TAL KOPAN AT CNN: Alarm Bells Ring As DACA Renewals Lag At Deadline! — Administration Refuses To Extend Deadline Despite Hurricanes & Inadequate Publicity! — Politico Reports That White House Racist Stephen Miller Planning To Torpedo Dreamer Relief — Immigration System & Country Facing Chaos!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/05/politics/daca-renewal-deadline-immigration/index.html

Tal reports:

“Washington (CNN)Democrats are raising alarms that more than a quarter of eligible recipients under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program have not yet filed to renew their status ahead of Thursday’s deadline.

According to data provided Wednesday by a senior Democratic congressional staffer and confirmed to CNN by US Citizenship and Immigration Services, 42,669 individuals nationwide — or 27.7% of the 154,234 people eligible — had not submitted their applications. That was slightly down from roughly 48,000 that the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday hadn’t yet submitted.
When President Donald Trump announced the end of the program, known as DACA, a month ago, he put in place a six-month delay on expiring protections by allowing any recipient whose DACA expires by March 5 until Thursday to apply for a two-year renewal. Otherwise, the program that protects young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation will begin to end on March 5, as the two-year permits of nearly 700,000 active protectees begin to run out.
Democrats have repeatedly implored DHS to extend the deadline, saying one month to gather paperwork — and the roughly $500 application fee — is not long enough for those affected.
Trump sketches out DACA deal with Republicans at White House dinner
They’ve been especially critical of DHS for not making special consideration for DACA recipients in states hit by hurricanes Irma and Harvey, though DHS did announce Tuesday it would make case-by-case decisions for recipients in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands affected by Maria.
The frustration bubbled up at a Senate hearing Tuesday, where Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin cited considerations the Internal Revenue Service was making for Texas, Louisiana and Florida residents.
“May I implore you, implore you, to do the same thing at DHS that our own Internal Revenue Service is doing,” Durbin said to the DHS officials testifying. “If it’s good enough for our tax collectors to have a heart, isn’t it good enough for DHS to have a heart?”
Senators’ frustration with Trump on DACA bubbles up at hearing
According to the Wednesday data, more than 2,600 of eligible recipients in Texas had yet to submit renewals, 28% of the total eligible in that state. In Florida, more than 2,000, or 35% of those eligible, had yet to renew. In the US islands hit by Irma, 16 of the 37 eligible hadn’t yet renewed.
Democrats have also been frustrated with DHS over its notification process, saying without individual notifications to those eligible for renewal, the administration should extend the deadline.
“We are very concerned that because DACA recipients were not individually notified of their eligibility for renewal, tens of thousands of DACA recipients could lose their work authorization and DACA status protections,” Congressional Hispanic Caucus leaders wrote in a letter to acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke on Tuesday repeating a request to meet about extending the deadline.
Trump said he was putting in place the six-month window to give Congress a sense of urgency to put the Obama administration executive action into law.
But despite Tuesday’s hearing, multiple working groups and meetings the President has had with lawmakers at the White House, little substantive progress has been made.
The fault lines have remained consistent. Democrats support the bipartisan Dream Act that would protect eligible young immigrants who arrived as children and put them on a path to citizenship. They say they could accept border security as a compromise with it, but insist they will not vote for anything that could put the families and friends of those protected at greater risk of deportation.
DACA deal: A list of just some of the things that could go wrong
But Republicans are also insistent that any DACA deal must include border security and likely immigration enforcement measures, and the more conservative members of the party are suggesting policies — like mandatory worker verification, cuts to the legal immigration system and expanded deportation authority — that would be almost impossible to get Democrats to agree to.
Any solution would likely have to include Democrats, as they’ll be needed for passage in the Senate and to make up for Republicans in the House who would never vote for any DACA deal. But House Speaker Paul Ryan has also pledged not to move any bill that doesn’t get the votes of a majority of Republicans, limiting the options.
Durbin was joined on Tuesday at the hearing by Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, in urging lawmakers and the White House to not try to concoct too big a compromise. Tillis has sponsored legislation similar to Durbin’s Dream Act that he bills as a conservative DACA solution.
Responding to a wish list articulated by a DHS senior staff member testifying about the White House’s aims, Tillis grew frustrated and urged members to focus on a narrow deal as a starting point.
“It reads like a laundry list for comprehensive immigration reform, and if Congress has proven an extraordinary ability to do anything, it’s to fail at comprehensive immigration reform,” Tillis said.”

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

Bad news on all fronts for Dreamers, and for America.  Over at the White House, notorious White Nationalist xenophobe racist and Sessions confidante Stephen Miller is plotting to destroy any chance of compromise legislation to aid Dreamers by attaching reductions in legal Immigraton and other parts of the White Nationalist agenda to the bill.

Politico reports:

“The White House is finalizing a plan to demand hard-line immigration reforms in exchange for supporting a fix on the DACA program, according to three people familiar with the talks — an approach that risks alienating Democrats and even many Republicans, potentially tanking any deal.

The White House proposal is being crafted by Stephen Miller, the administration’s top immigration adviser, and includes cutting legal immigration by half over the next decade, an idea that’s already been panned by lawmakers in both parties.

 

The principles would likely be a political non-starter for Democrats and infuriate Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who have negotiated with President Donald Trump on immigration and left a White House meeting last month indicating a solution was near. They could also divide Republicans, many of whom oppose cutting legal immigration.

Miller was upset after Trump’s dinner last month with Schumer and Pelosi and has been working since to bring the president back to the tougher stance he took during his campaign.

Miller has begun talking with Hill aides and White House officials about the principles in recent days. The administration is expected to send its immigration wish-list to Congress in the coming days, perhaps as soon as this weekend, said the people familiar with the plan, who include two administration officials. They requested anonymity to discuss the ongoing negotiations.

A White House official cautioned that the plans have not been finalized and could still change. Miller didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Unless they change dramatically from their current form, the immigration principles could short-circuit congressional negotiations aimed at finding a fix to DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — the Obama-era initiative that grants work permits to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as minors.

“Handing Stephen Miller the pen on any DACA deal after the revolt from their base is the quickest way to blow it up,” said a senior Democratic Senate aide.

Lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol panned an earlier White House immigration proposal spearheaded by Miller, the RAISE Act, when the White House rolled it out in August. Republicans including Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Ron Johnson .)of Wisconsin all but declared the proposal dead on arrival.

Trump announced last month that he would end the DACA program, but he said he’d give Congress six months to come up with a legislative solution.

Despite Trump’s efforts to make nice with Schumer and Pelosi, Republican lawmakers signaled this week that the president is prepared to demand tough immigration measures as part of the negotiations.

In addition to provisions in the RAISE Act, the White House’s immigration principles also include parts of the Davis-Oliver Act, including measures that would give state and local law enforcement power to enforce immigration laws, allow states to write their own immigration laws and expand criminal penalties for entering the U.S. illegally.

The principles would also incorporate a provision from the Davis-Oliver Act that puts the onus on Congress to designate Temporary Protected Status, which allows immigrants to temporarily stay in the United States because they are unable to return to their home country as a result of a natural disaster or other dangerous circumstances.

The Davis-Oliver Act gives Congress 90 days to approve a measure extending TPS protections to a foreign state. If Congress does not act, the designation will be terminated. Lawmakers have raised concerns that Congress will be unable to agree on the designations, effectively killing the program.

In addition, the principles call for billions of dollars in border security, as well as money for detention beds and more immigration judges, according to the people familiar with them. Republicans are likely to support those moves.”

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

Miller’s proposals are right out of the White Nationalist restrictionist playbook. It will be a non-starter for Democrats. Additionally, no decent human being of any party should ever be associated, in any way, with any idea emanating from the arrogant racist Miller.

If Miller is involved, Dreamer relief is DOA. That means that Dreamers are likely to be left to fight out their future one case at a time in the Federal Courts and in the Immigraton Courts. Given the existing 630,000+ case backlog in the U.S. Imigration Courts, and the relatively cumbersome process for restoring “Dreamer” cases to the Immigraton Court Docket, not many will actually be removed from the United States before 2000.

I also think that Dreamers will have a reasonable chance of succeeding in the Article III Courts in barring DHS from relying on any evidence furnished as part of the DACA application and interview process as evidence of removability. That’s likely to throw a further monkey wrench into any enforcement initiative aimed at Dreamers.

So, the best strategy might prove to be working hard to remove the Trump regime and enough White Nationalist GOPers through the ballot box to create a climate for reasonable immigraton reform in 2021.

Sad, but probably true. A country that mistreats its youth in this manner can expect “very bad things” to happen in the future.

PWS

10-05-17

 

POLITICO EXPOSES SHOCKING FRAUD, WASTE, & ABUSE IN SESSIONS’S U.S. IMMIGRATION COURTS — POLITICALLY DRIVEN “ADR” FUELS UNMANAGEABLE BACKLOGS WHILE DOJ TRIES TO FOB OFF BLAME ON HARD WORKING ATTORNEYS AND US IMMIGRATION JUDGES — DUE PROCESS MOCKED & DENIED — GOP-LED CONGRESS AWOL AS DOJ SQUANDERS TAXPAYER FUNDS & ASKS FOR MORE! — JUDGES FORCED TO LEAVE BACKLOGGED DOCKETS TO TWIDDLE THUMBS AND READ NEWSPAPERS AT BORDER — INCOMPETENT DOJ POLITICOS ALLOWED TO REARRANGE COURT DOCKETS WHILE LOCAL JUDGES IGNORED — WHEN WILL THIS ABUSE END! — Plus, I Take On Former Obama Official Leon Fresco For His Tone Deaf Dissing Of Vulnerable Migrants Seeking (But Not Finding) Justice In Trump’s America!

ADR = AIMLESS DOCKET RESHUFFLING

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/09/27/trump-deportations-immigration-backlog-215649

Meredith Hoffman reports for Politico:

“On September 4, immigration judge Denise Slavin followed orders from the Department of Justice to drop everything and travel to the U.S.-Mexico border. She would be leaving behind an overwhelming docket in Baltimore, but she was needed at “ground zero,” as Attorney General Jeff Sessions called it—the “sliver of land” where Americans take a stand against machete-wielding, poison-smuggling criminal gangs and drug cartels.

As part of a new Trump administration program to send justices on short-term missions to the border to speed up deportations and, Sessions pledged, reduce “significant backlogs in our immigration courts,” Slavin was to spend two weeks at New Mexico’s Otero County Processing Center.

But when Slavin arrived at Otero, she found her caseload was nearly half empty. The problem was so widespread that, according to internal Justice Department memos, nearly half the 13 courts charged with implementing Sessions’ directive could not keep their visiting judges busy in the first two months of the new program.

“Judges were reading the newspaper,” says Slavin, the executive vice president of the National Immigration Judges Association and an immigration judge since 1995. One, she told POLITICO Magazine, “spent a day helping them stock the supply room because she had nothing else to do.”

Slavin ended up leaving Otero early because she had no cases her last day. “One clerk said it was so great, it was like being on vacation,” she recalls.

In January, President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing the DOJ to deploy U.S. immigration judges to U.S. detention facilities—most of which are located on or near the U.S.-Mexico border. The temporary reassignments were intended to lead to more and faster deportations, as well as take some pressure off the currently overloaded immigration court system. But, according to interviews and internal DOJ memos, since the new policy went into effect in March, it seems to have had the opposite result: Judges have frequently had to cancel cases on their overloaded home dockets only to find barely any work at their assigned courts—exacerbating the U.S. immigration court backlog that now exceeds 600,000 cases.

According to internal memos sent by the DOJ’s Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) and obtained by the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) via a Freedom of Information Act request, judges delayed more than 20,000 home court hearings for their details to the border from March to May.

“I canceled about 100 cases in my home court to hear 20,” says Slavin, who was forced to postpone those Baltimore hearings by a year since her court schedule was already booked through most of 2018. In Otero, she had no more than 50 hours of work over the course of two weeks (she typically clocks 50 hours per week in Baltimore). But she couldn’t catch up on her work at home because she had no access to her files.

Her three colleagues at the facility who had also been ordered there by the DOJ were no busier. One who had been sent to Otero previously told her the empty caseloads were normal.

“Sending judges to the border has made the backlog in the interior of the country grow,” says Slavin, “It’s done exactly the opposite of what they hoped to accomplish.”

***

On April 11 in Nogales, Arizona, Sessions formally rolled out the DOJ’s judge relocation program. “I am also pleased to announce a series of reforms regarding immigration judges to reduce the significant backlogs in our immigration courts,” he told the crowd of Customs and Border Protection personnel gathered to hear him. “Pursuant to the president’s executive order, we will now be detaining all adults who are apprehended at the border. To support this mission, we have already surged 25 immigration judges to detention centers along the border.”

The idea was to send U.S. immigration court judges currently handling “non-detained” immigration cases—cases such as final asylum decisions and immigrants’ applications for legal status—to centers where they would only adjudicate cases of those detained crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, along with others who had been picked up by ICE for possible deportation. More judges would follow, the attorney general said.

But as Sessions spoke, nearly half of those 25 “surge” judges—whose deployments typically last two weeks or a month—were largely unoccupied. One week before the attorney general’s Nogales announcement, EOIR—the Justice Department office that handles immigration cases—published an internal memo identifying six of 13 detention centers as offering inadequate work for their visiting justices.

“There are not enough cases to fill one immigration judge’s docket, let alone five,” the DOJ wrote of Texas’ T. Don Hutto facility, which had been assigned five Miami judges to hold hearings via video teleconference with the women detained there.

One judge sent to the South Texas Residential Center, a family detention facility, had no cases at all; a judge at another family facility, Karnes Residential Center, had a “light” docket; and Texas’ Prairieland Detention Center, which had received a judge, also was “not receiving enough cases to fill a docket or even come close to it,” the memo stated.

The two judges assigned to New Mexico’s Cibola Detention Facility also had barely any work to do, and Louisiana’s La Salle Detention Center—not on the border but treated as such in its receipt of five “surge” judges—had similarly been overstaffed. “There is not enough work for five judges,” said one DOJ memo. “There is enough work for a reasonable docket and three judges.”

The Justice Department documents also revealed a number of logistical issues with the border courts, including a lack of phone lines or internet connectivity, and noise infiltrating the courtroom from the detention facility. “The courtrooms at Imperial Regional Detention Facility are not suitable for in-person hearings because security is wholly inadequate,” said one memo of the California facility. “The court cannot do telephonic interpreters and the request for in-person interpreters remains pending. … Last week an immigration judge was left in the courtroom without a bailiff.”

Meanwhile, the judges sent to the border were forced to abandon thousands of home court cases—which the DOJ was aware could increase pressure on the U.S. immigration court system, where a specialized cadre of judges handles questions over whether people can remain in the country or face deportation. “It is likely that the backlog will increase for the locations from which a judge is assigned,” predicted one March 29 document, which also projected the deployments would cost $21 million per fiscal year.

Within the first three months of the program, judges postponed about 22,000 cases around the country, including 2,774 in New York City alone, according to the DOJ memos. (The delays added to an already clogged system: New York City’s immigration court backlog stood at 81,842 as of July, according to the immigration data tracker TRAC Immigration.)

When asked about these FOIA documents, and why the DOJ had deployed judges where they were not needed, a Justice Department spokesmanresponded that the program had improved in recent months. “After the initial deployment, an assessment was done to determine appropriate locations to increase the adjudication of immigration court cases without compromising due process,” he said.

Immigration judges and advocates acknowledge that the program has slightly improved since May—but many say that’s largely because the DOJ is sending fewer judges on temporary missions. “Some of the least productive assignments have either been discontinued or converted to video teleconferencing hearings, and it seems that fewer judges are being sent overall,” says National Association of Immigration Judges President Dana Marks, who serves as an immigration judge in San Francisco. But, she says, “the basic problem still persists.”

More than 100 total judges have been reassigned since March, but Politico was not able to obtain data on whether deployments are declining or increasing, or how many judges are still facing empty caseloads.

The spokesperson declined to comment on Slavin’s experience at Otero. But the DOJ discontinued deployments to Otero this month, as soon as Slavin completed her assignment there.

The U.S. immigration court backlog has increased under Trump, moving from 540,000 in January to 600,000 in July. But the DOJ spokesperson denied that the deployments were responsible for the bump, instead blaming the overloaded system on the Obama administration’s policies. He noted that the first six months of the Trump administration had seen a14.5 percent increase in final immigration court rulings from the previous year, and that more than 90 percent of cases by “surge” judges had led to deportation orders.

But just because judges have ruled on more cases doesn’t mean the Trump administration hasn’t worsened the backlog, NIJC communications director Tara Tidwell Cullen says. In fact, it could likely mean the opposite. Trump’s first six months in power saw 40 percent more immigration arrests in the country’s interior than the year before, adding more cases to already overloaded dockets.

“The ‘home’ courts where judges are sent from continue to be understaffed and their caseloads are adversely impacted as judges are sent to temporary assignments,” adds Marks, the San Francisco judge. Adding to the problem, she points out, is the administration’s decision to detain immigrants without allowing the Department of Homeland Security to grant them bonds. Now, detainees have to go to immigration court to get a bond, creating extra work for those justices.

***

Not everyone thinks sending judges to the border is a bad idea.

“The best use of resources is to throw them all at detention,” says Leon Fresco, who served as deputy assistant attorney general under President Barack Obama. Judges typically release individuals detained for more than 90 days with no trial on habeas corpus, he explains, in which case the government has “wasted money in detaining them” to start. Better, then, to hear all the detained cases quickly.

Any administration will have to make tough calls, says Fresco. “You have just about 300 judges to hear more than 500,000 cases, so you have to prioritize.” Under Obama, the DOJ—while it hadn’t sent judges to the border—had also prioritized recent border crossers in order to send a message that the U.S. would immediately hear their cases, rather than allow them to “wait eight years to be adjudicated” while staying in the country, Fresco says. Trump’s priorities similarly send a message to potential border crossers that “we do have quick justice.”

The problem, Fresco adds, is that the Trump administration has been clumsy in its border deployments—sending judges to places where they aren’t needed. “There are ways to do this, but they need to be more flexible and nimble, and they’re not being as nimble as they can be,” he says. “EOIR is an agency badly in need of some sort of consulting firm. … There’s still too little rhyme or reason about how case assignments work—you shouldn’t have weeks with judges with hours of idle time.”

Chicago immigration judge Robert D. Vinikoor says his deployment went smoothly. He had a full caseload in his two-week detail at Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego this April, and he maintains that the reassigned judges were necessary to get immigrants out of detention as expeditiously as possible. “DHS is detaining more and more people and keeping them in custody, so that’s the need for the judges,” says Vinikoor, who retired in June after serving 33 years as an immigration judge. “The question is: Are they over-detailing? In some cases they put the cart before the horse.”

But Marks, who has been an immigration judge for 30 years, disagrees. Even if the DOJ gets deployments right, she says, the surge policy shows the administration has the wrong priorities. She says the administration’s biggest mistake was making a “politically motivated decision” and not consulting immigration judges. “The judges weren’t asked and that’s always been our big frustration,” she says.” The judges are the ones who are the experts in handling their cases.”

Marks notes that her union had similar frustrations with the Obama administration’s prioritization of recent border crossers—predominantly Central American women and children seeking asylum—to send a message they would be deported quickly if they could not prove they qualified for asylum. That decision, she says, worsened the backlog, too.

The overloaded system jeopardizes due process for immigrants, says NIJC’s policy director Heidi Altman, who filed the FOIA for EOIR’s memos after hearing about “chaos” in the courts when the border details began.

“When the backlog is exacerbated it makes it exponentially harder for us and other legal services to take on clients,” says Altman, whose NIJC organizes pro-bono attorneys handling immigration cases, which do not guarantee legal representation. Without a lawyer handling a case, she says, it is less likely to proceed fairly.

But there’s another reason that Trump might want to reconsider the border surge, says John Sandweg, former acting director of ICE under the Obama administration: It takes the pressure off the undocumented immigrants who have lived in the country for years and may be fighting to prevent an order of deportation. “They’re basically giving amnesty ironically to the non-detained docket.”

“By shifting the judges away they’ll never have their hearing so they’ll never be ordered deported,” he says. “You’re letting them stay.”

Meredith Hoffman is a freelance journalist who who has covered immigration for AP, Rolling Stone, the New York Times, and VICE.
**************************************
Thanks, Meredith, for this very timely article that ties in nicely with the recent NBC 4 I-Team series on the unmitigated mess in the U.S. Immigration Courts and how Jeff Sessions’s xenophobia, patent disregard for Due Process, and gross mismanagement of the U.S. Immigration Courts is ruining lives and threatening the very underpinnings of the American Justice system.It would be nice to think that someone or somebody would hold this “Swamp Dweller” accountable for his lawless actions. But, to date, that seems unlikely as long as the GOP is in power.The judgment of history, however, is something quite different. And that’s why it is so critical that the truth be documented, especially since Sessions is wont to lie, misrepresent, and distort when it comes to furthering his White Nationalist agenda. He might get away with it in the short run, but in the end he will be held fully accountable and his memory forever tied to the false, xenophobic, White Nationalist views that he spent a lifetime trying (fortunately, usually with little success outside of Alabama) to advance.Also, my long time friend and former colleague Judge Bobby Vinakoor neglected to mention that for him to go to Otey Mesa, his previously set dockets at the Chicago Immigration Court were reset, something that the practitioners representing the respondents were less sanguine about than Bobby. I will say though, that knowing Bobby, if they had good reasons for being heard before his retirement date, he probably squeezed them in somewhere and took care of them. Bobby was never one to intentionally leave someone hanging.OK, Leon Fresco, on to you! I hope to hell that you and your fat-cat law firm Holland & Knight (which I’ll be the first to admit has been a consistent stalwart on the pro bono immigration scene going back to my days at the Legacy INS) have permanent offices somewhere down on the Southern border where you are providing free legal assistance to all the noncriminals being needlessly detained by the Administration in substandard (many would say subhuman) condititions. Your “wise-ass comments” about running folks through the courts in 90 days or less to prevent them from being properly released under court orders deserve censure.As a former head of OIL, you know better than anyone that refugees from the Northern Triangle have zip chances of winning their cases without good lawyers, adequate time to prepare, and the ability to corroborate their (often quite plausible) claims with documentation. None of that is readily available in the obscure locations where the Trump/Sessions crowd has purposely chosen  to detain immigrants. So, racing them though “court,” as your apparently advocate, in detention where there can’t get lawyers, can’t prepare, and can’t get evidence, and where they are regularly coerced by your former clients at DHS into abandoning claims, is pretty much a “death sentence” for any valid claim they might have for protection.

I also find your continuing advocacy of the misuse of the Immigration Courts to deny due process and send “enforcement messages” even more highly objectionable. As a former Immigration Judge at two levels, I can assure you that’s not what courts are for! It’s a grotesque abuse of the court system and makes a mockery of due process — exactly the things that EOIR was supposedly created to eliminate (but hasn’t been able to, thanks to “enablers” like you, Leon). You wouldn’t be so chipper if you or one of your fat cat clients were treated the way our system treats vulnerable migrants looking for justice. But, you have helped me illustrate why the U.S. Immigration Courts can’t function in a fair and impartial manner and provide due process while part of the highly politicized DOJ under Administrations of either party.  So, for that I have to thank you.

And, I’ve always maintained that the Obama Administration richly deserves a huge part of the blame for the Due Process disaster in the U.S. Immigration Courts. They took a troubled system and turned it into a disaster. Undoubtedly, your unwillingness to “just say no” to some of the unconscionable legal positions the DOJ took and their abandonment of the responsibility to create a balanced, fair, impartial, and diverse immigration judiciary played some role in that man-made disaster.

And don’t kid yourself, Leon. What you defended in the Obama Administration wasn’t “quick justice!” No, it was “little or no justice” for the majority of detainees who were railroaded through the system in detention, something that should keep you awake when you’re not out making the “big bucks practicing big law.”  

For those of you who don’t know him, Leon once made a career out of going around claiming that barely literate women and children didn’t need lawyers in Immigration Court because is would “open the floodgates.”

From NPR:

“Yet last week, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Leon Fresco appeared before a federal judge in Seattle to argue that providing legal representation for immigrant children facing deportation could create open borders and send the message that no one here illegally would be removed.

“It would create a magnet effect,” Fresco said in court.”

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/holder-says-immigrant-children-get-lawyers-department-disagrees/

Funny thing about due process and justice, Leon, sometimes they are inconvenient.

You’re not a shill for the Obama Administration any more, Leon. You’re no longer required to “defend the indefensible” (something that’s not unfamiliar to me from my INS career). Reflect on the errors of your past, leave the dark behind, and come on over to the light. The living’s better over here, and there’s plenty of room for all.  

Best wishes,

Paul

09-27

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT THREATENS TO DESTROY KEY INDUSTRY IN “RED STATE” — Spreading Myth That Migrants Are Bad & Steal Jobs From Americans Has Dire “Real Life” Consequences!

 

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/09/16/trump-immigration-crackdown-idaho-dairy-industry-215608?cid=apnJazmine Ulloa

Susan Ferriss reports in Politico:

“JEROME, IDAHO —In the Magic Valley of southern Idaho, milk is money.

Over 400,000 cows reside in this area, where the miracle of modern irrigation from the Snake River fed pioneer farming. Bovines now outnumber humans by more than two to one. Workers in rubber boots pull long shifts feeding livestock, clearing mountains of manure and extracting millions of pounds of milk all day, every day, all year, on ranches tucked into the rock and sagebrush-studded landscape. Sleek silver tankers filled with milk barrel down Interstate 84 toward dairy processing plants, among them one owned by Chobani, which opened the world’s biggest yogurt factory five years ago just down the road in Twin Falls. Since 2000, milk production has doubled in Idaho, providing the state with $10.4 billion in direct sales, according to University of Idaho economists. Chobani’s gleaming $750 million, cream-colored plant is just one of the many big businesses linked to Idaho’s voluminous milk production, now around third- or fourth-largest among states.

 

In short, the Magic Valley’s dairy boom is a contemporary rural American success story—the kind that President Donald Trump railed as a candidate is too often missing across the country. Unemployment here was less than 3 percent this summer, about as good as it gets, and optimism should be high. Yet on dairy farms, among both owners and workers, a sense of dread hangs in the dry southern Idaho air.

Dairy farmers lean heavily Republican in this deeply red state of only 1.7 million people, where 88 percent of the voting-age population are non-Hispanic whites. But in the age of Donald Trump—who won Idaho handily —even the farmers who supported the new president fear their businesses are about to run headlong into a harsh political reality. They’re frightened that Trump’s aggressive deportation policies will soon start to pick off or push away the mostly Hispanic immigrants who do the gritty work that Americans aren’t interested in doing. Many of these workers are probably undocumented, farmers acknowledge, yet they’re the sturdy backbone of a surging industry. Here in the Magic Valley, the farmers’ perspective is starkly different from the president’s claim that undocumented workers “compete directly against vulnerable American workers.”

An immigrant woman attaches cleans cows’ teats and attaches pumps in a state-of-the art milking parlor. Hundreds of cows file in and instinctively turn around to be milked, three times a day. Sometimes the animals kick and defecate, milkers say.
An immigrant woman attaches cleans cows’ teats and attaches pumps in a state-of-the art milking parlor. Hundreds of cows file in and instinctively turn around to be milked, three times a day. Sometimes the animals kick and defecate, milkers say. | Joy Pruitt for the Center for Public Integrity
And the farmers’ view is pitting them against a vocal contingent of neighbors who’ve responded both to Trump’s rhetoric and far-right media that has targeted immigrants as a threat. Southern Idaho, in fact, became a flashpoint for xenophobia this past year when outlets like Breitbart and InfoWars, seized on false reports about Muslim refugees—accusing them of gang rapes and the spread of fatal diseases like tuberculosis—and turned the remote area into an anti-immigrant cause celebre. But locally, it’s starting to sink in that Trump’s vows to oust undocumented workers—whom he claims are a drain on the economy—could actually kick the legs out from under the “Made in America” model the Magic Valley exemplifies.

Idaho dairy industry representatives estimate that between 85 to 90 percent of on-site dairy workers in the state are foreign-born. The U.S. Department of Labor and other estimates suggest that nearly half to 70 percent of all U.S. farm laborers are undocumented—certainly enough to shut down many of the milk pumps here if workers are ousted as a result of Trump’s policies.

That’s why farmers’ groups have for years pushed Congress, unsuccessfully, to make it possible for them to legally employ immigrants they say are desperately needed. Prospects don’t look any rosier now. In recent months, anti-immigrant rhetoric has only grown more vitriolic, and Trump supporters—including some here—are expecting the president to follow through on campaign promises and deport more people.

Those who understand the dairy business here fear that a political solution won’t materialize before it’s too late, if ever. And that means businesses could struggle due to labor shortages and plummeting production.

Shannon Perez, an American who was married to Mexican dairy worker who was deported, believes Americans don’t understand that the current immigration system doesn’t allow immigrant workers to “get legal.”
Shannon Perez, an American who was married to Mexican dairy worker who was deported, believes Americans don’t understand that the current immigration system doesn’t allow immigrant workers to “get legal.” | Susan Ferriss for the Center for Public Integrity
“The dairy industry is a big money maker. But without workers, without somebody that’s going to be there 12 hours a day, milking your cows, getting dirty, there’s no business,” said Shannon Pérez, a non-Hispanic Anglo, as people here say, who’s worked on dairy and calf ranches. She’s already watched helplessly as her own family was split by deportation.”

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

Read the entire article at the above link.

For those of us who have worked in the field of immigration for decades, it is hardly surprising that policies driven by White Nationalism, xenophobia, and just plain old racism and meanness would hurt a wide and diverse swarth of Americans, including many of those same misguided souls who ignored the facts and voted Trump into office.

We need to screen the undocumented folks who are here now, remove those who are criminals or engaging in socially destructive conduct, and give some type of legal status to the rest. Then, we need to significantly expand the number of legal immigrants we accept each year to more closely match market demand, save more lives of those fleeing harm, harness the energy, skills, and talents that will allow us to prosper and lead in the future, and make future immigration enforcement rational, efficient, and effective (by not wasting time arresting, detaining, and deporting those who actually are here to help us).

Folks like Jeff Sessions are pushing an irrational program that if it actually were achievable (which is isn’t) would cripple and perhaps destroy both the economy and the social fabric of our great nation.

It’s time for the majority of “rationalists” (regardless of party affiliation) to band together and defeat the attack of a well-organized minority that is out to harm our country and endanger our future.

PWS

09-16-17

 

Under Pressure From Federal Court, DHS Might Extend Key DACA Deadline!

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/14/feds-consider-delaying-daca-deadline-242742?cid=apn

 

Josh Gerstein reports in Politico:

“The Department of Homeland Security is “actively considering” delaying a looming deadline for so called-Dreamers to renew their status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a Justice Department attorney said at a court hearing Thursday, according to attendees and a government official.

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brett Shumate cited the hurricanes that recently hit Texas, Florida and nearby states as grounds for the potential delay to the Oct. 5 deadline, while noting that no final decision had been made, an official said.

 

Word of the possible delay came as a federal judge signaled that he might postpone the cut-off date unless the Trump administration acted first, attendees at a Thursday court hearing said.

During the session, in federal court in Brooklyn, U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis repeatedly labeled the deadline “arbitrary” and said he saw little harm in pushing it back, according to advocates.

“He focused quite a bit on the October 5 deadline and called it arbitrary,” said David Chen, a Yale law student helping litigate the issue, “and said essentially that so many people who are DACA recipients would face quite a lot of harm and experience quite a lot of chaos if they were unable to renew by the deadline.”

The Trump administration announced last week that it was winding down the Obama-era program known DACA, a mechanism used to give quasi-legal status and work permits to about 800,000 undocumented foreigners who arrived in the U.S. as children.

Homeland security officials announced that people whose work permits are set to expire between Sept. 5, 2017, and March 5 of next year must submit a renewal application by Oct. 5 to receive another two-year permit. After March 5, no more DACA permits will be granted, leading to a two-year phase-out of the program, officials said.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Judges hate it when they can’t talk the USG into “voluntarily” doing the right thing!

PWS

09-14-17

DEMS ARE “PIPE DREAMING” IF THEY BELIEVE THAT TRUMP’S SUPPOSEDLY HISTORICALLY LOW POLL NUMBERS WILL ADD UP TO DEM VICTORY AT POLLS — Without Any Charismatic Leader Or Hugely Popular Program, Dems Appear Slated To Wander In The Wilderness Until Trump Destroys The Entire Country!

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/13/teflon-trump-democrats-messaging-242607

Edward-Isaac Devore writes in Politico:

“Democrats tried attacking Donald Trump as unfit for the presidency. They’ve made the case that he’s ineffective, pointing to his failure to sign a single major piece of legislation into law after eight months in the job. They’ve argued that Trump is using the presidency to enrich himself and that his campaign was in cahoots with Russia.

None of it is working.

 

Data from a range of focus groups and internal polls in swing states paint a difficult picture for the Democratic Party heading into the 2018 midterms and 2020 presidential election. It suggests that Democrats are naive if they believe Trump’s historically low approval numbers mean a landslide is coming. The party is defending 10 Senate seats in states that Trump won and needs to flip 24 House seats to take control of that chamber.

The research, conducted by private firms and for Democratic campaign arms, is rarely made public but was described to POLITICO in interviews with a dozen top operatives who’ve been analyzing the results coming in.

“If that’s the attitude that’s driving the Democratic Party, we’re going to drive right into the ocean,” said Anson Kaye, a strategist at media firm GMMB who worked on the Obama and Clinton campaigns and is in conversations with potential clients for next year.

Worse news, they worry: Many of the ideas party leaders have latched onto in an attempt to appeal to their lost voters — free college tuition, raising the minimum wage to $15, even Medicare for all — test poorly among voters outside the base. The people in these polls and focus groups tend to see those proposals as empty promises, at best.

Pollsters are shocked by how many voters describe themselves as “exhausted” by the constant chaos surrounding Trump, and they find that there’s strong support for a Congress that provides a check on him rather than voting for his agenda most of the time. But he is still viewed as an outsider shaking up the system, which people in the various surveys say they like, and which Democrats don’t stack up well against.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Don’t forget that Trump has seldom “polled well” except among his base. He never really crossed the 50% mark in any credible polls (assuming that any polls were in fact credible, something cast into doubt by the 2016 Election) even on Election Day. But, that hasn’t stopped him from becoming President and won’t necessarily stop him from being a 2-term President.

If nothing else, Trump has proved that a fanatic base, properly distributed across the U.S., can allow him to exploit the peculiarities of the US system to win elections without ever being “the people’s choice.” According to this article, there is little reason to believe that voters will hold either Trump or the GOP accountable for their lackluster performance at governing. Indeed, it’s entirely possible that the GOP will wake up the morning after the November 2018 Elections with even bigger majorities in the House and Senate.

PWS

09-13-17

ALWAYS A PRETTY SAFE BET: “Jeff Sessions is wrong,” Says Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — (Actually, Sessions Lied And Smeared Some All-American Young People In The Process, But Why Split Hairs?)

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/06/daca-dreamers-reaction-lindsey-graham-242370?cid=apn

Louis Nelson reports in Politico:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ assertion Tuesday that so-called Dreamers have taken jobs away from American citizens is “wrong,” Sen. Lindsey Graham declared Wednesday morning, pushing back against his former Senate colleague and calling for compassion from Congress.

“Jeff Sessions is wrong. These kids are not taking jobs from American citizens, they’re part of our country,” Graham (R-S.C.) told NBC’s “Today” show, rebutting Sessions’ assertion from the previous day. “They’re fully employed for the most part, they’re in school, they will add great value. The president is right to want to have a heart for these kids.”

 

The attorney general’s comment about Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, came during his announcement that the Trump administration will rescind DACA, a program that offers work permits to Dreamers and protects them from deportation. Sessions, known as a hawk on immigration issues during his Senate tenure, blamed the program for hurting American job-seekers and for creating a “humanitarian crisis” on the U.S.-Mexico border.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Sessions lacks credibility even with his own former colleagues from his own party.

PWS

09-06-17

BREAKING: Trump Punts DACA To Congress — Will End Program In 6 Mo. Unless Congress Acts!

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/03/trump-dreamers-immigration-daca-immigrants-242301

Eliana Johnson reports for Politico:

President Donald Trump has decided to end the Obama-era program that grants work permits to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children, according to two sources familiar with his thinking. Senior White House aides huddled Sunday afternoon to discuss the rollout of a decision likely to ignite a political firestorm — and fulfill one of the president’s core campaign promises.

Trump has wrestled for months with whether to do away with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA. He has faced strong warnings from members of his own party not to scrap the program and struggled with his own misgivings about targeting minors for deportation.

 

Conversations with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who argued that Congress — rather than the executive branch — is responsible for writing immigration law, helped persuade the president to terminate the program, the two sources said, though White House aides caution that — as with everything in the Trump White House — nothing is set in stone until an official announcement has been made.

In a nod to reservations held by many lawmakers, the White House plans to delay the enforcement of the president’s decision for six months, giving Congress a window to act, according to one White House official. But a senior White House aide said that chief of staff John Kelly, who has been running the West Wing policy process on the issue, “thinks Congress should’ve gotten its act together a lot longer ago.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

This could be one of Trump’s shrewder political moves. He doesn’t really have to do anything right now, while getting the issue off his desk and putting pressure on the Dems and those more responsible Republicans who have urged him to retain the program to get their collective act together and legislate.

Now it depends on whether Trump can disengage without the usual barrage of xenophobic White Nationalist race baiting truth-challenged rhetoric that tends to accompany all of his immigration moves. That might be hard for Trump, given his normal need to pander to the basist biases of his base.

There is also the problem of what happens if Congress fails. There is no practical way of removing 800,000 American young people. It’s simply beyond the capacity of the system, not to mention that it would destroy our economy and rip apart our society.

REALITY CHECK: Many U.S. Immigration Courts are already setting “new” non-detained cases out to Individual Hearing dates in 2020 & 2021. As Judge Burman’s remarks in the preceding post suggest, those courts that claim not to be out as far might well be using ADR (“Aimless Docket Reshuffling”) techniques to mask the true extent of the backlog and docketing problem.

A few Dreamers got DACA after the entry of a final order of removal. But, the vast majority either 1) applied before being placed in Removal Proceedings; or 2) had their Removal Proceedings “Administratively Closed” (thereby removed from the Immigration  Court’s “active docket”) after DACA was granted. All of these cases would have to be initially docketed or re-docketed upon DHS motion.

The US Immigration Courts’ docket already extends beyond the end of Trump’s current term in 2021. By the time “Dreamer” cases get to Individual Hearings the next Presidential term likely will have expired. After all, even without Dreamers on the docket, and with additional US Immigration Judges on the bench, backlogs have continued to rise as a result of the Administration’s “gonzo” approach to immigration enforcement.

So far, the Administration has addressed the impracticality of unlimited enforcement of a broken immigration system with a pattern of “random acts of cruelty” intended to spread fear, create unease, and keep ethnic and migrant communities on edge.

Let’s hope Congress can get its act together and solve the problem in a bipartisan manner.  If not, more disruption, dislocation, disorder, and just plain downright arbitrary meanness are likely to follow.

“Bad things will happen” to a country that allows a xenophobic, racist, White Nationalist minority (two-thirds of Americans favor some type of relief for Dreamers) to overrule the majority and attack our country’s most precious asset: the young people who are America’s (and the world’s) future. It’s time for those of us in the majority who aren’t part of the “Trump base” to stand up and be heard in opposition to those who would destroy our country’s future and trash the lives of fine American young people in the process! And, politicians who oppose relief for Dreamers need to be removed from office through the electoral process.

PWS

09-03-17

ARPAIO PARDON ALIGNS TRUMP WITH RADICAL ANTI-FED MOVEMENT!

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/09/01/joe-arpaio-pardon-sheriffs-movement-215566

Professor Robert Tsai writes in Politico:

“When President Donald Trump pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio, calling him a “patriot,” he didn’t just absolve him from the consequences of defying a federal judge. He didn’t merely excuse Arpaio’s racial profiling and illegal immigration sweeps. Trump’s pardon did do all of that. But it also did something more: It boosted a radical theory of law and American history that Arpaio supports, and which is gaining steam across the United States.

It’s called the “constitutional sheriff” movement, and as it grows, it’s increasing the risk of conflict between local law enforcement and federal authorities. Its animating idea is that a sheriff holds ultimate law-enforcement authority in his county—outranking even the federal government within its borders. Though the movement claims deep history in English law, its real roots lie in the more recent fringes of American right-wing thought. And its popularity helps explain why Arpaio’s defiance of federal law shouldn’t be seen as just one grandstanding sheriff crossing a line, but instead should be seen as part of a broader grassroots resistance to constitutional and cultural upheavals during the 20th century.

 

The strange idea that unites all members of this movement is that a sheriff is the highest law enforcement officer within a county’s borders—superior not only to local police, but also to officers and agents of the federal government. The actual influence of sheriff supremacy is hard to measure, but it has been growing in recent years, and today the official constitutional sheriffs’ association boasts 4,500 dues paying members and over 200 sheriffs. Its highest-profile members include Arpaio and David Clarke, who just resigned as sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, reportedly to help Trump in some capacity.

But those figures may underestimate how far its influence extends, and how fully it pervades certain regions of the country. In 2013, Arpaio joined nearly 500 other sheriffs who vowed not to obey any federal law that required them to confiscate guns from private citizens. In Utah, 28 of 30 sheriffs went even further, warning that “[n]o federal official will be permitted to descend upon our constituents and take from them what the Bill of Rights—in particular Amendment II—has given them.”

The constitutional sheriff movement arose from the ashes of the far-right, anti-semitic Posse Comitatus movement of the 1970s and 80s, led by William Potter Gale. The insignia favored by these Christian Patriots was a redesigned sheriff’s badge containing a noose, Bible and sword, to reflect their belief that sheriffs were responsible for the armed defense of citizens and higher law (a combination of their view of the Constitution and Christian Identity teachings). Before the movement collapsed with Gale’s death, its paramilitary figures developed an anti-tax, anti-government agenda that stoked conspiracy theories that Jews were responsible for oppressing farmers through crushing taxes and exorbitant loans. Its foot soldiers gained notoriety when they tried to stop foreclosures in the Midwest and engaged in shootouts with U.S. marshals.

. . . .

Trump’s pardon of Arpaio didn’t just let the sheriff off the hook; it short-circuited the part of the American judicial process designed to hold government accountable, and resolve conflicts between levels of government. It began when a class-action lawsuit was filed in 2007 by individuals who claimed they had been racially profiled during Arpaio’s immigration raids and traffic stops. In 2012, the DOJ intervened in the case to vindicate federal interests in ending discriminatory policing, to stop Arpaio from retaliating against his critics in violation of the First Amendment, and to ensure that non-English detainees didn’t forfeit their rights without understanding them. Arpaio lost the first case and settled with DOJ, but was held in civil contempt of court for continuing to capture migrants without legal authority and for failing to turn over records of these encounters.

During the legal proceedings, Arpaio made the puzzling assertion that he had never violated his oath of office, despite having ignored direct orders from a federal judge. As far as he was concerned, the oath of office gave him the right, indeed even the responsibility, to ignore the federal court. He was merely doing the rightful job of a sheriff, enforcing the laws and Constitution as he saw them, unaccountable to anyone but himself. Now that Arpaio has been pardoned, his place in the pantheon of constitutional sheriffs is secure. And his view of American law and history—one shared by kindred spirits, and one that menaces not just federal law but the Constitution itself—just got a troubling endorsement from the president of the United States.”

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“Sheriff Joe” isn’t a great American as Trump falsely claims. To use Trump’s own term, Sheriff Joe is one “bad hombre” out to destroy America. And, Trump is the biggest threat to the U.S. Constitution in my lifetime. He is a living violation of his oath of Office.

PWS

09-02-17

POLITICO HIGHLIGHTS LACK OF DUE PROCESS, CULTURAL AWARENESS, PROPER JUDICIAL TRAINING IN U.S. IMMIGRATION COURT’S HANDLING OF VIETNAMESE DEPORTATION CASE!

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/14/trump-immigration-crackdown-vietnam-241564

“Trump’s immigration crackdown hits Vietnam
Inside the case of one man who feared torture because of his Montagnard roots, but was deported last month.
By DAVID ROGERS 08/14/2017 05:39 AM EDT
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President Donald Trump’s “get tough” approach to immigration is now impacting — of all people — the Montagnard hill tribesmen who fought alongside the Green Berets in the Vietnam War.

The son of one such Montagnard veteran was deported back to Vietnam in July, a stunning move for many in the refugee community because of their history in the war and the continued evidence of political and economic mistreatment of Montagnards in Vietnam.

. . . .

The case captures all the twists and turns in the U.S. immigration system, compounded by pressure from the White House for quick results. No one emerges looking all good or all bad, but the outcome shows a remarkable blindness to history.

Nothing reveals this better, perhaps, than the exchanges between judge and defendant during a brief immigration court proceeding in June 2016, when Chuh was first ordered deported.

At that time, Chuh was being held at an ICE detention facility in Irwin County, Georgia. He had completed a state prison term for a first-time felony conviction in North Carolina related to trafficking in the synthetic drug MDMA, commonly called “ecstasy.” He remained without legal counsel and had to speak back-and forth by video conference with U.S. Immigration Court Judge William A. Cassidy of Atlanta, about 180 miles away.

POLITICO obtained a digital audiotape of the proceeding from the Justice Department under the Freedom of Information Act. The entire hearing ran just 5 minutes, 2 seconds, and the two men, Cassidy and Chuh, might have been ships passing in the night.

Chuh told Cassidy that he feared torture if he were sent back to Vietnam. But following the misguided advice of fellow detainees, he hurt his own cause by rejecting the judge’s offers to give him more time to find an attorney and seek protection.

On the other side, Cassidy, a former prosecutor, did not probe why Chuh feared torture. In fact, the judge showed no sign of knowing he was dealing with a Montagnard defendant and not the typical Vietnamese national.

Time and again, Cassidy incorrectly addressed Chuh as “A. Chuh” — not realizing that the A is Chuh’s single-letter last name and a telltale sign of his Montagnard heritage. The process was so rushed that Cassidy inadvertently told Chuh “Buenos dias” before correcting himself at the end.

Most striking, the word Montagnard is never heard in the entire tape. Its origins are French, a remnant of Vietnam’s colonial past and meaning, roughly, “people of the mountain.”

Over the years, the Montagnard label has been applied broadly to several indigenous ethnic groups concentrated in the Central Highlands and with their own distinct languages and customs. They share a hunger for greater autonomy in Vietnam and have been willing to side with outsiders, like the French and later Americans, to try to get it. At the same time, Vietnam’s dominant ethnic Kinh population has long treated the hill tribes as second-class citizens. Regardless of who has ruled Vietnam, the record is often one of suspicion and mistreatment toward the Montagnards.

The Montagnards’ strategic location in the Highlands, however, has long made them an asset in times of war. And beginning early in the 1960s, the Central Intelligence Agency and Green Berets recruited tribesmen to collect intelligence and disrupt enemy supply lines.

Chuh’s 71-year-old father, Tony Ngiu, assisted in this U.S. effort, but paid dearly later when he was sentenced to nine years in reeducation camps and hard labor by the victorious North. He was able to come to the U.S. in 1998 with much of his family, including Chuh, then a boy of about 13.

Like many Montagnards, he settled in North Carolina, which is also home to military installations used by the Green Berets, more formally known as U.S. Army Special Forces. But because Chuh was 18 by the time his father became a full citizen, he did not derive automatic citizenship himself.

“I am very, very sad,” Ngiu said. “I want them to send my son home so he can take care of his children.”

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Read Rogers’s much longer full article at the link.

It’s not surprising that this case arose in the oft-criticized Atlanta Immigration Court where due process is routinely subordinated to achieving high levels of rapid removals. Unfortunately, as Jason Dzubow pointed out in a blog on The Asylumist that I previously featured, “We are all in Atlanta now!”

http://immigrationcourtside.com/2017/07/20/in-immigration-circles-the-atlanta-court-is-known-as-where-due-process-goes-to-die-will-it-be-the-new-norm-the-asylumist-jason-dzubow-says-were-all-in-atlanta-now/

Additionally, the SPLC has documented that notwithstanding earlier complaints, EOIR has done little or nothing to stop the unprofessional conduct and anti-migrant bias demonstrated by some of the U.S. Immigration Judges at the Stewart, GA Immigration Court.

http://immigrationcourtside.com/2017/08/10/normalizing-the-absurd-while-eoir-touts-its-performance-as-part-of-trumps-removal-machine-disingenuously-equating-removals-with-rule-of-law-the-ongoing-assault-on-due-process-in-us-immig/

Indeed, it appears that the Trump-Sessions group actually likes the focus on assembly-line removals without much regard for fairness or due process that they have seen coming out of the Atlanta Court. After all, it produces high numbers of final orders of removal which, according to the latest EOIR press release, has replaced guaranteeing fairness and due process as the objective of the U.S. Immigration Courts. As Jason Dzubow noted in the above-linked blog, the Administration has rewarded those who have learned how due process is denied in Atlanta with key positions at DHS and EOIR.

And, training and continuing legal education for Immigration Judges was one of the earliest casualties of the “Sessions era” at the DOJ. If the message from on high is “move ’em all out asap” — preferably by in absentia hearings without any due process or in hearings conducted in detention with the migrants unrepresented — why would any judge need training in the law, due process, or preparing carefully constructed judicial opinions?

Harken back to the days of the Bush II Administration. After Ashcroft’s “purge of the BIA” and following 9-11, some Immigration Judges and Board Members assumed that it was “open season” on migrants. How many removal orders were being churned out and how fast they were being completed became more important that what was being done (or more properly, what corners were being cut) to produce the final orders.

As the work of the BIA and the Immigration Courts deteriorated and became sloppier and sloppier, and as the incidents of Immigration Judges’ being rude, belligerent, and generally unprofessional to the individuals and private attorneys coming before them mounted, the Article III Federal Courts pushed back. Published opinions began “blistering” the performance of individual Immigration Judges and BIA Members by name, some prominent Federal Judges on both the conservative and liberal sides of the equation began speaking out in the media, and the media and the internet featured almost daily stories of the breakdown of professionalism in the U.S. Immigration Courts. The Courts of Appeals also remanded BIA final orders, many of which summarily affirmed problematic Immigration Court rulings, by the droves, effectively bringing the Bush Administration’s “deportation express” to a grinding halt as the BIA was forced to further remand the cases to the Immigration Courts for “do-overs.”

Finally, it became too much for then Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez. Although Gonzalez will hardly go down in history as a notable champion of due process, he finally issued what was basically a “cease and desist order” to the BIA and the Immigration Judges. Unfortunately, rather than admitting the primary role of the DOJ and the Administration in the disaster, and changing some of the DOJ policies and procedures that contributed to the problem, Gonzalez effectively chose to blame the whole debacle on the Immigration Judges, including those who didn’t participate in the “round ’em up and move ’em out” spectacle spawned by Administration policies. Gonzalez ordered some reforms in professionalism, discipline, and training which had some shot term effects in improving due process, and particularly the results for asylum seekers, in Immigration Court.

But, by the present time, EOIR has basically returned to the “numbers over quality and due process” emphasis. The recent EOIR press release touting increased removals (not surprisingly grants of relief to migrants decreased at the same time) in response to the President’s immigration enforcement initiatives clearly shows this changed emphasis.

Also, as Rogers notes in his article, the BIA and some Immigration Judges often apply an “ahistorical” approach under which the lessons of history are routinely ignored. Minor, often cosmetic, changes such as meaningless or ineffective reforms in statutes and constitutions, appointment of ombudsmen, peace treaties, cease fires, and pledges to clean up corruption and human rights abuses (often issued largely to placate Western Governments and NGOs to keep the foreign aid money flowing) are viewed by the BIA and Immigration Judges as making immediate “material improvements” in country conditions in asylum cases, although the lessons of history and common sense say otherwise.

Sadly, the past appears to be prologue in the U.S. Immigration Courts. It’s past time for Congress to create and independent, Article I U.S. Immigration Court.

PWS

08-14-17

 

 

 

HISTORY: In January 1972, A.G. John Mitchell Sat In His Paneled Office At The DOJ, Puffed On His Pipe, And Listened To Plans For A Whacko Criminal Conspiracy (Which Sent Him To Jail) — Since Then The Vaunted “Independence” Of The DOJ Has Been More Myth Than Reality — Trump Wants To Make The DOJ Part Of His Corrupt Political Empire — GOP Pols Talk Big But Do Little When It Comes To Standing Up To America’s Corruptor In Chief!

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/07/27/jeff-sessions-is-the-canary-in-the-coal-mine-215424?cid=apn

Joshua Zeitz writes in Politico:

“President Trump’s condemnation of his own attorney general may seem bizarre and unprecedented, but here’s something many in America’s gobsmacked chattering class are forgetting: The vaunted independence of the Justice Department took over a century to build, and it’s a far more fragile institution than we realize.

The spectacle of Trump attacking Jeff Sessions, one of his earliest and most stalwart supporters, as “beleaguered” and “unfair” is certainly jarring. The president seemingly cannot help but vent his frustration over the attorney general’s decision to step aside in the Department of Justice’s probe into Russian election interference—a step that led indirectly to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. If Sessions “would have recused himself before the job,” Trump told the (“failing”) New YorkTimes. “I would have said ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’”

The prospect that the president might fire Sessions, whose immigration policies and draconian approach to law enforcement are anathema to the left, places Democrats in an unusual position. They despise the attorney general but find themselves bound to protect the independence of his office. But the real test lies with Republicans, who have largely looked the other way as Trump has laid waste to one political norm after another. Will they draw a sharp line in the sand, or bury their heads in it?

It took well over a century for the office of the attorney general to accrue the very power and independence that Trump now stands poised to blow up. Originally a minor position with little authority or autonomy, over the years the AG emerged as the nation’s top law enforcement official and a key adviser to the president. The office withstood considerable strain in the latter quarter of the 20th century. But like so many civic institutions today, it is imperiled precisely because it is largely the product of traditions, and administrative rules that capture those traditions, rather than permanent statutes or laws. Once broken, it may not be so easily reassembled.”

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Read the complete article, which contains a fascinating short history of the DOJ, at the link.

Washington was, in fact, built on swampland with Tiber Creek running through it. I’m sort of expecting that the old swamp will just open up again some day and swallow Trump and the whole corrupt mess surrounding him.

PWS

07-27-17

 

 

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S WAR ON AMERICA’S GREATNESS CONTINUES –TILLERSON DECONSTRUCTS CENTURIES OF AMERICAN DIPLOMACY!

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/06/29/how-rex-tillerson-destroying-state-department-215319

Max Bergmann writes in Politico:

“The deconstruction of the State Department is well underway.

I recently returned to Foggy Bottom for the first time since January 20 to attend the departure of a former colleague and career midlevel official—something that had sadly become routine. In my six years at State as a political appointee, under the Obama administration, I had gone to countless of these events. They usually followed a similar pattern: slightly awkward, but endearing formalities, a sense of melancholy at the loss of a valued teammate. But, in the end, a rather jovial celebration of a colleague’s work. These events usually petered out quickly, since there is work to do. At the State Department, the unspoken mantra is: The mission goes on, and no one is irreplaceable. But this event did not follow that pattern. It felt more like a funeral, not for the departing colleague, but for the dying organization they were leaving behind.

As I made the rounds and spoke with usually buttoned-up career officials, some who I knew well, some who I didn’t, from a cross section of offices covering various regions and functions, no one held back. To a person, I heard that the State Department was in “chaos,” “a disaster,” “terrible,” the leadership “totally incompetent.” This reflected what I had been hearing the past few months from friends still inside the department, but hearing it in rapid fire made my stomach churn. As I walked through the halls once stalked by diplomatic giants like Dean Acheson and James Baker, the deconstruction was literally visible. Furniture from now-closed offices crowded the hallways. Dropping in on one of my old offices, I expected to see a former colleague—a career senior foreign service officer—but was stunned to find out she had been abruptly forced into retirement and had departed the previous week. This office, once bustling, had just one person present, keeping on the lights.

This is how diplomacy dies. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. With empty offices on a midweek afternoon.

When Rex Tillerson was announced as secretary of state, there was a general feeling of excitement and relief in the department. After eight years of high-profile, jet-setting secretaries, the building was genuinely looking forward to having someone experienced in corporate management. Like all large, sprawling organizations, the State Department’s structure is in perpetual need of an organizational rethink. That was what was hoped for, but that is not what is happening. Tillerson is not reorganizing, he’s downsizing.

While the lack of senior political appointees has gotten a lot of attention, less attention has been paid to the hollowing out of the career workforce, who actually run the department day to day. Tillerson has canceled the incoming class of foreign service officers. This as if the Navy told all of its incoming Naval Academy officers they weren’t needed. Senior officers have been unceremoniously pushed out. Many saw the writing on the wall and just retired, and many others are now awaiting buyout offers. He has dismissed State’s equivalent of an officer reserve—retired FSOs, who are often called upon to fill State’s many short-term staffing gaps, have been sent home despite no one to replace them. Office managers are now told three people must depart before they can make one hire. And now Bloomberg reports that Tillerson is blocking all lateral transfers within the department, preventing staffers from moving to another office even if it has an opening. Managers can’t fill openings; employees feel trapped.

Despite all this, career foreign and civil service officers are all still working incredibly hard representing the United States internationally. They’re still doing us proud. But how do you manage multimillion-dollar programs with no people? Who do you send to international meetings and summits? Maybe, my former colleagues are discovering, you just can’t implement that program or show up to that meeting. Tillerson’s actions amount to a geostrategic own-goal, weakening America by preventing America from showing up.

State’s growing policy irrelevance and Tillerson’s total aversion to the experts in his midst is prompting the department’s rising stars to search for the exits. The private sector and the Pentagon are vacuuming them up. This is inflicting long-term damage to the viability of the American diplomacy—and things were already tough. State has been operating under an austerity budget for the past six years since the 2011 Budget Control Act. Therefore, when Tillerson cuts, he is largely cutting into bone, not fat. The next administration won’t simply be able to flip a switch and reverse the damage. It takes years to recruit and develop diplomatic talent. What Vietnam did to hollow out our military, Tillerson is doing to State.”

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While Trump and his cronies fabricate security threats from refugees, Muslims, and immigrants (and, I guess we can now add “grandparents” to that list), the greatest threat to our national security is the Trump Administration itself and its toxic mix of arrogance, incompetence, ignorance, and disdain for America and all it has stood for.

PWS

06-25-17

POLITICO: HOW DEEP IN THE DOJ BULLPEN WOULD TRUMP HAVE TO GO TO FIRE MUELLER? — Sessions, Rosenstein, Brand Likely “Toast,” But Others Down the Line Might Also Balk At Carrying Out Order! — NEWSWEEK SAYS FIRING MUELLER WOULD MEAN “PRESIDENT PENCE!”

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/16/donald-trump-justice-department-succession-plan-239652?cid=apn

Annie Karni writes in Politico:

“An abstract, in-case-of-emergency-break-glass executive order drafted by the Trump administration in March may become real-world applicable as the president, raging publicly at his Justice Department, mulls firing special counsel Robert Mueller.

Since taking office, the Trump administration has twice rewritten an executive order that outlines the order of succession at the Justice Department — once after President Donald Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to defend his travel ban, and then again two months later. The executive order outlines a list of who would be elevated to the position of acting attorney general if the person up the food chain recuses himself, resigns, gets fired or is no longer in a position to serve.

In the past, former Justice Department officials and legal experts said, the order of succession is no more than an academic exercise — a chain of command applicable only in the event of an attack or crisis when government officials are killed and it is not clear who should be in charge.

But Trump and the Russia investigation that is tightening around him have changed the game.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has already recused himself from overseeing the investigation into possible collusion between Trump campaign aides and Russian operatives, after it was revealed that he failed to disclose meetings with the Russian ambassador during the campaign. And Trump started his morning on Friday by appearing to take a public shot at his deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who has increasingly become the target of his impulsive anger.

“I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt,” the president tweeted.

The Justice Department said in a statement on Friday that there are no current plans for a recusal, but Rosenstein has said in the past that he would back away from overseeing Mueller’s investigation if his role in the ouster of former FBI Director James Comey becomes a conflict.

That has legal experts closely examining the dry executive order to figure out who might be next up to bat, or, as Democratic lawyers and consultants view it, who might serve as Trump’s next sacrificial lamb.

“We know Rachel Brand is the next victim,” said Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the editor-in-chief of Lawfare, referring to the former George W. Bush official who was recently confirmed as associate attorney general, the third-highest position in the Justice Department.

“For those of us who have high confidence in Rachel — the more confidence you have in someone in this role, the less long you think they’ll last,” said Wittes, who said he considers Brand a friend. “That does put a very high premium on the question of who is next.”

That question, however, has become more complicated because the Trump administration has been slow to fill government positions and get those officials confirmed. Typically, the solicitor general would be next in line after the associate attorney general, followed by the list of five assistant U.S. attorneys, the order of which would be determined by the attorney general. But none of those individuals have been confirmed by the Senate, and they would be unable to serve as acting attorney general without Senate confirmation.

Because of that, the executive order comes into play — one that puts next in line after Brand the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Dana Boente. Boente, a career federal prosecutor and an appointee of former President Barack Obama, was tapped last April to serve as the interim head of the Justice Department’s national security division, which oversees the FBI’s Russia investigation.

Boente, who was briefly thrust into the no. 2 spot at the Justice Department after Yates was fired, was also tasked with phoning Preet Bharara, then U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, to deliver the unexpected news that he was fired. At the time, Boente also vowed to defend Trump’s travel ban in the future.

Boente is followed, on the succession list, by the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, John Stuart Bruce; and the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, John Parker. Both are career prosecutors who are serving in their posts on an interim basis, until a presidential appointment is made. But they would not need to be Senate confirmed to take over.”

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Read Karni’s full article at the link. Meanwhile, over at Newsweek, Graham Lanktree speculates that Trump’s outside legal team is building a case against Mueller. But, that case appears to be totally bogus, a rather blatant attempt to obstruct and pervert justice, in the best (or worst) traditions of Richard Nixon. Many believe that the firing of Mueller would lead to the fall of Trump (either by impeachment or forced resignation) and the ushering in of President Mike Pence.

Here’s the link to the Newsweek article:

http://www.newsweek.com/pence-will-soon-be-president-if-trump-fires-mueller-says-bush-lawyer-626987?spMailingID=1969868&spUserID=MzQ4OTU2OTQxNTES1&spJobID=810837063&spReportId=ODEwODM3MDYzS0

And, here’s an excerpt from Lanktree’s report:

“Vice President Mike Pence will soon lead the U.S. if President Donald Trump fires Russia investigation special counsel Robert Mueller, a Bush administration ethics lawyer said Saturday.

Trump’s legal team and surrogates are “building a case for firing Mueller,” wrote Richard Painter in a tweet after he appeared on Fox News Saturday. Painter was President George W. Bush’s chief White House ethics lawyer from 2005 to 2007.

“If that happens Mike Pence will soon become the 46th President,” Painter wrote. “Trump surrogates are making up Mueller ‘conflicts’ to justify firing him. That will be yet more obstruction of justice if it happens.”

. . . .

Friends of Trump said earlier this week that the president is considering firing Mueller. If that happens, legal scholars say, it would likely prompt the resignations of senior Department of Justice staff, reprisals from Congress, and resignation of White House staff. Painter argues that it could lead to impeachment.

“Mueller is absolutely not compromised by his professional relationship with Comey,” said Painter on Saturday. “This is just an effort to undermine the credibility of the special counsel.”

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Stay tuned. Almost everyone except Trump and his “outside advisers” believes that firing Mueller would be suicidal. But, Trump appears to be unhinged and often doesn’t let rationality or prudence enter into his decision making. He’s managed to survive many self-destructive acts that would have spelled the end of the line for any other politician. But, this one might well bring him down.

PWS

06-18-17

 

 

DHS Wants To Assure Dreamers That They Should NOT Be Reassured — DACA Revocation Still Possible!

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/16/trump-daca-immigration-deportation-relief-program-239654?cid=apn

Ted Hesson writes in Politico:

“The future of an Obama-era deportation relief program remains undecided, the Department of Homeland Security said Friday.

The announcement was meant to clarify the department’s position on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows nearly 788,000 undocumented immigrants to apply for work permits and live in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

“The future of the DACA program continues to be under review with the administration,” a DHS spokesperson said in a written statement. “The president has remarked on the need to handle the issue with compassion and with heart.”

DHS felt compelled to issue a statement on the program’s fate after POLITICO and other outlets reportedThursday on guidance posted to the DHS website that suggested DACA would remain on firm footing under the Trump administration.

The guidance came as the administration terminated a separate deportation relief program for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents that had been blocked by federal courts since early 2015.

On its website, DHS assured that DACA would not be affected by the move. “No work permits will be terminated prior to their current expiration dates,” the guidance read.

The department said today that it intended only to clarify that DACA would not be immediately canceled. The guidance, DHS said, “should not be interpreted as bearing any relevance on the long-term future of that program.”

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Even when faced with an opportunity to do something nice for folks, that would also help DHS out in practical terms, the Trumpsters just can’t resist an opportunity to sow fear and uncertainty.

PWS

06-18-17

U.S. IMMIGRATION COURTS: Judge James McHenry Named Acting EOIR Director!

In a move that many Immigration Court observers might find unusual, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has appointed Judge James McHenry as the Acting Director of EOIR. Judge McHenry was appointed an Administrative Law Judge in the Office of Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (“OCAHO”) in December 2106. OCAHO has jurisdiction over employer sanctions civil cases and certain employment discrimination cases involving foreign workers.

While Judge McHenry has stellar academic and professional credentials, and is an “EOIR vet,” having served as a Judicial Law Clerk/Attorney Adviser in the Buffalo and Baltimore Immigration Courts, it is unusual in my experience for the acting head of EOIR to come from outside the ranks of current or former members of the Senior Executive Service, since it is a major executive job within the DOJ.

Here is a recent bio of Judge McHenry taken from the press release of his December appointment as an ALJ:

“James McHenry, Administrative Law Judge

James McHenry was appointed as an administrative law judge (ALJ) for the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO), Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), Department of Justice (DOJ), in November 2016. Judge McHenry earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1997 from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, a Master of Arts degree in 2003 from the Vanderbilt University Graduate School, and a Juris Doctor in 2003 from the Vanderbilt University Law School. From February to November 2016, he served as an ALJ for the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, Social Security Administration, in Baltimore, and previously from 2014 to February 2016, in Greenville, S.C. From 2010 through 2014 he served as a senior attorney for the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in Atlanta. From 2010 through 2011, he served as a special assistant U.S. attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Georgia, DOJ, in Atlanta. From 2005 through 2010, he served as an assistant chief counsel for OPLA, ICE, DHS, in Atlanta. From 2004 through 2005, he served as an attorney advisor for the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge (OCIJ), EOIR, DOJ, in Baltimore. From 2003 through 2004, he served as a judicial law clerk for OCIJ, EOIR, DOJ, in Buffalo, entering on duty through the Attorney General’s Honors Program. Judge McHenry is a member of the Tennessee State Bar.”

As noted by Politico in a report last week, it is strange that neither the DOJ nor EOIR has issued any press release or other official statement announcing the departure of Director Juan Osuna and Deputy Director Ana Kocur and the appointment of Judge McHenry to be Acting Director. Here’s a link to the Politico item: http://wp.me/p8eeJm-SZ

While sources confirm that an internal announcement was sent to EOIR employees last Friday, and Judge McHenry sent his own message to all of EOIR, as of Tuesday AM, there were no publicly posted announcements of these important personnel changes. However, Judge McHenry’s bio now does appear under the “Meet the Acting Director” tab on the EOIR website.

Congratulations and good luck to Judge McHenry in his important new role. He takes the reins at a difficult time in EOIR history with an already-record Immigration Court backlog approaching 600,000 cases, and constant reports of deteriorating morale among U.S. Immigraton Judges, court staff, and the public that deals with the Immigration Courts. I am not aware at this point whether Judge McHenry will be a candidate for the EOIR Director’s job on a permanent basis.

PWS

05-30-17

 

 

POLITICO Covers “Under The Radar” Joint Departures Of EOIR’s Top Execs!

Subject: POLITICO’s Morning Shift: U.S. visas down for Muslim-majority countries — Immigration court chiefs leave — Democrats make minimum wage pledge

By Ian Kullgren | 05/26/2017 10:04 AM EDT

With help from Bianca Padró Ocasio, Ted Hesson and Mel Leonor

U.S. VISAS DOWN FOR MUSLIM-MAJORITY COUNTRIES: “President Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ may be tied up in court, but newly released figures show his administration is issuing fewer visas to visitors from Arab and Muslim-majority countries,” POLITICO’s Nahal Toosi and Ted Hesson report.

“Data posted online this week by the State Department showed that non-immigrant visas granted to people from nearly 50 Muslim-majority countries were down almost 20 percent in April compared to the 2016 monthly average,” they write. “When only Arab countries were considered, non-immigrant visas were down nearly 30 percent in April compared to the 2016 monthly average. Visas issued to the six countries targeted by Trump’s March 6 travel ban – Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen – declined even further, down 55 percent compared to the 2016 monthly average.”

“Stephen Pattison, an immigration lawyer in Maryland who spent nearly three decades as a State Department consular officer, said he thinks Trump policies are having a ‘chilling effect’ on travel to the United States from Muslim nations…. ‘Some people may have canceled trips,’ Pattison said. ‘Some people may have traveled last year but not this year. But I think it would be naive to assume that’s what’s going on in Washington isn’t having an effect on consular adjudications.'” More here.

GOOD MORNING. It’s Friday, May 26, and this is Morning Shift, POLITICO’s daily tipsheet on employment and immigration policy. Send tips, exclusives, and suggestions to thesson@politico.com, mlevine@politico.com, mleonor@politico.com, ikullgren@politico.com and tnoah@politico.com. Follow us on Twitter at @tedhesson, @marianne_levine, @melleonor_, @IanKullgren, and @TimothyNoah1.

PROGRAMMING NOTE – Due to the Memorial Day holiday, Morning Shift will not publish on Monday, May 29. Our next Morning Shift will publish on Tuesday, May 30. Please continue to follow Pro Employment and Immigration issues here.

IMMIGRATION COURT CHIEFS LEAVE: The director and deputy director of the federal immigration courts will leave the office by the end of the month, two sources familiar with the situation told Morning Shift. The courts, known as the Executive Office for Immigration Review, fall under the purview of the Justice Department.

Director Juan Osuna and Deputy Director Ana Kocur announced their departures in a staff-wide email. The reasons for their resignations are unclear, but both assumed their positions during the Obama administration, Osuna in 2011 and Kocur in 2012. Neither EOIR nor the Justice Department responded to requests for comment.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has promised immigration enforcement will be a centerpiece of his approach to criminal justice, and the next director will be under pressure to speed up deportations and clear the immigration case backlog, currently at nearly 586,000 cases, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

Jeremy McKinney, a liaison to the office for the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association, said Osuna oversaw the courts during a difficult period. “He was dealing with very limited resources,” McKinney said. The next director will have more, if the Trump administration gets its way. The White House budget proposal released this week called for the hiring of an additional 75 immigration judges and roughly 375 support personnel.

DEMOCRATS MAKE MINIMUM WAGE PLEDGE…: First 100 days? Old hat. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Democrats would take up a measure to raise the minimum wage within the first 100 hours after they regain the majority, assuming they win it back in next year’s election. (That’s a pretty big if.) Pelosi made the pledge alongside a handful of other Democratic lawmakers and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as they announced legislation to raise the hourly minimum wage to $15, up from the current $7.25, by 2024.

Democrats are making the pledge part of their campaign strategy for 2018. But even if they fulfill it, don’t hold your breath for it to be signed into law so long as Trump is in the White House. Even many Democrats, Hillary Clinton included, favored an increase only to $12 as recently as last year. Trump proposed an increase to $10 during the campaign, but only after previously suggesting no increase (and even calling into question whether the federal government should set an hourly minimum at all). Trump hasn’t touted the $10 proposal since, and he seems unlikely to. POLITICO’s Elana Schor writes that the Democrats’ embrace of $15 demonstrates the influence that Sanders and the left wing of the Democratic party now wield. More here.

… AND REPUBLICANS FIGHT BACK: Also on Thursday, Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) and half a dozen other Republicans re-introduced legislation to overhaul the National Labor Relations Act to weaken unions’ influence. The so-called Employee Rights Act would allow union members and nonmembers alike to withhold that portion of dues or fees that supports political activities by a union that bargains collectively on their behalf. The bill would also require union locals to conduct a recertification election every year; forbid union leaders from calling a strike without a vote of their members; and criminalize coercion by union leadership (though the violent threats that provision is aimed at are already covered by existing laws). “The rights of American workers were under attack during the Obama presidency,” Roe said in a written statement, “and it is time to restore those rights and work to foster a pro-growth, pro-employee environment.”

Republicans introduced similar legislation three times while President Barack Obama was in office, Sean Sullivan writes in the Washington Examiner. But it isn’t clear that Trump, who has tried to cast himself as a friend to unions, would support the bill. During the election, Trump’s campaign resisted efforts to be pinned down. More here.

DURING SCHOOL HOURS? A Louisiana charter school, International High School of New Orleans, needs to make a dozen modifications to its employee handbook to comply with federal labor laws – including axing a policy that prohibits teachers from using social media during school hours. An administrative law judge ruled Wednesday that the policy runs afoul the National Labor Relations Act. The judge also took issue with a policy that prohibits teachers from using school computers to access social media websites, and another that prohibits teachers from conducting personal business during school hours. The ruling touches on two issues of contention between charter school advocates and unions: whether unions belong in charter schools, and whether charter schools are sufficiently “private” to fall under the jurisdiction of federal labor law. Read the ruling here.

A CASE AGAINST PLAs: Ohio schools built under government-mandated project labor agreements cost 13.12 percent more than schools that were built through competitive bidding, according to a new study by Beacon Hill Institute commissioned by the Associated Builders and Contractors. The study, which looked at schools built since 2000, calculated that PLA constructions cost $23.12 more per square foot than their non-PLA counterparts. Read the study here.

HOGAN TO VETO PAID LEAVE BILL: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan will veto a paid leave bill that would have given workers in that state five days’ annual paid sick leave. The bill covered all employers of at least 15 workers, but the Republican governor, who proposed addressing paid sick leave with incentives for employers, called it “simply very bad policy.” Hogan said he plans to issue a series of executive orders relating to paid sick leave, including the creation of task force to study the issue. He also plans to mandate paid sick leave for contract employees of the state’s executive branch. Democrat lawmakers will try to override the veto. More from the Baltimore Sun here.

UNIONS SUE TO BLOCK KENTUCKY RIGHT TO WORK LAW: “Organized labor struck back Thursday against Kentucky’s right-to-work law, filing a lawsuit that claims the ban on mandatory union fees in workplaces violates the state’s Constitution,” the Associated Press reports. “The Kentucky State AFL-CIO and Teamsters Local 89 filed the suit, which asks a judge to temporarily block the right-to-work law while the suit proceeds. The labor groups said the law should be struck down for violating numerous sections of the Kentucky Constitution.” More here.

INDY MAY HOLD OFF ON MINIMUM WAGE HIKE: “Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett is urging the City-County Council to hold off on setting a $13-an-hour minimum wage for staff while his office works to eliminate the city’s structural deficit,” James Briggs writes for the Indy Star. “Hogsett on Wednesday said he does not support immediate passage of Proposal 92, which would raise wages for 365 city and county workers who earn between $9.13 per hour and $12.98 per hour.” More here.

ICE ARRESTS NEARLY 200 IN LA: ICE is touting the arrests of 188 undocumented immigrants in the Los Angeles area during a five-day “expanded enforcement” operation that captured a “convicted rapist and a previously deported cocaine trafficker,” ICE said in a written statement Thursday. In addition to identifying where each arrest took place, the ICE statement identified the types of previous criminal convictions and each person’s country of origin.

“Since President Trump signed the Executive Orders regarding immigration enforcement priorities,” ICE said, “ICE has arrested more than 41,000 individuals nationwide who are either known or suspected of being in the country illegally, a nearly 40 percent increase over the same period in 2016.”

COFFEE BREAK:

– “Restaurant: ICE Agents Ate Breakfast Then Detained Employees,” from The Daily Beast

– “Bice: Sheriff Clarke directed staff to hassle plane passenger after brief exchange,” from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

– “Appeal says ruling that vindicated San Diego pension reform could create statewide problems,” from the San Diego Union-Tribune

– “Labor union calls on Harley-Davidson to abandon plan to build overseas plant,” from the Milwaukee Business Journal.

– “Elgin to opt out of Cook County minimum wage, sick leave requirements,” from The Chicago Tribune.

– “Editorial: Don’t tinker with teacher pensions,” from The Detroit Free Press

– “Mass. House Lawmakers Postpone Vote On Bill Aimed At Countering Trump’s Immigration Crackdown,” from WBUR

THAT’S ALL FOR MORNING SHIFT.

To view online:
http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/morning-shift/2017/05/26/us-visas-down-for-muslim-majority-countries-220535

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Thanks to the always wonderful Bianca Padró Ocasio for sending this item my way!

In my experience, it’s somewhat unusual for the top two career Senior Executives in an agency to depart simultaneously unless they are headed to the same place, which does not appear to be the case here. It’s also somewhat remarkable in light of both Osuna’s and Kocar’s fairly lengthy and very distinguished service to EOIR and the DOJ (Osuna was a Member, Vice Chair, and Chair at the BIA, and a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Division, prior to becoming Director) that no official press release on the departures has been issued, and that both EOIR and DOJ refuse to comment. Usually, even when civil servants are effectively “forced out,” the Department gives them a “pat on the back” and “thanks for the service.”

Some have speculated that with AG Sessions’s overriding interest in immigration enforcement, EOIR will be more “directly controlled” by either the Deputy Attorney General or assistants to the Attorney General in the future. Another possibility is that Sessions will appoint a trusted member of his staff to serve as Director. My recollection is that while the Director is not a Presidentially appointed position, it can be filled by either a career or a non-career (i.e., political) SES appointment.

Stay tuned!

Have a great Memorial Day holiday.

PWS

05-26-17