NEWSWEEK: How The Trump Administration’s Wrong-Headed Policies Threaten To Turn Silicon Valley Into The “Next Detroit!”

http://www.newsweek.com/2017/09/29/donald-trumps-policies-could-turn-silicon-valley-another-detroit-667662.html

Kevin Maney reports:

D“The end of the 1960s turned out to be Detroit’s apex. In the early 1970s, dubious U.S. economic and foreign policy led to disaster when the Middle East OPEC nations initiated an oil embargo. Gas became scarce and expensive, and Detroit was caught focusing on the wrong products—ostentatious gas-guzzlers—at the wrong time, giving Japanese makers of small cars an opening in the U.S. market. Pulitzer Prize–winning auto historian Joseph White wrote about two fateful mistakes that made things worse. First, “Detroit underestimated the competition,” he said. The likes of Toyota and Honda had become much more adept than industry executives realized. Second, the U.S. companies “handled failure better than success.” Detroit’s decades of triumph set up the hubris, waste and bad practices that came to haunt it.

From there, it was a short trip to loss of market leadership, layoffs, plant closings and a city that fell into a desperate decline.Think that could never happen to Silicon Valley? Like 1970s Detroit, Silicon Valley seems to be handling success rather badly. Look at the twisted mess at Uber and the culture wars tearing at Google’s guts. Insanely high valuations of private companies are starting to look like a perilous pyramid scheme Bernie Madoff might admire. High costs and ever-worsening congestion are making the San Francisco Bay Area nearly unlivable for all but the superrich. At the same time, much of U.S. tech is underestimating the competition, particularly from China and the European Union.Making it all worse, the Trump administration seems to be doing everything it can to help shove Silicon Valley off its pedestal. Trump’s policies on trade, immigration and investment are giving competing nations openings to steal important chunks of Silicon Valley’s global leadership, lure away talent and divert capital to other rising tech centers—even France. (You know, the country President George W. Bush once said doesn’t even “have a word for entrepreneur .”)

Related: Is the Silicon Valley Bubble about to Pop?The Silicon Valley tech industry isn’t going to suddenly crumble and vanish. Detroit’s auto industry didn’t disappear either. But there’s a clear demarcation point in the early 1970s, when Detroit’s worldwide hegemony ended. The CEOs, founders and wizards of Silicon Valley would be misguided to think they’re immune from any similar stumble off their pedestal.

. . . .

Most damaging of all may be the policies of the Trump administration, which has been implementing or proposing one policy after another that puts the industry at a competitive disadvantage.Earlier this year, the president initiated a review of H-1B visas for foreign workers, which tech companies rely on to bring in talent. More recently, the Trump administration delayed —and may kill—the International Entrepreneur Rule, which would make it easier for foreign company founders to bring their startups to the U.S. “At a time when countries around the world are doing all they can to attract and retain talented individuals to come to their shores to build and grow innovative companies, the Trump administration is signaling its intent to do the exact opposite,” said Bobby Franklin, president and CEO of the National Venture Capital Association.And in early September, Trump said he will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has allowed undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to stay. Now, they may be deported. Some are valuable employees of tech companies. Microsoft pledged to pay the legal expenses of any employees who face deportation as DACA ends. Microsoft President Brad Smith called Trump’s decision “a big step back for our entire country,” and the industry worries that it will further discourage talented foreigners from coming to the U.S.Other countries have started pursuing international talent like sharks circling surfers at dusk. “I myself hope that many of these engineers will come to China to work for us,” said Robin Li, CEO of Chinese tech giant Baidu. Canada’s minister of innovation, Navdeep Bains, launched a recruitment program, saying, “We want to be open to people.” French President Emmanuel Macron announced that tech talent can “find in France a second homeland.”Even more detrimental to U.S. tech are two other Trump decisions: pulling out of the Paris climate accord and dumping the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement on trade with Asia.”

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Read the rest of the story at the link.

 

Government by the arrogant, ignorant, incompetent, biased, and unqualified has its downsides! It’s something that we’re all going to learn over the next four years, assuming that Trump doesn’t get us into a world-ending nuclear war before then. Perhaps one of the stupidest consequences of some very stupid policies: one of the main beneficiaries is likely to be China, one of our biggest tech competitors, and unlike Canada, also a potential hostile military threat! Trump and his cronies are dangers to our national security!

PWS

09-21-17

 

 

 

 

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

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

The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison) reports:

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

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

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

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

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

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Read the rest of the article at the link.

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

09-10-17

 

 

 

 

 

BRET STEPHENS IN THE NYT: DREAMERS & MIGRANTS (DOCUMENTED OR NOT) MAKE AMERICA GREAT!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/01/opinion/daca-trump-dreamers-immigration.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region%C2%AEion=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region

Stephens writes:

“A common American conceit is that we attract brilliant foreigners because we have brilliant things: great universities, vast financial resources, a dynamic economy, high-tech. That gets things mostly backward. It’s because we have brilliant foreigners that we have those things in the first place. Google. Comcast. eBay. Kraft. Pfizer. AT&T. They all had immigrants as founders.

Overall, a 2016 study by the Partnership for the New American Economy found that 40 percent of all Fortune 500 companies were founded or co-founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. Taken together they employed 19 million people and had revenues of $4.8 trillion.

Opponents of a liberal immigration policy often insist they welcome legal immigrants and only object to illegal ones. Rubbish. The immigration reform bill introduced in Congress this year by Republicans Tom Cotton and David Perdue and endorsed by Donald Trump aims to cut legal immigration by half.

Restrictionists also argue that we need to favor newcomers with “skills” and educational credentials. More rubbish. Jan Koum arrived in the U.S. from Ukraine in 1992 as a 16-year-old boy with his mother, living off food stamps. She worked as a babysitter. He later dropped out of college. In 2009 he came up with an idea for a mobile messaging app. Five years later Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $22 billion.

Should it make any difference to WhatsApp’s billion-plus users that Koum arrived in the United States legally? And if it turned out that he hadn’t, should he be required to leave the country, presumably so he can pay income tax — and create jobs — in his native Ukraine?

That would be self-defeating. But it’s the fate that may soon await 800,000 or so young people who were brought without visas to the United States as children, grew up in the country, in some cases only speak English, and now face deportation because the Trump administration seems poised to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that allowed them to stay in school or their jobs.

The nativist wing of the right thinks DACA is unconstitutional. That’s not clear, though it would be on firmer legal ground if Congress turned DACA into law by passing Senators Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin’s Dream Act. In the meantime, allowing these young dreamers to stay is ordinary humanity and enlightened policy. If just 10 of those 800,000 turn into future Jan Koums, the program will have more than paid for itself.

 

It isn’t the whole truth to say that immigrants come to our shores because of our wealth. They also come in hope of being welcomed by a country whose astounding faith in human possibility includes a faith in them, however poor, unkempt — or even undocumented — they may sometimes be.

Lose that faith, and lose what’s best about America, too.”

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Read the complete op-ed at the link.

Stephens doesn’t know squat about climate change. But, he does understand the overriding value of immigration, whether documented or not, to America and our future as a great nation. He also exposes the bogus rationales employed by supporters of the RAISE Act to “dress up” their White Nationalist agenda.

PWS

09-02-17

DEPORTATIONS RISE UNDER TRUMP, BUT BORDER CROSSINGS ALSO CONTINUE TO TICK UPWARDS! — Read My OpEssay: “Due Process Disaster Is Brewing In The U.S. Immigration Courts — Is Anybody Paying Attention?”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/deportation-orders-up-under-trump-fewer-prevail-in-immigration-court/2017/08/08/d3f0a6a6-7c74-11e7-9d08-b79f191668ed_story.html?utm_term=.848b8a83c250&wpisrc=nl_daily202&wpmm=1

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

“Federal immigration courts ordered 57,069 people to leave the United States in the first six months of the Trump administration, up nearly 31 percent over the same period last year, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

Additionally, 16,058 people prevailed in their immigration cases, or had them closed, allowing them to stay in the United States, according to the data, which tallied orders issued from Feb. 1 to July 31. That total marked a 20.7 percent drop from the 20,255 immigrants who prevailed at the same time last year.

In a news release, the Justice Department said the notoriously backlogged court system is making a return to the “rule of law” under President Trump, who has vowed to speed deportations. But officials did not say how many of the orders were issued in absentia, meaning to immigrants who did not attend their hearings and therefore could not immediately be deported.

The Washington Post reported last week that thousands of immigrants, some seeking protection from violence in their homelands, have missed their court dates in recent years, often because they did not know about them or were afraid to show up. Advocates for immigrants have also raised concern about the lack of legal aid for immigrants, especially for those in immigration jails.

Last month, the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges said courts are severely understaffed, with about 300 immigration judges juggling a quickly rising caseload. An estimated 600,000 cases are pending nationwide.

United We Dream, an immigrant youth-led organization, protested ICE raids at Lafayette Square near the White House in February. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

Unlike the traditional federal court system, which is independent of the executive branch of government, immigration courts are administered by the Justice Department.

That agency said that from Feb. 1 to July 31, judges issued 73,127 final immigration decisions, an increase of 14.5 percent over the same period in 2016.

Of those decisions, 49,983 were deportation orders, an increase of nearly 28 percent from the same period in 2016. The rest were orders to leave the United States voluntarily, a process by which immigrants generally face fewer barriers if they wish to apply to return to the United States in the future.

Federal officials attributed the increase in case completions to Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order dispatching more than 100 immigration judges to immigration jails across the country. More than 90 percent of cases heard in jails have led to orders to leave the United States. The department has also hired 54 new judges to work in immigration courts since Trump took office. More are being hired every month.

Dana Leigh Marks, an immigration judge based in San Francisco who heads the national association, wrote in Newsday last month that immigration courts should be separated from the Justice Department to ensure “judicial independence and protection from political influences.”

“More skilled court management, provided by experienced court administrators, rather than a law enforcement agency with priorities other than fairness and efficiency, would greatly enhance our ability to complete the tasks,” she wrote. “For example, cases would not be docketed to make political statements or serve as a show of force by the U.S. government.”

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Due Process Disaster Is Brewing In The U.S. Immigration Courts — Is Anybody Paying Attention? 

by Paul Wickham Schmidt

U.S. Immigration Judge (Retired)

Meanwhile, according to CQ Roll Call, arrests of undocumented individuals at the Southern Border rose 13.1% in July, the second consecutive monthly increase. Overall, DHS’s CBP reports arresting more family units and fewer unaccompanied children during the first 10 months of FY 2017.

While CBP “fobs off” the increases as “seasonal,” they do cast some doubt on whether the Trump Administration’s “send ’em all back asap” enforcement approach is really going to decrease undocumented migration in the long run. It might simply be a case of professional human smuggling operations revising their methods and raising their prices to adjust to higher risk factors and the “market” taking time to adjust to the changing practices and price increases. Moreover, to date, neither increases in removal orders, some as noted by Horwitz undoubtedly “in absentia orders” issued without full due process protections, nor increases in the number of U.S. Immigration Judges has stopped the growth of the backlog of cases before the U.S. Immigration Courts, currently estimated at more than 610,000 pending cases!

Apparently, under the Trump/Sessions regime success in the U.S. Immigration Court System is no longer measured by improvements in due process and fairness or by insuring that the individuals coming before the court get the protections and relief to which they are entitled under the law. Nope! The “rule of law” in Immigration Court now appears synonymous with turning that Court System into a “deportation mill” — just another whistle stop on the “deportation express.”

In other words, we’ve now come “full circle” since 1983. Then, EOIR was created to get the Immigration Courts out of INS to enhance due process and overcome a public perception that the courts were merely functioning as adjuncts of INS enforcement. The U.S. Immigration Courts and EOIR essentially have been “recaptured” by DHS  enforcement.

EOIR has once again become an insulated “inbred” agency. Judicial appointments are made by DOJ politicos almost exclusively from the ranks of government attorneys, primarily DHS and DOJ prosecutors, just like when the “Legacy INS” ran the courts. Dockets are out of control, management is haphazard, technology is outdated and inadequate, and clerical staffing shortages are chronic. Staffing and docketing priorities are designed to accommodate enforcement priorities and to maximize removals, rather than to promote due process and fairness. Training and attention to the real “rule of law” are afterthoughts. Public service is a dirty word.

Morale among those at EOIR who care about the due process judicial mission has been steadily declining even as already sky-high stress levels continue to ratchet up. Numbers and removals have replaced fairness, professionalism, and unbiased decision making as objectives.

There are rumors that the Immigration Courts are going to be taken out of the DOJ and “reintegrated” into DHS to reflect their “true function” as part of the deportation mechanism. I think it’s unlikely unless Sessions becomes the new Secretary of DHS. But, really, what difference would it make? Sessions basically “reassumed” the immigration enforcement functions that once were in the Attorney General’s portfolio but were sent over to DHS when it was created after 9-11. Kelly merely signed off and nodded agreement to what Sessions told him to do.

A move by the DOJ apparently is afoot to revamp the judicial “evaluation system” to rate Immigration Judges more like “lower level DOJ attorneys” rather than judicial officials exercising independent judgment. Such bureaucratic ratings systems often elevate “productivity” above quality, value “following agency priorities” over exercising independent judgment, and serve to give the politicos at the DOJ more control and leverage over the day to day functioning of what is supposed to be a judiciary free from political influence or intimidation. Moreover, such ratings are often prepared by “supervisory judges” many of whom hear no cases and most of whom have little daily contact with the Immigration  Judges they nominally “supervise.” In a well-functioning judicial system, the local “Chief Judge” is a leader and problem solver, not a “supervisor” of her or his peers.

At this point, the Trump Administration clearly has no interest in fixing the festering problems in the U.S. Immigration Courts; they are determined to make things worse. While there is some bipartisan support in Congress for an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court, to date it hasn’t coalesced into any specific, politically viable legislation.

That basically leaves it to the Article III Federal Courts to decide whether or not to fix the Immigration Courts. One possibility is that they will decide that it is too much: just forget due process for foreign nationals, rubber stamp the removal orders, stay above the fray, and become another “whistle stop on the deportation express.”

A more optimistic possibility is that they will draw the line on the due process nightmare in the U.S. Immigration Courts being promoted by the Administration. But, that will make the Article III Courts a major “track block” on the deportation express. The trains will derail and pile up on the doorstep, and the Article III Courts can count on little if any help or resources from Congress in untangling the mess and getting things back on track. Understandably, from a practical if not a legal point of view, some Article III Judges aren’t going to want to go there.

One thing is certain — things can’t continue they way they are going now. Something has got to give! And, when it does, the Article III Courts will be forced to do some self-examination and decide whether they are going to be part of the problem, or part of the solution. Are life-tenured Article III judgeships in essence about securing life sinecures, or about taking a perhaps unpopular and labor intensive stand for Constitutional Due Process for all, even the weakest and most vulnerable among us? We’ll soon find out!

PWS

08-09-17

WSJ: H-1B Visa Demand Falls — Technological Changes Responsible?

https://www.wsj.com/article_email/use-of-h1b-visas-fell-before-donald-trumps-critiques-of-program-1496682157-lMyQjAxMTE3NTA3NjQwMTYxWj/

The WSJ reports:

“WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump has suggested he might find a way to cut the number of coveted H-1B visas awarded to outsourcing firms. But the companies appear to be heading in that direction all on their own, amid technological changes.

Outsourcers’ use of H-1B visas, which are reserved for highly skilled foreign workers, fell last year, before Mr. Trump won the Republican presidential nomination, new data show. The slide occurred alongside increasing criticism of the firms’ business model.

Mr. Trump has criticized the lottery that is now used, where companies all have equal chances at the scarce visas, and signed an executive order directing a review of the program. The order called for changes that would ensure visas are awarded to “the most skilled and the highest paid” applicants, to avoid crowding out American workers.

Six of the seven prominent Indian-based outsourcing companies that do work in the U.S. received fewer H-1B visas in 2016 than they did in 2015, and as a group their numbers dropped 37%, according to a new analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy, a think tank that backs increasing the total number of H-1B visas available. Most outsourcers based in the U.S. and elsewhere also saw declines.

For instance, H-1B visas awarded to India’s biggest outsourcer by revenue, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., plummeted by 56% to 2,040 last year from 4,674 in 2015. For Wipro Ltd, another major Indian firm, the number also dropped by more than half to 1,474 from 3,079 in 2015.

Other research from previous years shows that the use of H-1Bs by individual outsourcing companies peaked in 2012 and 2013, sliding ever since. Many expect that the number of visas given to outsourcers will decline again for 2017, but those numbers aren’t yet available.

Meanwhile, the number of visas awarded to some large U.S. technology firms, who have a different business model and compete with outsourcers for visas, increased last year. Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Apple Inc. all received more visas than they did in 2015, the new data show. Such companies typically use the visas to recruit employees with rare skills that attract higher wages than staff employed by outsourcers, and have come under less criticism.

Each year, 85,000 H-1B visas are available, and for the last several years they have been awarded by lottery conducted in April because of overwhelming demand.

Following this year’s lottery, Mr. Trump criticized the process and suggested more visas should go to high-paid jobs as opposed to a lottery where each application has equal chance. Because many outsourcing jobs are paid the minimum required to comply with certain rules—around $60,000 a year—many interpreted Mr. Trump’s comments as a warning to the outsourcers and a possible boon to big tech companies that pay high salaries.”

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Read the full WSJ article at the link.

I also blogged about the need for H1-B reforms yesterday.

 

http://wp.me/p8eeJm-VJ

PWS

06-06-17

NOT YOUR FATHER’S FOURTH CIRCUIT: Technology, Innovation, & A More Diverse Judiciary Change Tribunal Sitting In The Former Capital Of The Confederacy!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/after-a-ruling-on-trumps-travel-ban-all-eyes-are-on-the-4th-circuit/2017/06/02/b7a555f2-4545-11e7-bcde-624ad94170ab_story.html?utm_term=.825d55d2e2d7

Carl Tobias reports for the Washington Post.

“The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit is a court in transition. The Richmond-based appeals court was long considered the most ideologically conservative of the 12 regional circuits, the intermediate appellate tribunals across the country that are the courts of last resort for 99 percent of appeals. When a case heard in Maryland and Virginia federal district courts is appealed, it goes to the 4th Circuit. This is the court that has resolved appeals involving Maryland gun laws and Virginia transgender students’ rights, for example.

And change has come to the 4th Circuit.

This was recently on display when the entire court — all judges in active service who did not have conflicts of interest — substantially affirmed a Maryland district court’s nationwide injunction that blocked enforcement of President Trump’s revised travel ban. Notably, a majority of the judges proclaimed that the Constitution “protects Plaintiffs’ right to challenge the Executive Order that in text speaks in vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.”

For decades, the 4th Circuit was a conservative stronghold. Seated in the former capital of the Confederacy, the court hears appeals in the Lewis F. Powell Jr. Courthouse, a building that served as the official headquarters for Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The circuit retains Southern manners. For instance, judges descend from the bench after oral arguments to shake the hands of counsel.

President George W. Bush tried to continue the court’s conservative legacy when numerous vacancies materialized in his administration. However, the White House insisted on pressing for confirmation of nominees whom many Democratic senators considered outside the mainstream, even after Democrats had captured a Senate majority in November 2006. Political machinations left four vacancies at the Bush administration’s close, enabling President Barack Obama to appoint numerous judges. The court now has nine members whom Democratic presidents appointed, five whom Republican presidents confirmed and Chief Judge Roger Gregory, whom President Bill Clinton recess-appointed and Bush confirmed.

Two recent developments in the travel ban appeal demonstrate change in the court. First, all of the active judges without conflicts heard the appeal, called an initial en banc proceeding, which is so extraordinary that the last one was decades ago. One judge, not the parties, suggested this procedure, and the court requested the litigants’ views on an en banc process, while a circuit majority favored it apparently because of the appeal’s exceptional public importance.

Another sign of change was the court’s April 27 announcement that the argument would be livestreamed. Allowing “cameras in the courtroom” has proved extremely controversial at the Supreme Court, which has never permitted live broadcast of arguments. Indeed, since-retired Justice David Souter famously declared “over my dead body.” A few lower federal courts allow broadcasts. The 9th Circuit began livestreaming all oral arguments in 2015.”

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Read the complete article at the above link.

As a U.S. Immigration Judge sitting in the Fourth Circuit, I credited the Fourth Circuit’s carefully-crafted asylum jurisprudence and overriding concern for due process and fairness for asylum seekers as reasons why asylum grant rates were relatively high in the Arlington and Baltimore Immigration Courts (of course, along with my judicial colleagues’ careful attention the what the Fourth Circuit was saying; new Fourth Circuit rulings were a frequent topic of our lunch conversations.)

Apparently, however, the word didn’t reach as far south as the Charlotte Immigration Court, where advocates regularly complain of the rights of asylum seekers being “steamrolled.” To date, the BIA has failed to step in and fix the Charlotte situation. And, I wouldn’t expect it to happen with Jeff Sessions in charge of the U.S. Immigration Courts.

PWS

06-04-17

Will Wilkinson In The WashPost: American Cities Are Much Better Places To Live & Work Than The “Trump Crowd” Will Admit — And They Outproduce “Red America” By Almost 2-1!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/03/17/why-does-donald-trump-demonize-cities/?utm_term=.f0beb0764db5

Will Wilkinson writes:

“But this is just to repeat that more and more of America’s dynamism and growth flow from the open city. It’s difficult to predict who will bear the downside burden of disruptive innovation — it could be Rust Belt autoworkers one day and educated, urban members of the elite mainstream media the next — which is why dynamic economies need robust safety nets to protect citizens from the risks of economic dislocation. The denizens of Trump country have borne too much of the disruption and too little of the benefit from innovation. But the redistribution-loving multicultural urban majority can’t be blamed for the inadequacy of the safety net when the party of rural whites has fought for decades to roll it back. Low-density America didn’t vote to be knocked on its heels by capitalist creative destruction, but it has voted time and again against softening the blow.

Political scientists say that countries where the middle class does not culturally identify with the working and lower classes tend to spend less on redistributive social programs. We’re more generous, as a rule, when we recognize ourselves in those who need help. You might argue that this just goes to show that diversity strains solidarity. Or you might argue that, because we need solidarity, we must learn to recognize America in other accents, other complexions, other kitchen aromas.

Honduran cooks in Chicago, Iranian engineers in Seattle, Chinese cardiologists in Atlanta, their children and grandchildren, all of them, are bedrock members of the American community. There is no “us” that excludes them. There is no American national identity apart from the dynamic hybrid culture we have always been creating together. America’s big cities accept this and grow healthier and more productive by the day, while the rest of the country does not accept this, and struggles.

In a multicultural country like ours, an inclusive national identity makes solidarity possible. An exclusive, nostalgic national identity acts like a cancer in the body politic, eating away at the bonds of affinity and cooperation that hold our interests together.

Bannon is right. A country is more than an economy. The United States is a nation with a culture and a purpose. That’s why Americans of every heritage and hue will fight to keep our cities sanctuaries of the American idea — of openness, tolerance and trade — until our country has been made safe for freedom again.”

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And, how have the cities and “urban elites” which support and help keep the rest of America afloat been rewarded?

PWS

03/20/17

 

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

 

 

 

Zoe Tillman on BuzzFeed: U.S. Immigration Courts Are Overwhelmed — Administration’s New Enforcement Priorities Could Spell Disaster! (I’m Quoted In This Article, Along With Other Current & Former U.S. Immigration Judges)

https://www.buzzfeed.com/zoetillman/backlogged-immigration-courts-pose-problems-for-trumps-plans?utm_term=.pokrzE6BW#.wcMKevdYG

Zoe Tillman reports:

“ARLINGTON, Va. — In a small, windowless courtroom on the second floor of an office building, Judge Rodger Harris heard a string of bond requests on Tuesday morning from immigrants held in jail as they faced deportation.
The detainees appeared by video from detention facilities elsewhere in the state. Harris, an immigration judge since 2007, used a remote control to move the camera around in his courtroom so the detainees could see their lawyers appearing in-person before the judge, if they had one. The lawyers spoke about their clients’ family ties, job history, and forthcoming asylum petitions, and downplayed any previous criminal record.
In cases where Harris agreed to set bond — the amounts ranged from $8,000 to $20,000 — he had the same message for the detainees: if they paid bond and were set free until their next court date, it would mean a delay in their case. Hearings set for March or April would be pushed back until at least the summer, he said.
But a couple of months is nothing compared to timelines that some immigration cases are on now. Judges and lawyers interviewed by BuzzFeed News described hearings scheduled four, five, or even six years out. Already facing a crushing caseload, immigration judges are bracing for more strain as the Trump administration pushes ahead with an aggressive ramp-up of immigration enforcement with no public commitment so far to aid backlogged courts.
Immigration courts, despite their name, are actually an arm of the US Department of Justice. The DOJ seal — with the Latin motto “qui pro domina justitia sequitur,” which roughly translates to, “who prosecutes on behalf of justice” — hung on the wall behind Harris in his courtroom in Virginia. Lawyers from the US Department of Homeland Security prosecute cases. Rulings can be appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals, which is also part of the Justice Department, and then to a federal appeals court.
As of the end of January, there were more than 540,000 cases pending in immigration courts. President Trump signed executive orders in late January that expanded immigration enforcement priorities and called for thousands of additional enforcement officers and border patrol officers. But the orders are largely silent on immigration courts, where there are dozens of vacant judgeships. And beyond filling the vacancies, the union of immigration judges says more judges are needed to handle the caseload, as well as more space, technological upgrades, and other resources.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly acknowledged the immigration court backlog in a memorandum released this week that provided new details about how the department would carry out Trump’s orders. Kelly lamented the “unacceptable delay” in immigration court cases that allowed individuals who illegally entered the United States to remain here for years.
The administration hasn’t announced plans to increase the number of immigration judges or to provide more funding and resources. It also isn’t clear yet if immigration judges and court staff are exempt from a government-wide hiring freeze that Trump signed shortly after he took office. There are 73 vacancies in immigration courts, out of 374 judgeships authorized by Congress.
“Everybody’s pretty stressed,” said Paul Schmidt, who retired as an immigration judge in June. “How are you going to throw more cases into a court with 530,000 pending cases? It isn’t going to work.”

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Zoe Tillman provides a well-reaserched and accurate description of the dire situation of justice in the U.S. Immigration Courts and the poorly conceived and uncoordinated enforcement initiatives of the Trump Administration. Sadly, lives and futures of “real life human beings” are at stake here.

Here’s a “shout out” to my good friend and former colleague Judge Rodger Harris who always does a great job of providing due process and justice on the highly stressful Televideo detained docket at the U.S. Immigration Court in Arlington, VA. Thanks for all you do for our system of justice and the cause of due process, Judge Harris.

PWS

02/24/17

World Trade: As the U.S. Disengages, Africa Turns To China!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/07/world/africa/africa-china-train.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Andrew Jacobs writes in the NYT:

“DJIBOUTI — The 10:24 a.m. train out of Djibouti’s capital drew some of the biggest names in the Horn of Africa last month. Serenaded by a chorus of tribal singers, the crush of African leaders, European diplomats and pop icons climbed the stairs of the newly built train station and merrily jostled their way into the pristine, air-conditioned carriages making their inaugural run.

“It is indeed a historic moment, a pride for our nations and peoples,” said Hailemariam Desalegn, the prime minister of Ethiopia, shortly before the train — the first electric, transnational railway in Africa — headed toward Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. “This line will change the social and economic landscape of our two countries.”

But perhaps the biggest star of the day was China, which designed the system, supplied the trains and imported hundreds of engineers for the six years it took to plan and build the 466-mile line. And the $4 billion cost? Chinese banks provided nearly all the financing.

. . . .

Mr. Hadi praised the Chinese for going all in after Western banks declined to help finance the nation’s glaring infrastructure needs.

“We approached the U.S., and they didn’t have the vision,” he said. “They are not thinking ahead 30 years. They only have a vision of Africa from the past, as a continent of war and famine. The Chinese have vision.”

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

PWS

02/07/17

 

Post Editorial Slams Total Due Process Meltdown In U.S. Immigration Courts! Why We Need An Independent Article I Immigration Court — Now!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/americas-immigration-courts-are-a-diorama-of-dysfunction/2017/01/09/38c59cf6-ceda-11e6-b8a2-8c2a61b0436f_story.html?utm_term=.2597096ea1d8

“The nation’s 58 immigration courts, administered not by the judiciary but by the Justice Department, are places of Dickensian impenetrability, operating under comically antiquated conditions. Case files are scarcely digitized. Clerks are outmatched by mountains of paper files. Translators struggle to convey evidence and legal concepts across linguistic and cultural barriers.
Disgracefully, wild disparities in outcomes and legal standards characterize the various courts, meaning that asylum seekers who appear before immigration judges in Atlanta face almost impossibly long odds and are generally ordered deported, while those in New York are usually granted relief and allowed to remain in the country.

In these courts, the idea of justice itself is so degraded, and the burnout rate so high, that some immigration lawyers have simply thrown in the towel. One of them, movingly profiled by The Post’s Chico Harlan, got sick of the charade and finally quit. “I genuinely believed these people could die if they’re sent back” to their home countries, said Elizabeth Matherne, who once represented asylum seekers. “And you’re talking to somebody” — the judge — “who is not listening.”

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Why We Need An Independent Article I Immigration Court — Now!

By Paul Wickham Schmidt

Not a pretty picture of Due Process in America, especially for a Court System whose noble, but forgotten, “Vision” is supposed to be “though teamwork and innovation be the world’s best administrative tribunals, guaranteeing fairness and due process for all.”

Undoubtedly, this downward spiral into judicial dysfunction started with the politically-motivated manipulation of the Immigration Courts and the selection system for Immigration Judges and Board of Immigration Appeals Members during the Bush Administration.

But, the Obama Administration had eight years to clean up this mess. Not only has it failed to act, but in some ways has made it even worse. Even in the disastrous Bush years, the backlog of pending cases never approached today’s level of more than 530,000, and it’s growing every day.

The Justice Department has no plausible plan for dealing with this morass, which directly affects the lives and futures of millions of “real people.” Nor is there even a rudimentary plan in place to implement an e-filing system — a staple of virtually every other Federal Court System. Under the Department of Justice, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”), which is charged with administering the Immigration Courts, began “studying” the process for e-filing more than 15 years ago  — so far, without achieving any visible success.

Yes, Congress has failed to pass practical, badly needed reforms of the immigration system, unnecessarily compounding the Immigration Courts’ burdens.  And, yes, the Congressional approach to appropriating needed resources for the Immigration Courts has been inconsistent and all too often has lagged far beyond funding for immigration enforcement.

But, for the most part, the Immigration Courts are the responsibility of the Executive Branch and the Justice Department.  The structure, supervision, and operation of the Immigration Courts is almost entirely a matter of Justice Department regulations.  Judicial selections do not have to go through the cumbersome Senate confirmation process.

The Justice Department has shown neither enthusiasm nor the ability to promptly fill existing judicial vacancies through a transparent merit selection system, nor has sufficient attention been paid to locating the necessary courtroom space or planning for painfully obvious expansion needs.  Even if all the existing judicial vacancies were filled, as of today there is no place to put the extra Immigration Judges.  Effective judicial administration, never a point of expertise for the Justice Department, has completely disintegrated over the past decade and one-half under Administrations of both parties and a succession of Attorneys General who simply failed in their duty to run a fair, efficient, highly professional Immigration Court system.

We have not yet seen the Trump Administration’s and Attorney General Sessions’s plans for how to restore justice to the Immigration Court system.  But, the preliminary rhetoric isn’t encouraging — lots of tough talk about immigration enforcement, but neither acknowledgement of nor emphasis on the accompanying equally important need for achieving and protecting due process in the Immigration Courts.

After more than three decades in the Justice Department, the Immigration Courts have not developed in a way that fulfills their essential role in insuring fairness and guaranteeing due process in the removal hearing process. Waiting for the Justice Department to appropriately reform the system is like “Waiting for Godot.” It’s more than time for bipartisan action in Congress to remove the Immigration Courts from the Department of Justice and create an independent, well-functioning Article I Immigration Court. Only then, will the Immigration Courts be able to achieve their “noble vision” of “through teamwork and innovation be the world’s best tribunals guaranteeing fairness and due process for all.”

PWS

01/10/17

Will There Be a Beer Cooler on Wheels in Your Future?

As long as it’s loaded with beer, can’t be all bad!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/when-a-beer-cooler-rolls-up-to-your-doorstep-the-future-has-arrived/2016/12/30/c1e6ad38-cc67-11e6-a747-d03044780a02_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-more-top-stories_no-name%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.fd835eae100f

“Designers of futuristic cityscapes envision airborne drones dropping off your packages and driverless cars taking you to work. But the robotic-delivery invasion already has begun — in the form of machines that look like wheeled beer coolers scooting along the sidewalks.

The robots — developed by a company with a name straight out of science fiction, Starship Technologies — will be showing up any day in Washington and in Redwood City, Calif. They may soon be found in up to 10 U.S. cities, ferrying groceries and other packages from a neighborhood delivery hub to your front door for as little as $1 a trip.”

Happy New Year!🍻🍾🏈😎

PWS

12/31/16