WALL? WHAT WALL? – BUREAUCRATIC BARRIERS BEST BAR TO (NEEDED) IMMIGRATION (Hey, I Could’ve Told ‘Em That!) – But, White Nationalist Goal Of Returning To A “White America” Ultimately Doomed — “You can slow the rate of Latino and Asian immigration, but it won’t make the population whiter,”. . . “It will just become less white at a slower pace.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/how-trump-is-building-a-border-wall-no-one-can-see/2017/11/21/83d3b746-cba0-11e7-b0cf-7689a9f2d84e_story.html?utm_term=.a71d3a707371

Maria Sacchetti and Nick Miroff report in the Washington Post:

“President Trump’s vision of a “big, beautiful” wall along the Mexican border may never be realized, and almost certainly not as a 2,000-mile physical structure spanning sea to sea.

But in a systematic and less visible way, his administration is following a blueprint to reduce the number of foreigners living in the United States those who are undocumented and those here legallyand overhaul the U.S. immigration system for generations to come.

Across agencies and programs, federal officials are wielding executive authority to assemble a bureaucratic wall that could be more effective than any concrete and metal one. While some actions have drawn widespread attention, others have been put in place more quietly.

The administration has moved to slash the number of refugees, accelerate deportations and terminate the provisional residency of more than a million people, among other measures. On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security said nearly 60,000 Haitians allowed to stay in the United States after a devastating 2010 earthquake have until July 2019 to leave or obtain another form of legal status.

. . . .

Even as they fight court orders seeking to halt parts of Trump’s immigration agenda, Sessions, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller and other key players are finding ways to shrink the immigration system. Miller was an aide to Sessions before both men joined the administration; in less than a year, their immigration policy prescriptions have moved from the realm of think-tank wish lists to White House executive orders.

In October, the White House — in a plan led by Miller — said it had conducted a “bottom-up review of all immigration policies” and found “dangerous loopholes, outdated laws, and easily exploited vulnerabilities in our immigration system — current policies that are harming our country and our communities.”

. . . .

Trump’s tough talk alone appears to be one of the administration’s best bulwarks: Illegal crossings along the border with Mexico have plunged to their lowest level in 45 years, and U.S. agents are catching a far greater share of those attempting to sneak in. Applications for H-1B skilled visas and new foreign-student enrollment have also declined.

William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, said that until now U.S. immigration rates have largely spared the country from the challenges facing advanced industrial nations such as Japan and Germany that can’t replace aging workers fast enough. By slashing immigration, Frey said, the country could end up with labor shortages and other workforce issues.

But although some of Trump’s most fervent supporters see curbing immigration as a way to turn back the United States’ rapid racial and ethnic transformation, Frey said it is an unrealistic goal. By 2020, census projections show minorities will account for more than half of the under-18 U.S. population, because of higher birthrates in nonwhite populations. And by 2026, the number of whites is projected to begin declining in absolute numbers, he said, as deaths exceed births.

“You can slow the rate of Latino and Asian immigration, but it won’t make the population whiter,” Frey said. “It will just become less white at a slower pace.”

Trump continues to insist his administration will build a border wall, despite exorbitant cost projections and senior DHS officials saying a 2,000-mile structure is impractical. His supporters say they admire the president for plowing ahead in his overhaul efforts and see a historic, generational shift underway.

“There is more than one way to get to the goal,” Dane said. “Legislative solutions are all great, but clearly the administration has done things behind the scenes. . . . The results have been dramatic.”

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Read the full article at the link.

It’s no surprise that guys like Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions and his henchman Stephen Miller are leading this racist-inspired, xenophobic “race to the bottom” that if successful would likely tank our economy and cause even more inequality and social unrest as well as inflicting all sorts of unnecessary pain and suffering on long time residents, needed and productive workers, and the most vulnerable individuals seeking protection under U.S. and international laws.  Really, hard to see how guys like this with retrograde ideas that come right from the “Jim Crow era” of American history get into positions of power for which they are so totally unqualified, both by background and temperament. But, then again, look at whom we have elected our President to represent us on the international scene.

The good news for the majority of Americans is that  the “turn back the clock” plan is ultimately likely to fail. We will eventually move forward again as a diverse, productive, “country of immigrants,” and restore humane and humanitarian values to our national and international profile.

PWS

11-22-17

GONZO’S WORLD: Sessions Gives Congress The “Scarface Treatment” Again — Then He Jokes About Russia — Will Mueller Eventually Wipe The Smirk Off Gonzo’s Face?

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/11/jeff-sessions-has-a-strangely-selective-memory.html

Eric Levitz writes in NY Maggie:

“Jeff Sessions’s memory works in mysterious ways. He has “no clear recollection” of the March 2016 meeting where George Papadopoulos offered to set up a meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin — but the attorney general does remember shooting down the campaign aide’s unseemly suggestion.

Or, so Sessions tells the House Judiciary Committee.

In October, Sessions testified to the Senate that he did not have any “continuing exchange of information” with Russian operatives — and that he wasn’t “aware of anyone else [on the Trump campaign] that did.” Weeks later, Special Counsel Robert Mueller revealed

“Papadopoulos’s confession to the crime of lying to the FBI. In that written statement, the former Trump campaign national security adviser claimed that he had told Sessions about “connections” he had that “could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin” in March of last year. In his testimony before Congress Tuesday, Sessions tried to account for this apparent discrepancy.

“I do now recall the March 2016 meeting at Trump Hotel that Mr. Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said at that meeting,” Sessions explained. “After reading his account, and to the best of my recollection, I believe that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government, or any other foreign government, for that matter.”

Later, Sessions said more firmly, “At the meeting, I pushed back.”

So, the attorney general has no clear memory of the meeting, but has a vivid recollection of behaving admirably during it.

This isn’t the first time that Sessions’s memories of last year have failed him. In January, the attorney general testified to the Senate that he had not “been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day.” Months later, the Washington Post revealed that Sessions had met with the Russian ambassador to the United States multiple times during the 2016 campaign. Sessions responded to these revelations by insisting that he’d met with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in his capacity as U.S. senator (not as a Trump surrogate), and that they did not discuss the 2016 election. Sessions later conceded that it was “possible” that Trump’s positions on U.S.-Russia relations came up in his discussions with Kislyak.

Some Democrats have suggested that Sessions’s multiple false statements to Congress this year were conscious lies. The former senator responded to such charges with indignation Tuesday.

“My answers have not changed,” Sessions said. “I have always told the truth, and I have answered every question as I understood them and to the best of my recollection, as I will continue to do today … I will not accept and reject accusations that I have ever lied under oath. That is a lie.”

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Meanwhile, speaking to a friendly audience over at the Heritage Foundation, Gonzo treated the Russia investigation as a joke. Mary Papenfuss reports for HuffPost:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions had lawyers rolling in the aisles with a surprising string of Russian quips at the start of a speech he gave Friday.

Sessions was the keynote speaker at the National Lawyers Convention at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel hosted by the conservative Federalist Society.

He thanked the applauding crowd for welcoming him. Then, smiling mischievously, he added: “But I just was thinking, you know, I should ― I want to ask you. Is  Ambassador Kislyak in the room? Before I get started ― any Russians?” As the laughs grew louder, he continued: “Anybody been to Russia? Got a cousin in Russia?” The audience roared.

The jarring jokes came just three days after Sessions was pressed in Congress on apparent discrepancies in his previous testimony about Trump associates’ meetings with Russians during the 2016 campaign.

Sergey Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., met with several members of Donald Trump’s campaign during the Republican National Convention, Kislyak and some Trump associates have revealed. Kislyak was widely believed a top spy recruiter.

Kislyak has said he discussed Trump’s policy positions during the campaign with Sessions, an early Trump supporter who was an Alabama senator at the time, The Washington Post reported.

But during his confirmation hearings to become attorney general ― before the Post report ― Sessions said he “never met with or had any conversations with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election.”

Sessions later recused himself from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the U.S. election.

Critics were stunned by Sessions’ attitude in the lawyers’ speech.

Sessions “still doesn’t get it” — he’s “in trouble,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) told Wolf Blitzer later on CNN.

“He’s not in trouble where he happened to be in places where there are Russians,” said Lieu, a member of the House Judiciary Committee who grilled Sessions this week. “He is in trouble because he had a nearly hour-long meeting with Ambassador Kislyak — also a spy — and then he failed to disclose the existence of that meeting under oath to the U.S. Senate. That’s why Jeff Sessions is in trouble.”

Blitzer noted that Kislyak “now says he spoke with so many Trump officials it would take him more than 20 minutes to name them all.”

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/sessions-russian-lawyers_us_5a0fb5dee4b045cf43718e96?ncid=APPLENEWS00001

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PWS
11-19-17

LA TIMES: MAJORITY OF CALIFORNIANS VALUE MIGRANTS (REGARDLESS OF STATUS) — OPPOSE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT!

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/latimes/default.aspx?pubid=50435180-e58e-48b5-8e0c-236bf740270e

Jasmine Ulloa reports for the LA Times:

“Despite the Trump administration’s repeated attempts to frame illegal immigration as a threat to public safety, the poll also found an overwhelming majority believe that people without legal residency help revitalize cities as opposed to increasing crime.

The survey results, poll analysts and policy experts said, reflect ongoing trends in California, where through the decades the public has tended to support immigrants in the country illegally, even when federal or state political leaders have stoked anti-immigrant sentiment to rally their bases.

“We have seen this in California forever,” said Jill Darling, the survey director for the Center for Economic and Social Research at USC. “People, including Republicans, have been more supportive of immigrants and reform, even to the point of supporting a path to citizenship, more so than Republican leadership.”

Most poll participants also expressed positive perceptions of people without legal residency in the country.

Nearly 63% of people surveyed said they believed immigrants without legal status strengthened the economy, as opposed to roughly 38% who said they took away jobs. Sixty-six percent said immigrants in the country illegally helped revitalize cities, and about 34% — including more than 72% of Republicans — believed they increased crime.

Policy experts said the poll results reflect the explosive growth of Latinos, Asians and other minority communities that tend to lean Democratic. California’s families are so diverse, they said, that nearly everyone knows someone who came to the country as an immigrant — legally or illegally.

It also reflects a shift away from the “us-versus-them” rhetoric that damaged the Republican brand in the 1990s, political consultants and immigration policy experts said. During that time, Gov. Pete Wilson was criticized for using footage of people running across the border to dramatize the problem of illegal immigration, and voters passed propositions to bar immigrants in the country illegally from public benefits, outlaw affirmative action programs and teach only English in schools.

That “no longer reflects our reality,” said Mindy Romero, director of the California Civic Engagement Project. “In a state like California, immigrants are us.”

Andrew Medina, state policy manager for Asian Americans Advancing Justice, said he wasn’t surprised by the results of the poll — or by the approval among California residents for the sanctuary state law. A study released in February by the Public Policy Institute of California found that a solid majority of Californians believe the state and local governments should make their own policies and take action to protect the rights of immigrants who are here illegally.

The final language of the sanctuary state law was the result of months of tough negotiations among Gov. Jerry Brown, Senate leader and bill author Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), and law enforcement officials.

It will largely prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from holding or sharing information about people with federal immigration agents unless those individuals have been convicted of one or more offenses from a list of 800 crimes outlined in a 2013 state law.

Federal immigration authorities still will be able to work with state corrections officials — a key concession Brown had demanded — and will be able to enter county jails to question immigrants. But the state attorney general’s office will be required to publish guidelines and training recommendations to limit immigration agents’ access to personal information.

“It is positive that these polls show that there is support for immigrant communities, and it is especially positive in this era,” Medina said.

Still, Romero advised caution.

“Discrimination against immigrants is very real and a danger,” she said, pointing to anti-immigrant rhetoric at the national level. “I think we can’t rest on a changing landscape in California and just assume that things will continue to be more receptive and open.”

 

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Read the complete article at the link.

The Trump-Sessions-Miller-Bannon bogus White Nationalist program of portraying bigotry and racism as “law enforcement” ultimately will fail. Truth will win out. But, that doesn’t mean that lots of damage won’t be inflicted along the way by restrictionists on vulnerable individuals, their defenders, our society, our economy, and our international leadership and reputation.

Resist the false messages with truth! Support truth with action!

PWS

11-12-17

MICA ROSENBERG ON REUTERS TV: TRUMP TARGETS KIDS!

http://reut.tv/2yqSFn6

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Kids and other vulnerable individuals seem like a logical targets for bullies like Trump, Sessions, and the rest of the GOP White Nationalist Gang.

Good things aren’t going to happen to a country that picks on children and enables cowardly leaders.

But, after all, these Dudes are still defending the Confedracy, rebellion against the USA, and the fight to preserve slavery! I guess once on the wrong side of history, always on the wrong side of history. The real question is where to the rest of us stand, and what are we can do about the steady erosion of law, morality, and humane values by the Trump Administration and its supporters.

PWS

11-03-17

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

09-20-17

 

 

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

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

Tal reports

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

Should 350,000 El Salvadorans & Hondurans With TPS Start Packing Their Bags?

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/homeland-security-chief-signals-shift-immigration-program-47778916

Jennifer Kay reports for the AP:

“Immigrants who have legally lived and worked in the U.S. since disasters in their countries years ago may have to start thinking about going home, the U.S. Homeland Security chief said Thursday.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Secretary John Kelly sent strong signals that immigration benefits known as “temporary protected status” should not be as open-ended as they have become for tens of thousands of people from Haiti and Central America.

“The point is not that there be a complete recovery of all ills in the country,” Kelly said. “The point is, whatever the event is that caused TPS to be granted — that event is over, and they can return.”

That might shock 86,000 immigrants from Honduras and another 263,000 from El Salvador, who constitute the vast majority of the program’s current beneficiaries.

The Hondurans, along with more than 5,000 immigrants from Nicaragua, became eligible for the temporary protections in 1999 because of destruction from Hurricane Mitch a year earlier. Immigrants from El Salvador were included in 2001 after a series of earthquakes.

Immigrants from those three countries make up 80 percent of the 435,000 people from 10 nations currently eligible. Their status has been renewed every 18 months, and it will be up for renewal again early next year.

Kelly spoke with AP in Miami a day after meeting with Haiti’s president to discuss the return of roughly 50,000 Haitians to the long-troubled Caribbean country. He joined Florida Gov. Rick Scott at the National Hurricane Center to mark the start of hurricane season Thursday.

Kelly said he has not yet discussed ending temporary status with the Central American countries’ leaders. However, he emphasized that those privileges were intended to be temporary, even though they have not been administered that way.

“People in my position automatically — without thinking about it very much, apparently — just simply extended it,” Kelly said. “They weren’t taking the same approach to the law as I am.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

A few problems here.

First, Hondurans with TPS have been in the U.S. continuously since 1999, El Salvadorans since 2001. Most of them have homes, jobs, and U.S. citizen kids. They are members of our society. Are we really going to send them home after they have been here for decades in many cases?

Second, the last time a termination of these programs was considered was during the Clinton Administration. At that time, the Governments of El Salvador and Honduras went berserk, telling the State Department that return of that many individuals in a short period of time could destabilize their economies and their political systems. In plain terms, those countries could collapse. Moreover, money sent home by El Salvadorans and Hondurans with TPS status was basically propping up the economies of those countries.

Third, some TPS individuals are under final orders of removal. In theory, they would become removable immediately if they failed to depart after termination of the programs. But, they could move to reopen Deportation or Removal Proceedings if circumstances in their cases have materially changed, which is quite possible. Moreover, many, probably the vast majority, of those with TPS either 1) were never place in Removal Proceedings, or 2) had such proceedings “administratively closed” prior to a decision on the merits by an Immigration  Judge. In both of these situations, individuals would have to be placed back on the Immigration  Courts’ Master Calendar (that is arraignment) dockets.

Given the current 600,000 case backlog in Immigration Court, and that many Immigration Judges are scheduling new non-detained cases for “individual hearing” dates three, four, or more years from now, most of these cases wouldn’t even be heard on the merits until well after the end of President Trump’s current term.

By that time, individuals will have been in the U.S. for almost a quarter of a century. Many will have adult U.S. citizen children who can petition for them for permanent immigration.

Eventually, folks here from El Salvador and Honduras will have to be given some type of permanent or semi-permanent status, with or without a “path to citizenship.” Until then, they are working, paying taxes, and are an asset to the U.S. and their communities. Because of the nature of TPS, those relatively few who do commit one felony or two misdemeanors are arrested, detained, and removed promptly, unless they qualify for additional relief. And, the Government apparently makes money from the fees generated by extensions of TPS status and work authorization.

So, regardless of the original legal framework, TPS is one of the most successful and beneficial programs that DHS runs right now. Better not to mess with it unless you have a better idea. And, better ideas on immigration are not a strong point of the Trump Administration generally or Secretary Kelly, specifically.

Stay tuned.

 

PWS

06-03-17

 

DHS Extends Haitian TPS For 6 Months — Some Still Seek Longer Period!

http://www.voanews.com/a/us-gives-haitian-immigrants-6-month-tps-extension/3865735.html

VOA News reports:

US Gives Haitian Immigrants 6-month TPS Extension

US Gives Haitian Immigrants 6-month TPS Extension

  • VOA News

FILE - Farah Larrieux, an immigration activist shown in April at home in Miramar, Fla., is among at least 50,000 Haitians who could be deported with the loss of Temporary Protected Status. She predicted they might go into the shadows.

FILE – Farah Larrieux, an immigration activist shown in April at home in Miramar, Fla., is among at least 50,000 Haitians who could be deported with the loss of Temporary Protected Status. She predicted they might go into the shadows.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Monday announced it has extended Haitian immigrants’ access to a program of humanitarian protection for six months.

At least 50,000 Haitian immigrants are registered for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which permits them to live and work in the United States. TPS, offered in the wake of a deadly 2010 earthquake in Haiti, was set to expire July 23. It has been extended through January 22 – though some U.S. lawmakers, Haitian authorities and immigration advocates who’d sought a longer term expressed disappointment.

“Haiti has made progress across several fronts since the devastating earthquake,” DHS Secretary John Kelly said in a statement, adding that he was “proud of the role the United States has played during this time in helping Haitian friends.”

Kelly said the extension “should allow Haitian TPS recipients living in the United States time to attain travel documents and make other necessary arrangements for their ultimate departure from the United States, and should also provide the Haitian government with the time it needs to prepare for the future repatriation of all current TPS recipients.”

Pierrot Mervilier hugs an unidentified girl whose family, covered by TPS, met with news media in Miami, May 22, 2017.

Pierrot Mervilier hugs an unidentified girl whose family, covered by TPS, met with news media in Miami, May 22, 2017.

Haiti sought 1-year minimum

Haiti’s government had urged the United States to extend TPS “for at least another year,” its ambassador to the United States, Paul Altidor, told VOA earlier this month.

Altidor said the Caribbean country, while glad to welcome back “our brothers and sisters,” was not ready to absorb tens of thousands of returnees “overnight.”

Haiti “has not recovered entirely from the earthquake,” the ambassador said, noting that not all of the financial aid pledged by “many friends and countries around the world” had materialized. He also pointed out that his country had endured additional setbacks, such as a cholera epidemic and a crippling hurricane last October.

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Read the complete story at the link.

From Secretary Kelly’s statement, its appears that DHS intends to terminate Haitian TPS at the conclusion of this six month extension. That move is sure to be fraught with controversy. However, the law gives the Secretary complete, unreviewable discretion to make TPS decisions.

PWS

05-23-17

N. Rappaport On GOP’s “Extreme Enforcement” Initiatives!

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/334554-republicans-are-preparing-extreme-immigration-measures

Nolan writes in The Hill:

“Highlights from Labrador’s summary of the Davis-Oliver Act.

It provides states with congressional authorization to enact and enforce their own immigration laws to end the executive branch’s ability to unilaterally shut down immigration enforcement.
It withholds certain federal grants from jurisdictions that refuse to honor immigration detainers or prohibit their law enforcement officers from giving immigration-related information to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Jurisdictions that refuse to honor detainer requests and release criminal aliens may be sued by the victims of crimes the aliens commit after they are released.
It makes membership in a criminal gang grounds for deportation.
It requires background checks to be completed before immigration benefits can be granted.
Criminalization of undocumented aliens.

Section 314 makes crimes out of illegal entry and unlawful presence. If an offender does not have three misdemeanor convictions or a felony conviction, a first offense can result in imprisonment for up to six months. Subsequent offenses can result in imprisonment for up to two years.

If the alien has three misdemeanor convictions or a felony conviction, however, the term of imprisonment can be up to 20 years. This is not as harsh as some of the criminal provisions which are in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) already. Smuggling an alien into the country or helping one to remain here unlawfully (harboring) may “be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life” if it results in the death of any person.

Home free magnet.

President Obama created what I call the “home free magnet”, when he focused enforcement on undocumented aliens who had been convicted of serious crimes or had been caught near the border after making an illegal entry. Aliens wanting to enter the United States illegally knew that they would be safe from deportation once they had reached the interior of the country.

This attracted undocumented aliens and became a powerful incentive for them to do whatever was necessary to enter the United States. President Trump destroyed this magnet with tough campaign rhetoric and his executive order, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, which greatly expands Obama’s enforcement priorities.

. . . .

Perhaps the Democrats should consider supporting a modified version of the Davis-Oliver Act in return for Republican consideration of a modified legalization program and other measures that are important to the Democrats.

A similar agreement was the basis for the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), which made legalization available to millions of undocumented aliens in return for interior enforcement measures and border security.

The Republicans can deport most of the undocumented aliens in the country if they choose to do so, but it would take a long time and would be very expensive politically as well as financially.

They might be willing to consider a legalization program that is based on American needs, such as preventing citizen and lawful permanent resident families from being broken up and providing needed foreign workers for American employers.”

It could be limited to temporary lawful status while background investigations are being conducted. Greg Siskind and I suggested a way to do this in, “Pre-Registration: A Proposal to Kick-Start CIR.”

To be truly comprehensive, immigration reform has to include effective enforcement measures and time for putting together such a bill is running out.

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Read Nolan’s complete article over on The Hill at the above link.

Having served during the Obama Administration (as well as others from both parties) I disagree with Nolan’s characterization of Obama as having a “home free” policy. At least since the summer of 2014, no characterization could be further from the truth!

Beginning in the summer of 2014, the Obama Administrations, quite unwisely in my view, “prioritized” the cases of recent arrivals at the Southern Border. By taking these cases out of sequence, and totally out of proportion to any “threat” they posed, the Obama Administration’s policy of Aimless Docket Reshuffling (“ADR”) helped create an Immigration Court backlog that now approaches 600,000 cases, notwithstanding relatively “flat” receipts and actual increases in the number of sitting judges.

While eliminating the “recent arrivals priority,” the Trump Administration’s essentially “random” enforcement policy, lacking in any type of restraint or rationality, has actually made things much worse. As backlogs mushroom, the “home free” problem is actually more significant, although with a pronounced degree of randomness and irrationally. In other words, total docket chaos in Immigration Court.

While the threat of more “expedited removals,” which evade the Immigration Courts, does hang over the system, the procedures have not actually been implemented. Moreover, contrary to Nolan’s suggestion, there is no chance that the GOP will be able to remove more than a small fraction of the approximately 11 million undocumented aliens in the U.S. Yes, arbitrary enforcement does produce some “terrorism” effect by making everyone feel unsafe. Perhaps a relatively small number of undocumented residents will give up and leave (or try to enter Canada). Nevertheless, there is no practical way that 11 million individuals actually could be removed.

The GOP would do much better to sign on to immigration reforms that would give some type of legal status (not necessarily green cards) to most of those already here, while expanding legal immigration opportunities across the board. The resulting system would actually reduce pressure on the border while making interior enfircement more of a practical possibility than it has been at any time during the last for decades. But, that would take a thoughtful, practical, non-xenophobic, approach — something that has eluded the GOP in the years since the Reagan Administration.

Look for folks like Labrador & Goodlatte to work with the Adminstration to create a complete “train wreck” in the immigration enforcement system.

PWS

05-22-17

 

Some Undocumented Migrants Flee US For Canada — A 21st Century “Underground Railroad”

 

https://apple.news/AcVFywEAtSw6IcI4GHsDgww

Adolfo Flores reports for BuzzFeed News:

“Martha never imagined she’d be in an upstate New York church basement hiding from the US government, far from the troubled El Salvador she had left behind years ago and very different from the life she had slowly built in Virginia.
The ascension of Donald Trump to the White House after threatening to deport high numbers of undocumented immigrants — combined with the prospect of being separated from their US-born daughters and the fact that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was on her husband’s heels — drove them into hiding to wait for an asylum interview in Canada.
“A lot of people like us are desperate, looking for where to run because they can’t be here, because of this man,” Martha, who has lived in the US for 16 years, told BuzzFeed News in a recent interview.
The family declined to use their real names out of fear of retaliation from US immigration authorities.
“When you come to this country, you come with nothing, zero, and little by little you build a life,” Martha said. “Then, suddenly you have to make a decision you never thought you’d have to make: leave and start over again.”
Her family is part of a small but growing number of immigrants who lived in the US for years and are being ferried to the Canadian border via an underground network of churches and immigration rights groups. Rev. Justo Gonzalez II of Pilgrim St. Luke’s in Buffalo, New York, said that so far they’ve helped 20 people, including six children, get to Canada to petition for asylum.
During a recent visit by BuzzFeed News, there were nine people, including Martha’s family, waiting at the church to make the same journey.
Vive, a Buffalo-based organization that helps refugees, reached out to Gonzalez and other sites when they started seeing large numbers of immigrants asking for their help getting to Canada. As a precaution, Gonzalez set up additional security cameras around the church, and everyone has to be buzzed in during non-mass hours. Volunteers patrol the building during mass to make sure no one is there to harass their guests.”

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Read the full article at the above link.

Outwardly, this appears to be a nice, self-sufficient family which is contributing to our society.  Their reasons for fleeing from El Salvador and coming here also appear to be compelling, at least from their standpoint.

The article glosses over the question of why Moises’s TPS protection was rescinded in 2007. Most often, this happens when someone commits two or more misdemeanors (or one felony) in the U.S. So, at least to some extent, the family’s problems might be self-inflicted.

Still, is it a good use of our law enforcement resources to create a climate which drives folks like this out of the US?

Or would it be better to use limited resources to integrate these folks into our society in some way or another?

PWS

05-21-17

Huge Win For TPS In 9th Circuit — Court Blasts DHS’s “Rube Goldberg” Interpretation — Allows Adjustment Of Status — Ramirez v. Brown

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2017/03/31/14-35633.pdf

“And the government’s interpretation is inconsistent with the TPS statute’s purpose because its interpretation completely ignores that TPS recipients are allowed to stay in the United States pursuant to that status and instead subjects them to a Rube Goldberg-like procedure under a different statute in order to become “admitted.” According to the government, an alien in Ramirez’s position who wishes to adjust his status would first need to apply for and obtain a waiver of his unlawful presence, which he could pursue from within the United States. See Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers of Inadmissibility for Certain Immediate Relatives, 78 Fed. Reg. 536-01, 536 (Jan. 3, 2013). Assuming that Ramirez demonstrates “extreme hardship” to his U.S. citizen wife and the waiver is granted, see 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(9)(B)(v), he would then need to exit the United States to seek an immigrant visa through processing at a U.S. embassy or consulate in another country. Such processing usually takes place in the alien’s home country—in this case, the country that the Attorney General has deemed unsafe— though it can occur in another country with approval from the Department of State and the third country. See 22 C.F.R. § 42.61(a). If he obtains the visa, Ramirez could then return to the United States to request admission as a lawful

permanent resident. To be sure, other nonimmigrants must leave the country to adjust their status, see 8 U.S.C. § 1255(i), but the invocation of these procedures in other circumstances does not undercut the clear language of the TPS statute on the “admitted” issue, and the convoluted nature of the government’s proposal underscores its unnatural fit with the overall statutory structure.

In short, § 1254a(f)(4) provides that a TPS recipient is considered “inspected and admitted” under §1255(a). Accordingly, under §§ 1254a(f)(4) and 1255, Ramirez, who has been granted TPS, is eligible for adjustment of status because he also meets the other requirements set forth in § 1255(a). USCIS’s decision to deny Ramirez’s application on the ground that he was not “admitted” was legally flawed, and the district court properly granted summary judgment to Ramirez and remanded the case to USCIS for further proceedings.”

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Although the 9th Circuit’s decision makes sense to me, and is consistent with a previous ruling by the 6th Circuit, the court notes that the 11th Circuit agreed with the DHS position. Consequently, there is a “circuit split,” and this issue probably will have to be resolved by the Supremes at some future point.

I had this argument come up before me in the Arlington Immigration Court. After conducting a full oral argument, I ruled, as the 9th Circuit did, in favor of the respondent’s eligibility to adjust. While the DHS “reserved” appeal, I do not believe that appeal was ever filed.

One of the things I loved about being a trial judge was the ability to hear “oral argument” from the attorneys in every merits case where there was an actual dispute.

PWS

04-01-17

 

Another Installment In The Schmidt Making America Really Great Series: “Refugees And Due Process Make America Really Great” — Read My Speech From Last Night’s “Refugee Ball”

REFUGEES AND DUE PROCESS MAKE AMERICA REALLY GREAT

 

Remarks by Paul Wickham Schmidt,

Retired United States Immigration Judge

 

The Refugee Ball

 

Sixth & I Synagogue 600 I Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 from 5:00 to 9:00 PM

 

Good evening, everyone. I’m honored to be here. Lets have a big round of applause for Jason Dzubow and his staff for coming up with the idea and putting this together!

As you can probably tell, it was a battle getting into my “Jones Day Spring Prom Era Tux” tonight. As I walked out the door, my wife Cathy said: “Are you actually going to be able to breathe, let alone speak, in that thing?”

As a “regular” at the Arlington Immigration Court, Jason obviously is quite familiar with my habits. I noted that on the advance program he took the extreme precaution of not only putting me in a “10-minute slot” near the end of the program, but also adding in parentheses in big bold letters “10 minutes max.” So, I get the picture, Jason. I’m going to briefly address two things that make America great: refugees and due process.

I’m pleased to back in the old ‘hood, although it’s hard to recognize. For about twelve years in the 1970s and 1980s I worked in the General Counsel’s Office of the “Legacy INS” in the famous Chester Arthur Building – the only monument in Washington to our great 21st President –at 425 Eye St., NW, just down the street. And, one of my most memorable accomplishments during that time was being part of the “team” that helped the Refugee Act of 1980 become law. It was a chance to make a positive difference in America’s future, indeed in the world’s future, while coming into contact with some of the finest intellects in the business: David Martin, Alex Aleinikoff, Doris Meissner, the late Jerry Tinker, and the late Jack Perkins come immediately to mind. So, I have what you might call a “vested interest” in U.S. refugee and asylum system.

I worked with refugees and their cases almost every workday for more than 21 years during my tenure as a trial and appellate judge with the United States Immigration Courts. And, I’ll admit that on many of my “off days” the challenges, stories, human drama, triumph, and trauma of refugees and refugee law bounced around in my head, much to the dismay of my wonderful wife, Cathy.

Although I have the greatest respect and admiration for the inspiring life stories of refugees and their contributions to the United States, I have never, for even one second, wanted to be a refugee. Like all of the speakers tonight, I see refugees as a huge asset to our country. It says something about us as a nation that so many great people from all over the world want to make this their home and to contribute their talents, some of which were on display here tonight, to the greatness of America. So, to all of you out there who came as refugees or asylees, thank you for coming, for your service, and for your dedication to making our great country even greater.

The other topic I want to address briefly, that is near and dear to me personally, is the overriding importance of due process in our refugee and asylum system. Each of you who came as a refugee or asylee is here because an adjudicator at some level of our system carefully and fairly gave you a chance to state your claim, listened to and reviewed the support you provided for your claim, and made a favorable decision in your case.

For some of you, that decision was made by a DHS Refugee Officer or an Asylum Officer. Others of you had to rely on different levels of our system – a U.S. Immigration Judge, the Board of Immigration Appeals, or in some cases, a U.S. Court of Appeals to have your status granted. In all of these instances you received something very precious under our Constitution: due process of law.

Unfortunately, there currently is a “due process crisis” in our overloaded Immigration Court System.   With over one-half million pending cases and waiting times of many years in some courts for final hearings to be held, our Immigration Court System is under intense pressure.

Sometimes, that results in approaches that generally have a favorable impact for individuals seeking protection.   For example, grants of Temporary Protected Status and work authorization take many cases off the Immigration Court docket and legislation such as NACARA for Central Americans or HIRIFA for Haitians permanently resolves many cases favorably at the DHS without requiring a full-blown asylum hearing before an U.S. Immigration Judge.

But, when backlogs build up and enforcement pressures mount on our Government, less benign approaches and suggestions sometimes come to the fore. Adjudicators can be pressured to do counterproductive things like decide more cases in less time, limit evidence to shorten hearings, and make “blanket denials” based on supposed improvements in country conditions.

Other times, placing more individuals in civil immigration detention is looked at as a way of both expediting case processing and actively discouraging individuals from coming to the United States and making claims for refuge under our laws in the first place. Or, moving cases though the system so quickly that applicants can’t find pro bono lawyers to represent them is sometimes incorrectly viewed as an acceptable method for shortening adjudication times, thereby reducing backlogs.

Another method far too often used for discouraging asylum claims and inhibiting due process is placing asylum applicants in DHS Detention Centers, often privately operated, with “imbedded” Immigration Courts in obscure out of the way locations like Dilley, Texas and Lumpkin, Georgia where access to pro bono attorneys, family members, and other sources of support is severely limited or nonexistent.

When these things happen, due process suffers. So, while I’m always hoping for the best, it is critical for all of us in this room to zealously protect the due process rights of all migrants and insist on full due process being maintained, and, ideally, even enhanced. This includes both supporting individuals in the system by helping them obtain effective legal representation and, where appropriate, vigorously asserting the due process rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and other migrants in the Article III Federal Courts.

Only by insisting on due process for those already in the system will we be able to insure a fair and effective system for future refugees. And, welcoming and fairly treating future refugees is a key to making and keeping America great.

So, that’s my message: due process can’t be taken for granted! It must be nurtured, protected, expanded, and vigorously and proudly asserted! Thanks for listening, good luck, do great things, and due process forever!

(Rev. 01/18/17)

 

 

 

 

Washington Post: U.S. & Mexican Officials Allegedly Flout U.S. Asylum Law (And International Treaties) At Southern Border!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/us-border-officials-are-illegally-turning-away-asylum-seekers-critics-say/2017/01/16/f7f5c54a-c6d0-11e6-acda-59924caa2450_story.html?utm_term=.4f9b23834fc7

Joshua Partlow writes in the Washington Post:

“I am fleeing my country,” the policeman later recalled telling the guards, explaining that he had survived two attempts on his life. “I am being persecuted in a matter of life and death.”

The policeman said he was told he needed to see Mexican immigration authorities, who would put him on a waiting list to make his case to U.S. officials. But Mexican authorities refused to add him to the list, the policeman said, and he has been stuck in northern Mexico.

The Guatemalan is one of hundreds or perhaps thousands of foreigners who have been blocked in recent months from reaching U.S. asylum officials along the border, according to accounts from migrants and immigration lawyers and advocates.

The details of their cases vary. At the U.S. border crossing between Tijuana and San Diego, numerous asylum seekers from Central America and Mexico have been referred to Mexican authorities for an appointment with U.S. officials — but Mexican authorities often turn them down, according to migrants and immigration lawyers. In other places, migrants have been told by U.S. border agents that the daily quota for asylum cases has been reached or that a visa is required for asylum seekers, a statement that runs contrary to law, immigration advocates say.”

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The law is very clear: “Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival and including an alien who is brought to the United States after having been interdicted in international or United States waters), irrespective of such alien’s status, may apply for asylum . . . .”   8 U.S.C. 1158(a).

Also, without getting too much into the particular facts, it appears that the former Guatemalan policeman described in the quote above could have a strong case for asylum under the BIA’s long-standing precedent decision Matter of Fuentes, 19 I&N Dec. 658 (BIA 1988), finding that “former policeman” could potentially be a “particular social group” for asylum purposes.

Part of the problem here is that the U.S. does not have a meaningful “overseas refugee program” for the Northern Triangle. If the present, quite restrictive, program were expanded in both numbers and scope, and if the processing were more timely, more people would probably apply and be screened abroad, rather than coming directly to the border to apply.  The U.S. could actually do Northern Triangle refugee processing in Mexico.

Additionally, the U.S. could encourage the Mexican Government to establish a program of temporary protection, similar to our “Temporary Protected Status,” so that individuals from the Northern Triangle who faced death or danger upon return could remain in Mexico even if the did not satisfy all of the technical requirements for refugee status.

Moreover, like the U.S., Mexico is a signatory to the U.N. Convention and Protocol on Refugees, but apparently has not done a particularly effective job of carrying it out.  Why not work with the Mexican Government not just on law enforcement initiatives, but also on training adjudicators to provide fair hearings to individuals seeking protection under the Convention?

It might also be possible to work with other “stable” democratic governments in the Americas to share the distribution of those from the Northern Triangle who need protection.

Last, but certainly not least, as the incoming Secretary of Homeland Security, Gen. John Kelly, has suggested, it is important for a more permanent solution to work with governments in the Northern Triangle to provide stability and the rule of law in those “sending countries.”

We know that just throwing more money, personnel, walls, sensors, helicopters, detention centers, moats, etc. at the problem won’t effectively address the continuing flow of “desperate people fleeing  desperate circumstances.”  And, as our law provides, whether they come to our borders and turn themselves in or enter, legally or illegally, they actually have a right to seek asylum in the United States.

Isn’t it time to try some “smart strategies,” rather than just doubling down on the same old “enforcement only” approaches that have failed in the past and will continue to do so in the future?

PWS

01/17/17