Dan Kowalski at LexisNexis and Heidi Altman at the Heartland Alliance sent in the following:

Heidi Altman, Director of Policy
National Immigrant Justice Center
Washington, DC Office
Tel: 312-718-5021
From: Daniel Kowalski <<>>
Date: July 19, 2017 at 6:01:16 PM EDT
To: “<>” <<>>
Subject: [immprof] EOIR IJ Benchbook No Longer In Use (July 19, 2017) – AILA

EOIR IJ Benchbook No Longer In Use (July 19, 2017)
“EOIR confirmed that the EOIR Immigration Judge (IJ) Benchbook has been removed from EOIR’s webpage and is no longer being utilized. According to the agency, use of the IJ Benchbook was discontinued due to challenges in keeping the publication up to date with current case law.
Please note that AILALink<> now contains a copy of the IJ Benchbook as it appeared on the EOIR website as of April 27, 2017.”


Daniel M. Kowalski
Bender’s Immigration Bulletin (LexisNexis)


Even for EOIR this is extreme BS. No time to keep up on the law? Just like no time for Immigration Judge training.

Just another degradation in due process, uniformity, and training. Ridiculous!




Dan Kowalski reports from LexisNexis Immigration:

“Fish v. Kobach, June 23, 2017 – “[D]efendant’s deceptive conduct and lack of candor warrant the imposition of sanctions. … [D]efendant made patently misleading representations to the court … The court cannot say that defendant flat-out lied in representing the content of the disputed documents. … “Most attorneys, of course, try to convey evidence in the best possible light for their clients. But there is a difference between putting evidence in the best possible light and blatantly misstating the evidence.” … When counsel’s false references in a brief indicate “that he has been either cavalier in regard to his approach to this case or bent upon misleading the court,” sanctions are appropriate. … [P]laintiffs are permitted to take the deposition of Secretary Kobach with respect to non-privileged information and evidence pertaining to the draft amendment and the photographed document. … The undersigned will preside over the deposition and contemporaneously resolve any disputes that arise.”


Go to the link for the full decision.

Gee, Kris, the rules in Federal Court apply even to guys like you!



Allissa Wickham @ Law 360 Reports That DACA Is Alive & Well — At Least For Now!

Over 120K DACA Applicants Approved So Far This Year

Law360, New York (June 9, 2017, 8:34 PM EDT) — More than 120,000 applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals were approved in the first three months of this year, according to government statistics released Thursday, with the development coming as the Trump administration continues to hold off on making changes to the program.

From January to March, 124,799 DACA cases were approved, according to data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, with 17,275 initial applications and 107,524 renewals.

The data isn’t broken down on a month-by-month basis, and a USCIS representative told Law360 that the…

To view the full article, register now.
Alas, if you wish to read more from the fabulous “AWick,” you’ll need to be a subscriber to Law 360. But, you get the idea.

US District Judge In Texas: DHS Detainers UNCONSTITIONAL!

The case is Santoyo v. USA. The judge is Chief U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, W.D. Tex.  Read a summary and get a copy of the complete decision from LexisNexis here:

Sessions, Kelly, Abbott & Co. might be putting local jurisdictions “between a rock and a hard place” with their aggressive “anti-sanctuary” policies.




Has Retired U.S. Immigration Judge Wayne Iskra’s Famous “Two Taco Rule” For Material Support Scored A Comeback? — Recent Unpublished BIA Seems To Be “Channeling Iskra” — And, That’s A Good Thing!

My good friend and esteemed retired colleague Judge Wayne Iskra of the Arlington Immigration Court used to apply a basic common sense rule: handing over your lunch bag with a couple of tacos (or a ham sandwich) or the equivalent would not be considered “material” support. I don’t remember him ever getting reversed on it; perhaps nobody wanted to appeal. I also used it with success during my time in Arlington.

Now, it seems like a BIA panel is thinking along the same lines in an unpublished opinion written by Appellate Immigration Judge John Guendelsberger for a panel that also included Chairman/Chief Appellate Immigration Judge David Neal and Appellate Immigration Judge Molly Kendall Clark.

Read the entire, relatively short, opinion here.

BIA Dec. 5-18-17_Redacted

Seems that this is just the type of important issue on which the BIA should issue a precedent decision. I’m not sure that all BIA panels are handling this issue the same way.

Thanks to Professor Stephen Yale-Loehr at Cornell Law and Dan Kowalski over at LexisNexis for sending this my way.




Critics Blast Tex. Gov. Abbott’s Statements On Sanctuary Cities!

Gus Bova writes in the Texas Observer:

“Governor Greg Abbott published an editorial in the San Antonio Express-News Friday defending Senate Bill 4 — the anti-“sanctuary cities” law that critics say will encourage racial profiling, undermine local policing efforts and tear immigrant families apart.

In the piece, titled “SB 4 will make Texas communities safer,” Abbott spreads at least two major lies: One, that only criminals need to worry about being asked for their papers under SB 4, and two, that the bill only requires jails to honor immigration detainers when a person is charged with a violent crime.

Abbott, who made “sanctuary cities” a legislative emergency this session, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The governor writes: “Regardless of your immigration status, if you have not committed a crime and you are not subject to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] detainer, you have nothing to fear about the change in Texas law.”

That isn’t true. Thanks to a hotly contested amendment, the bill specifically permits police to request proof of citizenship from someone who’s merely been detained, not arrested. Put simply, being stopped by a cop does not mean you’ve committed a crime. Abbott seems to have forgotten about “innocent until proven guilty.”

Second, Abbott writes: “SB 4 requires law enforcement agencies to honor ICE detainers issued for violent criminals.”

In fact, the law requires jails to honor all ICE detainers. Detainers are voluntary requests from ICE to local jails to keep someone locked up beyond when they would normally be released, so that federal agents may arrive and potentially deport them.”


Thanks to Dan Kowalski over at LexisNexis for forwarding this item!




SANCTUARY: MD AG Issues Guidance On Cooperation With ICE!

Here is the guidance memorandum published by MD Attorney General Brian Frosh on state and local cooperation with ICE:



Many thanks to Dan Kowalski at LexisNexis and Professor Elizabeth Keyes at the University of Baltimore School of Law for bringing this to my attention.




Two New Tools To Help You Understand/Practice Immigration Law: 1) USCIS “StatPack” & 2) Travel Ban Litigation Guide!

Nolan “Eagle Eyes” Rappaport kindly alerted me to this comprehensive source of USCIS immigration and citizenship data:


Additionally, Dan “Mr. Blog” Kowalski over at Lexis was kind enough to send me this like to a nationwide “Travel Ban” Litigation Database from “Lawfare,”  helpfully organized by Circuit:


Check both of these out! Thanks again to Nolan and Dan for their tireless efforts to promote an informed approach to immigration law and policy!





DR. NO? — DHS Appoints Restrictionist To “Ombudsman” Position!

Dan Kowalski at LexisNexsis Immigration Community forwards the following item from Think Progress:

“The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is set to announce the appointment of a controversial former leader of an anti-immigrant policy center to be its ombudsman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Monday, according to two sources aware of the news.

Between 2005 and 2015, Julie Kirchner worked first as its director of government relations then as executive director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an organization founded by an alleged white nationalist who advocates for stricter immigration. During her time at FAIR, the organization proposed efforts to end birthright citizenshipand reduce legal immigration levels. She left FAIR in 2015 to become an immigration adviser on then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign.

Immigrant advocates are worried Kirchner’s role as ombudsman will give her direct access to include or exclude stakeholders with an immigration nexus who may shape her formal recommendations based on how the agency should exercise authority over policy implementation.

“The appointment of Kirchner to the position of CIS ombudsman is extremely troubling when you consider the fact that she spent 10 years working for FAIR, a group founded on racist principals that has spent decades demonizing and vilifying immigrants,” Heidi Beirich, the director of SPLC’s Intelligence Project, told ThinkProgress in an email.

USCIS public affairs officer Katie Tichacek told ThinkProgress the agency “does not comment on potential personnel announcements. The two people who confirmed information of Kirchner’s appointment were one current DHS employee and one former DHS employee.

Congress created the role of the USCIS ombudsman under the Homeland Security Act of 2002 as an “impartial and independent perspective” to the agency housed within DHS, according to a DHS agency website. Among tasks like meeting with external stakeholders, ombudsman are responsible for resolving problems with pending immigration cases, sharing feedback on emerging trends in migration patterns, and issuing formal recommendations and proposals to address concerns. They cannot make or change USCIS decisions.

In her 2016 annual report to Congress, former USCIS Ombudsman Maria M. Odom said engaging with external stakeholders was “integral to our full understanding of the issues and their impact on the USCIS customer.”

January Contreras, a former USCIS ombudsman between 2009 and 2012 described her role as a DHS “watchdog.” She now works as the CEO of Arizona Legal Women and Youth’s Services (ALWAYS), which provides pro bono legal services for trafficking survivors and young people.

During her time, Contreras met with a wide variety of people that spanned the immigration spectrum, including human resource and vice presidents looking to expand high-tech visas, undocumented immigrants, and former refugees who pointed out which processes they had trouble with.

“[The role] is someone who is listening outside the DHS bubble,” Contreras told ThinkProgress Friday. “My job, when I was the ombudsman, was to listen to people who were dissatisfied at what was going on at the DHS. Sometimes people would bring complaints, sometimes they would bring ideas, sometimes they were long-simmering issues and sometimes they were rather new issues.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has labeled FAIR as a hate group, pointing to a series of racist memos written by the organization’s founder John Tanton warning of a “Latin onslaught.” In the past, Tanton and other supporters promoted radical population control measures like sterilizing Third World women and making wider use of an abortion pill. FAIR has received $1.5 million from the pro-eugenics organization Pioneer Fund. Tanton also founded NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), two organizations that consulted Trump or senior administration officials during his campaign.

“At the end of the day, the ombudsman is still accountable to Congress to improve services, not restrict services,” Contreras said. “So in fact if there’s an ombudsman in place interested only in restricting immigration I hope that Congress will have some conversations, whether privately or publicly, to make sure they’re doing the job they’re hired to do.”


Wishful thinking on Contreras’s part, I’m afraid. With the GOP firmly in control of the political branches of Government, and Secretary Kelly proving to be a “shill” for Sessions and the restrictionists, I wouldn’t bet on any meaningful oversight of the Ombudsman position.

Quite to the contrary, I expect the Ombudsman to become an extension of the VOICE program for “victims of crime” or, perhaps, a conduit for anonymous “tips” on how to locate individuals who potentially are removable from the U.S.



Former State Department Visa Guru Jeff Gorsky Says Travel Ban Exceeds President’s Statutory Authority — “No Precedent” For This Type Of Overly Inclusive Use!

From Lexis NexIs:

There is, however, another legal argument against the travel ban that does not require looking at evidence outside of the judicial record: The scope of the ban on its face is overly broad and exceeds the president’s legal authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Although the plaintiffs in the Hawaii case posed this argument, at this point none of the courts that have ruled on the legality of the executive order have analyzed this issue. The statutory authority for the travel ban derives from INA Section 212(f), 8 USC 1182(f), which authorizes the president by proclamation to suspend the entry or impose restrictions on the entry of any aliens or class of aliens to the United States. This is not a plenary grant of authority, but requires a finding that the entry of such aliens is “detrimental to the interests of the United States.” A ban that covers an entire nationality based on a concern that a few of those nationals pose a security or criminal threat to U.S. interest exceeds the statutory authority because there is no evidence or reasonable basis to believe that the entry of some or most of the nationals in the ban would be detrimental to U.S. interests.

During my 30-year career at the U.S. Department of State, I was involved in numerous 212(f) determinations. All were supported by carefully drafted memos and cited specific evidence of detriment to U.S. interests. The Trump travel bans do not. There is no dispute that the president has longstanding authority to deny or restrict the admission of certain aliens by proclamation; it is one of the oldest immigration provisions in U.S. law. The first law to authorize the president to limit immigration based on proclamation was the Alien Enemies Acts of 1798, one of the Alien and Sedition Acts enacted in the John Adams administration. That act empowered the president by public proclamation during a state of war to exclude enemy aliens as “necessary for public safety”.

This authority was not invoked until the 20th century, with the advent of World War I. An act of May 22, 1918, provided for the president to establish by proclamation immigration restrictions during a time of war for the purpose of public safety. Based on the Alien Enemies Act and the 1918 act, President Woodrow Wilson made a number of proclamations involving enemy aliens. While not a total ban on admission of aliens with Austrian-Hungarian nationality, these proclamations significantly restricted the admission of these enemy aliens.

This authority was revived during World War II, following the declaration of a national emergency on May 27, 1941. An amendment to the act provided that the president might, upon finding that the interests of the United States required it, impose additional restrictions and prohibitions on the entry into and departure of persons from the United States during the national emergency. This provision was upheld by the Supreme Court in the case United States ex rel. Knauff v. Shaughnessy, 338 U.S. 537.

The 1950 “Report of the Senate Judiciary Committee,” the primary background document on the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952, discussed the history of the enemy aliens provisions at length, and concluded that this was a necessary authority. This authority was carried over into Section 212(e) (now f) and Section 215 of the INA.

In the past 35 years, this authority has been used 43 times but never as broad as with Trump’s executive orders. Most actions were limited to officials of foreign governments who engaged in specified policies considered detrimental to U.S. foreign policy or other U.S. interests — not blanket bans based solely on nationality.

The current travel ban, therefore, is unprecedented in its scope. Even if it is accepted that the specified countries pose a threat to the United States, the inclusion in the ban of all nationals from those countries is not reasonable, since there is no evidence that the admission of many or most such aliens would be detrimental to U.S. interests. For example, the ban includes babies and minor children, although they have neither the physical or legal capacity to commit acts of terrorism or criminality that would be detrimental to U.S. interests. While the executive order allows for a case-by-case discretionary waiver for minors, the availability of a discretionary waiver requiring a finding that the admission of such alien “would be in the national interest” does not cure the underlying lack of legal authority under 212(f) to bar persons such as young children who do not pose a credible threat to U.S. interests.

If the president can bar all nationals of a country based on speculative and vague concerns, absent any evidence relating to the specific individual who is barred admission, the president would have virtually absolute authority to bar all aliens from admission to the U.S. Every country in the world, including countries that would not normally be considered to pose a security threat to the U.S., like Japan and the United Kingdom, have some nationals who could theoretically pose a terrorist or criminal threat that could be used as a pretext to ban all nationals from that country. Such sweeping plenary authority does not exist in any other portion of the INA. In the over 200 years in which the president has had authority to limit the admission of aliens by proclamation, no president has ever before claimed this broad an authority.”


In prior lives, I had the pleasure of working with Jeff on a number of issues. Smart guy, nice guy, always very helpful. Doesn’t mean he’s right or wrong on this, but his point makes sense to me.



National Immigrant Justice Center (“NIJC”) & Others Accuse ICE Of Due Process Violations In Night-Time Removal Of Indiana Father!


Click the link to read the complete press release. Sometimes Article III Federal Courts are willing to intervene in alleged unlawful removal cases, sometimes not. I’ve been on both sides and in the middle on this issue during my career.

Thanks to Dan Kowalski over at LexisNexis Immigration Community for passing this along.




IMMIGRATION COURT REPORT: “ADR” In Full Swing Again At EOIR — Detailed U.S. Immigration Judges Twiddle Thumbs As Home Dockets Suffer!

ADR = “Aimless Docket Reshuffling,” a phenomenon that occurs when political officials at the DOJ direct EOIR to “reprioritize” existing U.S. Immigration Court dockets to meet politically-driven enforcement goals. Results in U.S. Immigration Judges being reassigned from regularly scheduled largely “ready for trial” pending cases to “priority cases” that often are NQRFPT.  Therefore almost nothing gets completed, but the court staff is overburdened and the private bar and individual respondents as well as the DHS Assistant Chief Counsel see already prepared cases reassigned to new judges who don’t have time to hear them or “orbited” to spots at the end of the docket several years from now. Results in growing backlogs even with more judges employed in the system.


As reported in LexisNexis Immigration EOIR has announced several rounds of details of U.S. Immigration Judges to “detained locations” as part of its “implementation of President Trump’s January 25th Executive Orders.” Julia Edwards Ainsley previously reported on this development in Reuters

However, according to several sources, once at the “detail court” these judges often have precious little to do.

To paraphrase some familiar with the system, “The only ‘surge’ happening here is a  surge of judges. There’s no surge of cases.” But, you can bet that there was a “surge in frustration” from those whose previously scheduled cases were rescheduled to accommodate these unneeded details.

Just another “keystone cops” episode at DOJ? Tempting analysis, but not so funny when you consider that human lives and futures are being affected. Also, transferring busy judges from already jam-packed dockets to do little or nothing at the border to keep the “political bosses” satisfied wastes the taxpayers’ money and undermines the credibility of the Immigration Court. That’s bad for everyone.

Most Immigration Judges I know are 1) busy all the time (unlike many other judges, Immigration Judges are expected to schedule cases eight hours/day, every work day of the week except for four hours/week of “administrative time” for case preparation, decision writing, and continuing education); 2) fanatic about wanting to complete the cases on their daily dockets.

Consequently, I doubt that any sitting Immigration Judge would have thought it was a good idea to cancel or reassign their regular dockets to do a minute number of cases as a detailed judge.

Moreover, because the Immigration Court is not “automated,” detailed Immigration Judges who have extra time have no access to pending motions that are piling up in their chambers during details. So, unlike the “home court” where a judge often can find “chambers work” to do during unanticipated “down time,” on detail “down time” is just that — wasted time.

Finally, there is the obvious question.  What is a supposedly impartial, due process oriented court system doing mindlessly carrying out the President’s Executive Order on immigration enforcement to the derogation of its own already-pending cases? We need an independent Article I United States Immigration Court!




New Case Challenges DHS Delays In Bringing Detainees Before U.S. Immigration Courts!

From LexisNexis:

“ACLU Files Class Action Lawsuit Against DHS Challenging Months–Long Delays in Bringing Detained Immigrants, Asylum Seekers Before Judges

Thousands Are Incarcerated For Months In Remote Facilities Waiting To See A Judge

“The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties (“San Diego ACLU”), Fish & Richardson P.C., and the Law Offices of Leonard B. Simon P.C. filed a class action lawsuit in federal court yesterday against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice. The suit seeks to end the excessive delays depriving civil immigration detainees of due process and prompt judicial review.

Every day, immigration agencies incarcerate tens of thousands of longtime U.S. residents, victims of persecution, and others in remote detention centers, ripped from their families and without access to legal support. None are serving time for a crime – and no judge has determined that there is probable cause to detain them – yet they are held in these deplorable detention facilities while they pursue legal avenues to remain in the U.S.

In San Diego and Imperial Counties, these detainees can languish for months before they are brought before a judge just to begin their case and learn for the first time why they are being incarcerated, what they can do to help present their case, or whether they can take steps to seek their release and get back to their loved ones.”


The system is already badly broken. And the Trump Administration’s poorly-conceived plans to enforce and detain to the max are just going to make it worse. Likely that cases such as this, combined with arrogance and poor judgement by the Administration, eventually are going to result in Federal Court supervision of virtually every aspect of immigration hearing process. The case is Cancino Castellar v. Kelly.  Keep an eye on it!




Here Are All The Official Documents On The “New” Travel Ban From LexisNexis

For the new Executive Order click here:

For other materials from DHS relating to the travel ban click here:





Law360: U.S. Solicitor General — Plum Or Lemon?

Andrew Strickler at Law 360 suggests that what was once Washington’s “best legal job” might now be a “career ender” rather than a “career enhancer.” Still, probably a far cry from being the Commissioner of the “Legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service,” sometimes described as “the worst Presidential appointment in Government.”

Those of you who subscribe to Law 360 (I don’t, so all I read was the “teaser”) can read the full article here: