GONZO’S WORLD: THE HILL: Professor Lindsay Muir Harris — Using REAL Data & Facts — Rips Apart Sessions’s “Ignorant” (& TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE) Anti-Asylum Speech To EOIR!

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/355734-sessions-fundamentally-misses-the-mark-on-the-asylum-system

Lindsay writes:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered remarks to the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) on Oct. 12, arguing that the U.S. asylum system is overburdened with fraud and abuse. Sessions misrepresented the system, relying on virtually no data to reach his, frankly, ignorant conclusions.

. . . .

Fifth, Sessions suggests that because some individuals who pass credible fear interviews fail to apply for asylum, they are fraudulently seeking asylum. This fails to recognize that individuals who pass a credible fear interview have been released with very little orientation as to what to expect next.

For example, asylum law requires that an official application be filed in immigration court within one year of the asylum seeker’s last entry into the United States. U.S. officials, however, fail to tell individuals who pass a credible fear interview about this deadline.

Having just articulated in detail, to a U.S. official, why they are afraid to return to their home country, many asylum seekers believe they have “applied” for asylum, and some even believe they have been granted upon release.

Several groups filed suit against DHS last June based on the lack of notice of the one year filing deadline given to asylum seekers and also the impossibility of filing because the immigration courts are so backlogged that an applicant often cannot file in open court within a year.

Sessions also neglects to mention that asylum seekers face a crisis in legal representation. According to a national study of cases from 2007-2012, only 37 percent of immigrants were represented in immigration court. Representation can make all the difference. Without representation, asylum seekers lack an understanding of what is happening in their case and may be too fearful to appear without an attorney. Their number one priority, remember, is to avoid being sent back to a place where they face persecution and/or torture or death.

Finally, the asylum process itself is complicated and the I-589 form to apply is only available in English. This is overwhelming for a pro se applicant who lacks the ability to read and write in English.

Attorney General Sessions’ remarks should not be surprising, certainly not to any who are familiar with his anti-immigrant track record. It remains disappointing, however, that the nation’s top law enforcement official should politicize and attempt to skew our vision of the asylum-seeking process. As a nation founded by immigrants fleeing religious persecution, it is profoundly disturbing that the current Attorney General sees fit to an attack on asylum seekers and to undermine America’s history of compassionate protection of refugees.

Professor Lindsay M. Harris is co-director of the Immigration & Human Rights Clinic at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law.”

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Go on over to The Hill at the above link and read the rest of Lindsay’s article (containing her points 1-4, which I omitted in this excerpt).

I can confirm that those who have passed the “credible fear” process often mistakenly believe that they “applied for asylum” before the Asylum Office. I also found that few unrepresented respondents understood the difference between required reporting to the DHS Detention Office and reporting to Immigration Court.

Moreover, given the “haste makes waste” procedures applied to recent border arrivals, the addresses reported to EOIR by DHS or entered into the EOIR system were often inaccurate. Sometimes, I could tell they were inaccurate just from my own knowledge of the spelling and location of various streets and jurisdictions in Northern Virginia.  Another time, one of the Arlington Immigration court’s “eagle eyed” Court Clerks spotted that a number of supposed “in absentias” charged to Arlington were really located in the state of  “PA” rather than “VA” which had incorrectly been entered into our system. No wonder these were coming back as “undeliverable!”

Therefore, I would consider Sessions’s claim of a high “no show” rate to be largely bogus until proven otherwise. My experience was that recently arrived women, children, and families from the Northern Triangle appeared well over 90% of the time if they 1) actually understood the reporting requirements, and 2) actually got the Notice of Hearing. Those who were able to obtain lawyers appeared nearly 100% of the time.

This strongly suggests to me that if Sessions really wanted to address problems in Immigration Court he would ditch the knowingly false anti-asylum narratives and instead concentrate on: 1) insuring that everyone who “clears” the credible fear process has his or her Immigration Court hearing scheduled in a location and a manner that gives them the maximum possible access to pro bono legal representation; 2) insuring that appropriate explanations and warnings regarding failure to appear are given in English and Spanish, and 3) a “quality control initiative” with respect to entering addresses at both DHS and EOIR and serving Notices to Appear.

Jeff Sessions also acted totally inappropriately in delivering this highly biased, enforcement-oriented, political address to the EOIR. Although housed within the DOJ, EOIR’s only functions are quasi-judicial — fairly adjudicating cases. In the words of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in a recent case the function of the Immigration Judiciary is “preserving the rule of law, safeguarding the impartiality of our adjudicatory processes, and ensuring that fairness and objectivity are not usurped by emotion, regardless of the nature of the allegations.” Alimbaev v. Att’y Gen. of U.S.872 F.3d 188, 190 (3rd Cir. 2017).

Consequently, the only appropriate remarks for an Attorney General to make to EOIR and the Immigration Judiciary would be to acknowledge the difficulty of their judicial jobs; thank them for their service; encourage them to continue to render fair, impartial, objective, scholarly, and timely decisions; and explain how he plans to support them by providing more resources for them to do their important jobs. That’s it!!

What is totally inappropriate and probably unethical is for the Attorney General to deliver a “pep talk” to judges spouting the “party line” of one of the parties in interest (the DHS), setting forth inaccurate and unsupported statements of the law, and demeaning the other party to the judicial proceedings — the immigrant respondents and their attorneys.

Although I personally question their ultimate constitutionality under the Due Process Clause, the Attorney General does have two established channels for conveying his views on the law to the EOIR: 1) by incorporating them in regulations issued by the DOJ after public notice and comment; and 2) by “certifying” BIA decisions to himself and thereby establishing his own case precedents which the BIA and Immigration Judges must follow.

Troublesome as these two procedures might be, they do have some glaring differences from “AG speeches and memos.” First, public parties have a right to participate in both the regulatory and the precedent adjudication process, thus insuring that views opposed to those being advanced by the DHS and the Attorney General must be considered and addressed. Second, in both cases, private parties may challenge the results in the independent Article III Courts if they are dissatisfied with the Attorney General’s interpretations. By contrast, the “opposing views” to Session’s anti-asylum screed did not receive “equal time and access” to the judicial audience.

Sessions’s recent disingenuous speech to EOIR was a highly inappropriate effort to improperly influence and bias supposedly impartial quasi-judicial officials by setting forth a “party line” and not very subtilely implying that those who might disagree with him could soon find themselves “out of favor.” That is particularly true when the speech was combined with outrageous discussions of how “performance evaluations” for judges could be revised to contain numerical performance quotes which have little or nothing to do with fairness and due process.

Jeff Sessions quite obviously does not see the U.S. Immigration Courts as an independent judiciary charged with delivering fair and impartial justice to immigrants consistent with the Due Process clause of our Constitution. Rather, he sees Immigration Judges and BIA Appellate Judges as “adjuncts” to DHS enforcement — there primarily to insure that those apprehended by DHS agents or who turn themselves in to the DHS to apply for statutory relief are quickly and unceremoniously removed from the U.S. with the mere veneer, but not the substance, of Due Process.

Due process will not be realized in the U.S. Immigration Courts until they are removed from the DOJ and established as a truly independent Article I court.

PWS

10-31-17

 

 

 

 

🦃🦃🦃 CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING WITH THE ASYLUM SEEKER ASSISTANCE PROJECT (“ASAP”) & THEIR FIRST ANNUAL THANKSGIVING CELEBRATION!

Join NLG and ASAP’s First Annual Thanksgiving Celebration!

by No Lost Generation and Asylum Seeker Assistance Project

On Saturday, November 11th, 2017, No Lost Generation will be joined by the Asylum Seeker Assistance Project (ASAP) to host a family-friendly Thanksgiving-themed dinner event at Georgetown University from 4-7PM. ASAP clients, volunteers, students, supporters, and advocates will be in attendance. Food will include both traditional American Thanksgiving items and international fare. Event program will begin at 5PM. A children’s area with crafts and games will be provided. Garage parking is available. Ticket purchase will automatically enter guests into a raffle prize drawing. Join us as we laugh too hard, eat too much, and reflect on the goodness in our lives.

Any questions or accommodation requests related to a disability should be made by November 8th to Nick Gavio at njg39@georgetown.edu. A good faith effort will be made to fulfill requests made after November 8th.

TAGS

Organizer: No Lost Generation and Asylum Seeker Assistance Project

Organizer of Join NLG and ASAP’s First Annual Thanksgiving Celebration!

The Asylum Seekers Assistance Project (ASAP) is the first and only nonprofit dedicated to serving the estimated 25,000 asylum seekers in the D.C. Metro region. An asylum seeker is a person who applies for refugee status after they enter the U.S. Our mission is to support the safety, stability, and economic security of asylum seekers and their families. Our goal is to create a scalable safety net to ensure that all persons fleeing persecution are given the chance to contribute to their new community and reach their full potential.

Established as a task of the U.S. State Department, No Lost Generation (NLG) is a university student movement that aims to support those who have been affected by the global refugee crisis. NLG is present at more than 50 colleges and universities across the United States. NLG chapters from Georgetown, George Washington, and American University will be represented at this event.

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Join NLG and ASAP’s First Annual Thanksgiving Celebration!atGeorgetown University

Healy Family Student Center 3700 O Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20057

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Thanks to my good friend Professor Lindsay Harris of the David A. Clarke School of Law at UDC for forwarding this.

I am thankful for dedicated lawyers like Lindsay and her colleagues who are inspiring and leading the resistance to this Administration’s “War on Due Process & Asylum Seekers.” As Jeff Sessions’s recent unprovoked and false attack on asylum seekers shows, never has support for the rights of asylum seekers and refugees and what they do for our country been more important. Fight the false narratives with truth and action by supporting groups like ASAP!

PWS

10-30-17

The Asylum Seeker Assistance Project (“ASAP”) — A Wonderful New DC Area Community Service Organization Making America Really Great! — Special Public Event On Saturday, April 29 — Register Here!

 

The Asylum Seeker Assistance Project

 

We thank Judge Paul W. Schmidt for giving us the opportunity to share with you an exciting new project that will provide critically important support to asylum seekers as they pursue their claims for protection in our backlogged immigration court system. We also want to invite those of you who may be local to the DC metro area to join us as we celebrate our first class of 12 asylum seekers completing our job-readiness program. But, first, a bit about the Asylum Seeker Assistance Project (ASAP) and what we do!

 

Founded in 2016, ASAP is the first and only community-based nonprofit providing comprehensive services to support the estimated 50,000 individuals pursing asylee status in the D.C. Metro region. Our mission is to provide services that support the safety, stability, and economic security of asylum seekers and their families.

 

Grounded in a strengths-based approach, ASAP combines direct client services with advocacy initiatives to develop programming that promotes community belonging and engagement. By providing access to information, services, and support, ASAP seeks to empower asylum seekers to rebuild their lives in the U.S. and to ensure that we, as a community, take full advantage of their presence and potential.

 

OUR PROGRAMS

 

Employment: ASAP’s employment program combines individualized career planning, 30-hours of job readiness training, and job placement services to address common employment barriers encountered by asylum seekers. Our goal is to equip asylum seekers with the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to secure and retain safe, legal, and purposeful employment.

 

Community: ASAP’s community program facilitates opportunities for asylum seekers to connect with each other, ASAP volunteers, and the larger community. We also maintain a list of asylees willing and able to provide support and guidance to newly arrived asylum seekers.

 

Legal: ASAP offers asylum law trainings, legal information sessions, and “Know Your Rights” workshops on demand to clients, attorneys, law students, and community partners. ASAP can also provide targeted referrals to pro bono and low bono immigration legal service providers.

 

Outreach: ASAP conducts educational awareness events co-facilitated by asylum seekers and asylees. We have given talks and presentations to audiences ranging from elementary school-aged children to adults. By engaging audiences of all ages, we work to plant the seeds of social change.

 

(Coming 2018) Social Services: ASAP works with clients to create a comprehensive assessment of their life in the U.S. in order to identify client needs, recognize strengths, and prioritize goals. ASAP works with a coalition of community partners to provide information, resources, and referrals to ensure client safety and stability.

 

Come and Learn More About Us in Person and Celebrate Asylum Seekers!

Please join us in Bethesda, MD, on Saturday, April 29th from 3-6pm to learn more about the Asylum Seeker Assistance Project (ASAP) as we celebrate our launch with the first class of ASAP clients. This is a family-friendly event with planned activity stations (including face-painting, arts and crafts, henna art, and fishing for ducks!) to entertain the little ones. Food, drinks, and lots of good company will be provided.

Please purchase tickets and sign up for the event here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/together-we-rise-a-family-friendly-celebration-tickets-32993122317

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

We can be reached at asylumprojectdc@gmail.com, or you can engage with board member Lindsay M. Harris, Assistant Professor of Law at UDC Law teaching in the Immigration and Human Rights clinic at Lindsay.harris@udc.edu.

How can I learn more about ASAP?

Visit our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/asylumprojectdc/

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Thanks to my good friend Professor Lindsay Harris of UDC Law for providing this information. Please note the event on April 29, 2017 is open to all! Please come out to learn, meet, and support this worthy group in its important work!

PWS

04/04/17