“GANG OF 14” FORMER IMMIGRATION JUDGES AND BIA APPELLATE IMMIGRATION JUDGES (INCLUDING ME) FILE AMICUS BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF ADMINISTRATIVE CLOSING! – Matter of Castro-Tum

HERE’S “OUR HERO” STEVEN H. SCHULMAN OF AKIN GUMP’S DC OFFICE WHO DID ALL THE “HEAVY LIFTING” OF DRAFTING THE BRIEF:

HERE’S THE “CAST OF CHARACTERS” (A/K/A “GANG OF 14”):

Amici curiae are retired Immigration Judges and former members of the Board of Immigration Appeals, who seek to address the Attorney General’s certified questions regarding administrative closure. Amici were appointed to serve at immigration courts around the United States and with the Board, and at senior positions with the Executive Office of Immigration Review. From their many combined years of service, amici have intimate knowledge of the operation of the immigration courts, including the importance of various procedural mechanisms to maintain efficient dockets. As explained in detail, administrative closure, when used judiciously, is a critical tool for immigration judges in managing their dockets. Without tools like administrative closure, immigration judges would be hampered, unable to set aside those matters that do not yet require court intervention and thus prevented from focusing on the removal cases that demand immediate attention.

In particular, the Honorable Sarah M. Burr served as a U.S. Immigration Judge in New York from 1994 and was appointed as Assistant Chief Immigration Judge in charge of the New York, Fishkill, Ulster, Bedford Hills and Varick Street immigration courts in 2006. She served in this capacity until January 2011, when she returned to the bench full-time until she retired in 2012. Prior to her appointment, she worked as a staff attorney for the Criminal Defense Division of the Legal Aid Society in its trial and appeals bureaus and also as the supervising attorney in its immigration unit. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Immigrant Justice Corps.

The Honorable Jeffrey S. Chase served as an Immigration Judge in New York City from 1995 to 2007 and was an attorney advisor and senior legal advisor at the Board from 2007 to 2017. He is presently in private practice as an independent consultant on immigration law, and Page 2 of 32 is of counsel to the law firm of DiRaimondo & Masi in New York City. Prior to his appointment, he was a sole practitioner and volunteer staff attorney at Human Rights First. He also was the recipient of the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s annual pro bono award in 1994 and chaired AILA’s Asylum Reform Task Force.

The Honorable Bruce J. Einhorn served as a United States Immigration Judge in Los Angeles from 1990 to 2007. He now serves as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California, and a Visiting Professor of International, Immigration, and Refugee Law at the University of Oxford, England. He is also a contributing op-ed columnist at D.C.-based The Hill newspaper. He is a member of the Bars of Washington D.C., New York, Pennsylvania, and the Supreme Court of the United States.

The Honorable Cecelia M. Espenoza served as a Member of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”) Board of Immigration Appeals from 2000-2003 and in the Office of the General Counsel from 2003-2017 where she served as Senior Associate General Counsel, Privacy Officer, Records Officer and Senior FOIA Counsel. She is presently in private practice as an independent consultant on immigration law, and a member of the World Bank’s Access to Information Appeals Board. Prior to her EOIR appointments, she was a law professor at St. Mary’s University (1997-2000) and the University of Denver College of Law (1990-1997) where she taught Immigration Law and Crimes and supervised students in the Immigration and Criminal Law Clinics. She has published several articles on Immigration Law. She is a graduate of the University of Utah and the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. She was recognized as the University of Utah Law School’s Alumna of the Year in 2014 and received the Outstanding Service Award from the Colorado Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Page 3 of 32 Association in 1997 and the Distinguished Lawyer in Public Service Award from the Utah State Bar in 1989-1990.

The Honorable Noel Ferris served as an Immigration Judge in New York from 1994 to 2013 and an attorney advisor to the Board from 2013 to 2016, until her retirement. Previously, she served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York from 1985 to 1990 and as Chief of the Immigration Unit from 1987 to 1990.

The Honorable John F. Gossart, Jr. served as a U.S. Immigration Judge from 1982 until his retirement in 2013 and is the former president of the National Association of Immigration Judges. At the time of his retirement, he was the third most senior immigration judge in the United States. Judge Gossart was awarded the Attorney General Medal by then Attorney General Eric Holder. From 1975 to 1982, he served in various positions with the former Immigration Naturalization Service, including as general attorney, naturalization attorney, trial attorney, and deputy assistant commissioner for naturalization. He is also the co-author of the National Immigration Court Practice Manual, which is used by all practitioners throughout the United States in immigration court proceedings. From 1997 to 2016, Judge Gossart was an adjunct professor of law at the University of Baltimore School of Law teaching immigration law, and more recently was an adjunct professor of law at the University of Maryland School of Law also teaching immigration law. He has been a faculty member of the National Judicial College, and has guest lectured at numerous law schools, the Judicial Institute of Maryland and the former Maryland Institute for the Continuing Education of Lawyers. He is also a past board member of the Immigration Law Section of the Federal Bar Association. Judge Gossart served in the United States Army from 1967 to 1969 and is a veteran of the Vietnam War. Page 4 of 32

The Honorable William P. Joyce served as an Immigration Judge in Boston, Massachusetts. Subsequent to retiring from the bench, he has been the Managing Partner of Joyce and Associates with 1,500 active immigration cases. Prior to his appointment to the bench, he served as legal counsel to the Chief Immigration Judge. Judge Joyce also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Associate General Counsel for enforcement for INS. He is a graduate of Georgetown School of Foreign Service and Georgetown Law School.

The Honorable Edward Kandler was appointed as an Immigration Judge in October 1998. Prior to his appointment to the Immigration Court in Seattle in June 2004, he served as an Immigration Judge at the Immigration Court in San Francisco from August 2000 to June 2004 and at the Immigration Court in New York City from October 1998 to August 2000. Judge Kandler received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1971 from California State University at San Francisco, a Master of Arts degree in 1974 from California State University at Hayward, and a Juris Doctorate in 1981 from the University of California at Davis. Judge Kandler served as an assistant U.S. trustee for the Western District of Washington from 1988 to 1998. He worked as an attorney for the law firm of Chinello, Chinello, Shelton & Auchard in Fresno, California, in 1988. From 1983 to 1988, Judge Kandler served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of California. He was also with the San Francisco law firm of Breon, Galgani, Godino from 1981 to 1983. Judge Kandler is a member of the California Bar.

The Honorable Carol King served as an Immigration Judge from 1995 to 2017 in San Francisco and was a temporary Board member for six months between 2010 and 2011. She previously practiced immigration law for ten years, both with the Law Offices of Marc Van Der Page 5 of 32 Hout and in her own private practice. She also taught immigration law for five years at Golden Gate University School of Law and is currently on the faculty of the Stanford University Law School Trial Advocacy Program. Judge King now works as a Removal Defense Strategist, advising attorneys and assisting with research and writing related to complex removal defense issues.

The Honorable Lory D. Rosenberg served on the Board from 1995 to 2002. She then served as Director of the Defending Immigrants Partnership of the National Legal Aid & Defender Association from 2002 until 2004. Prior to her appointment, she worked with the American Immigration Law Foundation from 1991 to 1995. She was also an adjunct Immigration Professor at American University Washington College of Law from 1997 to 2004. She is the founder of IDEAS Consulting and Coaching, LLC., a consulting service for immigration lawyers, and is the author of Immigration Law and Crimes. She currently works as Senior Advisor for the Immigrant Defenders Law Group.

The Honorable Susan Roy started her legal career as a Staff Attorney at the Board of Immigration Appeals, a position she received through the Attorney General Honors Program. She served as Assistant Chief Counsel, National Security Attorney, and Senior Attorney for the DHS Office of Chief Counsel in Newark, NJ, and then became an Immigration Judge, also in Newark. Sue has been in private practice for nearly 5 years, and two years ago, opened her own immigration law firm. Sue is the NJ AILA Chapter Liaison to EOIR, is the Vice Chair of the Immigration Law Section of the NJ State Bar Association, and in 2016 was awarded the Outstanding Prop Bono Attorney of the Year by the NJ Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. Page 6 of 32

The Honorable Paul W. Schmidt served as an Immigration Judge from 2003 to 2016 in Arlington, virginia. He previously served as Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals from 1995 to 2001, and as a Board Member from 2001 to 2003. He authored the landmark decision Matter of Kasinga, 21 I&N Dec. 357 (BIA 1995) extending asylum protection to victims of female genital mutilation. He served as Deputy General Counsel of the former INS from 1978 to 1987, serving as Acting General Counsel from 1986-87 and 1979-81. He was the managing partner of the Washington, D.C. office of Fragomen, DelRey & Bernsen from 1993 to 1995, and practiced business immigration law with the Washington, D.C. office of Jones, Day, Reavis and Pogue from 1987 to 1992, where he was a partner from 1990 to 1992. He served as an adjunct professor of law at George Mason University School of Law in 1989, and at Georgetown University Law Center from 2012 to 2014 and 2017 to present. He was a founding member of the International Association of Refugee Law Judges (IARLJ), which he presently serves as Americas Vice President. He also serves on the Advisory Board of AYUDA, and assists the National Immigrant Justice Center/Heartland Alliance on various projects; and speaks, writes and lectures at various forums throughout the country on immigration law topics. He also created the immigration law blog immigrationcourtside.com.

The Honorable Polly A. Webber served as an Immigration Judge from 1995 to 2016 in San Francisco, with details in facilities in Tacoma, Port Isabel, Boise, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Orlando. Previously, she practiced immigration law from 1980 to 1995 in her own private practice in San Jose. She was a national officer in AILA from 1985 to 1991 and served as National President of AILA from 1989 to 1990. She has also taught immigration and nationality law at both Santa Clara University School of Law and Lincoln Law School. Page 7 of 32

The Honorable Gustavo D. Villageliu served as a Board of Immigration Appeals Member from July 1995 to April 2003. He then served as Senior Associate General Counsel for the Executive Office for Immigration Review until he retired in 2011, helping manage FOIA, Privacy and Security as EOIR Records Manager. Before becoming a Board Member, Villageliu was an Immigration Judge in Miami, with both detained and non-detained dockets, as well as the Florida Northern Region Institutional Criminal Alien Hearing Docket 1990-95. Mr. Villageliu was a member of the Iowa, Florida and District of Columbia Bars. He graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1977. After working as a Johnson County Attorney prosecutor intern in Iowa City, Iowa he joined the Board as a staff attorney in January 1978, specializing in war criminal, investor, and criminal alien cases.

HERE’S A SUMMARY OF OUR ARGUMENT:

ARGUMENT………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 7

I. Immigration Judges and the Board have inherent and delegated authority to order administrative closure in a case ……………………………………………………………………………… 7

A. Federal courts have recognized that judges possess an inherent authority to order administrative closure………………………………………………………………………… 8

B. Regulations establishing and governing Immigration Judges ratify their inherent authority to order administrative closure. …………………………………………. 9

II. The Board’s decisions in Matter of Avetisyan, 25 I&N Dec. 688 (BIA 2012), and Matter of W-Y-U-, 27 I&N Dec. 17 (BIA 2017), articulate the appropriate standard for administrative closure……………………………………………………………………….. 13

A. The legal standard set forth in Avetisyan and W-Y-U- gives the Immigration Judge the correct degree of independence in deciding motions for administrative closure. ……………………………………………………………………………… 13

B. The facts and disposition of the case at bar show that the legal standard under Avetisyan and W-Y-U- is working correctly. ………………………………………………… 16

III. Fundamental principles of administrative law hold that the Attorney General cannot change the regulations that grant this authority without proper notice and comment rulemaking. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 18

A. Practical docket management considerations weigh in favor of retaining administrative closure. ……………………………………………………………………………… 19

B. Due process considerations also weigh in favor of retaining administrative closure. …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 21

IV. Options such as continuances, dismissal without prejudice, and termination without prejudice, are suboptimal as compared to administrative closure. …………………………….. 22

V. There is no reason to attach legal consequences to administrative closure. ………………… 25

FINALLY, HERE’S THE COMPLETE BRIEF FOR YOUR INFORMATION AND READING PLEASURE:

Former IJs and Retired BIA Members – FINAL Castro-Tum Brief

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  • Thanks again to all retired my colleagues. What a great opportunity to “reunite online” in support of a critically important cause affecting the American Justice System!
  • Special thanks to Judge Jeffrey Chase for spearheading the effort and getting all of us together!
  • “Super Special Thanks” to the amazing Steven H. Schulman, Partner at Akin Gump DC and to Akin Gump for donating your valuable time and expertise and making this happen!

PWS

02-17-18

 

 

 

 

REP. LLOYD DOGGERT (D-TX) SUCCINCTLY EXPLAINS HOW ICE “GONZO ENFORCEMENT” DESTROYS AMERICAN FAMILIES, SPREADS TERROR – AND ICE ALSO LIES! — “We are all made less safe . . . .”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/austin-reveals-how-ice-raids-are-tearing-apart-families/2018/02/14/e953ea68-10cf-11e8-a68c-e9374188170e_story.html?utm_term=.f5a47bbd1b3d

Doggert writes in a letter to the Washington Post:

“Regarding the Feb. 12 front-page article “ICE’s wide net boosts arrests”:

During four days last February, Immigration and Customs Enforcement targeted Austin, apparently in retaliation for Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez’s justified refusal to honor some warrantless detainers. Despite claims by ICE that its operation targeted “public safety threats,” most of those arrested had no criminal background and most of those who did committed only relatively minor offenses.

ICE was not straightforward about its operation. Only through Gus Bova’s Texas Observer Freedom of Information Act request did I learn that ICE had apprehended almost three times the number initially disclosed to me. And, of those, many were also law-abiding residents. I still await answers from ICE concerning whether its deceit extended beyond Austin and has continued.

One “dreamer” reported that for weeks following these raids, her parents would leave home only one at a time for fear of leaving their children without any caregiver.

Indiscriminate raids make immigrants fearful of assisting local law enforcement. ” but the Trump administration does not conduct these for safety. Its objective is to instill fear and to intimidate immigrants into leaving. And this is the same treatment that dreamers could receive beginning next month if House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) continues to block a vote to secure their status.

ICE raids on the innocent rip apart families, devastate communities and satisfy only President Trump’s anti-immigrant hysteria.

Lloyd Doggett, Washington

The writer, a Democrat, represents Texas’s
35th District in the House.”

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“Right on,” Lloyd!

Almost every day, America’s most despised and least trusted police force “earns their chops” with cruel, inhumane, dishonest, and ultimately senseless acts of “Gonzo ” enforcement.

“We can diminish ourselves as a Nation, but it won’t stop human migration!”

PWS

02-15-18

INDEFENSIBLE: DHS’S “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT IS CRUEL, WASTEFUL, COUNTERPRODUCTIVE, AND ARBITRARY – IT’S THE VERY ANTITHESIS OF THE “RULE OF LAW” THAT TRUMP, SESSIONS, HOMAN & OTHERS AT THE DHS DISINGENUOUSLY TOUT IN WORDS WHILE MOCKING AND DISPARAGING BY THEIR DEEDS! – EXPOSE FRAUD, RESIST EVIL! – JOIN THE NEW DUE PROCESS ARMY!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-takes-shackles-off-ice-which-is-slapping-them-on-immigrants-who-thought-they-were-safe/2018/02/11/4bd5c164-083a-11e8-b48c-b07fea957bd5_story.html

Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti report for the Washington Post:

“A week after he won the election, President Trump promised that his administration would round up millions of immigrant gang members and drug dealers. And after he took office, arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers surged 40 percent.

Officials at the agency commonly known as ICE praise Trump for putting teeth back into immigration enforcement, and they say their agency continues to prioritize national security threats and violent criminals, much as the Obama administration did.

But as ICE officers get wider latitude to determine whom they detain, the biggest jump in arrests has been of immigrants with no criminal convictions. The agency made 37,734 “noncriminal” arrests in the government’s 2017 fiscal year, more than twice the number in the previous year. The category includes suspects facing possible charges as well as those without criminal records.

Critics say ICE is increasingly grabbing at the lowest-hanging fruit of deportation-eligible immigrants to meet the president’s unrealistic goals, replacing a targeted system with a scattershot approach aimed at boosting the agency’s enforcement statistics.

ICE has not carried out mass roundups or major workplace raids under Trump, but nearly every week brings a contentious new arrest.

2:42
Trump said he would deport millions. Now ICE is in the spotlight.

The White House has said they are focused on deporting undocumented immigrants who “pose a threat to this country.”

Virginia mother was sent back to El Salvador in June after her 11 years in the United States unraveled because of a traffic stop. A Connecticut man with an American-born wife and children and no criminal record was deported to Guatemala last week. And an immigration activist in New York, Ravi Ragbir, was detained in January in a case that brought ICE a scathing rebuke from a federal judge.

“It ought not to be — and it has never before been — that those who have lived without incident in this country for years are subjected to treatment we associate with regimes we revile as unjust,” said U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest, reading her opinion in court before ordering ICE to release Ragbir.

“We are not that country,” she said.

Immigrants whose only crime was living in the country illegally were largely left alone during the latter years of the Obama administration. But that policy has been scrapped.

Those facing deportation who show up for periodic “check-ins” with ICE to appeal for more time in the United States can no longer be confident that good behavior will spare them from detention. Once-routine appointments now can end with the immigrants in handcuffs.

More broadly, the Trump administration has given street-level ICE officers and field directors greater latitude to determine whom they arrest and under what conditions, breaking with the more selective enforcement approach of President Barack Obama’s second term.

Trump officials have likened this to taking “the shackles off,” and they say morale at ICE is up because its officers have regained the authority to detain anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally.

1:36
ICE arrests chemistry professor in U.S. for 30 years

Syed Ahmed Jamal was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents Jan. 24 after living in the United States for more than 30 years.

Officers are detaining suspects in courthouses more often, and ICE teams no longer shy from taking additional people into custody when they knock on doors to arrest a targeted person. 

“What are we supposed to do?” said Matthew Albence, the top official in the agency’s immigration enforcement division, who described the administration’s goal as simply restoring the rule of law. If ICE fails to uphold its duties to enforce immigration laws, he added, “then the system has no integrity.”

In addition to arresting twice as many immigrants who have not been convicted of crimes, ICE also arrested 105,736 immigrants with criminal convictions, a slight increase. That figure includes people with serious or violent offenses as well as those with lesser convictions, such as driving without a license or entering the country illegally.

ICE’s arrest totals in Trump’s first year in office are still much lower than they were during Obama’s early tenure, which the agency says is partly because it is contending with far more resistance from state and local governments that oppose Trump’s policies. And the president’s repeated negative characterizations of some immigrant groups have created an atmosphere in which arrests that were once standard now erupt as political flash points.

Obama initially earned the moniker “deporter in chief” because his administration expelled hundreds of thousands of immigrants, including people with no criminal records. But when Republicans blocked his effort to create a path to citizenship for millions living in the country illegally, Obama curtailed ICE enforcement, especially for those without serious criminal violations. Those measures incensed Republicans — and eventually helped to propel Trump into office.

An estimated 11 million people are living in the United States without legal residency, and the new era of ICE enforcement has shattered the presumption that their social and economic integration into American life would protect them.

Because immigration records are generally secret, it is difficult to independently verify how federal agents decide to make arrests. Immigrant advocates and ICE often clash over immigration cases, and both sides frequently present incomplete versions of an immigrant’s case.

Last month, a college chemistry instructor in Kansas, Syed Ahmed Jamal, was taken into custody on his lawn while preparing to take his daughter to school. He arrived from Bangladesh 30 years ago and built a life in the United States. More than 57,000 people signed an online petition asking ICE to stop his deportation, describing him as a community leader and loving father.

An immigration judge placed a temporary stay Wednesday on ICE’s attempt to deport him, but the agency’s account of Jamal’s case is starkly different. ICE said he arrived in 1987 on a temporary visa. He was ordered to leave the United States in 2002, and he complied, but three months later, he returned — legally — and overstayed again. A judge ordered him to leave the country in 2011, but he did not. ICE said agents took Jamal into custody in 2012. He lost his appeal in 2013.

At first glance, Albence said, many of ICE’s arrests may seem like “sympathetic cases — individuals who are here, and who have been here a long time.”

“But the reason they’ve been here a long time is because they gamed the system,” he said.

Defenders of the tougher approach applaud ICE’s new resolve and say it is U.S. immigration courts — not ICE — that are determining who should be allowed to stay. And they reject the idea that the longer someone has lived in the country, the more the person deserves to be left alone.

“As someone who has practiced law for 20-plus years, I find strange the idea the longer you get away with a violation, the less stiff the punishment should be, and that your continued violation of the law is basis for the argument that you shouldn’t suffer the consequences of that violation,” said Matthew O’Brien, director of research at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, which backs Trump’s approach.

No statute of limitations

The furor that has followed recent ICE arrests reflects a deeper disagreement — not unlike the fight over young, undocumented “dreamers” — about the consequences that those in the country illegally should face.

Living in the United States without legal status is generally treated as a civil violation, not a criminal one. And many Americans, especially Democrats, do not view it as an offense worthy of arrest and deportation once someone has settled into American life.

But in the hyper-politicized atmosphere of the immigration debate, where the merits of these arrests are increasingly litigated in public, partisans now argue over each immigrant’s perceived worthiness to remain in the country, even when a full grasp of the facts is lacking.

When a 43-year-old Polish-born doctor in Michigan who came to the United States at age 5 was arrested last month, supporters rushed to his defense. ICE justified its decision by saying the doctor, who was a permanent legal resident, had had repeated encounters with local police and two 1992 misdemeanor convictions for destruction of property and receiving stolen items, crimes that under U.S. immigration law are considered evidence of “moral turpitude.”

Others who committed crimes long ago and satisfied their obligations to the American justice system have learned there is no statute of limitations on ICE’s ability to use the immigrants’ offenses as grounds to arrest and deport them.

When Ragbir, the New York immigration activist, was detained last month during a scheduled check-in with ICE, his supporters accused the agency of targeting him for retaliation.

But Ragbir is the type of person who is now a top priority for ICE. After becoming a lawful U.S. resident in 1994, he was convicted of mortgage and wire fraud in 2000.

Ragbir served two years in prison, then married a U.S. citizen in 2010. Immigration courts repeatedly spared him from deportation, but his most recent appeal was denied, and ICE took him into custody eight days before his residency was due to expire.

Ragbir was so stunned that he lost consciousness, court records show, and was taken to a hospital.

The ‘sanctuary’ campaign

Former acting ICE director John Sandweg, who helped draft the 2014 memo that prioritized arrests based on the severity of immigrants’ criminal offenses, said the agency has resources to deport only about 200,000 cases a year from the interior of the United States.

“The problem is, when you remove all priorities, it’s like a fisherman who could just get his quota anywhere,” Sandweg said. “It diminishes the incentives on the agents to go get the bad criminals. Now their job is to fill the beds.”

Albence said the agency’s priority remains those who represent a threat to public safety or national security, just as it was under Obama. The difference now is that agents are also enforcing judges’ deportation orders against all immigrants who are subject to such orders, regardless of whether they have criminal records.

“There’s no list where we rank ‘This is illegal alien number 1 all the way down to 2.3 million,’ ” he said.

Albence said ICE prioritizes its caseload using government databases and law enforcement methods to track fugitives. But in the vast majority of cases, ICE takes custody of someone after state or local police have arrested the person.

This approach dovetailed with ICE’s enforcement emphasis on targeting serious criminals, and at first, the Obama administration and other Democrats embraced it. But activists protested that ICE was arresting people pulled over for driving infractions and other minor offenses at a time when Congress was debating whether to grant undocumented immigrants legal residency. Advocacy groups pushed cities and towns to become “sanctuary” cities that refused to cooperate with ICE.

ICE’s caseload far exceeds the capacity of its jails. In addition to the 41,500 immigrants in detention, according to the most recent data, the agency has a caseload of roughly 3 million deportation-eligible foreigners, equal to about 1 in 4 of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants nationwide.

More than 542,000 of those are considered fugitives, meaning they did not show up for their immigration hearings and were ordered deported, or they failed to leave the country after losing their cases. Nearly 2 in 3 were not considered a priority for deportation under Obama. They are now.

An additional 2.4 million undocumented immigrants are free pending hearings or appeals, or because the agency has not been able to deport them yet and the Supreme Court has ruled that such individuals cannot be jailed indefinitely. Nearly 1 million of this group have final deportation orders, including 178,000 convicted criminals.

They include the Michigan doctor and Ragbir, the New York activist.

“It’s true that all these people are deportable, but that doesn’t mean they should all have equal value,” said Cecilia Muñoz, a former policy adviser to Obama who helped shape the administration’s tiered enforcement approach.

“By crowding the courts with all kinds of people, you’re creating a resource problem,” Muñoz said.

“If you apply that logic to local police forces, you’re saying that every robber and rapist is the same as a jaywalker. And then you’re clogging your courts with jaywalkers.”

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The Trump/Sessions/DHS “Gonzo” enforcement program that claims to be targeting criminals but actually busts lots of “collaterals” who are residing here peacefully and contributing to our society is a total sham. It has nothing to do with the “Rule of Law” or real law enforcement.

Unnecessary cruelty, wasting resources, arbitrariness, terrorizing communities, overloading already overwhelmed courts, and undermining the efforts of local politicians and law enforcement are not, and never have been, part of the “Rule of Law,” nor are they professional law enforcement techniques. They are part of the White Nationalist agenda to “beat up” on Latinos and other minorities, lump all immigrants in with “criminals,” stir up xenophobia, and throw some “red meat” to an essentially racist Trump/GOP “base.”

“By crowding the courts with all kinds of people, you’re creating a resource problem,” Muñoz said.

“If you apply that logic to local police forces, you’re saying that every robber and rapist is the same as a jaywalker. And then you’re clogging your courts with jaywalkers.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

As I say over and over, ICE under Trump is well on its way to becoming the most distrusted and despised “law enforcement” agency in America. That damage is likely to hamper their mission of legitimate enforcement well beyond the Trump era.

As some commentators have suggested, the only long-term solution might well be eventually dissolving ICE and turning the functions over to a new agency that will operate within the normal bounds of reasonable, professional law enforcement, rather than as a political appendage.

In the meantime, those who believe in American values and the true “Rule of Law,” should resist the out of control DHS at every step. While Trump and the GOP appear unwilling to place any limits on the abuses by the “ICEMEN,” Federal Courts have proved more receptive to the arguments that there are at least some outer limits on the conduct of law enforcement.

Join the “New Due Process Army” today!

 

PWS

01-12-18

 

CRISTIAN FARIAS @ NEW YORK MAGGIE – THE HISTORY OF PROSECUTORIAL DISCRETION IN IMMIGRATION GOING ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE “BERNSEN MEMO” – WHY, CONTRARY TO SESSIONS & THE RESTRICTIONISTS, IT IS A SOUND LEGAL CONCEPT – AND WHY THE SUPREMES SHOULD STAY OUT OF THE DACA ISSUE IN THE LOWER COURTS! – PLUS BONUS TRIVIA! – “Who REALLY wrote that four decades old memo?

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/02/scotus-would-be-crazy-to-jump-into-the-daca-dispute.html

Cristian writes:

“The earliest, highest-profile critic of granting an executive reprieve to Dreamers was none other than Justice Antonin Scalia. The plight of young immigrants brought to the United States as children was not something the Supreme Court was concerned with in 2012, but the late justice somehow felt the need to protest, in open court, President Obama’s then weeks-old decision to not deport them for humanitarian reasons. “The president has said that the new program is, quote, the right thing to do, close quote, in light of Congress’ failure to pass the administration’s proposed revision of the immigration laws,” he said as he read from a summary of his partial dissent in Arizona v. United States. That case and decision had nothing to do with Dreamers.

Maybe Scalia’s real qualm was with the sitting president and not the recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, better known as DACA. But his broader point, which a Supreme Court majority rejected, was that states should have leeway in enforcing federal immigration laws, since they — and not undocumented immigrants — face the “human realities” of a broken immigration system. The citizens of border states like Arizona “feel themselves under siege by large numbers of illegal immigrants who invade their property, strain their social services, and even place their lives in jeopardy,” Scalia complained. Somewhere, a future President Trump may have been taking notes.

More than five years since that screed, the Supreme Court could soon get a chance to judge the propriety, if not the legality, of Trump’s decision last September to pull the plug on DACA. A federal judge in California in January ordered the reinstatement of the program, reasoning that its rescission rested on a “flawed legal premise” — namely, Jeff Sessions’s paper-thin conclusion that DACA was illegal the moment it was conceived. The judge also rejected as “spin” and “post-hoc rationalization” the Trump administration’s contention that DACA was vulnerable to a legal challenge by Texas and other states, which had threatened Sessions with a lawsuit if he didn’t kill the initiative outright. “The agency action was not in accordance with law because it was based on the flawed legal premise that the agency lacked authority to implement DACA,” wrote the judge, William Alsup, in a ruling that effectively brought DACA back from the dead. Days later, the administration began accepting renewal applications as if the rollback had never happened.

Legal scholars weren’t impressed with the ruling. And Sessions, not one to give up on Trump’s anti-immigrant crusade, then took the “rare step” of appealing Alsup’s decision directly to the Supreme Court — and why not? The Ninth Circuit, Trump’s least favorite appeals court, is unruly, liberal, and anti-Trump, anyway; leapfrogging it seemed the smart thing to do. What’s more, Sessions wanted the justices to act expeditiously — his solicitor general filed an additional request to decide the case before the end of June. Not doing so, he suggested, would be the same as blessing “indefinitely an ongoing violation of federal law being committed by nearly 700,000 aliens.” So much for Trump’s wish to treat Dreamers “with heart.” There was only one problem: The Supreme Court rarely, if ever, lets anyone skip over the regular appeals process. And if Sessions is in such a hurry, why didn’t the administration seek to block Alsup’s ruling rather than comply with it? Last Friday, a coalition that includes the University of California, several states, a local chapter of the SEIU, and a number of Dreamers told the Supreme Court to reject the Trump administration’s request to hear the case. The DACA mess, this alliance broadly contended, is Trump’s and Congress’s to own, and the justices shouldn’t be the ones fixing it, at least not with the urgency Sessions is demanding.

. . . .

The principle of prosecutorial discretion, which is what holds DACA together, was never once discussed by Sessions when he announced the wind-down of DACA. He didn’t even try. Prosecutorial discretion wasn’t some novelty that Napolitano came up with at the time, let alone a quirk of immigration law. In a path-breaking memorandum written some 40 years ago, Sam Bernsen, the general counsel of the now-defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service, advised the agency’s commissioner that the “ultimate source for the exercise of prosecutorial discretion” lies with the inherent powers of the presidency. “Under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, the executive power is vested in the President,” Bernsen wrote in what is believed to be the first in a long string of government memos justifying prosecutorial discretion in the immigration realm. “Article II, Section 3, states that the President ‘shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.’” Ironically, conservatives would later seize on this “take care” language to argue breathlessly that Obama’s immigration actions were an affront to the constitutional text, but no judge took that argument seriously.

Far and wide, executive officers enjoy similar discretion to enforce the law. From the president down to a lowly street cop, every law enforcer, state or federal, exercises some form of prosecutorial discretion over the laws they’re entrusted to oversee. It’s the reason you don’t always get ticketed for jaywalking or pulled over for doing 65 on a 55, even in instances where you happen to do those things in full view of the police: The government has ample discretion to not go after you if it feels you’re a low-priority lawbreaker. Maybe the 75-miles-per-hour driver is the bigger fish. Whichever the case, the decision is, by and large, unchallengeable. “Federal officials, as an initial matter, must decide whether it makes sense to pursue removal at all,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy in the same immigration ruling that Scalia assailed in 2012. “Discretion in the enforcement of immigration law embraces immediate human concerns,” he added.

Kirstjen Nielsen, the new DHS secretary, and Trump himself have all but conceded the point in recent weeks. In an interview with CBS’s John Dickerson, Nielsen said that it’s “not the policy of DHS” to go after Dreamers who are DACA recipients, even if the current legislative talks fail and the program isn’t renewed. “It’s not going to be a priority of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to prioritize their removal,” Nielsen clarified, directly contradicting the Department of Justice’s position on DACA before the Supreme Court. (Dreamers and immigration advocates know better than to trust Nielsen’s assurances.) Asked last month if he might extend the arbitrary March 5 end date of the DACA rollback process — which is no longer the end date as a result of Judge Alsup’s ruling — Trump spoke as if he never truly believed, like Sessions did, that deferred action was unlawful: “I certainly have the right to do that if I want.”

In this climate, and with Trump still fielding immigration offers as Congress faces yet another deadline to fund the government, the Supreme Court would be crazy to jump into the DACA controversy. “I think for the Supreme Court to reach down to a district court decision and not allow the normal appellate process to proceed would necessarily, under the circumstances, involve or indicate that the Supreme Court is signaling its involvement in a deeply political matter,” Napolitano told me. Scalia may have felt comfortable criticizing policy choices from the bench, but that doesn’t mean Chief Justice John Roberts and his colleagues have to take the bait. For their own peace of mind and that of Dreamers, the Court is better off staying as far away as possible, and letting Trump take care of the laws that give him broad authority to spare young undocumented immigrants if he really wants to.”

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

Read the rest of Cristian’s analysis, including his detailed interview with former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, now President of the University of California System and a plaintiff in the District Court case, over at New York at the above link.

SPECIAL BONUS:

From the “archives” here’s a copy of the famous “Bernsen Memo” of July 15, 1976:

Bernsen Memo service-exercise-pd

YOUR TOSSUP IMMIGRATION TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE DAY:

Who actually wrote the “Bernsen Memo?”  

(Hint: Look at the bottom of the last page.)

MANUEL MADRID @ AMERICAN PROSPECT: Sessions Relishes Chance To Turn U.S. Immigration Courts Into “Whistle Stops On His Deportation Railway!” – Administrative Closing Likely Just To Be The First Casualty – I’m Quoted!

http://theprosp.ec/2E3a315

Manuel writes:

“Jeff Sessions Is Just Getting Started on Deporting More Immigrants

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department

This could be Jeff Sessions’s year.

Not that he wasn’t busy in 2017, a year marked by his rescinding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), attacking sanctuary cities, reinstating debtors’ prisons, and cracking down on recreational marijuana. Indeed, over these last few months Sessions appears to have been working with the single-minded focus of a man who reportedly came within inches of losing his job in July after falling into President Trump’s bad graces for recusing himself from the Mueller probe.

But 2018 will provide him his best chance yet at Trumpian redemption.

Sessions has long railed against the United States’ “broken” asylum system and the massive backlog of immigration court cases, which has forced immigrants to suffer unprecedented wait times and has put a significant strain on court resources. But the attorney general’s appetite for reform has now grown beyond pushing for more judges and a bigger budget, both largely bipartisan solutions. The past few months have seen Sessions begin to attempt to assert his influence over the work of immigration courts (which, unlike other federal courts, are part of the Executive Branch) and on diminishing the legal protections commonly used by hundreds of thousands of immigrants—developments that have alarmed immigration judges, attorneys, and immigrant advocacy groups alike.

Earlier this month, Sessions announced that he would be reviewing a decades-old practice used by immigration judges and the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals to shelve cases without making a final ruling. Described by judges as a procedural tool for prioritizing cases and organizing their case dockets, the practice—“administrative closure”—also provides immigrants a temporary reprieve from deportation while their cases remain in removal proceedings. Critics argue that administrative closure, which became far more frequent in the later years of the Obama administration, creates a quasi-legal status for immigrants who might otherwise be deported.

There are currently around 350,000 administratively closed cases, according to according to the American Bar Association’s ABA Journal.

Should Sessions decide to eliminate administrative closures—a decision many observers describe as imminent—those cases could be thrown into flux. The move would be in line with previous statements from various figures in the Trump administration and executive orders signed by the president himself—namely, that no immigrant is safe from deportation; no population is off the table.

Beyond creating chaos for hundreds of thousands of immigrants, the premature recalendaring of cases could also lead to erroneous deportations. For instance, in the case of unaccompanied minors applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, a humanitarian protection granted by Citizenship and Immigration Services, an untimely return to court could be the difference between remaining or being ordered to leave the country. Even if a minor has already been approved by a state judge to apply for a green card, there is currently a two-year visa backlog for special visa applicants from Ecuador, Guatemala, and Honduras and more than a one-year backlog for those from from Mexico. Administrative closures allow these children to avoid deportation while they wait in line for a visa to become available.

But if judges can no longer close a case, they will either have to grant a string of continuances, a time-consuming act that requires all parties (the judge, defendant, and government attorney) to show up to court repeatedly, or simply issue an order of removal—even if the immigrant has a winning application sitting on a desk in Citizenship and Immigration Services. Under the Trump administration, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has been actively filing to recalendar cases of non-criminals that had been administratively closed for months, including those of children whose applications had already been approved. Now Sessions, who as a senator zealously opposed immigration reforms that would benefit undocumented immigrants, could recalendar them all.

Unshelving hundreds of thousands of cases would also further bog down an already towering backlog of approximately 650,000 immigration court cases, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse—a policy result that at first seems antithetical to Sessions’s rhetoric about cutting the backlog and raising efficiency. That is unless, as some suggest, the backlog and efficiency were never really his primary concerns to begin with.

“When [Sessions] says he wants to decrease the court backlog and hire more immigration judges, what he really means is he wants more deportation orders, whatever the cost,” says Heidi Altman, director of policy at the National Immigrant Justice Center.

 Removing a judge’s ability to close a case would be the second in a one-two punch aimed at knocking down avenues of relief for cases that remain in the system for long periods of time.

Sessions’s decision to review administrative closure surprised few who had been following his rhetoric over the past few weeks. In a December memo detailing plans to slash the backlog, the attorney general said that he anticipated “clarifying certain legal matters in the near future that will remove recurring impediments to judicial economy and the timely administration of justice.” The Justice Department had already largely done away with allowing prosecutors to join in motions to administratively close a case that didn’t fall within its enforcement priorities. Removing a judge’s ability to close a case would be the second in a one-two punch aimed at knocking down avenues of relief for cases that remain in the system for long periods of time.

And it’s unlikely that Sessions will stop there. As attorney general, he is free to review legal precedents for lower immigration courts. In changing precedential rulings, he could do away with a multitude of other legal lifelines essential to immigrants and their attorneys.

. . . .

“Administrative closure makes a good starting point for Sessions, because the courts likely won’t be able stop it,” says Paul Schmidt, a former immigration judge and former head of the Board of Immigration Appeals. “Administrative closure was a tool created by the Justice Department and therefore it can be dismantled by the Justice Department.”

“After all, the bad thing about the immigration courts is that they belong to the attorney general,” Schmidt adds.

Unlike other federal judges, immigration judges are technically considered Justice Department employees. This unique status as a judicial wing of the executive branch has left them open to threats of politicization. In October, it was revealed that the White House was planning on adding metrics on the duration and quantity of cases adjudicated by immigration judges to their performance reviews, effectively creating decision quotas. A spokeswoman for the National Association of Immigration Judges described the proposal as a worrying encroachment on judicial independence. “Immigration judge morale is at an all time low,” says Dana Marks, former president of the association and a judge for more than 30 years. Other federal judges are not subject to any such performance evaluations.

It’s no coincidence that a review of administrative closure was announced just a few months after it was discovered that the Justice Department was considering imposing quotas on judges. Streamlining deportations has proven an elusive goal, even for Sessions: Deportations in 2017 were down from the previous year, according to DHS numbers. Meanwhile, arrests surged—up 42 percent from the same period in 2016. Flooding already overwhelmed immigration courts with even more cases would certainly cause chaos in the short-term, but wouldn’t necessarily lead to deportations by itself. If an end to administrative closures is paired with decision quotas on immigration judges, however, a surge in deportations seems inevitable.”

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

Read Manuel’s complete article at the above link.

As I’ve noted before, Due Process clearly is “on the run” at the U.S. Immigration Courts. It will be up to the “New Due Process Army” and other advocates to take a stand against Sessions’s plans to erode Constitutional Due Process and legal protections for immigrants of all types. And don’t think that some U.S. citizens, particularly Blacks, Latinos, and Gays, aren’t also “in his sights for denial of rights.” An affront to the rights of the most vulnerable in America should be taken seriously for what it is — an attack on the rights of all of us as Americans! Stand up for Due Process before it’s too late!

PWS

01-23-18

DISORDER IN THE U.S. IMMIGRATION COURTS: SESSIONS “DECLARES WAR” ON HIS OWN IMMIGRATION JUDGES! — JUDGES’ ASSOCIATION (“NAIJ”) REPORTS MEMBERS REACTING WITH “DISBELIEF, SHOCK, CONFUSION, AND OUTRAGE” TO THE CONDESCENDING “McHENRY MEMO!” — NAIJ DEMANDS BARGAINING ON CASE QUOTAS!

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a retired member of the National Association of Immigration Judges (“NAIJ”). In that capacity, I received the following e-mail from our President, The Honorable A. Ashley Tabaddor (who is resident in the U.S. Immigration Court in Los Angeles California), acting in her NAIJ capacity. I republish that e-mail below with Judge Tabaddor’s permission. 

“Dear NAIJ Members,

 

We have been hearing much from our members regarding the recent Director’s email, dated January 17, 2018, publishing purported “Case Priorities and Immigration Court Performance Measures.”  Many have expressed their disbelief, shock, confusion, and outrage as to the published standards, in light of the severe backlogs in our courts.  We share your concerns.  NAIJ has demanded to bargain on implementation of “numeric based performance measures on Immigration Judges”, and the Agency had provided assurances to NAIJ that no individual IJ based quotas and deadlines will be imposed until they have fulfilled their obligation under labor law to bargain with us.  And under the law, the Agency is prohibited from imposing such standards until all our bargaining rights have been properly exhausted.   NAIJ is also fighting any infliction of quotas and deadlines on Immigration Judges through outreach to the public and Congress, and is investigating the possibility of legal action.

 

In addition, NAIJ is currently evaluating the memo to determine if there has been any breach in law with the issuance of this memo or any further action we can take under labor law with respect to it.

 

NAIJ is working diligently to fight the implementation of any “numeric based performance measures” on Judges, and ensure that any future standards that may be imposed on Judges or the Immigration Courts are legally defensible, fair, and would not encroach on our independent decision making authority.  Please stay tuned for further development.

 

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to myself or any of our NAIJ representatives.

The Honorable A. Ashley Tabaddor, President

National Association of Immigration Judges

DISCLAIMER:  The author is the President of the National Association of Immigration Judges.  The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the official position of the United States Department of Justice, the Attorney General, or the Executive Office for Immigration Review.   The views represent the author’s personal opinions, which were formed after extensive consultation with the membership of NAIJ.”

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

I’ve already noted the total preposterousness and tone-deafness of setting arbitrary “case completion goals” for a court system that is already working overtime but crumbling under incredible backlogs and outdated procedures and technology.

Make no mistake about it: those backlogs are not because of Judges, immigrants, or immigrants’ attorneys. They are the direct result of: 1) years of mismanagement and continuing improper political meddling by Sessions and his predecessors going back over several Administrations; and 2) an irresponsible lack of restraint and common sense priorities by DHS enforcement that has been encouraged, aided, and abetted by this Administration.

Under the Trump Administration, DHS line enforcement agents have been freed from any semblance of priorities and given essentially carte blanche to arrest anyone they feel like arresting and placing them into an already overwhelmed and crumbling U.S. Immigration Court System. Meanwhile, the Immigration Judges, who are struggling to provide due process, and have been stripped of any meaningful control over their own dockets, are treated like “assembly line workers” subject to “production quotas.” That’s no way to run a Due Process Court System, and it’s showing in some of the incorrect and unfair results that I report on regularly!

We need an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court, now! But Congress, which can’t perform the basic functions of governance, apparently isn’t interested in cleaning up the mess they created and enabled. So, with the system fast heading for complete collapse, it looks to me like, willing or not, the Article III U.S. Courts will be stuck with effectively placing the U.S. Immigration Courts in “judicial receivership” until some future Congress addresses the situation in a way that insures Constitutional Due Process of law for all.

A very bad day for the U.S. Justice System and for all who care about upholding Due Process under our Constitution.

 

PWS

01-19-20

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

18a0012p-06-6thGangs

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

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

OPINION  BY: Judge Bush.

SUMMARY (FROM OPINION):

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

KEY QUOTATION:

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

01-18-18

 

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

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

Milbank writes:

“This way madness lies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kirstjen Nielsen doesn’t know Norwegians are white?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

01-17-18

 

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

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

 

Sari Horwitz reports for the Washington Post:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the complete article at the above link.

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

01-17-18

 

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

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

Christie writes

“Sessions considers tying the hands of immigration judges.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

01-10-18

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

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

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

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

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

‘A huge step in the right direction’

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

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

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

PWS

01-10-18

 

THE GIBSON REPORT — 01-08-18

THE GIBSON REPORT 01-08-18

HEADLINES:

“TOP UPDATES

 

Sessions takes aim at administrative closure

o   ABC: Sessions posed detailed questions challenging the use of “administrative closures,” an increasingly common outcome that allows people to stay in the country without legal status. The attorney general invited feedback from advocates and others, after which time he may issue new instructions for immigration judges nationwide.

o   Matter of CASTRO-TUM, 27 I&N Dec. 187 (A.G. 2018): The Attorney General referred the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals to himself for review of issues relating to the authority to administratively close immigration proceedings, ordering that the case be stayed during the pendency of his review.

 

Acting ICE Director Wants to Arrest Politicians Running Sanctuary Cities

NYMag: In an interview Tuesday with Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto, Homan said political leaders in sanctuary cities, which don’t cooperate with ICE officials looking to make immigration arrests, are breaking the law when they “knowingly shield and harbor an illegal alien.” “That is a violation of 8 USC 1324. That’s an alien-smuggling statute. I’ve asked the Department of Justice to look at this,” he said.

 

OCC Trying to De-designate UACs?

Catholic Charities: Before IJ Kolbe: It was business as usual until a case that involved a UAC, 13 years old, present with step-father, after counsel stated they were pursuing Asylum, DHS handed her a letter stating that they’re giving her a letter de-designating her client. It all happened very fast, and it was unexpected. Kolbe did look surprise and stated that counsel could still send her application to USCIS and keep her up-to-date with the outcome. My question is, has anyone else had  this letter handed out to them? If so, can you share the letter so we can see what exact language DHS is using and prepare rebuttals?

 

ICE sending G-56 call-in letter after attempted raid

IDP: We just got a call from an individual who was deported (to the wrong country) in 2007, he then reentered in 2008.  He was recently arrested on a criminal case in Rockland County, NY.  About 3 weeks ago — shortly after one of his criminal court dates –, 9 agents, a mix of ICE and the local gang unit of the sheriff’s department, raided his home early in the morning.  He was at work and after waking up his sleeping children and speaking everyone in the home, the agents left without arresting anyone. A few days later, this individual received [a] G-56 letter from ICE in the mail, telling him to report to ERO at 201 Varick Street this Tuesday for “Case Review”, with his immigration documents and valid passport, which seems like a less resource-intensive tactic of ICE to take him into custody to re-deport him.

 

Trump Justice Department Pushes for Citizenship Question on Census, Alarming Experts

ProPublica: The Justice Department is pushing for a question on citizenship to be added to the 2020 census, a move that observers say could depress participation by immigrants who fear that the government could use the information against them. That, in turn, could have potentially large ripple effects for everything the once-a-decade census determines — from how congressional seats are distributed around the country to where hundreds of billions of federal dollars are spent.

 

Fewer family visas approved as Trump toughens vetting of immigrants: Reuters review

Reuters: The number of approvals dropped by nearly a quarter in the first nine months of 2017 to around 406,000 compared to the same period a year earlier when approvals were more than 530,000, despite a similar number of applications during both periods, USCIS data showed.

 

Immigration Clinic Represents Somali nationals in Class Action Lawsuit

ImmProf: The hearing will address whether the court has jurisdiction to consider the petitioners’ claim that they are entitled to a stay of removal while they seek reopening of their removal orders.

 

Motel 6 Gave Guest Information To ICE Agents, Lawsuit Says

NPR: Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued Motel 6 on Wednesday, alleging motel employees gave private information about thousands of guests to U.S. immigration authorities.

 

More workers say their bosses are threatening to have them deported

LA Times: Complaints over immigration-related retaliation threats surged last year in California, according to the Labor Commissioner’s Office. Through Dec. 22, workers had filed 94 immigration-related retaliation claims with the office, up from 20 in all of 2016 and only seven a year earlier.

 

US Commission on Civil Rights Concerned with Alleged Abusive Labor Practices at Immigration Detention Centers

AILA: The Commission calls for heightened oversight and transparency of the Voluntary Work Program within both government and privately-run detention centers.

 

Trump, lawmakers step up talks on immigrant ‘Dreamers’

Reuters: Urgent negotiations aimed at shielding young, undocumented immigrants from deportation intensified on Thursday as Republican U.S. senators emerged from a meeting with President Donald Trump expressing confidence a deal could be struck this month.

 

IJ Lamb’s Retirement

Empire Justice Center: Update 1/8/18: I spoke with IJ Lamb’s legal assistant this morning and she informed me that my individual scheduled for tomorrow was adjourned and all her hearings will be reassigned to a new judge.

 

ACTIONS

 

o   AILA: Call for Examples: Compelling Family Immigration Stories”

 

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

PWS

01-08-18

 

ELISE FOLEY @ HUFFPOST: TRUMP’S WHITE NATIONALIST AGENDA APPEARS ON TRACK TO SINK DREAMER AGREEMENT, PERHAPS RESULTING IN USG SHUTDOWN! – Sen. Durbin, Dems “Just Say No” To Restrictionist Measures!

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-daca-dreamers-dick-durbin_us_5a4fff0ce4b01e1a4b151ad1

Elise writes in HuffPost:

“WASHINGTON  ― President Donald Trump sent senators a lengthy set of demands on Friday that could tank a deal to help Dreamers ― young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children ― and might risk a government funding agreement in the process.

The document is essentially an immigration restrictionist wish list. It calls for a border wall, more immigration enforcement agents, punishment for so-called “sanctuary cities,” restrictions on citizens and legal residents sponsoring family members’ visas, and policies to make it easier to detain and deport undocumented immigrants. No dollar amounts were included in the list of demands, but The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Friday that Trump is seeking nearly $18 billion to pay for a border wall.

Democrats and immigrant rights activists have said they won’t accept the White House’s demands in a deal to grant legal status to Dreamers, hundreds of thousands of whom are at risk of losing deportation protections because Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program.

The list could be enough to trigger a Democratic revolt on a government funding bill that needs to pass later this month, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), whose office shared the White House’s list with reporters, said in a statement.

“President Trump has said he may need a good government shutdown to get his wall,” Durbin said. “With this demand, he seems to be heading in that direction. … It’s outrageous that the White House would undercut months of bipartisan efforts by again trying to put its entire wish-list of hardline anti-immigrant bills—plus an additional $18 billion in wall funding—on the backs of these young people.”

Trump ended DACA in September and said Congress should act to give more permanent protections to recipients of the two-year work permits and deportation relief. DACA recipients will begin to lose permits in greater numbers in March, although activists estimate they’re already losing them at a rate of about 122 per day.

In the months since Trump ended the program, the White House has put out long lists of immigration priorities, and Trump has made broad pronouncements in public comments and tweets, largely focused around building a wall, ending the diversity visa lottery and eliminating so-called “chain migration,” immigration restrictionists’ preferred term for family reunification visas.

The list of demands was initially created in October, with Stephen Miller, a Trump policy adviser, listed as the author of the document, according to the properties on the PDF file. But senators didn’t get a copy until Friday.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the document.

Democrats have said they are willing to give Trump some of what he wants on border security, such as more infrastructure, technology and funds, in exchange for legal status for Dreamers. But they, and Dreamers themselves, have argued any deal must be proportional — not everything Republicans want in exchange for legal status for one subset of the undocumented population. During comprehensive immigration reform efforts in 2013, for example, Democrats agreed to an overhaul of the legal immigration system, border security measures and enforcement as part of a package that would have also granted a path to legal status and eventual citizenship for much of the undocumented immigrant population.

Democrats, activists and even some Republicans have warned that piling on more immigration issues has the potential to sink a deal — it happened during past reform efforts and could again now.

The document the White House sent to senators on Friday could indicate the administration either thinks it can get Democrats to settle because of their desire to help Dreamers, or that it doesn’t really want a deal at all.

I am not a bargaining chip for Stephen Miller’s vendetta against brown and black people. Offering up my safety in exchange for the suffering of immigrant families is sick and we won’t stand for it. Greisa Martinez Rosas, advocacy director for United We Dream

The demands include ending the diversity visa lottery and limiting refugee intake, as well as allowing citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor only minor children and spouses for green cards ― shutting out the ability to bring over adult children or siblings. Trump has disparaged both the diversity visa lottery and “chain migration” as dangerous by citing two terror incidents allegedly perpetrated by people who entered through those programs, although there is no evidence there is a greater risk of terror by immigrants with those visas.

The White House also asked for funds to hire 10,000 additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and to give local police more authority to assist with deportation efforts. Another priority is to more easily penalize “sanctuary cities,” the loose term for jurisdictions that don’t fully cooperate with immigration enforcement, often because they view it as bad for community policing or because of constitutional concerns.

The list also includes changing policies for people seeking asylum and for unaccompanied children apprehended at the border, restricting relief and making it easier to quickly deport them. It would also mandate E-Verify, a system that allows employers to check immigration status of would-be hires, something immigrant advocates and some business interests oppose because there currently is no pathway for many undocumented people in the U.S. to get status and some industries say they can’t find enough willing legal workers.

The demands include ending the diversity visa lottery and limiting refugee intake, as well as allowing citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor only minor children and spouses for green cards ― shutting out the ability to bring over adult children or siblings. Trump has disparaged both the diversity visa lottery and “chain migration” as dangerous by citing two terror incidents allegedly perpetrated by people who entered through those programs, although there is no evidence there is a greater risk of terror by immigrants with those visas.

The White House also asked for funds to hire 10,000 additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and to give local police more authority to assist with deportation efforts. Another priority is to more easily penalize “sanctuary cities,” the loose term for jurisdictions that don’t fully cooperate with immigration enforcement, often because they view it as bad for community policing or because of constitutional concerns.

The list also includes changing policies for people seeking asylum and for unaccompanied children apprehended at the border, restricting relief and making it easier to quickly deport them. It would also mandate E-Verify, a system that allows employers to check immigration status of would-be hires, something immigrant advocates and some business interests oppose because there currently is no pathway for many undocumented people in the U.S. to get status and some industries say they can’t find enough willing legal workers.”

********************************************
Read the rest of Elise’s report at the link.
I think that “Dreamers” are a good place for the Dems to take a stand. And, given the “Bakuninist Wing” of the GOP (who share Trump’s desire to destroy Government, but are dissatisfied with the pace of the destruction), it’s going to be very difficult for Trump to get any type of budget passed without Democratic support.
The DHS needs an additional 10,000 agents like we all need holes in our heads. They don’t have enough legitimate law enforcement functions to perform with the staff they have; that’s why they have time for chasing after kids and stuffing their generally law-abiding parents into an already overwhelmed Immigration Court system for hearings that probably won’t take place until long after this Administration is history. (And, that’s even without Gonzo’s current “plan” which appears to be intentionally “jacking up” the Immigration Court backlog to more than 1,000,000 cases overnight by “recycling” all of the currently “administratively closed” cases!)
The words of Greisa Martinez Rosas, advocacy director for United We Dream,  are worth repeating and keeping in mind:
“I am not a bargaining chip for Stephen Miller’s vendetta against brown and black people. Offering up my safety in exchange for the suffering of immigrant families is sick and we won’t stand for it.”
PWS
01-06-17

GONZO’S WORLD: SESSIONS APPEARS READY TO ELIMINATE OR SEVERELY RESTRICT AUTHORITY OF EOIR JUDGES TO “ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSE” CASES!

For some time now, immigrant advocates have been fearing/expecting Attorney General Jeff Sessions to use his authority to “certify” BIA cases to himself as a means to undo or restrict BIA administrative precedents that might be helpful or favorable to migrants.

For those new to the practice, the U.S. immigration Court, including both the trial courts and the Appellate Division (“BIA”), is a “wholly owed subsidiary” of the Attorney General and the U.S. Department of Justice. The Attorney General gets to select U.S. Immigration Judges and BIA Appellate Judges, and they basically serve in their judicial positions at his pleasure (although, for the most part, they can’t be removed from their positions as DOJ Attorneys without cause — in other words, they can  be reassigned to non-judicial duties at the same pay and grade largely “at will”).

Additionally, the Attorney General has the authority to promulgate regulations governing the jurisdiction and authority of the Immigration Courts and the BIA. Beyond that, he can actually change the result in individual cases with which he disagrees by a regulatory device known as “certifying” cases to himself for final decision. This process, of course, also applies to BIA precedents, which otherwise are binding on U.S. Immigration Judges nationwide.

The process of certification has now begun. Today, Sessions “certified” a BIA case to himself for the apparent purpose of stripping or limiting the authority of the BIA and Immigration Judges to “administratively close” cases. “Administrative closure” is a method of removing the case from the court’s active docket (significantly, it then no longer counts toward the “backlog” of pending cases).

It is normally used for cases that are pending for adjudication somewhere within the USCIS. It had also been widely used, particularly during the Obama Administration, as a means of implementing decisions by the ICE Chief Counsel to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” or “PD” in particular humanitarian situations, as well as a way for removing so-called “DACA” grants from the courts’ active dockets.

The particular case certified is Matter of Castro-Tum, 27 I&N Dec. 87 (A.G. 2018). The BIA’s decision is unpublished (“non-precedcential”). However, Session’s real target appears to be the BIA’s precedents Matter of Avetisyan, 25 I&N Dec. 688 (BIA 2012), and Matter of W-Y-U-, 27 I&N Dec. 17 (BIA 2017), which gave Immigration Judges at least some independent authority to administratively close cases over the objection of a party (although, importantly, not the authority to close a case for “PD” without ICE Counsel’s consent). While Matter of Castro-Tum asks for briefing on a number of questions, it seems highly unlikely that Sessions went to the trouble of certifying the case to reaffirm, continue, or expand the use of “administrative closing.”

“Administrative closing” was initiated by the first EOIR Chief immigration Judge, the late William R. Robie, as a way of clearing court dockets of cases that were not actually under active consideration before the Immigration Court. It has been an effective way or reducing and prioritizing immigration Court dockets that has presented few problems in administration. Its elimination or restriction could lead to more “Aimless Docket Reshuffling” (“ADR”) or bigger backlogs.

Some advocates have even suggested that Sessions actually intends to maximize the Immigration Court’s already huge 660,000 case backlog to support a request for 1) a dramatic immediate increase in immigration Judge funding, or 2) a dramatic expansion of the number of individuals subject to so-called “Administrative (or “Expedited”) Removal” by DHS Enforcement officers without recourse to the immigration Court, or both.

Stay tuned to see which BIA precedents might be next on Session’s “chopping block.”

Here’s a copy of Matter of Castro-Tum:

https://www.justice.gov/eoir/page/file/1022366/download

Cite as 27 I&N Dec. 187 (A.G. 2018) Interim Decision #3911

Matter of Reynaldo CASTRO-TUM, Respondent

Decided by Attorney General January 4, 2018

U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General

The Attorney General referred the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals to himself for review of issues relating to the authority to administratively close immigration proceedings, ordering that the case be stayed during the pendency of his review.

BEFORE THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

Pursuant to 8 C.F.R. § 1003.l(h)(l)(i) (2017), I direct the Board of Immigration Appeals (“Board”) to refer this case to me for review of its decision. The Board’s decision in this matter is automatically stayed pending my review. See Matter of Haddam, A.G. Order No. 2380-2001 (Jan. 19, 2001). To assist me in my review, I invite the parties to these proceedings and interested amici to submit briefs on points relevant to the disposition of this case, including:

1. Do Immigration Judges and the Board have the authority, under any statute, regulation, or delegation of authority from the Attorney General, to order administrative closure in a case? If so, do the Board’s decisions in Matter of Avetisyan, 25 I&N Dec. 688 (BIA 2012), and Matter of W-Y-U-, 27 I&N Dec. 17 (BIA 2017), articulate the appropriate standard for administrative closure?

2. If I determine that Immigration Judges and the Board currently lack the authority to order administrative closure, should I delegate such authority? Alternatively, if I determine that Immigration Judges and the Board currently possess the authority to order administrative closure, should I withdraw that authority?

3. The regulations governing removal proceedings were promulgated for “the expeditious, fair, and proper resolution of matters coming before Immigration Judges.” 8 C.F.R. § 1003.12 (2017). Are there any circumstances where a docket management device other than administrative closure—including a continuance for good cause shown (8 C.F.R. § 1003.29 (2017)), dismissal without prejudice (8 C.F.R. § 1239.2(c) (2017)), or termination without prejudice (8 C.F.R. § 1239.2(f))—would be inadequate to promote that objective? Should there be different legal consequences, such as eligibility to apply for a provisional waiver of certain grounds of inadmissibility under the immigration laws or for benefits under federal or state programs, where a case has been administratively closed rather than continued?

4. If I determine that Immigration Judges and the Board do not have the authority to order administrative closure, and that such a power is unwarranted or unavailable, what actions should be taken regarding cases that are already administratively closed?

187

Cite as 27 I&N Dec. 187 (A.G. 2018) Interim Decision #3911

The parties’ briefs shall not exceed 15,000 words and shall be filed on or before February 2, 2018. Interested amici may submit briefs not exceeding 9,000 words on or before February 9, 2018. The parties may submit reply briefs not exceeding 6,000 words on or before February 20, 2018. All filings shall be accompanied by proof of service and shall be submitted electronically to AGCertification@usdoj.gov, and in triplicate to:

United States Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General, Room 5114 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20530

All briefs must be both submitted electronically and postmarked on or before the pertinent deadlines. Requests for extensions are disfavored.

188

If you want a copy of the BIA’s unpublished decision in Castro-Tum, go on over to LexisNexis Immigration Community at this link:

https://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/immigration/b/immigration-law-blog/archive/2018/01/05/a-g-sessions-refers-administrative-closure-question-to-himself-matter-of-castro-tum-27-i-amp-n-dec-187-a-g-2018.aspx?Redirected=true

PWS

01-05-18

THE HILL: Nolan Says That Expedited Removal Can “Ease The Burden” Of Immigration Detention; I Don’t Think So!

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/365829-expedited-removal-can-solve-concerns-with-immigration-detention

Nolan Rappaport writes at The Hill:

“Earlier this month, the DHS Office of Inspector General (IG) released a report on “Concerns about ICE Detainee Treatment and Care at Detention Facilities.” According to the ACLU, the way to address the violationsdescribed in this “damning new report” is to “release people from immigration detention and prohibit ICE from using dangerous and inhumane jails.”

The IG found problems at four of the five detention centers it inspected, but it is a stretch to call the report “damning” or to claim that ICE is “using dangerous and inhumane jails.” Many of the problems were relatively minor, and, apparently, all of them are going to be corrected.

In addition to federal service centers, ICE uses facilities owned and operated by private companies and state and local government facilities. The contracts of facilities that hold ICE detainees require them to adhere to the 2000 National Detention Standards, the 2008 Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS), or the 2011 PBNDS.

. . . .

The immigration court backlog is so long that, as of October 2017, the average wait for a hearing was 691 days, and Trump’s backlog reduction plan isn’t going to bring it under control.

ICE cannot release detainees because wait-times are too long. Many of them will not return for their hearings. During FY2015, 23.4 percent of the aliens who were released from custody did not return for their hearings, and releases were limited to cases in which there was reason to expect the aliens to return.

I see only two solutions, reduce the backlog by removing aliens from the immigration court and disposing of their cases in expedited removal proceedings, which do not require a hearing before an immigration judge, or have a large legalization program.

Which alternative do you expect the Republicans to choose?”

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Go on over to The Hill to read Nolan’s complete article.

Why Expedited Removal Isn’t the Answer (Leaving Aside The Substantial Legal and Moral Issues Involved):

  • Under Trump, DHS has already “maxed out” the use of expedited removal at the border. 
  • While Trump’s Executive Order called for an expansion of expedited removal to individuals who have been in the country for less than two years, that requires a regulatory change which, curiously, the DH’s has failed to accomplish in the nearly one year since the Executive Order.
  • Even with expedited removal expanded to two years, the vast majority of individuals comprising the “court backlog” have been there at least that long and therefore wouldn’t be candidates for expedited removal.
  • Of those limited number who have been in the U.S. for less than two years, many have already passed “credible fear” or “reasonable fear” and are, therefore, entitled to Individual hearings.
  • Some of those removed from the docket for expedited removal could still pass the “credible fear” or “reasonable fear” process before the Asylum Office and have their cases restored to the Immigraton Court docket (with an entirely new proceedings that would have to “start from scratch”).
  • Under BIA rulings, once proceedings have commenced before the Immigration Court, the DHS can’t unilaterally remove them from the court’s docket for expedited removal. It requires a DHS motion to terminate, a chance for the respondent to be heard in opposition, and a decision  by the Immigration Judge. Given the administrative mess at both EOIR and DHS Chief Counsel, filing and responding to those motions can be an administrative problem. Moreover, although almost all motions to terminate for expedited removal ultimately are granted by the Immigraton Judges, the termination is a “final order” subject to appeal to the BIA.
  • Individuals placed in expedited removal whose “credible fear’ or “reasonable fear” claims are rejected, have a right to expedited review before an Immigraton Judge. Such reviews generally take precedence over other types of cases, but do not produce “final orders” from the Immigraton Judge. At some level, ratcheting up the expedited removal process actually inhibits the processing of previously scheduled cases before the Immigration Court.

What Does Work:

  • Alternatives to Detention (“ADT) such as ankle bracelet monitoring. See, e.g.,  http://lirs.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/The-Real-Alternatives-to-Detention-FINAL-06.27.17.pdf   
  • Government statistics show that juveniles with lawyers appear for their hearings over 95% of the time! See, e.g.https://www.justice.gov/eoir/file/852516/download
    • Recent studies of results of The New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, which guarantees lawyers to respondents, showed that such represented individuals were 12 times more likely to win their cases. See https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/11/9/16623906/immigration-court-lawyer
    • This strongly suggests that immigration hearings conducted for unrepresented individuals are inherently unfair and a denial of due process, something that should be (but isn’t) the number one concern of the DOJ and EOIR.
    • My own experience at the Arlington Immigration court was that individuals 1) represented by counsel , and 2) with applications for relief filed showed up for their hearings nearly 100% of the time. Indeed, beyond criminal record and family ties, those were the two most significant factors for me in setting immigration bonds.

An Administration truly interested in improving the performance of the Immigration Courts, achieving due process, and lessening the need for immigration detention would be working closely with NGOs, bar associations, states and localities, and ADT providers to develop cooperative  ways of maximizing representation in Immigraton Court, But, this Administration is far more interested in advancing a xenophobic, White Nationalist agenda than it is in fairness, due process, or solving problems.

PWS

12-23-17