NPR: THE TOTAL IDIOCY (AND WASTE OF RESOURCES) OF THE TRUMP-SESSIONS “GONZO ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM!”

John Burnett reports for NPR Radio. Listen here:

http://www.npr.org/2017/09/20/552339976/border-patrol-arrests-parents-while-infant-awaits-serious-operation

Here’s the written version:

When 2-month-old Isaac Enrique Sanchez was diagnosed with pyloric stenosis, a condition that causes vomiting, dehydration and weight loss in infants, his parents were told that their son’s condition was curable. The problem was that no hospital in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas had a pediatric surgery team capable of performing the operation on his stomach.

To make Isaac well, Oscar and Irma Sanchez would need to take their infant son to Driscoll Children’s Hospital, in Corpus Christi, Texas. It was just a couple of hours up the highway, but for them it was a world away.

The Sanchezes, who are undocumented, would need to pass a Border Patrol checkpoint.

“The nurse told us we had to go there,” Oscar says in Spanish. “We said we couldn’t go.”

While they pondered their predicament in a Harlingen, Texas, hospital, a Border Patrol agent showed up in the waiting room — Oscar Sanchez suspects a nurse turned them in — and said he could arrange for officers to escort the parents through the checkpoint to Corpus. But the agent said when they arrived, they would be arrested and put into deportation proceedings. The couple agreed.

The events that followed at the Corpus Christi hospital are the latest developments in a national controversy over so-called sensitive locations. Under President Barack Obama, the Department of Homeland Security adopted a policy that immigration agents should avoid enforcement actions at hospitals, schools, churches and public demonstrations unless there are special circumstances.

AROUND THE NATION
ICE Agents’ Tactics Raise Concerns About Migrants’ Access To The Justice System

 

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The Sanchezes’ 48-hour odyssey with federal agents shows the lengths to which the Trump administration will go to round up people in the country illegally, whether they have a criminal record or not.

The Border Patrol followed the ambulance, the night of May 24, as it raced to Corpus through desolate ranchland, carrying Oscar, Irma and tiny Isaac — with an IV in his arm and a tube in his stomach. Once they arrived at Driscoll Children’s Hospital, the green-uniformed agents never left the undocumented couple’s side. Officers followed the father to the bathroom and the cafeteria and asked the mother to leave the door open when she breast-fed Isaac.

“Everywhere we went in the hospital,” Oscar says, “they followed us.”

Customs and Border Protection says it is required to monitor subjects in custody “at all times” and tried to do so at the hospital “in the least restrictive manner possible.”

The next morning, agents took Oscar and Irma Sanchez, separately, from the hospital to the Corpus Christi Border Patrol station to be fingerprinted and booked. They were permitted to return. Oscar asked the surgeon if she could delay the operation until both parents could be in the waiting room. She agreed.

The parents said because Isaac is a U.S. citizen, the operation was covered by Medicaid.

“You feel vulnerable,” Oscar says. “We didn’t know if they were going to let us stay with our son or not.”

The Border Patrol, in an email to NPR, says it made sure to leave one parent with the baby at all times and that agents played no role in the decision to postpone the operation.

Driscoll Children’s Hospital, citing patient privacy, declined to discuss the case.

On a recent Tuesday 3 1/2 months after the operation, Isaac sat on his mama’s lap — all pudgy cheeks and wide eyes, wearing a top covered with little race cars. The family lives in a tidy, weathered frame house in North Brownsville, Texas.

“Thank the Lord, everything went well,” Irma says. “He still throws up a little milk, but thank God he’s fine.”

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Advocates are puzzled why the Border Patrol chose to put the Sanchezes under such intense supervision, which one would expect for higher-value targets like drug traffickers or MS-13 gang members. The couple has no criminal records. They overstayed visitors visas that were issued 12 years ago. He works construction and landscaping; she stays home with their four children, all of whom are citizens.

“I can’t pretend to understand any reasoning that would have led anyone up the chain of command to think that Irma and Oscar were flight risks or dangers to the community or in any other way people who needed to be followed into a hospital in order to be placed in deportation proceedings,” says Lisa Koop, a lawyer with the National Immigrant Justice Center. She will be asking an immigration judge in December to let the Sanchezes remain with their children in the U.S.

“That’s how you treat criminals that are harmful, and that’s understandable for our own protection,” says Ana Hinojosa, an immigrant advocate with the Mennonite Central Committee in Brownsville, who is also working on the case. “But they’re a family that’s just here trying to make a living, provide an education and a future for their children.”

Advocates are concerned that immigration enforcers are chipping away at places formerly considered safe zones. Three examples: Immigration agents detained six men after they left a church homeless shelter in Virginia; they removed a woman with a brain tumor from a Texas hospital and put her back in detention; and they arrested a father after he dropped off his daughter at school in Los Angeles.

As with the Corpus hospital, the agency maintains none of the arrests were actually made inside a sensitive location. But several members of Congress, all Democrats, are troubled just the same. They have proposed the “Protecting Sensitive Locations Act,” which would codify protected places in federal law. And it would expand them to include courthouses and bus stops.

“They’re pushing the envelope to the point where they’re trying to find out how far they can go,” says Bronx Rep. Jose Serrano, one of the bill’s authors. He is outraged by what happened to the Sanchez family in South Texas. “It violates human decency,” he says. “You don’t interrupt medical procedures.”

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Obviously, Congress should not give DHS any additional enforcement resources, given that they have so little to do and such little internal discipline that they waste time and manpower needlessly on cases like this.

Under any sane Administration, these folks would have been granted “PD” or “prosecutorial discretion.” Even assyuming that the agency wished to go forward they could merely have mailed a Notice To Appear (“NTA”) to the couple at their home address or served them at home at a later date. The case isn’t going to be heard for months (or more) anyway.

This total lack of discipline and common sense started under and was enabled by Gen. John Kelly, at the urging of “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions, during the time when he was Secretary of DHS.

PWS

09-21-17

MUST SEE TV FROM PBS: Judge Dana Leigh Marks Explains The Dire Backlogs In U.S. Immigration Courts & Why They Are Becoming Worse Every Day!

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/dire-immigration-court-backlog-affects-lives/

Click the above link to see John Yang of PBS interview United States Immigration Judge Dana Leigh Marks of the U.S. Immigration Court in San Francisco, speaking in her capacity as President of the National Association of Immigration Judges (“NAIJ”).

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a “retiree member” of the NAIJ.

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

As this interview shows, this problem has been building steadily under the past three Administrations. However, the “gonzo enforcement” policies of the Trump Administration, combined with “ADR” (“Aimless Docket Reschuffling”) caused by poorly planned, and in many cases unneeded, details of Immigration Judges from backlogged “home dockets” to obscure detention centers along the Southern Border in response to Trump’s Executive Orders on enforcement, made worse by constant threats to mindlessly throw DACA individuals and TPS holders into the already overwhelmed system have greatly and unnecessarily aggravated an already bad situation.

Judge Marks points out that nearly 40% of the current U.S. Immigration Judiciary, including all of the most experienced judges, are eligible or nearly eligible to retire. That would mean a whopping 140 new Immigration Judge hires in a short period of time in addition to filling the current approximately 50 vacancies and any other positions that might become available. That adds up to approximately 200 new judicial vacancies, not counting any additional positions that Congress might provide.

No Administration has been able to competently hire that many new judges using a proper merit selection process. Indeed, the last Administration, using a system that could hardly be viewed as ”merit based,” took an astounding average of nearly two years to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Immigration Court! That’s amazing considering that these are administrative judges who do not require Senate confirmation.

The total unsuitability of the U.S. Justice Department to be administering the U.S. Immigration Courts has been demonstrated not only in terns of misuse of the courts for politicized law enforcement objectives, but also in terms of poor planning and stunningly incompetent judicial administration.

We need an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court, and we need it now!

PWS

09-20-17

 

 

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

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

Tal writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

. . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a link to Nolan’s proposal:

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

PWS

09-19-17

 

WHAT DO YOU CALL SOMEONE WHO ENJOYS INFLICTING GRATUITOUS PAIN AND SUFFERING ON VULNERABLE PEOPLE? — Jeff Sessions

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/category/the-daily-202/?utm_term=.c4e82aca4268&wpisrc=nl_daily202&wpmm=1

James Hohmann writes in then”Daily 202″ in the Washington Post:

“THE BIG IDEA: Photographers caught a giddy Jeff Sessions cracking a satisfied smile last week as he prepared to announce that 690,000 undocumented immigrants who had been brought into the United States as minors would no longer be shielded from deportation. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program “is being rescinded,” the attorney general declared in the first line of his statement. “There is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws. … Failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and even terrorism. … The effect of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things, contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences. It also denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.” Fact checkers called these and other claims Sessions made about the immigrants known as “dreamers” dubious or outright false. Perhaps that’s why he didn’t take questions afterward. Regardless, the speech was widely covered as a triumph for the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and a sign that he was out of President Trump’s doghouse. Not only did Sessions get the outcome he wanted; he also got to deliver the news from the Justice Department briefing room. Trump’s DACA decision last week seemed to validate Sessions’s decision to slog on through the summer even after being frozen out of the inner circle. From interviews to tweets, Trump repeatedly attacked his attorney general throughout July as “weak” and “beleaguered.” The main reason Sessions chose to put up with indignities that might cause most people to quit was because he believed he could make a difference on immigration policy. That has always been his signature issue and animated his two decades in the Senate.

— But it took less than 10 days for Trump to once again undercut Sessions. The president on Thursday signaled his embrace of granting permanent legal status to these “dreamers” as part of a deal with Democrats that he said is close to being finalized. He also acknowledged that he’s not going to make a deal to save DACA contingent on getting funding for the wall he wants to build along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Discussing the exact same group of people that Sessions painted with such a sinister brush one week earlier, Trump tweeted yesterday: “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!” Trump tweeted yesterday. “They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own — brought in by parents at young age.”

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Read the rest of Hohmann’s always-entertaining column at the above link.

Quite simply, Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions is a poor excuse for a human being and a disgrace to the U.S. Department of Justice. What kind of person is motivated by a desire to destroy our society by hurting fine American young people and smearing them with lies and innuendo?

But, let’s not forget who empowered his message of hate and fear by appointing him, and who “blew by” his long record of racial problems while silencing the opposition that told truth. And, a special “shout out” should go to those who voted to put this intentionally divisive Administration in office and to the unapologetically racially challenged white GOP voters of Alabama who elected this leftover of the Jim Crow era time and time again.

Jeff Sessions does not represent the values of the majority of Americans. We must get it together at the ballot box to insure that he (and those like him) never again happen to us and to our country!

PWS

09-15-17

FORMER DHS SEC MIKE CHERTOFF TELLS HOW CUTTING REFUGEE ADMISSIONS HURTS AMERICA AND ENDANGERS NATIONAL SECURITY!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/cutting-refugee-admissions-hurts-americans-heres-how/2017/09/14/c7c8b5e6-9987-11e7-b569-3360011663b4_story.html?utm_term=.268b590d8b01

Chertoff writes in the Washington Post:

“President Trump will make another decision this month that will affect thousands of people: How many refugees will the United States admit in fiscal year 2018?

The president already cut refugee admissions by more than half this year, from more than 100,000 down to 50,000. By way of comparison, the highest ceiling under President Ronald Reagan was 140,000. The president has also signaled, through his executive orders and in his budget proposal, that these cuts will carry over to next year. And in fact, some in his administration are trying to convince him to cut even further.

This would be a mistake. Cutting refugee admittances would not only be a moral failure but also damage our national interest abroad and our economy.

Of course, security is an imperative, and the refugee resettlement program is secure. U.S. security and intelligence agencies conduct multiple reviews on every refugee admitted, and only those approved for admission by the Department of Homeland Security are granted refuge in the United States.

 

There is also the humanitarian imperative: We are in the midst of the greatest refugee crisis on record, with more than 22 million people seeking safety from violence, conflict and persecution all over the world. The vast majority of refugees — nearly 90 percent — are hosted by poor and middle-income countries. Only the most vulnerable — those whose safety cannot be assured in their countries of first refuge — are selected for resettlement. For these refugees — widowed women; orphaned children; survivors of rape, torture and brutal religious persecution — refugee resettlement is a lifeline.

But what’s in it for the United States?

Strategic allies located near crises host the largest refugee populations in the world. Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan and Kenya are among the top refugee-hosting states. Their willingness to host millions of refugees contributes greatly to regional stability and security, all in regions where U.S. troops are deployed. As our military works to contain terrorist insurgencies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and the Horn of Africa, forcing refugees to return to unsafe and unstable countries would make countering terrorism more difficult.

 

That’s why in 2016, when the Kenyan government threatened to close the Dadaab refugee camp and forcibly return more than 250,000 Somalis to an unstable Somalia, then-Secretary of State John F. Kerry got on a plane to Kenya. It’s also why the United States should be concerned that more than 700,000 Afghan registered and unregistered refugees have been returned to Afghanistan since 2016 — a threefold increase from 2015 — at a time when growing instability in Afghanistan and terrorist gains are forcing an increase in U.S. troop levels.

If we’re not willing to do our fair share, how can we ask front-line allies to do more?

Maintaining resettlement commitments is also critical to our military, diplomatic and intelligence operations abroad. Tens of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan nationals have put their lives on the line to support intelligence-gathering, operations planning and other essential services. Terrorist groups openly target these individuals because of their cooperation with Americans. Resettlement is instrumental to ensuring their safety — a testament to the U.S. military’s commitment to leave no one behind on the battlefield.

And in a proud American tradition, Republican and Democratic presidents have used refugee admissions to signal support for those who reject ideologies antithetical to U.S. values. In the past few decades, we have raised our admissions ceilings to take in those fleeing communist uprisings, religious persecution and tyranny.

 

Today, the United States must provide unwavering support for Muslims who put their lives at risk to reject terrorist ideologies, many of whom refused to join or be conscripted into terrorist groups, militias and state security forces persecuting their fellow citizens. The Islamic State considers all those who flee its rule as heretics subject to execution. Those who risk their lives — and their children’s lives — to reject terrorism must know, as a matter of our fight against extremism, that the United States supports and welcomes them.

Even in the wake of 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our country’s history, President George W. Bush deliberately and explicitly maintained a refugee admissions ceiling of 70,000 annually, affirming the United States’ great humanitarian tradition.

Finally, refugees enrich and are deeply supported by our communities. Hundreds of mayors, faith leaders and business leaders have attested to the contributions refugees make. Thousands of Americans donate volunteer hours, in-kind goods and services, and private dollars to support refugees. One study estimates only 39 percent of the costs of resettlement are covered by federal dollars.

 

Despite being among the most vulnerable and destitute when they arrive, refugees thrive. Entrepreneurship among refugees is nearly 50 percent higher than among U.S.-born populations, creating jobs for Americans. More than 57 percent of them are homeowners.

Our values and our national security interests argue for raising our refugee ceiling, not lowering it. The president should seize the mantle of Reagan and fortify U.S. leadership on refugees.”

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

I’ll admit to not always being a Chertoff fan. In particular, his failure to support internal efforts to institute a strong prosecutorial discretion program at ICE that would have empowered the Chief Counsel to control the Immigration Courts’ growing docket was unfortunate, given his legal and judicial background.

But, I agree with what Chertoff says here. Just compare the power, logic, and moral authority of his statement with the mealy-mouthed, cowardly, morally vapid lies flowing from the mourths of xenophobic, disingenuous, fear mongers like Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions, Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, Rep. Steve King, and the rest of the White Nationalist crowd!

Refugeees make America great! White Nationalist xenophobes, not so much!

PWS

09-15-17

“DREAM DEAL” DESCENDS INTO TYPICAL TRUMP CHAOS WITHIN 24 HOURS! — Who REALLY Knows What’s On His Mind?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-border-wall-daca_us_59ba570ee4b0edff971983ee?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Elise Foley and Willa Frej report for HuffPost:

“WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump gave a series of conflicting statements on Thursday about how he hopes to deal with young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, muddying the waters over whether he will support their bid to gain eventual citizenship and whether he will demand a border wall in exchange.

Trump’s comments, made both to reporters and on Twitter, came after leading Democrats in Congress said they had reached an informal deal with the president on legislation to help so-called Dreamers, or undocumented young people who entered the country as children.

Last week, Trump put the fates of hundreds of thousands of Dreamers up in the air by rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which granted two-year work permits and deportation relief.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Wednesday that they had reached an agreement with Trump to tie measures to grant Dreamers legal status to border security measures, but not to a wall. They said Trump had made clear he would continue to demand a wall, and that they had told him they would oppose it.

Trump denied that a deal had been made, although he initially did not dispute key details of what the Democrats had said. But later, he said Dreamers’ fates would be tied to the construction of a border wall, even if it’s not part of legislation that addresses Dreamers.

“We have to be sure the wall isn’t obstructed, because without the wall, I wouldn’t do anything. … It doesn’t have to be here but they can’t obstruct the wall if it’s in a budget or anything else,” Trump told reporters in Florida, according to a pool report.

He added that he would “only do it if we get extreme security, not only surveillance but everything that goes with surveillance,” Trump said. “If there’s not a wall, we’re doing nothing.”

The president also created more confusion by suggesting that he might not support allowing Dreamers to eventually gain citizenship. That would destroy any hope of a deal with Democrats, who want Trump to support the Dream Act, which would allow undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children to eventually become citizens.

“We’re not looking at citizenship,” he said. “We’re not looking at amnesty. We’re looking at allowing people to stay here.”

That doesn’t necessarily preclude eventually supporting Dream Act-style measures, however. The bill would not grant citizenship immediately; it would allow Dreamers to gain legal status that would make them eligible for eventual citizenship ― so there’s potential that Trump could eventually back such measures and still claim they were not the “amnesty” he opposes.

Earlier on Thursday, Trump said in a series of tweets that any deal on Dreamers would be contingent on “massive border security,” although he didn’t specify that it had to include a wall. He added that the wall is “already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls” and would proceed.”

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

And, the beat goes on! I knew that sanity couldn’t last long in the “Age of Trump.”

PWS

09-14-17

DEAL OR NO DEAL? — You Can’t Tell With “The Donald” — But He Didn’t Really Deny That Something Is “In Play” With The Dems!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-border-wall-daca_us_59ba570ee4b0edff971983ee

Willa Frej reports for HuffPost:

“President Donald Trump denied on Thursday that he had made a firm agreement with Democrats on immigration, but did not dispute key details from the deal ― namely, that protection for young undocumented immigrants wouldn’t be tied to his long-promised U.S.-Mexico border wall.

In a series of tweets on Thursday, Trump said that any deal on Dreamers ― undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children ― would be contingent on “massive border security,” but did not specifically say it had to be the wall.

He later said that the wall is “already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls” and would proceed.

Trump also told reporters outside the White House on Thursday that “the wall will come later.” Asked if he favors amnesty, the president replied that “the word is DACA.”

The president also seemed to throw cold water on concerns that he wanted to deport beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program, which the administration decided earlier this month to end.

Trump’s Thursday comments followed a dinner he held the previous evening with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.). Following the meeting, they announced that the president agreed to a border security plan that would offer protections to the 800,000 Dreamers, and that the wall was not part of the deal.

Pelosi and Schumer released a statement Thursday clarifying their announcement from the night before, confirming that no final deal had been put in place.

Yet they added, “While both sides agreed that the wall would not be any part of this agreement, the President made clear he intends to pursue it at a later time, and we made clear we would continue to oppose it.”

Many of Trump’s staunchest supporters, including Fox News Host Sean Hannity and conservative commentator Ann Coulter, quickly lashed out at reports that president seemed to be softening his stance on immigration.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later tweeted that “excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to,” but a spokesman for Schumer shot back that, while the wall wasn’t dead yet, it wasn’t part of this deal specifically.

This story has been updated to include Trump’s additional comments to reporters and a statement from Pelosi and Schumer.”

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You know you’re on the right track, Mr. President, when you are being criticized by racist, national embarrassments Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) (how come the GOP hasn’t banished this guy for his unapologetically racist and xenophobic views?  — Yeah, he has a Constitutional right to spout his poisonous lies on and off the floor of Congress, and the folks in his Congressional District have a right to elect him to publicly represent their racism, lack of decency, and lack of judgment.  — But, that doesn’t entitle him to membership in one of our two major political parties.)

And ignoring the rancid input of AG Jeff Sessions and his White Nationalist clone Stephen Miller on anything touching on immigration or national security would also be wise. Just see where this “Demonic Duo” is going and head the other way as fast as you can.

Along with Bannon, Sessions and Miller are at home on the wrong side of history, particularly racial and migration history. The President already got bad legal advice, based on bogus ideological reasoning, from Sessions in terminating DACA. Now he is having to put distance between himself and the markedly xenophobic anti-DACA narrative that Gonzo set forth when gleefully announcing an end to DACA and cheerfully throwing 800,000 American lives into turmoil. What a guy!

PWS

09-14-71

LA TIMES: After 9-11, As Usual, America Turned To It’s Hard-Working Undocumented Population To Do The “Dirty (& Dangerous) Work” — The Trump Administration Belatedly Wants To Reward Them With: DEPORTATION!

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-911-immigrants-20170911-story.html

Barbara Demick reports:

“Within days of the terrorist attack that destroyed the World Trade Center, word spread in the immigrant neighborhoods of New York that workers were desperately needed to aid in the cleanup. The job would pay cash, about $10 an hour — no questions asked about Society Security cards or immigration status.

Then 32, Carlos Cardona had watched with horror from a construction site across the river in Brooklyn. Although his construction job paid a little better, he felt he ought to pitch in to help the country where he’d lived since his teens, having moved illegally from Colombia. He was married to a U.S. citizen and raising a 2-year-old daughter.

“The money wasn’t very good. But I felt I had to be there to do what I could,’’ Cardona said. “It was an emergency. We had to serve.”

Today he suffers from respiratory and digestive disorders, known as “World Trade Center syndrome,” that have left him unable to climb a flight of stairs and dependent for his medical care on clinics set up for 9/11 responders.

 

He also faces a predicament shared by up to 2,000 immigrants who helped to clean up after Sept. 11, 2001: the threat of deportation.

After more than three decades in the United States, Cardona was detained Feb. 28 after showing up for one of his regularly scheduled check-ins with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in New York. Days earlier, the Trump administration had issued a memorandum prioritizing the removal of immigrants in the U.S. illegally with criminal records.

“They told me there is a new president and the law has changed,’’ Cardona said. He had plead guilty to a nonviolent drug offense in 1990 and served 28 days in jail — which later hurt his ability to legalize his status despite being married to a U.S. citizen.

He was transferred to an immigrant detention center in Kearny, N.J., and then to a facility in Louisiana. His deportation was averted in June only through the intervention of his congressman, Joseph Crowley, and the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, who issued Cardona a hasty pardon for the drug offense.”

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Read the complete article, which also describes legislative efforts to save these deserving Americans from the Trump-Sessions gonzo enforcement insanity.

Lets take a look behind The Administration’s misleading removal numbers.  We already know that most of the removals are “collaterals” without any serious criminal records.

But someone like Cardona is no-doubt misleadingly chalked up as a “drug felon deportation.” Yet, his nonviolent drug conviction was nearly three decades ago for which he served a grand total of 28 days (probably less time than he recently spent in ICE detention before politicos intervened in his behalf).

Since then, he apparently has lived a productive law abiding life, and is the husband of a US citizen and the father of a US citizen daughter. He had been faithfully and voluntarily showing up for his immigration check-ins until the Trump-Sessions-Kelly redefinition of “criminal priorities” snared him. (This is what passes for “law enforcement” in the Trump Administration.) And, he is disabled as a result of the dangerous work he undertook for our country after 9-11. He doesn’t fit any sane definition of a “criminal alien” or an “enforcement priority.”

Under the Obama Administration’s more reasonable and realistic “enforcement priorities” he would have been given  prosecutorial discretion (“PD”). Yet, but for some unusual high level intervention, he would have been summarily removed by this Administration (and, by no means it it clear hat he won’t eventually be removed).

So, the next time you hear Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions or anyone else in this Administration pontificate about the importance of immigration enforcement, you can be pretty sure that the real story is something quite different from the White Nationalist restrictionist narrative they are trying to pass off on the public. Sessions and Trump are proven, and brazen, liars. And their “gonzo” immigration enforcement program is hurting, not protecting, America.

PWS

09-12-17

CAL. SUES TRUMP TO PRESERVE DACA!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/california-daca-lawsuit_us_59b6c50de4b0349d072b91fc

Mollie Reilly reports in HuffPost:

“SAN FRANCISCO ― California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) announced Monday he is suing President Donald Trump’s administration to block it from ending protections against deportation for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants.

Attorneys general in Maine, Maryland and Minnesota are joining the suit.

Becerra’s announcement came one week after the Trump administration rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and left the issue for Congress to resolve legislatively in the next six months, when work permits and deportation protections will begin to lapse for many of its recipients. Implemented by President Barack Obama in 2012, DACA protects from deportation roughly 800,000 “Dreamers” who came to the U.S. as children and allows them to work legally. More than 200,000 Dreamers live in California.

In the lawsuit, Becerra argues that rescinding DACA violates the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause due to concern that the administration will use the personal information Dreamers provided to apply for the program to find and deport them or their family members.

He also argues that using that information would violate the legal principle of equitable estoppel, which essentially protects against a “bait and switch,” in this case giving Dreamers reason to believe their personal information wouldn’t be used against them and then doing so anyway.

The lawsuit also contends the administration violated two federal laws ― the Administrative Procedure Act and the Regulatory Flexibility Act ― by rescinding the program without giving the public proper notice nor soliciting public comment on changes to it. Becerra also argues that the Justice Department’s action violates those statutes because the department failed to adequately assess the effect rescinding DACA will have on businesses and municipalities.

“The reckless choice to rescind DACA violated the Constitution as well as federal laws that help ensure our government treats everyone fairly and transparently,” Becerra said at a press conference Monday morning.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

All it takes is for one of these cases to succeed. And, California, in the 9th Circuit, seems a promising venue for the State.

PWS

09-11-17

 

 

 

 

 

TAL KOPAN AT CNN: WE’LL SOON LEARN IF THERE IS ANY LIMIT TO THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S BAD IMMIGRATION POLICIES: Hundreds Of Thousands Of U.S. Workers & Families In “TPS” Status Anxiously Await Word Of Their Fate!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/11/politics/next-daca-tps-temporary-protected-status/index.html

Tal reports

“To qualify for protections from El Salvador, recipients must have lived in the United States since 2001, and for Honduras, it’s 1998, meaning any revocation of the program would upend lives built in the United States for nearly 20 years.
Lawmakers have been pressing the Trump administration to preserve temporary protected status for the countries whose deadlines for redesignation are coming up soon, citing the communities that would be harmed. At a meeting in July with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly indicated he could end Haiti’s status but hadn’t made a decision on Central America.
In addition to the humanitarian concerns, supporters of the program point to analyses that show an economic impact from revoking it.
“If El Salvador terminates, literally 260,000 eligible workers will fall out of the workforce at the stroke of midnight on whatever day that happens,” Rodriguez said.
An analysis by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, which advocates for pro-immigration policies, found that deporting all the immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti who have temporary protected status would cost $3.1 billion and take away $6.9 billion in contributions to Social Security and Medicare and $45.2 billion to the gross domestic product over a decade. Turnover costs for their employers would total nearly $1 billion.
“There’s different elements to the concern,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from California. “First, in the case of people who’ve been here a considerable period of time, people become members of their community, and so … a couple decades later, you own businesses, you have families, you have grandchildren, you’re kind of part of our situation here.”
Lofgren said the designated countries often remain in dire straits, and sending people back to them would be “unwise.”
The program is one of the issues that Congress needs to tackle as part of immigration reform because insisting on keeping recipients’ status temporary becomes untenable, she said.
“There should be some rational way to transition people who have been here for a long time, and in the case of these people, they’ve been here in legal status, who because of the length of their stay have basically become valued members of our community,” Lofgren said. “That’s a matter of a change of immigration law.”
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Read Tal’s complete article at the link.
Terminating TPS would further de-stabbilize the U.S. Immigration Court system because many, probably the majority of TPS recipients have court cases that were “administratively closed” and therefore taken off that Court’s docket (currently totalling more than 610,000 cases with some hearings already scheduled four or more years in the future). Merely the preliminary act of “moving to re-calendar” the TPS cases all at once could crash the court system, given its current non-automated, largely manual, paper intensive procedures and lack of any e-filing.
If hundreds of thousands of individuals were returned to El Salvador it would likely de-stabllize the country and lead to collapse and internal chaos. Additionally, loss of “remittances” sent to El Salvador by legally working TPS individuals in the U.S. would almost certainly send the El Salvadoran economy into a tailspin. For that reason, a prior plan during the Clinton Administration for a phase-out of Salvadoran TPS led to panicked entreaties from the Salvadoran Government to the Administration to leave the TPS program in place.
From my perspective as an Immigration Judge, TPS was one of the “smartest” programs ever. It allowed many deserving individuals with difficult asylum cases that would have taken many hours of hearing time to be removed from the court docket with minimal work for the Immigration Court and our overburdened staff. Even “de novo review” of a TPS denial could ordinarily be accomplished in a 30 minute “short block” of hearing time rather than a 3-hour “full block” hearing.
TPS combined efficient adjudication by USCIS with needed work authorization for American families, while “demurring” on the more difficult questions of green card status or a path to citizenship. It also had an effective  enforcement mechanism. Those relatively few TPS individuals who committed a felony or two or more misdemeanors were arrested, placed in detention, stripped of status, and in most cases removed from the U.S. promptly under the policies placed in effect by the Obama Administration.
PWS
09-11-17

THE ECONOMY: What America REALLY Needs: More Legal Workers, No More “Gonzo” Immigration Enforcement — More Immigrant Workers Needed To Save Our Economy — And They Don’t Have To Be Rocket Scientists & PhDs: Construction & Service Industries That Support US Economy Need “Entry Level” Workers!

http://host.madison.com/wsj/business/wisconsin-businesses-grapple-with-a-growing-worker-shortage/article_3ef1000e-c18b-5f72-bbcd-720ee2456111.html#utm_source=host.madison.com&utm_campaign=%2Femail%2F&utm_medium=email&utm_content=26CD42536544E247751EC74095D9CEDC67E77EDB

The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison) reports:

A Madison restaurant has raised pay for entry-level chefs in recent years more than 50 percent to $14 an hour, but still closes on Sunday evenings — not because of a lack of customers, but because workers are scarce.

Those and countless other stories across Wisconsin are symptoms of a growing worker shortage that is expected to worsen over the next decade, according to Wisconsin State Journal interviews with dozens of employers, economists, advocacy group experts and state political and economic development officials.

“We are right at the brink of the crisis,” said Ann Franz, director of the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance in Green Bay. “There just aren’t enough human beings in Wisconsin with baby boomers retiring. Just driving down the road there are constantly signs hiring. I’ve seen them on billboards: ‘Come to our car dealership and buy our car. Come so we can give you a job.'”

Employers from a broad range of industries are reporting difficulty finding workers — and not only for skilled professionals such as nurses, welders and computer programmers, who require a strong education and training system, but also for workers with a high school diploma and some additional training at restaurants, farms, construction sites, factories, senior care facilities, retailers and other businesses.

“I would call it Wisconsin’s mega-issue,” said Kurt Bauer, president of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s largest business group, which recently found 77 percent of members surveyed had difficulty finding workers, up from 53 percent two years ago. “All other issues, they may be important, but they are subordinate to workforce.”

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Read the rest of the article at the link.

In this context, terminating DACA, thereby depriving existing productive American workers of work authorization, is not only cruel, but also crazy. And supporting the RAISE Act — specifically designed by White Nationalist restrictionists to lower legal immigration while limiting the remaining opportunities largely to White, English speaking individuals with college degrees — is simply insane.

Legal immigration is good for America in many ways (beyond the economy) and we need more, not less, of it. Indeed, had we developed a more rational and realistic legal immigration system, most of the Dreamers and their families would have been admitted in an orderly fashion under the legal system years ago.

Guys like Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions who worked as an effective legislative minority to block sensible immigration reform through parliamentary maneuvers, are now falsely claiming that deportations, “gonzo” arbitrary enforcement, and a reign of terror are the only solutions to a fake crisis that they largely created.

But, in fact, there is no crisis. Most of the 11 million migrants here without documentation are working hard, in jobs we need, part of American families, English speaking or learning English, and fitting well into American communities. Indeed, they are far less disruptive to society than are ICE’s arbitrary and fear spresding enforcement policies. That’s certainly the case here in Alexandria and Northern Virginia. And even more of them would pay taxes if we simply made it easy for them by granting legal status.

The relatively small minority of undocumented migrants who are engaging in anti-social behavior can be identified and removed with some reasonable readjustment of existing resources. For example, more money allocated to the U.S. Immigration Courts, training, technology, community-based policing, and focused “smart”enforcement instead of wasteful and inhumane detention, unfocused arbitrary enforcement, unneeded walls, and filling prisons with minor immigration violators. ICE prosecutors should be authorized and encouraged to use their discretion to prioritize their Immigration Court dockets with a focus on due process and bettering society while recognizing that judicial time will always be both precious and limited.

The current scare tactics and dire, but false, scenarios being pushed by the Trump Administration will neither aid our economy nor serve America’s real needs. They would make us both less safe and less great as a nation.

PWS

09-10-17

 

 

 

 

 

“JRUBE” IN WASHPOST: DEPT OF IN–JUSTICE: Under “Gonzo Apocalypto” White Nationalist, Xenophobic, Homophobic Political Agenda Replaces “Rule Of Law” — Latest DOJ Litigation Positions Fail “Straight Face” Test: “making up rules willy-nilly so as to show its rabid xenophobic base it is adhering to its promise of racial and ethnic exclusion!” — Read My “Mini-Essay” On How Advocates and U.S. Courts Could Restore Justice & Due Process To Our Broken U.S. Immigration Courts!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/09/08/trump-is-getting-rotten-legal-advice-and-once-again-it-shows/?utm_term=.e34528c36b2c

Jennifer Rubin writes in “Right Turn” in the Washington Post:

“The 9th Circuit gave the back of the hand to the argument that the Trump administration could borrow a definition from another section of the immigration statute to exclude grandmothers. The Supreme Court had used mothers-in-law as an example of a close familial relationship it wanted to protect. The 9th Circuit judges wrote: “Plaintiffs correctly point out that the familial relationships the Government seeks to bar from entry are within the same ‘degree of kinship’ as a mother-in-law.” It’s hard to make a case that grandmothers would not qualify. It does not appear that the government even made a good-faith effort to apply the Supreme Court’s direction.

On one level, it’s shocking that a Republican administration that is supposed to be a defender of “family values” would take such a miserly position. But, of course, family values are of little consequence to an administration that is more than willing to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, auguring for the breakup of intimate family relations (e.g., one sibling gets deported but American-born siblings remain).

The 9th Circuit also looked at the administration’s argument that a refugee with a formal assurance of settlement lacks a bona fide relationship with some entity or individual in the United States. The court set out the laborious screening process refugees undertake (making a mockery of the notion these people are a security threat) and noted that after all those steps are completed the refugee gets a sponsorship assurance “from one of nine private non-profit organizations, known as resettlement agencies.” The 9th Circuit held: “The Government contends that a formal assurance does not create a bona fide relationship between a resettlement agency and a refugee, and stresses that ‘[t]he assurance is not an agreement between the resettlement agency and the refugee; rather, it is an agreement between the agency and the federal government.’ But the Supreme Court’s stay decision specifies that a qualifying relationship is one that is ‘formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading [the Executive Order].”’”

Again, one cannot help but come away with the impression that the government is throwing up every half-baked idea it can find to limit the number of people entering the country, regardless of the national security risk or the hardship its action inflicts. The Trump administration is plainly reasoning backward — deny as many people as possible admittance and then think up a reason to justify its position.

In its fixation with keeping as many immigrants out of the United States as possible, the Trump administration cannot claim to merely be following the dictates of the law. (Gosh it’s out of our hands — “Dreamers” and grandmas have to go!) It is making up rules willy-nilly so as to show its rabid xenophobic base it is adhering to its promise of racial and ethnic exclusion. It’s hard to believe seasoned career Justice Department lawyers agree with these arguments. In its oversight hearings Congress should start grilling Attorney General Jeff Sessions as to how he comes up with his cockamamie legal arguments and whether political appointees are running roughshod over career DOJ lawyers.

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Read Rubin’s full article at the link.

Mini-Essay:

TIME FOR ACTION ON THE BROKEN U.S. IMMIGRATION COURTS — IF CONGRESS WON’T ACT, THE FEDERAL COURTS MUST

By

Paul Wickham Schmidt

United States Immigration Judge (Retired)

If nothing else, the Trump Administration has given me a new appreciation for the Post’s “JRube.” She certainly has “dialed up” Gonzo’s number and exposed what’s behind his pompous, disingenuous misuse of the term “rule of law.”

No chance that a GOP Senate with Chuck Grassley as Judiciary Chair is going to hold Gonzo accountable for his daily perversions of “justice.” But, at some point, Federal Courts could begin sanctioning DOJ lawyers for willful misrepresentations (the Hawaii arguments before the 9th contained several) and frivolous positions in litigation. It’s possible that some DOJ lawyers all the way up to Gonzo himself could be referred by Federal Judges to state bar authorities for a look at whether their multiple violations of ethical standards should result suspension of their law licenses.

Another thought kicking around inside my head is that Gonzo’s actions and his public statements are starting to make a plausible case for a due process challenge to the continued operation of the U.S. Immigration Courts.

As with school desegregation, prison reform, and voting rights, a Federal Court could find systematic bias and failure to protect due process. That could result in something like 1) a requirement that the DOJ submit a “due process restoration” plan to the court for approval, or 2) the court appointment of an independent “judicial monitor” to run the courts in a fair and unbiased manner consistent with due process, or 3) the Federal Courts could take over supervision of the US Immigration Courts pending the creation of an Article I (or Article III) replacement.

High on the list of constitutionally-required reforms would be ending the location of courts within DHS detention facilities. All courts should be located in areas where adequate pro bono counsel is reasonably available and accessible. Immigration Courts should be located outside of DHS facilities in buildings accessible to the public with reasonable security requirements. Immigration Judges must be required to continue cases until pro bono counsel can be retained. Alternatively, the Government could provide for appointed counsel. 

Another obvious due process reform would be to strip the Attorney General of his (conflict of interest) authority to establish or review precedents and operating procedures for the U.S.  Immigration Courts. Along with that, the DHS should be given an equal right to appeal adverse BIA appellate decisions to the Courts of Appeals (rather than seeking relief from the AG — clearly an interested party in relation to immigration enforcement).

There also should be an immediate end to the appointment and supervision of U.S. Immigration Judges by the politically-biased AG. U.S. Immigration Judges and BIA Appellate Immigration Judges should be appointed on a strict merit basis by either an independent judicial monitor or by the U.S. Courts of Appeals until Congress enacts statutory reforms.

The current U.S. Immigration Court system mocks justice in the same way that Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions mocks it almost every day. There might be no practical way to legally remove Gonzo at present, but the Federal Courts could step in to force the U.S. Immigration Courts to undertake due process reforms. The current situation is unacceptable from a constitutional due process standpoint. Something has to change for the better!

PWS

09-09-17\

3RD CIR FINDS BIA ERRED IN CLASSIFYING BANGLADESH BNP AS “LEVEL III TERRORIST ORGANIZATION” — DECRIES BIA PANEL INCONSISTENCIES, LACK OF ACCESS TO UNPUBLISHED DECISIONS — Uddin v. Attorney General

171056p-Uddin

Uddin v. Attorney General, 3rd Cir., Sept. 6, 2017

BEFORE: GREENAWAY, JR., SHWARTZ, and RENDELL, Circuit Judges

OPINION BY: Judge Rendell

KEY QUOTE:

“While we will deny the petition for review challenging the Board’s ruling dismissing Uddin’s Convention Against Torture (“CAT”) claim, we will grant the petition in part and remand on his withholding of removal claim. The Board has pointed to terrorist acts by BNP members. But it did not find that BNP leadership authorized any of the terrorist activity committed by party members. Today, we join the reasoning of the Seventh Circuit and the Board in many of its own opinions by holding as follows: unless the agency finds that party leaders authorized terrorist activity committed by its members, an entity such as the BNP cannot be deemed a Tier III terrorist organization.

. . . .

Second, the rule we announce mirrors the Board’s own reasoning in the mine-run of its cases involving the BNP’s status as a Tier III organization. In fact, in some cases where IJs did not make a finding as to BNP leaders’ authorization of allegedly terrorist acts, the Board found error in the IJs’ omissions, and remanded to the IJs to take up that very question of authorization. In such cases, the Board bolstered

used the RAB to conduct numerous extra-judicial killings of BNP members. Thus, for purposes of the BNP’s status as a terrorist organization, the RAB’s conduct cannot be ascribed to that group during the time period relevant to Uddin’s case.

16

its reasoning by referencing Seventh Circuit opinions suggesting that some finding on authorization is necessary to assign a group Tier III status. See Khan v. Holder, 766 F.3d 689, 699 (7th Cir. 2014) (“An entire organization does not automatically become a terrorist organization just because some members of the group commit terrorist acts. The question is one of authorization.”); Hussain v. Mukasey, 518 F.3d 534, 538 (7th Cir. 2008) (“An organization is not a terrorist organization just because one of its members commits an act of armed violence without direct or indirect authorization . . . .”).

. . . .

Further, today’s ruling should help provide the Board a principled method of adjudicating Tier III cases, an area of law with little guidance from the Courts of Appeals. This dearth of precedential opinions has resulted in highly inconsistent results regarding the BNP’s status as a terrorist organization: our preliminary research in preparation for oral argument turned up several Board rulings concluding that the BNP was not in fact a terrorist organization. These conclusions were in stark contrast to the Board’s finding in Uddin’s case.

Faced with these contradictory opinions, in advance of oral argument we asked the Government to submit all Board opinions from 2015-2017 addressing the terrorism bar as it applies to the BNP. (Those opinions are not all publicly available.) The Government’s submission—fifty-four opinions in total—did not bolster our confidence in the Board’s adjudication of these cases.

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In six of the opinions, the Board agreed with the IJ that the BNP qualified as a terrorist organization based on the record in that case. But in at least ten, the Board concluded that the BNP was not a terrorist organization. In at least five cases, the Government did not challenge the IJ’s determination that the BNP is not a terrorist organization. And in one case, the Board reversed its own prior determination, finding that that “the Board’s last decision incorrectly affirmed the Immigration Judge’s finding that the BNP is a Tier III terrorist organization.” Many of the cases discussed the BNP’s terrorist status during the same time periods, reaching radically different results.

We recognize that the Board’s decisions are unpublished, and thus lack precedential value. We also note the Government’s argument that the BNP’s status as an undesignated terrorist organization is a “case-specific” determination based on the facts presented. That said, something is amiss where, time and time again, the Board finds the BNP is a terrorist organization one day, and reaches the exact opposite conclusion the next.

Even more concerning, the IJ in this case stated that he was “aware of no BIA or circuit court decision to date which has considered whether the BNP constitutes a terrorist organization.” AR 68. At the time the IJ ruled, there were several such decisions, and now there are dozens. When asked at oral argument whether the IJ could access unpublished Board decisions regarding BNP’s terrorist status, the Government’s Attorney responded that he did not know. This is a troubling state of affairs.”

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Gee whiz, the Article III’s are finally starting to figure out some of the problems with having a supposedly due-process focused Appellate Court resident in an agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. And the quality and consistency of administrative justice in immigration is hardly likely to improve under the Sessions “just peddle faster and deport more folks while we mindlessly fill the system with DACA immigrants” program.

The Third Circuit arguably now knows more about what the BIA is doing in this area than then BIA itself. And, I can guarantee that they know more than Jeff Sessions or anyone at the DOJ.

Oh yeah, and hiring more Immigration Judges, giving them less training, moving them around for enforcement purposes, and giving them less time to turn out quality decisions isn’t likely to improve this “troubling state of affairs.” Moreover, by failing to provide and enforce uniform guidance, the BIA encourages the DHS to abuse the system by “rolling the dice” on cases (like this one) they clearly should lose, but could win, at the Immigration Court, rather than being required to settle cases and exercise prosecutorial discretion in the way almost all other prosecutors do, on every level of the U.S. system except the Immigration Court. What Sessions disingenuously calls “enforcing the rule of law” is actually, in the words of Jason Dzubow, a “mixture of cruelty and incompetence” (with some just plain old stupidity thrown in).

The only thing that will improve the quality of justice in the U.S. Immigration Court system is to get it out of the Executive Branch and into an independent structure forthwith. Otherwise, the Article III’s are going to find themselves between a rock an a hard place: rubber stamp the BIA’s questionable work product or take over the BIA’s function and insist that constitutional due process be satisfied.

PWS

09-07-17

NYT: MASHA GESSEN: “Immigrants Shouldn’t Have to Be ‘Talented’ to Be Welcome”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/opinion/daca-immigrants-economic-contributions.html?&moduleDetail=section-news-1&action=click&contentCollection=Opinion®ion=Footer&module=MoreInSection&version=WhatsNext&contentID=WhatsNext&pgtype=article

Gessen writes:

“But what’s wrong with the decision to discontinue DACA is that people — not workers — will be deported. Lives — not careers — will be shattered. The problem is that it’s inhumane. As long as politicians consider it necessary to qualify the victims as “hardworking” or “talented,” they fail to stand up to the administration’s fundamentally hateful immigration agenda.

The reform package backed by Mr. Trump last month also claims to pursue economic aims. Neither Democrats nor Republicans — nor critics in the news media — have taken issue with this underlying premise: They have largely argued that the package proposes the wrong means for reaching economic ends. The plan would limit immigration to the young, highly educated and highly qualified. It would effectively stop immigrants from being able to bring family members to the United States. If an immigrant is but a cog in the economic machine, then what do parents, grown children and siblings matter? The logic is dehumanizing but hardly new or unique to the Republican Party. Mr. Sanders’s campaign plank argued for preserving family-based visas in the following terms: “Family is integral to a worker’s pursuit of happiness and economic productivity.”

Mr. Sanders’s platform made the barest mention of refugees. Mrs. Clinton’s published program made none. Mr. Trump, of course, wanted to drastically reduce the already small number of refugees that the United States accepts.

Refugees don’t fall into the economic logic of immigration. The argument for accepting refugees is not that they are good — for the economy, or for the country’s ability to meet its international obligations, or even because they are good people — but that America is good. This is where the sleight of hand of turning stories of immigrant success into the story of America becomes dangerous. It’s not immigrants’ economic contribution that makes America proud; it’s its adherence to the words inscribed inside the base of the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor/your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” — from the Emma Lazarus poem that the White House adviser Stephen Miller waved away last month during a news conference on immigration reform.

The controversy following Mr. Miller’s comments focused on the poem. But the argument for refugees is less poetic than it is pragmatic. As Arendt wrote in that essay, “the outlawing of the Jewish people in Europe has been followed closely by the outlawing of most European nations.” This was just a first step, Arendt wrote: “The comity of European peoples went to pieces when, and because, it allowed its weakest member to be excluded and persecuted.”

If immigration is debated only in terms of whether it benefits the economy, politicians begin to divide people into two categories: “valuable” and “illegal.” When countries make people illegal, the world comes apart. When we agree to talk about people as cogs, we lose our humanity.”

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Read the complete op-ed at the link.

I generally agree with Gessen: we should save as many lives as possible, at least of folks who are not coming to harm us. We have approximately 11 million individuals living outside the law now; the results have been overwhelmingly a boon both for our country and the individuals. This suggests that we could and should have been admitting hundreds of thousands of additional legal immigrants annually. Yes, there probably is an outer limit. But, we’re nowhere near it, and haven’t seriously and realistically discussed it during my lifetime.

Leaving aside refugees and others in immediate danger, the market influences the flow to a much greater extent than most critics will admit. If there are no jobs and no opportunities, individuals who have a choice will stop coming or go elsewhere. Indeed, I noticed that during recession, some who were already here departed voluntarily, believing that with money they had made in the US, and dwindling opportunities here, they would be better off somewhere else. Moreover, by no means does everyone want to come to the US.

A normalized immigration system would allow us to do better screening of prospective immigrants. Also, if there were reasonable waiting lists for immigration, most individuals would choose to come within the system, rather than outside it. But, when legal immigration is an impossibility, or waiting lists stretch out for a decade for more, the incentive for legal immigration evaporates.

More legal immigration coming through a regularized system would also allow for better security screening, more effective border control, and a much more focused and efficient use of immigration enforcement  resources. There would be a better chance that those coming outside the system would actually be “bad guys” whom we should remove, rather than construction workers, maids, gardeners, refugees of various types, and family members whose apprehension and removal does not serve the national interest.

We  actually have a much more “robust”and expansive immigration system in reality than “on paper.” But, with our overly restrictive legal immigration laws, we have blown our chance to regulate and regularize the inevitable flow of migrants. More restrictions and more arbitrary enforcement in the false name of “rule of law” will not give us control. But, it will be expensive, dehumanizing, and ultimately against our real national interests.

Yes, immigration restrictionists don’t want to face up to the truth about migration. They will continue to push their false and alarmist narratives. But, at some point, the rest of us will do better to act on humane and realistic principles, rather than on fear and loathing.

PWS

09-07-17

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