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.”

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

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