit Judges are tiptoeing around the real problem here. You can’t possibly have “impartiality, fairness, and objectivity” from an Immigration Court run by Jeff Sessions, a man who throughout his long career has demonstrated none of those characteristics. At some point, the Third Circuit Judges and their Article III colleagues elsewhere are going to have to face up to the glaring constitutional due process problems with the current U.S. Immigration Court structure. The question is when?

PWS

09-27-17

 

 

 

 

 

RACIST MILLER, GOP XENOPHOBES SEEK TO UNDERMINE “DREAMER DEAL” WITH RESTRICTIONIST, WHITE NATIONALIST AGENDA!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/growing-list-of-conservative-demands-threatens-bipartisan-deal-on-dreamers/2017/09/26/a3df3ba8-a23a-11e7-b14f-f41773cd5a14_story.html

Mike DeBonis reports in the Washington Post:

“An emerging list of conservative demands is threatening to derail the fledgling bipartisan effort to preserve the Obama administration program protecting from deportation 690,000 illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children.

President Trump discussed the outlines of a potential deal to protect those covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program with Democratic congressional leaders at a White House dinner this month. The tentative deal would couple permanent protections for those immigrants with improved border security.

But key conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are coalescing around a broader suite of policies as a condition of backing a deal, and that has Democrats and moderate Republicans warning that the current, fragile consensus could quickly break apart.

In the Senate, James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) introduced a conservative alternative this week to the Dream Act, a bipartisan bill that has some moderate Republican support and that Democrats want to pass as part of any deal with Trump.

 

[Trump, top Democrats agree to work on deal to save ‘dreamers’ from deportation]

The Lankford-Tillis bill, known as the Succeed Act, sets out a more onerous path to legal status for the immigrants in question, and it includes provisions barring them from taking advantage of existing laws that allow legal immigrants to petition authorities to allow foreign relatives to come to the United States.

Critics say those laws foster “chain migration,” inflating the amount of legal immigration. Eliminating the possibility of petitioning on behalf of relatives abroad is among another set of policies that House conservatives are pursuing on a separate track.

Key White House officials, including senior adviser Stephen Miller, have worked with members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus and other Republican lawmakers to hone a list of policy demands that go beyond the border security provisions on which Democrats have signaled they are willing to negotiate.

It is unclear to what extent Trump himself will support these provisions as part of the effort to negotiate a solution for “dreamers,” as the childhood arrivals are known. But the proposals are gaining adherents among some of the president’s strongest backers in Congress.

 

[Trump administration announces end of immigration protection program for ‘dreamers’]

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the Freedom Caucus chairman, said in an interview this week that a working list of policies that conservatives may demand includes ending the “chain migration” laws; mandating that employers use E-Verify, an online federal system to determine people’s eligibility to work in the United States; stepping up enforcement against those overstaying legitimate visas; and limiting protections for those who seek asylum at U.S. borders.”

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

Read the rest of the article at the link.

These toxic dudes never miss a chance to push their White Nationalist anti-American agenda. Frankly, we don’t need to plow more resources into already perfectly adequate border security, and there is certainly no need for more immigration agents who have so little to do now that they can squander time busting law-abiding American residents, guarding their agency bosses, staking out hospitals and courthouses, and screwing up already out of control Immigration Court dockets. Where’s the accountability for efficient and rational use of resources? But, those could be trade-offs that the Dems could make to save the Dreamers. (Honestly, given some of the other garbage the GOP has put out there, funding “The Wall” seems like the least harmful of the trade-offs in human terms. Money gets wasted, America looks foolish, but nobody gets hurt and it won’t tank our economy like the restrictionist agenda on legal immigration would).

But, the hard core xenophobic White Nationalist agenda being pushed by Miller, the “Freedom” Caucus, and other restrictionists out to limit legal immigration, deny due process, and make a mockery out of our legal and moral obligations to refugees — No Way! The Dems would have to “Just Say No.”

The “Ace in the Hole” for the Dems:  There is neither the ability nor the moral willingness on the part of the majority of decent Americans to deport 800,000 American young people. They might end up “hanging in limbo” till some future date when responsible government once again gains the upper hand over the “wrecking crew.”

PWS

09-27-17

HERE’S PT. I OF NBC4’s “CRISIS IN THE IMMIGRATION COURTS,” FEATURING JUDGE DANA LEIGH MARKS & ME DISCUSSING BACKLOGS!

SEE THE I-TEAM’S JODIE FLEISCHER’S REPORT HERE (PT I):

http://www.nbcwashington.com/investigations/Crisis-in-the-Courts-DMV-Immigration-Courts-Scheduling-Hearings-for-2021-446917903.html

“Crisis in the Courts: DC-Area Immigration Courts Scheduling Hearings for 2021

“Immigration is clearly an issue that divides the nation. Who should be allowed to stay in the US? Who should have to go?

Whether you support immigration or oppose it, the backlog in our nation’s immigration courts will disturb you.

People who shouldn’t be here, get to stay for years and build a life while they wait. And those who do legally deserve to stay may have family in danger back home, while their cases face delay after delay.

The News4 I-Team spent months working with NBC investigative teams across the country to examine our nation’s immigration case backlog.

In Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia the number of cases has more than tripled in past five years, with some cases taking more than four years to be heard.

“The quality of their lives are deeply affected by whether or not they’re allowed to stay,” said National Association of Immigration Judges President Dana Leigh Marks, adding that the decisions are incredibly tough.

They often involve people who faced violent assaults, religious persecution, even government oppression and torture in their home country.

“The cases that we hear, they are death penalty cases,” said Marks. “A lot of people tell us that they fear for their very life if they’re sent back to their home country.”

And by the time many of them make it into a courtroom, their definition of “home” has likely changed.

‘I Consider Myself American’

Jonathan Claros was born in El Salvador, but his home is now Montgomery County, Maryland.

“I consider myself American. I know some people are against that,” he said.

At 29, he’s been here almost half his life. He taught himself English, graduated from high school in Gaithersburg and works in construction.

“This country is made of immigrants,” Claros said. “It doesn’t matter what color they are, or race or ethnicity.”

What does matter is whether you come here legally.

Just last month, ICE deported Jonathan’s brothers, the youngest was a 19-year-old soccer star who was set to start college on a scholarship.

“They came here when they were little. They know better this country than where they were born,” Claros said.

Their parents and sister are all in Maryland and equally worried about the current state of the U.S. immigration system.

“What they’re doing right now for me is, you know, it’s devastating,” Claros told the News4 I-Team. “A lot of families have been separated from their loves.”

Three years ago he married a U.S. citizen and filed paperwork to get legal status.

“It’s been kind of hard; it’s been almost a year waiting for an answer,” he said of the delay.

US Immigration by the NumbersUS Immigration by the Numbers

An overview of immigration in the U.S., by the numbers.

(Published Monday, Sept. 25, 2017)

‘It’s a Disaster. I Think It’s Moving Toward Implosion’

 The nationwide backlog of immigration cases topped 617,000 this summer. The courts in Arlington and Baltimore handle all of the cases for D.C., Maryland and Virginia — more than 58,000 of them as of July. And that doesn’t even include immigrants who are here illegally and completely undocumented.

The News4 I-Team found a new immigrant walking into the Arlington court today could have to wait until December 2021 for a hearing; that’s the second longest delay in the nation.

“It’s a disaster. I think it’s moving toward implosion,” said Judge Paul Wickham Schmidt, who retired last year from Arlington’s immigration court, after 13 years on the bench.

“We probably had 9 to 10,000 each on our dockets,” said Schmidt. “I think sometimes we minimize the difficulty of having your life on hold.”

He said the system is painfully slow for several reasons, and the first is really basic: The entire system operated on paper. With no way to e-file cases or review briefs or documents online.

“They don’t let you see the inside of an immigration court. If they did, they’d clean it up! But there are files piled all over: They’re in the corridors, they’re all over the desks, they’re under desks,” said Schmidt, who can speak freely since he’s retired.

He said judges have to physically be in their offices to review files, which is especially difficult with a new administration policy that reassigns some judges to hear cases at the border.

That leaves courtrooms empty back in their home court and a full docket of cases that get pushed to the back of the line.

During the delay, witnesses who could help the immigrant’s case might disappear, and attorneys and judges could move or retire, causing more delay.

“The cases that are actually ready to go are being put to the end, and the judges are being assigned to cases of recently arrived individuals, many of whom haven’t had time to get lawyers. So I think it’s a misuse of resources,” said Schmidt.

He said there aren’t enough attorneys to keep the system moving, and having representation significantly impacts someone’s chance of staying.

The new administration has also eliminated prosecutors’ discretion to dismiss or delay thousands of low priority cases: People who haven’t committed a crime or have family members who are citizens.

“There’s only so much judge time,” said Schmidt, “and if you use it for people who are low priorities, then there’s some other person who isn’t getting a hearing.”

He added that with political priorities constantly shifting, judges should have control over which cases to call first.

‘People Are Being Hurt by These Delays’

“Unfortunately despite our best efforts, there are people being hurt by these delays, and they can be avoided if we would get sufficient resources,” said Judge Marks.

She said the court needs twice as many judges to tackle that backlog. But right now, the court’s budget and its management are within the Department of Justice, which is another major issue for the judges association.

“The way to assure stakeholders, the people who come before us, that they are being treated fairly is that we should be taken out of the Department of Justice and made a neutral court system,” said Marks.

She said Congress needs to look at the whole system and take action so the political climate surrounding immigration doesn’t impact whether or when people get their day in court.

“It is not a Democratic or Republican issue,” said Marks. “If you want to have increased focus on the border courts, fine. But build courts, hire judges and put them there before you start that program.”

The Justice Department told the News4 I-Team it’s committed to increasing the number of judges; an additional 65 judge positions are already budgeted for next year.

But that still doesn’t solve the problem of dozens of vacant positions, and sitting judges retiring.

There’s also an agency-wide review already underway which aims to identify ways to increase efficiency, through changes to court procedures and technology.

The DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, which manages the court system, says its mission is to fairly, expeditiously and uniformly interpret and administer the nation’s immigration laws.

‘You’re Not Going to Get Every Single One Right’

Like Jonathan Claros, nearly half of all of the immigrants caught in the backlog in our area are from El Salvador — more than 28,760 people. But Judge Schmidt said the courts do not treat all nationalities equally.

“The law is sort of tough on Central American cases. Some of them can make it, some of them don’t,” said Schmidt, “An Ethiopian with an asylum claim, they almost always get granted.”

The court data shows the location also factors into whether an immigrant has a better chance of being able to stay.

The national average is just over 56 percent. Here in the D.C. area, it’s 61 percent. Los Angeles is 70 percent.

“Clearly, the attitudes of the judges and how they feel about asylum law has quite a bit to do with it,” said Schmidt, “If I were an immigrant, I’d rather be in California than Atlanta, Georgia. Any day.”

In one Georgia court, only 13 percent of people are allowed to stay in the U.S.

Schmidt said the appellate boards also lack consistency in their decisions.

“As a result, judges don’t get the guidance they need. The board doesn’t crack down on judges who are way out of line with what the law should be,” he said, adding that immigrants deserve to know their fate sooner.

Our system simply doesn’t allow for that.

Schmidt said with the volume of cases, the gravity of his difficult decisions was often emotional.

“You’re not going to get every single one right, and you think about the lives that you might have destroyed that you could have saved, and of course that weighs on you,” he said.

Jonathan Claros said he still believes in the American dream. He’s just worried his family’s heartache will keep growing while he waits for an answer.

“Everybody’s afraid,” he said. “They go out, but they don’t know if they are going to come back home again. It’s hard to live like that.”

Reported by Jodie Fleischer, produced by Rick Yarborough, shot and edited by Steve Jones.

Source: Crisis in the Courts: DC-Area Immigration Courts Scheduling Hearings for 2021 – NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com/investigations/Crisis-in-the-Courts-DMV-Immigration-Courts-Scheduling-Hearings-for-2021-446917903.html#ixzz4tjp7to2P
Follow us: @nbcwashington on Twitter | NBCWashington on Facebook”

See Part II on News4 at 11:15 tonight!

PWS

09-25-17

THE HILL: N. RAPPAPORT ON WHAT IT WILL TAKE TO CLOSE THE DEAL ON DREAMERS

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/352155-if-democrats-insist-on-chain-migration-theyll-kill-the-dream-act

Nolan writes:

“According to Migration Policy Institute estimates, potentially 3,338,000 aliens would be able to qualify for conditional lawful status under H.R.3440, which leads to permanent resident status, and chain migration would make the number much larger.

Moreover, chain migration would make it possible for the DREAMers to pass on legal status and a path to citizenship to the parents who brought them to the United States in violation of our laws, which is sure to be unacceptable to many Republicans.

The chain migration issue does not just apply to a DREAM Act. If it is allowed to block passage of a DREAM Act, it is likely to become an obstacle to every legalization program from now on, and for most undocumented immigrants, there is not going to be another way to obtain lawful permanent resident status.”

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

Read Nolan’s complete analysis over at The Hill at the link.

I’m far removed from the days when I had a sense of what’s happening on the Hill. So, if Nolan says that the Dems will have to give on family migration for  Dreamers to cut a deal to save them in a GOP-controlled Congress in a Trump presidency, maybe that’s true. Gotta do what you have to do to save lives and preserve America’s future.

But, I do know something about the bogus term “chain migration” It’s a pejorative term coined by restrictionists to further their racial and ethnic agenda.

Chain migration is simply legal family migration, a process that has been ongoing for at least half a century and has done nothing but good things for America. Of course, it makes sense to give preferred treatment to those with family already in the U.S. Of course, having family here helps folks adjust, prosper, and contribute. It’s a win-win. Studies by groups not associated with a restrictionist agenda confirm that.

Moreover, unlike the folks pushing the restrictionist agenda, I actually have seen first-hand the highly positive results of family-based legal immigration for years in Immigration Court. It brings really great folks into our society and allows them to contribute fully to the success of America, and particularly our local communities.

If we want more skills-based immigration, that’s also a good idea. But, that doesn’t require a corresponding cut in family immigration. Immigration is good for America. It’s not a “zero-sum game,” although restrictionists would like us to think so.

The GOP position on parents of Dreamers is absurd. Those folks are already here and contributing to our society and our communities. Many have been here for decades. They are not going anywhere notwithstanding the rhetoric of the restrictionists and the Trump Administration. Other than picking on Dreamers once they become citizens, what could we as a country possibly gain by such an absurd and punitive measure directed against productive long term residents?

I think it is worth considering what pushing for unnecessary and harmful restrictions on family migration says about the real motivations of today’s GOP and its apologists.

PWS

09-24-17