“Washington (CNN)Sending immigration judges to the border has resulted in thousands of more cases being handled, the Justice Department announced Wednesday, though a substantial backlog in the immigration courts remain.
“Washington (CNN)Sending immigration judges to the border has resulted in thousands of more cases being handled, the Justice Department announced Wednesday, though a substantial backlog in the immigration courts remain.
Here’s the TV clip:
Here’s the story:
As part of a joint six-month investigation, NBC-owned television stations across the country interviewed retired and current immigration judges, some of whom said the backlog is threatening to overwhelm the court
By Chris Glorioso, Dave Manney, Erica Jorgensen and Evan Stulberger
Documents from the Trump administration show the president’s plan to ship more immigration judges for temporary assignments in border states is encountering a fundamental problem: there isn’t enough work for all the new judges to do.
According to an assessment of “Surge Hearing Locations,” dated April 4, 2017, the Department of Justice found six of the 17 immigration courts receiving transferred judges could not give those judges enough work to support a full docket.
INVESTIGATIVE’Phantom’ Judges Cause Confusion in NYC Immigration Court
In the assessment and supporting documents, DOJ staffers wrote about an immigration court in Karnes, Texas, where there was “concern regarding the lack of filings to sustain details from other courts”
Immigration: Crisis in the Courts
An overview on how immigration judges are struggling with a punishing backlog that in many cities is pushing cases far into the future, slowing deportations and leaving families in limbo.
The same assessment says another court in Texas’s Prairieland Detention Center “is not receiving enough cases to truly fill a docket or even come close to it.”
At the court inside Texas’s Dilly Family Residential Center, DOJ staffers wrote “the one judge detailed there is not occupied.”
At New Mexico’s Cibola County Detention Center, DOJ staffers found the caseload “has not been sufficient to keep the two immigration judges assigned to this docket occupied.”
Staffers also noted two empty courtrooms at New Mexico’s Otero immigration facility — and concluded there were “insufficient caseloads for further deployments.”
Scheduling records show the Justice Department repeatedly assigned five transferred judges to the immigration court in Louisiana’s LaSalle Detention Facility, even though an assessment of the court found “at this time there is not enough work for five judges. There is enough work for a reasonable docket and three judges.”
The report went on to conclude that inefficient transferring of detainees often means “there is very little work for a detailed judge to complete.”
In most cases, the transferred judges spend two weeks to a month hearing cases in out-of-state court.
The Department of Justice declined to comment for this story, but in response to a previous inquiry by Politico, an agency spokesman said “After the initial deployment, an assessment was done to determine appropriate locations to increase the adjudication of immigration court cases without compromising due process.”
While transferred judges may have had light workloads when they arrived in some of the border state courts, there is evidence the dockets they left behind suffered in their home courts.
A joint analysis by the News 4 I-Team and Telemundo 47 Investiga found case adjournments in New York City’s immigration court went up 276 percent — from an average of 139 adjournments in the three months before the judge transfers began, to 522 in the three months after judge transfers began.
Despite that, the Trump administration has increased its target from 50 judge reassignments, to at least 137 nationwide. Nineteen New York City immigration judges — more than half of the city’s 32-judge staff – participated in the temporary transfer program.
Olga Byrne, an advocate for refugees at Human Rights First, a nonprofit that represents asylum-seekers in court, said immigration attorneys at her organization have noticed the spike in adjournments and questioned whether judicial assignments border state assignments are worth the trouble.
“We’ve been in touch with a couple of judges who have expressed a lot of frustration about being sent to a detention center where they could take a long lunch break,” said Byrne. “They had only a few cases to consider for a whole week and yet they had to defer hundreds of cases from their docket in their home court.”
But it is clear the Trump Administration knew its decision to deploy more judges to border states would likely have negative impacts on dockets those judges leave behind in their home states.
In response to questions from U.S. Senate staffers, a DOJ memo concedes that “it is likely that the case backlog will increase for the locations from which an Immigration Judge is assigned.”
In New York City alone, there are more than 82,000 immigrants waiting for a court hearing. The average wait time is north of two and a half years. Nationwide, the immigration case backlog stands at more than 617,000.
Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D – Upper Manhattan), who came to America as an undocumented immigrant, said he fears the Trump administration is over-staffing border state courts to rapidly deport current border-crossers, while ignoring the population of non-detained immigrants who’ve been living and working in America’s big cities, hoping for a shot at citizenship for years.
“By shifting judges to the border, they are in fact maybe predicting that there will be lots of cases before them in those jurisdictions,” Espaillat said. “I am concerned this is part of a greater effort to put together a deportation machine – and proceed to arrest and deport thousands of people who are undocumented.”
This isn’t the first time a presidential initiative has been criticized for mucking up immigration court schedules and exacerbating the nationwide case backlog.
During the Obama Administration, the Justice Department launched an effort to prioritize court hearings for unaccompanied minors who enter the country illegally.
Byrne says that too was a political decision which negatively impacted the court’s ability to handle thousands of older cases languishing in the backlog.
“It’s not a new thing that they are basically fulfilling political objectives with the way that the immigration court dockets are managed,” Byrne said. “I think we should be equally critical of both [the Trump and Obama administrations] for using the immigration court to fulfill political objectives rather than focusing on making that court system work well and efficiently.”
Source: I-Team: Immigration Judges Sent to Courts With ‘Very Little Work’ – NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com/investigations/Immigration-Court-New-York-Judge-Investigation-448498463.html#ixzz4uXiMR2xJ
Follow us: @nbcnewyork on Twitter | NBCNewYork on Facebook“
To put this in context, during this massive abuse of the US Immigration Courts at the direction of Sessions and his incompetent politicos at the DOJ, the Chief Immigration Judge issued the notorious “Continuance Policy.” That document not not very subtilely implied that unjustified continuance requests by private attorneys (all of them overburdened by the effects of ADR, and many working on a pro bono or “low bono” basis) and laxity in granting continuances by overwhelmed and demoralized U.S. Immigration Judges were major contributing factors in increasing backlogs. Nothing could be further from the truth!
In fact, conscientious Immigration Judges and dedicated private attorneys are the only ones trying to make this broken system work and to maintain at least a semblance of due process. Their main obstacles: improper politically-motivated interference from the DOJ and poor administration and failure to stand up to the politicos by out of touch bureaucrats at EOIR Headquarters in Falls Church who are afraid to “blow the whistle”because they value their jobs over due process.
What kind of incompetents would draw the bulk of unneeded judicial details from what are known to be the most seriously backlogged Immigration Courts in the US, such as New York and Arlington? What type of incompetents would “study” the impact and need for the details after the fact, rather than carefully planning in advance? Assuming they were necessary (which they weren’t) why weren’t judicial details drawn from among the Assistant Chief Immigration Judges in Falls Church Headquarters who are never assigned actual cases? They, actually have time on their hands. And why does a system in crisis with inept management have highly-paid bureaucratic administrators like the ACIJs who never do any real judging? What makes a person a “judge”if he or she never “judges” anything?
Yes, as I’ve stated before, the Obama Administration enforcement policies and political interference from the Obama DOJ helped drive the backlogs to new heights. But, after taking over an obviously broken system, rather than doing the right thing and fixing the Immigration Courts with bipartisan legislation to create an independent Immigration Court System, with adequate resources, professional court administration, and freedom from political interference in its due process functions, the Trump Administration intentionally made things much, much worse! More judges have resulted in more backlogs because of politicized, incompetent judicial administration and poorly designed enforcement policies at DHS. If that doesn’t tell you something is seriously wrong, what will?
Barbara Demick reports:
“Within days of the terrorist attack that destroyed the World Trade Center, word spread in the immigrant neighborhoods of New York that workers were desperately needed to aid in the cleanup. The job would pay cash, about $10 an hour — no questions asked about Society Security cards or immigration status.
Then 32, Carlos Cardona had watched with horror from a construction site across the river in Brooklyn. Although his construction job paid a little better, he felt he ought to pitch in to help the country where he’d lived since his teens, having moved illegally from Colombia. He was married to a U.S. citizen and raising a 2-year-old daughter.
“The money wasn’t very good. But I felt I had to be there to do what I could,’’ Cardona said. “It was an emergency. We had to serve.”
Today he suffers from respiratory and digestive disorders, known as “World Trade Center syndrome,” that have left him unable to climb a flight of stairs and dependent for his medical care on clinics set up for 9/11 responders.
He also faces a predicament shared by up to 2,000 immigrants who helped to clean up after Sept. 11, 2001: the threat of deportation.
After more than three decades in the United States, Cardona was detained Feb. 28 after showing up for one of his regularly scheduled check-ins with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in New York. Days earlier, the Trump administration had issued a memorandum prioritizing the removal of immigrants in the U.S. illegally with criminal records.
“They told me there is a new president and the law has changed,’’ Cardona said. He had plead guilty to a nonviolent drug offense in 1990 and served 28 days in jail — which later hurt his ability to legalize his status despite being married to a U.S. citizen.
He was transferred to an immigrant detention center in Kearny, N.J., and then to a facility in Louisiana. His deportation was averted in June only through the intervention of his congressman, Joseph Crowley, and the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, who issued Cardona a hasty pardon for the drug offense.”
Read the complete article, which also describes legislative efforts to save these deserving Americans from the Trump-Sessions gonzo enforcement insanity.
Lets take a look behind The Administration’s misleading removal numbers. We already know that most of the removals are “collaterals” without any serious criminal records.
But someone like Cardona is no-doubt misleadingly chalked up as a “drug felon deportation.” Yet, his nonviolent drug conviction was nearly three decades ago for which he served a grand total of 28 days (probably less time than he recently spent in ICE detention before politicos intervened in his behalf).
Since then, he apparently has lived a productive law abiding life, and is the husband of a US citizen and the father of a US citizen daughter. He had been faithfully and voluntarily showing up for his immigration check-ins until the Trump-Sessions-Kelly redefinition of “criminal priorities” snared him. (This is what passes for “law enforcement” in the Trump Administration.) And, he is disabled as a result of the dangerous work he undertook for our country after 9-11. He doesn’t fit any sane definition of a “criminal alien” or an “enforcement priority.”
Under the Obama Administration’s more reasonable and realistic “enforcement priorities” he would have been given prosecutorial discretion (“PD”). Yet, but for some unusual high level intervention, he would have been summarily removed by this Administration (and, by no means it it clear hat he won’t eventually be removed).
So, the next time you hear Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions or anyone else in this Administration pontificate about the importance of immigration enforcement, you can be pretty sure that the real story is something quite different from the White Nationalist restrictionist narrative they are trying to pass off on the public. Sessions and Trump are proven, and brazen, liars. And their “gonzo” immigration enforcement program is hurting, not protecting, America.
Congrats to fellow Badger Law grad Raphael Choi, currently the ICE Chief Counsel in Arlington. Our careers have been intertwined in a number of ways. As an Assistant Chief Counsel in NY, Raphael was the DHS attorney in the first case I heard as a U.S. Immigration Judge back in 2003. My colleagues at the NY Immigration Court had told me in advance that Raphael was one of the best in skills, demeanor, and commitment to fairness and due process.
As a Judge in Arlington, I always appreciated Raphael’s work and leadership, first as an Assistant Chief Counsel and then as Chief Counsel. During my tenure, he consistently took an effective, practical, humane approach to the prosecutor’s role. He also gave the ACCs working for him a wide range of discretion in settling cases, waiving appeals, and offering PD. The Arlington OCC attracted some truly top flight legal talent, a number of whom went on to important positions at DHS, EOIR, DOJ, the Department of State, and the private sector.
Congrats again and good luck, Raphael. Due Process Forever!
FALLS CHURCH, VA – The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) today announced the investiture of a new immigration judge. Chief Immigration Judge MaryBeth Keller presided over the investiture during a ceremony held this afternoon at EOIR headquarters in Falls Church, Va.
After a thorough application process, Attorney General Jeff Sessions appointed James M. McCarthy to his new position.
“We welcome Judge McCarthy to the ranks of immigration judges at EOIR,” said Acting Director James McHenry. “EOIR is committed to reducing its significant pending caseload, and Judge McCarthy’s presence augments our ability to do that in one of our highest-volume courts.”
Biographical information follows.
James M. McCarthy, Immigration Judge, New York City Immigration Court
Attorney General Jeff Sessions appointed James M. McCarthy to begin hearing cases in July 2017. Judge McCarthy earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1983 from St. John’s University and a Juris Doctor in 1995 from Brooklyn Law School. From 2014 to 2017, he served as a senior attorney for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in New York, N.Y. From 2011 to 2014, he served as a deputy chief counsel for the Office of Chief Counsel, ICE, DHS, also in New York. From 2009 to 2011, he served as a senior attorney for ICE, DHS, in Eloy, Ariz. From 2004 to 2009, he served as an assistant chief counsel for ICE, DHS, in Eloy and Florence, Ariz. From 2000 to 2004, he served as an examining attorney for the Mayoral Commission to Combat Police Corruption, New York City Department of Investigations. From 1995 to 2000, he served as an assistant district attorney, and later as a senior assistant district attorney, at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, in Brooklyn, N.Y. Judge McCarthy is a member of the New York State Bar.
Congratulations and good luck to Judge McCarthy.
Beth reports for WNYC/NPR:
“In its crackdown on illegal immigration, the Trump administration is moving an increasing number of immigration judges closer to the border with Mexico. The practice is so widespread that half of New York City’s 30 immigration judges have been temporarily reassigned for two-to-four weeks at a time between early April and July.
The judges have been sent to hear deportation cases in Louisiana, California, New Mexico and Texas, along with Elizabeth, New Jersey, where there’s a detention center. In June, WNYC reported that at least eight of New York City’s immigration judges have been temporarily moved to Texas and Louisiana since March. New information obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request revealed the number to be much higher.
All this reshuffling causes cases to get delayed for months. And New York City’s immigration court already has a backlog of more than 80,000 cases. People wait an average of more than two years go to court to fight against deportation. Some might welcome a prolonged wait. But immigration lawyer Edain Butterfield said her clients get anxious because they’re ready to make their case, when they suddenly learn their judge has had to postpone.
“They don’t know if their judge is going to stay on their case,” she said. “They sometimes have to get new documents, ask for another day off from work, ask their family to take another day off from work.”
David Wilkins, an attorney with Central American Legal Assistance in Brooklyn, said he’s representing a woman seeking asylum whose hearing was recently postponed almost a year — until the summer of 2018. He said she left her children in her home country back in 2012 because of domestic abuse. “It’s extremely difficult for her,” he said. “She’s been separated from her family for so long to sort of live with the constant uncertainty of not knowing what’s going to happen with her immigration proceeding.”
Judges from New York City aren’t the only ones being moved. According to the latest data obtained by WNYC, 128 of the nation’s approximately 325 immigration judges have been shuffled to other locations between early April and the middle of July. Many of those judges come from Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. These assignments, known as details, last for two or four weeks. Some judges have been shifted around multiple times.
The data does not include all judges assigned to hear cases in other locations by video teleconference. A couple of judges in New York City were seeing cases by video at a Texas detention center in May and June.
The reassignments are expected to continue until early 2018, but the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which runs the immigration courts, would not reveal the schedule beyond July.
In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that all adults crossing the Mexican border would be sent to detention. To support the mission, he said, the Department of Justice had “already surged 25 immigration judges to detention centers along the border.”
Dana Leigh Marks, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, said her union remains very concerned about the situation.
“The temporary assignment of judges to border courts creates increasing backlogs in the dockets they leave behind in their home courts and may not be conducive to the overall reduction of our burgeoning caseload.”
Nationally, the backlog has surged to more than 600,000 cases and observers believe that number is growing partly because of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
Moving judges south might sound counterintuitive because illegal border crossings have actually dropped since President Trump took office. But Bryan Johnson, an immigration lawyer on Long Island, has a theory about why more judges are needed down south.
“The people that are deported will be deported in less time,” he explained. “And that is the message they want to send people in the home countries from where the migrants come from.”
There is no guaranteed right to counsel in immigration court, and experts said there are few low-cost immigration attorneys near the border — making it even easier to swiftly deport someone because they are not likely to have representation.
The Executive Office for Immigration Review did not respond to a request for comment. However, the agency has said it is hiring more judges.”
Get the accompanying audio/video report at the link.
David Wilkins from the Central American Legal Defense Center in Brooklyn, quoted in Beth’s article, is one of my former Georgetown Law Refugee Law & Policy students, a former CALS Asylum Clinic participant, and a former Legal Intern at the Arlington Immigration Court. David was also an Immigrant Justice Crops fellow. He is a “charter member” of the “New Due Process Army.” Congratulations David, we’re all proud of what you are doing!
Attorney Bryan Johnson simply restates the obvious. Under A.G. Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions, the U.S. Immigration Courts are once again being used as an arm of DHS Enforcement rather than a protector and dispenser of constitutional due process. Nobody in their right mind seriously thinks that Sessions is “surging” Immigration Judges to the border to grant more bonds, reverse more “credible fear” and “reasonable fear” denials, or grant more asylum, withholding of removal, or relief under the CAT.
No, the “surge” program is clearly all about detention, coercion, denial, deportation and sending a “don’t come, we don’t want you” message to folks living in fear and danger in countries of the Northern Triangle of Central America. In other words, you might as well cooperate with, support, and/or join the gangs and narco-traffickers — the U.S. has absolutely no intention of saving your life! Nice message!
Don’t be too surprised when multinational gangs and narco-traffickers eventually seize political power in Central America (they have already infiltrated or compromised many government functions). And, we will have sent away the very folks who might have helped us stem the tide. At the same time, we are destroying the last vestiges of due process in the U.S. Immigration Courts, leaving hundreds of thousands of cases and lives “up in the air” and our justice system without a fair and effective mechanism for deciding and reviewing immigration cases. At some point, somebody is going to have to fix this mess. But, you can be sure it won’t be the Trump (“We Don’t Take Responsibility For Nothin'”) Administration.
“Matter of L-, 1 I&N Dec. 1 (BIA 1940), was issued on August 29, 1940, the day before the Board of Immigration Appeals came into existence.2 Some background about the Board’s early history is required to explain this. From 1922 until 1940, a five-member Board of Review existed within the Department of Labor to review all immigration cases. The Board of Review had no decision- making authority of its own; it could only recommend action to the Secretary of Labor. In 1933, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was formed within the Department of Labor,3 and from 1933 until 1939 the Board of Review made its recommendations to the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization.4″
In INS v. Cardoza-Fonseca, its landmark 1987 decision establishing that the burden of proving a “well-founded fear of persecution” is significantly less than fifty percent, the Supreme Court relied on the following scholarly example: “Let us…presume that it is known that in applicant’s country of origin every tenth adult male person is either put to death or sent to some remote labor camp… In such a case it would be only too apparent that anyone who managed to escape from the country would have ‘well-founded fear of being persecuted’ on his eventual return.”2 While the Court’s decision predates the “pattern or practice” regulation by more than three years, the example it relies on (which predates the regulation by 24 years) presents a classic “pattern or practice” scenario. The hypotheti- cal establishes (1) a group, i.e., all adult males in a particular country; and (2) information establishing systemic persecution of one in ten members of such group. all members of the group therefore have a well-founded without the need to explain their individual circumstances.”
“Racism was codified in this country’s original natu- ralization law. The Naturalization Act of 1790 limited the right to naturalize to “free white persons.” Following the Civil War, the Act of July 14, 1870, added “aliens of African nativity” and “aliens of African descent” to those eligible to naturalize. However, all others considered “non-white” continued to be barred from obtaining United States citizenship. In 1922, the Supreme Court denied Takao Ozawa, a Japanese immigrant who had lived in the U.S. for 20 years, the right to become a naturalized citizen because he “clearly” was “not Caucasian.” In interpreting the term “free white persons,” the Court found that “the framers did not have in mind the brown or yellow races of Asia.”1 In United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind,2 the Supreme Court reached the same conclusion regarding an “upper-caste Hindu” who claimed a lineage classi ed as “Aryan” or “Caucasian.” The Court determined that “Aryan” related to “linguistic, and not at all with physical, characteristics,” and concluded that the term “free white persons” as understood by the common man, would not include those of Hindu ancestry.3 It was not until passage of the McCarran-Walter Act in 1952 that the naturalization law was amended to read that “[t]he right of a person to become a naturalized citizen shall not be denied or abridged because of race or sex…”4
Read all three of Judge Chase’s outstanding histories and get some “instant perspective” on how we got to where we are today as a nation of immigrants. There was no shortage of hypocracy. And, I submit that in the course of history some of today’s politicians advocating restrictive racially and religiously charged immigration policies are going to look just as distasteful, arrogant, prejudiced, and ignorant as some of the judges, lawmakers, and government officials described in these articles.
Judge Chase has reminded me that there is a fourth part to this collection:
“U.S. asylum policy is a product of the tension between the public sentiments of compassion and fear. In the words of a former Deputy UN High Commissioner: “The public will not allow governments to be generous if it believes they have lost control.” 1 Although asylum can be traced back at least to the Old Testament, for all practical purposes, U.S. asylum policy began on the eve of World War II.”
“In the middle of May, paper notices were posted on the walls of the federal building in lower Manhattan announcing the absence of several immigration judges. Some were out for a week or two, while others were away for six weeks. The flyers said their cases would be rescheduled.
The Executive Office for Immigration Review, which runs the immigration courts, would not comment on the judges’ whereabouts. It cited the confidentiality of personnel matters. But after WNYC asked about these missing judges, many of the paper notices were taken off the walls of the 12th and 14th floors, where hearings are held in small courtrooms.
It’s no secret that President Donald Trump’s administration has been redeploying judges to detention centers near the southern border to speed up the processing of cases. After contacting numerous immigration attorneys down south, as well as retired judges and others, WNYC was able to crowdsource the judges’ locations. At least eight of New York City’s 29 immigration judges had been sent to Texas and Louisiana since March to conduct hearings in person or by video. Six judges were out for different parts of the month of May, alone.
The federal building is home to the nation’s busiest immigration court, with a backlog of 80,000 cases. By redeploying so many judges in such a short period of time, immigration lawyers fear the delays will grow even longer. Meanwhile, attorneys near the border question whether these extra judges are even necessary.
Among other matters, judges at detention courts are supposed to hear cases involving people who crossed the border illegally. Yet those numbers have declined since Trump took office. That’s why local attorneys are cynical about the surge.
“I don’t really think that they need all these judges,” said Ken Mayeaux, an immigration lawyer in Baton Rouge.
Mayeaux said what’s really needed there are more immigration attorneys. As federal agents arrest an increasing number of immigrants who are already in the U.S. without legal status, they’re sending them to southern detention centers that are pretty isolated. The ones in Oakdale and Jena, Louisiana, are hours west of Baton Rouge and New Orleans, where the vast majority of the state’s immigration advocates are concentrated, said Mayreaux.
“To ramp things up in one of the places that has the lowest representation rates in the United States, that’s a due process disaster,” he said.
Data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University confirms that immigrants may only wait a couple of months for their deportation case to be completed in these detention centers near the border. But in New York, the wait to see an immigration judge is 2.4 years.
So why move judges from a clogged and busy court system in New York to the border region, where immigration cases are already moving swiftly?
“In this particular instance, it’s a virtuous circle from the perspective of the administration,” explained Andrew Arthur, a former immigration judge.
Arthur is a resident fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies. It’s a think tank that wants to limit immigration, though it’s been branded a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. During the Obama administration, Arthur said too many immigrants were let out of detention and waited years for their cases to be heard. He said moving more judges to the border will prevent that from happening.
“Because the quicker that you hear the cases the less likely that an individual is to be released,” Arthur said. “Therefore the less likely another group of individuals are to attempt to make the journey to the United States.”
Another former immigration judge, Paul Wickham Schmidt, said the Obama administration tried something similar by fast-tracking the cases of Central American migrants in 2014. But he said it wound up scrambling the judges’ dockets and was counterproductive. He was redeployed from his home court in Virginia and estimates he had to reschedule a hundred cases in a week.
“Nobody cares what’s happening on the home docket,” he said. “It’s all about showing presence on the border.”
Not all judges assigned to the border are physically present. Mana Yegani, an immigration lawyer in Houston, said she’s seen several judges — including a few from New York — at a detention center where cases are done by video teleconference.
“We never see the prosecutor’s face, it’s just a voice in the background,” she explained. “It’s just not a fair process for our clients and I don’t think the judges can be efficient the way they’re supposed to. They take an oath to be fair and to uphold the Constitution and due process, and I think the way the system is set up it really hinders that.”
A new audit of the immigration courts by the Government Accountability Office questioned whether video teleconferences have an impact on outcomes and said more data should be collected.
Some attorneys believe the reassignments are temporary to see if border crossings continue to ebb. The Executive Officer for Immigration Review won’t comment on that, but spokesman John Martin said the agency will hire 50 new judges and “plans to continue to advertise and fill positions nationwide for immigration judges and supporting staff.”
In the meantime, there’s no question that shifting judges away from New York is having an impact on real people.”
Read Beth’s entire article, including the story of one “real” asylum applicant waiting patiently for a hearing that almost didn’t happen.
The due process farce continues, at taxpayer expense, while the U.S. Immigration Courts are being treated as an enforcement arm of the DHS. Aimless Docket Reshuffling (“ADR”) denies due process at both the “sending courts” and “receiving courts.” When, if ever, will Congress or the Federal Courts step in and put an end to this travesty of justice and mockery of our constitutional requirement for due process! In the meantime, what’s happening in the Immigration Courts is a continuing national disgrace.
Lindsey Bever reports in the Washington Post:
“A week after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told federal prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” and follow mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, a bipartisan group of prosecutors at the state and local level is expressing concern.
Thirty current and former state and local prosecutors have signed an open letter, which was released Friday by the nonprofit Fair and Just Prosecution, a national network working with newly elected prosecutors. The prosecutors say that even though they do not have to answer Sessions’s call, the U.S. Attorney General’s directive “marks an unnecessary and unfortunate return to past ‘tough on crime’ practices” that will do more harm than good in their communities.
“What you’re seeing in this letter is a different wind of change that’s blowing through the criminal justice field,” said Miriam Krinsky, a former federal prosecutor and executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution.
“There does seem at the federal level to be a return to the tough-on-crime, seek-the-maximum-sentence, charge-and-pursue-whatever-you-can-prove approach,” Krinsky said. But, she added, at a local level, some believe “there are costs that flow from prosecuting and sentencing and incarcerating anyone and everyone who crosses the line of the law, and we need to be more selective and smarter in how we promote both the safety and the health of our communities.”
Signers of the letter include Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., and Karl Racine, attorney general of the District of Columbia.
The prosecutors say that there are no real benefits to Sessions’s May 10 directive, but they noted “significant costs.”
The letter states:
The increased use of mandatory minimum sentences will necessarily expand the federal prison population and inflate federal spending on incarceration. There is a human cost as well. Instead of providing people who commit low-level drug offenses or who are struggling with mental illness with treatment, support and rehabilitation programs, the policy will subject them to decades of incarceration. In essence, the Attorney General has reinvigorated the failed “war on drugs,” which is why groups ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the Cato Institute to Right on Crime have all criticized the newly announced policy.”
Read the complete article at the above link.
As mentioned in an earlier posting, a bipartisan group of Senators, led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is also pushing back against Sessions’s prosecution policies.
Patrick G. Lee writes in ProPublica:
“One morning in February, lawyer Marty Rosenbluth set off from his Hillsborough, North Carolina, home to represent two anxious clients in court. He drove about eight hours southwest, spent the night in a hotel and then got up around 6 a.m. to make the final 40-minute push to his destination: a federal immigration court and detention center in the tiny rural Georgia town of Lumpkin.
During two brief hearings over two days, Rosenbluth said, he convinced an immigration judge to grant both of his new clients more time to assess their legal options to stay in the United States. Then he got in his car and drove the 513 miles back home.
“Without an attorney, it’s almost impossible to win your case in the immigration courts. You don’t even really know what to say or what the standards are,” said Rosenbluth, who works for a private law firm and took on the cases for a fee. “You may have a really, really good case. But you simply can’t package it in a way that the court can understand.”
His clients that day were lucky. Only 6 percent of the men held at the Lumpkin complex — a 2,001-bed detention center and immigration court — have legal representation, according to a 2015 study in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. Nationwide, it’s not much better, the study of data from October 2006 to September 2012 found: Just 14 percent of detainees have lawyers.
That percentage is likely to get even smaller under the Trump administration, which has identified 21,000 potential new detention beds to add to the approximately 40,000 currently in use. In January, President Trump signed an executive order telling the secretary of homeland security, who oversees the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, to “immediately” start signing contracts for detention centers and building new ones.
If history is any guide, many of those facilities will end up in places like Lumpkin, population 2,741. The city’s small downtown has a courthouse, the police department, a couple of restaurants and a Dollar General. There’s no hotel and many of the nearest immigration lawyers are based 140 miles away in Atlanta.
“It’s been a strategic move by ICE to construct detention centers in rural areas,” said Amy Fischer, policy director for RAICES, a San Antonio-based nonprofit that supports on-site legal aid programs at two Texas facilities for detained families. “Even if the money is there, it’s very difficult to set up a pro bono network when you’re geographically three hours away from a big city.”
ICE currently oversees a network of about 200 facilities, jails, processing centers and former prisons where immigrants can be held, according to a government list from February.
Unlike criminal defendants, most immigrants in deportation proceedings are not entitled to government-appointed lawyers because their cases are deemed civil matters. Far from free legal help and with scant financial resources, the majority of detainees take their chances solo, facing off against federal lawyers before judges saddled with full dockets of cases. Frequently they must use interpreters.
An ICE spokesman denied that detention facilities are purposely opened in remote locations to limit attorney access. “Any kind of detention center, due to zoning and other factors, they are typically placed in the outskirts of a downtown area,” said spokesman Bryan Cox. “ICE is very supportive and very accommodating in terms of individuals who wish to have representation and ensuring that they have the adequate ability to do so.” At Lumpkin’s Stewart Detention Center, for instance, lawyers can schedule hourlong video teleconferences with detainees, Cox said.
But a ProPublica review found that access to free or low-cost legal counsel was limited at many centers. Government-funded orientation programs, which exist at a few dozen detention locations, typically include self-help workshops, group presentations on the immigration court process, brief one-on-one consultations and pro bono referrals, but they stop short of providing direct legal representation. And a list of pro bono legal service providers distributed by the courts includes many who don’t take the cases of detainees at all. Those that do can often only take a limited number — perhaps five to 10 cases at a time.
The legal help makes a difference. Across the country, 21 percent of detained immigrants who had lawyers won their deportation cases, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review study found, compared to just 2 percent of detainees without a lawyer. The study also found that 48 percent of detainees who had lawyers were released from detention while their cases were pending, compared to 7 percent of those who lacked lawyers.
Legal counsel can also speed up the process for those detainees with no viable claims to stay in the country, experts said. A discussion with a lawyer might prompt the detainee to cut his losses and opt for voluntary departure, avoiding a pointless legal fight and the taxpayer-funded costs of detention.
Lawmakers in some states, such as New York and California, have stepped in to help, pledging taxpayer money toward providing lawyers for immigrants who can’t afford their own. But such help only aids those detainees whose deportation cases are assigned to courts in those areas.
“What brings good results is access to family and access to counsel and access to evidence, and when you’re in a far off location without those things, the likelihood of ICE winning and the person being denied due process increase dramatically,” said Conor Gleason, an immigration attorney at The Bronx Defenders in New York.”
Read the complete article at the above link.
Lumpkin is “at the outskirts” of what “downtown area?” Don’t all major metro areas have “metropolitan correctional centers,” city jails, county jails, or some equivalent located near the courts and hub of legal activities for criminal defendants awaiting trial? Why are civil detainees allowed to be treated this way?
For far too long, under AGs from both parties, the DOJ has participated in this disingenuous charade designed to promote removals over due process. Because cases often have to be continued for lawyers, even where none is likely to be found, the procedure actually adds to detention costs in many cases. Why not house only those with final orders awaiting removal or with pending appeals at places like Lumpkin? Why don’t the BIA and Courts of Appeals rule that intentionally detaining individuals where they cannot realistically exercise their “right to be represented by counsel of their own choosing” is a denial of due process?
Look for the situation to get much worse under Sessions, who envisions an “American Gulag” where detention rules as part of his program to demonize migrants by treating them all as “dangerous criminals.”
Meanwhile, as I pointed in a recent panel discussion at AYUDA, the only part of the immigration system over which the private sector has any control or influence these days is promoting due process by providing more pro bono lawyers for migrants. Eventually, if those efforts are persistent enough, the Government might be forced to change its approach.
Milloy writes in an op-ed:
“Here’s what white supremacy really looks like:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions gearing up for another “war on crime.” But first, he has to manufacture enough fear of people of color. He recently tried by declaring, falsely, that New York “continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable consequence of the city’s ‘soft on crime’ stance.”
Sessions threatened to withhold millions of dollars in federal grants from the city’s police department if the city didn’t start turning in undocumented immigrants to federal authorities.
[Sessions issues sweeping new criminal charging policy ]
In other words, if New York doesn’t have a crime problem now, Sessions would cut police funding until it did have one.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, citing the city’s low crime rate, called Sessions’s remarks “outrageous” and “pitiful.” Sessions later conceded that New York police had created “some of the best” techniques for fighting crime.
But that’s not the end of it.
Under the Trump administration, local police departments are slated to get more powerful weaponry and expanded powers to use them. Corporate prison complexes could see an increase in profits if Sessions’s push to bring back mandatory minimum sentences moves forward. Rural communities in majority white areas will get new prisons — along with jobs overseeing a veritable plantation of mostly black and Hispanic inmates.
The judiciary is a key component in the maintenance of this system. Police are rarely charged for fatally shooting someone while on duty. According to an analysis by The Washington Post and researchers at Bowling Green State University, 54 officers faced charges for such shootings between 2005 and 2015, a fraction of the fatal police shootings that occurred across the country in that time. The majority of the officers whose cases have been resolved have not been convicted, The Post found.
The Post also reported: “Among the officers charged since 2005 for fatal shootings, more than three-quarters were white. Two-thirds of their victims were minorities, all but two of them black.”
It is as if the vision of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who recently declared that white “culture and demographics are our destiny,” are coming true. In effect, black and brown lives do not matter.
And with voting rights under attack, the chances of getting elected officials who might take a stronger stance for justice becomes slimmer by the year.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that North Carolina legislators had acted “with almost surgical precision” to blunt the influence of black voters. But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. made clear in a separate opinion that the ruling did not mean that court was taking a stand for or against the actions. Encouraged by the high court’s statement, the legislators have vowed to keep at their obstructionist ways.
President Trump, having fomented fears of “Mexican rapists” during his campaign, announced Monday that he was cracking down on a Mexican gang. “MS-13 is going to be gone from our streets very soon, believe me,” he said, during a ceremony for slain police officers. “When policing is reduced, it’s often the poorest and most vulnerable Americans who are the first to suffer. We have all seen the tragic rise in violence and crimes in many of our disadvantaged communities.”
But Trump offered no plan for dealing with that disadvantage. Nothing about more jobs or affordable housing. Not better health care — just more police officers with bigger guns.
No need for the white protesters to wave Confederate flags and chant “white power.” Trump and Sessions know how to placate them by attacking black freedoms.
Former U.S. arrorney for the S.D.N.Y. Preet Bharara writes in an Washington Post op-ed:
“And in the tumult of this time, the question whose answer we should perhaps fear the most is the one evoked by that showdown: Are there still public servants who are prepared to say no to the president?
Now, as the country once again wonders whether justice can be nonpolitical and whether its leaders understand the most basic principles of prosecutorial independence and the rule of law, I recall yet another firestorm that erupted 10 years ago over the abrupt and poorly explained firing of top Justice Department officials in the midst of sensitive investigations. The 2007 affair was not Watergate, the more popular parallel invoked lately, but the lessons of that spring, after the Bush administration inexplicably fired more than eight of its own U.S. attorneys, are worth recalling.
When the actions became public, people suspected political interference and obstruction. Democrats were the most vocal, but some Republicans asked questions, too. The uproar intensified as it became clear that the initial explanations were mere pretext, and the White House couldn’t keep its story straight. Public confidence ebbed, and Congress began to investigate.
In response, the Senate launched a bipartisan (yes, bipartisan) investigation into those firings and the politicization of the Justice Department. Early on, the then-deputy attorney general — Comey was gone by then — looked senators in the eye and said the U.S. attorneys were fired for cause; although such appointees certainly serve at will, this assertion turned out to be demonstrably false. We learned that the U.S. attorney in New Mexico, David C. Iglesias, was fired soon after receiving an improper call from Republican Sen. Pete V. Domenici pushing him to bring political corruption cases before the election. We learned that Justice Department officials in Washington had improperly applied a conservative ideological litmus test to attorneys seeking career positions, to immigration judges and even to the hiring of interns.”
As I personally experienced, the Bush DOJ was thoroughly politicized and compromised. U.S. Immigration Judges were among those affected by political hiring. Indeed, it did get all the way down to the level of interns. I knew well-qualified former interns who were “thrown out ” of consideration for permanent appointments under the so-called “Attorney General’s Honors Program” because their law schools or backgrounds were considered “too liberal.”
But, we don’t learn. Jeff Sessions is certainly on track to make the DOJ a mere suboffice of the White House staff. The idea that Sessions would act with integrity and/or say no to the President is beyond laughable.
Sadly, Rosenstein simply seems to be another in the long line of DOJ officials who have sacrificed principles and integrity for career advancement. He’ll likely ride his stint as Deputy AG to a partnership in a major downtown law firm defending white collar criminals and disgraced politicians. And, I have little doubt that the Trump Administration will produce lots off both. Nice work, if you can get it.
Closer to home, with the recent resignations of EOIR Director Juan Osuna and Deputy Director Ana Kocur, both well-respected apolitical career civil servants, we should be watching to see if a politico is appointed to oversee the crumbling U.S. Immigration Court system. At some point in the future, “good government” supporters will regain political control. It will then be important for those of us who believe in an independent immigration judiciary to have our documentation of the corruption and incompetence of DOJ mal-administration of our Immigration Courts ready to present along with a feasible plan for a new independent, due process focused Immigration Court.
Dean Kevin Johnson writes:
“The Vera Institute of Justice and partner organizations today announced that detained New Yorkers in all upstate immigration courts will now be eligible to receive legal counsel during deportation proceedings. The 2018 New York State budget included a grant of $4 million to significantly expand the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), a groundbreaking public defense program for immigrants facing deportation that was launched in New York City in 2013.
New York has become the first state to ensure that no immigrant will be detained and permanently separated from his or her family solely because of the inability to afford a lawyer. Without counsel, a study shows, only 3% of detained, unrepresented immigrants avoid deportation, but providing public defenders can improve an immigrant’s chance of winning and remaining in the United States by as much as 1000%.
NYIFUP has been operating in two of the four affected upstate immigration courts on a limited basis since 2014 with funding from the New York State Assembly and the IDC. In the just-ended fiscal year, the funding was sufficient to meet less than 20% of the need upstate. In New York City, NYIFUP has been representing all financially eligible, otherwise unrepresented detained immigrants since 2014 with funding from the City Council.
Research has shown that keeping immigrant families together saves money for the state’s taxpayers in increased tax revenues and less need for families left behind to draw on the social safety net. New York State employers also receive significant economic benefits from avoiding the loss of productivity when their employees are detained and deported, and the consequent need to identify and train replacement workers.
The first public defender program in the country for immigrants facing deportation, the NYIFUP Coalition includes Vera, the Immigration Justice Clinic of Cardozo Law School, the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, Make the Road New York, and The Center for Popular Democracy. The Erie County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project is a NYIFUP Coalition partner upstate. Brooklyn Defender Services, the Legal Aid Society, and The Bronx Defenders are Coalition partners in New York City.
Several cities and states, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and California have recently begun efforts to design similar programs.”
Good for New York! I hope that other states follow suit.
Representation is the most important contribution that those “outside the system” can make to improving due process in the U.S. Immigration Courts. And, nowhere is it needed more than in often out of the way detention centers. As noted in the article, there is no doubt that representation makes a difference in outcome — a huge difference.
In fact, the statistical difference is so great that one might think that those officials responsible for the U.S. Immigration Court system would long ago have determined that no case could proceed in accordance with due process unless and until the respondent had a lawyer. But, that would be some other place, some other time.
In the meantime, let’s all be thankful for the outstanding example that New York has set!