THE HILL: N. Rappaport Believes That Expedited Removal Is the Key To Reducing The Immigration Court Backlog

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/356211-trumps-fast-tracked-deportations-may-be-only-practical-solution-to

Nolan writes:

Trump's fast-tracked deportations may be only solution to backlog
© Getty

“An alien who seeks admission to the United States without valid documents can be sent home without a hearing, and, this does not apply just to aliens at the border.  An undocumented alien may be viewed as “seeking admission” even if he has been living here for more than a year.

But for immigration purposes, words mean whatever the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) says they mean.

Section 235(a)(1) of the INA says that an alien who is in the United States but has not been “admitted” shall be viewed as an applicant for admission for purposes of this Act. And section 101(a)(13) of the INA says that the terms “admission” and “admitted” mean a lawful entry into the United States after an inspection and authorization by an immigration officer.

This makes it possible for DHS to use expedited removal proceedings to deport undocumented aliens who already are in the United States without giving them hearings before an immigration judge, which is necessary now because the immigration court is experiencing a backlog crisis.As of the end of August 2017, the immigrant court’s backlog was 632,261 cases, and the immigration court has only 330 immigration judges. The backlog is getting larger every year because the judges are not even able to keep up with the new cases they receive each year.

. . . .

In expedited removal proceedings, which are conducted by immigration officers, an alien who lacks proper documentation or has committed fraud or a willful misrepresentation to enter the country, can be deported without a hearing before an immigration judge, unless he has a credible fear of persecution.

Previous administrations limited these proceedings to aliens at the border and aliens who had entered without inspection but were apprehended no more than 100 miles from the border after spending less than 14 days in the country.

Trump opted to use expedited removal proceedings to the full extent authorized by law.  In his Executive Order, “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements,” he orders the DHS Secretary to use the proceedings for the aliens designated in section 235(b)(1)(A)(iii)(II)of the INA, i.e., aliens who are in the United States but were not lawfully admitted and cannot establish that they have been here continuously for two years.

If an alien wants an asylum hearing before an immigration judge, he has to establish to the satisfaction of an asylum officer that he has a credible fear of persecution.  If the asylum officer is not persuaded, the alien can request an abbreviated review by an immigration judge, which usually is held within 24 hours.

Immigration officers should not be making unreviewable decisions about whether to deport someone who has lived in the United States for up to two years.  I would prefer replacing the immigration officers with immigration judges for proceedings involving aliens who are already in the United States.

Expedited removal proceedings are not used for unaccompanied alien children.

The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVRPA) exempts certain unaccompanied alien children (UAC) from expedited removal proceedings.

Trump has asked Congress to amend the TVRPA to restrict the unaccompanied alien children protections.  In the meantime, steps are being taken to deter parents from bringing their children here illegally.

ICE will be putting the parents of UACs in removal proceedings if they are undocumented aliens too, and if a smuggler was paid, they might be prosecuted for human trafficking.

Immigrant advocates still have time to work with Trump on immigration reform legislation, but once Trump has implemented an expanded expedited removal proceedings program, he is not going to be inclined to stop it.  And it could start soon.  He recently issued a Request for Information to identify multiple possible detention sites for holding criminal aliens and other immigration violators.”

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Read Nolan’s full article over on The Hill at the above link.

I have no doubt that the Trump Administration will attempt to “max out’ the use of expedited removal. Interestingly, however, although the Executive Order referenced by Nolan was issued at the beginning of the Administration, the regulatory changes necessary to expand the use of expedited removal have not yet been published in the Federal Register. A change of this nature is likely to require full notice and comment, which will take some time. If the Administration tries to avoid the notice and comment process, that will be likely to give advocates a valid ground for challenging the revised regulation under the Administrative Procedures Act.

I also doubt that expedited removal can successfully address the current Immigration Court backlog, which is, after all, largely the result of incompetent management, poor enforcement choices, and “ADR” by politicos at the DOJ, including particularly in this Administration. Without removing the political influence over the Immigration Courts and placing them in an independent structure that can be professionally administered in an unbiased manner, no “docket reform” is likely to succeed..

Second, nearly all of the 10-11 million individuals currently in the U.S. without documentation have been here more than two years and can prove it. Indeed, the vast majority of the 630,000+ cases pending in Immigration Court have probably been on the docket for more than two years!

Third, like Nolan, I believe that “Immigration officers should not be making unreviewable decisions about whether to deport someone who has lived in the United States for up to two years.” Individuals living in the United States are entitled to constitutional due process under Supreme Court decisions. A fair hearing before an impartial adjudicator normally is a minimum requirement for due process. A DHS Immigration Officer is not an impartial judicial or quasi-judicial adjudicator.

The situations in which the Federal Courts have permitted DHS Immigration Officers to enter final removal orders against individuals who are “in the United States” (as opposed to at the border, in fact or “functionally”) are fairly limited. One is the situation of an individual who was never admitted as a Lawful Permanent Resident and who committed an aggravated felony. This doesn’t apply to most individuals in the U.S. without documentation.

As Nolan points out, the Federal Courts have also approved “expedited removal” under the current regulations which limit applicability to those who have been here fewer than 14 days and are apprehended within 100 miles of the border — in other words, those who have very minimal connection with the U.S. and have not established any type of “de facto” residence here. In making those limited (but still probably wrong from a constitutional standpoint) decisions some courts have indicated that they would have reservations about reaching the same result in the case of someone who had actually been here for a considerable period of time and had established a residence in the United States.

For example, in Castro v. DHS, 835 F.3d 433 (3rd Cir. 2016), cert. denied, a case upholding expedited removal under the current regulations, the court states:

Of course, even though our construction of § 1252 means that courts in the future will almost certainly lack statutory jurisdiction to review claims that the government has committed even more egregious violations of the expedited removal statute than those alleged by Petitioners, this does not necessarily mean that all aliens wishing to raise such claims will be without a remedy. For instance, consider the case of an alien who has been living continuously for several years in the United States before being ordered removed under § 1225(b)(1). Even though the statute would prevent him from seeking judicial review of a claim, say, that he was never granted a credible fear interview, under our analysis of the Suspension Clause below, the statute could very well be unconstitutional as applied to him (though we by no means undertake to so hold in this opinion). Suffice it to say, at least some of the arguably troubling implications of our reading of § 1252 may be tempered by the Constitution’s requirement that habeas review be available in some circumstances and for some people.

Here’s a link to the full Castro opinion and my previous blog on the decision:

http://wp.me/p8eeJm-IG

I predict that, as in other areas, by “pushing the envelope” on the expedited removal statute, the Trump Administration will eventually force the Federal Courts, including the Supreme Court, to find it unconstitutional at least in some applications.

The Administration would be smarter to go about Immigration Court docket reduction by limiting new enforcement actions to recent arrivals and those who have engaged in activities that endanger the public health and safety, similar to what the Obama Administration did. This should be combined with a realistic legalization proposal and return to a robust use of prosecutorial discretion (“PD”) that would remove many of the older, nonprioty cases from the docket.

Eliminating rights, “fudging” due process, and pretending like judicial and quasi-judicial resources are infinitely expandable will not solve the problem in the long run. It’s time for some “smart” immigration enforcement and action to reform the Immigration Courts into an independent court system. But, I’d ever accuse the Trump Administration of being “smart,” particularly in the area of immigration policy.

PWS

10-19-17

 

DREAMER UPDATE: N. Rappaport Says 47 Mi. Of “Trump‘s Wall” Is An Acceptable Price For Dems To Pay To Save “Dreamers” — CNN’S Tal Kopan Says GOP House Might Go With Own “Dreamer Bill” (Once Again) Excluding Dems!

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/354585-democrats-take-trumps-daca-deal-to-save-some-from-deportation

Nolan writes in The Hill:

“Realistically, it is not going to be possible to work with Trump on a permanent DACA program without providing the funds he needs to at least start the construction of his wall, but this does not have to be a deal breaker.

Get him started with funding to complete the last 47 miles of the border fencing that was mandated by the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was passed in the Senate 80 to 19. The yeas included current Senate party leaders Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Schumer and former Senators Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).

As amended by section 564 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, it requires DHS to “construct reinforced fencing along not less than 700 miles of the southwest border where fencing would be most practical and effective.”  DHS only completed 653 miles of the authorized fencing.

Finishing this project would give Trump a chance to show what he can do and provide a reliable basis for estimating the cost of a wall along the entire length of the Southwest border.

The alternative to finding a compromise is to abandon the tentative agreement and let the Democrats continue their endless stream of complaints about Trump, which won’t improve Congress’ approval ratings or save any of the DACA participants from being deported.”

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Go on over to The Hill to read Nolan’s complete article, which is well worth it whether you agree or not.

I basically agree with what Nolan has said above. While recognizing the emotional and political difficulties behind the Democrats giving on any “Wall Issue,” 47 miles of fencing in return for saving the lives and futures of nearly one million American young people is a reasonable trade-off. Unlike a “Full Wall,” the 47 miles has some bipartisan historical precedent and might be at least somewhat helpful to the Border Patrol in securing the border. Trump has to get something out of this for his “base” to offset their qualms about a “Dreamer Deal.” And the Democrats still reserve their right to “dig in” on other “Wall Issues” that won’t be going away as long as Trump is President. Plenty of room for the Democrats to posture to their base in the future, plus take credit for saving the Dreamers.

I think the Democrats should include as many Dreamers in the bill as possible. Since these residents are good for America, the more that are included the better for all of us. I would also reject inserting any “points system” into the process. That’s a bad idea (part of the “restrictionist agenda”) that Democrats should emphatically reject. I had all sorts of folks come though my courtroom in my thirteen years on the bench. I’d never say that the doctors, teachers, and computer scientists were “better” or “more valuable” for America than the bricklayers, landscapers, taxi drivers, maids, and sandwich artists. They are all contributing in important ways. The elitist “point system’ is simply another part of the bogus white restrictionist agenda.

I can’t agree with Nolan that there is anything that the Democrats can realistically do with Trump’s White Nationalist “wish list” on larger immigration reform. It’s a toxic and offensive compendium of truly reprehensible measures that will either diminish the legal and human rights of  the most vulnerable migrants or send America in a totally wrong direction by restricting legal immigration at a time when it should be expanded. Just nothing there that’s realistic or morally acceptable, as you might expect when White Nationalists like Sessions, Miller, and Banning get their hands on immigration policy.

Although clearly outnumbered at present, the Democrats do have two “Trump Cards” in their hand.

First, no matter how much cruel, inhumane, and wasteful “Gonzo” enforcement the Trump-Sessions-Homan crowd does, they won’t be able to make much of a dent in the 10-11 million population of undocumented workers during the Trump Administration, be that four or eight years. That means most of those folks aren’t going anywhere. It’s just a question of whether they work legally and pay taxes or work under the table where most of them probably won’t be able to pay taxes. So the issue will still be around, looking for a more constructive solution whenever “Trumpism” finally ends.

Second, no amount of Gonzo restrictionism can stop additional needed foreign workers from coming in the future as long as there 1) is an adequate supply, and 2) are U.S. industries that demand their services — and there clearly will continue to be. Employer sanctions won’t stop undocumented migration. We’ve already proved that. About the most the restrictionists can do is change the cost equation, making the cost of importing documented and undocumented workers more expensive to U.S. employers while enriching and enlarging international human smuggling operations. Restrictionists are international smuggling cartels’ “best friends,” at least up to a point.

It is, however, possible, that legal immigration restrictions enacted into law could eventually raise the costs of obtaining foreign labor, both documented and undocumented, to the point where it becomes “not cost-effective.” The cost of legal foreign labor would simply become too great and the supply too small. Meanwhile, over on the undocumented side, workers would have to pay smugglers more than they could anticipate making by working in the U.S.; there would come a point when it would not be cost-effective for U.S. employers to raise wages for undocumented workers any further.

At that point, the U.S. agriculture, tourism, hospitality, and entertainment industries, as well as other service industries heavily dependent on legal and undocumented foreign labor would start to disappear. They would soon be joined by technology, education, and other “STEM type” industries that need more qualified legal foreign labor than the restrictionists would be willing to provide. At that point, the country would go into economic free-fall, entirely attributable to the GOP restrictionists. The Democrats could come back into power, and eventually restore economic order with the necessary sane expansion of legal immigration opportunities.

It’s certainly a scenario that most Americans should want to avoid. But, as long as our government is controlled by restrictionists with overriding racial and political motivations, rather than by those searching for the “common good,” successful immigration reform might well be out of reach. And no “White Nationalist Manifestos” such as the Trump White House just issued are going to change that.

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http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/11/politics/daca-negotiations-congress-latest/index.html

Meanwhile, over at CNN, Tal Kopan reports on the House GOP’s “own plan” for a “non-bi-partisan” Dreamer Bill, which, of course, would be DOA in the Senate.

Tal writes:

“Washington (CNN)A key House Republican involved in immigration negotiations said Wednesday that he expects his chamber will pass a bill with only GOP votes — and would include some version of a border wall — even as Democrats dismiss the idea that such a deal could reach the President’s desk.

Texas Rep. John Carter is a member of the House Republican immigration working group set up by House Speaker Paul Ryan to figure out a path forward for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era policy that protected young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation, which President Donald Trump has decided to end.
Carter told reporters in the Capitol that he expects what comes out of those meetings to be Republican-only and to include at least something for Trump’s controversial border wall.
“I think we will have a wall factor in the bill and I don’t think we will get a single Democrat vote,” Carter said about the discussions.
Democrats have said any wall funding would be a nonstarter for negotiations, and Trump has suggested he’d consider separating the wall from the debate, though the White House has said it’s a priority.
close dialog
T
Carter declined to talk about the internal deliberations of the group, but said, “we are trying to come up with solutions which will not only be good for the DACA people but will also be good for America.”
Sources familiar with the workings of the group, which includes Republicans from across the spectrum of ideology in the party, say that while the group has been meeting and discussions are happening among members, the rough outline of a deal has yet to form.
Republicans may aspire to be able to use its House majority to pass the bill but will almost certainly lose some members over any legalization of DACA recipients, and could lose more moderates or conservatives depending on how a deal takes shape. For any bill to pass the Senate, it will need Democratic votes to clear the 60-vote filibuster threshold.
When Trump announced in early September he was ending DACA, Ryan created the group to attempt to gain consensus on the thorny issue. Trump urged Congress to act and protect DACA recipients, but has also called for border security and immigration enforcement with it. Sunday night, the White House released a laundry list of conservative immigration principles that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday dismissed as “trash” and coming from a place of “darkness and cruelty.”
Trump created a six-month window for Congress to act by offering DACA permits that expire before March 5 one month to renew for a fresh two years, postponing any DACA expirations until March.
On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security said it was still finalizing numbers but that at least 86% of those DACA recipients eligible to renew had applications in by the October 5 deadline. Roughly 132,000 of the 154,000 eligible recipients had applied, spokesman David Lapan said, but that could leave thousands of recipients losing protections before March.
As for the strategy of the House to pass a Republican-only bill, Carter acknowledged that there was a concern the group’s proposal couldn’t pass the Senate but said the other chamber needs “to get their work done” and he hoped both the House and Senate could hammer out a final compromise.
But Pelosi criticized the strategy when asked by CNN what she thought of Carter’s comments.
“That would not be a good idea,” Pelosi said. “Why would they go to such a place? It is really, again, another act of cruelty if they want to diminish a bill in such a way. And they still have to win in the Senate.”
California Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a longtime key House Democrat on any immigration policy, said that no serious negotiations have occurred between parties and moving forward alone would be Republicans’ prerogative but not necessarily successful.
“I like (Carter), I have no idea what they’re looking at, and if we were really having negotiations, we would be talking to each other,” Lofgren told CNN. “If they have the votes to pass something, they have the capacity to do that. How they get 60 votes in the Senate, who knows.”
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Another unilateral House GOP proposal that will be DOA in the Senate. Really, these guys don’t earn their salaries.
Stay tuned.
PWS
10-12-17

 

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

 

HON. JEFFREY S. CHASE: Alimbaev v. Att’y Gen (3rd Cir.) Shows How BIA Is Willing To Overlook Rules To Avoid Political Threat to Existence — No Wonder Due Process Is No Longer The Vision Or Goal Of The Immigraton Courts! — Read My Latest “Mini-Essay:” TIME TO END THE “CHARADE OF QUASI-JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE” AT THE BIA (With Credit to Peter Levinson)

https://www.jeffreyschase.com/blog/2017/10/5/3d-cir-rebukes-bia-for-troubling-erroneous-overreach

Here’s Jeffrey’s Blog:

“Oct 5 3d Cir. Rebukes BIA for Troubling, Erroneous Overreach

Alimbaev v. Att’y Gen. of U.S., No. 16-4313 (3d Cir. Sept. 25, 2017) opens with unusual language: “This disconcerting case, before our court for the second time, has a lengthy procedural history marked by confiict between the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and the Immigration Judge (IJ)…” The court observed that the case involved “troubling allegations that the Petitioner…relished watching terroristic videos, while apparently harboring anti-American sympathies.” But the court noted that the question before it was whether the BIA applied the correct legal standard for reviewing the IJ’s factual findings, which the court found necessary for “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.”

There is some history behind the correct legal standard mentioned by the circuit court. Prior to 2002, the BIA could review factual findings de novo, meaning it could substitute its own judgment as to whether the respondent was truthful or not for that of the immigration judge. In 2002, then attorney general John Ashcroft enacted procedural reforms which limited the scope of the Board’s review of factual findings to “clear error.” The new review standard meant that even if the Board strongly disagreed with the immigration judge’s fact finding, it could only reverse if it was left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake had been made. The stated reason for the change was that the overwhelming majority of immigration decisions were correct. The actual motive for the change was more likely that the Board was seen as too liberal by Ashcroft; the new standard would therefore make it more difficult for the Board to reverse deportation orders based on the immigration judges’ finding that the respondent lacked credibility.

The following year, Ashcroft purged the Board of all of its more liberal members. The resulting conservative lean has not been offset by subsequent appointments, in spite of the fact that several of those appointments were made under the Obama administration. The Board regularly uses boilerplate language to affirm adverse credibility findings on the grounds that they do not meet the “clearly erroneous” standard. Furthermore, 2005 legislation provided immigration judges with a broader range of bases for credibility determinations, which again made it more difficult for the Board and the circuit courts to reverse on credibility grounds.

The provisions safeguarding an IJ’s credibility finding should apply equally to cases in which relief was granted, making it difficult for a conservative panel of the Board to reverse a grant of relief where the IJ found the respondent credible. Alimbaev was decided by an outstanding immigration judge, who rendered a fair, detailed, thoughtfully considered decision. Factoring in the REAL ID Act standards and the limited scope of review allowed, the Board should have affirmed the IJ’s decision, even if its members would have reached a different factual finding themselves. Instead, the Board panel ignored all of the above to wrongly reverse the IJ not once but three times.

The immigration judge heard the case twice, granting the respondent’s applications for relief each time. In his second decision, the IJ found the respondent’s testimony to be “candid, internally consistent, generally believable, and sufficiently detailed.” In reversing, the BIA turned to nitpicking, citing two small inconsistencies that the Third Circuit termed so “insignificant…that they would probably not, standing alone, justify an IJ making a general adverse credibility finding, much less justify the BIA in rejecting a positive credibility finding under a clear error standard.” The Court therefore concluded that the BIA substituted its own view for the permissible view of the IJ, which is exactly what the “clear error” standard of review is meant to prevent.

The Board cited two other dubious reasons for reversing. One, which the circuit court described as “also troubling,” involved a false insinuation by the Board that a computer containing evidence corroborating the claim that the respondent had viewed “terrorist activity” was found in his residence. In fact, the evidence established that the computer in question was not the respondents, but one located in a communal area of an apartment in which the respondent lived; according to the record, the respondent used the communal computer only on occasion to watch the news. In a footnote, the court noted that none of the videos found on the communal computer were training materials; several originated from the recognized news source Al Jazeera, and “that on the whole, the computer did not produce any direct or causal link suggesting that [they] espoused violence, such as email messages of a questionable nature.” The circuit court therefore remanded the record back to the BIA, with clear instructions to reconsider the discretionary factors “with due deference to the IJ’s factfinding before weighing the various positive and negative factors…”

The question remains as to why the BIA got this so wrong. One possibility is that as the case involved allegations that the respondent might have harbored terrorist sympathies, the Board members let emotion and prejudice take over (apparently three separate times, over a period of several years). If that’s the case, it demonstrates that 15 years after the Ashcroft purge, the one-sided composition of the Board’s members (with no more liberal viewpoints to provide balance) has resulted in a lack of objectivity and impartiality in its decision making. Unfortunately, the appointment of more diverse Board members seems extremely unlikely to happen under the present administration.

But I believe there is another possibility as well. 15 years later, the Board remains very cognizant of the purge and its causes. It is plausible that the Board made a determination that as a matter of self-preservation, it is preferable to be legally wrong than to be perceived as being “soft on terrorism.” If that is the case, there is no stronger argument of the need for an independent immigration court that would not be subject to the type of political pressures that would impact impartiality and fairness.

It also bears mention that unlike the Board, the immigration judge in this case faced the same pressures, yet did not let them prevent him from issuing an impartial, fair, and ultimately correct decision (in spite of having his first decision vacated and remanded by the Board). Unlike the BIA, whose members review decisions that have been drafted for them in a suburban office tower, immigration judges are on the front lines, addressing crippling case loads, being sent on short notice to remote border locations, and dealing with DHS attorneys who now, on orders from Washington, cannot exercise prosecutorial discretion, must raise unnecessary objections, reserve appeal on grants of relief, and oppose termination in deserving cases. Yet many of these judges continue to issue their decisions with impartiality and fairness. Their higher-ups in the Department of Justice should learn from their performance the true meaning of the “rule of law.”

Copyright 2017 Jeffrey S. Chase. All rights reserved.”

Reprinted With Permisison

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Here’s a link to my previously-published analysis of Alimbaev: http://wp.me/p8eeJm-1tX

 

TIME TO END THE “CHARADE OF QUASI-JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE” AT THE BIA (With Credit to Peter Levinson)

By Paul Wickham Schmidt

United States Immigration Judge (Retired)

The “grand experiment” of trying to have the BIA operate as an independent appellate court along the lines of a U.S. Court of Appeals ended with the advent of the Bush II Administration in 2001 and Ashcroft’s not too subtle suggestion that he wanted me out as BIA Chairman (presumably, the ”implied threat” was to transfer me to an SES “Hallwalker” position elsewhere in the DOJ if I didn’t cooperate. I cooperated and became a Board Member until he bounced me out of that job in 2003).

Since then, and particularly since the “final purge” in 2003, the BIA has operated as a “captive court” exhibiting a keen awareness of the “political climate” at the DOJ. Don’t rock the boat, avoid dissent, don’t focus too much on fairness or due process for immigrants, particularly if it might cause controversy, interfere with Administration Enforcement programs, or show up in a published precedent.

I agree with everything Jeffrey says. It’s totally demoralizing for U.S. Immigration Judges who are willing to “do the right thing” and stand up for due process and fairness for respondents when the BIA comes back with a disingenuous reversal, sometimes using canned language that doesn’t even have much to do with the actual case.

You should have seen the reaction of some of our former Judicial Law Clerks in Arlington (a bright bunch, without exception, who hadn’t been steeped in the “EOIR mystique”) when a specious reversal of an asylum, withholding, or CAT grant came back from the BIA, often “blowing away” a meticulously detailed well-analyzed written grant with shallow platitudes. One of them told me that once you figured out what panel it had gone to, you could pretty much predict the result. It had more to do with the personal philosophies of the Appellate Judges than it did with the law or due process or even the actual facts of the case. And, of course, nobody was left on the BIA to dissent.

And, as I have pointed out before, both the Bush and Obama Administrations went to great lengths to insure that no “boat rockers,” “independent thinkers” or “outside experts” were appointed to appellate judgeships at the BIA for the past 17 years. Just another obvious reason why the promise of impartiality, fairness, and due process from the U.S. Immigration Courts has been abandoned and replaced with a “mission oriented” emphasis on fulfilling Administration Enforcement objectives. In other words, insuring that a party in interest, the DHS, won’t have its credibility or policies unduly hampered by a truly independent Board and that the Office of Immigration Litigation will get the positions that it wants to defend in the Circuit Courts.

When is the last time you saw the BIA prefer the respondent’s interpretation to the DHS’s in interpreting an allegedly “ambiguous” statutory provision under the Chevron doctrine? Even in cases where the respondent invokes “heavy duty assistance” on its side, like for example the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in an asylum case, the BIA basically “blows them off” without meaningful consideration and finds the DHS position to be the “most reasonable.” For one of the most egregious examples in modern BIA history, see the insulting “short shrift” that the BIA gave to the well-articulated views of the UNHCR (who also had some Circuit Court law on its side) in Matter of  M-E-V-G-, 26 I&N Dec. 207, 248-49 (BIA 2014) (“We believe that our interpretation in Matter of S-E-G- and Matter of E-A-G-, as clarified, more accurately captures the concepts underlying the United States’ obligations under the Protocol and will ensure greater consistency in the interpretation of asylum claims under the Act.”)

The whole Chevron/Brand X concept is a joke, particularly as applied to the BIA. It’s high time for the Supremes to abandon it (something in which Justice Gorsuch showed some interest when he was on the 10th Circuit). If we’re going to have a politicized interpretation, better have it be from life-tenured, Presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed Article III Judges, who notwithstanding politics actually possess decisional independence, than from an administrative judge who is an employee of the Attorney General (as the DOJ always likes to remind Immigration Judges).

It’s also a powerful argument why the current “expensive charade” of an independent Immigration Court needs to be replaced by a truly independent Article I Court. Until that happens, the Article III Courts will be faced with more and more “life or death” decisions based on the prevailing political winds and institutional preservation rather than on Due Process and the rule of law.

PWS

10-05-17

THE HILL: N. Rappaport Says DHS Search Of Social Media Is Likely Legal

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/353479-homeland-securitys-social-media-searches-dont-actually-violate-privacy

Nolan writes:

“Homeland Security searching some social media doesn’t violate privacy

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has posted a new rule on the Federal Register which authorizes adding information from an alien’s social media sites to the files that are kept in his/her official immigration records, such as “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results.”

The official immigration records are known as “A-Files.”

The social media sites will be searched for information which pertains to granting aliens a visa or some other type of immigration benefit, and this almost certainly will lead to social media searches of the American citizens and lawful permanent residents who sponsor them.

For instance, if a citizen files a visa petition to accord immediate relative status to his alien spouse, and information on the spouse’s Facebook site indicates that the marriage is a sham, DHS will search the citizen petitioner’s Facebook site for additional information to assist in determining whether the marriage really is a sham.
But the most important reason is to identify terrorists, and this is the reason that prompted 26 senators to ask DHS to search social media sites after the San Bernardino terrorist attack.

. . . .

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU have filed a lawsuit to stop DHS from searching mobile electronic devices at the border in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I expect them to challenge social media checks on the same basis.

The Fourth Amendment states that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” But this only applies to situations where an individual has “a reasonable expectation of privacy,” which is not an easy concept to apply to social media information.

In any case, there is no expectation of privacy in immigration processes. Most, and perhaps all, of the persons involved in immigration processes have to authorize DHS to investigate them and the information they provide.

For instance, an American citizen or lawful permanent resident who files a visa petition for a relative has to fill out a Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, which requires extensive information about the petitioner, his/her spouse, and his/her parents. It requires similar information about the alien who is the beneficiary of the petition.

The petitioner also has to authorize the release of information that is needed for the adjudication of the petition, or that is “necessary for the administration and enforcement of U.S. immigration laws.”

The Form DS-160 Application for a Nonimmigrant Visa requires even more information, and it should be apparent to aliens applying for a visa that they are subject to background investigations.

I am not convinced, therefore, that social media searches violate privacy rights, and the San Bernardino terrorist attack has shown that information on social media sites can help DHS to identify terrorists before they strike.

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

Go over to The Hill at the link to read Nolan’s complete analysis.

I guess the message here is that if you want privacy, stay off of social media. Otherwise, user beware!

PWS

10-02-17

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

 

TAL KOPAN IN CNN: HUMAN RIGHTS TRAVESTY — According To U.S. State Department’s Info, Sudan Remains One Of The Most Dangerous And Violent Countries In The World — But, Reality Isn’t Stopping The Trump Administration From Ending TPS Protection! -“I mean look what’s going on in Sudan,” [Rep. Zoe] Lofgren [D-CA] said. “If that is a wise decision, what’s an unwise one?”

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/18/politics/sudan-tps-decision-dhs/index.html

Tal writes:

“Washington (CNN)The Trump administration on Monday announced an end to protections for Sudanese immigrants, a move that advocates fear could be a sign of things to come.

The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday afternoon that it would be ending Temporary Protected Status for Sudan after a 12-month sunset period. It opted to extend, however, Temporary Protected Status for South Sudan, which gained its independence in 2011, through May 2019.
The decision was overdue. By law, decisions on TPS designations are required 60 days before an expiration deadline. With both countries’ status set to expire on November 2, the decision was due September 3. DHS said it made a decision in time, but kept it quiet for more than two weeks and did not respond to requests for an explanation.
While the decision on the future of Temporary Protected Status for Sudanese and South Sudanese immigrants only affects just over 1,000 people in the US, the decision is being closely watched as a harbinger of where the administration will go on upcoming TPS decisions that affect more than 400,000 people in the US.
Under Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke’s direction on Monday, recipients of protections from Sudan will be allowed to remain protected from deportation and allowed to work under the program until November 2, 2018, during which they are expected to arrange for their departure or seek another immigration status that would allow them to remain in the US.
Individuals from South Sudan will be able to extend their status until May 2, 2019, when DHS will make another decision on their future based on conditions in the country.
According to USCIS data, at the end of 2016 there were 1,039 temporarily protected immigrants from Sudan in the United States and 49 from South Sudan.
Temporary Protected Status is a type of immigration status provided for by law in cases where a home country may not be hospitable to returning immigrants for temporary circumstances, including in instances of war, epidemic and natural disaster.
While DHS did not explain the delay in publicizing the decision, which the agency confirmed last week was made on time, the law only requires “timely” publication of a TPS determination. The decision was made as the administration was preparing to announce the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, a popular program that has protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation since 2012.

Some of the affected individuals have been living in the US for 20 years. TPS is not a blanket protection — immigrants have to have been living in the US continuously since a country was “designated” for TPS in order to qualify.

For example, Sudan was first designated in 1997 and was re-designated in 1999, 2004 and 2013, meaning people had opportunities to apply if they’ve been living in the US since any of those dates. South Sudan’s TPS was established in 2011 and had re-designations in 2014 and 2016.
Both countries were designated for TPS based on “ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions.”

The situation in Sudan has improved in recent years, but there are still concerns about its stability and human rights record. In January, outgoing President Barack Obama eased sanctions on Sudan but made some moves contingent upon further review. President Donald Trump has extended that review period. South Sudan, meanwhile, remains torn by conflict.

Advocates for TPS have expressed fear that if the administration were to begin to unwind the programs, it could be a sign of further decisions to come. In the next six months, roughly 400,000 immigrants’ status will be up for consideration, including Central American countries like El Salvador that have been a focus of the Presidents’ ire over illegal immigration and gang activity.
close dialog

California Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the top Democrat on the immigration subcommittee for the House Judiciary Committee, said in an interview before the decision that ending Sudan’s protections could be a sign of more to come.

“I mean look what’s going on in Sudan,” Lofgren said. “If that is a wise decision, what’s an unwise one?”

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

Let’s take a closer look at some of those supposedly “improved conditions,” using the Government’s own information, the U.S. Department of State’s latest (2016) Country Report on Human Rights Conditions for Sudan:

“The three most significant human rights problems were inability of citizens to choose their government, aerial bombardments of civilian areas by military forces and attacks on civilians by government and other armed groups in conflict zones, and abuses perpetrated by NISS with impunity through special security powers given it by the regime. On January 14, the government launched an intensive aerial and ground offensive against Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW) strongholds in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur. This operation displaced more than 44,700 persons by January 31, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In February the government established in Darfur a suboffice of the National Human Rights Commission to enhance the commission’s capacity to monitor human rights in Darfur. Meanwhile, ground forces comprising Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and Border Guards carried out attacks against more than 50 villages in an attempt to dislodge the armed opposition. Attacks on villages often included killing and beating of civilians; sexual and gender-based violence; forced displacement; looting and burning entire villages; destroying food stores and other infrastructure necessary for sustaining life; and attacks on humanitarian targets, including humanitarian facilities and peacekeepers. In September, Amnesty International issued a report alleging that, through September the government engaged in scorched-earth tactics and used chemical weapons in Jebel Marra, Darfur. UN monitors were unable to verify the alleged use of chemical weapons, due in part to lack of access to Jebel Marra, including by rebel commanders loyal to Abdel Wahid. By year’s end the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had not been presented with sufficient corroborating evidence to conclude chemical weapons had been used. The NISS continued to show a pattern of widespread disregard for rule of law, committing major abuses, such as extrajudicial and other unlawful killings; torture, beatings, rape and other cruel or inhuman treatment or punishment; arbitrary arrest and detention by security forces; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; incommunicado detention; prolonged pretrial detention; obstruction of humanitarian assistance; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly,association, religion, and movement; and intimidation and closure of human rights and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Societal abuses included discrimination against women; sexual violence; female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C); early childhood marriage; use of child soldiers; child abuse; sexual exploitation of children; trafficking in persons; discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, persons with disabilities, and persons with HIV/AIDS; denial of workers’ rights; and child labor. Government authorities did not investigate human rights violations by NISS, the military or any other branch of the security services, with limited exceptions relating to the national police. The government failed to adequately compensate families of victims of shootings during the September 2013 protests, make its investigations public, or hold security officials accountable. Impunity remained a problem in all branches of the security forces.

. . . .

The 2005 Interim National Constitution prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, but security forces, government-aligned groups, rebel groups, and ethnic factions continued to torture, beat, and harass suspected political opponents, rebel supporters, and others. In accordance with the government’s interpretation of sharia (Islamic law), the penal code provides for physical punishments, including flogging, amputation, stoning, and the public display of a body after execution, despite the constitution’s prohibitions. With the exception of flogging, such physical punishment was rare. Courts routinely imposed flogging, especially as punishment for the production or consumption of alcohol. The law requires police and the attorney general to investigate deaths on police premises, regardless of suspected cause. Reports of suspicious deaths in police custody were sometimes investigated but not prosecuted. For example, in November authorities detained a man upon his return from Israel. He died while in custody, allegedly from falling out a window, although the building had sealed windows. The president called on the chief prosecutor and chief justice to ensure full legal protection of police carrying out their duties and stated that police should investigate police officers only when they were observed exceeding their authority. Government security forces (including police, NISS, and military intelligence personnel of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF)) beat and tortured physically and psychologically persons in detention, including members of the political opposition, civil society, religious activists, and journalists, according to civil society activists in Khartoum, former detainees, and NGOs. Torture and other forms of mistreatment included prolonged isolation, exposure to extreme temperature variations, electric shock, and use of stress positions. Some female detainees alleged NISS harassed and sexually assaulted them. Some former detainees reported being injected with an unknown substance without their consent. Many former detainees, including detained students, reported being forced to take sedatives that caused lethargy and severe weight loss. The government subsequently released many of these persons without charge. Government authorities detained members of the Darfur Students Association during the year. Upon release, numerous students showed visible signs of severe physical abuse. Government forces reportedly used live bullets to disperse crowds of protesting Darfuri students. There were numerous reports of violence against student activists’ family members.

Security forces detained political opponents incommunicado, without charge, and tortured them. Some political detainees were held in isolation cells in regular prisons, and many were held without access to family or medical treatment. Human rights organizations asserted NISS ran “ghost houses,” where it detained opposition and human rights figures without acknowledging they were being held. Such detentions at times were prolonged. Journalists were beaten, threatened, and intimidated (see section 2.a.). The law prohibits (what it deems as) indecent dress and punishes it with a maximum of 40 lashes, a fine, or both. Officials acknowledged authorities applied these laws more frequently against women than men and applied them to both Muslims and non-Muslims. Courts denied some women bail, although by law they may have been eligible. There were numerous abuses reported similar to the following example: On June 25, the Public Order Police arrested several young women and men in Khartoum under the Public Order Act for “indecent dress.” During the sweep, all women who did not have their hair covered were taken into custody. The Public Order Police further arrested two young men for wearing shorts. According to NGO reports, the Public Order Police released the young women and men later the same day without charges.

Security forces, rebel groups, and armed individuals perpetrated sexual violence against women throughout the country; the abuse was especially prevalent in the conflict areas (see section 1.g.). As of year’s end, no investigations into the allegations of mass rape in Thabit, Darfur, had taken place (see section 6).”

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

What I’ve set forth above is just a small sample of some of the “lowlights.” Virtually every paragraph of the Country Report is rife with descriptions of or references to gross abuses of Human Rights.

Clearly, these are not the type of “improved country conditions” that would justify the termination of TPS for Sudan. Moreover, since it affects only 1,000 individuals, there are no overriding policy or practical reasons driving the decision.

No, the Administration’s totally disingenuous decision is just another example of wanton cruelty, denial of established facts, and stupidity.  Clearly, this is an Administration that puts Human Rights last, if at all.

As pointed out by Nolan Rappaport in a a recent post, the best solution here is a legislative solution that would provide green cards to long-time “TPSers” through the existing statutory device of “registry.” With some lead time to work on this, hopefully Lofgren can convince enough of her colleagues to make it happen.

Here’s a link to Nolan’s proposal:

http://immigrationcourtside.com/2017/09/14/the-hill-n-rappaport-suggests-legislative-solutions-for-long-term-tpsers/

PWS

09-19-17

 

THE HILL: N. RAPPAPORT SUGGESTS LEGISLATIVE SOLUTIONS FOR LONG-TERM “TPSers!”

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/350668-with-dreamers-out-bring-immigrants-under-temporary-protection-status-in

Nolan writes:

“The Temporary Protected Status program (TPS) provides refuge in the United States to more than 300,000 aliens from a total of 13 countries: El Salvador, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

They are supposed to leave when it is safe for them to return to their own countries, but it can take many years for conditions in their countries to improve. The need for TPS can last for decades.

It does not include a path to permanent resident status, but should aliens who have lived in the United States for decades be required to leave when their TPS is terminated?

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) says that at some point they have been here so long that they should be allowed to remain permanently: “There should be some rational way to transition people who have been here for a long time … who because of the length of their stay have basically become valued members of our community.”

. . . .

An alien is free to apply for other types of immigration status while he has TPS.

So, should congress make permanent resident status available to TPS aliens when conditions in their countries keep them here an exceptionally long time?

I agree with Lofgren that at some point, TPS aliens have been living here so long that it no longer makes sense to send them back to their own countries.

The best solution would be to change the TPS provisions to make some form of permanent status available when aliens are forced to remain for exceptionally long times because conditions in their countries do not improve, but that might not be possible.

One of the TPS provisions imposes a limitation on consideration in the Senate of legislation to adjust the status of aliens who have TPS. It provides that it shall not be in order in the Senate to consider any bill or amendment that provides for adjustment to lawful temporary or permanent resident status for TPS aliens, or has the effect of amending the TPS provisions in any other way.

This restriction can be waived or suspended with an affirmative vote from three-fifths of the senators, which is known as a “supermajority vote.”

But there is an alternative that would not require changing the TPS provisions.

The Registry legalization program, which was established in 1929, makes lawful permanent resident status available to qualified aliens who entered the United States before January 1, 1972; have resided in the United States continuously since such entry; and have good moral character.

An update of the registry cutoff point is long overdue. It has not been changed since it was set at 1972, by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA).

The change would apply to all undocumented aliens who can meet the eligibility requirements.”

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

Read Nolan’s complete article, which contains a very succinct and helpful explanation of TPS which I omitted above, over at The Hill.

I think that Nolan has hit it on the head here! There is virtue in using existing administrative processes to deal with new issues. And, as he points out, “Registry” is there for the taking, and it’s been 30 years since it was updated!

Recollection: Understandably, we didn’t see very many “Registry” cases during my tenure at the Arlington Immigration Court (2003-16). But the rare ones we did receive always received “waivers” of the “no business at lunch rule” because they always involved such interesting human stories. I never came across one myself. But, I think that my colleagues who did always felt like they had discovered a “nugget of gold” in the least expected place! It would also help the Immigration Courts because most of the Registry cases (like the TPS cases) could be adjudicated over at USCIS, thereby reducing “docket pressure.” Bring back Registry! Yea Nolan!

PWS

09-14-17

BREAKING: CAN WE BELIEVE THIS? — NBC Reports That Trump & Dems Cut Deal To Save Dreamers Over Dinner!!!

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/politics/Ryan-Deporting-Young-Immigrants-Not-in-Nations-Interest-444252723.html

Jill Colvin reports:

“President Donald Trump told lawmakers Wednesday that he’s open to signing legislation protecting thousands of young immigrants from deportation even if the bill does not include funding for his promised border wall. But Trump remains committed to building a barrier along the U.S.-Mexican border, even if Democrats say it’s a non-starter.
Trump had dinner with Sen. Chuck Schumer and top Democrat Nancy Pelosi Wednesday night, and they reached a deal on DACA, according to a joint statement by the democrats.
“We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides,” the statement read.
Trump, who was deeply disappointed by Republicans’ failure to pass a health care overhaul, infuriated many in his party when he reached a three-month deal with Sen. Schumer and House Democratic Leader Pelosi to raise the debt ceiling, keep the government running and speed relief to states affected by recent hurricanes.

Trump ended the program earlier this month and has given Congress six months to come up with a legislative fix before the so-called “Dreamers'” statuses begin to expire.
“We don’t want to forget DACA,” Trump told the members at the meeting. “We want to see if we can do something in a bipartisan fashion so that we can solve the DACA problem and other immigration problems.”
As part of that effort, Trump said he would not insist on tying extending DACA protections to wall funding, as long as a final bill included “some sort of border security,” said Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas, who attended the meeting.

“He said, ‘We don’t have to have the wall on this bill,'” recalled Cuellar. “He said: ‘We can put that somewhere else, like appropriations or somewhere.’ But that was very significant because a lot of us don’t want to tie DACA and the wall. We’re not going to split the baby on that one. So he himself said, ‘We’re not going to put the wall tied into this.'”
Trump has made a sudden pivot to bipartisanship after months of railing against Democrats as “obstructionist.” He has urged them to join him in overhauling the nation’s tax code, among other priorities.
“More and more we’re trying to work things out together,” Trump explained Wednesday, calling the development a “positive thing” for both parties.

“If you look at some of the greatest legislation ever passed, it was done on a bipartisan manner. And so that’s what we’re going to give a shot,” he said.
The “Kumbaya” moment appeared to extend to the thorny issue of immigration, which has been vexing lawmakers for years. Funding for Trump’s promised wall had been thought to be a major point of contention between Republicans and Democrats as they attempted to forge a deal.
Democrats have been adamant in their opposition to the wall, but both Pelosi and a top White House staffer indicated Tuesday that they were open to a compromise on border security to expedite DACA legislation.

White House legislative director Marc Short said during a breakfast that, while the president remained committed to the wall, funding for it did not necessarily need to be linked directly to the “Dreamers” issue. “I don’t want us to bind ourselves into a construct that makes reaching a conclusion on DACA impossible,” he said.”

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

I have to admit that I’m stunned by this swing of the pendulum. But, I’m pleased and relieved for the great Dreamers if it works. The Devil is often in the details, particularly with immigration.

On this occasion, I’ll have to agree with the President that bipartisan legislation putting the best interests of the country first is a good thing, and a smart way for the President to get credit for some legislative achievements.

We’ll have to see what happens, But, it’s nice to end the day on a more optimistic note.

PWS

09-13-17

UPDATE:

The Devil is indeed in the details!  According to this more recent article from Sophie Tatum at CNN (forwarded by my friend and fellow insomniac Nolan Rappaport) the “deal” is far from done and the White House version of  the meeting is not the same as the Schumer-Pelosi statement:

“White House press secretary Sarah Sanders immediately pushed back on the idea the wall would be dropped.
“While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to,” Sanders said.
White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short confirmed that the President and Democrats agreed to work to find a legislative fix for DACA, but he called Democrats’ claim of a deal that would exclude wall funding “intentionally misleading.”

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/13/politics/chuck-schumer-nancy-pelosi-donald-trump/index.html

Stay tuned!

PWS

09-14-17

 

 

 

THE HILL: Rappaport Says: “Trump ended DACA in the most humane way possible!” –Hector Barreto, Chairman of The Latino Coalition Agrees!

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/349566-trump-ended-daca-in-the-most-humane-way-possible

Nolan writes:

“Former President Barack Obama established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program five years ago with an executive order that granted temporary lawful status and work authorization to certain undocumented immigrants who had been brought to the United States as children.

This was not a good idea. It only provided temporary relief and applicants had to admit alienage, concede unlawful presence, and provide their addresses to establish eligibility for the program, which has made it very easy to find them and rush them through removal proceedings.

Instead of giving false hope to the young immigrants who participated in the program and heightening their risk of deportation, Obama should have worked on getting legislation passed that would have given them real lawful status and put them on a path to citizenship. Such bills are referred to as DREAM Acts, an acronym for “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act.”

That still is the only option that makes any sense.

. . . .

DACA advocates need to put aside any anger they have over the rescission of DACA and work on getting a DREAM Act passed.

DREAM Acts have been pending in Congress since 2001, and we are yet to see one enacted.  This is what led Obama to establish the DACA program administratively.

A new approach is needed. One possibility would be to base eligibility on national interest instead of on a desire to help as many undocumented immigrants as possible, which is the approach taken by the recently introduced American Hope Act, H.R. 3591. It might more appropriately have been named, “The False Hope Act.”

The solution is to find a way to help immigrants who were brought here as children that would be acceptable to both parties.”

In a separate blog over on CNBC, Hector Barreto, Chairman of the Latino Coalition echoed Nolan:

https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2017/09/06/on-daca-trump-did-the-right-thing-commentary.html

“The winding down of DACA is the perfect time for Congress to develop effective, compassionate policy on immigration – something most Americans strongly agree we need. The best reforms will be developed through the legislative process, not executive orders – and that’s something else both sides can agree on.

In the meantime, leaders should stay away from inflammatory language and fear mongering. Mass deportations will not happen – it is simply not logistically possible, and it is not what the Trump Administration has called for. It is worth noting how Attorney General Sessions described the government’s next steps:

The Department of Justice has advised the President and the Department of Homeland Security that DHS should begin an orderly, lawful wind down, including the cancellation of the memo that authorized this program. … This [wind down process] will enable DHS to conduct an orderly change and fulfill the desire of this administration to create a time period for Congress to act—should it so choose. We firmly believe this is the responsible path.

Sessions’ words about a “wind down” were rational and calm, indicating an approach that is not drastic or dramatic, not gratuitously painful or overly political. The end of DACA and the beginning of lawful immigration reform can, and should, be handled with this level of maturity and respect – for dreamers for American citizens, and for our nation’s tradition of the rule of law.

PLAY VIDEO

Demonstrators hold signs during a protest in front of the White House after the Trump administration today scrapped the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that protects from deportation almost 800,000 young men and women who were brought into the U.S. illegally as children, in Washington, U.S., September 5, 2017.

There are no easy or simple answers on immigration, and it’s okay for our leaders to acknowledge that fact. I believe they can find legislative solutions that strengthen America, recognize our proud immigrant tradition, keep the economy strong, and keep our citizens safe and our borders secure. The core elements of President George W. Bush’s immigration reform proposals, for example, met those goals through effective border security, a functioning and humane guest worker program, and a pathway to earned legal status for the undocumented. Given the six-month time frame Congress will have before DACA ends, they would do well to start their work with Bush’s already well-developed proposal.

President Trump even Tweeted on Tuesday that he would revisit the issue if Congress cannot act.”

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

Read Nolan’s and Hector’s blogs at their respective links above.

I agree with Nolan’s “bottom line:”

“The solution is to find a way to help immigrants who were brought here as children that would be acceptable to both parties.”

PWS

09-05-17

 

 

THE HILL: RAPPAPORT ON TEXAS INJUNCTION OF PARTS OF SB 4 — City of El Cenizo v. State of Texas

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/349103-texas-courts-pro-sanctuary-cities-decision-can-cripple

Nolan writes:

“At the end of August, a federal district court in Texas ruled against that state, halting an immigration enforcement law shortly before it was to go into effect.

The court issued a preliminary (temporary) injunction to halt the implementation of five allegedly unconstitutional provisions in Texas’ anti-sanctuary city law, Senate Bill 4 (SB 4), including one that would require law enforcement agencies in Texas to “comply with, honor, and fulfill” any immigration detainer issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

This means that the court found a substantial likelihood that the plaintiffs (in this case, the parties opposing the state of Texas) will succeed in establishing that those provisions are unconstitutional when a decision is rendered on the merits of the case.

If the decision on ICE detainers is correct, which seems to be the case, it could cripple ICE’s ability to prevent removable criminal aliens from absconding when they are released from custody by state and local law enforcement agencies.

. . . .

When Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed SB 4 into law, he said that denying detainer requests can have deadly consequences.  This is illustrated by the case of Kate Steinle, who was shot dead by a criminal alien while she was walking with her father on a busy pier in San Francisco.

The alien was a repeat felon who had been deported five times, but the police department that had been holding him released him in disregard of a detainer request because San Francisco is a sanctuary city that does not honor detainer requests.

Preventing the use of detainers could have unintended consequences. If other federal courts agree with the decision’s disposition of the detainer issue; state and local police in every part of the country may have to stop honoring detainer requests, and ICE could use the time that would have been spent following up on detainers to go after noncriminal aliens.

ICE can encourage state and local police departments to participate in the federal 287(g) Program, which allows participants to enter into a partnership with ICE on the basis of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). They would receive training on immigration enforcement and delegated immigration authority, which includes the option of being able to detain aliens on the basis of detainers.

But ICE does not have the resources to train and supervise police in all of the state and local law enforcement agencies in the country.

The only solution is for Congress to grant state and local police the authority to detain aliens on the basis of an ICE detainer.”

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

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

I agree with Nolan that the Chief District Judge Orlando L. Garcia’s analysis of SB 4’s constitutional infirmities appears to be correct. I also agree that rationale should eventually require DHS to change its detainer policy nationwide to meet constitutional standards.

That means that a battery of DHS and DOJ attorneys, of which there is no shortage, will have to work with the enforcement branches to come up with effective enforcement methods that comply with our Constitution. Stuff like that happens all the time. That’s why the Government needs good lawyers.

I don’t agree with Nolan that the only way for DHS to function is for Congress to pass legislation turning untrained local cops into immigration officers for the purpose of honoring detainers. Seems like you end up with the same problem, just “dressed up” differently.

I spent over a decade working for the Legacy INS on immigration enforcement matters. Nobody ever doubted that immigration officers could effectively carry out their duties 1) in full compliance with the U.S. Constitution, and 2) without relying on state and local officials. Indeed, the “mantra” of INS Enforcement in those days was “we’re the immigration pros, leave enforcement to us.” I guess times must have changed; but not that much. And, the Fourth Amendment hasn’t changed at all.

I also don’t buy the claim that Abbott was interested in protecting Texans from dangerous crime. No, this was about a White Nationalist agenda designed to put down minorities, particularly in the Latino community, and prevent them from getting their fair share of political power. That’s why, although Latinos make up a large proportion of Texas’s population, Latino leaders generally opposed the GOP’s and Abbott’s racially divisive action.

A bill really aimed at protecting all Texans, regardless of ethnicity or status, from violent crime would have received support from about 98% of residents (who really wants to be a victim of violent crime — almost nobody, as the BIA has observed on a number of occasions) including the overwhelming number  of Latinos. That it didn’t, and that a majority-Latino jurisdiction like El Cenizo is the lead plaintiff opposing the bill says all you need to know about the SB 4’s White Nationalist intent.

There will come a day when the Abbotts, Paxtons, and other denizens of the Texas White GOP will have to share power equitably with Latino and other minority Texans. When that happens, they can only hope that Latino leaders and politicians will have short memories, forgive the racism of the past, and move on to the future treating them with greater respect and consideration than they deserve based on their recent “sharp stick in the eyes” words and actions.

Until that happens — well, as I’ve said before, lots of work for lawyers and judges.

PWS

09-04-17

U.S. IMMIGRATION COURTS: Judge Lawrence O. “Burmanator” Burman (SOLELY In His NAIJ Officer Capacity) Gives Rare Peek Inside U.S. Immigration Courts’ Disaster Zone From A Sitting Trial Judge Who “Tells It Like It Is!”

Judge Burman appeared at a panel discussion at the Center for Immigration Studies (“CIS”). CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian; Hon. Andrew Arthur, former U.S. Immigration Judge and CIS Resident Fellow; and former DOJ Civil Rights Division Official Hans von Spakovsky, currently Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation were also on the panel entitled “Immigration Court Backlog Causes and Solutions” held at the National Press Club on Aug. 24, 2017.  Here’s a complete transcript furnished by CIS (with thanks to Nolan Rappaport who forwarded it to me).

Here’s the “meat” of Judge Burman’s remarks:

“First, the disclaimer, which is important so I don’t get fired. I’m speaking for the National Association of Immigration Judges, of which I am an elected officer. My opinions expressed will be my own opinions, informed by many discussions with our members in all parts of the country. I am not speaking on behalf of the Department of Justice, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the chief judge, or anybody else in the government. That’s important.

What is the NAIJ, the National Association of Immigration Judges? We’re a strictly nonpartisan organization whose focus is fairness, due process, transparency for the public, and judicial independence. We’re opposed to interference by parties of both administrations with the proper and efficient administration of justice. We’ve had just as much trouble with Republican administrations as Democratic administrations.

It’s been my experience that the people at the top really don’t understand what we do, and consequently the decisions they make are not helpful. For example, the – well, let me backtrack a little bit and talk about our organization.

Immigration judges are the – are the basic trial judges that hear the cases. Above us is the Board of Immigration Appeals, who function as if they were an appellate court. We, since 1996, have been clearly designated as judges by Congress. We are in the statute. We have prescribed jurisdiction and powers. Congress even gave us contempt authority to be able to enforce our decisions. Unfortunately, no administration has seen fit to actually give us the contempt authority. They’ve never done the regulations. But it’s in the statute.

The Board of Immigration Appeals is not in the statute. It has no legal existence, really. It’s essentially an emanation of the attorney general’s limitless discretion over immigration law. The members of the Board of – Board of Immigration Appeals are – in some cases they’ve got some experience. Generally, they don’t have very much. They’re a combination of people who are well-respected in other parts of the Department of Justice and deserve a well-paid position. Very often they’re staff attorneys who have basically moved up to become board members, skipping the immigration judge process. Very few immigration judges have ever been made board members, and none of them were made board members because they had been immigration judges. If they were, it was largely a coincidence.

The administration of the Executive Office for Immigration Review in which we and the BIA are housed is basically an administrative agency. We are judges, but we don’t have a court. We operate in an administrative agency that’s a lot closer to the Department of Motor Vehicles than it is to a district court or even a bankruptcy court, an Article I type court.

Our supervisors – I’m not sure why judges need supervisors, but our supervisors are called assistant chief immigration judges. Some of them have some experience. Some of them have no experience not only as judges, but really as attorneys. They were staff attorneys working in the bowels of EOIR, and gradually became temporary board members, and then permanent board members.

Interestingly, when a Court of Appeals panel is short a judge, they bring up a district judge. EOIR used to do that, by bringing up an immigration judge to fill out a panel at the board. They don’t do that anymore. They appoint their staff attorneys as temporary board members, a fact that is very shocking when we tell it to federal judges. They can’t imagine that a panel would be one member short and they’d put their law clerk on the panel, but that’s what goes on.

The top three judges until recently – the chief judge and the two primary deputies – had no courtroom experience that I’m aware of. Two of them have gone on. Unfortunately, one of them has gone on to be a BIA member. The other retired.

Our direct supervisors are the assistant chief immigration judges. Some are in headquarters, and they generally have very little experience. Others are in the field, and they do have some experience – although, for example, the last two ACIJs – assistant chief immigration judges – who were appointed became judges in 2016. So they don’t have vast experience. Well, they may be fine people with other forms of experience, but this agency is not run by experienced judges, and I think it’s important to understand that.

There’s a severe misallocation of resources within EOIR. I think Congress probably has given us plenty of money, but we misuse it. In the past administration, the number of senior executive service – SES – officials has doubled. Maybe they needed some more administrative depth, although I doubt it. The assistant chief immigration judges are proliferating. I think there’s 22 of them now. These are people who may do some cases. Some of them do no cases. They generally don’t really move the ball when it comes to adjudicating cases. Somehow, the federal courts are able to function without all of these intermediaries and supervisory judges, and I think that we would function better without them as well.

To give you a few examples – I could give you thousands of examples, and if you want to stick around I’ll be happy to talk about it. Art was talking about the juvenile surge. I think it was approximately 50,000 juveniles came across the border. To appear to be tough, I guess, they were prioritized. The official line is, you know, we’re going to give them their asylum hearings immediately. I’m not sure what kind of asylum case that a 6-year-old might have, but we would hear the case and do it quickly, and then discourage people from coming to our country. But, in fact, what’s actually happened is the juvenile docket is basically a meet-and-greet. The judges are not – first of all, I’m not allowed to be a juvenile judge. The juvenile judges are carefully selected for people who get along well with children, I guess. (Laughter.) Really, what they do is they just – they see the kids periodically, and in the meantime the children are filing their asylum cases with the asylum office, where they’re applying for special immigrant juvenile status, various things. But judge time is being wasted on that.

Another example is the current surge. I have a really busy docket. Art was talking about cases being scheduled in 2021. The backlog for me is infinite. I cannot give you a merits hearing on my docket unless I take another case off. My docket is full through 2020, and I was instructed by my assistant chief immigration judge not to set any cases past 2020. So they’re just piling up in the ether somewhere.

As busy as I am, they send me to the border, but these border details are politically oriented. First of all, we probably could be doing them by tele-video. But assuming that they want to do them in person, you would think that they would only send the number of judges that are really needed. But, in fact, on my last detail of 10 business days, two-week detail, two days I had no cases scheduled at all. And back home having two cases off the docket, which almost never happens – or two days off the docket, which almost never happens, would be useful because I could work on motions and decisions. But when I’m in Jena, Louisiana, I can’t really work on my regular stuff. So I’m just reading email and hanging out there.

The reason for that is because there’s been no attempt to comply with the attorney general’s request that we rush judges to the border with, at the same time, making sure that there’s enough work or not to send more judges than is really necessary to do the work. I assume the people that run our agency just want to make the attorney general happy, and they send as many judges to the border as possible.

One particularly bizarre example was in San Antonio. The San Antonio judges were doing a detail to one of the outlying detention facilities by tele-video. But they wanted to rush judges to the border, so they assigned a bunch of judges in the country that had their own dockets to take over that docket by tele-video on one week’s notice. Well, one week’s notice meant that the judges in San Antonio couldn’t reset cases. You’ve got to give at least 10 days’ notice of a hearing by regulation. So we had judges taken away from their regular dockets to do that; judges who normally would have done that who already were on the border – San Antonio is pretty closer to the border – didn’t have anything to do.

Now, those may be extreme cases, but this happens all too much, and it’s because of political interference. And like I say, it’s got nothing to do with party. We’ve had the same problem with Democratic and Republican administrations. It comes from political decisions animating the process and people who don’t really understand what they’re managing, just attempting to placate the guy on the top. So that’s basically what’s been happening.

Am I over my 10 minutes here?

MR. KRIKORIAN: Yeah. Well, I mean, you’re right at it. If you’ve got a couple more minutes, that’s fine.

JUDGE BURMAN: Well, let me just go over some possible suggestions.

Let judges be judges – immigration judges that control their own courts and their own dockets. We should be able to supervise our own law clerks and our own legal assistants, which currently we don’t. And the contempt authority we were given in 1996 should eventually – should finally get some regulations to implement it.

EOIR’s overhead needs to be reduced. There’s too many positions at headquarters and too few positions in the field. When EOIR was originally set up, the idea was that each judge would need three legal assistants to docket the cases and find the files and make copies and all that. At one point last year we were down to less than one legal assistant per judge in Arlington, where I am, and in Los Angeles it was even worse. When you do that, the judge is looking for files, the judge is making copies, the judge doesn’t have the evidence that’s been filed. There’s nothing more annoying than to start a hearing and to find that evidence was filed that I don’t have. The case has to be continued. I have to have a chance to find the evidence and review it.

It would be nice if our management were more experienced than they are, or at least have some more courtroom experience.

We need an electronic filing system like all the other courts have. Fortunately, that’s one thing that Acting Director McHenry has said is his top priority, and I think that he will take care of that.

The BIA is a problem. The BIA doesn’t have the kind of expertise that the federal courts would defer to. Consequently, I think a lot of the bad appellate law that Art was referring to is caused by the fact that the BIA really doesn’t have any respect in the federal court system. They’re not immigration experts. They want their Chevron deference, but they are not getting it. They’re not getting it from the Court of Appeals. They’re not getting it from the Supreme Court, either.

The BIA also remands way too many cases. When we make a decision, we send it up to the BIA. We don’t really care what they do. They could affirm us. They could reverse us. We don’t want to see it back. We’ve got too much stuff to see them back. And this happens all the time. If they remand the case, they don’t ever have to take credit for the decision that they make. I assume that’s why they’re doing it, to try to make us do it.

We need a proper judicial disciplinary system. Starting in 2006, which is where the backlog problem began, the attorney general first of all subjected us to annual appraisals, evaluations, which previously OPM had waived due to our judicial function. So that’s a waste of time. Judges were punished for the – for things that are not punishment. Judges were punished because a Court of Appeals would say that you made a mistake or he was rude or – it’s just crazy. Judges were punished or could be punished for granting – for not granting continuances. No judge was ever punished for granting a continuance. So it’s no surprise that, as I pointed out, continuances have been granted at a much greater level – in fact, too great a level. But when in doubt, we continue now because if we don’t do that we’re subject to punishment, and nobody really wants that.

And finally, the ultimate solution, I think, is an Article I court like the bankruptcy court – a specialized court, could be in the judicial branch, could be in the executive branch – to give us independence, to ensure that we have judges and appellate judges who are appointed in a transparent way, being vetted by the private bar, the government, and anybody else.

And I’m way over my 10 minutes, so I’ll be – I’ll be sure to babble on later if you want me to. Thank you.”

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Judge Arthur’s kind opening words about the late Juan Osuna were a nice touch. One of Juan’s great strengths as person, executive, judge, and teacher was his ability to maintain good friendships with and respect from folks with an assortment of ideas on immigration.

Judge Burman’s “no BS” insights are as timely as they are unusual. That’s because U.S. Immigration Judges are not encouraged to speak publicly and forthrightly about their jobs.

The Supervisory Judge and the EOIR Ethics Office must approve all public appearances by U.S. Immigration Judges including teaching and pro bono training. A precondition for receiving permission is that the judge adhere to the DOJ/EOIR “party line” and not say anything critical about the agency or colleagues. In other words, telling the truth is discouraged.

As a result, most Immigration Judges don’t bother to interact with the public except in their courtrooms. A small percentage of sitting judges do almost all of the outreach and public education for the Immigration Courts.

While EOIR Senior Executives and Supervisors often appear at “high profile events” or will agree to limited press interviews, they all too often have little if any grasp of what happens at the “retail level” in the Immigration Courts. Even when they do, they often appear to feel that their job security depends on making things sound much better than they really are or that progress is being made where actually regression is taking place.

In reality, the system functioned better in the 1990s than it does two decades later. Due Process protection for individuals — the sole mission of EOIR — has actually regressed in recent years as quality and fairness have taken a back seat to churning numbers, carrying out political priorities, not rocking the boat, and going along to get along. Such things are typical within government agency bureaucracies, but atypical among well-functioning court systems.

I once appeared on a panel with a U.S. District Judge. After hearing my elaborate, global disclaimer, he chuckled. Then he pointedly told the audience words to the effect of  “I’m here as a judge because you asked me, and I wanted to come. I didn’t tell the Chief Judge I was coming, and I wouldn’t dream of asking his or anyone else’s permission to speak my mind.”

I hope that everyone picked up Judge Burman’s point that “Aimless Docket Reshuffling” or “ADR” is still in full swing at EOIR. Cases are shuffled, moved around, taken off docket, and then restored to the docket to conceal that the backlog in Arlington goes out beyond the artificial “2020 limit” that Judge Burman has been instructed to use for “public consumption.” But there are other cases out there aimlessly “floating around the ether.” And, based on my experience, I’m relatively certain that many courts are worse than Arlington.

Judge Burman also makes another great  “inside baseball” point — too many unnecessary remands from the BIA. Up until the very ill-advised “Ashcroft Reforms” the BIA exercised de novo factfinding authority. This meant that when the BIA disagreed with the Immigration Judge’s disposition, on any ground, they could simply decide the case and enter a final administrative order for the winning party.

After Ashcroft stripped the BIA of factfinding  authority, nearly every case where the BIA disagrees with the lower court decision must be returned to the Immigration Court for further proceedings. Given the overloaded docket and lack of e-filing capability within EOIR, such routine remands can often take many months or even years. Sometimes, the file gets lost in the shuffle until one or both parties inquire about it.

The Immigration Courts are also burdened with useless administrative remands to check fingerprints in open court following BIA review. This function should be performed solely by DHS, whose Counsel can notify the Immigration Court in rare cases where the prints disclose previously unknown facts. In 13 years as an Immigration Judge, I had about 3 or 4 cases (out of thousands) where such “post hoc” prints checks revealed previously unknown material information. I would would have reopened any such case. So, the existing procedures are unnecessary and incredibly wasteful of limited judicial docket time.

I agree completely with Judge Burman that the deterioration of the Immigration Courts spans Administrations of both parties. Not surprisingly, I also agree with him that the only real solution to the Courts’ woes is an independent Article I Court. Sooner, rather than later!

PWS

09-03-17

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE HILL: NOLAN’S PROPOSAL FOR AVOIDING A SHUTDOWN, SAVING DREAMERS, & GIVING TRUMP SOME WALL!

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/348280-trump-strike-a-deal-trade-border-wall-funding-for-daca

Nolan Rappaport writes in The Hill:

“Despite the difficulty of the task, give Trump a chance to show what he can do. This can be done by properly funding the existing border security legislation.

Provide Trump with the funding needed to finish the southwest border fencing project mandated by the bipartisan Secure Fence Act of 2006.

The Secure Fence Act was passed in the Senate 80 to 19. The yeas included current Senate party leaders Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and former Senators Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).

It mandated 850 miles of fencing along the southwest border, but as amended by section 564 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, it just requires DHS to “construct reinforced fencing along not less than 700 miles of the southwest border where fencing would be most practical and effective.”

DHS has constructed just 653 miles of fencing.

When Trump has completed the last 47 miles of this project, he will be able to show Congress the kind of wall he wants for the rest of the border and provide a reliable estimate of what it would cost.

To incentivize Trump to accept this alternative, Congress should assist him with his border security efforts by weakening the “job magnet,” the fact that undocumented aliens generally come here to find employment.

Congress tried to eliminate this magnet with an employer sanctions program in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), but it has been more than 30 years since the program was established and it still has not been fully implemented.

According to a report by Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of International Migration, unscrupulous employers “knowingly hire unauthorized workers to exploit their labor.” For instance, they “pay salaries in cash, failing to pay their share of social security taxes.”

The Department of Labor (DOL) enforces labor laws that curb such abuses without regard to employee immigration status, e.g., the Fair Labor Standards Act, which mandates minimum wages, overtime pay, youth employment, and other standards for all employees.

Congress can provide Trump with the funding DOL needs for a nationwide campaign to stop the exploitation of employees in industries known to hire undocumented aliens. This would weaken the job magnet and reduce the number of illegal border crossings.

But the president isn’t the only player congressional Republicans need to persuade to accept a compromise. To prevent a government shutdown (and fund Trump’s border wall), they will also need Democrats. What may be enough to persuade them is protecting an Obama-era immigration program.

On June 15, 2012, President Barack Obama established a program to offer temporary lawful status to undocumented aliens who were brought here as children, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The application process required them to admit alienage and concede unlawful presence, and to provide their addresses, which makes it easy for them to be arrested and deported.

In a June 2017 letter, state attorney generals asked U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to terminate DACA. If he does not do it, they will amend a pending lawsuit in a Federal District Court to include a challenge to DACA.

The administration apparently does not intend to defend DACA in court if it is included in the lawsuit. Moreover, recent media reports indicate that Trump is likely to rescind the program.

The Democrats might be more receptive to the measures I have proposed if they are offered a separate bill that would protect DACA participants from deportation if the program is terminated.

Nothing good will come from a showdown between Trump and the Senate over funding his wall. They need to prevent that from happening.”

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Read Nolan’s complete op-ed over at The Hill at the above link.

 

PWS

08-29-18

N. RAPPAPORT IN THE HILL: Alternatives To The Border Wall!

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/347359-congress-unlikely-to-pay-for-border-wall-but-trump-has-other

Nolan writes in his latest article:

“The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 established a legalization program for undocumented aliens already in the United States and created employer sanctions to discourage employers from hiring undocumented aliens in the future.

That was 30 years ago, and the program still has not been fully implemented. It might be better to let the Department of Labor (DOL) deal with the job magnet.

Many American employers hire undocumented foreign workers because it is easy to exploit them. DOL enforces federal labor laws that were enacted to curb such abuses, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act which established a minimum wage, overtime pay, and other employment standards.

With additional funding, DOL could mount a large-scale, nationwide campaign to stop the exploitation of employees in industries known to hire large numbers of undocumented aliens, without basing the fines on the immigration status of the employees.

In contrast with Trump, President Obama focused his immigration enforcement program on aliens who had been convicted of serious crimes, had been caught near the border after an illegal entry, or had returned unlawfully after being deported.

Once an undocumented alien had succeeded in reaching the interior of the country, he was “home free.” It was extremely unlikely that he would be deported unless he was convicted of a serious crime. This was a powerful incentive to find a way to get past security measures on the border.

No deportable alien is safe from deportation under Trump’s enforcement policies.

This produced results very quickly. In April 2017, CBP reported a sharp decline in the number of aliens apprehended while making illegal crossings.

But Trump has to implement his enforcement policies to keep the magnet from coming back and he could benefit from implementing expedited removal proceedings.

As of the June 2017, the immigrant court’s backlog was 610,524 cases. This severely limited efforts to remove deportable aliens.

President Trump finessed his way around this problem by expanding the use of expedited removal proceedings in his Executive Order, Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements.

In expedited removal proceedings, which are conducted by immigration officers, an alien who lacks proper documentation or has committed fraud or a willful misrepresentation to enter the country, and has not been physically present for two years, can be deported without a hearing before an immigration judge, unless he establishes a credible fear of persecution.

Trump needs funding to be able to carry out a large-scale, nationwide program of expedited removal proceedings.

These measures would reduce the number of people trying to make illegal crossings, making border security much easier to achieve, even without his promised wall.”

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Go on over to The Hill to read Nolan’s complete analysis.

I agree with Nolan and many in Congress that the border wall will be an ineffective waste of money. And, in the liteny of Trump lies, it has become clear that “Mexico will pay” is just another whopper.

I also agree with Nolan that more funding for Fair Labor Standards Act enforcement is a good idea. However, the Trump Administration is moving the other way on all regulatory enforcement except immigration.

I would oppose funding for expedited removal. I believe it is a clear denial of due process, particularly as carried out by this Administration. I recognize that to date most Federal Courts have taken a “head in the sand” approach to the serious constitutional issues raised by expedited removal.  But, I think that as Trump pushes the envelope the courts will eventually have to face up to the total lack of due process and safeguards in the current system.

In any event, whether expedited removal is unconstitutional or not, it’s bad policy. It should be rescinded, not expanded.

PWS

08-26-17

 

 

BIA ISSUES NEW PRECEDENT SAYING ORE. BURGLARY OF A DWELLING IS CATEGORICAL CIMT: MATTER OF J-G-D-F-, 27 I&N Dec. 87 (BIA 2017) — Hon. Lory Rosenberg Says They Got It Wrong! — + My “Bonus Analysis!”

https://www.justice.gov/eoir/page/file/990986/download

Here’s the BIA’s Headnote:

“Burglary of a dwelling in violation of section 164.225 of the Oregon Revised Statutes is a crime involving moral turpitude, even though the statute does not require that a person be present at the time of the offense, provided that the dwelling is at least intermittently occupied.”

PANEL: BIA Appelllate Immigration Judges PAULEY, WENTLAND & O’CONNOR,

DECISION BY: Judge Pauley

Here’s what former BIA Appellate Immigration Judge Lory D. Rosenberg had to say about it on her blog Appeal Matters and on ILW.com:

Lory D. Rosenberg on Appeal Matters

BIA and Reprehensible Determinations

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, 08-18-2017 at 04:53 PM (600 Views)

In Matter of J-G-D-F-, 27 I&N Dec. 82 (BIA 2017), the BIA has ruled that the Oregon crime of burglary of a dwelling is a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) even though a defendant can be convicted of burglary under the Oregon statute for entering or remaining in an unoccupied home. The Board’s analysis is somewhat confounding, ultimately favoring a categorical conclusion that is clearly to the disadvantage of those in the respondent’s position.

(In one fell swoop, the BIA rejected the respondent’s request for withholding and deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) on the basis that the respondent failed to identify an acceptable particular social group as the reason for the threat to his life or freedom and fear of torture, ruling that, “he asserted that he would be targeted by criminals because he would be recognized as someone who has lived in the United States for a long period of time based on his clothing and accent. However, this proposed group lacks particularity, because it is amorphous and lacks definable boundaries. As described, the proposed group could include persons of any age, sex, or background.” Id. at 86.)

There are two central issues presented: Does the Oregon statute in question and, if divisible, the crime of which the respondent was convicted under the Oregon statute, amount to a generic burglary? Assuming it amounts to a burglary, is the crime of which the respondent was convicted a CIMT, involving reprehensible conduct and some degree of scienter?

A few comments in response to the precedential aspects of this decision are warranted.

A conviction of the crime of burglary does not make removal inevitable, not only because there may be post-conviction remedies available, but because the underlying offense is not necessarily a crime involving moral turpitude or an aggravated felony conviction.

As we know, burglary convictions must be analyzed according to the state law under which the crime is defined. The elements of the offense described under state law must match the elements contained in the generic definition of burglary, i.e., unlawful entry into or remaining in a building or structure with the intent to commit a crime. Taylor v. U.S., 495 U.S. 575 (1990).

The respondent argued that the statute was overbroad. Although the respondent asserted that “a violation of the statute does not necessarily involve reprehensible conduct or a culpable mental state since it does not require that a defendant unlawfully enter a dwelling or intend to commit a crime involving moral turpitude at the time he or she enters the building,” id.at 83, the BIA rejected the respondent’s arguments.

The BIA concluded instead that the statute was divisible “with respect to whether a first degree burglary offense involved entering or remaining unlawfully in a dwelling, as opposed to a building other than a dwelling.” Id. at 84-85. Cf. Mathis v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2243,2249 (2016) (deeming a statute to be divisible if “it list[s] elements in the alternative, and thereby define[s] multiple crimes”)

Under section 164.205(2), the term “dwelling” means a building which regularly or intermittently is occupied by a person lodging therein at night, whether or not a person is actually present. However, the BIA ruled that the statute was not divisible as to whether the building was occupied or not, cutting of any examination of the record with respect to that aspect of the crime.

The records in the instant case contained no equivocation regarding the nature of the respondent’s conviction. In fact, once the statute in the instant case was treated as divisible as to “entering or remaining unlawfully,” the record clearly identified the crime of which the respondent was convicted. As the BIA stated expressly, “the judgment and plea agreement for the respondent’s conviction show that he pleaded to “Burglary I” as charged in Count 2 of the charging document, which alleged that the offense occurred ‘in an occupied dwelling.’” Consequently, the BIA affirmed the IJ’s conclusion that, “according to the respondent’s record of conviction, he was convicted under the prong of section 164.225 that requires entering or remaining unlawfully in a “dwelling” with the intent to commit a crime.” Id. at 86.

But that begs the question.

Today’s decision in Matter of J-G-D-F-, expands on the BIA’s prior precedent in Matter of Louissaint, 24 I&N Dec. 754, 756 (BIA 2009), and distorts the longstanding BIA standard requiring that crimes involving moral turpitude must contain “two essential elements: reprehensible conduct and a culpable mental state,” Matter of Silva-Trevino, 26 I&N Dec. 826, 834 (BIA 2016). Prior to Louissant, the BIA honored the reasonable limitation that a crime was to be considered a CIMT only if the crime accompanying the unlawful entry was itself turpitudinous.

In Louissaint, the BIA held that the “conscious and overt act of unlawfully entering or remaining in an occupied dwelling with the intent to commit a crime is inherently ‘reprehensible conduct’ committed ‘with some form of scienter.’” Matter of F-G-D-F-, supra. at 87 (quoting Matter of Louissaint, 24 I&N Dec. at 758 (citation omitted)). The rationale underlying this conclusion was the fact that the building was occupied and the victim’s presence involved an expectation of privacy and security. By drawing the conclusion that every unlawful entry of a dwelling, whether occupied or not at the time of the offense, amounts to “reprehensible conduct” the BIA evades prior caselaw which had focused on the specific crime that was intended. Cf. Matter of M-, 2 I&N Dec. 721 (BIA, A.G. 1946).

c. 2017 Lory D. Rosenberg, www.Loryrosenberg.com

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Nolan Rappaport  asked me what I think, pointing out that burglary is a serious crime. I agree that burglary is a serious crime, but that doesn’t necessarily answer the question of whether it involves moral turpitude.

As Lory points out, in an early precedent, Matter of M-, 2 I&N Dec. 721 (BIA, AG 1946), the BIA found that the key to moral turpitude in a burglary conviction is not the breaking and entering into the building itself, but the nature of the crime the individual intended to commit following the breaking and entering.

Later, in Matter of Louissaint, 24 I&N Dec. 754, 756 (BIA 2009), the BIA chipped away at the M- rule. The Board focused on the breaking and entering, rather than the crime, and held that burglary of an occupied dwelling is a categorical cimt, without regard to what crime the respondent might have intended.

In Matter of J-G-D-F-, 27 I&N Dec. 82 (BIA 2017) the BIA basically annihilated the M- rule by holding that entry into a dwelling that might be occupied was a categorical cimt without regard to the crime intended.

As a trial judge, I found the M- rule relatively straightforward and easy to apply (or as straightforward and easy to apply as anything in the convoluted cimt area).  Applying that rule to the facts in J-G-D-F-, under the “categorical” approach, the “least possible crime” included in NC first degree burglary would be entry into an unoccupied dwelling in possession of burglary tools. I would find that not to be a cimt.

Applying the Louissaint expansion, I would have concluded because unlike Louissant the dwelling was unoccupied, there was still no cimt.

But, of course applying J-G-D-F-, I would have been required to find a cimt.

So, the current state of the law at the BIA appears to be this. First, apply M– to see if you can find a cimt.

If not, second, see if an occupied dwelling was involved so that the respondent has committed a cimt under Louissaint.
If not, third, see if an unoccupied dwelling might have been involved so that it’s a cimt under J-G-D-F-
Fourth, if all of the foregoing steps fail to produce a cimt, the judge should think of some other rationale for finding a cimt. Because, if the judge doesn’t and the DHS appeals, the BIA will find one anyway. After all, burglary sounds bad.
I find it interesting and somewhat ironic that after the Matter of M- approach gained acceptance from the 9th Circuit, where most petitions to review BIA decisions arise, the BIA has chosen to basically overrule M- without specifically saying so.
In the past decade and one-half, the BIA has often taken the most inclusive position on criminal removal statutes. As a result, the BIA is overruled with some regularity on petitions for review by the Federal Circuit Courts all the way up to the Supreme Court. The latter has been particularly critical of the BIA’s inclusive approach to minor drug convictions.
Notwithstanding this, I wouldn’t expect any change in the BIA’s “hard line approach” to criminal removal under the Sessions regime. After all, the “new mission” of EOIR is to churn out as many final removal orders as possible as quickly as possible with as little due process as possible. And, expansive readings of criminal removal statutes also helps produce more mandatory detention (which Jeff Sessions loves, along with those who are making a killing running private detention centers with substandard conditions).
So from a “job retention” standpoint, getting reversed on review by the Federal Courts probably won’t be a problem for Immigration Judges and Appellate Immigration Judges within DOJ as long as the reversals come in the context of expanding removals and restricting due process.
Finally, I’d never bet against Judge Lory Rosenberg’s analysis on any criminal immigration matter. Lory always had a much better handle on where the Federal Courts were going on criminal removal than the rest of us BIA Appellate Judges, including me. And, over the years since she was forced out of her judicial position, she has been proved right over and over by Federal Courts including the Supremes. Indeed, the Supremes cited one of her dissents in reversing the BIA in St. Cyr (check out FN 52). I’m not aware of any other BIA Appellate Judge who has been cited by name. (Although my good friend and beloved former colleague Judge Wayne Stogner of the New Orleans Immigration Court did get an individual “shout out” for his carefully analyzed trial decision in Nuegusie v. Holder.)
At this point, I’m thinking that Lory’s view will prevail in at least come Circuits. Time will tell.
PWS
08-25-17