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

GONZO’S WORLD: PROFESSOR KARI HONG EXPLAINS SIX WAYS THAT TRUMP, SESSIONS, & CO. ARE THE REAL SCOFFLAWS IN THEIR MISGUIDED CRUDSADE AGAINST SO-CALLED “SANCTUARY CITIES!”

https://thecrimereport.org/2018/01/08/sanctuary-cities-vs-trump-whos-really-breaking-the-law/

Professor Hong writes in The Crime Report:

“As we start a new year, the status of “sanctuary cities” promises to be a continuing flashpoint in the immigration debate. The Trump Administration cites the “rule of law,” and immigrants’ supposed failure to follow it, to justify its crackdown on cities that fail to refer undocumented immigrants who are arrested to federal immigration authorities.

But the president’s attempt to withhold funds from sanctuary jurisdictions doesn’t meet that rule-of-law standard.

Here’s some background. Since 2008, the federal government has sought state and local cooperation in enforcing immigration law under a program originally named Secure Communities, which allows police to check a person’s immigration status in a database maintained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), after he or she is stopped for a traffic violation or arrested for a state crime.

If there is a match, ICE asks the local entity to detain the individual until ICE determines whether an immigration hearing is required, and a judge will then decide if deportation is merited.

Those who support this program, including Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, claim states and cities must use Secure Communities to catch murderers and rapists. Trump issued an executive order deputizing state and local officers to make immigration arrests, and threatened to withhold money from any city and state that does not cooperate.

But ironically, according to four federal judges and a growing number of state courts, it’s Trump’s request that fails to follow the law.

The request flouts the rule of law on six counts.

First, the president seeks to punish “sanctuary jurisdictions.” But only Congress—not the president—can give or withhold federal funds.

The federal government’s lawyers understand the flaws in Trump’s order to withhold funding from jurisdictions. In one of the California cases, the Department of Justice argued that the federal judge should not enforce its order because Trump’s request is unenforceable and should just be ignored. (The judge didn’t buy that argument.)

Second, no one knows what the term “sanctuary jurisdictions” means. When John Kelly, currently the president’s chief of staff, headed the Department of Homeland Security and was tasked with penalizing such jurisdictions, he testified that he “do[esn’t] have a clue” on how to define a “sanctuary city.”

Generally, the term is understood to apply to cities and states that cooperate with the federal government on immigration arrests. But there are no means to define what a failure to act means. It could arise from a decision not to cooperate, but it could also be the result of a lack of opportunity.

That’s like penalizing a backup quarterback for not scoring touchdowns every time the starter plays; it’s simply not his job.

Third, the ICE database is filled with errors. In 2010, ICE detained an individual for three days who was in fact born in Puerto Rico, and therefore a U.S. citizen. This year, ICE agents erroneously detained Mohammed Ali’s son questioning his citizenship. They also detained a visiting Holocaust scholar for violating his visitor’s visa by accepting payment for a speech, not knowing that academics are exempt from that rule.

Fourth, the program is expensive. The federal government requires states and cities to pay for the detention of the non-citizen. Los Angeles stopped doing it after paying $26 million in one year. And when mistakes occur, ICE will not indemnify states or cities.

That means if a state or local police officer detains someone ICE has mistakenly determined is deportable, the state and city will be exposed to a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary compensation for that wrongful detention.

Fifth, even when predicated on correct information, a growing number of stateand federal courts are finding ICE’s requests unlawful and unconstitutional because they do not relate to any ongoing or prospective criminal activity.

Living in the country without status is not a crime. ICE’s requests thus run afoul of the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that the government detain only people who are suspected of committing crimes.

Sixth, the program is ineffectual.

In the nearly 10 years Secure Communities has existed, only a minority of the millions identified have a prior conviction for violent crime. Around 12 percent of the millions of non-citizens identified in this program had been convicted of “serious crimes”, which is a category that includes both violent crimes and non-violent crimes of forgery, fraud, and non-violent drug offenses. Another 25 percent had minor crimes or traffic infractions, such as driving their child to school without a license.

And approximately 40 percent of non-citizens who were picked up in this program had no criminal record.

Under Trump, although the number of immigration arrests increased 40 percent from last year, no more than six percent of those arrested had criminal records.

That low number should not be surprising.

If someone truly is a murderer, rapist, or posed a real danger, they would be rotting in a prison cell. They would not be in the streets, afraid that an ICE officer could somehow discover that they overstayed their visa 20 years ago.

This logic plays out in fact. A recent study concluded that residents in sanctuary cities experience lower crime rates than their counterparts. The case of Kathryn Steinle, 32, who was killed while walking in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf area in 2015, was used by Trump and immigration opponents as an example of the dangers posed to Americans by undocumented immigrants.

But while the perpetrator was a man who had already been deported five times because of criminal convictions, he proved to be the wrong symbol. Last month, a jury concluded that her death was a tragic accident from a gun misfiring and rejected both murder and manslaughter charges.

Editor’s Note: In response to the acquittal, the Justice Department announced it would file federal charges against the man, and issued an arrest warrant.

Worse, requiring local communities to enforce immigration law is harming its citizenry.

Police chiefs and commissioners have been outspoken in their support of sanctuary policies, arguing they are critical tools to encourage crime victims and witnesses in the immigrant community to cooperate with the police.

Their concerns were well-founded. In the first three months of 2017, the Los Angeles Chief of Police reported that among all ethnicities, only Latino individuals had a 25 percent drop in reporting rapes and domestic violence.

Keep in mind that those with criminal records are not always the so-called “bad hombres,” to use the president’s notorious phrase. Minor crimes have been used to deport combat veterans. A drug crime was the reason to deport a 9/11 volunteer who helped clean up the rubble of the World Trade Center.

Misdemeanors, expunged convictions, and even pardoned state crimes are deportable offenses. And immigration law sweeps in old convictions, so that green card holders who are middle-aged become deportable, regardless of years of proven rehabilitation.

It is too bad that “sanctuary” is the term to describe the jurisdictions that opt out of this program, because it wrongly implies that cities and states are providing amnesty. It would be unimaginable for local police—while issuing speeding tickets or investigating murders—to double check if the driver, the suspects or witnesses had properly filed their respective taxes with all the appropriate deductions, and then detain them until an IRS agent could review their past tax returns.

But that is exactly what is happening with immigration, or at least it was, until four federal judges—and counting—stopped Trump for failing to follow the law.

Kari Hong

Kari Hong

The lesson is clear. Actual criminals are best apprehended and punished by state criminal justice systems. Congress should focus on fixing the broken immigration system that had last seen reform over 20 years ago, and local cities should spend their time and money on local matters.

Casting blame on cities doesn’t solve anything. Forcing cities to do the work of the federal government is truly making things worse.

Kari Hong, an Assistant Professor at Boston College Law School, teaches immigration and criminal law. She founded a clinic representing non-citizens with criminal convictions in the Ninth Circuit, and has argued over 100 Ninth Circuit cases and 50 state criminal appeals.”

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The concept that Scofflaw Gonzo is “restoring the rule of law” at Justice is a cruel joke. “Gonzo’s law” has no real room for the rights of Blacks, Hispanics, Gays, Immigrants, Women, Muslims, or others who don’t fit his “Bannon-Miller” White Nationalist restrictionist agenda.

PWS

01-14-18

TRUMP AND GOP RESTRICTIONISTS HAVE AFRICA ALL WRONG – AFRICAN IMMIGRANTS ACTUALLY BETTER EDUCATED, MORE SUCCESSFUL, THAN MOST NATIVE BORN AMERICANS – Racial Bias Distorts Truth!

http://www.latimes.com/world/africa/la-fg-global-african-immigrants-explainer-20180112-story.html

Ann M. Simmons reports for the LA Times:

“Lots of the news from sub-Saharan Africa is about war, famine, poverty or political upheaval. So it’s understandable if many Americans think most Africans who immigrate to the United States are poorly educated and desperate.

That’s the impression that President Trump left with his comments to members of Congress opposing admission of immigrants from “shithole countries” in Africa and elsewhere.

But research tells another story.

While many are refugees, large numbers are beneficiaries of the “diversity visa program” aimed at boosting immigration from underrepresented nations. And on average, African immigrants are better educated that people born in the U.S. or the immigrant population as a whole.

“It’s a population that’s very diverse in its educational, economic and English proficiency profile,” said Jeanne Batalova, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute think tank in Washington and coauthor of a report last year on sub-Saharan African immigrants in the U.S. “People came for a variety of reasons and at various times.”

Overall, their numbers are small compared with other immigrant groups but have risen significantly in recent years. The U.S. immigrant population from sub-Saharan Africa (49 countries with a total population of more than 1.1 billion) grew from 723,000 to more than 1.7 million between 2010 and 2015, according to a new report by New American Economy, a Washington-based research and advocacy group. Still, they make up just half a percent of the U.S. population.

Drawing from U.S. surveys and Census Bureau data, the report found that the majority come from five countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa.

The Pew Research Center reported that African immigrants are most likely to settle in the South or Northeast, and that the largest numbers — at least 100,000 — are found in Texas, New York, California, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Virginia. Many African refugees have also relocated to or have been resettled in states such as Minnesota and South Dakota.

The Refugee Act of 1980 made it easier for people fleeing war zones to resettle in the U.S., and today there are tens of thousand of refugees from Somalia, Sudan and Congo. About 22% of African immigrants are refugees, according to Andrew Lim, associate director of research at New American Economy.

At the same time, the diversity visa program — also known as the visa lottery — has opened the door to immigrants from more peaceful places. Of the sub-Saharan immigrants who have become legal permanent residents, 17% came through the program, compared with 5% of the total U.S. immigrant population, according to Batalova.

Applicants to the program must have completed the equivalent of a U.S. high school education or have at least two years of recent experience in any number of occupations, including accountant, computer support specialist, orthodontist and dancer.

As a result, the influx includes many immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa who are highly skilled professionals.

Batalova’s research found that of the 1.4 million who are 25 and older, 41% have a bachelor’s degree, compared with 30% of all immigrants and 32% of the U.S.-born population. Of the 19,000 U.S. immigrants from Norway — a country Trump reportedly told lawmakers is a good source of immigrants — 38% have college educations.

The New American Economy study found that 1 in 3 of these undergraduate degrees were focused on science, technology, engineering and math — “training heavily in demand by today’s employers.”

That report also found that African immigrants were significantly more likely to have graduate degrees. A total of 16% had a master’s degree, medical degree, law degree or a doctorate, compared with 11% of the U.S.-born population, Lim said.

African immigrants were more than twice as likely than the U.S. population overall to work in healthcare, Lim said. There are more than 32,500 nursing, psychiatric or home health aides, more than 46,000 registered nurses and more than 15,700 doctors and surgeons.

“Overwhelmingly the evidence shows that [African immigrants] make a significant, positive economic contribution to the U.S. economy,” both at a national level and in districts where they are concentrated, Lim said. “They contribute more than $10.1 billion in federal taxes, $4.7 billion in state and local taxes, and most importantly, they have significant economic clout to the point of $40.3 billion in spending power.”

That $40.3 billion pays for housing, transportation, consumer goods and education for their children — “things that actually stimulate the economy around them,” Lim said.

The biggest beneficiary is Texas, where their spending power is $4.7 billion, followed by California, Maryland, New York and Georgia.

“It’s a population that leverages its human resources and contributes to the U.S. economy by revitalizing communities, starting businesses, but also by working in a variety of professional fields,” Batalova said.

Even those with less education who arrive as refugees often fill certain lower-skill niches in healthcare, such as home health aides, researchers said.

“In the communities they were resettled in, they have made significant contributions,” Lim said.

In many towns and cities in the Great Lakes area of the Midwest, for example, they have started new businesses, infused local labor forces with younger workers, and expanded local tax bases, Lim said.

A report last year by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that immigrants in general had little to no negative effect on overall wages or employment levels for U.S.-born workers, and higher-skilled immigrants in fields such as technology and science had a positive influence on the U.S. labor force.

Still, supporters of stricter immigration policy back the Trump administration’s calls to end the visa lottery as well as programs that allow certain immigrants to sponsor family members to settle in the U.S. They believe that a merit system that selects immigrants based on individual skills should replace the current system.”

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Truth, facts, and helping American workers have never been part of the GOP restrictionist agenda. The xenophobia is no longer limited to so-called undocumented immigrants; it’s clear that guys like Purdue, Cotton, and Goodlatte really don’t like immigrants of any type, and particularly those of color or from “developing nations.” It’s really all about race with religion and culture thrown in — slowing down the “browning and blackening” of America, attacking the Hispanic American and African-American cultures, and trying to block or limit the immigration of non-Christians (including, of course, Muslims).

Trump’s racist remarks this week (which Perdue, Cotton, and Nielsen are rather disingenuously trying to claim never happened) and the GOP’s basic defense of the idea of drawing immigrants from White European countries rather than Haiti, Africa, or Central America has basically “blown the cover” off of so-called “merit based” immigration being pushed by some in the GOP. Trump was just articulating the hateful White Nationalist immigration agenda that he ran on and many (not all) in the GOP have now adopted under the code word “merit based.” That doesn’t bode well for bipartisan immigration reform of any type or, for that matter, for the future of a diverse “nation of immigrants.”

PWS

01-14-18

DAVID BIER @ CATO IN WASHPOST: ADMINISTRATION’S WAR ON SALVADORANS IN AMERICA IS AS FUTILE AS IT IS STUPID!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/trumps-move-against-salvadorans-wont-make-them-leave–or-help-us-workers/2018/01/11/0fa6aac4-f637-11e7-a9e3-ab18ce41436a_story.html

David Bier of the Cato Institute writes in the Washington Post:

“Trump administration officials announced this past week that the government would terminate provisional residency permits for about 200,000 Salvadorans next year. The decision is part of President Trump’s “America first” agenda, restricting the rights of immigrants in order to protect U.S. workers. But, as previous immigration experiments demonstrate, the policy will not aid American workers. And it certainly won’t make Salvadorans pack their bags. Trump’s order is likely to have the opposite effects.

President George W. Bush granted Salvadorans temporary protected status (TPS) after devastating earthquakes hit El Salvador in 2001. He and President Barack Obama repeatedly extended the status. Beyond its humanitarian impact, TPS provides significant economic benefits. It doesn’t give applicants access to any federal welfare — so there are few costs — but it does grant the legal right to work. And Salvadorans with TPS work at very high rates: Eighty-eight percent participate in the labor force, compared with 63 percent of all Americans.

Legal employment has helped Salvadorans achieve a relatively high standard of living. The median household income for Salvadorans with TPS is $50,000, higher than the roughly $36,000 for unauthorized immigrants. Their higher wages, combined with the lack of public benefits, has been a big win for U.S. taxpayers.

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Canceling TPS will make it illegal for these Salvadorans to work, but it’s unlikely to force them home. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush granted TPS to some 185,000 Salvadorans during the country’s civil war, and when President Bill Clinton canceled their status in 1996, few returned. Deportations rose only slightly, and many Salvadorans just worked illegally until 2001.

At this point, 28 years since the original TPS designation and 17 years since the subsequent one, the incentives to stay will be too large for any mass migration back to El Salvador. Trump can try to drive them out with immigration raids and increased deportations, as other presidents have tried, but the highest percentage of unauthorized immigrants deported in a given year is 2.1 percent — three times the amount this administration deported in 2017.

Losing the legal right to work doesn’t prevent immigrants from finding jobs. They can use fake or borrowed documents from U.S. citizen family members, or employers can pay them off the books. Illegal employment, however, pays less than legal employment — employers compensate for taking the risk of hiring someone who may be here illegally.”

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Read Bier’s complete article at the link.

I can make a strong argument that Salvadoran, Haitian, and Honduran TPS are some of the most successful and humane Immigration programs in US history. In contrast to asylum adjudication, TPS adjudications cost the Government peanuts. And, the processing fees for periodic renewals of work authorization actually make money for the Government.

TPSers are overwhelmingly law-abiding, industrious, and because of their legal work authorization they pay taxes. Many TPSers work in essential industries like construction where there are not equally qualified “native born American workers” readily available to replace them. Many have US Citizen children and they have integrated into their communities. In my experience, while the majority would like to have a “path to citizenship” they aren’t aggressively agitating for one. Almost all are grateful just for the chance TPS gives them to remain with their families in the communities they call home and to work legally to support their families.

Thus, TPSers contribute much to the US and ask little in return. Their continuing presence here is in no way a “problem.”

In a rational political climate, extending TPS while offering some type of permanent status to TPSers through legislation would be a “no brainer.”  Indeed, a generation or so ago, US enacted a great program called NACARA, which offered Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalan a way of staying permanently and eventually becoming citizens. The program was immensely successful at a minimal administrative cost to the Government.

But, today we have a White Nationalist Administration and an increasingly White Nationalist restrictionist GOP interested more in dumping on Hispanics and Blacks through a bogus “merit based” immigration agenda than they are in doing what’s best for America.

Bier’s right. the Salvadorans aren’t going anywhere. But the Administration and the GOP restrictionists appears fixed on driving them “underground” at great cost to the TPSers and to America. They are likely to remain underground until we have “regime change” and saner heads eventually prevail.

PWS

01-14-17

SPLIT 9TH SHRUGS OFF DUE PROCESS VIOLATIONS IN EXPEDITED REMOVAL – BUT DISSENTING OPINION GIVES DUE PROCESS HOPE FOR THE FUTURE — GOMEZ-VELAZCO V. SESSIONS

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2018/01/10/14-71747.pdf

Gomez-Velazco v. Sessions, 9th Cir., 01-10-18, published

STAFF HEADNOTE:

“The panel denied Eladio Gomez-Velazco’s petitions for review from the Department of Homeland Security’s final administrative order of removal under 8 U.S.C. § 1228(b), concluding that Gomez-Velazco’s due process claim, based on his contention that he was denied the right to counsel, failed because he made no showing of prejudice.

Gomez-Velazco argued that DHS officers violated his right to counsel by pressuring him to concede removability without advice of counsel in his proceedings under 8 U.S.C. § 1228(b), a form of summary removal proceedings in which he did not have a hearing before an immigration judge. The panel concluded that it had jurisdiction to review Gomez- Velazco’s constitutional claim and assumed, without deciding, that the officers’ conduct violated his right to counsel.

The panel held that Gomez-Velazco was required to show prejudice in order to prevail on his claim, rejecting his contention that, in the context of a due process violation based on the denial of the right to counsel, prejudice should be conclusively presumed and automatic reversal should follow. The panel concluded that, at least in cases like that of Gomez-Velazco, where an individual is in administrative removal proceedings under 8 U.S.C. § 1228(b), does not waive the 14-day waiting period for judicial review, and is allowed to consult with counsel before the removal order is executed, a showing of prejudice is required. The panel further concluded that Gomez-Velazco failed to establish prejudice.

Dissenting, Chief District Judge Navarro wrote that she would grant the petition for review and vacate the final administrative order of removal. Judge Navarro would first make the distinct finding that Gomez-Velazco’s right to counsel was violated, and would hold that no prejudice is required to vacate the order, and that even if prejudice were required, Gomez-Velazco demonstrated sufficient prejudice.

** This summary constitutes no part of the opinion of the court. It has been prepared by court staff for the convenience of the reader.”

PANEL: Paul J. Watford and John B. Owens, Circuit Judges, and Gloria M. Navarro,* Chief District Judge.

* The Honorable Gloria M. Navarro, Chief United States District Judge for the District of Nevada, sitting by designation.

OPINION BY: Judge Watford

DISSENT BY: Chief USDC Judge Navarro

KEY QUOTE FROM MAJORITY:

“Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can seek to remove non-citizens from the United States through several different means. The most formal process involves a hearing in immigration court before an immigration judge, at which the individual to be removed can contest the charges against him and request various forms of relief from removal. See 8 U.S.C. § 1229a. Today, however, most non-citizens are ordered removed through streamlined proceedings— expedited removal, administrative removal, and reinstatement of removal—that do not involve a hearing before an immigration judge. See Jennifer Lee Koh, Removal in the Shadows of Immigration Court, 90 S. Cal. L. Rev. 181, 183–84 (2017); Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, The Rise of Speed Deportation and the Role of Discretion, 5 Colum. J. Race & L. 1, 2–3 (2014). The proceedings are summary in nature and conducted by front-line immigration enforcement officers employed by DHS.

This case involves administrative removal under 8 U.S.C. § 1228(b). A DHS officer ordered Eladio Gomez-Velazco, a native and citizen of Mexico, removed from the United States. Gomez-Velazco contends that his due process rights were violated because he did not have counsel present at the outset of the removal process. We will assume that a violation occurred. The question we address is whether Gomez-Velazco must show that he was prejudiced by the violation. We conclude that he must and that he has not done so. We therefore deny his petitions for review.”

TEXT OF CHIEF USDC JUDGE NAVARRO’S DISSENT:

“NAVARRO, Chief District Judge, dissenting:

I would grant the Petition for Review and vacate the Final Administrative Removal Order (“FARO”) issued on June 12, 2014.

I would first make the distinct finding—as opposed to the majority’s assumption—that Gomez-Velazco’s right to counsel was violated. “Although there is no Sixth Amendment right to counsel in an immigration hearing, Congress has recognized it among the rights stemming from the Fifth Amendment guarantee of due process that adhere to individuals that are the subject of removal proceedings.” Tawadrus v. Ashcroft, 364 F.3d 1099, 1103 (9th Cir. 2004) (citing Rios-Berrios v. I.N.S., 776 F.2d 859, 862 (9th Cir. 1985)). While “[t]he right to counsel in immigration proceedings is rooted in the Due Process Clause,” Biwot v. Gonzales, 403 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir. 2005), the right to counsel in expedited removal proceedings is also secured by statute. 8 U.S.C. § 1228(b)(4)(B) (“[T]he alien shall have the privilege of being represented (at no expense to the government) by such counsel, authorized to practice in such proceedings, as the alien shall choose.”); 8 C.F.R. § 238.1(b)(2)(i) (“[The Notice of Intent] shall advise that the alien: has the privilege of being represented, at no expense to the government, by counsel of the alien’s choosing, as long as counsel is authorized to practice in removal proceedings”);

16 GOMEZ-VELAZCO V. SESSIONS

see also 8 C.F.R. § 238.1(b)(2)(iv) (requiring ICE to provide aliens facing expedited removal “with a list of available free legal services programs”).

Moreover, expedited removal proceedings under § 1228 require “conformity with section 1229a” and the “privilege of being represented” is further codified in that section as well. See 8 U.S.C. § 1229a(b)(4)(A). This right to be represented at no cost to the government is also listed on the “Notice of Intent to Issue a FARO” under “Your Rights and Responsibilities.” If the right to counsel under § 1228 is only for the noncitizen to be advised of the right to have counsel, with no practical effect, then it would be no right to counsel at all. See Rios-Berrios, 776 F.2d at 863 (explaining that the right to counsel must be respected in substance as well as in name).

Indeed, this Circuit has consistently emphasized the critical role of counsel in deportation proceedings. See, e.g., Reyes-Palacios v. I.N.S., 836 F.2d 1154, 1155 (9th Cir. 1988) (“The importance of counsel . . . can neither be overemphasized nor ignored.”); United States v. Cerda-Pena, 799 F.2d 1374, 1377 n.3 (9th Cir. 1986) (referring to “an outright refusal to allow an alien the opportunity to obtain representation” as “an egregious violation of due process”). We have characterized the alien’s right to counsel of choice as “fundamental” and have warned the agency not to treat it casually. Rios-Berrios, 776 F.2d at 863–64.

Here, the record clearly demonstrates that Gomez- Velazco asserted that he had counsel and wanted his counsel present. First, in Form I-213, ICE Officer Stewart explains that during the FARO proceedings, Gomez-Velazco “was unwilling to provide a sworn statement without an attorney

GOMEZ-VELAZCO V. SESSIONS 17

present.” Second, on the “Record of Sworn Statement” dated June 12, 2014, the first question states, “Are you willing to answer my questions?” to which Gomez-Velazco answered: “I prefer not to until I talk to my attorney.” DHS nevertheless proceeded with the expedited removal proceedings without first affording Gomez-Velazco the opportunity to notify and speak with his counsel as he requested. In doing so, DHS directly disregarded Gomez-Velazco’s ability to exercise this fundamental right.

Having found that Gomez-Velazco’s right to counsel was violated, I would then find that under Montes-Lopez v. Holder, 694 F.3d 1085 (9th Cir. 2012), no prejudice is required to vacate the FARO. The Montes-Lopez court held “an alien who shows that he has been denied the statutory right to be represented by counsel in an immigration proceeding need not also show that he was prejudiced by the absence of the attorney.” 694 F.3d at 1093–94. In support, the court stated that “the absence of counsel can change an alien’s strategic decisions, prevent him or her from making potentially-meritorious legal arguments, and limit the evidence the alien is able to include in the record.” Id. at 1092.

The majority here distinguishes Montes-Lopez by a distinction without a difference. First, the majority regards Montes-Lopez as “an exception to the general rule requiring a showing of prejudice;” however, prior to Montes-Lopez, there was no general rule that required a showing of prejudice—a fact that Montes-Lopez, Hernandez-Gil, and Biwot, the cases the majority relies so heavily on, all specifically identify. Id. at 1090 (“We have never decided, however, whether prejudice is an element of a claim that counsel has been denied in an immigration proceeding.”);

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Hernandez-Gil v. Gonzales, 476 F.3d 803, 808 (9th Cir. 2007) (“Because we determine that Hernandez-Gil has shown that he was prejudiced by the denial of his statutory right to counsel ‘we again leave unanswered the question whether a petitioner must show prejudice when he has been denied the right to counsel in removal proceedings.’”) (citing Biwot, 403 F.3d at 1100).

Second, the right to counsel is substantively the same under both the § 1228 expedited removal proceeding before a DHS deciding officer, as used here, and the § 1229 proceeding before the immigration judge, as in Montes- Lopez.1 Compare § 1228(b)(4)(B) with § 1229(b)(1); see also United States v. Peralta-Sanchez, 847 F.3d 1124, 1130 (9th Cir. 2017) (emphasizing the similarity of §§ 1228 and 1229 in the right to counsel context). Montes-Lopez’s holding refers to “an immigration proceeding” without differentiating between a proceeding before an immigration judge and a DHS deciding officer. Montes-Lopez, 694 F.3d at 1093–94.

Notably, the Montes-Lopez court purposefully distinguished pure immigration proceedings from collateral attacks on a removal order in a § 1326 illegal reentry criminal case, the latter of which requires prejudice specifically because of “the limitations on criminal defendants’ right to collaterally attack the result of a prior proceeding.” Montes- Lopez, 694 F.3d at 1093; see also Villa-Anguiano v. Holder, 727 F.3d 873, 876 n.1 (9th Cir. 2013) (contrasting the § 1326 illegal reentry collateral attack standard under Reyes-Bonilla with the immigration proceedings petition for review standard

1 The Government decides under which process to pursue deportation by issuing either a Notice of Intent to Issue a FARO under § 1228 or Notice to Appear under § 1229.

GOMEZ-VELAZCO V. SESSIONS 19

under Montes-Lopez). The Montes-Lopez court compared the collateral attack versus petition for review in the immigration context to the difference between a criminal collateral attack and a direct appeal: “A criminal defendant who alleges ineffective assistance of counsel must generally show prejudice, Smith v. Mahoney, 611 F.3d 978, 1001 (9th Cir. 2010), but a defendant who has been denied counsel need not. Campbell v. Rice, 408 F.3d 1166, 1176 (9th Cir. 2005).” 694 F.3d at 1092.

Deprivation of counsel is per se prejudicial. See Cerda- Pena, 799 F.2d at 1377 n.3 (“[A]n outright refusal to allow an alien the opportunity to obtain representation may be such an egregious violation of due process so as not to require any further showing of prejudice”); Garcia-Guzman v. Reno, 65 F. Supp. 2d 1077, 1087 (N.D. Cal. 1999) (explaining that “Cerda-Pena therefore suggests that if the violation of the right to counsel is sufficiently egregious—i.e., a clear denial of representation or outright refusal to permit an alien to obtain representation—prejudice needn’t be shown.”).

The majority attempts to downplay the inherent prejudice of this situation by comparing it to discrete stages of a criminal proceeding, such as a preliminary hearing, a court- ordered psychiatric examination, post-indictment interactions with undercover police officers, and pre-trial line-ups. However, none of these situations are comparable to the instant case. Here, Gomez-Velazco was in custody by DHS when he asked for an attorney—a situation that, in a non- immigration case, would normally mandate an attorney as soon as a defendant requests one.

Furthermore, in drawing comparisons to these Sixth Amendment situations, the majority attempts to illustrate how

20 GOMEZ-VELAZCO V. SESSIONS

the standard in those cases are only “subject to harmless error review rather than an automatic reversal rule,” and the majority concludes that because this is a similar discrete stage, prejudice is required rather than presumed. However, in arguing this, the majority once again completely disregards Montes-Lopez. There, the court held that “[w]hen this court concludes that an agency has not correctly applied controlling law, it must typically remand, even if we think the error was likely harmless.” Montes-Lopez, 694 F.3d at 1092 (citing INS v. Orlando Ventura, 537 U.S. 12, 16–17 (2002)). Importantly, Montes-Lopez adopts the reasoning of the Second Circuit, which “declined to add a prejudice requirement to this rule because [the court] reasoned that automatic reversal upon violation of such a regulation would encourage agency compliance with its own rules and serve the interests of judicial economy.” Id. at 1091 (citing Montilla v. INS, 926 F.2d 162, 169 (2d Cir. 1991)). We must recognize that in mandating automatic reversal, not only will we continue to protect this right to counsel, but also we will better hold these agencies accountable in their actions and conduct by enforcing their own regulations more strictly upon them. In holding that this situation is akin to a harmless error review, the majority disregards Montes-Lopez’s holding and downplays the right to counsel.

The majority attempts to distinguish Montes-Lopez by stating that it is different than the instant case because it is “based in part on the practical difficulties one would face in trying to prove that the outcome of the merits hearing would have been different had counsel been able to assist.” The majority reasons that Montes-Lopez differs because “Gomez- Velazco was not denied the assistance of counsel throughout the entirety of the administrative removal process” but that he “lacked counsel at one discrete stage of the process.”

GOMEZ-VELAZCO V. SESSIONS 21

To carve out such a nuanced distinction undermines the fundamental nature of the right to counsel. See, e.g., Hernandez-Gil, 476 F.3d at 806 (“The high stakes of a removal proceeding and the maze of immigration rules and regulations make evident the necessity of the right to counsel.”); Montes-Lopez, 694 F.3d at 1091 (“No showing of prejudice is required, however, when a rule is ‘intended primarily to confer important procedural benefits upon indiv[i]duals’’ or ‘when alleged regulatory violations implicate fundamental statutory or constitutional rights.’”) (quoting Leslie v. Attorney Gen., 611 F.3d 171 (3d Cir.2010)). Likewise, to permit an agency to continue to ignore its own regulations undermines the fundamental nature of the right to counsel. Finally, to ignore established precedent in favor of the majority’s new exception undermines the fundamental nature of the right to counsel. Accordingly, I would vacate the FARO because Gomez- Velazco established a right to counsel due process violation and therefore need not show prejudice.

Even if prejudice were required, however, it should be assessed under the “plausibility” standard set forth by United States v. Cisneros-Rodriguez, 813 F.3d 748, 760 (9th Cir. 2015): “[W]hether the defendant had identified a form of relief it was plausible he would have obtained absent the due process violation.” In Cisneros-Rodriguez, the defendant argued that “had she obtained counsel [during her predicate § 1228 proceeding], it is plausible that she would have applied for and obtained a U-visa.” Id. at 753. The court agreed that because she demonstrated prima facie U-Visa eligibility, it was plausible that she would have obtained a U- Visa had she applied for one at the time of her original § 1228 proceeding. Id. at 761. This finding was made despite the

22 GOMEZ-VELAZCO V. SESSIONS
fact that the defendant later applied for a U-Visa and was

rejected. Id. at 762.

Here, the record demonstrates that Officer Stewart—the arresting ICE officer who provided the evidence to Deciding Officer Elizabeth C. Godfrey for the issuance of the FARO—knew that Gomez-Velazco was represented by counsel and that Gomez-Velazco had a pending U-Visa application. When Officer Stewart nevertheless chose to arrest Gomez-Velazco and continue with the § 1228 proceeding without allowing him to consult with his attorney, Gomez-Velazco was prejudiced more than the defendant in Cisneros-Rodriguez because he had a plausible and pending U-Visa application. As such, I cannot agree with the majority that Gomez-Velazco failed to demonstrate sufficient prejudice under Cisneros-Rodriguez.

Ultimately, even without a finding of prejudice, the majority’s decision to deny Gomez-Velazco’s petition for review dilutes the fundamental right to counsel and completely ignores indistinguishable precedent. See Hernandez v. Holder, 545 Fed. Appx. 710, 713 (9th Cir. 2013) (Ikuta, J., concurring) (unpublished opinion) (stating disagreement with Montes-Lopez while still acknowledging that the Ninth Circuit is bound by its decision). Accordingly, I must respectfully dissent.”

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

Sure seems to me that Chief Judge Navarro is right that the majority fails to follow the Ninth Circuit’s long-stnding precedent in Rios-Berrios v. I.N.S., 776 F.2d 859, 862 (9th Cir. 1985). Indeed, if anything the due process need for counsel in so-called “Expedited Removal” before an Immigration Officer appears even greater than that before an Immigration Judge which was found to be per se prejudicial in Rios-Berrios. Also, it’s quite ironic that a District Judge sitting by designation has a better understanding of 9th Circuit precedent than her 9th Circuit colleagues in the majority!

In any event, there is some “good stuff” in this dissent for anyone challenging the lack of counsel in Expedited Removal on due process grounds. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chief Judge Navarro’s views prevail in some other Circuits as the Trump Administration and DHS “push the envelope” on Expedited Removal.

PWS

01-13-18

SUPREMES TAKE ON “STOP TIME” ISSUE FOR CANCELLATION OF REMOVAL – TO RESOLVE “CIRCUIT SPLIT” — COULD AFFECT MANY THOUSANDS OF REMOVAL CASES – PEREIRA V. SESSIONS!

Here’s what SCOTUS Blog has to say about the issue:

“Issue: Whether, to trigger the stop-time rule by serving a “notice to appear,” the government must “specify” the items listed in the definition of a “notice to appear,” including “[t]he time and place at which the proceedings will be held.”

Here’s a link to the SCOTUS Blog material on Cir:

http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/pereira-v-sessions/

Here’s a link to the First Circuit’s decision in Pereira v. Sessions, written by Judge Lipez which upheld the BIA’s ruling under so-called “Chevron deference:”

http://media.ca1.uscourts.gov/pdf.opinions/16-1033P-01A.pdf

And, here’s a “key quote” from Judge Lipez’s decision in Pereira that explains the issue a little more detail:

“The Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) gives the Attorney General discretion to cancel the removal of a non-permanent resident alien if the alien meets certain criteria, including ten years of continuous physical presence in the United States. 8 U.S.C. § 1229b(b)(1). Under the “stop-time” rule, the alien’s period of continuous physical presence ends “when the alien is served a notice to appear under section 1229(a)” of the INA. Id. § 1229b(d)(1). In this case, we must decide whether a notice to appear that does not contain the date and time of the alien’s initial hearing is nonetheless effective to end the alien’s period of continuous physical presence. The Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) answered this question affirmatively in Matter of Camarillo, 25 I. & N. Dec. 644 (B.I.A. 2011). The BIA applied that rule in this case.

Joining the majority of circuit courts to address this issue, we conclude that the BIA’s decision in Camarillo is entitled to Chevron deference. We deny the petition for review.”

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

So, with the 1st Circuit joining the 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th, and 9th Circuits in upholding Matter of Camarillo, 25 I&N Dec. 644 (BIA 2011); only the 3rd Circuit rejecting the BIA’s interpretation (Orozco- Velasquez v. Att’y Gen. United States, 817 F.3d 78, 81-82 (3d Cir. 2016)); and what is generally perceived as a “conservative leaning” Supreme Court, looks like a “slam dunk” for the Government, right? Not so fast!

On a question of statutory interpretation like this, I could definitely see some of the more conservative “strict constructionist” Justices teaming up with the “liberals” to reject the BIA’s interpretation by invoking the “plain meaning” rule of statutory construction to overcome “Chevron deference.” Indeed, quite interestingly, as I have noted in prior blogs, Justice Neil Gorsuch was an outspoken critic of Chevron while on the Tenth Circuit. Read his opinion in Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch, 834 F.3d 1142 (10th Cir. 2016) if you have any doubts! Here’s a link to that opinion: https://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/opinions/14/14-9585.pdf

So, I wouldn’t assume at this point that Justice Gorsuch will be a “shill” or “pushover” for the Administration on all immigration issues, even if Trump thinks that’s the type of “loyalty” all his judicial appointments owe him. Actually, the oath of office that Federal Judges take requires them to uphold the Constitution of the United States, not the views and positions of President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, DHS Secretary Kristjen Nielsen, or anybody else of any importance whatsoever. That’s what real “judicial independence” (as opposed to the “captive” Immigration Judiciary) is all about!

And, you might ask what’s the “big deal” about this case? After all, even if the Supremes agree with the petitioner and the Third Circuit that the notice was defective, the BIA and DHS could easily cure the “problem” simply by specifying a “time, place, and date” for the Immigration Court hearing on the original Notice to Appear. Indeed, when I joined the Arlington Immigration Court in 2003 such a system, called “Interactive Scheduling” was in effect. But, like much else at EOIR it appears to have run into problems and been largely abandoned as the dockets mushroomed out of control. Many (not all) things about the administration of the Immigration Courts actually moved backward during my 13 year tenure in Arlington.

But, if the original Notice to Appear were held to be ineffective, then it would not serve to “Stop Time” for the 10 year period of “continuous physical presence” required to apply for the relief of “Cancellation of Removal.” This, in turn, would make thousands of individuals now in Immigration Court proceedings, perhaps tens of thousands, eligible to apply for Cancellation. And, it likely would require the reopening of thousands of already completed cases where the respondent was denied Cancellation of Removal based solely on the “Stop Time” rule. So, that’s why it’s worth the Supremes’ time to resolve this conflict among the lower Federal Courts.

PWS

01-13-18

GONZO’S WORLD: PERVERSION @ JUSTICE: IN THE NAME OF TRUMP & WHITE NATIONALISM, HE’S TRASHED THE U.S. CONSTITUTION, THE RULE OF LAW, THE RIGHTS OF MINORITIES, GAYS, IMMIGRANTS, WOMEN, & OTHERS, AND OVERALL HUMAN COMPASSION & DECENCY– BUT, SESSIONS’S ONE NOTABLE INSTANCE OF ACTING ETHICALLY AND LAWFULLY IS UNFORGIVABLE IN TRUMP’S EYES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/sessions-tries-to-impress-trump-with-moves-at-justice-it-hasnt-worked/2018/01/10/e2053d84-f478-11e7-91af-31ac729add94_story.html?utm_term=.c7613a002b16

Josh Dawsey and Matt Zapotosky report for the Washington Post:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions is trying to find his way back into President Trump’s good graces.

For months, Sessions has asked senior White House aides to make sure the president knows what he is doing at the Justice Department, two White House advisers said, and has told allies he hopes policy decisions that garner news coverage will please Trump. ­Sessions’s team at Justice has crafted a public campaign to highlight the work it is doing to advance the president’s agenda. The department has also begun looking into matters that Trump has publicly complained are not being pursued.

Top Trump advisers, including White House counsel Donald McGahn and counselor Kellyanne Conway and former chief of staff Reince Priebus and former strategist Stephen K. Bannon, have at times joined the effort and pressed Trump to give his attorney general a second chance. They note that his department has helped reduce illegal border crossings and carried out a number of the president’s initiatives, such as cracking down on leaks and targeting the MS-13 street gang.

But Sessions, who was one of Trump’s earliest backers and gave up a safe Senate seat to join the administration, has, by all accounts, been unable to repair his relationship with the president. Trump has dismissed praise of Sessions, according to four White House officials and advisers, as he continues to rage about the Russia investigationand Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the probe into Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election and whether there was any coordination with the Trump campaign.

“He’s one of the most active Cabinet secretaries there is,” one White House official said. “He’s done a fine job. Does it wash away the sin of recusal? I don’t think so.”

. . . .

At the Justice Department, officials have tried to publicly tout their successes, hopeful that political allies and the president, a frequent television viewer, will take notice. They have done work that — in their view — should appeal to the president and his base, such as settling lawsuits with tea party groups, issuing guidance on religious liberty, cracking down on illegal immigration and rolling back various Obama-era guidances, including one advising courts to be wary of imposing heavy fines on those who can’t afford them.

“We’re trying to get our successes out in the ether,” one department official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss dynamics with the White House.

The official said Justice has communicated with some conservative constituencies, like law enforcement groups, and was recently heartened when the Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement praising Sessions’s decision to make it easier for U.S. prosecutors to enforce federal marijuana laws in states that had legalized the substance, advisers said.

“It’s that kind of stuff that you figure will lead to this tipping point where the audience of one says, ‘Wow, that’s pretty impressive,’ ” the official said.

But the official acknowledged that the department can’t seem to overcome the president’s frustration over Sessions’s recusal, and even some publicizing of successes can lead to mixed results. The department has allowed its top spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, to make television appearances, but while half of the interview will be about work officials want to promote, the conversation often turns to the Russia investigation, which is not helpful to Sessions, if Trump is watching.

. . . .

One department official said Sessions had no real option under federal regulations but to recuse himself. Even a number of top White House lawyers and aides argued to Trump that Sessions needed to step aside.

. . . .

Sessions is widely disliked among liberals, who say his policies are rolling back decades of social and civil rights progress. But among conservatives and those on the far right, Sessions is a strong spot in the administration.

A few months ago, Leonard Leo, a legal adviser to Trump, said the president asked him about Sessions. Leo said he told the president he was impressed by the department, particularly its “religious liberty” guidance and the performance of the solicitor general’s office. Leo said Trump largely listened to his assessment.

“For conservatives going into the Trump administration, the question was whether the department’s morale could be restored and whether there would be a greater sensitivity to respect for the rule of law in the department,” Leo said in an interview. “I think Attorney General Sessions has done a good job of creating the right atmosphere in the department.”

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

Read the complete article at the link.

Poor Gonzo! Here he thought that a heavy dose of White Nationalism, racism, voter suppression, xenophobia, and scoffing at Constitutional rights like abortion at the DOJ would overcome a single unavoidable act of acting ethically and following the law. Boy, was he wrong! What Trump really wanted was a complete toady dedicated to protecting Trump, his family, and a few of his friends from the natural consequences of their inappropriate behavior. Gonzo should have taken Mike Pence’s class in “Toadyism 101” before accepting the job!

PWS

01-12-18

 

NY TIMES: YES, HE’S A RACIST! — AND THE GOP ENCOURAGES/ENABLES HIM! – NOBODY IS GOING TO “SAVE” US FROM TRUMP & THE GOP IF WE DON’T!

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/12/opinion/trump-racist.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region&_r=0

David Leonhardt writes in the NY Times:

“When it comes to President Trump and race, there is a predictable cycle. He makes a remark that seems racist, and people engage in an extended debate about whether he is personally racist. His critics say he is. His defenders argue for an interpretation in which race plays a secondary role (such as: Haiti really is a worse place to live than Norway).

It’s time to end this cycle.

No one except Trump can know what Trump’s private thoughts or motivations are. But the public record and his behavior are now abundantly clear. Donald Trump treats black people and Latinos differently than he treats white people.

And that makes him a racist.

Is it possible to defend some of his racially charged statements by pointing out that something other than race might explain them? Sure. Is it possible that he doesn’t think of himself as a racist who views white people as superior to nonwhite people? Yes.

But the definition of a racist — the textbook definition, as Paul Ryan might say — is someone who treats some people better than others because of their race. Trump fits that definition many times over:

• Trump’s real-estate company was sued twice by the federal government in the 1970s for discouraging the renting of apartments to African-Americans and preferring white tenants, such as “Jews and executives.”

• He spent years claiming that the nation’s first black president was born not in the United States but in Africa, an outright lie that Trump still has not acknowledged as such.

• He began his 2016 presidential campaign by disparaging Mexican immigrants as criminals and “rapists.”

• He has retweeted white nationalists without apology.

• He frequently criticizes prominent African-Americans for being unpatriotic, ungrateful and disrespectful.

• He called some of those who marched alongside white supremacists in Charlottesville last August “very fine people.”

• He is quick to highlight crimes committed by dark-skinned people, sometimes exaggerating or lying about it (such as a claim about growing crime from “radical Islamic terror” in Britain). He is very slow to decry hate crimes committed against dark-skinned people (such as the murder of an Indian man in Kansas last year).

• At the White House yesterday, Trump vulgarly called for less immigration from Haiti and Africa and more from Norway.

If you think this list is incomplete, email me at Leonhardt@nytimes.com.

For more on this topic, read my colleague Nick Kristof wrestling with the topic during the 2016 campaign: “Here we have a man who for more than four decades has been repeatedly associated with racial discrimination or bigoted comments about minorities,” he wrote. “While any one episode may be ambiguous, what emerges over more than four decades is a narrative arc, a consistent pattern — and I don’t see what else to call it but racism.”

And Slate’s Jamelle Bouie: “It’s impossible to know what’s in his heart. But what Trump feels is less important than what he does.”

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

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the NYT editorial page, Professor Roxane Gay, a distinguished Haitian American writes:

“I could write a passionate rebuttal extolling all the virtues of Haiti, the island my parents are from, the first free black nation in the Western Hemisphere. I could write about the beauty of the island, the music and vibrant art, the majesty of the mountains, the crystalline blue of the water surrounding her, the resilience of the Haitian people, our incredible work ethic, our faith. I could tell you about my parents, how they came to this country with so many other Haitians, how they embraced the American dream and thrived, how I and so many first-generation Haitian-Americans are products of our parents’ American dreams.

Or I could tell you about the singular, oppressive narrative the media trots out when talking about Haiti, the one about an island mired in poverty and misery, the one about AIDS, the one about a country plagued by natural and man-made disasters, because these are the stories people want to hear, the stories that make Haiti into a pitiable spectacle instead of the proud, complicated country it is. I could tell you how I have spent an inordinate amount of time and energy, throughout my life, educating people about Haiti and disabusing them of the damaging, incorrect notions they have about the country of my parents’ birth.

On the eve of the eighth anniversary of the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake that devastated Haiti, the president, in the Oval Office, is said to have wondered aloud why he should allow immigrants from “shithole countries” like Haiti, El Salvador and African nations to enter the United States. Mr. Trump has tweeted a denial that he made this statement. “He said those hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly,” Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, who was in the room, said Friday.

But the president has to know that even if video footage of the comment existed, there wouldn’t be any political consequences for him. He has to know, like we all do, that xenophobic commentary plays well with his base, the people who were more than happy to put him in office because they could seamlessly project their racism and misogyny onto his celebrity persona. It’s no wonder Fox News hosts have defended the comment.

Now, in response to the news about the reports of the vile remark, there are people saying “vote” and highlighting the importance of the 2018 midterm elections, as if American democracy is unfettered from interference and corruption. There is a lot of trite rambling about how the president isn’t really reflecting American values when, in fact, he is reflecting the values of many Americans. And there are entreaties to educate the president about the truth of Haiti as if he simply suffers from ignorance.

But the president is not alone in thinking so poorly of the developing world. He didn’t reveal any new racism. He, once again, revealed racism that has been there all along. It is grotesque and we must endure it for another three or seven years, given that the Republicans have a stranglehold on power right now and are more invested in holding onto that power than working for the greater good of all Americans.

What I’m supposed to do now is offer hope. I’m supposed to tell you that no president serves forever. I’m supposed to offer up words like “resist” and “fight” as if rebellious enthusiasm is enough to overcome federally, electorally sanctioned white supremacy. And I’m supposed to remind Americans, once more, of Haiti’s value, as if we deserve consideration and a modicum of respect from the president of the United States only because as a people we are virtuous enough.

But I am not going to do any of that. I am tired of comfortable lies. I have lost patience with the shock supposedly well-meaning people express every time Mr. Trump says or does something terrible but well in character. I don’t have any hope to offer. I am not going to turn this into a teaching moment to justify the existence of millions of Haitian or African or El Salvadoran people because of the gleeful, unchecked racism of a world leader. I am not going to make people feel better about the gilded idea of America that becomes more and more compromised and impoverished with each passing day of the Trump presidency.

This is a painful, uncomfortable moment. Instead of trying to get past this moment, we should sit with it, wrap ourselves in the sorrow, distress and humiliation of it. We need to sit with the discomfort of the president of the United States referring to several countries as “shitholes” during a meeting, a meeting that continued, his comments unchallenged. No one is coming to save us. Before we can figure out how to save ourselves from this travesty, we need to sit with that, too.

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

Thanks primarily to the African-American Community in Alabama, we all were saved from the nightmare of having racist, xenophobic, homophobic theocrat Roy Moore thrust upon the U.S. Senate. But, “White Folks” are going to chip in big time to save the country from Trump and his GOP apologists/handlers/fellow travelers. No less than the future of American Democracy and that of the so-called “Free World” is at stake.

PWS

01-12-18

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

 

WASHPOST: “Trump attacks protections for immigrants from ‘shithole’ countries in Oval Office meeting”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-attacks-protections-for-immigrants-from-shithole-countries-in-oval-office-meeting/2018/01/11/bfc0725c-f711-11e7-91af-31ac729add94_story.html

Josh Dawsey reports for the Washington Post:

“President Trump grew frustrated with lawmakers Thursday in the Oval Office when they floated restoring protections for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, according to two people briefed on the meeting.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to these people, referring to African countries and Haiti. He then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he met Wednesday.

The comments left lawmakers taken aback, according to people familiar with their reactions. Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) proposed cutting the visa lottery program by 50 percent and prioritizing countries already in the system, a White House official said.

A White House spokesman declined to offer an immediate comment on Trump’s remarks.

. . . .

Graham and Durbin thought they would be meeting with Trump alone and were surprised to find immigration hard-liners such as Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) at the meeting. The meeting was impromptu and came after phone calls Thursday morning, Capitol Hill aides said.”

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Read The complete article at the link,

So much for the concept of a “Stable Genius” in the White House.

Also, so much for the claim that we don’t have a racist in the White House. Actually, Haitian and African immigrants have contributed far more to the success of America than Trump and his family ever will!

 

PWS

01-11-18

 

 

 

NEWS FROM THE NEW DUE PROCESS ARMY (“NDPA”) – MICHELLE MENDEZ AT CLINIC REPORTS HIRING OF THREE NEW LITIGATORS!

My friend and NDPA stalwart Michelle Mendez over at CLINIC reports thei hiring of three new immigration litigators to assist in the battle to keep the Trump Administration from trampling the Due Process rights of immigrants (and others):

“We are thrilled to announce the addition of three outstanding advocates to our Defending Vulnerable Populations team within CLINIC’s Training and Legal Support Program:

 

Georges Francis, Senior Attorney

Rachel Naggar, Remote Legal Teams Project Attorney

Vickie Neilson, Senior Attorney

 

Georges Francis obtained his J.D. from Florida International University where he previously obtained a B.A. in business administration. He was compelled to attend law school after volunteering at the Krome Detention Center where he witnessed the disparate treatment of Haitians in removal proceedings and the hardships all ICE detainees and their families endured while trying to navigate the complicated immigration court process. Since graduating from law school and prior to CLINIC, Georges served as managing attorney for Catholic Charities Legal Services of the Archdiocese of Miami from 2006 to 2017. There, he gained over 11 years of experience litigating and managing detained and non-detained removal cases. Georges is fluent in Creole, proficient in French, and speaks basic Spanish. He is a member of the New Jersey bar and will be working remotely initially from Coral Gables, Florida and then from Charlotte, North Carolina where he will represent CLINIC in the Center of Excellence collaboration.  

 

Rachel Naggar holds a B.S. in Family Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park and a J.D. from Boston College Law School. During law school, Rachel was a summer clinical fellow at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. Rachel then worked as a staff attorney at the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project in Arizona from September 2009 to May 2011 before transitioning to the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem in the Immigration Defense Practice from June 2011 to June 2015. Thereafter, Rachel was an associate attorney Glickman Turley LLP handling immigration and criminal matters, including federal criminal appeals, and then a staff attorney at Project Citizenship. She is a member of the Maryland and Massachusetts bars. Rachel will represent CLINIC in a new pilot project in collaboration with AILA and American Immigration Council’s Immigration Justice Campaign. She works remotely from Brookline, Massachusetts.

Vickie Neilson has worked as the Legal Director of Immigrant Justice Corps, an immigration legal fellowship program that seeks to expand the quality and quantity of immigration legal services, since 2014.  Vickie has also worked in the Office of Chief Counsel of USCIS Refugee and Asylum Division, as the legal director of Immigration Equality, and as the legal director of the HIV Law Project.  She has taught as an adjunct professor at CUNY School of Law and New York University School of Law.  Vickie is the Chair of the Immigration Committee of the New York City Bar Association and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association where she is co-chair of the AILA New York Ethics Committee and a member of the National Asylum Committee.  She is the editor and co-author of Immigration Law and the Transgender Client, and is a contributing author to AILA’s Guide to U.S. Citizenship & Naturalization Law.  She is a graduate of CUNY School of Law and Harvard University.  She is admitted to the New York Bar. Starting February 26th, she will work remotely from Pleasantville, New York.

 

And, if you know anyone who may be interested in joining our team as the E-Learning Program Developer, send that person our way! Thank you!

 

Gratefully,

 

Michelle N. Mendez

Training and Legal Support Senior Attorney

Defending Vulnerable Populations Project Manager

Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)

Mailing Address: 8757 Georgia Avenue, Suite 850, Silver Spring, MD 20910

Physical Address: OPD, 217 E. Redwood Street, Suite 1020, Baltimore, MD 21202

Cellular Phone: 540.907.1761

Fax Number: 301.565.4824

Email: mmendez@cliniclegal.org

Website: www.cliniclegal.org

 

Embracing the Gospel value of welcoming the stranger, CLINIC promotes the dignity and protects the rights of immigrants in partnership with a dedicated network of Catholic and community legal immigration programs.”

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

Congrats to all! And thanks for joining the (unfortunately) never ending battle to force the U.S. Government and this Administration to live up to the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution! What if we had a Government that actually believed in and followed the Constitution for vulnerable migrants and everyone else in the United States? Now, THAT would be a “Great America!”

PWS

01-11-17

 

THURSDAY AM DACA UPDATE: WASHPOST SAYS DEMS SHOULD TRADE WALL FOR DREAMERS — TAL @CNN REPORTS ON THE “FOUR PILLARS” OF IMMIGRATION NEGOTIATIONS ON THE HILL!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/take-a-deal-for-the-dreamers-build-the-wall/2018/01/10/d02a5c06-f640-11e7-beb6-c8d48830c54d_story.html?utm_term=.276f11c859c2
January 10 at 7:21 PM

PRESIDENT TRUMP says he is optimistic a deal can be struck to shield “dreamers,” the young undocumented immigrants whose lives he put in jeopardy by stripping them of work permits and deportation protection, beginning March 5. His price, and that of many Republicans, is up to $33 billion in border-security measures, including Mr. Trump’s “beautiful” wall.

If that’s the deal — not one freighted with a laundry list of other items on the GOP wish list — Democrats should take it.

Granted, Mr. Trump once told Americans that a border wall, paid for by Mexico, would cost $4 billion. After that, he said $6 billion or $7 billion, and later $10 billion. Now his administration says it’s really $18 billion for 722 miles of wall, of which just 316 miles would be a brand-new structure along the 2,000-mile southwest frontier. Oh, and Mexico’s credit card seems to be missing.

The wall is a dumb idea. It won’t do much to suppress illegal border crossings, which in any event have been falling for decades. And the additional border-security spending proposed by the administration, including thousands of new Border Patrol agents, is largely a waste. Rather than seriously addressing the opioid epidemic, or mounting cyberwarfare threats, or America’s crumbling infrastructure, the president wants to fortify a border where illegal crossings, as measured by Border Patrol apprehensions, are already at their lowest point since the Nixon administration.

But consider how rare it is that a dumb idea in Congress actually buys something smart in return. In this case, the return on that dumb idea would be huge. (And betting that the courts will save the dreamers is too risky, notwithstanding a federal judge’s ruling Tuesday freezing dreamers’ protections — for now.)

The wall’s $18 billion price tag would be spread over a decade. If a few billion dollars annually is the trade-off that provides certainty — a pathway to citizenship or permanent legal status — for nearly 700,000 young immigrants brought to this country as children by their parents, it’s worth it. Because the alternative — all those lives ruined, all those jobs lost, all that education and promise cut short — is much worse.

Democrats who choke on the wall, loath to hand Mr. Trump a political triumph, might ask themselves what other deals they might strike that would do so much tangible good, for so many people, so immediately — and at such a relatively modest price. The likely answer is: very few.

Some Republicans are angling for more than half a loaf. Using the dreamers as hostages, they want to decimate legal immigration, slash family reunification visas and dissolve the lottery system that provides visas for people from Africa and other regions that generate relatively few immigrants.

Those measures would inflict real harm on real people. By contrast, spending billions on border security, while profligate, has enjoyed bipartisan support in the past. In 2006, many prominent Democrats, including then-Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, voted for 700 miles of fencing at the southwest frontier, albeit at a time when illegal crossings were more than three times greater than they are today.

Many in Congress may have lost the muscle memory required to strike a compromise, but here’s a reminder: In politics, as in life, compromise is often painful. That doesn’t mean you refuse it.”

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

Meanwhile, over at CNN, Tal and her colleague Ashley Killough file the following reports:

“Lawmakers compete to carry President’s mantle on DACA as talks continue

By: Tal Kopan, CNN

If the “four pillars” that emerged out of the White House immigration meeting spurred anything Wednesday on Capitol Hill, it was a fresh PR strategy.

A variety of competing factions continue to pursue their proposals on resolving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a policy President Donald Trump is seeking to end that protects from deportation young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children.

As the lawmakers touted their proposals Wednesday, though, they made an effort to explain just how their own push is the one that meets the President’s wishes — even as all of them took different approaches. The marketing underscored how essential Trump’s approval is to any deal — and how much lawmakers believe he can still be convinced.

The White House meeting settled on four check boxes for Trump’s signature, although he told lawmakers he’d sign whatever the group came up with:

A fix for DACA recipients.

Money for border security.

Dealing with “chain migration” or family-based sponsorship.

Ending the diversity lottery.

As lawmakers sought to fill in the details Wednesday, they made sure to explain how their proposals related to the President’s guidelines.

More: http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/10/politics/daca-latest-talks/index.html

Here are the key players in Congress on immigration

By Ashley Killough and Tal Kopan, CNN

As President Donald Trump led the widely-televised bipartisan meeting at the White House on Tuesday, he was surrounded by a flock of lawmakers from both parties and both houses of Congress.

A massive issue like immigration has many competing interests at stake, drawing in groups of lawmakers who work on competing proposals

In just one effort to streamline the process, the four second-in-command congressional leaders — Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer — got together Wednesday afternoon to try to sort through the efforts.

“We are not going to default to existing groups. There were too many groups to count and they were basically getting nowhere,” Cornyn told reporters. “So that’s why, I think, the need to move to this level.”

But Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican member of another group, says it’s his “Gang of Six” that’s leading the way. “Somebody has to put forward a document. Somebody has to put forward a bill,” he said. “That’s what we’re doing.”

A variety of formal and informal groups are still meeting and doing their own work, some designed to find the middle ground and some designed to pull talks to the left or right. Here’s a look at the key players across the political spectrum that have taken the lead.

More: http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/11/politics/key-players-immigration-congress/index.html”

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

I’ve been saying for some time now that a “Wall for Dreamers” deal might be the best the Dems can do. As the Post points out, although the “The Wall” probably is “overkill” in terms of border security, at least the money gets us something in return: the Dreamers are one of our country’s most valuable assets. People over “things.” Or, as we used to say in college, “nothing gets broken, no-one gets hurt.”

Whether or not the “deal” outlined by the Post is actually out there to be “closed” remains to be seen. It apparently would only address two of the four “pillars” described by Tal and Ashley. That seems entirely reasonable to me; but, of course, I’m not one of the negotiators. And, Trump said he would “sign anything that Congress sends him” on the topic.

PWS

01-11-18

DHS ENFORCEMENT HITS 7-ELEVEN STORES NATIONWIDE!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/immigration-agents-target-7-eleven-stores-in-nationwide-sweep/2018/01/10/315dae76-f62b-11e7-b34a-b85626af34ef_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_icecrackdown-128pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.ae6d34fab70c

Nick Miroff reports for the Washington Post:

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents blitzed dozens of 7-Eleven stores before dawn Wednesday to interview employees and deliver audit notifications, carrying out what the agency said was the largest operation targeting an employer since President Trump took office.

ICE said its agents showed up at 98 stores and made 21 arrests, describing the operation as a warning to other companies who may have unauthorized workers on their payroll.

“Today’s actions send a strong message to U.S. businesses that hire and employ an illegal workforce: ICE will enforce the law, and if you are found to be breaking the law, you will be held accountable,” said Thomas D. Homan, the agency’s top official, in a statement.

Homan characterized the operation as a new front in the Trump administration’s broader immigration crackdown and its effort to increase deportations. ICE agents have made 40 percent more arrests in the past year.

“Businesses that hire illegal workers are a pull factor for illegal immigration and we are working hard to remove this magnet,” Homan’s statement said. “ICE will continue its efforts to protect jobs for American workers by eliminating unfair competitive advantages for companies that exploit illegal immigration.”

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

Read Nick’s complete article at the link.

It’s not clear whether the 21 folks arrested were undocumented workers, store managers, or both. This does indicate an interesting new initiative by the Trump Administration to enforce employer sanctions against major U.S. chains like 7-Eleven. We’ll see how it “plays,” however, if and when some fat-cat GOP execs/donors get caught up in the enforcement net.

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.”

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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