PROFESSOR STEVE YALE-LOEHR’S MOVING TRIBUTE TO JUAN OSUNA: “A LIFE WELL-LIVED BUT CUT TOO SHORT!”

Juan Osuna: A Life Well-Lived But Cut Too Short

AILA Doc. No. 17082230 | Dated August 22, 2017
By Stephen Yale-Loehr*

Death felled a giant of immigration law and policy last week when Juan P. Osuna, age 54, died unexpectedly of an apparent heart attack. Juan worked for seventeen years as a senior immigration legal advisor in the Justice Department for both Democratic and Republican administrations. Juan had recently resigned as director of the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review and was contemplating the next chapter of his remarkable life when he passed away.

Juan was an immigrant from Colombia, and his career is an immigrant success story. I hired Juan in 1988 while he was a law student to summarize federal immigration decisions for Interpreter Releases, a weekly immigration newsletter. When Juan graduated he joined the Interpreter Releases staff as assistant editor. After I left DC to practice immigration law and teach at Cornell, Juan became managing editor. We both worked with the legendary Maury Roberts, former chair of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).

Juan’s government service began in 2000 as a BIA member. He rose rapidly through the ranks at the Justice Department, serving at various times as BIA board chair, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, and Associate Deputy Attorney General in charge of immigration policy and other issues. He was a frequent public speaker and testified several times before Congress about the immigration court system.

Read Steve’s full tribute at this link:

http://aila.org/about/announcements/in-memoriam/juan-osuna-a-life-well-lived-but-cut-too-short

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PWS

08-23-17

Continue reading PROFESSOR STEVE YALE-LOEHR’S MOVING TRIBUTE TO JUAN OSUNA: “A LIFE WELL-LIVED BUT CUT TOO SHORT!”

DREAM ON: Cornell Duo Says America Needs More Refugees To Be Really Great — They’re Right, Of Course, But Truth Is Irrelevant In The “Parallel Universe” of Trump’s America!

http://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/spotlights/Make-America-Great-Again-Admit-More-Refugees-to-the-US.cfm

Professor Stephen Yale-Loehr and Aaron El Sabrout write in honor of World Refugee Day (June 20):

“Today is World Refugee Day, a day to commemorate the strength, perseverance, and courage of displaced people around the world. Over 65 million people worldwide are forcibly displaced from their homes, the highest number since World War II. Turkey alone has accepted nearly 3 millionrefugees from Syria.

In our current political climate, some consider refugees a security threat and a drain on national resources. But America benefits economically, socially, and morally by accepting more refugees.

A new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that after six years in the United States, refugees work at higher rates than citizens. A similar 2016 study by the Tent Foundationfound that refugees fill gaps in the labor market, work harder to learn skills and languages than economic migrants, and have a “dynamic” impact on growth.

The myth that refugees drain a nation’s economic resources is false. Yes, refugees initially require a substantial resettlement cost (approximately $15,000), and often initially need welfare services. However, after eight years in the United States, refugees receive welfare at the same rate as U.S. citizens with similar education and language skills. Over a 20-year period, refugees in the U.S. pay an average of $21,000 more in taxes than the initial cost of resettling them. In fact, a study by Texas A&M professor Kalena Cortes shows that over time, refugees tend to out-earn other immigrants and add more value to the economy than the initial cost of resettling them. For example, Vietnamese-Americans, many of whom arrived as refugees, tend to be more financially stable and more employed than the average American, and therefore less likely to need welfare benefits.

Refugees play a key role in creating new jobs and raising overall wages. This is in part because they are more likely than other groups to open small businesses, creating new jobs rather than taking old ones. For example, refugees were a major factor in stabilizing the economy of Utica, NY, because they filled important gaps in the labor force and created greater economic demand for goods.Even when refugees do low-skilled work, they do not displace American workers. A study by scientists at the University of California, Davis and the University of Copenhagen found that an influx of low-wage immigrant labor tends to raise wages for everyone.

Refugees also contribute tremendously to innovation and growth. Examples of famous refugees or children of refugees who have advanced U.S. culture and knowledge include Marc Chagall, Gloria Estefan, Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger, Enrico Fermi, Steve Jobs, and Albert Einstein.

That history is in jeopardy. President Trump issued an executive order in March slashing refugee admissions from 110,000 to 50,000 this year and temporarily suspends all refugee admissions. That order, which federal courts have temporarily blocked, insults our history and our legacy. We have a precedent of being welcoming and gracious. That precedent is not just rooted in altruism; accepting refugees is good for America. It’s time to step up and embrace our history of welcoming people fleeing persecution around the world. As a country, we have an economic and moral imperative to be what we once promised we would be: a refuge for the world’s huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.”

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Stephen Yale-Loehr is Professor of Immigration Law Practice at Cornell Law School, where he co-directs an asylum clinic. Aaron El Sabrout is a law student at Cornell Law School.

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Sorry, Steve & Aaron. Truth, values, morality, and simple human decency play no role in this debate. Refugees are foreigners, many with different religions, other cultures, other languages, and non-white skins (we wouldn’t seriously be having this debate if all refugees were white, English speaking, Christians from, say, Australia, Canada, the UK, and New Zealand). So in the world of Trump, his Xenophobic (and sometimes also racist) followers, and their GOP “fellow travelers” that’s all you need to know.

It’s not really about making America Great or keeping us safe; it’s about building political power by stoking xenophobia and unjustified resentment. And, the target is by no means just refugees and other migrants. No, it’s also about ginning up resentment against American citizens of Hispanic, Black, Arabic, and to some extent Asian American descent. Not coincidentally, these ethnic groups often are thought to vote more for Democrats than the GOP.

Happy Refugee Day!

PWS

06-22-17

NICHOLAS KULISH IN THE NYT: TORTURED IN VENEZUELA, HANDCUFFED BY ICE @ THE MIAMI ASYLUM OFFICE! — DHS Continues To Abuse Legal Authority, Clog Backlogged U.S. Immigration Courts! My Quote: “Why clog an already clogged court docket with a case that looks like a slam dunk?”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/13/us/asylum-torture-venezuela.html

Nicholas reports:

“Marco Coello, then a skinny 18-year-old high school student, was grabbed by plainclothes agents of the Venezuelan security services as he joined a 2014 demonstration against the government in Caracas.

They put a gun to his head. They attacked him with their feet, a golf club, a fire extinguisher. They tortured him with electric shocks. Then Mr. Coello was jailed for several months, and shortly after his release, he fled to the United States.

Human Rights Watch extensively documented his case in a report that year. The State Department included him in its own human rights report on Venezuela in 2015. With such an extensive paper trail of mistreatment in his home country, his lawyer, Elizabeth Blandon, expected a straightforward asylum interview when Mr. Coello appeared at an immigration office this April in Miami.

“I had this very naïve idea that we were going to walk in there and the officer was going to say, ‘It’s an honor to meet you,’” said Ms. Blandon, an immigration law expert in Weston, Fla.

Instead, he was arrested and taken to a detention facility on the edge of the Everglades. He was now a candidate for deportation. “Every time they would move me around, I would fear that they were going to take me to deport me,” said Mr. Coello, now 22.

Mr. Coello’s case drew extensive media coverage in both Miami and Caracas and, eventually, the intervention of Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. The senator helped secure Mr. Coello’s release, though he could still be deported.

The case may have been a sign of just how far the government is willing to go to carry out President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

“It’s very unusual — almost unprecedented — that ICE would arrest an asylum applicant who is at a U.S.C.I.S. office waiting for their asylum interview,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration law professor at Cornell Law School.”

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Just because arresting individuals believed to be in the U.S. without authorization is legal doesn’t mean that it’s not stupid or wasteful in many cases. Cases like this belong in the Asylum Office.

In a well-functioning system, Mr. Coello likely would have been granted asylum following his interview. Instead, he’s on an already overcrowded U.S. Immigration Court docket with a merits hearing scheduled for approximately one year from now.

What does the U.S. gain from these types of wasteful enforcement actions? What message are we sending to Mr. Coello and others who will eventually become full members of our society? What kind of messages are we sending to Venezuela and those attempting to escape from some of the world’s most brutal governments?

Read Nicholas’s complete report, which contains more quotations from me and others, at the above link.

PWS

06-13-17

Has Retired U.S. Immigration Judge Wayne Iskra’s Famous “Two Taco Rule” For Material Support Scored A Comeback? — Recent Unpublished BIA Seems To Be “Channeling Iskra” — And, That’s A Good Thing!

My good friend and esteemed retired colleague Judge Wayne Iskra of the Arlington Immigration Court used to apply a basic common sense rule: handing over your lunch bag with a couple of tacos (or a ham sandwich) or the equivalent would not be considered “material” support. I don’t remember him ever getting reversed on it; perhaps nobody wanted to appeal. I also used it with success during my time in Arlington.

Now, it seems like a BIA panel is thinking along the same lines in an unpublished opinion written by Appellate Immigration Judge John Guendelsberger for a panel that also included Chairman/Chief Appellate Immigration Judge David Neal and Appellate Immigration Judge Molly Kendall Clark.

Read the entire, relatively short, opinion here.

BIA Dec. 5-18-17_Redacted

Seems that this is just the type of important issue on which the BIA should issue a precedent decision. I’m not sure that all BIA panels are handling this issue the same way.

Thanks to Professor Stephen Yale-Loehr at Cornell Law and Dan Kowalski over at LexisNexis for sending this my way.

PWS

05-30-17

 

My Message To Cornell Law — “Fight For Due Process” — Join The “New Due Process Army” — Due Process In Peril At The U.S. Immigration Court!

I spoke to an audience of approximately 120 members of the Cornell University community in Ithaca on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, as part of the Berger International Programs Lecture Series at Cornell Law.  Many thanks to Professor Stephen Yale-Loehr for inviting me.

Read my entire speech

“EXISTENTIALISM AND THE MEANING OF LIFE AT THE U.S. IMMIGRATION COURT – CORNELL LAW VERSION”

here:

EXISTENTIALISM — Cornell — AND THE MEANING OF LIFE AT THE U

Here are a few “Highlights:”

“Sadly, the Immigration Court System is moving further away from that due process vision. Instead, years of neglect, misunderstanding, mismanagement, and misguided priorities imposed by the U.S. Department of Justice have created judicial chaos with an expanding backlog now exceeding an astounding one half million cases and no clear plan for resolving them in the foreseeable future.”

“Nobody has been hit harder by this preventable disaster than asylum seekers, particularly scared women and children fleeing for their lives from the Northern Triangle of Central America. In Immigration Court, notwithstanding the life or death issues at stake, unlike criminal court there is no right to an appointed lawyer.”

“First, and foremost, the Immigration Courts must return to the focus on due process as the one and only mission. The improper use of our due process court system by political officials to advance enforcement priorities and/or send “don’t come” messages to asylum seekers, which are highly ineffective in any event, must end. That’s unlikely to happen under the DOJ – as proved by over three decades of history, particularly recent history.”

“This is hardly “through teamwork and innovation being the world’s best administrative tribunals guaranteeing fairness and due process for all!” These unusually low asylum grant rates are impossible to justify in light of the generous standard for well-founded fear established by the Supreme Court in Cardoza-Fonseca and the BIA in Mogharrabi, and the regulatory presumption of future fear arising out of past persecution that applies in many asylum cases. Yet, the BIA has only recently and fairly timidly addressed the manifest lack of respect for asylum seekers and failure to guarantee fairness and due process for such vulnerable individuals in some cases arising in Atlanta and other courts with unrealistically low grant rates.”

“Over the past 16 years, the BIA’s inability or unwillingness to aggressively stand up for the due process rights of asylum seekers and to enforce the fair and generous standards required by American law have robbed our Immigration Court System of credibility and public support, as well as ruined the lives of many who were denied protection that should have been granted.   We need a BIA which functions like a Federal Appellate Court and whose overriding mission is to ensure that the due process vision of the Immigration Courts becomes a reality rather than an unfulfilled promise.”

“So, do we abandon all hope? No, of course not!   Because there are hundreds of newer lawyers out there who are former Arlington JLCs, interns, my former student, and those who have practiced before the Arlington Immigration Court.”

“They form what I call the “New Due Process Army!” And, while my time on the battlefield is winding down, they are just beginning the fight! They will keep at it for years, decades, or generations — whatever it takes to force the U.S. immigration judicial system to live up to its promise of “guaranteeing fairness and due process for all!”

“Folks, the U.S Immigration Court system is on the verge of collapse. And, there is every reason to believe that the misguided “enforce and detain to the max” policies being pursued by this Administration will drive the Immigration Courts over the edge. When that happens, a large chunk of the entire American justice system and the due process guarantees that make American great and different from most of the rest of the world will go down with it.”

“Now is the time to take a stand for fundamental fairness! Join the New Due Process Army! Due process forever!”

 

PWS

03/10/17