IN 1965, LYNDON JOHNSON GOT CONGRESS TO ABANDON THE BLATANTLY RACIST NATIONAL ORIGINS IMMIGRATION SYSTEM – THE RESULT WAS A VIBRANT WAVE OF NEW IMMIGRATION FROM ASIA, THE AMERICAS, AND AFRICA, AS WELL AS EUROPE THAT HAS POWERED AMERICAN GREATNESS – NOW TRUMP & THE GOP WHITE NATIONALIST RESTRICTIONISTS WANT TO “TURN BACK THE CLOCK” TO THE “BAD OLD DAYS” OF RACIST IMMIGRATION POLICY!

https://www.npr.org/2018/01/13/577808792/president-trumps-idea-of-good-and-bad-immigrant-countries-has-a-historical-prece

 

Tom Gjelten reports for NPR News:

“In a White House meeting with members of Congress this week, President Trump is said to have suggested that the United States accepts too many immigrants from “shithole countries” in Africa and too few from countries like Norway.

Those comments, relayed to NPR by people in attendance at the meeting, set off an immediate firestorm, in part because Trump appeared to be favoring the revival of a discriminatory immigration policy abolished by the U.S. Congress more than 50 years ago.

From 1924 to 1965, the United States allocated immigrant visas on the basis of a candidate’s national origin. People coming from Northern and Western European countries were heavily favored over those from countries like those Trump now derides. More than 50,000 immigrant visas were reserved for Germany each year. The United Kingdom had the next biggest share, with about 34,000.

Ireland, with 28,000 slots, and Norway, with 6,400, had the highest quotas as a share of their population. Each country in Asia, meanwhile, had a quota of just 100, while Africans wishing to move to America had to compete for one of just 1,200 visas set aside for the entire continent.

The blatantly discriminatory quota policy was enacted on the basis of recommendations from a congressional commission set up in 1907 to determine who precisely was coming to the United States, which countries they were coming from and what capacities they were bringing with them. Under the leadership of Republican Sen. William Dillingham of Vermont, the commission prepared a report consisting of more than 40 volumes distinguishing desirable ethnicities from those the commission considered less desirable.

“Dictionary of Races or Peoples”

In a “Dictionary of Races or Peoples,” the commission reported that Slavic people demonstrated “fanaticism in religion, carelessness as to the business virtues of punctuality and often honesty.” Southern Italians were found to be “excitable, impulsive, highly imaginative” but also “impracticable.” Foreshadowing Trump’s own assessment, the commission concluded that Scandinavians represented “the purest type.”

The main sponsor of the 1924 law enacting the national origins quotas was Rep. Albert Johnson, R-Wash., chairman of the House Committee on Immigration. Among Johnson’s immigration advisers were John Trevor, the founder of the far-right American Coalition of Patriotic Societies, and Madison Grant, an amateur eugenicist whose writings gave racism a veneer of intellectual legitimacy. In his 1916 book The Passing of the Great Race, Grant separated the human species into Caucasoids, Mongoloids and Negroids, and argued that Caucasoids and Negroids needed to be separated.

President Harry S. Truman fought against a national origin quota system, saying it “discriminates, deliberately and intentionally, against many peoples of the world.”

Time Life Pictures/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

The national origin quota system remained in effect for more than 40 years, despite increasing opposition from moderates and liberals. Minor adjustments were made under the 1952 McCarran-Walter Act, which passed over the vigorous objections of President Harry S. Truman.

In a fiery veto message, Truman argued that the national origin quota policy “discriminates, deliberately and intentionally, against many peoples of the world.” After Congress dismissed his criticism and overrode his veto, Truman ordered the establishment of a presidential Commission on Immigration and Naturalization.

In its report, the commission concluded that U.S. immigration policy marginalized “the non-white people of the world who constitute between two-thirds and three-fourths of the world’s population.” The report was titled Whom We Shall Welcome, referring to a speech President George Washington delivered to a group of Irish immigrants in 1783.

“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger,” Washington famously said in that speech, “but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions, whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.”

That promise was broken by the enslavement of Africans brought to America in chains, but it set forth the ideal by which U.S. immigration policy was to be judged in the 1950s.

. . . .

Support for Johnson’s immigration reform, however, gained momentum after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who had pushed for the abolition of national-origin quotas during the 1950s as a U.S. senator, tied the promotion of immigration reform to the civil rights movement, then at its peak.

“We have removed all elements of second-class citizenship from our laws by the Civil Rights Act,” he said. “We must in 1965 remove all elements in our immigration law which suggest there are second-class people.”

Phenomenon of “chain migration”

With a huge Democratic majority elected the year before, the immigration reform finally passed both houses of Congress in September 1965. Conservatives, led by Ohio’s Feighan, however, had insisted on a key change in the legislation, giving immigrant candidates with relatives already in the United States priority over those with “advantageous” skills and education, as the Johnson administration had originally proposed.

That change, which eventually led to the phenomenon of “chain migration” denounced by Trump, was seen as a way to preserve the existing ethnic profile of the U.S. population and discourage the immigration of Asians and Africans who had fewer family ties in the country.

The key reform, however, was achieved. The new law did away with immigration quotas based on national origin.

“This system violated the basic principle of American democracy, the principle that values and rewards each man on the basis of his merit as a man,” Johnson declared as he signed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty. “It has been un-American in the highest sense. Today, with my signature, this system is abolished.”

For some, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the 1965 legislation, in October 2015, was an occasion for celebration. Muzaffar Chishti, an immigrant from India and a senior lawyer at the Migration Policy Institute, observed at the time that the law sent a message to the rest of the world that “America is not just a place for certain privileged nationalities. We are truly the first universal nation.”

“That may have been the promise of the Founding Fathers, but it took a long time to realize it.”

In the years since 1965, America has become a truly multicultural nation. But with a U.S. president once again saying that immigrants from some countries are superior to immigrants from other countries, the question is whether America will keep its founders’ promise in the years ahead.

Tom Gjelten’s book on how the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act changed the United States is A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story.”

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Read the entire article at the above link.

And here’s a graphic look at American Immigration from  and  in the Washington Post:

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/national/immigration-waves

 

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Those of us who are committed to a diverse, vibrant America and the promise for the future that robust legal immigration brings should resist and speak out forcibly against the Trump GOP’s toxic plan to restore racism to U.S. immigration policy.  We should also “out” horrid GOP politicians like Cotton, Perdue, and Goodlatte who use euphemisms and bogus restrictionist stats to stoke fear and promote a blatantly racist immigration agenda. They even lied about what “really happened” in the “Oval Office meeting” to promote their vile anti-immigrant views. Don’t let them get away with it!

PWS

01-16-18

 

NPR: INSIDE THE TRUMP-SESSIONS – NIELSEN “AMERICAN GULAG” – DHS INTERNAL REPORT FINDS CRUEL, INHUMAN, LIFE-THREATING CONDITIONS ARE WIDESPREAD – 4 OF 5 (80%) OF PRISONS STUDIED “FLUNK” MINIMUM STANDARDS – WHY AREN’T THE CABINET OFFICIALS & SENIOR EXECS WHO ARE “DOUBLING DOWN” ON THESE UNLAWFUL PRACTICES IN PRISON THEMSELVES (OR AT LEAST BEING SUED IN COURT FOR ORDERING CLEARLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL ACTIONS)!

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/12/14/570984026/federal-investigation-finds-significant-issues-at-immigrant-detention-centers

Richard Gonzales reports for NPR:

“Updated Dec. 15

Immigrants detained at four large centers used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement are subject to inhumane treatment, given insufficient hygiene supplies and medical care, and provided potentially unsafe food, according to a federal report.

The “concerns” about the treatment of detained immigrants in facilities in California, Georgia, New Jersey and New Mexico is summarized in a report issued by the Inspector General’s Office of the Department of Homeland Security.

As NPR’s Joel Rose reports,

“The findings are similar to those of outside groups that have alleged ‘extensive’ human rights abuses at ICE detention centers.

“The inspector general’s report comes as the Trump administration is asking Congress for funding to expand the immigration detention system.

“ICE says some of its existing facilities are short-staffed. And the acting director has agreed to the report’s recommendations.”

The report was based on inspections of five detention facilities, four of which failed to meet certain federal standards, although “not every problem was present in all of them.”

The report summarized the results of the inspections:

“Upon entering some facilities, detainees were housed incorrectly based on their criminal history. Further, in violation of standards, all detainees entering one facility were strip searched. Available language services were not always used to facilitate communication with detainees. Some facility staff reportedly deterred detainees from filing grievances and did not thoroughly document resolution of grievances. Staff did not always treat detainees respectfully and professionally, and some facilities may have misused segregation. Finally, we observed potentially unsafe and unhealthy detention conditions.

Detainees … reported long waits for provision of medical care, poor conditions in bathrooms and insufficient hygiene supplies. OIG inspectors also observed expired, moldy, and spoiled foods in the kitchen in four facilities.”

The report also recommends that ICE improve its oversight of detention facility management and operations. In an official response, ICE concurred with the findings and promised to strengthen oversight and improve overall conditions.

Critics of President Trump’s immigration policies say the findings are not new as they predate the current administration.

A 2015 report by the National Immigrant Justice Center questioned ICE’s ability to oversee the detention centers it uses.

In a statement on the 2017 report, the Center’s Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy said:

“ICE’s inability to provide for the safety and health of the tens of thousands of immigrants in its custody has been documented for years. Today, we are calling on Congress to demand accountability and drastically reduce ICE’s detention budget.

“While the Inspector General’s report provides documentation of extensive abuses, its remedy is incredibly insufficient: it directs ICE field office directors to review the areas of concern. We know from earlier directives that ICE’s internal review processes fail to generate meaningful change.”

The Women’s Refugee Commission said the report is consistent with what the organization and its partners have “documented for years” from visits to ICE detention facilities as well as with research it has conducted over 20 years. Katharina Obser, senior program officer at WRC said in a statement:

“This week’s OIG report spells out what WRC and our partners have documented for years, making clear the critical need for greater oversight and reform. Instead, the  Trump administration is intent on lowering or eliminating standards for immigration detention – putting detainees’ lives at risk – all while promising to ramp up detentionon a grand scale. As Congress continues to debate DHS FY 18 appropriations, the OIG’s findings show that now is not the time to expand a detention system that ICE is not capable of effectively and safely running. Detention must be reduced and, where needed, humane alternatives to detention, implemented in its place.”

Three years ago, the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General’s office reported on a series of unannounced visits to detention centers for unaccompanied children. The inquiry found evidence of inadequate food, temperature control problems and inconsistent employee-to-detainee ratios.”

**********************************
These are hardly “new” developments! So, why are Sessions and his DHS “stooges” “doubling down” on detention of non-crimninal aliens in private facilities, rather than fixing these  life-threatening, unconstitutional conditions first. Sounds like clear Civil Rights violations to me. Why isn’t the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division “all over this like a cheap suit?” The answer to that is pretty obvious: They would have to prosecute  their boss for knowingly creating and furthering these conditions. All part of his “Gonzo deterrence strategy.” What if it were a member of YOUR family being held in inhumane conditions like these?
The solution?” Simple:  Let the non-dangerous immigrants (about 98% of them) out; put Sessions, Nielsen, Homan, and Miller in prison until the problems are fixed. Now THAT would finally be a use of detention that would have some real and appropriate deterrent value!
The true “rule of law” won’t be “restored” to America until “Gonzo” Sessions is removed from office.
PWS
12-15-17

GONZO’S WORLD: NPR: Questions Continue To Mount As Sessions’s Involvement In Russia Issues During Campaign Becomes Increasingly Apparent —But House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte Intends To Throw Gonzo A “Lifeline” By Attempting To Change Focus To Largely Irrelevant Hillary Questions!

https://www.npr.org/2017/11/12/563102541/the-russia-investigations-sessions-under-pressure-more-questions-for-trump-aides

Philip Ewing reports for NPR:

“Last week in the Russia investigations: More pressure on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, more details about Russia’s personal outreach to Trump campaign aides and more questions about Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russians last year

More questions for Jeff Sessions
The bad news for Attorney General Jeff Sessions: He is due back on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to talk about the Russia imbroglio, this time before the House Judiciary Committee.

The good news for Sessions: He’ll be before the House Judiciary Committee.

The Alternative ‘Russia Scandal’
THE TWO-WAY
The Alternative ‘Russia Scandal’
Its chairman, retiring Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., wants to talk Russia all right — about the Russian acquisition of the Canadian mining company Uranium One in 2010, which has become the basis for a parallel narrative of “Russian collusion” that Republicans say is the real scandal here.

House Republicans Launch New Investigations Into Clinton Email Probe, Uranium Deal
POLITICS
House Republicans Launch New Investigations Into Clinton Email Probe, Uranium Deal
Goodlatte and other House committee chairmen have vowed to investigate the role that Hillary Clinton played in that deal — including allegations of graft involving Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation — as well as the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Clinton’s private email server when she was secretary of state.

So the stage could be set for a Benghazi-like dual-track hearing: When Republicans have the floor, they can throw Sessions a lifeline with questions about what they call the venality of the Clintons and the Justice Department under his predecessor. When Democrats are up, they can focus on what critics have called his inconsistent statements about the ties between Trump campaign aides and Russians.

Fellow travelers
Sessions has said that he wasn’t aware of any contacts between people in the campaign and Russians trying to influence the election. In the past few weeks, however, two former junior foreign policy aides — George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, of whom more anon — have said they told their bosses, including Sessions, about their Russian connections.

Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his dealings with Russians, which included meetings and contacts that involved offers of dirt on Clinton and “off the record” discussions with top Russians. Page told the House Intelligence Committee that he wasn’t aware of any influence campaign, but he did acknowledge many in-person contacts with Russians on his trips to Moscow last year.

Sessions has already recused himself from the DOJ Russia probe because, he said, it would be improper for him to superintend the investigation of a campaign in which he took part. But Democrats say there’s even more to this — Sessions hasn’t been truthful to Congress, they complain, and he owes more answers.”

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Read the full report at the link.

Gonzo is a poor excuse for an Attorney General. But, he is pretty good at obscuring and distorting facts and selective memory failure.

Given that the House GOP has less than zero interest in getting to the bottom of the Russian effort to interfere with American Democracy (“hey,  as long as it benefits us who cares”), this appearance should be a breeze. Except that Gonzo keeps forgetting that there are other folks out there who can undermine his claims of ignorance. And testifying before Congress under oath presents different issues from spreading false White Nationalist anti-immigrant propaganda during press conferences and in speeches.  At some point, if the GOP loses its congressional majority, his testimony and his ever-changing recollections could come back to hunt him.

What would “honest” testimony look like?

“Yes, I was well aware that some individuals associated with the campaign were trying to promote closer cooperation with President Putin and the Russians and to “dig up dirt” on Secretary Clinton. Indeed, I ordered that such contacts should cease and that nobody should ever mention them again because I knew how damaging they could be and that they were of questionable legality. However, one or more of these individuals continued to have a dialogue with the Russians and reported it back to me. I also met with the Russian Ambassador on several occasions and might have discussed campaign issues with him.”

Now, that testimony might have provoked a quite different response than the misleading “no knowledge of any contacts” testimony erroneously provided during the Senate Confirmation Hearings.

PWS

1-12-17

 

 

 

 

 

 

NPR: More Jurisdictions Get On Board For Providing Legal Assistance To Migrant Residents — Stand Up To Administration’s Bogus Anti-Immigrant Fear-Mongering Campaign!

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/11/12/563557712/more-jurisdictions-to-provide-legal-defense-for-immigrants-at-risk-of-deportation

Jose Olivares reports for NPR:

“While the Trump administration continues the federal government’s already-massive deportation program, 11 cities and counties will be joining the list of jurisdictions providing legal defense for undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation.

The Vera Institute of Justice, a nonprofit that researches and advocates changes in the criminal justice system, launched the Safety and Fairness for Everyone (SAFE) Cities Network this past week. The cities and counties making up the network will be providing legal counsel for immigrants facing deportation proceedings.

Vera says it selected the jurisdictions for committing to invest public money toward defending immigrants against deportation. The nonprofit says it will use a fund it administers to match the public money.

“Immigration is part of our nation’s past, present, and future, and our communities will find more opportunities to grow and thrive when we recognize and embrace this fact,” Vera Institute President Nicholas Turner said in the statement. “That means that all residents must see their justice systems — from our law enforcement to our courts — as delivering on our country’s promise of fairness.”

The cities and counties making up the SAFE Cities Network are:

Atlanta
Austin
Baltimore
Chicago
Columbus, Ohio
Dane County, Wis.
Oakland and Alameda County, Calif.
Prince George’s County, Md.
Sacramento
San Antonio
Santa Ana, Calif.
They’re joining a growing list of cities and states with similar programs. Late last year and earlier this year, lawmakers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and New York City decided to allocate public funds for defense in immigration courts, while New York state created the first statewide immigrant defense fund.

In Maryland, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh announced on Thursday that the city had joined the SAFE Cities Network.

“Our community is safest when our neighbors trust their officials and institutions and know they will be treated justly and with dignity,” Pugh said in a news release. “Providing legal representation to those facing deportation maintains trust in law enforcement and our local institutions and keeps us all safe. If our residents don’t feel safe — for example, coming forward to report crimes and cooperating with law enforcement — all of us are at more risk.”

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Read the entire report at the link.

These communities recognize that the Administration’s White Nationalist inspired “Gonzo Enforcement” and attempts to short circuit the statutory and constitutional rights of migrants to fair and dignified treatment ultimately threatens the safety and rights of all of us. And, as all evidence shows, as migrants get lawyers and are able to actually assert their rights (rather than being railroaded out of the country) more and more are found to have the legal right to remain.

This Administration stubbornly refuses to adjust its enforcement strategy to the reality that many so-called undocumented individuals should not be targeted for enforcement and that realistic reform that maintains the status quo by allowing the vast majority of productive, law-abiding individuals without status to remain is the only reasonable solution.

PWS

11-12-17

HISTORY/RELIGION: HOPPED UP! —🍺 🍺🍺 The Reformation Was Fueled By Revolutionary Changes In ML’s Favorite Beverage!

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/10/31/561117731/the-other-reformation-how-martin-luther-changed-our-beer-too

NINA MARTYRIS Reports for NPR:

“On this day 500 years ago, an obscure Saxon monk launched a protest movement against the Catholic Church that would transform Europe. Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation changed not just the way Europeans lived, fought, worshipped, worked and created art but also how they ate and drank. For among the things it impacted was a drink beloved throughout the world and especially in Luther’s native Germany: beer.

The change in beer production was wrought by the pale green conical flower of a wildly prolific plant — hops.

Every hip craft brewery today peddling expensive hoppy beers owes a debt of gratitude to Luther and his followers for promoting the use of hops as an act of rebellion against the Catholic Church. But why did Protestants decide to embrace this pretty flower, and what did it have to do with religious rebellion?

Therein foams a bitter pint of history.

In the 16th century, the Catholic Church had a stranglehold on beer production, since it held the monopoly on gruit — the mixture of herbs and botanicals (sweet gale, mug wort, yarrow, ground ivy, heather, rosemary, juniper berries, ginger, cinnamon) used to flavor and preserve beer. Hops, however, were not taxed. Considered undesirable weeds, they grew plentifully and vigorously — their invasive nature captured by their melodic Latin name, Humulus lupulus (which the music-loving Luther would have loved), which means “climbing wolf.”

“The church didn’t like hops,” says William Bostwick, the beer critic for The Wall Street Journal and author of The Brewer’s Tale: A History of the World According to Beer. “One reason was that the 12th century German mystic and abbess Hildegard had pronounced that hops were not very good for you, because they ‘make the soul of a man sad and weigh down his inner organs.’ So, if you were a Protestant brewer and wanted to thumb your nose at Catholicism, you used hops instead of herbs.”

Even before the Reformation, German princes had been moving toward hops — in 1516, for instance, a Bavarian law mandated that beer could be made only with hops, water and barley. But Luther’s revolt gave the weed a significant boost. The fact that hops were tax-free constituted only part of the draw. Hops had other qualities that appealed to the new movement; chiefly, their excellent preservative qualities. “All herbs and spices have preservative qualities, but with hops, beer could travel really well, so it became a unit of international trade that symbolized the growing business class, which was tangentially connected with the Protestant work ethic and capitalism,” says Bostwick.

. . . .

For all his protestations, Luther’s beer stein was always full. He loved local beer, boasted of his wife’s brewing skills, and launched a movement that helped promote hops. Does that make him a patron saint of the craft brewery?

“Luther might blanch a bit as a good Protestant at being called a saint,” points out Bostwick, “and there’s already a brewery saint called St. Arnold, who saved his congregation from the plague by making them drink beer. In the interests of Protestantism, I wouldn’t call him a saint, but he was certainly a beer enthusiast, and many a beer bar and brewery today has a picture of Martin Luther on their wall. So let’s say that while we certainly don’t genuflect to him, he’s known and appreciated.”

Hoppy Quincentennial, Martin Luther!“

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Read the full story at the link.

Not surprisingly, many German Lutherans who immigrated to America settled in Wisconsin, where their steins remained full of well-hopped brew!

Prost!🍺🍻🍺🍻🍺🍻🍺

PWS

10-31-17

 

“NINA T” DISHES ON THE SUPREMES — GORSUCH OFF TO TOUGH START – BATTLE WITH KAGAN LOOMING!

http://amp.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2017/10/why_rumors_of_a_gorsuch_kagan_supreme_court_clash_are_such_a_bombshell.html

Mark Joseph Stern reports for Slate:

“Following his nomination to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch was packaged by his wealthy benefactors as the judicial equivalent of a carrot cake: mild and wholesome with the occasional hint of spice. Now that the justice has been safely installed on the court for life, he has revealed himself to be more akin to melted sorbet: sickly sweet and insubstantial with a tangy finish that induces slight nausea. Gorsuch’s abrupt pivot to arrogance has been on full display in his bumptious opinions and questions from the bench. But it also appears to be infecting his interactions with justices behind the scenes. Whispers emerging from the court indicate Gorsuch is more likely to alienate than influence even his conservative colleagues.

The latest sign of trouble comes from NPR’s Nina Totenberg, who dropped in on the indispensable Supreme Court podcast First Mondays to dish some gossip about the newest justice.”

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

Read Nina’s “scoop” over on Slate at the above link.

Ah, the “Eddie Haskell act” is over, and the real fun begins.

PWS

10o-20-17

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

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

From Indian Panorama:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks much to Nolan Rappaport for sending this in!

PWS

10-06-17

 

BETH FERTIG AT NPR: “ADR” Moves Into High Gear, Devastating U.S. Immigration Courts, As Half Of NY Immigration Court “Goes Dark” — U.S. Immigration Judges Become Adjuncts Of DHS Border Enforcement Program — Dockets At Interior Courts “Orbited Into Never-Never Land!”

ADR = “Aimless Docket Reshuffling”

http://www.wnyc.org/story/even-more-immigration-judges-are-reassigned-trumps-crackdown-border/

Beth reports for WNYC/NPR:

“In its crackdown on illegal immigration, the Trump administration is moving an increasing number of immigration judges closer to the border with Mexico. The practice is so widespread that half of New York City’s 30 immigration judges have been temporarily reassigned for two-to-four weeks at a time between early April and July.

The judges have been sent to hear deportation cases in Louisiana, California, New Mexico and Texas, along with Elizabeth, New Jersey, where there’s a detention center. In June, WNYC reported that at least eight of New York City’s immigration judges have been temporarily moved to Texas and Louisiana since March. New information obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request revealed the number to be much higher.

All this reshuffling causes cases to get delayed for months. And New York City’s immigration court already has a backlog of more than 80,000 cases. People wait an average of more than two years go to court to fight against deportation. Some might welcome a prolonged wait. But immigration lawyer Edain Butterfield said her clients get anxious because they’re ready to make their case, when they suddenly learn their judge has had to postpone.

“They don’t know if their judge is going to stay on their case,” she said. “They sometimes have to get new documents, ask for another day off from work, ask their family to take another day off from work.”

David Wilkins, an attorney with Central American Legal Assistance in Brooklyn, said he’s representing a woman seeking asylum whose hearing was recently postponed almost a year — until the summer of 2018. He said she left her children in her home country back in 2012 because of domestic abuse. “It’s extremely difficult for her,” he said. “She’s been separated from her family for so long to sort of live with the constant uncertainty of not knowing what’s going to happen with her immigration proceeding.”

Judges from New York City aren’t the only ones being moved. According to the latest data obtained by WNYC, 128 of the nation’s approximately 325 immigration judges have been shuffled to other locations between early April and the middle of July. Many of those judges come from Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. These assignments, known as details, last for two or four weeks. Some judges have been shifted around multiple times.

The data does not include all judges assigned to hear cases in other locations by video teleconference. A couple of judges in New York City were seeing cases by video at a Texas detention center in May and June.

The reassignments are expected to continue until early 2018, but the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which runs the immigration courts, would not reveal the schedule beyond July.

In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that all adults crossing the Mexican border would be sent to detention. To support the mission, he said, the Department of Justice had “already surged 25 immigration judges to detention centers along the border.”

Dana Leigh Marks, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, said her union remains very concerned about the situation.

“The temporary assignment of judges to border courts creates increasing backlogs in the dockets they leave behind in their home courts and may not be conducive to the overall reduction of our burgeoning caseload.”

Nationally, the backlog has surged to more than 600,000 cases and observers believe that number is growing partly because of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

Moving judges south might sound counterintuitive because illegal border crossings have actually dropped since President Trump took office. But Bryan Johnson, an immigration lawyer on Long Island, has a theory about why more judges are needed down south.

“The people that are deported will be deported in less time,” he explained. “And that is the message they want to send people in the home countries from where the migrants come from.”

There is no guaranteed right to counsel in immigration court, and experts said there are few low-cost immigration attorneys near the border — making it even easier to swiftly deport someone because they are not likely to have representation.

The Executive Office for Immigration Review did not respond to a request for comment. However, the agency has said it is hiring more judges.”

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

Get the accompanying audio/video report at the link.

David Wilkins from the Central American Legal Defense Center in Brooklyn, quoted in Beth’s article, is one of my former Georgetown Law Refugee Law & Policy students, a former CALS Asylum Clinic participant, and a former Legal Intern at the Arlington Immigration Court. David was also an Immigrant Justice Crops fellow. He is a “charter member” of the “New Due Process Army.” Congratulations David, we’re all proud of what you are doing!

Attorney Bryan Johnson simply restates the obvious. Under A.G. Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions, the U.S. Immigration Courts are once again being used as an arm of DHS Enforcement rather than a protector and dispenser of constitutional due process. Nobody in their right mind seriously thinks that Sessions is “surging” Immigration Judges to the border to grant more bonds, reverse more “credible fear” and “reasonable fear” denials, or grant more asylum, withholding of removal, or relief under the CAT.

No, the “surge” program is clearly all about detention, coercion, denial, deportation and sending a “don’t come, we don’t want you” message to folks living in fear and danger in countries of the Northern Triangle of Central America. In other words, you might as well cooperate with, support, and/or join the gangs and narco-traffickers — the U.S. has absolutely no intention of saving your life! Nice message!

Don’t be too surprised when multinational gangs and narco-traffickers eventually seize political power in Central America (they have already infiltrated or compromised many government functions). And, we will have sent away the very folks who might have helped us stem the tide. At the same time, we are destroying the last vestiges of due process in the U.S. Immigration Courts, leaving hundreds of thousands of cases and lives “up in the air” and our justice system without a fair and effective mechanism for deciding and reviewing immigration cases. At some point, somebody is going to have to fix this mess. But, you can be sure it won’t be the Trump (“We Don’t Take Responsibility For Nothin'”) Administration.

PWS

07-24-17

 

BREAKING: SPLIT DECISION — SUPREMES SAY YES TO GRANDPARENTS, DEMUR ON REFUGEES (FOR NOW)!

Here’s the report from NPR News:

Merrit Kennedy, reporting:

“The Supreme Court has upheld parts of a lower court order that had widened the definition of which citizens from the six Muslim-majority countries covered by the Trump administration’s travel ban are still eligible to travel to the U.S.

The order issued Wednesday leaves in place the action of a U.S. District Court judge in Hawaii who broadened the definition of close family to include categories such as the grandparents and cousins of a person in the U.S.

However, the Supreme Court blocked another part of the lower court order that said citizens with formal assurances from a U.S. refugee resettlement agency are eligible.

Since the travel ban was introduced, defining which citizens from the six countries are exempt has been redefined multiple times.

Last month, as we reported, the Supreme Court ruled that parts of the Trump administration’s ban can take effect while the justices prepare to hear oral arguments on the case later this year.

But the court said people from the six countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — can be exempted from the ban if they have a “bona fide relationship” with a person in the U.S., including close family members.

The legal question here is centered on how to define a “bona fide relationship.” As we reported, the Trump administration argued that assurances from a refugee agency are “not sufficient” to constitute this relationship.

However, the judge in Hawaii rejected this argument. “An assurance from a United States refugee resettlement agency, in fact, meets each of the Supreme Court’s touchstones: it is formal, it is a documented contract, it is binding, it triggers responsibilities and obligations,” District Court Judge Derrick Watson wrote. “Bona fide does not get any more bona fide than that.”

The Supreme Court justices, however, stayed that portion of the judge’s order without elaborating. It sent the case back to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a ruling. The Trump administration had asked the high court to settle the dispute, leapfrogging the 9th Circuit, which the justices denied without comment.

The order said Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch would have stayed the entire lower court order, including the broadening of close family categories.

Naureen Shah, Amnesty International USA senior director of campaigns, stated that Wednesday’s order “jeopardizes the safety of thousands of people across the world including vulnerable families fleeing war and violence.”

Earlier this week, the State Department released new instructions to U.S. embassies and consulates to implement the Hawaii federal court’s order expanded definition of close family to include grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, and cousins.”

Here is link to copy of the brief per curium order:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/071917zr_o7jp.pdf

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Six Justices of the Court appear ready to “just say no” to some parts of the “blanket ban” on the current record. However, they obviously deem “refugees” a closer case, leaving that for the Ninth Circuit to review first. So, there is still a chance that refugees ultimately will prevail. But, as I’ve said many times before, it’s one of the worst times in recent history to be a refugee.

PWS

07-19-17

 

BREAKING: NPR’s Beth Fertig Exposes Administration’s Immigration Court Due Process Disaster — Taxpayers Billed For Sending Judges To Hustle Detainees Through Court Without Lawyers, Leaving More Represented Cases At Home To Rot! — Backlogs Mushroom As Administration Plays Games With Human Lives!

http://www.wnyc.org/story/missing-new-york-immigration-judges/

Fertig reports:

“In the middle of May, paper notices were posted on the walls of the federal building in lower Manhattan announcing the absence of several immigration judges. Some were out for a week or two, while others were away for six weeks. The flyers said their cases would be rescheduled.

The Executive Office for Immigration Review, which runs the immigration courts, would not comment on the judges’ whereabouts. It cited the confidentiality of personnel matters. But after WNYC asked about these missing judges, many of the paper notices were taken off the walls of the 12th and 14th floors, where hearings are held in small courtrooms.

It’s no secret that President Donald Trump’s administration has been redeploying judges to detention centers near the southern border to speed up the processing of cases. After contacting numerous immigration attorneys down south, as well as retired judges and others, WNYC was able to crowdsource the judges’ locations. At least eight of New York City’s 29 immigration judges had been sent to Texas and Louisiana since March to conduct hearings in person or by video. Six judges were out for different parts of the month of May, alone.

“NYC

The federal building is home to the nation’s busiest immigration court, with a backlog of 80,000 cases. By redeploying so many judges in such a short period of time, immigration lawyers fear the delays will grow even longer. Meanwhile, attorneys near the border question whether these extra judges are even necessary.

Among other matters, judges at detention courts are supposed to hear cases involving people who crossed the border illegally. Yet those numbers have declined since Trump took office. That’s why local attorneys are cynical about the surge.

“I don’t really think that they need all these judges,” said Ken Mayeaux, an immigration lawyer in Baton Rouge.

Mayeaux said what’s really needed there are more immigration attorneys. As federal agents arrest an increasing number of immigrants who are already in the U.S. without legal status, they’re sending them to southern detention centers that are pretty isolated. The ones in Oakdale and Jena, Louisiana, are hours west of Baton Rouge and New Orleans, where the vast majority of the state’s immigration advocates are concentrated, said Mayreaux.

“To ramp things up in one of the places that has the lowest representation rates in the United States, that’s a due process disaster,” he said.

Data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University confirms that immigrants may only wait a couple of months for their deportation case to be completed in these detention centers near the border. But in New York, the wait to see an immigration judge is 2.4 years.

So why move judges from a clogged and busy court system in New York to the border region, where immigration cases are already moving swiftly?

“In this particular instance, it’s a virtuous circle from the perspective of the administration,” explained Andrew Arthur, a former immigration judge.

Arthur is a resident fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies. It’s a think tank that wants to limit immigration, though it’s been branded a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. During the Obama administration, Arthur said too many immigrants were let out of detention and waited years for their cases to be heard. He said moving more judges to the border will prevent that from happening.

“Because the quicker that you hear the cases the less likely that an individual is to be released,” Arthur said. “Therefore the less likely another group of individuals are to attempt to make the journey to the United States.”

Another former immigration judge, Paul Wickham Schmidt, said the Obama administration tried something similar by fast-tracking the cases of Central American migrants in 2014. But he said it wound up scrambling the judges’ dockets and was counterproductive. He was redeployed from his home court in Virginia and estimates he had to reschedule a hundred cases in a week.

“Nobody cares what’s happening on the home docket,” he said. “It’s all about showing presence on the border.”

Not all judges assigned to the border are physically present. Mana Yegani, an immigration lawyer in Houston, said she’s seen several judges — including a few from New York — at a detention center where cases are done by video teleconference.

“We never see the prosecutor’s face, it’s just a voice in the background,” she explained. “It’s just not a fair process for our clients and I don’t think the judges can be efficient the way they’re supposed to. They take an oath to be fair and to uphold the Constitution and due process, and I think the way the system is set up it really hinders that.”

A new audit of the immigration courts by the Government Accountability Office questioned whether video teleconferences have an impact on outcomes and said more data should be collected.

Some attorneys believe the reassignments are temporary to see if border crossings continue to ebb. The Executive Officer for Immigration Review won’t comment on that, but spokesman John Martin said the agency will hire 50 new judges and “plans to continue to advertise and fill positions nationwide for immigration judges and supporting staff.”

In the meantime, there’s no question that shifting judges away from New York is having an impact on real people.”

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

Read Beth’s entire article, including the story of one “real” asylum applicant waiting patiently for a hearing that almost didn’t happen.

The due process farce continues, at taxpayer expense, while the U.S. Immigration Courts are being treated as an enforcement arm of the DHS. Aimless Docket Reshuffling (“ADR”) denies due process at both the “sending courts” and “receiving courts.” When, if ever, will Congress or the Federal Courts step in and put an end to this travesty of justice and mockery of our constitutional requirement for due process! In the meantime, what’s happening in the Immigration Courts is a continuing national disgrace.

PWS

06-06-17

 

“AIMLESS DOCKET RESHUFFLING” (“ADR”) IN NEW YORK — NPR’s Beth Fertig Exposes Due Process/Management Abuses By Obama & Trump Administrations!

http://www.wnyc.org/story/why-new-yorks-immigration-court-even-busier-fewer-judges-under-trump/

Fertig reports:

“There are 29 immigration judges assigned to court rooms in the Federal Building in Lower Manhattan. But as the number of pending cases grew from about 70,000 in January to nearly 80,000 this spring, more and more people have been coming to court only to discover they don’t have judges.

On a Tuesday morning in May, Alin Guifarro expected to attend a hearing with his 18-year-old son, Jose David Rodriguez. The teen came from Honduras last year to join his father and is trying to get legal status in the U.S.

But when they went to the 12th floor and scanned the long list of names with appearances scheduled that day, Guifarro saw his son’s case wasn’t assigned to a judge. Confused, he went to the clerk’s office and was told he would eventually get a letter in the mail about a new court date.

Guifarro was frustrated. “I came over here driving 2 ½ hours for nothing,” he said, referring to his journey from his home in Mastic, Long Island.

This father and son aren’t the only ones whose immigration cases have been postponed lately.

“In the last two months this has happened every week,” said Bryan Johnson, an immigration lawyer based on Long Island. Many of his clients are seeking asylum, and he said some have already been waiting a couple of years. With extra delays, he said, “if they have children who are abroad, that will delay family unification or spousal unification if their spouse is abroad.”

On a single day in May, when almost 400 hearings were scheduled to take place in immigration court, WNYC counted 60 people who didn’t have judges.

The Executive Office for Immigration Review runs the nation’s immigration courts. It says staffers typically mail a notice if a judge is out or a case is delayed, but they don’t always go out in time. As for why people are coming to court without judges, the agency explained that they are technically assigned to ”visiting judges.” But it acknowledged these judges don’t actually exist.

“The concept of ‘visiting judges’ is for internal case management,” said E.O.I.R. spokesman John Martin. “When judges retire, or temporarily stop hearing cases due to illness, the New York City Immigration Court will assign these dockets to a ‘visiting judge’ in order to maintain continuity of these cases. As new immigration judges are hired and officially placed at their respective immigration court locations, these ‘visiting judge’ dockets in those locations are reassigned to them.”

Even after a recent hire, New York City has only 29 immigration judges, compared to 31 at this time last year.

The backlog in immigration courts isn’t new. There are almost 600,000 pending cases, nationally. The problem started well before President Donald Trump took office.”

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

Read Beth’s complete article at the link.

A recent GAO report highlighted and quantified endemic management issues with the DOJ’s stewardship over the U.S. Immigration Courts, particularly in hiring new Immigration Judges which takes an astounding average of 742 days. http://wp.me/p8eeJm-Uh

Then, there are the retirements. It’s hardly rocket science that an aging workforce in high-stress jobs might retire in large numbers. I ran “Immigration Judge retirements” into my search engine and got 9 articles, right off the bat. Try it yourself.

Additionally, there is the practice of both Administrations of mindlessly jamming more new cases in the front of the system without a rational plan for completing the ones already in it. That’s followed by reassigning Immigration Judges (like they were assembly line workers) from existing dockets of cases scheduled for final hearings to new dockets of Not Quite Ready For Prime Time (“NQRFPT”) cases. And to cap it off, Secretary Kelly, egged on by Jeff Sessions, has told DHS agents to arrest anyone the feel like arresting without any regard for reasonable priorities or space on already overcrowded court dockets!

And, while we’re at it, let’s stuff more non-criminals into dangerous, expensive, and unneeded immigration detention, thereby turning them into self-created emergency situations, rather than thinking creatively about cheaper, more humane, and more effective methods of getting non-dangerous folks through the system in a reasonable manner.

And you gotta love imaginary “visiting judges.”  Visiting from where, “The Twilight Zone?” Almost as good as “warehousing” tens of thousands of cases on a single day in November 2019. No wonder that once in extreme frustration I referred to this administrative morass as “Clown Court!”🤡

No, it’s not all the fault of EOIR bureaucrats, most of whom mean well and are simply caught up in a “built for failure” system. But, it is the fault of the DOJ whose politicized management of the Immigration Courts has been a disaster since the beginning of this century. And, even if you removed politics from the equation, the DOJ obviously lacks the basic administrative competence to run a complicated, high volume court system. Ultimately, Congress must assume the responsibility for allowing this travesty to continue to exist. An independent Immigration Court outside the Executive Branch is long overdue.

But, other than that, it’s a great system!

Stay tuned! Tomorrow, Beth will tell us what judges pulled off their existing dockets find when they get to their “detail courts.” I can’t wait to hear what she found out!

PWS

06-05-17

 

 

EOIR Embroiled In Controversy On Several Fronts!

Few agencies in the U.S. Government are as publicity and conflict averse as the Executive Office for Immigraton Review (“EOIR,” pronounced “Eeyore”), a division of the U.S. Department of Justice that houses the U.S. Immigration Court system. So, officials at EOIR and their DOJ handlers must be “going bananas” (when they aren’t preoccupied with the Comey firing) about several recent news items that cast an unwelcome spotlight on the agency.

First, super-sleuth NPR reporter Beth Fertig smoked out the story of ex-con Carlos Davila (12 years in prison for first-degree manslaughter and  sexual abuse while on parole) who is using the EOIR “recognition and accreditation” program to practice law (without a license) under the guise of being a “nonprofit charitable organization.” Davila is apparently under investigation by EOIR, but continues to practice.

As a result of Beth’s story, New York Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez  has asked the House Judiciary Committee to investigate the program.

As noted in the article, the “R&A” program, allows well-qualified non-attorneys working at reputable nonprofit charitable organizations to represent migrants in Immigration Court and/or before the DHS. The R&A program fills a critically important role in providing due process in the U.S. Immigration Courts. This is particularly true today, in light of increased enforcement and very limited pro bono and “low bono” immigration attorney resources.

The Davila situation, as described by Beth, sounds like a scam to me.  Under the regulations, “accredited representatives” are supposed to be working for “recognized organizations” — nonprofits that provide legal services (usually along with other types of social services) on a largely pro bono basis.

Only “nominal fees” can be charged. But the term “nominal fees” has never been defined. We worked on it, off an on, for most of my tenure as BIA Chair in the late 1990s and never could come up with a specific definition that was acceptable to both NGOs and bar associations.

From the article, it appears to me that Davila is actually running a profit-making law firm for himself and his staff under the “shell” of a non-profit.  For example, charging someone $200 for a piece of paper that basically restates their rights under the Constitution, the INA, and the regulations seems far beyond a “nominal fee.” The research is simple, and the card itself could be printed off for a few cents a copy. So, $200 seems grossly excessive.

Also, fees of $1,000 to $3,500 for asylum applications seem to be beyond “nominal fees.”  If fact, that’s probably close to what some legitimate “low bono” law firms would charge. So, it seems like Davila is really practicing law for a living without a license, rather than providing essentially pro bono services for a charitable organization.

I agree that there should be more thorough investigation and vetting of organizations and accredited representatives by EOIR. This seems like something that should be right up Attorney General Sessions’s alley.

To my knowledge, EOIR does not currently employ any “investigators” who could be assigned to the EOIR staff working on the recognition and accreditation program. But there are tons of retired FBI agents and DHS agents out there who could be hired on a contract basis to do such investigations. Given the money that this Administration is planning to throw at immigration enforcement, finding funds for a needed “upgrade” to this program should not be a problem.

Here are link’s to Beth’s initial article and the follow-up:

http://www.wnyc.org/story/felon-has-federal-approval-represent-immigrants-and-now-hes-selling-this-id

http://www.wnyc.org/story/congresswoman-calls-more-oversight-non-lawyers-representing-immigrants

The second controversial item concerns an ongoing dispute between the Federation for American Immigration Reform (“FAIR”) and the Immigration Reform Law Institute (“IRLI”) on one side and the Southern Poverty Law Center (“SPLC”)  and other immigrants’ rights groups on the other. In  2014, the SPLC and other advocacy groups requested that the BIA “strike” an amicus brief filed by FAIR and IRLI because, among other things, FAIR was a “hate group.” FAIR responded by asking EOIR to discipline the SPLC and other advocacy group attorneys involved for “unprofessional conduct.”

On March 28, 2016, the EOIR Disciplinary Counsel issued a confidential letter finding that the SPLC and related attorneys had engaged in professional misconduct. However, in lieu of formal disciplinary proceedings, the Disciplinary Counsel issued a “reminder” to the concerned attorneys “that practitioners before EOIR should be striving to be civil and professional in their interactions with each other, the public, and the Board and Immigration Courts.”

But, that was not the end of the matter. On May 8, 2017, the IRLI published the “confidential” letter of discipline on the internet, stating:

“Although the SPLC’s utter lack of ethics was thoroughly condemned by the DOJ, the agency inexplicably requested that FAIR keep their conclusions confidential. FAIR and IRLI have complied with the request for more than a year; however, in that time, the SPLC has continued and escalated its attacks on both FAIR and IRLI, likely in part in retaliation for FAIR and IRLI filing a complaint with DOJ regarding its conduct. At this time, IRLI has decided it must release the letter to defend itself and protect its charitable purposes.”

So, now, the EOIR “confidential” letter is sitting smack dab in the middle of what looks like the “Hundred Years War” between FAIR and the SPLC.  Not the kind of “stuff” that EOIR and DOJ like to be involved in!

On the plus side, perhaps in response to this situation, the BIA in 2015 changed its amicus procedures to publicly request briefing from any interested party in matters of significant importance that likely will lead to precedent decisions. Indeed, a number of such notices have been published on this blog.

Here’s a copy of the IRLI posting which contains a link to the 2014 “confidential” letter from the EOIR Disciplinary Counsel.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/irli-releases-obama-justice-department-reprimand-of-the-southern-poverty-law-center-over-its-derogatory-tactics-frivolous-behavior-300453406.html

Stay tuned.

PWS

05-10-17

 

 

 

 

 

Sanctuary Wars: The Republic, And Its Cities, Strike Back!

Immigration beat reporter Beth Fertig of WNYC/NPR reports:

“There is no single definition of a sanctuary city, and policies vary tremendously across the country. But in New York City, immigration agents are not allowed in the jails. When immigrants without legal status are arrested, they can only be detained or turned over to federal agents for deportation if there’s a warrant and they’ve been convicted of a violent crime. A 2014 local law spells out nearly 170 different offenses that meet that definition. They include various forms of assault, arson and sex crimes.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito said these limits make sense.

“If you’re committing a nonviolent offense but you’re otherwise contributing positively to the city, why should you be torn apart from your family?”

Police Commissioner James O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio joined the argument Wednesday, saying that immigrants will be less likely to cooperate with law enforcement if they’re afraid of deportation. “We build trust,” said O’Neill. “I wouldn’t want to do anything to put that at risk.”

Trump’s order changes enforcement priorities, too. In addition to aliens convicted of criminal offenses, the Department of Homeland security will also prioritize those who have been “charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved.”

Avideh Moussavian, a policy attorney with the National Immigration Law Center, warned that this policy could lead to “gross infractions of due process protections.”

She said people could become enforcement priorities if “they have been merely charged with an offense, even if their charge is pending and turns out later to be dismissed.”

From a practical standpoint, it would be very difficult to deport more immigrants. The nation’s immigration courts have a tremendous backlog of cases. Judges who handle immigration cases estimate there are 75 vacancies among their ranks, and Trump has imposed a federal hiring freeze. However, the executive order means that the freeze on judges could be lifted in the name of national security.”

Read Beth’s complete article, including comments from Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute  in favor of the President’s crackdown at:

http://www.wnyc.org/story/why-sanctuary-city-dispute-about-safety/

Mollie Reilly, Deputy Politics Editor, and her colleagues write on HuffPost:

“Independent of the ultimate legality of the executive order, politicians from those sanctuary cities say they aren’t budging, and legal advocacy groups are gearing up for the coming legal fight.
The president is “in for one hell of a fight,” California state Sen. Scott Weiner (D), who represents San Francisco, said in a statement.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (D) said his city “will not retreat one inch” from its policy against holding undocumented immigrants it otherwise would not hold based on requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said his city “will not be intimidated by the authoritarian message coming from this administration.” San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee (D) said “nothing has changed” in his city, noting the lack of specifics in Trump’s order.
“We are going to fight this, and cities and states around the country are going to fight this,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said at a press conference Wednesday.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) already began hinting at a legal challenge, releasing a statement that Trump lacks the constitutional authority for his executive order and that he will do “everything in [his] power” to push back if the president does not rescind it.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) also warned of potential legal challenges to come, saying in a statement that the order “raises significant legal issues that my office will be investigating closely to protect the constitutional and human rights of the people of our state.”
There’s no exact definition of “sanctuary city.” Places like San Francisco and New York use the term broadly to refer to their immigrant-friendly policies, but more generally the term is applied to cities and counties that do not reflexively honor all of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s requests for cooperation. Many of these localities do work with ICE to detain and hand over immigrants suspected or convicted of serious crimes, but they often release low-priority immigrants requested by ICE if they have no other reason to hold them.
“The reason that many local law enforcement officers don’t honor detainers is because courts have said that they violate the Constitution, and if they violate the Constitution, the localities are on the hook financially,” said Cesar Cuauhtemoc Garcia Hernandez, a law professor at the University of Denver who teaches on the intersection of criminal law and immigration.
Just on Tuesday, a federal court in Rhode Island joined several others that have ruled in recent years that certain ICE detainers can violate people’s constitutional rights ― even those of U.S. citizens.
But Trump’s executive order seems to overlook this legal reality, and instead frames sanctuary cities with the alarmist rhetoric he used on the campaign trail.”

Read Mollie & co.’s complete report here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-sanctuary-cities_us_

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PWS

01/26/17

Sunny Thoughts On A Dreary Day In DC — Read More From WNYC/NPR Reporter Beth Fertig — The “New Due Process Army” Takes the Field — Bronx Defenders and Courtney M. Lee (Former Arlington Immigration Court Intern And Star Georgetown CALS Asylum Clinic & RLP Student) Work To Save Lives & Insure Due Process In Our Immigration Courts Every Day!

https://www.wnyc.org/story/free-lawyers-provided-city-help-more-immigrants-detention-win-cases/

Beth Fertig writes:

“Arturo had his most recent hearing in December, in front of Judge Patricia Buchanan. He wore an orange jumpsuit with the initials of the Hudson County Department of Correction on the back, and his hands were shackled. The 31-year-old is five-foot-three and slim, and appeared very nervous. He sat with his team from Bronx Defenders, [Supervisory Attorney Sarah Deri] Oshiro and Law Graduate Courtney Lee, and a court-appointed translator. There was also an attorney from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, James McCarthy.

Arturo’s case is very complicated and his team has a few different claims. They are asking the court to withhold his deportation on the grounds that he’ll be persecuted or tortured if he goes back to Mexico.

“His stepfather subjected him to — during his entire childhood and adolescence — to really severe constant and consistent sexual, physical and psychological abuse,” Lee explained.

In court, she asked Arturo to recall some of the beatings and how his mother and siblings are still living in terror. He said the abuse continued even after he arrived in New York and sent his mother money to leave the man. He described in Spanish how he feared his stepfather would kill him if he moved back to Mexico, because he was the one who helped his mother escape. And he said he had no other place to live except for the town in which they reside. But Judge Buchanan appeared skeptical. She asked if he had any family in New York when he first arrived in 2004, and he said no.

Arturo’s legal team is also seeking to halt his deportation by arguing his two young children would be harmed. Immigrants who have lived in the U.S. illegally for at least 10 years can apply for a cancellation of removal if an American citizen would suffer “exceptional and unusual hardship.”

It’s a tough bar to meet, and it doesn’t help Arturo’s case that he has a few convictions for misdemeanors, including breaking a store window when he was drunk and possession of marijuana. But his advocates argued that these are minor and were related to the traumas he suffered as a child. He told the court he stopped using marijuana and alcohol after his children were born, to set a “good example.” His advocates said he also has an employer who believes in him, and wants to hire him back.

Because Arturo is the primary breadwinner, they argued deporting him would put the children at risk of homelessness. His partner, the children’s mother, is already fighting eviction proceedings. And Arturo said the stress from his detention has caused his seven year-old son to wet the bed and barely eat. But McCarthy, of I.C.E., argued that the children seem healthy and are not experiencing “exceptional and unusual hardship.”

The judge had to stop the proceedings at noon because she had too many other cases that day. She scheduled Arturo’s next hearing in February, almost a year after he was sent to detention.”

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

Go to Beth’s full article at the link for a fantastic picture of Courtney and her Supervisory Attorney Sarah Deri Oshiro.  Way to go, Courtney and Sarah!

These days, in retirement, in addition to writing, I attend many events, give lots of speeches, and guest lecture at law schools and colleges, all largely directed at pointing out why refugees and other migrants make America great, the sad state of our United States Immigration Court System, the overwhelming importance of working to force our Immigration Courts to live up to their unfulfilled promise to “guarantee fairness and due process for all,” and the compelling need for reforms to make the Immigration Courts independent from the Executive Branch.

Almost everywhere I go, I run into great attorneys who once were Judicial Law Clerks or interns for the U.S. Immigration Court in Arlington, appeared in Immigration Court under clinical practice programs sponsored by local law schools (like Georgetown’s famous CALS Asylum Clinic), or are former students who took my Refugee Law and Policy (“RLP”) course at Georgetown Law in 2012-14.  There are all, without exception, doing absolutely wonderful things to advance the cause of fairness and due process for migrants.

They are all over:  projects like Bronx Defenders, NGOs, pro bono organizations, big law, small law, public interest law, courts, government agencies, Capitol Hill, academia, journalism, management, and administrative positions.  I call them the “New Due Process Army” and they are going to keep fighting the “good fight” to force the Immigration Courts and the rest of our justice system to live up to the promise of “fairness and due process for all” whether that takes two years, ten years, twenty years, or one hundred years.  If we all keep at it and support one another it will eventually happen!

Last night, I was at a very moving retirement ceremony for Shelly Pitterman, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Regional Representative for the United States and the Caribbean.  Fortunately, Shelly is going to remain in the human rights field, joining Mark Hetfield and the other wonderful folks over at the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (“HIAS”).  I wish I had gotten to know Shelly better.  He was repeatedly described as a dynamic leader who inspired everyone around him to perform at a higher level (just like Aaron Rodgers of the Pack), apparently even on the softball field!

In attendance were two of our “total superstar” former Arlington Immigration Court legal interns, Katie Tobin and Lindsay Jenkins, both Assistant Protection Officers (one of the most coveted jobs) with the UNHCR.  Accomplished attorneys,  dynamic leaders, and terrific role models in they own rights, Katie and Lindsay are using their education and experience to live out their deeply held values every day and to help make the world a fairer, more humane, and better place for all of us.  Both of them represent the true values of the real America:  fairness, scholarship, respect, teamwork, and industriousness (not to mention a sense of humor).

To Courtney, Katie, Lindsay, and all the other “soldiers” of the “New Due Process Army” thanks for what you are doing for all of us every day!  It is an honor to know you and to have played a role, however modest, in your quest to make the world an even greater place.

PWS

01/20/17

 

Why The U.S. Immigration Court In NYC Is Overwhelmed: Listen & Read WNYC/NPR Senior Reporter Beth Fertig’s Report (Quoting Me) Here! Without Reforms, Due Process Is In Peril! Why Not “Give Due Process A Chance?”

http://www.wnyc.org/story/why-new-yorks-immigration-courts-are-so-busy/

“This is why experts say it’s hard to imagine Donald Trump deporting more criminal immigrants than Obama. “I think this administration already takes a fairly broad view of who is a criminal,” said Paul Wickham Schmidt, who was an immigration judge in Arlington, Virginia for 13 years.

Trump has claimed there are two to three million undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions. The government has said that number is actually just below 2 million and includes non-citizens who are in the country legally (like Bilanicz), as well as undocumented immigrants.

The government has put more resources into immigration enforcement. But Schmidt said it hasn’t done enough to help the court system meet the growing demand. There were fewer than 300 immigration judges for the whole country last year, and they were hearing more than 220,000 cases. Schmidt said even 100 additional judges would barely keep up with incoming cases, let alone the backlog.

“If you start doing the half million cases that are pending then you’re going to fall behind on the incoming cases,” he said.

. . . .

Judges have also complained that the government fast-tracked unaccompanied minors and families from Central America and Mexico who crossed the border in a “surge” a couple of years ago. These recent arrivals got priority over immigrants who had been waiting years for their hearings or trials, leading to bigger backlogs.

. . . .

The whole [Master Calendar] process took about five minutes for each case, and [Judge Amiena] Khan was scheduling future court appearances as late as August of 2018. This isn’t so bad given, that Schmidt said he was scheduling hearings for 2021 before retiring last summer. But one lawyer in court that morning, Shihao Bao, agreed the system couldn’t possibly handle more cases unless Trump wanted to “take away due process.”

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To paraphrase Chief Justice John Robert’s spot-on observation in the immigration case Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 421 (2009), providing due process in an individual case takes time: “[S]ometimes a little; sometimes a lot.”  As I have said numerous times on this blog, the “just peddle faster approach” to due process in the U.S. Immigration Courts, unsuccessfully tried by past Administrations, isn’t going to “cut it” for due process.

And, cutting corners is sure to be more expensive to the taxpayers in the long run when Article III U.S. Courts of Appeals inevitably intervene and use their independent authority to stop the “assembly line” approach to justice and force the return of numerous cases to the Immigration Courts for “redos,” sometimes before different Immigration Judges.

I’m relatively certain that some of the Ashcroft-era cases “bounced back” by the Courts of Appeals are still kicking around the Immigration Courts somewhere without any final resolutions.  With the help of the local immigration bar and the ICE Office of Chief Counsel I finished up a fair number of these “oldies” myself during my time at the Arlington Immigration Court.  By the time the cases finally got to my Individual Hearing calendar, most of the individuals involved had qualified for relief from removal or, alternatively, had established lengthy records of good behavior, tax payment, contributions to the community, and U.S. family ties that made them “low priorities” for enforcement and resulted in an offer of “prosecutorial discretion” from the Assistant Chief Counsel.

In the Arlington Immigration Court, the Office of Chief Counsel had a strong sense of justice and practicality and was a huge force in helping to get “low priority” cases off the docket whenever possible consistent with the needs and policies of their DHS client.  But, I know that the Offices of Chief Counsel in other areas did not perform at the same consistently high level.

Rather than having enforcement efforts stymied and having to redo cases time and time again to get them right, why not invest in providing really great fairness and due process at the “retail level” of our justice system:  the United States Immigration Courts?  Getting it right in the Immigration Courts would not only save time and money in the long run by reducing appeals, petitions for review, and actions for injunctions directed to higher courts, but would also produce a due process oriented Immigration Court system we could all be proud of, that would have great credibility,  and that would serve as an inspiring example of “best practices” to other courts and even to immigration systems in other countries.  After all, the “vision” of the U.S. Immigration Courts is supposed to be:  “Through teamwork and innovation be the world’s best tribunals guaranteeing fairness and due process for all.”  Why not “give due process a chance?”

PWS

01/17/17