THE TRAGEDY OF EL SALVADOR IN THE AGE OF TRUMP: Linda Greenhouse @ NYT” – “[S]ince President Trump announced his decision, I’ve been obsessed not with its legality but with its cruelty and self-defeating stupidity.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/18/opinion/el-salvador-trump-immigration.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20180118&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=8&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1

Greenhouse writes:

“Expulsions on the scale the Trump administration envisions are hardly unknown to history. Even modern countries, within memory, have sought to rid themselves of entire populations. It tends neither to turn out well nor reflect well on the expelling country. Two hundred thousand people may not sound like a huge number on a historic scale. But the population of San Salvador, El Salvador’s capital, is only 280,000. Money sent home by Salvadorans living abroad, most in the United States, where protected status conveys work authorization, amounts to 17 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to the country’s central bank. The destabilizing effect of cutting off this flow of capital is obvious.

The potential economic effects in this country are less obvious, but real. Contrary to what President Trump might think, the Salvadoran community is highly productive. According to the Center for Migration Studies, a think tank in New York affiliated with a Catholic group, the Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Charles, 88 percent of Salvadorans participate in the labor force (the construction and food service industries are their biggest employers), compared with 63 percent of Americans as a whole. They pay taxes and own homes. Since individuals with protected status are ineligible for welfare and other social benefits, this is a group that contributes to the country while taking little.

And the human cost of expelling them is nearly unbearable. More than half have been in this country for at least 20 years. During that time they have become parents of some 200,000 United States-born citizens. Ten percent of the protected-status Salvadorans are married to legal residents. What exactly does the Trump administration think should become of these families? “Not even a dog would leave their babies behind,” Elmer Pena, an Indianapolis homeowner who has worked for the same company there for 18 years, said to USA Today. His children, United States citizens, are 10, 8 and 6 years old.

. . . .

Revisiting El Salvador’s bloody history is outside the scope of this column. But in this #MeToo era of standing with one’s fellow humans, it seems to me that we owe something to that country beyond the sundering of families and the expulsion of people who did exactly what they were supposed to do: make the best of the opportunity extended to them in grace nearly a generation ago. Were we a better country then? Are we comfortable with what we have become?”

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Read thge complete op-ed at the link.

And, over at the Washington Post, Charles Lane had this to offer:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-dangerous-threat-to-the-third-largest-hispanic-group-in-america/2018/01/17/44b1b6bc-fbac-11e7-a46b-a3614530bd87_story.html?utm_term=.4f0ff01e7347

Lane writes:

“This forgotten history has contemporary lessons, which we should try to understand lest President Trump’s policy prove not merely morally questionable but also counterproductive.

El Salvador is the most densely populated Spanish-speaking country on the planet; yet a small elite historically controlled its best farmlands.

The struggle for existence there is intense, sometimes violent. And so generations of Salvadorans have left in search of land and work — and tranquility. Neighboring Honduras was once a crucial demographic escape valve. The 1969 war closed it, and disrupted the Central American common market, destabilizing El Salvador politically. There was a savage 1979-1992 civil war between U.S.-supported governments and Marxist guerrillas.

That conflict drove hundreds of thousands to the United States, establishing a migratory pattern that continues to this day. The 2.1 million Salvadoran-origin people now constitute the third-largest Hispanic group in the United States, after those of Mexican and Puerto Rican origin, according to the Pew Research Center.

Salvadoran labor helped build the shiny new downtown of Washington, D.C., one of several cities — including Houston and Los Angeles — that would barely be recognizable anymore without a Salvadoran community.

. . . .

Still, he is correct to focus on the deeper causes of migration, and the United States’ chronic failure positively to affect them. At the very least, history provides cause for concern that, by ending “temporary protected status” next year for nearly one-tenth of all Salvadoran-origin people here, Trump might ultimately destabilize Central America further.

. . . .

At the same time, it would deprive the Salvadoran economy of millions of dollars in cash remittances, while requiring it to house and employ a large number of returnees.

Of course, that’s on the implausible assumption that most affected Salvadorans wouldn’t try to stay, thus swelling the very undocumented population Trump is supposedly bent on shrinking.

MS-13 itself metastasized in El Salvador as the unintended consequence of a (defensible) American effort, begun under the Clinton administration, to deport members convicted of crimes in the United States. The gang began in L.A.’s Salvadoran community; once back in El Salvador, its members took advantage of corrupt, weak law enforcement to expand and, eventually, reach back into the United States.

Of all the United States’ international relationships, surely the most underrated — in terms of tangible impact on people’s everyday lives, both here and abroad — is the one with El Salvador. Any policy that fails to take that into account is doomed to fail.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

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Of course the Trump Administration neither cares about the human effects on Salvadorans and their families nor fully understands and appreciates the adverse effects on both the U.S. and El Salvador. And, this Administration arrogantly and stupidly thinks that it can control human migration patterns solely by “macho” enforcement actions on this end. That’s why they are on track for an immigration policy that is “FUBAR Plus.” Others will be left to wipe up the tears and pick up the pieces! But, then, taking responsibility for failure isn’t a Trump specialty either.

PWS

01-19-18

 

 

THE HILL: NOLAN UNIMPRESSED BY “GANG OF SIX’S” DREAMER COMPROMISE EFFORT!

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/369403-gang-of-six-daca-bill-is-an-exploitative-political-statement

 

Family Pictures

Nolan writes:

“. . . .

Yet no matter how Flake describes the proposal, it is not a good faith attempt to find common ground with either the majority of congressional Republicans or the president.

Five of the six senators in the Gang of Six were also in 2013’s the Gang of Eight, which showed the same disregard for majority Republican positions when they moved the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, S. 744, through the Senate.

S. 744 was bipartisan too, but it was opposed by 70 percent of the Senate Republicans. Among other things, it would have established a large legalization program without assurance that the aliens being legalized would not be replaced in 10 years by a new group of undocumented aliens.

This has been the sine qua non for Republican cooperation with a legalization program since the failed implementation of the enforcement provisions in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, (IRCA), which legalized 2.7 million aliens.

One of IRCA’s major objectives was to wipe the slate clean and start over with an effective enforcement program. But IRCA’s enforcement measures were not implemented, and by October 1996, the undocumented alien population had almost doubled.

. . . .

Trump wants a physical wall. Virtual walls rely primarily on surveillance technology, which just notifies the border patrol when aliens are making an illegal crossing. They will be in the United States before they can be apprehended, and Trump’s enforcement program suffers already from an immigration court backlog crisis.

A physical wall makes illegal crossings more difficult. While some grown men can climb over a large wall, children can’t, and the dangers involved in climbing over such a wall should deter parents from bringing their children here illegally.

If the Democrats really want to help the DACA participants, they will let Trump have his wall.”

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I probably see it more the way the Washington Post did in yesterday’s lead editorial. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ignore-the-president-vote-on-the-daca-deal/2018/01/16/55f38288-fb03-11e7-8f66-2df0b94bb98a_story.html

There apparently are enough Democratic and GOP votes to pass the “Gang of Six” compromise. Why be held hostage by GOP legislators who, while perhaps they are a majority of the GOP, are a minority of the total legislature and actually represent a minority position among Americans? Some days Trump says he’ll sign anything Congress passes; other days he doesn’t. So, give him the bill and see what happens. Seems unlikely that he will veto his own budget.

On the other hand, at this point, I’d be willing to give Trump his Wall (but not an end to “chain migration” or permanent cuts in permanent immigration) if that’s what it takes to save the Dreamers. Unlike Nolan, however, my experience tells me that “The Wall” will ultimately be an expensive failure. Whatever the technical difficulties with past “Virtual Walls” might have been, I have to believe that technology, which tends to improve over time, not physical barriers are the wave of the future.

And the real solution to individuals coming here without documents is a more robust and realistic legal immigration program that meets market demands for additional labor and also satisfies our humanitarian obligations. 

Most of the current adult so-called “undocumented” residents of the U.S. are gainfully employed in ways that actually help and support the U.S. They are a huge net “plus.” So, why would we want to go to great lengths in a futile attempt to keep folks like them from coming in to help us in the future? Doesn’t make any sense! That’s why we’re in the current situation — unrealistic laws.

The real solution is more legal immigration which would insure that those coming get properly screened and don’t have to use the services of smugglers. Then, immigration enforcement could concentrate on those seeking to come outside the system.

Leaving aside refugees, why would folks come if the job market actually gets to the point where it is saturated and can no longer expand? For the most part, they wouldn’t. But, of course, that wouldn’t satisfy the GOP White Nationalist restrictionists who are operating from a racial rather than a realistic perspective.

PWS

01-18-18

 

MORE DEADLY MISTAKES: 6TH CIR. FINDS BIA’S ERROR-RIDDLED DECISION WRONGLY SENT WOMAN BACK TO FACE CARTEL THREATS IN MEXICO – TRUJILLO DIAZ V. SESSIONS!

18a0012p-06-6thGangs

Trujillo Diaz v. Sessions, 6th Cir., 01-17-18, published

PANEL: MERRITT, MOORE, and BUSH, Circuit Judges.

OPINION  BY: Judge Bush.

SUMMARY (FROM OPINION):

“In this immigration case, Maribel Trujillo Diaz petitions for review of an order denying her motion to reopen removal proceedings. The United States Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) ruled that Trujillo Diaz failed to establish a prima facie case of eligibility for asylum or withholding of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA” or “Act”) because she failed to show that she would be singled out individually for persecution based on her family membership. The BIA reiterated this finding in ruling that Trujillo Diaz failed to establish a prima facie case of eligibility for protection under the Convention Against Torture. Because the BIA failed to credit the facts stated in Trujillo Diaz’s declarations, and this error undermined its conclusion as to the sufficiency of Trujillo Diaz’s prima facie evidence, we hold that the BIA abused its discretion. We further hold that the BIA abused its discretion in summarily rejecting Trujillo Diaz’s argument that she could not safely relocate internally in Mexico for purposes of showing a prima facie case of eligibility for relief under the Convention Against Torture. Thus, we vacate the order of the BIA and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

KEY QUOTATION:

“The BIA’s abuse of discretion in failing to credit Trujillo Diaz’s father’s affidavit undermined its conclusion that Trujillo Diaz had not made a prima facie showing of eligibility for asylum and withholding of removal under the INA. This conclusion also affected the BIA’s analysis of whether Trujillo Diaz made a prima facie showing of eligibility for protection under the Convention Against Torture. Further, the BIA abused its discretion in summarily rejecting Trujillo Diaz’s argument that she could not safely relocate internally in Mexico for purposes of showing prima facie eligibility under the Convention Against Torture. Accordingly, we GRANT the petition and REMAND to the BIA for reconsideration consistent with this opinion.”

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Following the denial of her original claim for asylum, Trujillo Diaz was allowed by the Obama Administration as an exercise of prosecutorial discretion to remain in the United States with work authorization and faithfully checked in with the DHS. However, the Trump Administration arbitrarily targeted her for removal. Although many in the community, including the Catholic Church, protested, the Administration nevertheless removed Trujillo Diaz to Mexico while this motion was pending.

Our tax dollars are being squandered for this type of useless, immoral, and in this case ultimately wrongful removal. At no time has Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions shown any concern whatsoever for the significant  number of mistaken asylum denials and improper deportations taking place as a result of poor quality decision-making taking place in the over-stressed and overwhelmed U.S. Immigration Courts operating under his administration. Nor has he shown any appreciation for the obvious fact that rather than more speed in deporting individuals, this court system is badly in need of better representation for asylum seekers, more careful decision-making that complies with the law, and measures to insure Due Process as required by the U.S. Constitution. 

Sessions’s anti-due-process administration of the U.S. Immigration Courts is a national disgrace! We need an independent United States Immigration Court dedicated to insuring Due Process and protecting vulnerable individuals from wrongful removals like this! Now! 

PWS

01-18-18

 

DANA MILBANK @ WASHPOST: KIRSTJEN NIELSEN IS A BUREAUCRATIC SUPER SYCOPHANT! – Duh! Why Do You Think She Got The Job?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/this-way-madness-lies/2018/01/16/0b627fe2-fb0a-11e7-a46b-a3614530bd87_story.html

Milbank writes:

“This way madness lies.

I knew that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, when she appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, would deny that Trump said what the whole world knows he said: that he wants immigrants from Norway rather than from “shithole” countries in Africa.

What I was not expecting was that Nielsen would raise a question about whether Norwegians are mostly white.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) displayed a poster from the dais proclaiming, in big letters, “Trump: Why allow immigrants from ‘Shithole Countries’?” An aide held the poster aloft right behind Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), who, along with Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), was at the infamous meeting with Trump and told others about his racist language.

Nielsen, who was also in that meeting, was now under oath, and she wiggled every which way to excuse Trump without perjuring herself: “I did not hear that word used. . . . I don’t dispute that the president was using tough language.”

Leahy moved on to Trump’s wish for more Norwegian immigrants. “Norway is a predominantly white country, isn’t it?” he asked, rhetorically.

“I actually do not know that, sir,” Nielsen replied. “But I imagine that is the case.”

Kirstjen Nielsen doesn’t know Norwegians are white?

Just as Nielsen “imagines” Norwegians are white, I imagine that she, in her denial of the obvious and defense of the indefensible, is the latest Trump sycophant to trash her reputation. She joins the two Republican senators, David Perdue (Ga.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.), who were in the room for the “shithole” moment but not only denied that it was said (Trump’s use of the vulgar word was widely confirmed, even by Fox News, and not denied by the White House until Trump tweeted a partial denial the next day) but also disparaged the integrity of Durbin for being truthful.

It’s clear they, like Nielsen, do this so they don’t get crosswise with the volatile president — but in the process shred their own integrity.

Now the federal government is hurtling toward a shutdown, entirely because of the president’s whim. Democrats and Republicans presented him last week with exactly the bipartisan deal he said he would sign — protecting the immigrant “dreamers” while also providing funding for his border security “wall” — but Trump unexpectedly exploded with his racist attack and vulgar word.”

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Read the rest of Milbank’s op-ed at the above link.

Obviously, Neilsen got the job of DHS Secretary because she was perceived by the Trumpsters to be a lightweight sycophant who wouldn’t “rock the boat.” After all, a truly independent individual at the head of DHS might stand up to the wasteful and immoral “Gonzo” enforcement program being pursued by Trump, Miller, Sessions, Kelly, Homan, and the rest of the Administration’s “White Nationalist Cabal.”

How dumb and complicit is Nielsen? Well, she’s been “reassuring” the “Dreamer community” that even if the budget deal falls through they won’t be an “enforcement priority!” She ignores, of course, the fact that without DACA or legislation, the Dreamers will lose their hard-earned legal work authorizations and, in many cases, their ability to pursue higher education.

In plain terms, they will be “forced underground” where they will be subject to employer abuse, won’t be able to pay taxes, won’t be able to realize their full potential, and, naturally, will be unable to report or act as witnesses to crimes because of fear of removal. Plus, Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions and Tom Homan have assured Dreamers that if they happen to get caught up in any of ICE’s “dragnet” operations, their “nonpriority” status won’t save them from deportation. Also, once “underground” and no longer required to apply to the DHS for renewals, those few “Dreamers” who do go “off the tracks” will not have their records periodically reviewed by the Government. We won’t even have a real idea of how many actually are in the U.S. any more. So, how is this sane government?

The Obama Administration correctly determined that removal of the Dreamers was not an enforcement priority and not in the national interest. In other words, they that they should receive “prosecutorial discretion,” or “PD” pending an appropriate legislative resolution which was not immediately available.

Rather than leaving it to a myriad of local enforcement officials to arbitrarily exercise PD, the Obama Administration established a program where Dreamers were carefully reviewed by professional DHS adjudicators who consistently applied written, transparent criteria. If qualified, Dreamers were given legal authorization to work and documentation that, for the most part, allowed them to pursue higher education, get drivers licenses, etc. What a reasonable and rational way to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” or “PD.” Indeed, a model program.

A real DHS secretary might have stood up to bullies Trump, Kelly, Miller, and Sessions by arguing that the DACA program should be reinstated. The opportunity certainly presented itself. The Administration could simply drop its opposition to the order of the U.S. District Judge Alsup blocking the rescission of DACA. That also would offer the Administration “legal cover” if any of the restrictionist GOP state AGs challenge DACA. They would have to deal with a highly skeptical Judge Alsup.

A real DHS Secretary might also not have had “bogus amnesia” and have reported accurately under oath what the President really said. A real DHS Secretary might also have “Just Said No” to the cruel and irrational termination of Salvadoran TPS. Yeah, the President could fire her for either of those things. But, no Cabinet Secretary job is forever anyway. If you’re going to go down, having it be for courageously telling truth to power, when power is being abused, isn’t the worst way to go out.

Instead, Neilsen will go down as just another bureaucratic sycophant who “went along to get along” no matter what the cost to her country and to her own integrity.

PWS

01-17-18

 

GONZO’S WORLD: HIS HIGHLY DISINGENUOUS “TRIBUTE” TO DR. KING WHILE ACTIVELY UNDERMINING MLK’S VISION OF RACIAL EQUALITY IN AMERICA OUTRAGES CIVIL RIGHTS ADVOCATES! — Hollow Words From An Empty Man!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/sessions-in-remarks-criticized-as-beyond-ironic-praises-martin-luther-king-jr/2018/01/16/cb3a8bd8-fae3-11e7-a46b-a3614530bd87_story.html

 

Sari Horwitz reports for the Washington Post:

“All he had were his words and the power of truth,” Sessions said. “ . . . His message, his life and his death changed hearts and minds. Those changed souls then changed the laws of this land.”

But civil rights leaders criticized Sessions’s remarks, made at a time, they said, when the Justice Department is rolling back efforts to promote civil and voting rights.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions called Tuesday for Justice Department employees to “remember, celebrate and act” in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

“It is beyond ironic for Jeff Sessions to celebrate the architecture of civil rights protections inspired by Dr. King and other leaders as he works to tear down these very protections,” said Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division under President Barack Obama and now president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

“Make no mistake,” Gupta said. “If Dr. King were alive today, he would be protesting outside of Jeff Sessions’s office.”

Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said that in the past year, the Justice Department under Sessions has taken action to “obstruct and reverse civil rights enforcement.”

She and others point to a new policy that calls for federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges even if that might mean minority defendants face stiff, mandatory-minimum penalties. Sessions has defended President Trump’s travel ban and threatened to take away funding from cities with policies he considers too lenient toward undocumented immigrants. The department’s new guidance and stances on voting rights and LGBT issues also might disenfranchise minorities and poor people, civil rights advocates say.

Justice officials say that Sessions’s actions reflect an aggressive, by-the-book interpretation of federal law and that his policies are geared toward fighting violent crime and drug trafficking.”

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Read the complete article at the above link.

Absurd and insulting! Actions speak louder than words, Gonzo! Every day that you spend in office mocks our Constitution, the rule of law, human decency, and the legacy of MLK and others who fought for racial and social equality and social justice under the law.

I have no doubt that if Dr. King were alive today, he and his followers would be on your and Trump’s  “hit list.” Indeed, peacefully but forcefully standing up to and shaming tone-deaf, White Nationalist, racially challenged politicos like you, who lived in the past and inhibited America’s future with their racism, was one of the defining marks of MLK’s life!

How do things like increasing civil immigration detention, building the “New American Gulag,” stripping unaccompanied children of their rights to an Immigration Court hearing, mindlessly attacking so-called “sanctuary cities,” mocking hard-working pro bono immigration attorneys and their efforts, reducing the number of refugees, excluding Muslims, building a wall, stripping protections from Dreamers, reducing legal immigration, favoring White immigrants, and spreading false narratives about Latino migrants and crime “honor” the legacy of Dr. King?

Indeed, the “Sanctuary Cities Movement” appears to have a direct historical connection to King’s non-violent civil disobedience aimed at the enforcement of “Jim Crow” laws. Much as today, those on the “wrong side of history” wrapped themselves in hypocritical bogus “rule of law” arguments as they mocked and violated the civil rights of African Americans. 

At some point, America needs and deserves a real Attorney General, one who recognizes and fights for the rights of everyone in America, including minorities, the poor, the most vulnerable, and the so-called undocumented population, who, contrary to your actions and rhetoric, are entitled to full Due Process of law under our Constitution. Imagine how a real Attorney General, one like say Vanita Gupta, might act. Now that would truly honor Dr. King’s memory.

PWS

01-17-18

 

ADMINISTRATION BIDS TO “JACK” U.S. COURT SYSTEM BY BYPASSING 9TH CIRCUIT AND GOING DIRECTLY TO SUPREMES FOR “RELIEF” FROM DACA REINSTATEMENT ORDER!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/trump-administration-appeals-judges-order-that-daca-must-remain-for-now/2018/01/16/41a8c960-f6e8-11e7-beb6-c8d48830c54d_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_daca-appeal-315pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.9e1d11e8d91c

Maria Sacchetti reports for the Washington Post:

“The Justice Department on Tuesday said it would take the “rare step” of asking the Supreme Court to overturn a judge’s ruling and clear the way for the Trump administration to dismantle a program that provides work permits to undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States since childhood.

The Trump administration said it has appealed the judge’s injunction — which said the Obama-era program must continue while a legal challenge to ending it is pending — to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

But the Justice Department will also petition the Supreme Court later this week to intervene in the case, an unusual action that would allow the government to bypass the 9th Circuit altogether in its bid to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in March.

“It defies both law and common sense” that a “single district court in San Francisco” had halted the administration’s plans, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “We are now taking the rare step of requesting direct review on the merits of this injunction by the Supreme Court so that this issue may be resolved quickly and fairly for all the parties involved.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

The Supremes seem to have “enabled” the Trump Administration by giving them a highly questionable “early victory” in dissolving the lower court injunction in the “Travel Ban 3.0 Case” without making the Administration go through the normal appellate process. Obviously, Trump & Sessions have taken that as an open invitation to short-circuit the justice system by appealing to the Supremes at will.

Hard to see what the real rush is here, given that the Dreamers have been here for years, aren’t going anywhere, and the Administration won’t even begin the real phase-out of the program until March.

PWS

01-16-18

DEPORTING THE INNOCENT – DESTROYING AMERICAN FAMILIES & COMMUNITIES – A TRUMP/SESSIONS/DHS SPECIALTY!

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/deport-man-30-years_us_5a5dc32fe4b04f3c55a56e47

Willa Frej reports for the Huffington Post:

“Jorge Garcia, 39, bid his family farewell Monday under the watchful gaze of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, who required him to return to his native Mexico after living in the Detroit area for 30 years.

Emotional video of Garcia hugging his wife and two children at Detroit’s Metro Airport captured the emotional trauma that deportations can cause for families. Though members of Garcia’s family all are U.S. citizens, he was technically living in the country illegally.

NIRAJ WARIKOO/DETROIT FREE PRESS/USA TODAY SPORTS IMAGES
Jorge Garcia, 39, of Lincoln Park, Michigcan, hugs his wife, Cindy Garcia, and their two children Jan. 15, 2018, at Detroit Metro Airport moments before being forced to board a flight to Mexico to be deported.

“Yes, he was brought here at 10 years old and yes, he entered the country illegally, but he has no criminal record and his case needs to be looked at individually because he deserves to be here in a country that he’s known ― not Mexico,” his wife, Cindy Garcia, told CNN.

During President Barack Obama’s administration, Garcia received temporary extensions allowing him to avert a deportation order from 2009, according to the Detroit Free Press. ICE renewed the order in November and told Garcia he needed to exit the country by Jan. 15.

President Donald Trump’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants includes widescale raids, arrests and deportations. From the time Trump took office until the end of September, ICE removals that resulted from an arrests increased by 37 percent over the previous year, the Department of Homeland Security said. Meanwhile, the number of people apprehended attempting to cross the U.S. southern border dropped to a historical low in fiscal 2017.

Garcia expressed sadness and apprehension about returning to a country he barely remembers.

“I got to leave my family behind, knowing that they’re probably going to have a hard time adjusting, me not being there for them for who knows how long,” he said in an interview with the Detroit Free Press the night before his deportation.  “It’s just hard. It’s going to be kind of hard for me to adjust, too.”

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Senseless as it is cruel, stupid, and wasteful. As I’ve pointed out before, if this is how DHS is “setting priorities,” using law enforcement resources, and wasting taxpayer money, they clearly do not need any more agents.

PWS

1-16-18

THE HILL: PROFESSOR (& FORMER USCIS CHIEF COUNSEL) STEPHEN LEGOMSKY ON WHY THE TRUMP/SESSIONS FALSE NARRATIVE ATTEMPTING TO DEMONIZE & CRIMINALIZE ALL IMMIGRANTS IS SO TOXIC FOR AMERICA!

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/367269-trumps-lumps-all-immigrants-together-at-americas-risk

Steve writes:

“As we approach the first anniversary of the Trump presidency, a clear pattern emerges.

A Muslim immigrant and her U.S.-born husband kill civilians. Candidate Donald Trump’s reaction was to propose a ban on all Muslim immigrants.

Some refugees commit crimes. His reaction is to bar all refugees for 120 days and drastically cut refugee admissions after that.

A diversity-visa immigrant commits a terrorist act. President Trump‘s reaction is to call for repealing the diversity immigrant program.

A man is admitted under the sibling preference. His accompanying child attempts a terrorist attack years later. President Trump’s reaction is that all “chain immigration” should be banned.

 

The absurdity of condemning an entire group because of the actions of a single member seems self-evident. If a left-handed immigrant commits a crime, no one would propose banning all left-handed immigrants. The real question is whether there is a causal link between the commission of the crime and either the substantive criteria or the processes of the particular program.

No such link exists. For one thing, everyone who seeks admission to the United States under any of these programs is rigorously vetted. I know this firsthand, from my experience as chief counsel of the federal agency that admits immigrants and refugees.

. . . .

Anti-immigrant groups are fond of pointing out that, if an individual who committed a crime had never been allowed to enter, the crime would not have occurred. And that is true. But that observation could be made about any admission program. No matter how strict the criteria or how rigorous the vetting, there is always some possibility, however remote, that a given individual will one day commit a crime. Short of banning all foreign nationals from ever setting foot on U.S. soil, there is no way to reduce the risk to zero.

As with any other policy decision, the risks have to be balanced against the benefits. And there are benefits in allowing U.S. citizens to reunite with their family members, benefits in attracting workers with needed skills, benefits in diversifying the immigrant stream, and benefits in fulfilling a moral responsibility to welcome our fair share of those who fear for their lives.

Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Stephen Legomsky is an emeritus law professor at Washington University, the former chief counsel of the federal immigration services agency, and the principal author of “Immigration and Refugee Law and Policy,” which has been the required text for immigration courses at 185 law schools.”

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Go on over to The Hill at the link to read Steve’s complete article.

Thanks, Steve, for sending this my way and for these great and appropriate thoughts on MLK Day! It’s important for those of us who have spent a lifetime working in the field and have served the public in our Government to speak out against the various false narratives and perversions of programs that have served America well being pushed by the restrictionists who control this Administration’s immigration policies. Hate, fear, and loathing are not the answers that Dr. King was promoting!

PWS

01-15-18

LA TIMES: GOP APPARENTLY ADOPTS TRUMP’S WHITE NATIONALIST RESTRICTIONIST IMMIGRATION AGENDA WHILE ESSENTIALLY DEFENDING HIS RACISM — GOP Now Openly RepresentsThe Forces Of Ignorance & Intolerance In America!

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_popover_share.aspx?guid=c072dbb1-9778-4e79-a635-ce0b9b58b8d4

Lisa Mascaro reports for the LA Times:

“WASHINGTON — The furor over President Trump’s language about immigrants from “shithole countries” has partially obscured the substance of what he was demanding and the profound shift among Republicans beyond opposing illegal immigration to also pushing new limits on legal migrants, particularly of color.

Trump made the remark as he rejected a bipartisan proposal from Sens. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to resolve the status of some 700,000 so-called Dreamers facing deportation. In exchange for protecting them, Trump wanted more restrictions on legal immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, among other changes.

Those demands come as Trump has already put the country on track to remove 1 million immigrants over the next two years. Among them are the Dreamers — young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children — and more than 200,000 Salvadorans, nearly 60,000 Haitians and others from Central America who have lived in the U.S. legally, in some cases for decades, under temporary protected status that the administration is ending.

The mounting total is a policy reversal for Republicans, who until recently insisted that welcoming new arrivals was vital not just to the fabric of American life but in boosting the domestic economy. Now, many Republicans in Congress have moved to a more restrictionist position, following Trump’s lead.

Trump “has taken our issues off the back burner and thrust them into the spotlight,” said Roy Beck, executive director at Numbers USA, which argues for reducing immigration to midcentury levels, before passage of the 1965 immigration overhaul ushered in a new era of diverse migrants.

Beck marvels at the turn of events.

“The president has done as much as we hoped for,” he said.

Trump’s insistence on immigration restrictions may have increased the odds of a confrontation this week when Congress must vote on a measure to fund agencies or risk a partial government shutdown.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Aligning yourselves with Roy Beck says it all. The GOP’s push on undocumented immigration has become a smokescreen for a war on legal immigrants from non-European countries. That, in turn, is part of the White Nationalist attack on ethnic Americans, particularly individuals of color.

Trump’s crassness and lack of judgment has just blown the smokescreen and exposed the ugly racist and xenophobic underpinnings of the GOP’s “merit based” immigration charade. Folks who care about America’s future must resist this un-American GOP initiative.

Eventually, the majority of us who believe in a tolerant, diverse, welcoming, unafraid America that can resume its world leadership role must regain power from those driven by the toxic, intolerant views of a minority of Americans who foisted the national disaster of Trump upon our country!

PWS

01-14-18

OUR TOTALLY UNHINGED, RACIST PRESIDENT — FIRST HE MADE RACIALLY DEROGATORY REMARKS; THEN, AS USUAL, HE LIED ABOUT IT! — Get the Inside Dope From Sen. Dick Durbin About The Outrageous Behavior In The Oval Office — GOP “End Chain Migration Demand” Exposed As Part Of White Nationalist Restrictionist Agenda Aimed At Blacks, Latinos, & Other Minorities!

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/durbin-trump-shithole_us_5a58c7ffe4b02cebbfdb29c8?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Elise Foley reports for HuffPost:

“Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Friday that he heard President Donald Trump make “hate-filled, vile and racist” comments to lawmakers that the president is now denying.

Durbin, who was at the White House meeting on Thursday to discuss immigration, is the first to go on the record confirming reports that Trump referred to African nations as “shithole countries,” and that the U.S. should “take … out” Haitians currently living in the U.S. Trump reportedly also commented that the U.S. should accept more immigrants from Norway.

Trump on Friday claimed on Twitter that he didn’t use the language attributed to him about Haitians, but neither he nor the White House has directly denied his comments on African countries.

Durbin, speaking to reporters on Friday, contradicted Trump’s claim.

“I cannot believe that in the history of the White House, in that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday,” Durbin said. “You’ve seen the comments in the press. I’ve not read one of them that’s inaccurate.”

Durbin added: “He said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly.”

Trump made the comments during an immigration meeting with Durbin and six Republican lawmakers: Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.); House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Reps. Bob Goodlatte, (R-Va.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), according to MSNBC.

Durbin and Graham pitched Trump on the outlines of a deal they and others in a six-senator bipartisan group made to resolve the legal status of Dreamers, the young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

Nearly 700,000 Dreamers are at risk of losing deportation relief and work permits ― or already have ― because Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

Democrats want protections for Dreamers included in a measure on government spending, which must pass by a Jan. 19 deadline to avoid a government shutdown.

Trump has said he wants to help Dreamers, but only if he gets something in return: his border wall and other security measures, an end to the diversity visa lottery, and limits on family-based visas, which the president derisively refers to as “chain migration.”

Trump has falsely claimed that other countries use the diversity visa lottery to send their “worst people” to the U.S. A large proportion of diversity visa lottery recipients come from African nations.

Durbin, Graham and their allies drafted a plan that would eliminate the diversity visa lottery as Trump demanded, but would allow some immigrants currently in the U.S. under temporary protected status, which lets people stay in the country after natural disasters or other crises in their home nations. The Trump administration is ending those protections for people from Haiti, El Salvador and Nicaragua, and suggested it will do the same for Hondurans.

Durbin said that’s when he told Trump about the numbers of people who hold temporary protected status from various countries, including Haiti.

“He said, ’Haitians, do we need more Haitians?’” Durbin said.

Trump then made “vile and vulgar comments” about African nations, Durbin said, calling them “shitholes.”

The slur was “the exact word used by the president ― not just once, but repeatedly,” said Durbin.

Graham spoke up, confronting Trump’s harsh language, which Durbin said “took extraordinary political courage.” Graham hasn’t publicly commented on the meeting.

Durbin also recounted a “heartbreaking moment” when Trump and others “scoffed” at his comments about the importance of family-based immigration. The president and his allies have said the U.S. should move to a “merit-based” system rather than admitting people based on family ties, referring to anyone but spouses and minor children as “extended family.”

“Chain migration” as a term is offensive, Durbin said he told the president.

“I said to the president, do you realize how painful that term is to so many people? African-Americans believe that they migrated to America in chains, and when you speak about ‘chain migration,’ it hurts them personally,” Durbin said. “He said, ‘Oh, that’s a good line.’”

In a statement after Trump’s comments were first reported, the White House did not deny them.

But Trump on Friday insisted the reports were inaccurate.

“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used,” he tweeted. “What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!”

Trump addressed Haiti, but said nothing about his reported comments on Africa.

“Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country,” Trump tweeted. “Never said ‘take them out.’ Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately, no trust!”

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) was not among the lawmakers in the White House meeting, but tweeted Friday that he heard about Trump’s comments “directly following the meeting by those in attendance.”

The remarks “were not ‘tough,’ they were abhorrent and repulsive,” Flake tweeted.”

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Trump’s total meltdown might well kill any budget deal for the time being, almost guaranteeing a USG shutdown.

At the same time, it “blows the cover” from the White Nationalist, restrictionist agenda that some in the GOP have been pushing under a bogus claim of “reshaping the immigration system in the interests of the United States.” No, it is, and always has been about unnecessarily and unwisely restricting and limiting legal immigration while directly attacking people of color, non-Christians, and other minorities. And, the bias and racism isn’t limited to immigrants — it also carries over to the views of many in the GOP about ethic Americans. When the GOP allows itself to be driven by a racially charged hate-based agenda, it makes “compromise” difficult, if not impossible.

The majority of us who believe in a diverse, tolerant, generous, welcoming America and a vibrant social and economic future for our country must over time retake power from the White Nationalist driven minority that now seems to be in charge! Every election, local, state, and national is critical! “Just Say No” to candidates, on every level, who promote, advance, or aid and abet the White Nationalist agenda.

PWS

01-12-18

 

DANA MILBANK @ WASHPOST: “DREAMERS” NEED TO “COOL IT” AND STOP ATTACKING THEIR ALLIES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dreamers-need-to-get-out-of-their-own-way/2018/01/09/85a999a4-f58b-11e7-beb6-c8d48830c54d_story.html?utm_term=.4494c7762a33

Milbank writes:

“Once again, the left is eating its own.

Democrats are in a good position as they negotiate with President Trump and the congressional majority over their legislative priorities for the next couple of months: children’s health care, nondefense spending, disaster relief and legalization of the “dreamers,” that group of immigrants brought here illegally as children. They also are within reach of retaking both chambers of Congress in November.

But the dreamers have decided to give the Democrats a rude awakening.

When lawmakers reached a short-term, bipartisan deal last month to keep the government funded, United We Dream, the organization leading the campaign to legalize the dreamers, launched an all-out attack on Democrats for failing to insist that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals legislation be included in the spending bill.

The group declared the 17 Senate Democrats who voted for the bill the “Deportation Caucus” and, in a social-media barrage, said they “voted to deport young immigrants.”

United We Dream also fired off a tweet praising conservative Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) “for voting NO on a spending bill that did not include a Dream Act. We see your commitment and we need you to continue fighting with young immigrants!”

This is bonkers.

Democrats — in and out of the supposed “Deportation Caucus” — support legalizing the dreamers. And Lee? His opposition to the spending bill had nothing to do with dreamers. He had called DACA “an illegal abuse of executive power.” Meanwhile, Trump, who created the artificial crisis by announcing he would end DACA, gets away with barely a scratch.

United We Dream deleted the pro-Lee tweet but continues to attack Democrats. There have been sit-ins and sometimes arrests at the offices of Democratic senators.”

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

Read Milbank’s complete op-ed at the link.

I think he makes a good point. Yes, “Dreamers” have been disappointed by the Dems on many prior occasions. I get that.

But, legislation, particularly in an area as complex and controversial as immigration, takes time and some give and take. In many ways, “timing is everything.” I previously noted that right before the Christmas recess would have been a particularly inopportune time from the Dems to “draw a line in the sand,” particularly if there is still some chance of a bipartisan bill that the President will sign.

The Dreamers are surely deserving, but also in many ways fortunate that the Dems (and some GOP legislators) have now put their future as perhaps the number one “must do” on their agenda. They should be careful not to “blow it” by making life difficult for those committed to helping them.

PWS

01-10-18

 

WASHPOST EDITORIAL: TERMINATION OF SALVADORAN TPS IS GRATUITOUS CRUELTY ON PART OF ADMINISTRATION – All Pain, No Gain (In Fact, A Net Loss For Everyone)!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-new-self-inflicted-wound-from-the-trump-administration/2018/01/09/19db1190-f585-11e7-beb6-c8d48830c54d_story.html?utm_term=.bfcbf9ae8f07

January 9 at 7:46 PM

STRIKING A blow for making America small again — plus petty, callous and self-defeating — the Trump administration on Monday stripped about 200,000 Salvadorans of their work authorizations and protection from deportation, effective 20 months from now.

The move will create tens of thousands of new undocumented immigrants in the United States; aggravate labor shortages in some American cities; saddle one of the hemisphere’s most beleaguered countries with problems it is ill-equipped to manage; and embitter tens of thousands of U.S.-born citizens whose parents are suddenly thrust into a life in the shadows or forced to return to a country where they have no future.

At this point, it’s naive to wonder what has become of America’s humanitarian impulse; in the Age of Trump, it’s null and void. Before the decision Monday by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to send packing Salvadorans who have lived in this country since a pair of earthquakes crippled their homeland in 2001, the administration took identical action last year against citizens of the hemisphere’s two poorest countries, Haiti and Nicaragua, who have also lived in this country since natural disasters ravaged their own, and announced its intention to end protections for young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers” effective beginning in March.

As with the dreamers, the administration has seized on a narrow, legalistic interpretation as a pretext for turning against immigrants who have lived in the United States for years. In the case of the Salvadorans, officials insisted that the humanitarian program that shielded them, known as Temporary Protected Status, should lapse because their country had surmounted the original calamity that triggered TPS in the first place. The argument was the same last year for ending TPS for immigrants from Haiti, knocked senseless by a 2010 earthquake, and those from Nicaragua, leveled by a hurricane in 1998.

The administration insists it is giving meaning to the “temporary” in Temporary Protected Status. That’s fine as theory; as a policy, it fails by ignoring reality. Both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations grasped that it was unwise, not to mention cruel, to impose additional burdens on already desperate neighbors. El Salvador — wracked by brutal gang warfare, one of the world’s highest murder rates and an anemic economy — has gross domestic product per capita one-seventh that of the United States. Deporting tens of thousands of Salvadorans, and, in the process, depriving their country of the remittances they send home, will only deepen that country’s unfolding disaster. How is that in the United States’ interest?

The fact is that the Salvadorans have nearly 200,000 children who are U.S. citizens, born in this country, with no knowledge of their parents’ homeland. Nearly a quarter of those who will lose their status have mortgages, many have businesses, and a large majority have been gainfully employed for many years, paying taxes and contributing to communities.

The costs of the administration’s policy are clear. But what has been gained?”

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

In the end, “Gonzo” enforcement and policy making will cost the United States dearly in many, many ways. But, that’s what happens when folks elect an Administration made up of “unqualifieds” and a Congress controlled by a minority Party that doesn’t take seriously its responsibility to legislate or goven in the overall public interest.

The only real solution here is likely to be a longer term one at the ballot box.

PWS

01-10-18

CHRISTIE THOMPSON @ THE MARSHALL PROJECT: SESSIONS’S APPARENT ATTACK ON “ADMINISTRATIVE CLOSING” IN U.S. IMMIGRATION COURT COULD FURTHER SCREW UP ALREADY FAILING SYSTEM — It Wasn’t A Problem, But Is Likely To Become One By The Time He’s Finished By Stripping Judges Of Last Vestiges Of Independent Authority Over Their Mushrooming Dockets! – I’m Quoted In This Article!

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2018/01/09/the-doj-decision-that-could-mean-thousands-more-deportations

Christie writes

“Sessions considers tying the hands of immigration judges.

Administrative closure sounds like one of the driest bureaucratic terms imaginable, but it has huge implications for immigrants and their families. Now, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who oversees immigration judges, is considering limiting that power.

Sessions wrote in a recent brief that he would review judges’ authority to administratively close immigration cases, the latest in a series of Department of Justice memos and policies that could reshape immigration courts and make it even harder for people to remain in the U.S.

Administrative closure has been used frequently by judges to drop cases against people who aren’t a priority for deportation or who have other pending legal issues. Judges under the Obama administration used this option far more than previous judges, administratively closing 180,000 cases in four years. Critics say it operates as a kind of backdoor amnesty, particularly for people who don’t qualify for other kinds of relief under immigration law.

Closed cases are in a sort of limbo: the immigrant isn’t legally in the U. S., but the government isn’t pursuing deportation. Authorities can change their mind at any time. Under Obama, this usually happened only if the immigrant went on to commit a crime or if there was a development in his or her legal status. But the Trump Administration has already begun re-openingthousands of administratively closed cases. Immigration judges under Trump have also stopped closing cases for people who didn’t used to be an enforcement priority — such as parents of U.S. citizen children who had been in the country for a long time and had no criminal record.

Judges, attorneys and advocates say that ending administrative closure entirely could have a significant impact on individual cases and the immigration court system overall. Sessions could decide to reopen as many as 350,000 closed cases, which could flood a backlogged system that has 650,000 pending cases.

“If he brings them all back into court at once, that’s going to cripple the courts even further,” said Paul Wickham Schmidt, a former immigration judge and former head of the Board of Immigration Appeals. “They can’t do the cases they have now — why is he out there looking for more?”

There are groups of immigrants for whom administrative closure is particularly important. Someone being deported for a crime but still fighting the conviction may have his or her case closed while an appeal is pending. Judges may also stop removal proceedings for immigrants with serious mental health issues or intellectual disabilities if they are found to be incompetent to go through court hearings.

Many undocumented children also ask for administrative closure while they’re applying for juvenile protected status, a legal status that can take years to wind its way through state family court and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Without administrative closure, “those children could be deported while their application for a green card is pending with another immigration agency,” said Nicholas Phillips, an immigration attorney with Prisoners Legal Services of New York.

If administrative closure isn’t an option, judges have another option of issuing a continuance, which postpones the decision. However, that practice also recently came under fire from the attorney general. Sessions’ office recently criticized the increased use of continuances by immigration judges, saying they delayed the courts.

The Justice Department has made several decisions and proposals recently that would change how immigration judges do their job.

This fall, the department proposed setting case completion quotas for judges to try to speed up decision-making. It released a memo in December that reminding judges to act “impartially” when looking at cases involving children, despite their commonly sympathetic stories. DOJ also said judges should give asylum applications more careful scrutiny and be more reluctant to postpone a case.

Sessions’ announcement of the review came when he intervened in the immigration case of a minor who arrived from Guatemala in 2014. He has asked the Department of Homeland Security and other interested groups to submit briefs on the issue of administrative closure by a February deadline.”

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

There are an estimated 350,000 pending cases currently in “administratively closed” (“AC”) status! In my extensive experience at all levels of our immigration system, there are sound reasons supporting almost all of these ACs.

If Sessions, as expected by most advocates, reaches the rather absurd conclusion that notwithstanding over three decades of use by Administrations and Attorneys General of both parties, AC is somehow “illegal” or should be “withdrawn,” these cases likely would mindlessly be thrown back into the already overwhelmed U.S. Immigration Courts on top of the 660,000 already pending cases. Over a million pending cases! That has the potential to “implode” or “explode” or “sink” (choose your favorite verb) the Immigration Court system on the spot.

In reality, AC has been nothing but a godsend for overworked, over-stressed U.S. Immigration Judges and the immigration Court system. Rather than being forced to “docket babysit” cases that can better be resolved elsewhere in the system than in Immigration Court, or that under a proper use of resources and prosecutorial discretion by the DHS never should have been placed in Immigration Court in the first place, the Immigration Judges can “clear some of the deadwood” from their dockets and concentrate on the cases that actually need their limited time and attention. No, AC by itself can’t solve the chronic backlog and due process problems currently festering in the U.S. Immigration Courts. But, reducing the active docket by a whopping one-third without treading on anyone’s due process rights was certainly a step in the right direction! 

The current backlog has been aggravated, if not actually largely created, by the practice of “Aimless Docket Reshuffling” (“ADR”) by politicos in the DOJ and the White House going back decades. As Administrations and AG’s change, and DHS Enforcement priorities change with them, cases that were once “priorities” are shuffled off to the end of the docket to make way for the new “enforcement priority of the moment.” Other times, Immigration Judges are shuffled or detailed to the new “priority dockets” and their now “non-priority regular cases” are arbitrarily reassigned to other judges (who already are carrying full dockets themselves). Many times, this means taking cases that are “ready for trial” and replacing them with cases that aren’t ready for trial because the respondent needs to find a lawyer, file applications, and prepare the case. Other times, when dockets are shifted around largely without meaningful participation by the Immigration Judges, the DHS files or EOIR “record files” are not available, thus causing further delays.

In that manner, cases are not completed on any regular, predictable schedule, “Individual Hearing” dates become “jokes,” and U.S. Immigration Judges lose both credibility and the last vestiges of independent control over their court dockets as politicos and bureaucrats who neither fully understand nor are properly part of the Immigration Court System screw things up time after time.

Sessions appears anxious to add to and further aggravate these problems, rather than addressing them ion a reasonable and systematic manner with participation of all parties who use and rely on the U.S. Immigration Courts for due process and justice. Shame on him and on our Congress for allowing this to happen!

As I’ve said over and over: It’s past time for Congress to create an independent U.S. Immigration Court system that would be free of these types of highly politicized and totally wasteful shenanigans!

Only an independent U.S. Immigration Court will provide the “level playing field” and truly impartial administration and adjudication necessary to bring these potentially “life or death” cases to conclusion in a manner that is both efficient and in full compliance with fundamental fairness and due process (and, consequently, will find a high degree of acceptance in the U.S. Courts of Appeals, rather than generating too many “returns for redos” as happens in the current “haste makes waste” environment at EOIR.)

PWS

01-10-18

GONZO’S WORLD: CONSTITUTION BE DAMNED: SESSION’S LATEST TARGET: THE POOR – Continuing To Promote Injustice At “Justice!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jeff-sessions-just-endorsed-an-unconstitutional-fine-on-the-poor/2018/01/09/87ccffc6-f268-11e7-97bf-bba379b809ab_story.html?utm_term=.bbbf3eff4e8e

Lisa Foster writes in the WashPost:

“Lisa Foster is a retired California Superior Court judge, co-director of the Fines and Fees Justice Center and former director of the Office for Access to Justice in the Justice Department.

Lorenzo Brown, a 58-year-old disabled resident of Montgomery, Ala., was arrested at his boardinghouse in 2014 for failure to pay fines and fees imposed for traffic tickets. Brown, whose sole source of income was a Social Security disability check, was kept in jail for three days before he was brought to court. There, the judge told him he could be released if he paid $1,400 — half of what he owed and twice the amount of his monthly disability check. Because he didn’t have that much money, the judge sentenced him to serve 44 days in jail, repaying his debt at the rate of $50 per day.

Brown is not alone. Across the country, millions of people — including children — are charged a fine as punishment for traffic, misdemeanor and felony offenses and then taxed with fees used to fund the justice system and other government services. In California, the fine for running a stop sign is $100, but the additional fees — imposed to pay for everything from court operations to emergency medical services — can raise the total cost of the ticket to a staggering $490.

It’s a tax on justice that harms poor people of all races and people of color disproportionately, entrenching poverty and undermining confidence in our justice system. Yet the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions retracted two important legal guidanceslast month that were intended to help courts reform abusive practices.

The decision is unconscionable. As was the case with Brown, fines and fees are often enforced in ways that blatantly violate the Constitution. People who cannot afford to immediately pay the full amount charged face additional fees, suspension of their driver’s and vocational licenses, loss of voting rights and, far too frequently, arrest and jail. Since 1983, however, the Supreme Court has held that it is unconstitutional to punish a person “solely because he lacks funds to pay a fine.”

Yet courts across the country have ignored that unequivocal command. Practices that unquestionably violate the Constitution have become routine and rarely — if ever — questioned or appealed.

That’s why the Justice Department provided legal guidance to state courts on the enforcement of fines and fees in March 2016 and an advisory regarding fines and fees imposed on children in early January 2017. Both reminded courts of established constitutional principles. They were well-received and sparked meaningful reform. Judges and court administrators relied on the guidance and advisory to change court procedures; lawyers cited the guidance to successfully challenge egregious collection practices; and advocates used both to lobby for legislative reforms.

Apparently, Sessions’s Justice Department does not believe it has a role in ensuring that the Constitution is enforced in state and local courts. The attorney general’s narrow and shortsighted interpretation of his department’s mandate forsakes leadership on a critical national issue and abandons the most vulnerable among us.

It’s also wrong. The Justice Department routinely asserts its interpretation of the Constitution pursuant to both explicit statutory authority and long-standing tradition. It does so formally, for example, in amicus briefs and statements of interest filed in state and federal courts.

I have a vested interest in this issue. I co-wrote the guidance with Vanita Gupta, then head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and the advisory with Karol Mason, then head of the Office of Justice Programs. But my position is neither ideological nor partisan. The American Legislative Exchange Council, the Charles Koch Institute and the R Street Institute — all conservative organizations — have strongly opposed such fines and fees. In one resolution, ALEC noted that the practices can lead to “unnecessary incarceration” and encourage law enforcement to make decisions “on grounds other than public safety while undermining public confidence in the integrity of the criminal justice system.”

Moreover, red and blue states alike have reformed fine and fee collection practices. Mississippi and California recently ended their long-standing practice of suspending the driver’s licenses of people who cannot afford to pay fines and fees. Texas recently enacted legislation requiring judges to assess whether a person can afford to pay his or her fines and fees before being punished for nonpayment. Similar legislation is pending in Massachusetts.

Some states will act to fill the vacuum left by Sessions and the Justice Department. But the guarantees of the Constitution do not depend on where one lives in the United States. The Constitution must be upheld for every person in every courthouse in the country. To rescind the guidance on fines and fees is to condone unconstitutional conduct and tell millions of Americans that the Justice Department refuses to live up to its name.”

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

Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions has made a career out of protecting the rights of (mostly rich and powerful) White guys while ignoring, stomping on, or trashing the rights of minorities and other vulnerable populations who (contrary to Sessions’s White Nationalist agenda) are also entitled to Constitutional protections. The latter group actually includes so-called undocumented individuals in the U.S. who routinely are denied their full due process rights in Sessions’s “captive” U.S. Immigration Court system that is now being operated as a “whistle-stop on the deportation express” — essentially an adjunct of DHS Enforcement.

Among other things, he lied about under oath during his Senate confirmation hearings, Gonzo falsely claimed that he could get beyond his highly partisan representation of Alabama in the Senate and be Attorney General for all the people. That appears to be no more credible than his gratuitous claims that he had no knowledge of anything having to do with Russia.

At the DOJ, Gonzo has continued to represent only the views of the rather small minority of voters who endorse his racist, White Nationalist, anti-gay agenda. At some point, Russia investigation or not, America needs a real Attorney General who respects the office, our Constitution, and the rights of all persons (including the undocumented) present in the United States of America.

PWS

01-10-18

BLOCKED: FEDERAL JUDGE SAYS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION VIOLATED LAW IN RESCINDING DACA –- ISSUES NATIONWIDE INJUNCTION — EXPECT APPEAL!

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/09/politics/california-judge-daca-applications/index.html

Ariane de Vogue, Dan Berman and Madison Park report for CNN:

“(CNN)A federal judge in California late Tuesday temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s efforts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Judge William Alsup also said the administration must resume receiving DACA renewal applications.
But the ruling is limited — the administration does not need to process applications for those who have never before received DACA protections, he said.
The Trump administration announced the move to draw down the program last September with a planned end for early March. DACA protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation.
close dialog
The fate of DACA and the roughly 700,000 “Dreamers” is the subject of heated negotiations in Washington, where President Donald Trump, Republicans and Democrats are searching for a way to allow Dreamers to stay while also addressing border security concerns. It is not clear how the order will impact those talks.
The ruling came in a challenge to the Department of Homeland Security brought by the University of California and others.
In his 49-page ruling, Alsup said “plaintiffs have shown that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the rescission was arbitrary and capricious” and must be set aside under the federal Administrative Procedures Act.
The judge said a nationwide injunction was “appropriate” because “our country has a strong interest in the uniform application of immigration law and policy.”
“Plaintiffs have established injury that reaches beyond the geographical bounds of the Northern District of California. The problem affects every state and territory of the United States,” he wrote.
In response to the ruling, the Department of Justice questioned the legality of DACA, calling it “an unlawful circumvention of Congress.” DOJ spokesman Devin O’Malley said that DHS “acted within its lawful authority in deciding to wind down DACA in an orderly manner” and implied that the legal battles aren’t over yet.
“The Justice Department will continue to vigorously defend this position, and looks forward to vindicating its position in further litigation,” O’Malley said.

‘A huge step in the right direction’

California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra hailed the ruling as a “a huge step in the right direction” in a statement. A coalition of attorneys general, including Becerra had also filed suit against the federal government over ending DACA, maintaining that it would cause “irreparable harm to DACA recipients.”
In contrast, Mark Kirkorian, the executive director of Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that advocates for lower immigration, described the ruling as “our lawless judiciary” in a tweet.
The plaintiff, the University of California said in a statement it was “pleased and encouraged” by the judge’s ruling, which would allow DACA recipients to stay in the US as the lawsuits make their way through the courts.
“Unfortunately, even with this decision, fear and uncertainty persist for DACA recipients,” said Janet Napolitano, president of the UC school system and was the Secretary of Homeland Security in 2012 who established DACA.
While the ruling that orders DACA renewals is “a sigh of relief,” it’s a fleeting one, said Karen Tumlin, legal director of the National Immigration Law Center, which advocates for rights of immigrants.
“It is important to remember, however, this is temporary relief by a single federal district court judge, it should not take the pressure off of Congress to do the right thing and enact a permanent solution for these young people.”
Lawmakers are racing toward a January 19 deadline for government funding and a host of issues, including DACA are tied to the negotiations.
“Dreamers deserve permanence they can count on, not legal thrillers. Congress needs to bring that home,” tweeted Tumlin.

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We now essentially have a conflict with a much earlier ruling from USDJ Hanen in Texas who found that a different, but related, Obama-era program called “DAPA” was illegal. That case was affirmed by the Fifth Circuit in a split opinion and went to the Supreme Court where an equally divided Court let the ruling below stand. So, unless new Justice Neil Gorsuch sides with the plaintiffs in this case, its likely to eventually be a loser (and a winner for the Administration) before the Supremes. Hopefully, Congress will resolve this in a way that ultimately makes further litigation unnecessary.

PWS

01-10-18